Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace is a very unique, first-hand look into the life of a middle class, married woman in Victorian Britain.
Over the course of seveMrs. Robinson's Disgrace is a very unique, first-hand look into the life of a middle class, married woman in Victorian Britain.
Over the course of several years, Isabella Robinson keeps a diary, in which she describes her infatuation with a a married doctor named Edward Lane. Isabella's husband Henry finds this diary whilst snooping around, and uses it to bring about a petition for divorce.
This book strongly showed the double standard between men and women, husbands and wives, during the Victorian era. For a husband to obtain a divorce, he needed to prove his wife was unfaithful, and produce two witnesses. For a wife to obtain a divorce, she had to prove that her husband was cruel and/or violent, or that he had deserted her. So, a husband could carry on an affair and produce several illegitimate children (ex. Henry Robinson), but a wife could not get a divorce based just on that.
The first part of the book sets up the back story, and shows us the events from 1850-1856, which includes her words about Dr. Lane. Isabella was definitely someone who needed attention and affection, which her husband did not provide for her. In fact, she was starved for it, which is evident from her diary entries. This caused her to have above friendly feelings for a few different men, which also included her sons' tutor.
The second part of the book was the trial and outcome. Isabella's most private thoughts were read aloud to a packed courtroom. I was enraged and mortified for her as her words were scrutinized. Not only was the supposed affair had to be proven or not, but Isabella's sanity was also an issue. It was even brought up, at one point, that all women who wrote were insane, including prominent novelists. Ludicrous. I guess I'm insane right now.
Whether or not the affair between Edward and Isabella existed, or whether the words Isabella wrote were just from her own imagination were irrelevant. She was treated unkindly by everyone involved. Her privacy was invaded, her sanity was questioned, and her reputation was destroyed. The double standard between men and women was even more disgusting then than it is now, and this book was a good look into the hypocrisy of the Victorian era....more
Shadowboxing takes place in 1943 Germany. Dr. Kristopher Lehrer is on the run, accused of a murder he did not commit. He also possess knowledge that cShadowboxing takes place in 1943 Germany. Dr. Kristopher Lehrer is on the run, accused of a murder he did not commit. He also possess knowledge that could be catastrophic if he's forced to reveal it to the Gestapo.
With Lehrer is Michel, a member of the Resistance. While on the run, the two develop strong feelings for each other, but both resist it with an uncertain future ahead of them.
A good story, but a bit wordy in some place. I started to realize this once I found myself skimming over paragraphs. We're also shown the point of view of characters other than Lehrer or Michel, but I felt some of them weren't necessary. There was also another possible romance floating around, too.
Once I finished, I realized I couldn't pinpoint some of the characters' personalities, even the main ones. However, I did like the two female characters in the book: Clara (Lehrer's sister) and Juliane (a sister of a member of the Gestapo). They were both brave, unflinching in the view of danger.
The ending leaves us up in the air. Everyone is still on the run, so we're left to decide for ourselves who survives and who doesn't. I do like endings that aren't definite endings, but I felt this was kind of abrupt.
Overall, a good story set in Berlin during WWII. What a suffocating place that was.
I was provided a galley of this from NetGalley. This didn't affect my opinions....more
Argh, this was good. It was filled with lots of angst, which I love.
The story takes place in New York the year after WWI ends, but the affects of warArgh, this was good. It was filled with lots of angst, which I love.
The story takes place in New York the year after WWI ends, but the affects of war are still haunting those who fought in it. Michael was once a flourishing medical student, but the war did a number on him, and when he came back home, he didn't care what happened to him.
He finds himself working as a gardener on an estate, and discovers the reclusive young man who inhabits it was also put through the ringer, both physically and mentally. Like Michael, due to the war, John no longer cares for himself, and it shows.
Bonds of Earth was a story about healing. At times it was dark and gritty, but the story was real. It dealt with some heavy stuff, but there were lighter times as the story progressed. Michael and John end up helping each other, but it's no smooth sailing.
