The Personal History of Rachel Dupree is a fictional account of black homsteaders in the early twentieth century. I picked this one up because I loveThe Personal History of Rachel Dupree is a fictional account of black homsteaders in the early twentieth century. I picked this one up because I love novels which explore the experiences of little-known communities. I hadn't known there were black homesteaders and wanted to know what life was like for them. After all the accolades this book received I was expecting to be wowed but ended up being disappointed.
The writing is good and all the themes I was most interested in about race and discrimination are there but something just felt missing. Weisgarber touches on the tensions between African Americans and Native Americans, between Blacks and Whites, and the contradictions of identity within the black community. And yet ... the characters all had a generic quality to them. Race didn't feel like a lived experience but something external and theoretical. I felt like the Duprees could have been anybody, at any time, and certainly not black people in the hardscrabble world of pre-Depression America. Beyond the interactions with the Native American family that appears in the book, racism was portrayed as something that happened in the South or in the cities and as hard as I tried I could not find this plausible. Not in 1915.
The treatment of gender had the same generic feel to me as well. Again, the inequalities were there, but so much of it was layered under the force of Isaac's personality that the sense of this dynamic between men and women being systematic was weak. I kept flipping to the spine of the book to make sure I hadn't picked up a young adult novel, because that is how it felt to me--educational, vivid but sanitized in its portrayal of the hard themes....more
I'm still haunted by As Meat Loves Salt so when I found out that Maria McCann had written another book, I had to get my hands on it.
Jon Dymond is a yI'm still haunted by As Meat Loves Salt so when I found out that Maria McCann had written another book, I had to get my hands on it.
Jon Dymond is a young cider-maker who has led a life of ease and prosperity. The only child of loving parents, he has wanted for nothing. Like the cider he presses, his life has been a stream of clear and golden sweetness and he has little inkling of the darker side of the world. All of this changes when a letter from his dying uncle summons his father to his bedside. From that moment, Jon is obsessed with learning more about the circumstances of his uncle's death. His curiosity leads him to the home of his Aunt Harriet, a cold and formidable woman. There, he meets a young servant named Tamar, and his attraction to her unearths secrets so terrible that they change everything he's known about the world.
The Wilding is as tightly woven and as rich in detail as As Meat Loves Salt but I found it to be less complex and the plot more predictable. As Meat Loves Salt is a novel of turmoil, where hope and despair are fused so tightly together that the reader is left gasping. The Wilding by contrast is more hopeful. The lines between good and evil are clearly drawn and though Jon is drawn deeper and deeper into his family's ugly secrets, a clear sense of what is just still remains. There is a tradeoff. On the one hand, I found The Wilding to be a more satisfying read; on the other, none of the characters are as robust as they might be (with perhaps the exception of Tamar). Aunt Harriet, for example, is unremittingly bad in a way that defied reason. McCann is too skillful of a writer to make her seem unbelievable, but I still missed having a little more dimension to the characters. Still, I found this to be a good read, well-written and well-paced and would recommend it to fans of historical fiction....more
**spoiler alert** There was so much hype around this book I suppose I was destined to be disappointed. A Reliable Wife is set in a small town in the**spoiler alert** There was so much hype around this book I suppose I was destined to be disappointed. A Reliable Wife is set in a small town in the early 1900s. Local mogul Ralph Truitt places an advertisement in the newspaper for a reliable wife. He gets instead, Catherine, a woman with a shady past and a sinister plan to kill him. Given this, I expected this book to be the kind that's tightly paced--the kind that is fraught with so much tension that you can't even catch your breath. It wasn't.
While A Reliable Wife isn't boring, it's predictable. The complications of the plot involving Antonio were obvious and the characters lack dimension. Truitt is perhaps the best developed of the three main characters. He is a lonely man tormented by his own shortcomings and it is easy to feel sympathy for him. Catherine on the other hand is nothing more than an archetype. She is the personification of the madonna/whore dichotomy and I could not understand her motivations. She is given a complicated back story which is supposed to explain her determination to kill a mostly innocent man but it never rings true. Instead it feels more like an excuse. Ultimately she is a weak-willed woman who is a device of the plot rather than a character in her own right.
Finally, I felt that the themes of sin and redemption were too strong and again predictable. It was disturbing to me that Catherine's rape seemed to be punishment for her trangressions just as Ralph's poisoning seems to be his. Overall this is an easy to read book but the simplistic themes and gender stereotypes left me alternately disturbed and disappointed. ...more
I borrowed this book from my university library and I enjoyed it. It explores the practice of sodomy in Renaissance Florence and how it was policed. AI borrowed this book from my university library and I enjoyed it. It explores the practice of sodomy in Renaissance Florence and how it was policed. Apparently Florence had such a reputation for sodomy that a special office called the Office of the Night was created to police it.
Rocke also places sodmomy in the context of socialization and male identity. All in all very insightful and engaging especially for an academic text....more
This could have been more detailed but I'm a whore for anything Victorian and Dr. Johnson's London is readable and filled with lots of great facts forThis could have been more detailed but I'm a whore for anything Victorian and Dr. Johnson's London is readable and filled with lots of great facts for anyone who's interested in the Victorian era....more
There was nothing wrong with this book per se, but I've never been much for gender benders and I guess in the end it just couldn't hold my interest. IThere was nothing wrong with this book per se, but I've never been much for gender benders and I guess in the end it just couldn't hold my interest. I love reading about strong female characters but sometimes I felt that the main character's opinions seemed a little too obviously modern instead of her being a strong woman who was still of her times. Who knows, maybe one day I'll try it again....more
I love historical fiction because I'm always fascinated by different times and places. Yet, it's surprisingly hard to find a historical novel with jusI love historical fiction because I'm always fascinated by different times and places. Yet, it's surprisingly hard to find a historical novel with just the right mix of period detail, character development and plot intensity. I picked up Immortal and from the first page I thought "this is what I've been waiting for".
