I have to say that all in all I was rather disappointed with this book. As a lover of F. Scott Fitzgerald I had high hopes and was really looking forwI have to say that all in all I was rather disappointed with this book. As a lover of F. Scott Fitzgerald I had high hopes and was really looking forward to reading it, but for me it just fell flat.
I can understand some difficulty in writing a novel based upon a real persons life and particularly if you focus on only a small portion of that life as this story revolved around F. Scotts later years working in Holloywood. But virtually nothing happens throughout the entirety of this book. It does make me wonder what the author's thoughts and inspiration was in feeling this needed to be told in a novel.
There were a few sporadic interesting moments here and there. The most interesting parts of the story dealt with F. Scotts visits to his wife Zelda and their outings together. Most particularly seeing the ways in which Zelda's appearance changed every time he saw her which made me want to know more about Zelda's experiences. But these episodes were short lived.
I was sympathetic to Scottie, Zelda's and F. Scotts daughter caught as she was between a mentally imbalanced mother who was often either in a drugged induce state of happiness in which she was not her true self, or during a bad fit could be cruelly critical of her daughter and a father who was dealing with his own issues and seemed rather self-involved. There is little doubt that F. Scott loved his daughter but he did not seem to really take into consideration how his actions and behavior might impact her.
It was not a poorly written book but it dragged on at a snails pace and I really could not get engaged within the story. The last few chapters of the book were the most compelling. ...more
I am a lover a historical fiction and find the period of the Black Plague to be a fascinating time in history. A morbid and tragic event that did brinI am a lover a historical fiction and find the period of the Black Plague to be a fascinating time in history. A morbid and tragic event that did bring out many strange and bizarre behaviors in people. So I was quite intrigued by this book.
I thought it was a beautifully written story and I thought the author did a wonderful job of showing amid all this despair and death there is still hope and life.
The story is set within a small village that goes into quarantine after plague is discovered to be in thier midist. A preecher tries desperately to hold everyone together but the experience tests his beliefs and makes him doubt his life choices. Brooks shows us a range of human emotions and the many different ways people react to and try and cope with such tragedy, how such events bring out both the very best and very worst in people.
Living in such close quarters, isolated from the outside world and struggling with such unbearable hardship people learn things about each other and themselves they never knew and both hidden strength as well as weaknesses begin to come to the surface.
One thing I really commend Brooks for is the skillful way she created Anna. Many works of HF seem to have difficulty with female characters. In an attempt to make then strong, independent and relatable to the modern reader the characters come off as feeling too modern and don't seem to truly fit into the time period of the story. But Brooks created a female character who was relatable, strong willed and independent while still being believable and flawlessly fitting into the story.
This is a story about love, grief, life, death, perseverance and the human spirit to find a way to endure, grow and move on.
This was a difficult book to rate/review because of the fact that there were so many different stories and narrative voices used, which is one of theThis was a difficult book to rate/review because of the fact that there were so many different stories and narrative voices used, which is one of the things which I did enjoy about the book, but some of the stories I really liked a lot, and really hooked me in, and others fell a little flat and lost me a bit, so from story to story my thoughts and opinions of the book would change. One story would make me want to give this four stars, but than another story would brig it down to three for me.
I tried to view the book as a whole, and though there where parts of it of which I did not find as engaging than other parts, there where some things which I did really enjoy about this book and I did think it was well written, and cleverly done.
As I mentioned already I loved the way the author integrated various different styles of narration in the story, the changes in the narration gave each of the characters there own unique voice, and you could really feel their personality in the way each of their own stories where told. I also really like books which allow the reader to view things from multiple different points of view.
I really liked the way in which this story revealed the way in which one single, extraordinary event connected through the lives of so many vastly different individuals, and how the most unlikely of events can bring the most unexpected people together. I also enjoyed the views about time in general, the passage of time, the past vs. the present/future, which where presented within the book. And the ending I thought was a really good way of further emphasizing these ideas about the cycle of time. ...more
Philippa Gregory is one of those authors whom I struggle with, because sometimes I quite enjoying reading her, and sometimes I find her work falls a lPhilippa Gregory is one of those authors whom I struggle with, because sometimes I quite enjoying reading her, and sometimes I find her work falls a little flat for me. I think she can tell a good story, but one of the things which gives me difficulty about her, is that she seems to straddle the line between Historical Romance and Historical Fiction and sometimes leans too much towards the romance side for my preference. I often take issue with her female characters whom I rarely find to be particularly likeable.
