**spoiler alert** I thought this Victorian "ghost story", set in Postwar England was more of a historical fiction novel with a subtle supernatural thr**spoiler alert** I thought this Victorian "ghost story", set in Postwar England was more of a historical fiction novel with a subtle supernatural thread sewing it all together. I have to say, it didn't rope me in at first. I didn't feel very connected to any of the characters and never DID find one that I particularly liked or identified with. The closest I came was with Betty, the young house servant. But overall, I thought that the atmosphere of Hundreds Hall was authentic and the story, while a little dragging at times (which I believe was part of the strategy) was good. I DID feel like the characters were one-dimensional and that is what made this book less than great. I have read that some people found it wordy, but I didn't mind, because like I said, I was reading it like a historical fiction novel, and they usually ramble on at great length to interest readers in the setting, both chronologically, socially, and culturally. I think that this book would actually be one of the few that would translate even better on film, if the director stuck with the novel. The subtleties and creepy happenings would be more eerie to witness than to read about. Seeing an elderly woman hanging on the backside of a door, the running past a door's keyhole, sets up a little like the unseen terrors in Paranormal Activity or The Entity. There were parts of it that reminded me of The Turn of the Screw, as in people who think they may be going mad when, in fact, they are witnessing supernatural events. This was the first of Waters' books I have read and I'd like to see what else she has up her sleeve.I appreciated how Waters tied in the theory that people can actually psychologically manifest "supernatural" things to occur, and that debate between real or imagined was illustrated muchly in this novel. The theme of a man attempting to control the emotions of a woman (Dr. Faraday and Caroline was pretty glaring and to me, extremely interesting. It also reminded me of PA and I thought the scariest part of that dynamic was when Dr. Faraday refused to admit at the inquest that there was a supernatural force present in Hundreds Hall that was the root of the family's problems, and instead let everyone think that Caroline had simply become unhinged and killed herself. From what I hear of her other books, and strong women's power themes, this was a little bit man-hater-ish. But I love Tori Amos too, so there. ...more
Very interesting historical fiction about Edgar Allan Poe and all of his relationships and maladies. I enjoyed this book immensely, but now I am afraiVery interesting historical fiction about Edgar Allan Poe and all of his relationships and maladies. I enjoyed this book immensely, but now I am afraid that I will take what I've read here and my brain will take it as fact, regurgiatitng to people who are looking at me, like huh? That's not what really happened to Edgar Allan Poe. Haha. What do you do? Maybe I'll have to read something factual and set myself straight....more
So I had checked this book out from the library a while ago, and returned it without ever getting to read it. Then my mom read it and really liked it.So I had checked this book out from the library a while ago, and returned it without ever getting to read it. Then my mom read it and really liked it. We usually read the same types of things, so I rechecked it out. Now, let me give a disclaimer -- although I am not racist or prejudice or anti-American Indian, etc., etc. I normally do not enjoy reading books about their history. It's always brutal, depressing and the books are all about who's to blame, who did what, yadda yadda yadda. Everyone in history has treated everyone else like crap, okay? I get that. I actually don't know why I pulled this book off the shelf, I think I remember thinking it would be something like a ghost story and then I just decided to try it.
That being said, I did not really like this book. It wasn't just that, like pretty much ALL Native American historical fiction, it was totally depressing (parents and siblings were scalped, main character was separated from her only surviving brother and never saw him again, was held as a captive and then traded two a pair of Seneca sisters to replace their brother who was killed by WHITE MEN, etc.,etc.) but the book was written terribly.
The main character in the story, Mary Jemison, AKA Two Falling Voices ACTUALLY existed and was interviewed about her life by a surgeon who then wrote a book about her. This book was used, along with other books pertaining to the history of that time and the author pieced it together, obviously creating much of the novel from her imagination. That, I don't have a problem with. But the way the author seemed to just have cut and pasted excerpts from Mary's actual storytelling with her own narrative was just terrible, terrible, terrible. This would have made a much more interesting short story, news article, something much less drawn out than an entire novel.
And although I found her particular life interestingly lived, I had a hard time buying the whole "I AM A PART OF THIS INDIAN TRIBE AND LOVE EVERYONE NOW AND WOULD NEVER GO BACK TO THE WORLD OF THE WHITE MAN" position that this book seems to repeatedly infer. If I were captured by someone at a young age and taken to a place where nobody else spoke my language and I couldn't learn to read or write and then was offered the chance MANY YEARS LATER after I had produced offspring and made the only life I had the chance to make, I probably wouldn't have the skills to re-enter my old society either. And this was in the late 1700s, early 1800s. I mean, how would she been treated by the white people had she returned? In that time, she would have faced judgment because of her children being part Indian and maybe even because she didn't die and chose to make some kind of life for herself, even if it wasn't ideal.
I know, I know, her two Indian husbands cared for her, treated her well enough and the Senecas weren't the ones who killed her family and took her as captive. So she did have it better off than remaining a captive of the tribe that actually took her. But its still sad, people were very cruel and vicious to each other back then, hey they still are, but at least we're not tomahawking each other to bits or scalping our enemies, right? A more "civilized" society, we abuse each other using more technological advances, hah hah hah (that's sarcastic laughter, by the way).
I think this book has turned me off of Native American ficiton for good, unless someone can change my mind....more
**spoiler alert** I'm still kind of letting this book brew. I can say that once I got into it, I didn't want to stop reading. I love books that are da**spoiler alert** I'm still kind of letting this book brew. I can say that once I got into it, I didn't want to stop reading. I love books that are dark and lovely and seem historically accurate, so you feel as if you're really learning something about yourself and history, through the story and characters. I had checked this book out from the library before but didn't get to start it and I am really glad that I read it. I found the idea that so many of our classic religious figures, people who were supposedly touched by God, could very well have been schizophrenic, which I personally find much more believable. Not that I don't believe in God, but it would explain a lot of people's bizarre actions in the name of their religious beliefs. I am inspired to read more about the Beguines and other groups discussed in this group and, as a disclaimer, I must state that world religions have always fascinated me. There were so many great themes the author exposed in this book: guilt, faith, forgiveness, physical and internal beauty, the path of the soul, reincarnation, truth, mental illness, and most importantly, love. I have always wanted to read Dante's INFERNO and in fact, have it on my bookshelf. I will be reading it for sure now, and kinda wish I already had so that I could appreciate all the references to it in this book. Marianne's death wasn't a surprise but it was definitely affecting. I will never look at gargoyles and grotesques the same way again. I will definitely be looking for more of Davidson's books, if he has any. Do you ever read a book that you're so into that you're sad when its over because you want to stay with the characters and see what happens in the rest of their lives?? That doesn't happen with me often, but it did with this book. It is one that will linger in me for a long time. It was poetic and horrific and beautiful and I loved it....more