Favorite Quote:"Yet most women I know--no matter how clever, no matter how strong--are dragged down by husbands or fathers or titles or too many pettiFavorite Quote:"Yet most women I know--no matter how clever, no matter how strong--are dragged down by husbands or fathers or titles or too many petticoats, or priests clutching at their hems, telling them, 'No, you cannot do that, you cannot be that.' I never listened. That's rare." (141).
The rest of this novel is driven not by the writing but by the life of Julie d'Aubigny--cross-dressing, gender-bending, swash-buckling, opera-singing, bisexual demimondaine! The toast of all Paris in the late days of the Sun King. A glorious, jaded, decadent period in the history of France. La Maupin's gender-bending iconoclasm compels the reader.
The voice the writer chooses, much like the telling not showing of The Last Kingdom, irritates more than engages. Yes, I get that Julie is dying. I get that portions are dictation. The fragments, the lack of detail, the distance from emotion is entirely French. Whether it is the failing of an English writer, or the reason I left the world of French literature, it's distancing. One never feels the visceral emotions of the characters who are clearly meant to be larger than life. Their pain, their passion, their excesses are all dictated/described at a distance. Characteristic of the French, n'est pas? Perhaps. Still, I never felt the connection the author intended....more
I have absolutely no doubt this is very well-researched, and as historically accurate as a 21st century writer could make it. I am equally confident tI have absolutely no doubt this is very well-researched, and as historically accurate as a 21st century writer could make it. I am equally confident that the lack of emotion in the narration is probably true to the time period. It was hard for me to connect with the story or the characters, however, largely owing to my insistence on reading the lurid prose of Johanna Lindsey or Catherine Coulter. In those worlds, Vikings and Saxon History are simply a backdrop against which characters have smutty, smutty sex.
Thank goddess for the BBC. They took a dry, emotionless narrative and gave it some life. They added dialogue. They created relationships between all characters. There was even a gratuitous tit shot. When it comes to this series, I think I'll stick with the Beeb....more
This is the third book I have read for my Accidental Book Club and it's been the best so far. Life in 19th century Iceland certainly was bleak, especiThis is the third book I have read for my Accidental Book Club and it's been the best so far. Life in 19th century Iceland certainly was bleak, especially for convicted murderesses who are scheduled to die. The author definitely tries to blend history with fiction by incorporating actual documents from the trial and incarceration of Agnes Mangnusdottir.
The whole time, however, I felt as if this were a poor man's Alias Grace. It made me wonder where I had put my copy of Margaret Atwood's novel. ...more
Warning: This is not a novel to read on a summer weekend while all around you, the neighbors barbeque.
I rather expected a detective novel based on desWarning: This is not a novel to read on a summer weekend while all around you, the neighbors barbeque.
I rather expected a detective novel based on descriptions of Mo Hayder's other work. However, this novel focuses on a young British woman and her obsession with the horrors of World War II and Sino-Japanese relations. Add a mysterious professor with a secret, a campy and sketchy gentlemen's club with a Japanese Marilyn Monroe imitator as proprietress, a terrifying Yakuza boss with a dark past, and lots and lots of mutilation and cannibalism, and well, it doesn't make for summer barbeque weather reading. That's all I'm saying.
This book has a soundtrack. When I was 11, my Gram was reading these novels. I would sneak them off her shelves and read them in my room while listeniThis book has a soundtrack. When I was 11, my Gram was reading these novels. I would sneak them off her shelves and read them in my room while listening to my favorite ABBA albums. I can't think of this novel without thinking of 'Knowing Me, Knowing You.' I must have read each volume of the Kent Family Chronicles at LEAST four times each with the first three (The Bastard, The Rebels, The Seekers) being my favorites. This was in my pre-historical romance phase and I though this book terribly romantic and terribly smutty. After all, Phillippe kisses the "valley between Alicia's breasts." I had no idea what smutty was, but I did quite like Philip Kent and when Andrew Stevens played him in the mini-series I liked him even more.
When I found these had been re-released, my curiosity got the better of me. I am impressed at my 6th grade self's ability to wade through all the boring paraphrases of the treatises by Messrs. Locke, Rousseau, Adams, Franklin. Really. I have no idea how I managed to stay awake because my forty-something self kept falling asleep. American history is really boring. Sorry Americana buffs. Either that or John Jakes is much more boring than I remember.
Oy, and the cliches. The bit of a slut that lives in the heart of Alicia Parkhurst. The virginal, spitfire Anne Ware. That wacky, horny Mr. Franklin etc.
Still, it's been a fun stroll down memory lane. The ebooks are pretty expensive so I may have to troll the used bookstores for the remaining volumes. Maybe I'll even try to find the Dana Fuller Ross Wagon's West series. Now that would be crazy!o...more
It would seem that I am constantly being thwarted in my search for satisfying historical fiction. While I appreciate the historical accuracy and the mIt would seem that I am constantly being thwarted in my search for satisfying historical fiction. While I appreciate the historical accuracy and the meticulous research McCleary did for this novel (as opposed to the OTHER historical that fell flat) I still found myself wanting something else. I did like the details surrounding the French Anarchists and the cafe society of Monmartre, mais le livre? Il ne m'etait pas satisfait. Pas de tout. Quelle domage.
As intrepid as the character of Nellie Bly was, I would have appreciated more intellect and less ridiculous buffoonery. Not knowing much about Bly herself, I can't make any judgement as to the accuracy of her voice in the novel. The author has definitely done her homework so I have to assume that the voice she gives Bly is one of accurate homage. If that is the case, I have to say I am not a fan of her discourse. I may read the second in the series to see if Bly comes into her own but this was still a bit fluffy for my taste....more
I heard this book was rape-y. But damn. I didn't expect it to be THAT rape-y. There is not a single good man in this novel; not a single man who hasn'I heard this book was rape-y. But damn. I didn't expect it to be THAT rape-y. There is not a single good man in this novel; not a single man who hasn't put his penis somewhere adulterous, unwanted, or underage. Except for John Indian. And what a stereotype he was.
The women were marginally better, being mostly victims and passive under the tutelage of their menfolk who were "ministers at home."
Can't decide if this is a scathing indictment of men, Puritans, Christians or history. Either way, there isn't a lot of redemption--either in people or story line.
If you like rape and victimization, well, here you go.