It was well written enough. The descriptions were at times luscious and the dialog all felt genuine. But it was...moreI have mixed feelings about this book.
It was well written enough. The descriptions were at times luscious and the dialog all felt genuine. But it was also a little hard to follow in places. It's the history of 4-ish generations of hill-folk told like a game of telephone down through the years, and each of the individual stories is told from the perspective of one of the familiy members alive at the time, but neither sequentially nor in any real personal detail. No characters are at all fleshed out and most of them lack any depth.
The stories themselves are usually pretty good. There's the sort of thing you would expect: incest and murder and rum running and all that stuff.
*shrug* It just didn't effect me in any real way, I guess. I probably should have liked this better. Maybe I'll try to read it again in a few years.(less)
This is a really good book. It's very well written, emotionally evocative, highly intelligent, vividly descriptive, generally well-rounded, and poetic...moreThis is a really good book. It's very well written, emotionally evocative, highly intelligent, vividly descriptive, generally well-rounded, and poetically beautiful in a lot of ways.
It's also scary and really, really gross. Seriously: Hell, as seen through the eyes of the protagonist, Niko, is disgusting.
I flew through this book in a couple of days. I was hooked. I was reaing it at home while reading another book at work and found myself over the weekend not missing the work-book at all, even though it's quite good as well.
It is, without going into any real detail (because you can get that from the cover-flap or the basic book description on the GoodReads page) this book is a combination of Dante's Inferno and the story of Orpheus. Of course, rather than a retelling of the later, it's part of the gist that this IS the story of Orpheus, just in another body. He’s been doing this over and over and over and over for thousands of years, just in different bodies and with slightly different circumstances.
The second half of the book is basically a car chase. You would think that 200-ish pages of a single car chase would get old, but it doesn't. It, like the rest of the book, is very good.
The ending is a sort of cliffhanger, though I can't tell you why there MUST be a second book without a sort of a spoiler, but I'll just say that Dante wrote two other books to go along with Inferno and leave it at that.
Recommended, if you are into this sort of thing and can handle really vivid and horrible descriptions of Hell. (less)
My secon favorite Trollope book, right behind Can You Forgive Her Technically, The Eustace Diamonds is the .... fourth? Fifth? Book in a loosly-connec...moreMy secon favorite Trollope book, right behind Can You Forgive Her Technically, The Eustace Diamonds is the .... fourth? Fifth? Book in a loosly-connected series that starts with "Can You Forgive Her?" and then goes on forever.
The story is fairly funny in a middle 19th century way; half the jokes are obscure this far removed from the time and culture. But the situations are ridiculous. the whole thing is a bit tongue-in-cheek, with the author poping in to remind the reader of who they should and should not be rooting for at any given point in time.
A bit longer than I usually like, but it was originally three short books, so I guess it's expected.
Reccommended, if you like that sort of thing.(less)
Narcissitic, self-centered, miserable people use their artistic nature to excuse a life full of self-centered misery and inflict their children...more*shrug*
Narcissitic, self-centered, miserable people use their artistic nature to excuse a life full of self-centered misery and inflict their children with a cynical, black-comedy view of the world.
It's been done before. And better. It felt like Kevin Wilson was trying really hard to be the literary version of Wes Anderson and then failed. He failed hard. The characters are boring and sad and the story is recycled. As a friend of mine said in her review of this novel, "quirky" doesn't automatically equal "interesting."
But it's well written, so, you know. It has that going for it.
I read this book very quickly. Much more quickly than it deserved to be read. It's not due back to the library for another week or so, so I'm going to...more I read this book very quickly. Much more quickly than it deserved to be read. It's not due back to the library for another week or so, so I'm going to read it again. Slowly.
I devoured this book. I didn't know how much I wanted to read it until I finished it. It was exactly like having some sort of vitamin deficiency before I picked up this book. I had story anemia. Or something.
And here's a hard thing: I don't have anyone to whom I can recommend this book. I can think of many people who would like several parts of this book, but none of them are the same parts. Or the same people.
This collection of short stories, if one had to slap a label on them, is technically magical realism, but could also be classified as urban fantasy in places. Sort of. Or horror. Or absurdism. It's another one of those books I love the best: beautiful and weird. All these stories are beautiful. And all of them are very, very weird. The writing and style and subjects are all a bit like a cross between "China Mieville", "Neil Gaiman", and "Jonathan Safran Foer", if you can imagine such a thing. The whole book feels slightly foreign. It reads like it was very recently translated from a language that only exists in narrow places.