There was also a great set of side characters running about. One was a little girl named Sarah who had her own demons to conquer. She stole just about every scene she was in.
I was provided a galley of this from NetGalley. This didn't affect my opinions....more
I've been so excited to read this, and it did not disappoint! This is the first of a new trilogy from Ava March; I cannot wait to read the next two!
BaI've been so excited to read this, and it did not disappoint! This is the first of a new trilogy from Ava March; I cannot wait to read the next two!
Basically, this series is about what's going on behind the doors of three elegant townhouses. In Thief, Lord Benjamin Parker falls for a thief named Cavin Fox, which means there are challenges abound.
I really liked the dynamic between Parker and Fox. They come from different worlds, but when together, that all disappears. Fox is convinced that he's not worthy enough to be in Parker's world, but Parker thinks otherwise, and it takes moving heaven and earth for him to get Fox to realize that.
Thief was a good length - not too long, not to short. A fast read, but not lacking in quality, content or character development. Whenever I pick up a Ava March book, I know I'm not going to be disappointed!
I was provided a galley of this from NetGalley. This didn't affect my opinions....more
The Book of Madness and Cures is set in the 16th century and features Gabriella, a female doctor, who sets out on a quest to find her father who she lThe Book of Madness and Cures is set in the 16th century and features Gabriella, a female doctor, who sets out on a quest to find her father who she last saw 10 years ago.
Gabriella's father is also a doctor, and it was he that taught her all she knows, so she feels she owes it to him to find him. Using his letters, she plots out a course. At each stop she finds people who came across the Venetian doctor, but the farther she goes, the more distressed she becomes with the stories about him. She starts to worry for him.
With a book where the main character is traveling, it's more that likely that you're going to come across some interesting characters. Most of which you'll never see again once the main character picks up and moves on. I loved the different people Gabriella came across as she moved across Europe, people of different cultures and countries.
She meets many roadblocks along the way, and a few tragedies. All in all, I'm amazed at how strong and determined she was to keep going. A weaker person would have turned back and headed home.
The Book of Madness and Cures was a good story about a woman with a strong heart and soul, both of which she put her trust in....more
This book struck a chord with me. Elizabeth Street immediately caught my attention while reading the summary. A book about Italian immigrants and theThis book struck a chord with me. Elizabeth Street immediately caught my attention while reading the summary. A book about Italian immigrants and the challenges they faced when they got here? Yes, please. I'm half Italian American, so that means that half of my immigrant ancestors came from Italy – all of them on my mom's side. And they all came during the time of the so-called Great Italian Migration.
Unfortunately, none of my living Italian American relatives know much about my great-great grandparents generation, not even what parts of Italy they came from! Through my own research, I've been able to track one great-great grandfather to a town in Southern Italy. My point is this: I have no idea what my great-great grandparents went though when they got here, but this book gave me an insight, and it was a horrible realization. When my people left Italy they didn't go to New York like the ones in the book, instead they settled in the Little Italy section of Northern Boston. Still, I have a feeling their experiences weren't much different than the immigrants in Elizabeth Street.
The characters and story of Elizabeth Street are based on the author's own Italian ancestors. The book brought to light how Italian immigrants were targeted and treated poorly, discriminated against – being called dagoes and wops. It showed how their lives were dispensable to the employers of large companies – if an Italian died on the job, another one was brought in to take their place, like a revolving door. The families weren't taken care of, and there certainly was no suing for their relative's untimely death. Who would take their side? This also struck a chord because there's a story in my family that my great-great grandfather Marciano was killed on the job while working on the railroad.
Another interesting subject was how honest Italian immigrants with their own businesses were terrorized by the Black Hand (Italian criminals), who would try to extort money from these people. I suggest reading up on the Black Hand. They didn't play around.
