This book grabbed me first with its title, and then with the setting (Long Island, where I grew up), and the subject matter (old books, librarians, anThis book grabbed me first with its title, and then with the setting (Long Island, where I grew up), and the subject matter (old books, librarians, and tarot cards). It's one of the more inventive books I've read in a while, and I love the way the story winds from the past into the present and back again. There is some really beautiful prose -- sentences that make you pause and take note - as well as solid plotting and strong characters that keep you interested even as the story moves through time.
If you liked "The Night Circus" you should check this one out.
This is a debut novel, and I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for this author's next book. She's someone to be watched....more
I went into this with great hopes. I had been looking for a Sheherazad (I'm sure I butchered the spelling) adaptation to reCaution: Mild spoilers here
I went into this with great hopes. I had been looking for a Sheherazad (I'm sure I butchered the spelling) adaptation to read and was delighted when I found this. But there were two things that soured me on it quickly. The first was the YA tropes. The author couldn't seem to stop herself from describing how beautiful the main characters were, to the point that I was rolling my eyes. Couldn't they be just a little ordinary? Must they be perfection incarnate? Ugh. And then the looming love triangle that was set up from the initial pages; again, ugh. Yet another YA novel with yet another two-guys-and-a-girl triangle. Maybe I didn't read far enough... Maybe I need to give it more of a chance? But the story seems to have the inevitability of the train in the Matrix. The other problem was the character of the evil king. Right up front, there's an interlude that hints at why he's killing off a bride every morning, and we get the feeling that he's really not such a bad guy after all so it's going to be OK that she falls in love with him. To me, that's a dodge. To me, the novel would be much more interesting if it explored ideas such as the attractive power of evil, the difficulty of taking a life even when you are justified, and the ability of love to alter a person, even one who seems irredeemable. But instead we get a misunderstood bad guy (seen THAT before) and a self-sacrificing heroine torn between two lovers (seen THAT before). Ugh. ...more
I picked this up as part of my year of reading about America's founding. It was an interesting book and gave me a lot to think about. It reminded me tI picked this up as part of my year of reading about America's founding. It was an interesting book and gave me a lot to think about. It reminded me that as a writer of historical fiction, we are bound by the events that actually happened and can't just give our characters the outcomes that we want to, so some of the things I hoped would happen for Martha never did turn out. There is plenty of tragedy to go along with the privilege of being Thomas Jefferson's daughter, but to me the most fascinating part of her life was the inherent contradiction was living with the man who wrote "All men are created equal" and believing that slavery was wrong, but being a slave owner. The contradictory emotions and economic realities of that situation are all played out very distinctly here, and I had not realized that her husband was governor of Virginia and had tried to get slavery abolished in the early 1800s and had basically been politically destroyed by doing so. The authors handle these issues openly and make you think a lot about what life would have been like then.
I'm definitely going to pass this book on to the women in my book club....more
Jennifer Donnelly is such a fantastic author, meticulous in her attention to historic detail and wonderful in the suspense and excitement she creates.Jennifer Donnelly is such a fantastic author, meticulous in her attention to historic detail and wonderful in the suspense and excitement she creates. This is an engaging and twisty mystery about a young woman in Gilded Age New York who becomes entangled in the dark underside of wealth when her father suddenly dies. It's an appropriate reminder in our current economic and political situation that all good things come at a human cost. ...more
This is so beautifully written, I will definitely seek out other books by this author. This is based on one of Shakespeare's more obscure, less populaThis is so beautifully written, I will definitely seek out other books by this author. This is based on one of Shakespeare's more obscure, less popular plays, but it has a mystery and beauty that transcends simple analysis. It's about redemption and forgiveness and how hard those things are to achieve. Winterson makes it so clear that no matter how sophisticated we think we are, no matter how we try to insulate ourselves from the world, these basic human, emotional truths are inescapable. ...more
I have no idea how to rate this book. On the one hand, it was not badly written by any means. On the other hand, it was one of the most unpleasant expI have no idea how to rate this book. On the one hand, it was not badly written by any means. On the other hand, it was one of the most unpleasant experiences I've ever had with a book. If it were not for book club, I would not have read it, and if it were not for the hope of some sort of redemption (and some cleverly placed hints and suggestions), I would not have finished it at all. There are no likeable characters. Everyone is awful. Hateful. Anti-social. Mean. There is not a single value, moral, or really human quality between the lot of them. Even their love for each other is twisted. I hated all of them. I guess that's the point. So, on that level, the book was successful. Ugh. But the author was so successful at what he was doing, how can I give it 1 star? I'm bemused. I throw up my hands. I'm not rating it....more
Did not finish. Though the writing was lovely in places, I just didn't connect enough with the story. Fascinating concept and well executed. Maybe it'Did not finish. Though the writing was lovely in places, I just didn't connect enough with the story. Fascinating concept and well executed. Maybe it's the instantaneous "love" for Rhiannon? Maybe its the overblown descriptions of A's rapturous emotions? Maybe it's just a matter of wrong book, wrong time? I would give it a chance again, but now is not the time. Moving on....more
This is... interesting. I love that she chose to focus on the two Margarets (Anjou and Beaufort) and to present them in a side-by-side manner that higThis is... interesting. I love that she chose to focus on the two Margarets (Anjou and Beaufort) and to present them in a side-by-side manner that highlights the ways in which aristocratic women in those days were simultaneously rendered powerless and powerful. Her choice of utilizing the many chronicles of the time as a framing device was terrific and added a sense of heightened reality (and truth) to her storytelling, although at times lent a dryness; perhaps a little more balance was needed. I found her decision to throw in multiple viewpoints besides the two Margarets distracting and disconcerting; I think the book would have been better without it. I suspect what happened was she had some really great stuff (like the mad woman washing the head of Owen Tudor) and couldn't bear to cut it so she managed to convince her editors to keep it because it expanded on what was in the chronicles. Yeah, it's great, but it's a U-turn from the rest of the book and shouldn't be in there. Finally, I was surprised when the author took no position on the paternity of Prince Edward even though we were in such close focus on Margaret of Anjou (and got such passionate opinions from Margaret Beaufort, about whose inner life we know just as little). But in hind sight, I suppose that's for the best, because the truth is we don't know and it would be irresponsible to state anything other than what this Margaret observes, which is that her son was just like her and nothing like King Henry VI. And that's certainly historically accurate....more