Highly recommended. If you're into this sort of thing. (less)
Okay. So I've actually been done with this book for over a week, I just kept writing and rewriting my review so many times that I just gave up for a l...moreOkay. So I've actually been done with this book for over a week, I just kept writing and rewriting my review so many times that I just gave up for a little while.
This book drove me a little nuts in several ways, but what made me irritable and frustrated at the beginning of the book was, by the end, some of the things I liked best. For example: the first fifty pages or so was spent literally learning a new language. The slang, alien lexicon, and cultural and historical references that someone living within the internal world of the novel would use as a matter of course are not explained: just as you or I would not have to stop every third word in a conversation with a friend and say something like "and when I say cell-phone, I am of course referring to this device in my pocket which is a mobile communications tool." that would be unnatural. So in the book, it's exceedingly rare for a character to ever actually explain what a speely is. Or an avout. Or any of the other words of phrases commonly used in conversation of narrative. At the chapter heads there are occasional dictionary definitions of some of the words, and some of the words and phrases are explained during dialogs between teachers and students; but the majority of the language and culture is learned by context and inference. It's great. It made me work for it, but in an intelligent and entertaining way.
Another thing that made me mad was the stupid prologue. Neal Stephenson wrote an opening to the book where he tells the writers that when he used words like "dog" in reference to an animal in the book, he OF COURSE didn't mean a dog like we know them because this book is not on Earth and we shouldn't be so stupid to think so. I found it condescending. Especially after reading the first hundred pages or so. It felt so obvious that this WAS Earth. Somewhere in the distant future where the religious fanatics had finally overthrown reason and forced all the physicist and mathematicians and philosophers into cloistered prisons. The culture and fashion and manners of the book seemed to dovetail perfectly with where our current society feels like it's heading: this, I thought whilst reading the first quarter of the novel, could be us in 1000 years.
And I am an idiot.
(view spoiler)[ It's NOT Earth. It really isn't. One of the (many) big reveals in the story line is that layered, multiple universes are layered on one another, some of them are aware of the others, some are ignorant, and some are shown what they are by explorers from other universes. To be more clear: Arbe, the world in this book, is not Earth, but one of the layers. Earth is another one. In fact, one of the "aliens" that has arrived on Arbe is a Frenchman from Earth. This does not excuse Neal Stephenson for the smirking condescention in his prologue. he's still a dick. But this is still a marvelous invention. (hide spoiler)]
There are lots of other things I enjoyed about this book. the characters, the dialog. the huge and epic scopt of the story and the story telling. I like the messege that I got from it. Or, perhaps, the interpretation I placed on it.
This book is a lot of work at first. But it is an adventure, a travelog, a love story, and action novel, and a fascinating running discourse on science and philosophy. (By the by, this huge, confusing book is totally worth it even if the only thing you read are some of the educational dialogs between the avout at the concent in the first quarter of this book. Really pretty brilliant.)
Recommended. If you're into this sort of thing.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I almost shelved this book under "poetry." that would have been not entirely incorrect but at the same time pretentiously disingenuous. So I didn't. B...moreI almost shelved this book under "poetry." that would have been not entirely incorrect but at the same time pretentiously disingenuous. So I didn't. But I think anyone who has read this novel knows exactly what i'm talking about.
Here's where I get to tout my ignorance, something I am generally loath to do but must on this ocassion in order to make this review read a little more intelligibly. I had no idea about this book going in. I knew almost nothing about it when I picked it up other than 1)it was either set-in or related somehow to the first third of the 20th centrury, and 2)people had been recommeding I read it at least once a year for the past fifteen years or so. Different people, even. That's it. So when I tell you I was shocked and impressed at the pace and scope of this book and of the inventive and intellectual approach that E.L. Doctorow took to writing this thing, I had no idea that Ragtime had been named as a book which changed the way novels were written and read and even spoken about. Not having know what others had already accepted made this book a revelation for me.
It was wonderful.
This book didn't so much have a plot, in the sense of having a regular storyline. What it was, if I may use a messy metephore, was if the whole country in the year 1922 was a cake, Ragtime was a slice of it. It was about a specific time and place, and the thoughts of various types of people in various situations and station in live. Many storylines that, as in real life, were gently and only ephemerally connected and made up the whole, over-all "plot." To go back to the cake analogy: you can't say it's the eggs or the vanilla or even the flour that are the main part of the cake, just like you can not say which of the characters with their own stories were the most important. There is no main character in this book. Everyone is a protagonist. Everyone is a villian.