The main character of Giovanna was impressive. She was based on the author's own great grandmother, who came to America from a town in Southern Italy called Scilla. She herself took on the shifty Black Hand head on, not relying on anyone else's help. It was dangerous, but she was not afraid. What a heroine!
Elizabeth Street was an engrossing read and the pages just flew by. I just absorbed every page, because I wanted to know, I needed to know what these people went through. I need to have some idea what my ancestors went through, and at this moment, this book was as close as I was gonna get.
Did I mention this book struck a chord with me? Anyway, there's an extensive bibliography located at the end of the book which I expect to take full advantage of....more
I knew before I started reading this that it had a tragic ending, and I braced myself for it. As I started reading, I started to figure out just how iI knew before I started reading this that it had a tragic ending, and I braced myself for it. As I started reading, I started to figure out just how it was going to end, and I was right. So, I was prepared for it, which was good, because I probably would have fell apart.
Still, even knowing how it would end, I feel like I'm going to start sobbing over it. My heart breaks for Edward and Alex....more
The Kings' Mistresses is a fabulous account of Marie and Hortense Mancini, two of the most scandalous and free-thinking women of their time.
Marie andThe Kings' Mistresses is a fabulous account of Marie and Hortense Mancini, two of the most scandalous and free-thinking women of their time.
Marie and Hortense were the nieces of Cardinal Mazarin. The two, along with their siblings were born in Rome and brought to Paris: Marie was 13 and Hortense, 9. Their uncle arranged marriages for both of them – Marie first, because she was a little too cozy with King Louis XIV.
However, both Marie and Hortense's marriages didn't go well. After producing several children, both of them ditched their husbands. Hortense left her mad and scheming husband in 1668, and Marie left her husband four years later, with fear that he would kill her otherwise.
Both sought refuge in different places, but not the same. Marie went from convent to convent, finally ending up in Madrid, and didn't have the freedom that Hortense ended up having in London after she became the mistress of Charles II.
However, both accomplished what they set out to do: never to return to their husbands. Whatever roadblocks were hurled their way, whatever lawsuits were produced, and whoever tried to intervene, the sisters somehow managed their goal. The sisters ended up having major influence on the women of their time. Their escapades were reported all through Europe and it got people talking. Whether people were on the sides of the sisters or their 'poor, deserted' husbands, people talked. And when people start talking about an issue, things start happening.
The result, eventually, of the sisters flights ended up having was the discussion of just how much power a husband should have over his wife. Unhappy wives soon started following the Mancini sisters' examples by standing up and saying that they shouldn't have to stay in a disastrous marriage and should have the right to live separately from their husbands.
The two sisters ended up writing memoirs, which were quoted in the book. I so happen to have said memoirs, and can not wait to get to them now.
The Kings' Mistresses was a great biography on two women who stood up for their rights during a time when women didn't have any. At times, reading the book, I was infuriated by just how little power the women had, how much Marie's husband toyed with her: locking her up in convents (and at one point, a prison!). Through the decades, both husbands would demand their wives return to them, not because they cared for them, but because of their own wounded prides. Neither husband won, and to that, I say: Hooray!...more
Told in dual time lines, A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar, tells the story of two women: Evangeline in 1923, and Frieda in the present day. At first,Told in dual time lines, A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar, tells the story of two women: Evangeline in 1923, and Frieda in the present day. At first, it's unclear how the two women are connected, but that eventually comes to light slowly as the story unfolds.
Eva lies to become a missionary, using it as a cover to write a book: A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar. Armed with her bicycle and notebook, Eva is ready to change her world. However, the story opens with things taking a wrong turn for Eva and her compatriots, and she finds herself figuring out ways to keep herself and her sister Lizze alive.
In the present day, Frieda returns home from months away to find she has inherited an apartment and its belongings from a woman who has passed away – a women, she has never met. She finds unexpected help from Tayeb, a man who can't go back to Yemen, his homeland. Finding him on her doorstep one night, Frieda hands him a blanket and a pillow and thus starts an interesting relationship.
