I had heard amazing things about David McCullough's research and writing abilities but hadn't read anything by him until John Adams. I bought it purelI had heard amazing things about David McCullough's research and writing abilities but hadn't read anything by him until John Adams. I bought it purely because I was looking for some audio books to listen to during my long trips visiting family. Lucky for me, I found an unabridged copy on sale for $9.99 at Borders. Since buying this audio book, I've seen the collection sell for as much as $40+ dollars, so I'm especially elated at the price of the purchase.
I had no idea what was before me when I started this audio book. It took my husband and I almost a year to finish John Adams. That wasn't because we weren't enjoying it. On the contrary, we absolutely loved the facts, details, and personality that McCullough created in this biography of a truly prolific American and one of the finest presidents of our time. We didn't want the book to end, and I cried when it did. I'm actually glad I listened to John Adams rather than read it because it would have taken even longer to finish it. My hands would have been very occupied taking copious notes of interesting tidbits about Adams' life and his loving relationship with Abagail. I could see myself saving myriad amounts of direct quotes from Adams' own writings and letters. Eventually, I did purchase a paperback copy of this biography to track some of the data in it. John Adams was a pioneer in American history and did much more for our country and its people than the average citizen realizes.
I tried to find a favorite part from the biography, but it was very difficult to choose just one because of the massive expanse of time and data covered. If you twisted my arm until I picked just one moment from John Adams, it would have to be the letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Adams that never got delivered. It was written when Adams beat Jefferson and became the second president of the United States of America, right before the two really began to quarrel. Jefferson was persuaded from delivering it by the ever meddling Madison. McCullough speculates that the letter might have changed Adams' presidency. It broke my heart to hear such praise and confidence from one close friend to another get lost in a file until some historian unearthed it many years later. As for my least favorite part, it would have to be the end of the book. I was very sad to see both the biography and John Adams' life come to a close.
Honestly, I enjoyed the entire biography. The layout is chronological:
* Early Childhood * School Years * Career as a Lawyer * Marriage to Abagail * Foreign Ambassador Services * Vice President * President * Retired Years
The primary setting is America, specifically the original thirteen colonies, although there are plenty of international scenes explored thanks to John Adams' and his son's travels as American Ambassadors. The purpose of the book is to deliver a thorough biography of a relatively obscure American president (compared to such historical giants as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln). The character development presents a realistic portrayal of a complex man, husband, father, and president. There are no particular themes, motifs, and literary devices used, although McCullough emphasizes some overarching characteristics such as honor, loyalty, stubbornness, steadfastness, Christian morality, pride, and love.
A few facts that I enjoyed:
* Adams seriously courted a woman before Abagail Adams. * Adams defended the British soldiers from the Boston Massacre. * Adams played a major role in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. * Adams was an unstoppable force who called for independence when many other "brave Americans" balked at the difficulties the nation would have and did have because of the war and split with Britain. * Adams helped draft the Constitution. * Adams had a tumultuous relationship with both Franklin and Jefferson. * Adams firmly disapproved of slavery and never owned one his entire life (neither did his wife Abagail).
I could list tidbits forever, but that would take away from the joy of discovering them yourself when reading this truly fascinating piece of history.
John Adams wasn't a perfect man, and he made many mistakes:
* How Adams developed his relationships with others. * Adams' sometimes short temper * Certain actions Adams took while president * And perhaps his Achilles heel-- Adams' self-degrading attitude (He was always his worst critic.)
Though he found himself acting too proud for his own good, Adams was a man who put his nation and its people as the second most important aspect of his life (God was always first). Adams' Christian morality allowed him to lead a life that I find inspirational for his time period and even our own. As I learned more about this mysterious historical figure (for I had learned little about him in my history classes), I discovered someone that I'm proud to call an American and Founding Father. Here is a man I would love to have a philosophical, religious, or political conversation with. Adams' intelligence, caring nature, and love of literature made me fall in love with him just as his wife did. Abigail Adams' was truly a lucky woman to have known him as intimately as she did, being his true love and confidant. If I could meet any person from history, it would be John Adams.