It was wonderful.
The book felt very real to me. Real-life historical figures walk around just like human beings rather than "historical figures" in this novel. A sense of time and place is exact. I certainly wasn't living in the United States in the early part of the 20th century, but reading this book made me feel almost like I had.
Recommeded. If you're into this sort of thing. (less)
Like her other novel that I read recently and enjoyed (Alice I have Been,) Melanie Benjamin has taken the (as she puts it) bones of historical fact an...moreLike her other novel that I read recently and enjoyed (Alice I have Been,) Melanie Benjamin has taken the (as she puts it) bones of historical fact and fleshed it out with the skin of fictionalized suposition and fancy, to very charming and touching results.
I like actual biographies and historical non-fiction in general, but there is something very alluring about a fictionalized account, especially when that account seems to use rational supposition rather than bending or pandering to the more purient rumors that generally suround historical members of the "B team"; and by "B Team" I mean people, usually women or girls, who seemed to have only a supporting role in their own lives. Like Alice Lidell from Ms. Benjamin's first book, a girl who in real life was a part of the inspiration for a pair of classic, beautiful fantasy novels, but who most people seem only interested to speculate was OBVIOUSLY merely the dim-witted prey of a vicious paedophile without much evidence to back it up and without thinking about the rest of her life or the context of that life and her personal choices and et cetera. In this book, the protagonist is Lavinia Warner, wife of Charles Sutton who was better known as General Tom Thumb. Being fond of the 19th centruy and also the life of PT Barnum, I knew who she was, but most accounts either gloss over her entirely or suggest she was a very simple little person and that was all. So it's appealing to have a fictionalized version of history that feels more plausable. A version which allows for human beings to be multifacited (just like real people) and to make good and bad choices (just like in real life). I find this fictional novel no less plausable in it's speculation and invention than I do actual non-fiction stories about these women's lives that are either extremely light on detail or full of losely-based speculation which can not be called fiction because it is scholarly speculation.
So. I seem to have found a nerve. I'll get off my high horse now and pack away the soapbox (to mix a metephore) and say that I enjoyed this fictional novelization of a real woman's life. I thought it was well written and made me feel happy and miserable and afraid when in the narrative such feelings were appropreate.
Recommended. But only if you're into this sort of thing.(less)
I liked this. Mostly. No, I DID, I was just really uncomfortable in sopme places, because I recognized a great deal of about the characters and their...moreI liked this. Mostly. No, I DID, I was just really uncomfortable in sopme places, because I recognized a great deal of about the characters and their situation: an erudite family living in Ohio with scholarly asperations and only girl-children? No: that doesn't sound familiar at all. This fictional family in the book has three daughters, while my real-life family had only two, and no written character is ever exactly like one's self no matter how close one can relate, but I saw portions of myself in all three of the sisters and parts of my sister in them, too.
I also related to the relationships of the sisters as well as their characters. My sister and I have not been close since before puberty. And loving someone doesn't mean you have to like them, or maybe are even capable of it. But, in all the world, no matter how different you are or how much you do or do not like one another personally, your siblings are the only ones who will understand you instinctively. You both come from the same place. Were reared with the same langage and stories and lessons and habits. For better or for worse, that's the way it is.
I think that it's especially so for sisters. I am not saying that brothers do not have the capacity for it or the ability or are in any way deficient; I'm saying that, like the excellent novel [Book: Boy's Life] by Robert McCammon which can be enjoyed by either sex or any gender but probably loses something if the reader was never a nine year old boy, this book Weird Sisters would mean something slightly different to readers who grew up with a sister. If that makes sense.
The story of the novel itself is average: three sisters who have made a general mess of their lives for one reason or another converge on their childhood home at a small, exclusive, private college in Ohio (think Kenyon College for reference)to visit their Shakesperian-expert-professer father and dying-of-caner mother. Lessons are learned, reforms happen or don't, et cetera et cetera, la-di-dah into the sunset. *shrug*
What makes this book very special is the excellent writing, the unusual choice of a nameless, but first-person narrator who is all of and none of the sisters, the fully-formed characters, the total lack of an easy-out narratively speaking, and the very realistic sense of humor that runs through it. It's an intelligent book that has a great deal going for it. Even if you never has sisters.
