**spoiler alert** Light and reasonably enjoyable. Presented in letters between two cousins -- I was distracted by the fact that at least one of the co...more**spoiler alert** Light and reasonably enjoyable. Presented in letters between two cousins -- I was distracted by the fact that at least one of the cousins talked as if the post took days to arrive, which I don't believe would have been the case at the time. The language felt more Heyer-ish than Austen-ish (or perhaps the Heyerian affectations are just more noticeable) and was a little awkward at times, but I enjoyed the setup and the progress of the love stories even if I was slightly let down by the proposal scenes (I prefer a lot of rehashing of every time the characters doubted or deceived each other, and I really really wanted to know whether James Tarleton was pissy that time because he thought that Cecelia was in love with Mr Wrexton, and all I really got was a word and a brief mention of what was apparently an inappropriate and marathon public kissing session in each case.) (less)
An interesting piece of history I hadn't known anything about. I enjoyed the little details from the contemporary writers and the historical context....moreAn interesting piece of history I hadn't known anything about. I enjoyed the little details from the contemporary writers and the historical context. In the beginning of the book some of the speculative inferences about Olimpia's attitude felt a bit inelegant, and toward the end I was rather amazed that the author still had so much apparent sympathy for a woman who was not only completely unscrupulous about stealing from the Vatican but who also actually refused to do anything to ensure that her brother-in-law (Pope Innocent X) was appropriately buried. However on the whole quite interesting.(less)
**spoiler alert** I learned a long time ago to expect nothing from Austen-themed books, so I limit my intake severely. (The only one I have ever had a...more**spoiler alert** I learned a long time ago to expect nothing from Austen-themed books, so I limit my intake severely. (The only one I have ever had a positive reaction to was Vanity and Vexation by Kate Fenton, and it wasn't trying to be a sequel, prequel, or a detective novel.) However the reputation of P. D. James and a couple of positive newpaper and word-of-mouth reviews convinced me to give it a try. Unfortunately I found it mainly insipid or ridiculous.
There is no detection in this book. Darcy's thoughts are only on the topic of his family's reputation and his love for Lizzie. Lizzie appears to be a model of rectitude and the situation allows her to find no amusement. Jane and Bingley are almost invisible and Lydia is denied any kind of sympathy or understanding, because she's just that unpleasant. The question of Georgiana's two suitors lacks interest because (even though I confess I suspected Colonel Fitzwilliam of being the father of Louisa's baby even after the revelation came that it was of course Wickham) fairly early on it is clear that Alveston is favoured by Georgiana, Lizzie, and Darcy. In fact the notion that Colonel Fitzwilliam (who is too . . . egalitarian? . . . to presume to use his title for some reason) is interested in her hand seems to be abandoned fairly early on.
Speaking of Louisa, I assumed immediately that Georgie was her own baby, because it seemed so unlikely that her sister would have sent the baby home without his mother. And I assumed that Colonel Fitzwilliam must be the father because he made a point of going to see the Bidwells alone on the night of Captain Denny's death, and of acting like he wasn't 100% sure of Louisa's name. I suppose that this was how P. D. James successfully distracted me from suspecting that Wickham was the father even though she named him Georgie. There was no explanation for why he was named Georgie, because although George is Wickham's given name, he had presented himself to Louisa under the name "Frederick Delancey"* and when she found out his real identity she hated him for it.
* because it amused him to have initials that could be mistaken for Fitzwilliam Darcy -- and, ludicrously, apparently they carved "F D_____y" all over the forest as a token of their love. It's that final y that makes it art.
And another thing: why did James set Death in 1803? I have always been under the impression that P&P (as published; I know Jane Austen originally wrote it earlier, etc. etc.) was set in 1811 and that the dates mentioned in the text support this theory. I suppose she was forced to by the story of Wickham's behaviour in the Irish Rebellion, which was frankly unnecessary as far as I could tell.
I was just dipping back into P&P to console myself and instead Mr Bennet's comments on Mr Collins' idea of "Christian charity" specifically on the question of whether Lydia and Wickham should be received in the family home, have enraged me against P. D. James afresh.
