For me, Possession is like a bottle of wine or a box of really good chocolate (the really, expensive and sinfully good kind). There is an aboluste beaFor me, Possession is like a bottle of wine or a box of really good chocolate (the really, expensive and sinfully good kind). There is an aboluste beauty in this book, and it seems to lie in the details. How all the characters still in character, the resolution to both romances at the end, all the touches about criticism - all these ring true.
Over the years I have read this book, my favorite character has gone from Maud to Leonora then to both. Leonora, it seems to me, is so much larger than life, and I have to wonder if the character got away from Byatt, if perhaps, she had been intended to be more of "bad" critic than she is.
One of the best and greatest books ever written. Without a doubt, a canon book. Something I re-read every year to year and a half....more
This collection includes several stories that tie in with Stoker's novel and do so well. In other words, you can tell the editor and authors have readThis collection includes several stories that tie in with Stoker's novel and do so well. In other words, you can tell the editor and authors have read Dracula more than once....more
I think that this one of Horwoods best books. The story is not too long or too short. The book touches on some of themes that run though Horwood's othI think that this one of Horwoods best books. The story is not too long or too short. The book touches on some of themes that run though Horwood's other works, but there is not any preaching....more
I picked up this book because I wanted to read fiction, and this sounded interesting.
In many ways, it is a very surprising book. I hadn't read anythinI picked up this book because I wanted to read fiction, and this sounded interesting.
In many ways, it is a very surprising book. I hadn't read anything but Vine (or Rendell) before, but after reading this I have. The funny about this book is that the mystery is easily solved by an attentive reader. Anyone can figure it out before the narrator. I know it sounds strange, but that makes the book better. It allows for the characters to drive the plot and allows for the reader to care more about the narrator. What the reader is left with is a interesting family history combined with the story of a marraige. It's a gripping book....more
This is a somewhat strange book, but it presents an interesting "What if". The premise is that Dracula won and took over England. Instead of using jusThis is a somewhat strange book, but it presents an interesting "What if". The premise is that Dracula won and took over England. Instead of using just historical characters, Newman brings in famous Victorian fictional characters as well (most notably in reference to Sherlock Holmes). This is risky because it makes two sets of fictional characters (Newman's own and those character he borrows) as well as real historical figures. It works because Newman has done his research, not only in terms of the literature (you can tell he has read and thought about Dracula, but in terms of history. Be warned, there is violence, so if you are looking for a "polite" novel, this isn't it....more
Magic and reading have something in common. It’s that thin wedge that question of what is real and what is fantasy. We know that the magician is doingMagic and reading have something in common. It’s that thin wedge that question of what is real and what is fantasy. We know that the magician is doing some trick, but we just can’t get it, can’t figure it out. With books, good ones at least, the trick is the writing taking you someplace else. Books aren’t the only thing that can do this – a good movie, painting, music. It’s this line between reality and fantasy that Carter explores in this novel about a circus performer who may actually have real wings. At first glance it seems as if Fevvers is the only character with this problem, but every character in the book comes into contact with this question. Even the tigers, which may or may not really be jealous lovers. In many ways, this is the human condition, the search for ourselves. Is our work face our real face? It might not be the wings that Fevvers has, but the question of reality and fantasy is one we change and fight in some way every day. ...more
The first book I ever read by Angela Carter was The Bloody Chamber, which I read because Ellen Datlow &Terri Windling listed it as one of the mostThe first book I ever read by Angela Carter was The Bloody Chamber, which I read because Ellen Datlow &Terri Windling listed it as one of the most read fairy tale based books. (As an aside, I discovered a great many writers and books much sooner than I would've thanks to D&W. Thanks ladies, from the bottom of my heart).
While I love Chamber in particular the title story, I now think that my favorite Carter work is this book.
What really makes this book is the narrator Dora Chance. A crusty, at times foul mouthed, old dame, she is one of those characters who could quite easily step off the page. (And why this book hasn't been made into a movie, I don't know. Dame Judi Dench could be the twins in their later in life years). It truly does feel that Dora is right next to you, in one of those smoky English pubs that no longer really exists because of the smoking ban, have a gin with you, telling you the whole sordid, messy, humorous story.
Dora and her twin sister, Nora, are the illegitimate daughter of an acting scion. They are never, truly acknowledged by their father, but by their uncle Perry and, strangely, their father's wife, 'Wheelchair' aka Lady A. What Dora unfolds for the reader is the family story, worthy of any soapy soap opera. She does so in a unapolgetic, unrepenent tone. This was the way it was, if you don't like it; hoof it style of speaking.
It has wonderful lines like, "Saskia . . . unique amongst mammals, a cold-blooded cow" or "Comedy is tragedy that happens to other people". And I now do wonder about Mrs. Lear.
There is much of Ellen Terry and her crowd in the characters, much of the bardioloatry that took hold of the world. Carter mocks all of this, gently.
There seems to be a trend in current dark fantasy novels, and that is of the misunderstand vampire lover. Most vampires in popular fiction today tendThere seems to be a trend in current dark fantasy novels, and that is of the misunderstand vampire lover. Most vampires in popular fiction today tend to be romantic leads. There is Twilight, Anita Blake, The Hollows among many. There is nothing wrong with this, though it does raises a host of questions, among them as Ceridwen aptly pointed out in her review of Kitty and the Midnight Hour, what is so attractive about making love too a walking corpse? Wouldn't it be cold? Additionally, the vampires never truly seem to be vampires. They lack change. What is worse, they seem, in many cases, to be little more than mutants or highly powered beings with little or no drawbacks. In many cases, they lack bite. The heroine of the series is always stronger, always better, always controlling of the vampire. There is no sense of the vampires having actually live the span they claim to have lived. They lack a sense of having lived though history, despite the words the authors put into thier mouthes.