Recommended. If you're into that sort of thing.(less)
This is a delightful adaptation of a short, unfinished novel by Jane Austen that I has the shame of never being able to finish.
Generally speaking, I h...moreThis is a delightful adaptation of a short, unfinished novel by Jane Austen that I has the shame of never being able to finish.
Generally speaking, I have trouble with epistolary novels; I am a great believer in "show don't tell" and books that are just a series of letters are all tell and no show whatsoever. A few exceptions to this rule are letters of a personally relevent nature like the set of letters written by my great grandmother I was suprised and honored to recieve, or the Griffin and Sabine books which are more art than epistolary in nature. At any rate, I found Jane austen's Lady Susan to be dull and hard to follow: too many people with very little connection writing letters to each other. Also, I took away from my attempts to read it that the titular character of Lady Susan Vernon was a cruel, calculating, greedy hussy. I didn't like that at all. I could in no way relate to her or any of the characters.
In this adaptation, though, the authors took into account social history and the path of the other finished Austen novels and have written between the letters, so to speak, and delivered a very sweet, very real-feeling novel about gossip and missunderstanding and misfortune that I like very much. the good end happily and the bad unhappily and I have charcters that I can not only relate to but who are DOing rather than just TALKing about doing, which I appreciate.
Recommended, if you are into this sort of thing.(less)
The fictionalized life story of Alice Pleasance Liddel who was one of the inspirations for the fiction Alice of the Wonderland stories.
Told in first...moreThe fictionalized life story of Alice Pleasance Liddel who was one of the inspirations for the fiction Alice of the Wonderland stories.
Told in first person and going from when she was five years old up through her 90s, this book is ....
Look, I don't know what to say. This is coming off dry and my eyes hurt. I really liked it. Most of it. I am very fond of this period in history, though it's generally the beginnin gof the 19th century that has my fancy rather than the end of it and the beginning of the 20th. I also feel the voice tha uthor uses for Alice is genuine and her reactions and feelings and words seem natural and realistic for the times and situations. All the characters are fleshed-out. Helpful because they are based on real people, but tricky because it's easy to slide when the characters are based on real people when the real people they are based on are not perticularly famous. Ina Lidell was a real person, but no one outside of literary scholars know who she was (Alice's older sister) and therefore it was nice of Melanie Bejamine to make her feel like a real person. A horrible person, but a real one none the less.
I just re-read that and it makes more sense in my head. I'll come back and rewrite that more coherently later.
Forget it. I'll just rewrite this whole thing later. There's more I want to say but my eyes are really bothering me. Feh.(less)
It's been so long since I was on this site that I had to skip placing this book on the "currently reading" shelf and move it directly to "read." There...moreIt's been so long since I was on this site that I had to skip placing this book on the "currently reading" shelf and move it directly to "read." There are worse problems in the world then reading so much that you can't keep up with your blogging about it, I suppose.
So. this book seems to be a bit polarizing, depending on to whom you speak about it. I don't really want to get into who thought what or the other debates that some fellow readers have tried to get me into. I went into this book with no pre-conceived nothions other than my mother recommended it to me, and therefore got from it a great deal more than I probably deserved.
I very much like this book. I loved reading it and I will love readin git again, I think. For a third time, I mean. when I finished it the first time I re-started it imeadeatly and, knowing what I did after the first read-through, the book was a different one that I enjoyed equally as well.
Of course, this sucker hit many of my sticky points: magical realisim, the 19th century, strange circuses. Circus'? Circus ... eese? It is dark and weird and beautiful. It's about stories and love and pride and all those sorts of things that make for a fine fairy-tale. The writing itself is pretty good and, while not all of the characters are entirely three-dimentional (no pun intended), stylistically it didn't matter. And, actually, the less-fleshed characters suited the narrative.
The only problem I really had in reading this book was the time-jumps. Bouning from the mid 1900's to the early 1900's seemingly at random from chapter to chapter, it took me a good third of the book to stop needing to flip backward every few pages to remind myself of when I was. After a while, though, it didn't seem to matter and my brain caught-up just fine.
Recommended, if you're into that sort of thing.(less)
This book was very Michael Chabon but without the soul. If that sounds cruel I didn't mean it...moreHmm. This book was ... very short.
Sorry. I'll try again.
This book was very Michael Chabon but without the soul. If that sounds cruel I didn't mean it to be. The words are all very good. He certainly can string a sentence together. And it is such a wonderful idea, this story. An unnamed-but-recognizable Sherlock Holmes in his 90s, quietly splitting his time between beekeeping and dying while in retirement! A missing parrot who may or may not know a Nazi secret! It should have been ... better.