David McCullough has a gift for exposing the careful details of a historical figure's life. Because of this talent, the book is accessible to any audience. Even if one doesn't like history, this is a great way to change that mindset. To some degree, the book reads like a novel, and John Adams takes on a fictional role of greatness akin to Macbeth or Romeo. He is larger than the contents of the book, and the audio version will probably compel many to finish this read more than the text version, which is massive and daunting for many readers.
Nelson Runger reads the book. He has an excellent voice and changes his tone/inflection when quoting from Adams' original writing, which makes it easier for the listener to acknowledge the primary sources versus the secondary sources/the researcher's commentary. The mobility of the audio books is the real draw and is very handy for anyone that travels a lot. You can listen to the book in the car, in the comfort of one's home, or even during a workout session at the gym (which is actually a lot of fun because you can stimulate both your body and mind).
The only qualms I have about Nelson Runger's voice is that sometimes it's too low and comes off as "soothing," which makes me sleepy during a nonfiction read. There were times when I found myself nodding off and dreaming that I was living in the era of the early Americans (not necessarily a bad thing). Thankfully, it was very simple to skip to the previous tracks. Still, I recommend listening to this piece when one is awake and alert to really appreciate all the information in this fantastic book.
Overall, this is a must have book for anyone who calls themselves an American. Even foreigners will appreciate this historical gem. I've never had the pleasure to read such a piece of nonfiction/biographical writing. I hope to find more like this one in the future and will especially look for some of McCullough's other biographies. Eventually, I want to watch the HBO mini-series that was adapted from this book to write a comparison/contrast piece.
There are really only two negatives about this audio book:
1. Nelson Runger's voice might make you sleepy if you're not alert when listening to the audio book.
2. There is no bibliography or footnote references of the historical research for the reader to use for further exploration.
Ultimately, there is no reason not to try this audio book and experience a new side of American history. Bring the past to life with this timeless nonfiction classic. If I ever teach an American History class, I will be sure to reference parts from this book purely because it's a treasure-trove of information with new facts for students to discover daily.
When I first read the Fear Street Series as a young child, I thought they were spooky books. I eagerly anticipated author R.L. Stine's next novel becaWhen I first read the Fear Street Series as a young child, I thought they were spooky books. I eagerly anticipated author R.L. Stine's next novel because all the strange things that occurred on Fear Street were connected in each succeeding book. This title was no exception.
My first two readings of Double Date were enjoyable ones. I was around eleven years old the first time I read it and probably around fourteen the second time. So, when I saw the book on sale for $0.25 at the Friends of the Library Sale in Eureka, CA, I knew I couldn't pass up this opportunity to revisit a childhood favorite.
The story is about a high school boy named Bobby Newkirk. He's obsessed with his good looks and believes he's God's gift to women. All the girls want him, and once he's dated them for a little while, he discards them like used tissues. That is until he meets his biggest challenge: the Wade twins. Samantha and Bree are as different as night and day, and Bobby's determined to make himself a high school legend at Shadyside High. Who else has the animal magnetism and the self-confidence to date twins at the same time? No one but "Bobby the man."
Of course Bobby is not someone the reader should admire. His conceitedness and chauvinistic-machismo attitude is revealed in the first page. He's a high school "player." As an adult, it was a little difficult to stomach the entire novel knowing what I do about women's rights and feminism. Plus, Bobby's character is really despicable, an utter creep. Of course, I don't think middle school/pre-teen readers will be worried about the social and cultural implications of the main character in Double Date. After all, it's a classic horror piece, and R.L. Stine creates a story that teaches a valuable lesson about how women should and shouldn't be treated in his traditional, twisted manner.
The setting of the novel is Shadyside High, the Fear Street High School. Unfortunately, the location is not highlighted enough when you consider the rich and vivid world that R.L. Stine has developed. Mainly, side characters just mention that strange things happen because they live on Fear Street, as if that explains the horrors that occur.