I had some conflicting feelings about The White Queen. There were elements of it which I did quite enjoy. In some regards it seemed to parallel The Other Boleyn Girl which was one of my favorite of her books thus far. There were a lot of similar elements between those two stories. I also liked the way in which in some ways The White Queen seems almost to foreshadow events within The Other Boleyn Girl.
The other thing which I did enjoy about this book is the way in which Gregory weaved in the mythology, and superstition of the time period in the story. She adds a touch of magic to the book in which the reader can decide if it is real, or if indeed it is all just coincidence.
Yet at the same time in some regards I felt this book almost felt a bit too Fairy Tale like to justify itself as Historical Fiction. One of the biggest difficulties I had with this story was the whole love at first sight occurrence which happened between Elizabeth Gray and Prince Edward. The man who was responsible for the death of her husband, the ruin of her family, rendering her boys both without a father, and without inheritance and yet the moment she first lays eyes upon him she instantly falls madly, and hopelessly in love with him.
I also had problems with Elizabeth herself, who was both the main character and the narrator of the story. As mentioned above, I simply did not like her nor could I ever really bring myself to sympathize her. For the most part I found her father obnoxious, as well as a hypocrite who was quick to judge others for actions she herself had committed. She expects loyalty from others when she herself has no problem in switching sides when it suits her.
The other thing I found bothersome about this book was there seemed to be a lot of redundancy. At various different points throughout the story the author would repeat events which the reader already knew, and there seemed to be no necessity nor any real purpose served in the repeating of them. ...more
There were some things which I really enjoyed about this. As someone who finds the French Revolution fascinating I am always intrigued by books whichThere were some things which I really enjoyed about this. As someone who finds the French Revolution fascinating I am always intrigued by books which deal with the subject. I did quite like the way in which this book took a often written about subject and showed a rather different view of things not normally encountered. Rather than focusing upon the revolution itself, and the politics of it, this book was about the way in which the revolution affected the daily lives of the common people, the peasants, not just those within Paris itself, but also those living in the surrounding villages. Those who thought removed from the direct violence of the revolution still felt its impact and felt the consequences of it.
There were some really good detailed descriptions within the book, and the book was well researched. I loved learning of all the superstitions held among the village peasants, and as someone interested in natural healing and midwifery, enjoyed the sections dealing with the narrators mother who was a midwife. Also the chapters dealing with the insane asylum La Salpêtrière were the most fascinating parts of the book. It was most interesting encountering the infamous Jeanne and getting to see things from her point of view, I enjoyed her as a character within the book.
With that being said there are some things I felt were problematic in the book and did not quite sit right with me. There were certain events which occur within the story, that while in themselves could potentially happen, but the way in which they occur within he story somehow did not feel quite believable. At moments the story did have a feel of unreality to it. There was a lack of realism for me. I felt certain events were forced just to move the plot forward.
In addition the narrator of the story remains passive throughout the majority of the book. There is no real sense of her actively taking part in the things which happen to her and around her. Most the time she just seems to be there while events happen, and when things happen to her, she passively endues them until her circumstances change. So she feels sort of disconnected or aloof from the story and what is happening. She rarely feels like she is actively involved in what is going on, but more as if she is just there as a witness to report events to the reader. It might be because of this that I did not feel a sense of realism in the story, because I never really connected with the narrator, because she herself seemed so detached from the things which were happening around her, and to her.
In some of the most significant events which happen in her life, she did not feel as if she was truly present, as if she was taking an active role in them, but as if they were things simply being done to her. Because of this it was hard to really believe in, or feel her emotions, and it gave certain things an almost dream like quality. ...more
As a person who loves the work of Henry James, I could not resist reading a book about his life. Though I have to say that while I will not say I didAs a person who loves the work of Henry James, I could not resist reading a book about his life. Though I have to say that while I will not say I did not enjoy this book, nor will I say that I found it to be badly written, it did have its good points, and elements to it that were interesting I will say it somehow was quite not what I expected it to be. Though I cannot say just what I did expect, there was just something that was missing for me, I did not fully connect with the story, it failed to thoroughly engage me.
A bit ironically I found that this book was rather slow moving for my tastes, and it was difficult for me to get through it. It dragged a bit at points, and was somewhat tedious. I say ironic, because I know that is how a lot of people feel about the writing of James.
One of the things which I most enjoyed about this book was the way in which the stories of James were brought into it, the author demonstrates how different experiences, and people James has known influenced and inspired his writing. It was fun to try and guess which of his stories were being alluded to at certain points in the book. ...more