There I go with the ellipsis again. I apologize. But this book was disappointing in a way which is hard to describe. The characters were quite flat. The story got, frankly, boring. The only reason I finished it was because, at only 150 or so pages, what excuse did I have not to? Reading it, I got the feeling that it was less an actual story that an author wanted to tell, and more a writing exercise by a clever boy who didn't really care how it turned out in the end. This book should have been very good. As it was, it was "okay." Or, rather, "okay, I guess."
Disappointing. Neither recommended nor not recommended, per sey; there were very nice moments and some excellent words, but over all I was left feeling sort of .... ellipsis
This is the latest in a long-ish string of books which have dissapointed me. Maybe I should stop getting so excited about books and try to develop an interest in what normal people get excited about. Like celebrity gossip. Or whatever people who don't read like. Feh.
Sorry. Disapointment makes me do ugly things. Like turn into a snob. Sorry. (less)
I'm not sure about this one. I'll have to read it again, I'm sure. It has all the elements of a good Discworld novel and the right combination of them...moreI'm not sure about this one. I'll have to read it again, I'm sure. It has all the elements of a good Discworld novel and the right combination of themes and style that the Guards books have within the general Discworld series. Of course there is the over-all philosophical question that always lives in the middle of the Guards books, asking what it means to be human and what freedom is. Sort of. This one is specifically about slavery. The message is great. Powerful. One of my favorite exchanges in the book is between Vimes (one of my favorite characters in all of the Discworld canon) and the young constable of the village Vime's country house is near; in discussing whether goblins are people or vermin, Vimes points out that the Goblins seem to be good parents and the young man says that cows are good mothers but calves are basically just veal on the hoof. Vimes agrees, but asks what the young man would do if that calf came up to him and introduced herself by name. The young man says he would in that case have the salad.
I guess you had to be there.
Look, I don't know. I liked it. It was okay. I'm sure it will grow on me. I'm disappointed because I didn't love it. I know how dumb that sounds. It IS pretty silly. But the Discworld books are pretty much my favorite modern fantasy books period, and I am unused to being less than enflamed over them. Especially for no real reason that I can name: there was a good message, the writing was tight and witty, the characters were true to themselves ... I just don't know. The only other time I've ever been ambivalent about anything Sir Terry Pratchett ever wrote was Carpe Jugulam and that took me a few readings before I enjoyed it as I should. I'll read it again and maybe I'll either like it better or be able to say why I didn't like it so much this time around.
Recommended, but only if you've read some of the books preceding it. (less)
This gets four stars because some of these stories not only meet all the hype that surrounded the release of this book, but exceeded it. and then some...moreThis gets four stars because some of these stories not only meet all the hype that surrounded the release of this book, but exceeded it. and then some were really tiresome dreck. it all equaled-out to four-stars.
This is a pretty good collection. I love short stories and I love a well-written phrase. Wells Tower can write a really damnned good sentence, I will give him that. Sumptuous, even.
This seems a very masculine book in many ways. It's hard really to articulate why and in what way, though. It isn't that all the stories are about men, that's not it. It's a sort of feeling to it. I realize it's a terrible thing to make a statement and be unable to back it up with anything tangible, but that's what this book gave me: a lot of sensations and impressions rather than solid ideas.
In places, the fanciful bleakness reminds me a bit of David Foster Wallace. Sometimes due to content or concept, but other times just because both Wells tower and the late Mr Wallace can really throw a sentence together.
I don't know. I wish I could be less vague. Good book. My favorite story either "The Brown Coast" or "Down in the Valley," and my least favorite was "Retreat." What else can I say? Recommended if you either like good writing from a technical or academic standpoint, or if you are into the lives of the broken and sad hordes told from an almost zen perspective.(less)
I read this ages ago and recently picked it up again on a whim. I remembered vaguely not enjoying it, but couldn't remember why. Well, now I remember....moreI read this ages ago and recently picked it up again on a whim. I remembered vaguely not enjoying it, but couldn't remember why. Well, now I remember.
Lilly Bart, the protagonist on the novel, if that's what you want to call her, is so shockingly stupid as to make one wonder who she continued remembering to breathe long enough to get into trouble with Gus or become "dingey." Christ on a bike: this book should have been subtitled "Or How An Apparently Unbelievably Pretty Almost-middle-aged Young Woman Makes Nothing But Horrible, Thoughtless, Blunders In Judgment Or Action."