As previously stated, the main character is Bobby and the plot centers on his love triangle with Samantha and Bree Wade, twins that moved to Fear Street a year ago. Other minor characters include Bobby's band players, Arnie and Paul. The book is also littered with a variety of cheerleaders and other women that Bobby has dated. The boy really leaves a string of jaded women with broken hearts behind him.
There's not a lot of character development, but what do you expect from a book that's 150 pages? What it lacks in development is made up by Stine's craftiness at creating a delectable horror novel for children and young adults. There are no literary elements used, and there is not a lot of depth to the story. However, Stine does teach children a valuable lesson about how actions have consequences. In this case, it's treat others the way you want to be treated...or else...
The nice thing about Double Date, and really all of R.L. Stine's writings, is that they are age approach despite their subject matter. In this case, I would say readers as young as ten or eleven would enjoy Double Date. There are no sex scenes, and the furthest physical contact that "Bobby the man" has with any of the girls that he dates is kissing. There is no foul language, and although it's spooky, there are no real dangerous or violent scenes until the very end, and even that is almost comical, especially from an adult's perspective. Considering some of the teen horror novels that are out there, R.L. Stine is really "old school" and gets a PG rating from me. If you are still a concerned parent, I would recommend reading it for yourself before giving it to your child. Teenagers, though, should be able to handle the content of this novel easily enough.
As an adult reader, the novel is boring. It can't compare to literary horror geniuses like Stephen King or Dean Koontz. The writing is pedantic and predictable. As a younger reader, I remember it being suspenseful, thrilling, and mysterious. Not anymore. Perhaps part of my disappointment was because I already knew the ending, or perhaps it was because I've developed intellectually as a reader. Regardless, the age of the reader will affect the enjoyment of Double Date.
Overall, Double Date is a quick read that shouldn't take most readers longer than a day to finish. It's a good introduction to the horror genre for young people, but it isn't the best Fear Street novel by R.L. Stine. Still, it was a nice visit down memory lane reading the book as an adult. It marks my third read, which was enough for me. In the future, I won't be going on a fourth date....more
It had been a while since I read a short historical romance, so I decided to look through the large stack of books my mother gave me. I picked one atIt had been a while since I read a short historical romance, so I decided to look through the large stack of books my mother gave me. I picked one at random and was pleasantly surprised by the premise. Even if I had not read the summary on the back cover, I would have guessed parts of the book based on the Twelfth Night quotes that separated “Part I” from “Part II.”
There are two main characters, Valentine Ardsley, granddaughter of an earl, and Lord Richard Diccon Leyburn, an earl from Yorkshire. Valentine has recently lost her father in a military battle, and in an effort to remain independent, she disguises herself as a young stable boy. You can just imagine some of the mischievous adventures she has. The best part about her disguise is the ability to connect with the working class in the earl's household and the unexpected friendship between her and Diccon. Plus, who doesn't enjoy a cross-dressing heroine in a romance novel?
Although I like both Valentine and Diccon, I was disappointed by the lack of character development. The story is told through the first person perspective of Valentine, which limited my understanding of Diccon. “Part I” is too short, and Valentine doesn’t have enough antics while disguised as a boy. Additionally, the characters stay the same throughout the entire book because, as it turns out, they are perfectly suited for each other. The trials and tribulations that separate them are rather tame compared to most of the romances I read. Even though their character development is nonexistent, I still enjoyed the novel. There's something sweet about having such likable characters that remain the same.
Other supporting characters are rather superficial. There are various workers at Diccon's homestead, like Georgie and Mrs. Scone. Family relations include the earl's cousin, Ned, and Valentine's grandparents, who you meet in “Part II.” Finally, there are various suitors for Valentine's affections, many of who fall flat and are even less developed than Diccon. The only one I connected with was Lord Henry Sandcroft purely because he resembles Valentine's father. In the end, the story is about Valentine's and Diccon's relationship. Everyone else becomes part of the setting.
