This was readable enough, I guess, although everything is implied rather than stated, meaning that I have come out of it still not knowing exactly whaThis was readable enough, I guess, although everything is implied rather than stated, meaning that I have come out of it still not knowing exactly what the relationships between people were and even what happened in the end. It's not one I'd raise up as an important queer work, because really it's mostly about women sleeping with men, even if those women happen to have a possible relationship with each other as well. It gives the impression that women will never be fulfilled in relationships with women and will need to seek sexual satisfaction with men. Its portrayal of women leaves a lot to be desired as well, although I guess I have to give it a pass for that given that it was written when it was.
Also, I am tempted to put that down to a straight one star due to the author's afterword (40 years after) in this edition. Apparently: "...I thought it becoming in people whose only problem was a slight deviation of the sex urge... to refrain from needless bellyaching and fuss." "Conventions change; but defensive stridency is not, on the whole, much more attractive than self-pity. Congregated homosexuals waving banners are really not conducive to a goodnatured 'Vive la difference!'" and "People who do not consider themselves to be, primarily, human beings among their fellow-humans, deserve to be discriminated against..."
What an obnoxious human being Renault was! This strident homosexual pays respect to the banner wavers that came before me and allowed my life to be lived in less danger than theirs. ...more
Okay, so on pure enjoyment and quality value, I'd give this a one, but I'm going to push it up to 1.5 stars due to its historical importance.
And it isOkay, so on pure enjoyment and quality value, I'd give this a one, but I'm going to push it up to 1.5 stars due to its historical importance.
And it is historically important. It's the first key work of lesbian historical fiction, and it was published at a time where that kind of thing wasn't going to get you a multi-book deal and a BBC miniseries. The trouble is, I just couldn't take off my editor hat while reading it. I don't think it's well written at all. The instalove would put any teen romance to shame and the two characters just came across as stupid--at least when Patience wasn't busy being controlling and manipulative. The switching between perspectives was poorly done, including a chunk where for some reason Patience is narrating content that would only be known to Sarah and, worst of all, it doesn't even have a proper ending. It just stops, right when things might get a little interesting. Because two women running a farm on their own at a time when that just wasn't done is far more interesting than anything that's actually in here!
Ultimately, I'm glad that this was written, because there always needs to be that first step into the unknown. But that's the only reason I finished it. ...more
I feel bad for not rating this higher because I always want to like Donoghue's stuff so much, but I guess Slammerkin just spoilt me and it's all beenI feel bad for not rating this higher because I always want to like Donoghue's stuff so much, but I guess Slammerkin just spoilt me and it's all been downhill from there ;) I just didn't think this worked very well. The back-and-forth chronology was distancing and removed all suspense from the book. For example, (view spoiler)[you know that Arthur is going to survive his smallpox (hide spoiler)]. It's also full of snippets from songs and I get that it's the book's ~thing~ but it just reminded me of that awful songfic that we all used to write back in the early days of online fandom. The other thing that annoyed me was the use of French throughout. I don't like it when an English book includes other languages and just assumes that people will understand or not care or, in the case of this book, look things up in a non-alphabetical list of French at the back of the book. Oh, and the other thing that bothered me was that there was really no sense of history here, beyond a few references to clothing and the penny-farthing bicycle. This was maybe the most disappointing part for me, because the history in both Slammerkin and Life Mask was so well done.
This is also one of those books that are just unrelentlessly depressing and futile, so be warned about that and maybe only read this if you're in the state of mind to handle that kind of thing.
Look, it's not dreadful. I don't think Donoghue is capable of that. But it just didn't work for me, for all the reasons I've given.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This book is 650 pages long including the character notes, and it feels it. Donoghue is an excellent writer, no question, but I really think this woulThis book is 650 pages long including the character notes, and it feels it. Donoghue is an excellent writer, no question, but I really think this would have benefited from a much stronger edit. Very little actually happens here, at least not until the last couple of chapters or so. It's more like an extended study in British society of the period. I don't resent having read it as, like I said, the writing is very good, but I come away from the book not caring any more about the characters than before I started it. I definitely think the pacing in Slammerkin was much better.
Animal cruelty warning: (view spoiler)[There is a very graphic cock fighting scene, as well as another less graphic ones and multiple references to that so-called sport. The cock fight is fairly easy to skip over, for what it's worth. Also, a horse is euthanised. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Short stories are always so hit and miss with me, so some in this collection were more two-star offerings, while others were four-star pieces. So threShort stories are always so hit and miss with me, so some in this collection were more two-star offerings, while others were four-star pieces. So three stars to average it out ;)
My favourites were 'The Lost Seed', 'Snowblind' and 'The Widow's Curse. ...more
The usual great Waters elements are here--a focus on female characters in historical settings that are vividly described and writing that reflects thaThe usual great Waters elements are here--a focus on female characters in historical settings that are vividly described and writing that reflects that of fiction contemporary to the period. On the downside, I felt like this was a story in three parts and that the three didn't quite mesh. The first part felt like pure romance, the last, pure crime. And I think it could've been tighter, especially in the second part. But Waters not-at-her-best is still better than most writers out there today, and overall I enjoyed this a lot....more
The focus for this collection of Anne Lister's diaries is her lesbian sexuality, as is strongly hinted at by the fact that the cover blurb quotes areThe focus for this collection of Anne Lister's diaries is her lesbian sexuality, as is strongly hinted at by the fact that the cover blurb quotes are from Sarah Waters, Emma Donoghue and Jeannette Winterson ;) For me, however, her teenage-like mooning over M got quite annoying quite quickly. Luckily, the diaries are fantastic as glimpses into life at the beginning of the 19th century. A fun contrast to Austen, with all the lesbian affairs and venereal diseases that didn't make it into Pride & Prejudice. ...more