In Swoon, Prioleau examines what makes a Lothario tick. What are his facets? Why do women find him irresistible? Is there a magic equation for being a...moreIn Swoon, Prioleau examines what makes a Lothario tick. What are his facets? Why do women find him irresistible? Is there a magic equation for being a ladies man? The answer seems to be that instead of one set formula there are a host of ways in which a ladies man can arise. A man need not even be physically attractive, so long as he has other attributes (the gift of gab, attentiveness, intelligence, humor, etc.).
Prioleau peppers her narrative with anecdotes from history, literature, and mythology. Many men are mentioned only briefly, but are interesting despite being little-known characters. She spends a great deal of time on Casanova (understandably), notably pianist Franz Liszt, and the odd poet Gabriele D'Annunzio (I guess you really had to meet him to understand the fuss).
Almost right off the bat, Prioleau makes a distinction between the "players" of today (who use a plethora of tricks learned from other "players" merely to get into bed with as many women as possible) and the true ladies men (who use no tricks, but genuinely just love women and through some combination of characteristics are loved en masse by them). I suppose if one has to choose between the two, it would be better to be wooed for years before being dropped for the next woman, rather than being dropped the morning after an encounter a la "player" style. In the end however, while the two types may be fundamentally different, the results of encountering and falling for either seem to be the same - a string of broken hearts.
Prioleau's book is solidly researched and entertaining. I will make a point to visit Seductress the book she published some years prior, discussing the female Casanovas of the world.(less)
Before reading The Master of Blacktower, I hadn't read anything by Barbara Michaels since The Sea King's Daughter, which I read a very, very long time...moreBefore reading The Master of Blacktower, I hadn't read anything by Barbara Michaels since The Sea King's Daughter, which I read a very, very long time ago. But this novel had sat on my shelf for about six years unread, so I thought it was high time I get around to it.
It was, on the whole, a good read. Michaels does a good job of emulating the traditional high Gothic romance of the 18th/19th centuries. The reader follows the uniquely named Damaris to northern Scotland, where she lives in a large manor house nestled in the highlands and works as the secretary for the master, Gavin Hamilton. Gavin is mysterious, arrogant, and brooding, and of course Damaris falls in love with him. And, as this is Gothic, there are of course secrets hiding in the woodwork that Damaris must uncover, for she ignores them at her peril.
I liked Damaris. I liked the cast of side characters - all well-drawn and adding to the plot in solid ways. I didn't really care for Gavin, but I generally get frustrated with cocky male characters, so this wasn't a big deal. I loved Michaels description; this was one of those rare books in which I felt like I was actually present in the spaces being described. In short, with the exception of Gavin, I loved the book.
Until I got to the ending.
I can't say anything about it without giving anything away, so I won't. But the rest of the book was strong enough to carry four stars, so I only demoted the book by one because of the way things tied up. I still think it is well worth the read, particularly for fans of the Gothic genre. (less)
As some may already be aware, I've been on a year without buying books since September of 2012. That deadline is nearly up, and I can buy books again...moreAs some may already be aware, I've been on a year without buying books since September of 2012. That deadline is nearly up, and I can buy books again come September 28th. In the meantime, several of my favorite authors have released books.
The two I was the most aggravated to miss out on were Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and this book, by Kate Atkinson. One of the caveats to this year without buying books was that I could receive gifts (I couldn't ask people to purchase books for me, but if they did, I was allowed to accept, if only for the sake of common decency). Well, my one year anniversary recently passed, and for all of you traditionalists out there, the one year anniversary is marked with a gift of paper. My wonderful husband bought me Life After Life.
Best. Anniversary. Present. Ever.
I always love Kate Atkinson, and I think this one just made it to my favorite top three novels she's ever written.
Life After Life tells the story of Ursula, born in 1910, who through some strange fluke is able to continually live her life over and over. If she makes it to point B on her timeline and then dies, she goes back, and might make it to point C or D. In a way, it is like the 1993 movie Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray's character repeats the same day over and over. However, in Ursula's case there is less of a focus on the comical (though there certainly are comedic moments) and more of a poignant focus on the cause and effect of events.
The reader sees the first half of the 20th century through Ursula's eyes, with particular attention paid to WWII. She is subject to lovely, strange, and even traumatic happenstance depending on the timeline she occupies, and her reaction to things - or ability to somewhat remember how things went before - makes each life new and different.
Despite the nonlinear nature of the book, I was never confused. I was also never frustrated - the events in each of Ursula's lives vary widely enough to keep a reader from boredom. Plus, it is Atkinson - did I mention that she is an amazing writer? Because she is... - and I will generally speaking enjoy the lion's share of anything she writes.
So again, this was the best anniversary present I could have received, not only for the timing, but also for the content of the book. Highly recommended.
I finally got around to this book after a quarter century. I'm not kidding. There is a whole bit about this weird journey relating to this book here.
A...moreI finally got around to this book after a quarter century. I'm not kidding. There is a whole bit about this weird journey relating to this book here.
After such a long time, I am pleased to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Unnerstad's book. Confused after his mother goes to the hospital, young Pelle-Göran punches the doctor and is sent away to live with his grandmother for a time on her picturesque farm. Also staying there is the older Kaja, who though Pelle-Göran is initially skeptical about, soon becomes his fast friend. A brilliant cast of supporting characters made this a very enjoyable book. I think children will really relate to the shenanigans Pelle-Göran gets into, and after saving the book for 25 years, I will definitely hang onto this one.(less)
I loved Imaginary Girls, so I was a bit disappointed with this one. I read this under its new name, Fade Out, and I was relieved to find out that it...moreI loved Imaginary Girls, so I was a bit disappointed with this one. I read this under its new name, Fade Out, and I was relieved to find out that it was her first novel. (less)
Dorothy Parker, Zelda Fitzgerald, Edna Ferber and Edna St. Vincent Milay are the focus of Meade's biography - which is as much a biography of an era a...moreDorothy Parker, Zelda Fitzgerald, Edna Ferber and Edna St. Vincent Milay are the focus of Meade's biography - which is as much a biography of an era as it is about the individuals portrayed here. The story of the roaring twenties is played out through the stories of these troubled, vibrant souls. There have been some negative reviews on this one...I think I was helped along considerably by listening to this one on audio during my commute to work. Vocal talent Lorna Raver was perfect in her exuberance and witty reading of Meade's work. By the end of the book I wanted to read something by each of the four stars of literature - even Milay, and I am not often one for poetry.(less)