The setting was perfect for this type of a story. There are plenty of descriptions about the beauties of the countryside which contrast nicely with the stark city life. Valentine quickly learns that London is a place for change and fashion, emphasized with the Season, while the countryside is almost its own kingdom. Notable author Shakespeare is referenced a few times, mainly his misrepresentation of Richard III. Since England's Regency period is one of my favorites next to Medieval, I appreciated the setting.
There are no special themes or motifs in the book other than your usual "love conquers all" sentiment. "To thine own self be true," no matter how unpopular that makes you, is another sentiment expressed in the novel. Other interesting subplots include the discussions about change, especially with workers and factories in the city. One character, radically-minded Martin Wakefield, Valentine’s cousin, discusses England's government. I am rusty on the history of the Whigs and the Tories, so I glossed over these details. I wasn't compelled to research them either, which is a sign that the book is lacking. These ideas might have been explored in more depth, but then Fool's Masquerade would be too serious. In the end, it is typical escapist literature: light, fluffy, and delicious to read. It's a "feel-good" book and was what I needed after losing the diamond from my engagement/wedding ring.
This is the only book I've read by author Joan Wolf, but I was suitably impressed that I won't hesitate to read another novel by her. There are only two flaws 1) The lack of depth to characters and issues 2) The first person perspective. Of the two, the perspective is the most harmful. In terms of a romance novel, it’s uncommon to read from this point of view. In terms of Fool's Masquerade, it limits and isolates the reader even making the writing technique appear clumsy.
Despite this major flaw, the book was a refreshing break from more serious reads. I also appreciated the "teen" quality. There are no sex or explicit situations between the hero and heroine (extremely PG), which more mature readers might consider another fatal flaw to the first person point of view. I consider the characters' innocence, love, and affection for each other a refreshing change of pace. Plus, it's always sweet to have a genuine gentleman in a romance novel.
This book is a perfect read for those who enjoy historical romances and want a quick read. It's also suitable for a younger audience, like middle school or teenage readers....more
I don't usually read contemporary romances other than Jennifer Cruise and Jayne Ann Krentz books. When I saw Tongue In Chic at the Friends of the LibrI don't usually read contemporary romances other than Jennifer Cruise and Jayne Ann Krentz books. When I saw Tongue In Chic at the Friends of the Library sale, I decided to give it a chance merely because Christina Dodd was the author. I've always enjoyed her historical romances, so I was curious as to what she would deliver in the contemporary realm. As I expected, Dodd wrote another fun read with memorable characters engaged in funny and romantic situations.
When reading the book, I didn't know it was part of a larger series. It wasn't until I started writing this review that I discovered that Tongue In Chic is the second book in the Fortune Hunters series. Since Dodd is tying these books together, I'm surprised that she skimped on some of the supporting character details. Seeing that I have not read the others, I can only presume that money, or fortune hunters, is the only detail that ties them together. However, there was a cameo appearance in this book by the main characters from Trouble in High Heels, Brandi Michaels and Roberto Bartolini, which was a nice touch. I wondered who they were, and now I know!
The hero of our story, Devlin Fitzwilliam, is your typical romantic interest: devilishly handsome, strong, intelligent, and arrogantly stubborn. At first, his possessive attitude and seemingly cold personality make him an unlikeable person. However, as his history is revealed, the reader gains an understanding and sympathetic attitude despite his guarded demeanor.
Next, bring in Natalie Meadow Szarvas, called Meadow throughout the entire book. She was atypical when compared to most romance heroines I am familiar with. Meadow reminded me of a hippie or a modern bohemian woman, qualities best portrayed in the garden scene. She is free-spirited, uninhibited, and extremely loving, all a result of her unusual upbringing. Of course, the heroine is the exact opposite of Devlin, who had an unhappy childhood and tough adult experiences. The only other quality I wanted Meadow to have was strength. She was independent and stubborn, just like Devlin. However, she kept getting hit on the head throughout the book. Devlin was reduced to coddling her at numerous points in the book, which I don't find romantic, especially when its redundant.
