Okay, or maybe it's that I still hate Turin. Sorry, I know there's the whole tragic hero thing going on, but he's so much his own enemy that I can never really come up with any sympathy for him (though I love Beleg Strongbow and Nienor).
The Alan Lee illustrations are beautiful, though. ...more
Charlotte Mielswetzski and her British cousin Zee have some problems. Weird-looking guys in tuxedos are following them, all the kids around them are gCharlotte Mielswetzski and her British cousin Zee have some problems. Weird-looking guys in tuxedos are following them, all the kids around them are getting sick, and a mysterious kitten has appeared out of nowhere. Well, the kitten isn't a problem, but everything else is, and Charlotte and Zee need to figure things out and save the world...by descending to the Underworld.
I was a little disconcerted by the narrative voice at first (lots of parentheses, lots of speaking directly to the reader), but then I settled into it and really enjoyed it. Ursu uses Greek mythology inventively and humorously and keeps the story going with lots of action (though the ending was a tad rushed)....more
This tale of a failed haberdashery firm is definitely a lesser Trollope, but it's amusing and worth reading (if you're a Trollope fan, anyway, and mosThis tale of a failed haberdashery firm is definitely a lesser Trollope, but it's amusing and worth reading (if you're a Trollope fan, anyway, and most Trollope fans are the kind who will track down all of his books regardless). It's a satire on advertising, and very funny in spots, though the characters are more caricatured than usual for Trollope (but as expected given the subject and style).
Another thing unusual for Trollope is the narrator: it's told by "one of the firm" (Robinson, to be exact), and though it's third-person, it's very much Robinson's point of view rather the usual Trollopean narrator (though Trollope's voice breaks though a couple of times). ...more
This is the fifth in Trollope's Barsetshire series, which I've been very slowly rereading over the past year or two. It deals with the love affairs ofThis is the fifth in Trollope's Barsetshire series, which I've been very slowly rereading over the past year or two. It deals with the love affairs of two sisters, Lily and Bell Dale, and of them, mostly with Lily, who becomes engaged to society man Adolphus Crosbie while being the object of affection of clerk Johnny Eames, a longtime friend of the family. What I particularly like about this book is that Trollope doesn't go for the easy, sentimental, happy ending; Lily is certainly in some ways an annoying character (or at least some of her histrionics annoy me), but he allows her to be steadfast in a realistic way. ...more
The final book in Trollope's Barsetshire series is simply a masterpiece of character and setting. The basic plot, which revolves around a clergyman, MThe final book in Trollope's Barsetshire series is simply a masterpiece of character and setting. The basic plot, which revolves around a clergyman, Mr. Crawley, accused of stealing a check, is rather thin and stretched out, but Trollope populates his novel with some of the most well-realized characters in Victorian fiction. Mr. Crawley himself, proud, impoverished, depressive, is particularly superb.
I have got to Trollope's third novel in my ongoing Trollope-read, and unfortunately, I can see why it's little-known. It's a historical romance, set dI have got to Trollope's third novel in my ongoing Trollope-read, and unfortunately, I can see why it's little-known. It's a historical romance, set during the French revolution, and unfortunately, it's not a good genre for him (I don't think he ever wrote in it again). The characters are rather stereotypical (virtuous rebel aristocrats, evil revolutionaries, simple peasants), not as richly drawn as in later Trollope, though I did like his thoughtful (though short) portrayal of Robespierre.
There are a few exciting bits, but they're few and far between; perhaps reading this right after a lot of Dumas, the master of swashbuckling, wasn't terribly fair to it, but a novel with this much action in it ought to have a rather faster pace. Clearly Trollope was still searching for his voice and style (which he found in his next novel, The Warden). ...more
I'd been bouncing off new-to-me romance authors right and left for months, so I was hesitant about trying this, but I ended up liking it quite a bit.I'd been bouncing off new-to-me romance authors right and left for months, so I was hesitant about trying this, but I ended up liking it quite a bit. Gigi and Camden Saybrook have been living apart for years, ever since something happened on their wedding day to part them. When Gigi asks for a divorce, Camden returns from America, and sparks fly.
Thomas uses flashbacks to good effect to show their early relationship; refreshingly, it turns out to be a truly terrible mistake Gigi made, rather than an annoying Big Misunderstanding, so that it's understandable that the separation would have happened and lasted so long. I thought the ending was really too easy, though: the happy ending was given, not earned, and so wasn't as satisfying as it might have been. Also, though I liked the secondary romance (with an older couple), I thought it pulled the focus away from the main romance too much.