It is refreshing, therefore, to read a book such as Those Who Hunt The Night. Hambly is one of a select few who actually make her vampires, well, vampires as opposed to neutered wanna bes. While her Ysidro has a degree of sex appeal, there is no way I would want to met him in a dark any place. It is though light and sure touches that Hambly shows the reader that Ysidro has lived the history. He makes little comments, like about how annoyed he gets at servents and coachmen, that reveal his worldview is crafted by not only the time period he was born into, but by the time period he has lived. This is true of all the older vampires in the novel. There is a former doctor, who is frustated because he can no longer keep up medicine, there is a lord and lady, there is a vampire monk. (Yarbro is another writer who does, and Tanya Huff's vampires feel old).
This isn't to say that the vampires lack humanity. Hambly explores what living such a long span can do to a person. We given vampires that are at ease with what they are as well as vampires who seem to have tired of the life, or lack of life. With the inclusion of the Farrans, Hambly also illustrates whether mortal bonds might transcend the transformation to vampire. She also deals with the issue of whether or not a vampire will go to heaven or keep belief in a god.
Hambly's non vampire characters are also drawn well. James and Lydia are a well crafted couple, and Lydia, as most of Hambly's heroines, is not a standard maiden in distress. It made a nice twist to see Lydia more fasinated by the medical side of vampirism; its causes and how it works. Hambly shows that a heroine doesn't have to kick ass in order to be strong.
I also loved the line about income tax.
All in all, however, Those Who Hunt the Night is a vampire book for those who like vampires with actual fangs and bite....more
**spoiler alert** Despite the rather presumptuous sub-title of "case closed", Cornwell doesn't prove her thesis. In fact, this book is a text book for**spoiler alert** Despite the rather presumptuous sub-title of "case closed", Cornwell doesn't prove her thesis. In fact, this book is a text book for how NOT to write a book that solves a historical mystery.
Problems 1. Cornwall has never heard of footnotes.
2. She does not fully explain why she chose to investigate Sickert. It really does sound like she chose him for the killer because she liked the cop who thought he did it.
3. When discussing how women were seen at the time, why is Cornwell citing a book written in the 1600s? And only that book?
4. No close ups of the paintings that show ripper themes which means I did not see what she was talking about.
5. Having the lab you fund do tests to prove your thesis doesn't look good. At least have an independent lab back up the findings.
6. Any criminal, according to this book, is a psychopath.
7. Presumes that the Ripper wrote all the Ripper letters.
8. How does she know her Ripper letter is the real, deal? (If just saying it makes it so, than anyone want to buy the lost Manet masterwork of a woodpecker I own?)
9. Somehow I doubt that Cornwell is the only Ripper expert who worked hard, despite what she implies.
10. Cornwell keeps saying she wouldn't do something, and then does it. She says she won't psycho analyze, and then there she goes.
11. How does she know about the penis of a dead and cremated man? (I really want to know the answer to that one).
12. If he wasn't a good actor (which is what Cornwell says), how could he be so good at disguises that no one recognized him until Cornwell did?
13. She does not rebutt fully the claim that Sickert had an alibi.
If you want to know how NOT to construct an argument, read this book. Otherwise, skip it....more
There is something about Dracula. It's not solely the fact that the book was genre breaking in a way that the vampire tales before it were not. PerhaThere is something about Dracula. It's not solely the fact that the book was genre breaking in a way that the vampire tales before it were not. Perhaps it is the characters, so multi-layered and, so many of them, so questionable. Is Van Helsing the great, good guy as he makes himself out to be? What really is the relationship between Lucy and her mother? Why do Harker and the Count mirror each other? What extactly is it with those wives? Everytime you read the book, there is something new. For me, however, it is Stoker's choice of words. Every word seems to have been chosen with care. Take, for instance, where Mina reports of Dracula's attack on her. She reports that Dracula told her she would be avenged on the man. It is a wonderful choice. Revenge would be the wrong word. But avenge? Especially, after the men left her out of the hunt? Oh, yes. In that one word, Stoker shows the reader how cunning a devil Dracula is....more
This is the second P. D. James book that I read and the book that turned me into a fan. While it is true that James spends a large amount of time settThis is the second P. D. James book that I read and the book that turned me into a fan. While it is true that James spends a large amount of time setting up her characters, I like that. I enjoy it because when a death occurs, it feels like a death and not a plot point. Too often in murder mysteries the death is forgotten. The victim is simply an agent to get the plot moving. James' never forgets, or lets the reader forget, that someone who had a life died....more
This is the James book that I came closest to disliking. It really is okay. The reason why is because the ending does not make sense; it isn't fully bThis is the James book that I came closest to disliking. It really is okay. The reason why is because the ending does not make sense; it isn't fully believable in the terms of one character, a character that James, for once, did not do a good job on. If you have never read P. D. James before, don't start with this one. Start with The Murder Room or A Certain Justice....more
This is an enjoyable Francis novel simply because the character of Gabriella is one of the better Francis heroines. It also stands out because the chaThis is an enjoyable Francis novel simply because the character of Gabriella is one of the better Francis heroines. It also stands out because the character of Henry goes though a believable character change and arc. There are connections in his growth and behavior that Henry doesn’t see, but that the reader does. The point of the novel seems to be class, and there is a slight plot hole that a reader will wonder about. Readers should be warned, however, that this is one of the more violent Francis endings. ...more