The interactions between the two characters is what makes the book exciting. From the very first moment they meet, it feels like love at first sight. The desire and passion is there, which is always a must for romance novels. What really makes the book endearing is the way the characters grow because of their friendships with each other.
The supporting characters were engaging and interesting as well. I especially liked Four, Bradley Benjamin the fourth. I found his unique relationship with Devlin believable despite the animosity between their families. Even Four's father, who you can't initially stand, turns out to have redeemable qualities. This is a romance, after all. The reader picks up the book hoping that most if not all the characters will have their own happy endings.
Everything can't be all happy-go-lucky, even in a romance novel, though. Dodd not only develops the conflicts between the protagonists of the book, Meadow and Devlin, but also brings in outside villains. The mystery behind them is revealed early on or easily guessed as the story unfolds. This doesn't bother me as a reader, though, because I didn't pick up Tongue In Chic expecting a great mystery. I chose Christina Dodd's book for the romance, and she delivered that along with humorous situations (and who couldn't use laughter in life?).
My main negative critique about the book is that Dodd didn't develop the back stories of the people enough, especially the supporting characters. She only hit the tip of the iceberg. She gave readers the bare minimum information and then left us hanging onto the edge of our seats craving even more. This was unfortunate because all of these characters were as important to the overall romance as the main protagonists. Perhaps she didn't want their stories to overshadow Meadow and Devlin's interactions, or she was afraid that the writing would transform into a soap opera rather than a romance novel. Another reviewer even guessed that Dodd had page limitations set by her publisher. Either way, this book could have surpassed the traditional confines of the romance plot structure if Dodd had just taken the story a little further than planned.
Even without the additional development of details, this book is a fun and easy read. It's light-hearted, quirky, and will make you laugh. Best of all, it has a happy ending. There's nothing to feel guilty about when reading a romance novel, especially one by Christina Dodd. We all need happy endings once in a while....more
Initially, I was very excited to have won Under Man's Spell as my first Goodreads Giveaway novel because it closely described the types of literatureInitially, I was very excited to have won Under Man's Spell as my first Goodreads Giveaway novel because it closely described the types of literature I read and study at college. I'm fascinated by the postcolonial worlds and having read contemporary pieces by Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, to name a couple, I was excited to see what former Tanzania resident J.K. Muta had to offer.
From the very first chapter, I realized this was not the type of book which could compete with authors I had studied and analyzed while in college. The writing was too pedantic. I still hoped the book could stand on its own, especially considering its focus on women. By the time I finished chapter one, I knew it didn't matter what the subject matter was. This was not a well-written book.
There were many flaws to this book. The writing style was the most glaring problem. It was written as if someone was telling a story rather than describing or living it. Every detail, no matter how inconsequential, was included and repeated throughout the entire book. It was extremely boring to read the same things over and over again. Many of these nonessential details could have been cut to increase the pace of the story, such as describing the characters when they rode bikes around town or were washing up after eating. Subsequently, I couldn't find one quote worthy to save. Another major flaw to the story was the overall scope. The story encompassed a generation of people that by the end of the novel turns out to be related, albeit a bit distantly. Until that point, the reader is confused as to who the characters are and why the story jumps around, both location and time period. I forgot who people were, especially when there were at least ten or more chapters between character highlights and focuses. Including a family tree at the beginning of the book could have solved many of these problems. A map of Tanzania and an index of Tanzania words would have also helped with the understanding of the location and language of the characters. Relating and feeling anything for the characters and the horrors they went through was nonexistent because the writing was so detached. It was also strange and confusing that practically all the men in the novel were evil. They always wanted the women for sex and were abusive and violent to them. It didn't matter whether a character was living in a rural tribe or in a larger city. About 90% of the men in this novel were macho bastards that ruled the women with an iron fist. There was no balance between the good and evil. There were a couple of male characters that had consciousnesses and souls, but it was never explained how or why they ended up with modern ideas about gender equality. I actually balked at re-picking the book up on numerous occasions. There was no way I could handle the boring descriptions, confusing characters, and seemingly improbable, or at least overly demonic, situations and characters. The scope of the book was too large for what the final product was.