Still, I liked this more than enough to seek out Thomas's next book, Delicious. Oh and yay for the late Victorian setting, which was a nice change from the everlasting Regency. ...more
Rilka lives in a small village, where it isn't safe to go out after dark lest the beguilers lure you away, and where odd creatures called chuffies absRilka lives in a small village, where it isn't safe to go out after dark lest the beguilers lure you away, and where odd creatures called chuffies absorb human emotions, ridding the villagers of their negative feelings. Rilka has always been a misfit, and when she decides to try to catch a beguiler, she becomes an outcast. Though she does discover an astonishing truth about her world, her journey is mostly a coming-of-age tale, showing how she grows and changes as she copes with her difficult path.
I figured out the central mystery before Rilka did, but not far enough ahead that I got impatient, fortunately. The pacing is generally good and suspenseful, though I thought Rilka was overly given to long self-analysis in a way that didn't always blend well with the narrative. Also, the ending felt rushed; the implications of what Rilka reveals to the rest of the villagers aren't fully addressed, and given the importance of her discovery, I'd have liked to see that explored more. Still, Rilka is a well-developed, interesting character, and I liked the small-scale (what lies beyond the village?) but convincing worldbuilding. ...more
Unusually for Trollope, this is set partly in and around Jerusalem. Unfortunately, this just means that Trollope's insularity and racism, which are whUnusually for Trollope, this is set partly in and around Jerusalem. Unfortunately, this just means that Trollope's insularity and racism, which are why I don't like his travel writing, are to the fore, and so I didn't enormously care for the novel as a whole. ...more
This isn't one of Trollope's best-known novels (though it's hardly obscure), but I think it's one of his best. Years ago, when Sir Joseph Mason died,This isn't one of Trollope's best-known novels (though it's hardly obscure), but I think it's one of his best. Years ago, when Sir Joseph Mason died, there had been some question about his will, which left most of his property to his eldest son but included a codicil leaving Orley Farm to his youngest, Lucius, son of his second wife. When the case came to trial, the authenticity of the will was apparently proved, and Lucius inherited. Now, though, an enemy of Lady Mason has uncovered evidence which reopens that old case.
The plot revolves around the doubtful will and possible forgery, but Trollope isn't really interested in creating suspense around whether or not Lady Mason is guilty; he makes that clear early on, and it's her fate, whether guilty or innocent, and the outcome of the second trial that provides the suspense. There are romantic subplots, of course, and to me, easily the most interesting one is the moving, poignant relationship between Lady Mason and old Sir Peregrine Orme. In fact, the older people are generally more interesting here than the younger, especially Lady Mason, whose richer personality and experience make her a far more complex heroine than the more typical young women. If you've never read Trollope, I think this would be a good place to start. ...more
Takaki brings together a multitude of voices to tell the rich, complex story of the non-Anglo peoples of the United States: African Americans, Asian ATakaki brings together a multitude of voices to tell the rich, complex story of the non-Anglo peoples of the United States: African Americans, Asian Americans, Indians, Jews, Latinos, and more.
He begins with the colonization of North America by the Europeans and "the racialization of savagery", whereby the Europeans came to believe that the Indians were different from and inferior to them, and that this difference was based on race and skin color. Then he goes on to examine the experiences of other peoples, taking a roughly chronological approach and devoting each chapter to a specific group and their experiences in a particular period.
Takaki lets his subjects speak for themselves constantly; the text is full of quotations from songs, poems, prose, and interviews. This is one of those books which opens your eyes to the history you're not necessarily taught in schools and to many overlooked aspects of the rich cultural and ethnic heritage of the United States. ...more
This is an overlooked small gem of a novel. Margaret Mackenzie is a spinster in her mid-thirties who receives a large inheritance when her brother dieThis is an overlooked small gem of a novel. Margaret Mackenzie is a spinster in her mid-thirties who receives a large inheritance when her brother dies and must then deal with what comes with the inheritance, including several suitors, who may or may not simply be after her money. Trollope depicts Miss Mackenzie with his usual unsparing honesty, and although in his autobiography he called her "a very unattractive old maid", her modesty, charity, and dignity endear her to the reader. I found myself so sympathizing with her that I found the rather everyday plot quite engrossing. ...more
Cassie Logan doesn't understand why possessing land means so much to her family, nor does she realize that so many of the white people around her thinCassie Logan doesn't understand why possessing land means so much to her family, nor does she realize that so many of the white people around her think she's inferior to them. Then the night riders appear, threatening the black people in her community with tar and feathers and burning, and Cassie herself is humiliated by a white girl. Taylor's depiction of the moral choices the Logans must make is complex: though they may want to resist (and Cassie does several times), there's a fine and dangerous line they cannot afford to cross, lest they be the next targets of the night riders.
The characterization is excellent, not only of Cassie, but of her whole family and her friends, of the white people who target them and the few who support them. This is one of those books I can't believe I missed when I was growing up, but at least I can make sure my son reads it in a few years....more