Of course it ends badly. That point, though, is generally though as a good thing by the faction of the world who, for some reason, hate books written by Jane Austen so much that they will tell you at length about it, but still really want to read novels written in the 1800s starting a woman. Some people WANT to read books in which everyone is destined to die unhappily. That's somehow a good time to them. Hey, I dig "bleak" every now and then, but don't tell me it's a better book than, say, Jane Eyre just because no one gets a happy ending, and especially don't tell me that "everyone dying unhappy" is more realistic than "the good ending happily and the bad unhappily." I'm afraid reality is a great deal more nuanced than that. If you want realism in 19th century writing I suggest you go for non-fiction, buddy, because the Victorians took the idea of The Novel seriously.
Sorry. Rant done. This book is beautifully written and fully of really stupid decisions. If you want to read something by Edith Wharton, skip this one and go for Age of Innocence. Unless, of course, you are into this sort of thing, in which case I say go for it.(less)
Yet another edition of the fan-fiction-esque re-writing of a classic 19th century novel with a supernatural subplot inserted somewhere a la Pride and...moreYet another edition of the fan-fiction-esque re-writing of a classic 19th century novel with a supernatural subplot inserted somewhere a la Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
While most of the other books of this relatively new (and weirdly popular) genre seem either to be sneering send-downs of the source material or good-natured and pop-culture-referencing satire that will cease to be relevant in a few more years, Little Women and Werewolves comfortably rides a strange middle-ground where the out-of-left-field insertion of blood-thirsty werewolves into the tale of the four March sisters doesn't seem as jarring or out of place as one would think. Another difference is that the werewolves aren't really the bad-guys in this story, unlike the inserted vampires in Jane Slayer or the afore-mentioned zombies from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
I liked it. Unlike some of the others I've read (which I did all like, I really did) I actually, sort of, um, well ... I sort of prefer this version to the original.
Please don't take away my literary-snob badge. Please?
Recommended. If you like that sort of thing. (less)
This book made me laugh out loud in several places. Now, I love Jane Austen and all of her books ... but Sense and Sensibility had always been my leas...moreThis book made me laugh out loud in several places. Now, I love Jane Austen and all of her books ... but Sense and Sensibility had always been my least favorite. It seemed to take itself more seriously than the others she wrote. It felt more like a melodrama than a comedy of manners like her other novels. So the vague disrespect for the source material didn't bother me with this as much as it did for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because I love to a great extent the source material, and the author obviously has dislike and disdain and a sneering disregard for the source material (Pride and Prejudice, of course). But with this book, I sort of share the dislike, so I could more fully appreciate the humor.
I'm performing in a play right now which has a decidedly Eastern feel in its premise, and the title characted is, in fact, a Jinn, so I decided to go...moreI'm performing in a play right now which has a decidedly Eastern feel in its premise, and the title characted is, in fact, a Jinn, so I decided to go back and reread this translation of the clasic Arabian Nights stories.
I love these. They're mavelous and bawdy and terrifying and beautiful. And this translation is neither edited nor censored, so I would highly recommend it to anyone, but with a word of warning to those folks for whom Disney's Aladin is their only reference point for these tales.(less)
Set in a comparatively progressive mental insitution in 1837 England, The Quickening Maze is less a story and more a series of snapshots of a very spe...moreSet in a comparatively progressive mental insitution in 1837 England, The Quickening Maze is less a story and more a series of snapshots of a very specific place in time.
There are several narratives throughout the novel: the asylum's owner is trying to help cure mental issues of his inamtes while trying to get backers for an invention he has laid plans for that will allow him to retire and get his family out of the crzy-folk business; the doctor's middle daughter has a huge crush on Alfred Tennyson, whose brother has just become a patient of the institution; another poet, John Clare believes himself various historical figures and, when he is being himself, believes that he is married to his dead childhood sweetheart; and other patients suffer horrible abuse at the hands of some of the asylums workers, and then there's the gypsys camped outside and the sub-plot of the doctor's older brother being an arse.... all lovely, detailed, historically accurate and emotionally honest pictures. but there's no story here. Things happen, but nothing leads anywhere or is resolved or climaxes or anything. At all. There is no ending. I suppose that could be in its favor, if one was looking for a book less like a book and more like real life, but I was expecting a book.
Well written and engaging, but alightly irritating. recommended, if you like that sort of thing.(less)