The setting of the story was unique and interesting. It was one of the few redeeming qualities of the book. However, Tanzania was not described vividly enough, and the jumping around to cities and rural villages was not tracked well enough. Consequently, the reader felt disjointed as to where the author was taking them and why.
The story and plot had potential if the author could have cut down the scope and focus. Instead of using a lot of women to highlight the troubles of Tanzania, she could have featured one person. That one person could have experienced or seen the murdering of Albino babies, burning of witches, polygamous marriages, rapes, and the unsafe abortions (just a few of the topics addressed in the novel). Even then, choosing one or two problems to highlight would have been easier to understand rather than showing everything that was wrong with the undeveloped nation. I also didn't understand why she included the little story about colonization that Abe told Kabula's daughter. It seemed like an unnecessary detail that was never revisited later on in the book. In fact, Western Civilization was highlighted as being the only way the women would gain power and control in their country. The women who attended schools fared better than the ones who continued to practice the traditions of their people. In fact, the most powerful woman in the book is Pili, who is a captlist in Tanzania. She owns many lucrative businesses both in the villages and cities and because of all the money she has, she instills fear and respect in otherwise unruly men. There were very few traditions that were highlighted as important or worth keeping until the end of the book when the women focus on mat making, pottery sculpting, and hair braiding. Western modernization was depicted as the ultimate solution for women "under man's spell."
The character development of the women was especially weak, which made it difficult to connect with their troubles. The most engaging ones were Abe and Esta, very different women separated by over a generation of time. Abe is oppressed by the traditions of her family while Esta is liberated thanks to the strength of her mother, who separated herself from the destructive ways of her family. It was very easy to get confused as to what happened to them, though, because there were many other main female characters that were highlighted as well as numerous supporting ones. The supporting characters were constantly being used to show how terrible the women in Tanzania fared, both with their men and with each other.
There were some blatant themes and motifs expressed in the book. First, women were controlled by chauvinistic and macho men who ruled with superstitions, fears, and traditions that were dangerous for the women. Women are not only pitted against men but each other. There are very few who work together to make a difference until the end of the book, spurred by the modern thinking Pili, Esta, and Elizabeth. Western modernization was also highlighted as a saving grace for the women. In order to survive, the women needed to embrace Western education and capitalism while leaving their traditions in the bush with other uncouth animals. That is the only way to survive. When some of the women band together at the end of the novel, changes are slowly implemented. The author is at least realistic in her approach at showing that a nation will take many years to change its way of life so drastically. So, she shows the seeds being sown but with no conclusive evidence if any of them took root and grew. Overall, the themes were pretty basic and predictable considering how the elements of traditional Tanzania was approached. I would have enjoyed a less dichotomous perspective because tradition and modernity don't necessarily need to be exclusive of each other.
A lot of the themes of the book, as well as the lack of connection with the characters, could be a reflection of the approach the author took. First, J.K. Muta is an American educated business major. So, she was not trained to write with the usual skill that other writers have. Second, her message and purpose of the writing was heavily influenced by her American experiences. She came to the U.S. after graduating high school in Tanzania and enrolled in college here. She got her degrees and stayed in the states. She "modernized" herself to a Western lifestyle and way of thinking. She let go of the past because of the problems associated with her culture and peoples. Thus, she highlights the saving grace of Western education and capitalism without harboring any sense of loss for the customs that will disappear over time. Even the simple act of eating on the mats that the women weave is looked down upon by the modern and educated main characters because it requires them to sit on the floor. There is no battle between tradition and civilization like there was in Things Fall Apart. Everything is laid bare as being very black and white. It's either good or evil. A third problem with the way the author approached the book was that much of what she wrote is based on stories she was told, probably from family members or friends that were left behind in Tanzania. Because she did not actually experience the atrocities she describes and because she wants to maintain the reality of it all, the writing comes off being extremely cold and unfeeling. This is a failing of many books that are fictional but based on real life events. It is hard to combine fiction with nonfiction and historical data without losing some of the details or strengths of their separate genres.
