I think I'm as vexed with this book as Rotherham and Serena are with each other-- entirely love/hate, and rather more of the latter.
On the one hand th...moreI think I'm as vexed with this book as Rotherham and Serena are with each other-- entirely love/hate, and rather more of the latter.
On the one hand the story is a somewhat lively "comedy of manners" as advertised, but at the same time few of the characters are likable, let alone endearing, the eventual pairings are obvious from the first, and in the end I feel like the resolution wasn't enough to make up for all the needlessly frustrated teasing Heyer writes.
I'm irritated by how Heyer treats this literary device: she simply just imagines her cast of characters, purposefully disarranges them all, and then spends the book putting them back where they belong. Tedious and insipid, if you ask me.
But I guess what really rubbed me raw was Serena and Rotherham's personalities. They seem to be extremes of Heyer's typical leading lady and gentleman-- strong, saucy female and brutish, older male-- but both so thoroughly self-possessed as to be not just unfeeling, but unaware, unconcerned, and/or unaffected with, for, and by, anyone else. It's quite telling that aside from herself and her only true peer, Rotherham, Serena thinks of people in horse terms. Do they really see themselves as benevolent deities?
Otherwise, Serena's interminable 'vivacity' is code for overwhelming, and her quick mind, inexhaustible pace, and frequent boredom bespeak classic ADHD. She tramples rough-shod over everyone in her life, including Rotherham, who seems morbidly impressed with this, and in turn wreaks his own havoc on the innocent.
They make quite the ugly pair, and while I'm inclined to think everyone else is fortunate that these two beastly characters end up together, I worry about the kind of tyrannical children they would have and raise. (less)
Kind of a slow start, not to mention some of Heyer's most "vulgar" characters I've seen so far, no matter how tonnish she declares them to be (but may...moreKind of a slow start, not to mention some of Heyer's most "vulgar" characters I've seen so far, no matter how tonnish she declares them to be (but maybe that's the point, see below.)
And though the action quickly turns reminiscent of a Shakespeare or Wilde type of chaotic comedy of errors, I found it painful rather than amusing.
It is Heyer's telling of the whole mess that saves the book, it turns out. She doesn't seem to like these characters much herself, and appears to withhold the sensibility of a closely attached narrative voice in favor of a more mockingly indulgent Omniscient one. She delivers many dryly astute observations with tongue-in-cheek seriousness, so that nearly all of the humor is derived from the exposition of the story rather than the narrative itself.
As I mentioned in the beginning, this story shows a bit of the unsavory aspects of polite society with little apology. The entire cast of characters are shown to be foolish in a variety of ways, with none of them, in my opinion, really rising to the top as the clear protagonist, despite, in the end, the semblance of a hero and a villain. (Luckily, no matter how useless or minor a character, Heyer doesn't fail to flesh them out nicely, so at least there's that.)
And although everything ties up neatly in the end, the combination of so many trite characterizations and the affected detachment of the author, almost seems an intentional means of effecting to the reader the trivial tragedies of the Ton (ooh, that's fun to say).
This just wasn't at all what I what I was expecting based on the descriptions and reviews. I guess I thought the humor would be in a YouTube-funny-pet...moreThis just wasn't at all what I what I was expecting based on the descriptions and reviews. I guess I thought the humor would be in a YouTube-funny-pets kind of way. I mean, the idea that all dogs have ADHD is so hilarious because if you've known ANY dogs, you know how entirely true it is. But the way it's presented in the book is in a human perspective, merely set to stock images of random dogs playing. The text is simply ADHD symptoms laid out in blanket statements and does little to give the disorder any lightheartedness. I wanted it to be playful and silly, more about using dogs (which more of the general population has experience with and can relate to) as a tongue-in-cheek bridge for people to better grasp the nature of ADHD (and maybe even make dog behavior easier to understand as well!).
And before I get railed on for being an insensitive jerk, as someone with the disorder myself, and the mother of two children with it as well, I think I have a more personal interest and should thus be allowed an honest critique of the book more than the average reader. That said, I had high hopes for this to be a coffee table book I would actually display, but sadly, as a schmaltzy awareness publication, I don't even care to own it.(less)
As I laid out in my review of All Dogs Have ADHD, this book fell short of what the descriptions and reviews seemed to imply. Rather than a fun little...moreAs I laid out in my review of All Dogs Have ADHD, this book fell short of what the descriptions and reviews seemed to imply. Rather than a fun little LOLcats parody that plays up their sometimes mystifying and simultaneously adorable behaviors to make Asperger Syndrome easier for people to relate to, it was simply generalized, humorless descriptions of symptoms set to generic stock images of cats. In other words, nothing special and thus an unfortunate disappointment.(less)