The first two books in the series made me adore Flavia as one of the most original heroines I've ever come across, and this installment does nothing t...moreThe first two books in the series made me adore Flavia as one of the most original heroines I've ever come across, and this installment does nothing to diminish that feeling.
Flavia still goes all numb with bliss at the words "chemical preparations" the way a more average girl (and Flavia is nothing if not would at the words "pink sparkle princesses". The mysteries she tackles this time around are multiple - murderous, religious, familial - and she does it all with flair and smarts. Is she sneaky? Yes. Meddlesome? You bet. Sometimes gratingly precocious? No question. But it is hard not to be forgiving and not a little fond of a girl so neglected by grieving father, so smarting for her deceased mother, so physically and emotionally harassed by her older siblings, that the closest thing she has to a friendship is with her trusty bicycle.
This book misses out on 5 star rating because I didn't understand timing in the climactic scene. Specifically, for those who've read it and may be able to explain: why had the villain placed the character Flavia found at that location? And why then leave? And why at that particular time? Also: how had those two characters learned of that access route? Made no sense to me.
I listened to the audiobook version, with excellent reader. Highly recommend.(less)
I think this is my favorite Lady Julia mystery so far. From wondering which species she will add to her menagerie next, to catching more glimpses of t...moreI think this is my favorite Lady Julia mystery so far. From wondering which species she will add to her menagerie next, to catching more glimpses of the March clan, to laugh-out-loud bits such as:
"I simply don't know what to do with you," he said. "Four explosions in a month's time are a bit excessive," I conceded. "Five," he corrected. "You forgot the house party at Lord Riverton's estate." "Oh, would you call that an explosion? I should have called it a detonation."
"I found the notion of Spiritualism baffling. It was not so much that I felt it impossible that spirits could revisit this life as I thought it vastly disappointing they should want to. If the afterlife could promise no greater entertainment than visiting a club of clammy-handed strangers, then what pleasure was there to be had in being dead?"
"How tiresome. Which of the maids (has given notice) this time?" "The second chambermaid." "Why the devil do we have so much trouble keeping staff?" "I believe the attempt to burn down the house might have had something to do with it, my lady." I was indignant. "The house is almost never on fire."(less)
There is something about the Spellman family - every single member - that appeals to me. As a reader, of course, if any were my real life family membe...moreThere is something about the Spellman family - every single member - that appeals to me. As a reader, of course, if any were my real life family members I would probably need as much therapy as Isabel attends in this installment.
Readers who already like this protagonist won't be disappointed by this third volume, readers who didn't like Book 1 or 2 probably won't be magically converted readers who aren't familiar should probably not start here, but really start with Book 1 instead.
Pro: - hugely enjoyable interaction between hero/heroine who most definitely do NOT feel instant attraction for the other
- unlike the protagonists in...morePro: - hugely enjoyable interaction between hero/heroine who most definitely do NOT feel instant attraction for the other
- unlike the protagonists in some other Heyer titles, these are not irritatingly and implausibly "perfect"; even the hero's best friends acknowledge that he can be too serious, and that his quick temper can lead him to words or actions he may later regret, while the heroine is very ready to make judgements about what she thinks will be best for other people and then act on those presumptions, whether the other people want her to or not. The story is not so much about how each of these characters overcomes these flaws (I'd argue that by novel's end, they haven't), but about how they offset those flaws with stronger virtues and about how they come to figure out that their mix of personalities will work together to the ultimate advantage of all their family members
- I adore stories where all the threads are brought together in a climax that threatens to become a hopeless knot but then resolves them all. The final scene with all the significant characters was so much fun that even as I read it I knew I would reread the whole story to trace again how it would all come together in the end
Con: - a previous GR author-member commented on how alienating the use of extremely negative stereotypical portrayal of the Jewish character was to her. I agree, and would add to that the negative stereotype of Spanish people as "lazy" and "Indolent".
It wasn't only that it was tremendously off-putting for an entire nation comprising millions of people to be so generalized as a group, it was also that the author for some reason felt it was necessary to repeat the slur every single time the Spanish character was in a scene or spoken of. Why would an author of Heyer's stature and popularity feel the need to fall back on such tedious repetition?
Not just that, but it struck a wrong chord that of all the characters to have expressed this stereotype, it was Sophy. If it had been a character who had never been outside England or away from his/her small town, I could logically have accepted the plausibility of imagining an English person of that time period being simultaneously unknowledgable and suspicious of peoples in other parts of the world, leading him/her to ascribe various negative traits to them and so make him/herself feel superior. But to have Sophy, the second most widely travelled character in the book, who had actually lived in Spain for years, to perpetuate such a generalization, made no sense. It was all the more dismaying when contrasted with how willing she was to accept each English character she encountered on his or her own merits and form opinions according to their individual actions and words. When one considers that she is a diplomat's daughter, and had been included in many occasions with very high levels of government figures and so, could have been expected to know better than the average upperclass English woman how carefully one must guard one's tongue when dealing with other cultures to prevent setting off international incidents, it becomes even more puzzling for the author to have made this choice.
Overall: I enjoyed the novel a lot, and recommend it to others, but now have a disillusioned feeling about Heyer. Kind of sad that it will make me wary about going in to another novel of hers - I'll do it, but without that same feeling of purely happy anticipation I had before.
I love stories with many well-drawn characters and subplots, if it's funny and/or unusual in some way all the better. This novel totally delivers, wit...moreI love stories with many well-drawn characters and subplots, if it's funny and/or unusual in some way all the better. This novel totally delivers, with dramatic conflict all over the place and characters often behaving in unexpected (to me) ways.
When I first read this novel satirizing British tabloid journalism, celebrity culture, and materialism I loved it. The first of Wendy Holden's novels...moreWhen I first read this novel satirizing British tabloid journalism, celebrity culture, and materialism I loved it. The first of Wendy Holden's novels I'd read, it set me off on a glom of her work, which paid back in much amusement and entertaining situations.
Recently re-read this first of her works on a lazy cottage weekend, and for some reason it didn't hold up as well the second time around. Maybe because I already knew what would happen? Because of recent appalling revelations on the abuse perpetrated by British media execs and the hardships being experienced by numerous Brits after the economic financial meltdown that pushed the haves and have-nots further apart that make the events of the novel seem less funny?
Whatever the reason, I still liked it enough to keep a look out for any new books from this author.(less)