Unfortunately, this book did not compel me to learn more about Tanzania like other fictional world literatures have. It left me feeling bored and unfilled by the conclusion, which ended too hopefully and neatly for the main Westernized women considering all the horrible situations that were described even up to the second to last page. The entire book was overly dramatized and the most graphic scenes felt somehow muted by the way they were told. Yes, I was horrified by everything the women had to face. Yes, much of it was wrong and backward superstitions. However, it cannot all be described as a failing of the culture or the men. As demonstrated with Abe, many of the women were involved in the generational hatreds that the people carried. This attribute cannot be blamed solely on the men regardless of their polygamous society, which isn't always "bad." Again, claiming that polygamy was the root of the evil and gender problems between men and women felt like a very Western and Christian approach. At many points during my reading, it appeared that the author was making an argument for colonization, one such example was during the Christian Bible reading scenes conducted by the very wealthy Pili. It was only through the influences of colonial Europe that these changes were implemented. Without them, Tanzania would still be "backward" in their belief system.
Overall, the layout of the actual book was appropriate. It had engaging cover art which highlights an important event in the story. The cover font, although not an attractive style, was legible. The title was also appropriate for the themes and issues explored in the book, implying that men are the real "witches" because they are the ones with the power to spell and enslave the women, as made apparent by Rose who constantly fights for the love and attention of a man that plays the field. The font inside the book was also appealing to the reader's eyes.
The book had other saving points, such as the overall message for women's liberation, equality, and education. I didn't agree with all the authors' solutions to the problems nor her assumptions as to why these problems exist in Tanzania. The best scene that expressed hope and change was the gathering of the tribal women at the end of the book. It was designed to secretly teach the women a trade that would make them more independent from their husbands. I appreciated that the movement started from within their country and by their people rather than an outside Western force. The idea of the UWT chapter (Tanzania Women's Organization) that Pili, Esta, and Elizabeth tried to start at the end of the book was also a very clever idea that would promote healthy and important changes from within. I was disappointed that this idea was only brought up at the end of the novel, and that the characters involved could only dedicate a couple of weeks' time to the endeavor. Everything at the end of the book felt rushed so the author could clean up loose ends before letting her liberated female characters live happily ever after.
After reading Under Man's Spell, I wouldn't recommend it to many. It's not engaging enough to captivate the average reader. If you have an interest in world literatures, Africa, Tanzania, and gender issues, then this book will be a worthy read just to garner another perspective of the issues women face. However, there are no factual references, so it's difficult to tell how much of the information came from stories of a very distant past or modern day problems that the women currently face. Supplementing the reading with your own research will further your understanding of the book and its message. For example, I found The Policy on Women in Development in Tanzania a useful supplemental article to Under Man's Spell because it offers an introductory exploration of how the Tanzania government tries to promote equality among its people. Since there is a lot of violent acts against women in the book, a mature adult audience is highly recommended.
In the end, I don't regret reading Under Man's Spell despite my disappointments and boredom with the way it was written. There was some useful information expressed although none of the data can be easily verified as fact or fiction. My biggest complaint was with the author herself. She is a novice compared to others writing in this genre style....more
This is my favorite novel written by Amanda Quick. Clare, the heroine, creates perfume. She marries Gareth, the Hellhound of Wyckmere, and the two getThis is my favorite novel written by Amanda Quick. Clare, the heroine, creates perfume. She marries Gareth, the Hellhound of Wyckmere, and the two get caught up in an evil plot to steal an alchemist's book. One aspect that brings this tale to life is the setting, the isle of desire. It's a beautiful place and the descriptions leave me wondering if Clare and Gareth live in the garden of Eden. My favorite part of the book, though, is Clare's strong, independent nature. Quick is able to create a heroine any woman can admire in a time period where women were valued for the number of male heirs they bore. Watching both Clare and Gareth develop as a couple is a truly magical experience....more