The story went back and forth between 1923 and the present day, and I didn't find it disrupted at all, even though I was still wondering how these women were connected, almost halfway through the book. The differences in the two women were evident. Eva was a young woman who had goals, and knew what she wanted out of life, and went for it. Frieda was doing a job she wanted, but in reality, the life she created for herself was probably her rebelling against the life she grew up with, with her parents. It wasn't until the end of the book that I think Frieda started to figure out who she really was.
I skimmed a few reviews before reading this, and saw some people had issue with the ending, and felt that the last part of the book felt rushed. So, I prepared myself, but I didn't have a problem with any of it. For me, the ending was fine. I'm not a huge fan of the definite 'The End' endings, because, in reality, life goes on, even after the last word on the page....more
I didn't know what to expect with this book. The bare bones summary is: Eugenie is abandoned by her lover in Paris. Once she realizes this, she does wI didn't know what to expect with this book. The bare bones summary is: Eugenie is abandoned by her lover in Paris. Once she realizes this, she does what she has to to survive. She soon realizes she's pregnant and eventually has to give the baby up, determined to get her back again. Along the road of survival, she meets many interesting and revolutionary people, friends, lovers, etc.
The book was told in the first person, which doesn't always work. It almost didn't work here, but once the story got going, everything evened out. Eugenie is not always a reliable narrator, and she admits to embellishing here and there. I loved some of the people she encounters. My favorite was Jolie, who was like a cockroach, nothing could kill her. She was a survivor, a strong woman. Actually most of the women in this book were especially strong, had revolutionary ideas.
The book is told during the 1860s, a time that practically suffocated women. I could feel the frustration of Eugenie and her friends. My favorite quote was said by Eugenie herself:
Men will never understand a woman's follies, no matter how often we repeat them before your eyes. All you can do is accuse, and rewrite the story to please yourself.
The Unruly Passions of Eugenie R. was long winded and a chunkster. There were times where there were pages where nothing happened. However, at the end, it's worth it. The ending is not a concrete, set- in-stone ending. There are still many possibilities for Eugenie, but whatever the future holds for her, I've not doubt she survives it....more
I've never read The Robber Bridegroom, which inspired this work. From what I've read via summary: The Robber Bridegroom lures three different maidensI've never read The Robber Bridegroom, which inspired this work. From what I've read via summary: The Robber Bridegroom lures three different maidens and 'devours' them, whatever that means. In Atwood's contemporary novel The Robber Bride, she introduces the character of Zenia, who purposely ruins the lives of three friends: Tony, Charis and Roz. Among other things, she tries (and sometimes succeeds) in taking their men.
The way the novel was told was interesting (and sometimes long-winded). We see through the eyes of Tony, Charis and Roz, but never through Zenia's. She remains a mystery until the end.
The novels starts out on the day the three friends see Zenia after years (and thinking that the woman is dead and cremated). We see that day through each of the three women's eyes, what they did leading up to, etc. Then, we find out each of the three women's history with Zenia, how she intertwined herself into each of their lives.
What was masterfully done, is that as the friends (separately) confront Zenia at the end, we still don't know about the woman. We don't know what she's said was true or what was made up. She's an enigma, a sociopath, a compulsive liar. There was absolutely nothing good about the woman.
The characters of Tony, Charis and Roz are interesting. They are all completely different people, but are united because of Zenia. Otherwise, they might never have been friends. They meet often for lunch, having formed a support group of sorts.
They are a bunch of side characters, but they're not as fleshed out. Basically, it's the story of four women. It's about relationships between women, the good, the bad, and the ugly. The Robber Bride is a fascinating portrayal of how one person can come into our lives and completely turn it upside down. It's a great character-driven story. At first, I didn't know if it was going to be worth it, but as I got into the women's backgrounds with Zenia, I became engrossed. I couldn't believe the character of Zenia. I hope I never come across a Zenia in my life....more