**spoiler alert** I read this book because after I saw Game Change I came across the info that Nicole Wallace had written a novel about the first fema...more**spoiler alert** I read this book because after I saw Game Change I came across the info that Nicole Wallace had written a novel about the first female US President and that it was interesting. They did not mention that the prose was dull. Or that all of the main characters are presented as if they are perfect with no recognition that they are merely shallow.
There are three main characters, all female. Each chapter is from the point of view of one of these. They are the Republican President (Charlotte), her Chief of Staff (Melanie), and a TV journalist (Dale) who also happens to be having an affair with the First Husband.
Charlotte boasts of her foreign affairs achievements, but it is honestly not clear to me what she is actually supposed to have accomplished. She has friends who smoke pot recreationally but she seems proud of the fact that she made medical marijuana illegal. Her Democratic opponent is a former beauty queen who has (gasp!) let herself go, so it cheers the President up when people refer to her as "Fat Frankie". She shudders at the thought of letting the loony left beat her in the election!
I have absolutely no idea what policies Fat Frankie might enact that would be so terrible. However Charlotte is not irrationally partisan: she chooses a moderate Democrat as her running mate! Melanie turns up her nose at her because she's pushy and loud and unladylike, and even though they try to fix her wardrobe insists on dressing in undemure outfits. But they are a brilliant team, so even though Charlotte pledged not to "campaign", they are able have amazing town hall meetings and win all the debates and eventually win the election.
Charlotte nobly releases her husband to the Other Woman before the uncampaign begins. They had drifted apart anyway.
Melanie has a tedious romance with a male journalist and is rewarded after the election when Charlotte promotes her to Secretary of Defense.(less)
**spoiler alert** I forget what motivated me to get this book from the library, but I think I had the idea that Dido Kent would be slightly less conve...more**spoiler alert** I forget what motivated me to get this book from the library, but I think I had the idea that Dido Kent would be slightly less conventional and that her ability to rise above the limitations imposed on her by her time and place would be expressed more interestingly than occasionally acknowledging (apparently without irony) that she is indeed a mere woman and math is hard. Seriously, there are at least three occasions where arithmetic is mentioned as something that Dido struggles with and/or is amazed that any woman can do.
I didn't hate the book and it wasn't badly written, but I didn't love Dido Kent or have any interest in what becomes of her. I didn't mind the solution to Richard's end of the mystery, but I had made up a much more interesting story for his mother in which she was a renegade abortionist instead of a passive victim, so I was disappointed there. And it seemed to me that it was insanely inappropriate for Mr Lomax to suggest to Dido that he might have proposed to her if he didn't have to pay off his son's debts. Nobody likes the son, so the idea that Dido is willing to not only be his stepmother but also to go on and find him a rich wife so that he won't be a burden on his father just seems obnoxious. (less)
**spoiler alert** I'm pretty sure that I made the mistake of reading this book because I heard a review on the radio that said it wasn't worth reading...more**spoiler alert** I'm pretty sure that I made the mistake of reading this book because I heard a review on the radio that said it wasn't worth reading. However I was also intrigued by what I understood to be the premise, a kind of scholarly metaliterary and possibly gender-flipped treatment of "The Marriage Plot". Unfortunately in execution it didn't resonate with me. Maybe it's because I never studied English literature after high school and don't have a grasp of modern (or is it post-modern) literary theory. Maybe it's because the first half of the book is pretty tedious and neither Madeleine nor Mitchell were very interesting to me. The fact that Mitchell's background seems to be similar to the author's came across as creepy and because the time(s?) when he and Madeleine were close friends are always described from a distance his fixation with marrying her just seems creaky and ridiculous. There is no intimacy to make the idea plausible.
I was more engaged in the second half of the book in the section from Leonard's point of view. I still didn't especially care who married Madeleine or for how long, but I found the description of how Leonard decided to adjust his own medication more vivid than pretty much anything else in the book.
On the whole though it didn't work for me at all.(less)