The only life Luca Bastardo has known is life on the cruel streets of Florence. He doesn't yet know that he possesses an incredible gift that gives him great longevity and eternal beauty. At least, it should be a gift, but for Luca who endures unimaginable suffering, his gift far too often seems like a curse.
Traci Slatton's writing is spare yet sensual and the world of Renaissance Florence really comes to life. The textures and smells and all the details become immediate through her writing, but she never makes the mistake that so many historical writers do by becoming bogged down in world building. All the major figures and painters make their appearance but the story is about Luca and the focus remains on him throughout a plot that's thrumming with tension. Remarkably for a book that spans almost two hundred years, Slatton manages to make Luca's life seem too short. I kept reading, knowing what was coming and thinking "no, not yet".
One of the things that comes through most strongly in the novel is human cruelty and human limitations but also our potential for good. I feel like part of the tragedy of Luca's story is that he'd suffered so much that he'd come to believe more in the cruelty than the kindness of humans and the divine. Perhaps if he'd been more decisive, and felt more deserving of happiness he could have changed how things turned out.
My only quibble with this book was the portrayal of female characters. Too often I felt they were more representative than three-dimensional. We're told that they're smart and brave but they seemed to be waiting to be saved more than anything else. The author also seemed to struggle at times with the topic of homosexuality and how to present it but it wasn't handled in a way that was unrealistic given the context. Overall I enjoyed Immortal immensely. A sad but also satisfying read. ...more
One of my favorite romances for the sheer unconventionality of it. The heroine is plump, smart and bold and Malloren is a good match for her. Their baOne of my favorite romances for the sheer unconventionality of it. The heroine is plump, smart and bold and Malloren is a good match for her. Their banter and the troubles they find themselves in are quite amusing. Haven't read this in a long time but this makes me want to pick it up again....more
A fascinating look at World War II from an "insider's" perspective--the book was first published in Japan for Japanese readers. Saburo's strength is hA fascinating look at World War II from an "insider's" perspective--the book was first published in Japan for Japanese readers. Saburo's strength is his ability to give a sense of the internal struggles taking place in Japan at the time, but his weakness is his tendency to be too polemical. If you're looking for an unbiased account of both the situation in Japan as well as international dynamics this is not the book, but it's still a lively read and valuable if only for its different perspective....more
It's been so long since I've completely lost myself in a book and this was such a pleasant relaxing read. I always like books with a little supernaturIt's been so long since I've completely lost myself in a book and this was such a pleasant relaxing read. I always like books with a little supernatural element thrown in and when that supernatural element takes the form of dragons I couldn't be happier.
Rue belongs to a special tribe who take human form but have the true form of dragons. One of the important qualities about the drakon is their affinity for jewels.Unfortunately life in the tribe is very restrictive and Rue escapes to London where she becomes a notorious jewel thief. When the Herte, the prized diamond of the tribe is put on display at a London museum, the lure is almost too much for Rue to resist.
I enjoyed reading about the drakon and both Rue and Christoff, the leader of the drakon are likeable and headstrong. Some of the plot twists which brought them together seem a little contrived but not enough to detract from the overall plot which is very enjoyable. I think I'll be picking up the next book in this series as well!...more
A short book that seemed very long. Despite the simple linear plot, the storytelling became confused at the end. Even though Ugo, the main character fA short book that seemed very long. Despite the simple linear plot, the storytelling became confused at the end. Even though Ugo, the main character faces death at every meal as a food taster, I felt that the book dragged in a lot of places because the author wasn't successfully able to maintain that tension. There were some very funny scenes littered throughout but for the most part The Food Taster just didn't seem to live up to its potential either in terms of plot or wit. I appreciated the glimpse into renaissance life and the recipes at the end are great. Otherwise, there is not much remarkable here to write home about....more
More 2.5 than 2 stars but this was still a disappointing read. Sooyeon Won's art is gorgeous as usual and I love stories about vampires but the two stMore 2.5 than 2 stars but this was still a disappointing read. Sooyeon Won's art is gorgeous as usual and I love stories about vampires but the two stories in this were too ... purple for my taste. The heroine was just too weepy and I would have completely given up hope if not for the last chapter in the main Devil's Trill story which turned out to be surprisingly strong. So ... overall good to have if you're a fan of this author, but definitely not on par with Let Dai....more
I adored this anime and I love the manga just as much. The historical detail is so wonderful, so meticulous, that you really feel transported to VictoI adored this anime and I love the manga just as much. The historical detail is so wonderful, so meticulous, that you really feel transported to Victorian London.
At first glance the romance between Emma, a maid and William, a young gentleman is nothing original--that is until you start reading. The characters are wonderfully engaging and Kaoru Mori advances the plot in an unhurried but gripping fashion. If you love historical manga, a good romance, and wonderful characters, Emma is a great read....more