Having indulged in a Heyer on my outbound trip from Iceland to Maine, I decided to keep things symmetrical and read another on the way home. But whileHaving indulged in a Heyer on my outbound trip from Iceland to Maine, I decided to keep things symmetrical and read another on the way home. But while The Convenient Marriage has some of Heyer's typical delights, this one really didn't do it for me. Maybe it's just a matter of over-exposure at this point, but it didn't feel as fresh as some of her other works, and a good deal of the novel (maybe even the last third) is imminently skim-able. A lesser version of These Old Shades (not itself my favorite, but still better), with some rather tired Shakespearean-style comic relief. ...more
Following a rather grueling month of translating projects at school and facing a very long journey from Iceland to Maine, I decided it was obviously tFollowing a rather grueling month of translating projects at school and facing a very long journey from Iceland to Maine, I decided it was obviously time for a 'fun read' and was persuaded, by thisvery enjoyable and informative post about Georgette Heyer's inadvertent creation of the Regency Romance genre, to pick up The Corinthian.
As with many of Heyer's books, this one presents a number of variations on themes and characters that she would pick up again and again throughout her career (although it was, to be fair, the originator of many of these themes). Here, our May-December romance is comprised of a large, "sleepy" hero who favors dandy-ish fashion and yet is no one to be trifled with; Richard, we're told, is apparently a renowned "whip" (he's good with horses), a fearsome boxer, and is very handy with his pistols—although we never see the latter two talents in action. We also have his young(er), plucky heroine who has a knack for getting into trouble, who rallies the hero out of his boredom and staid habits, and who favors boys' clothing. There are also stolen jewels, murder, masked bandits, and Bow Street Runners in the mix. It's all a lot of fun, although not nearly as sharp with the dialog or as delightfully convoluted as The Masqueraders, for instance. But it was a great way to while away a long journey, and it's interesting, I think, to see how Heyer got started in a genre she'd go on to perfect. ...more
It had been a long time since I'd read a romance novel and when I was packing for a four day camping trip, it seemed like a good time to pick up one oIt had been a long time since I'd read a romance novel and when I was packing for a four day camping trip, it seemed like a good time to pick up one of the ones I brought back with me from a used bookshop in Scottsdale last Christmas. This one isn't just the Best Ev-er (actually, the longer I think about it, the worse it stands with me), but it was a quick read and it worked for me, while I was reading it, at least. I actually kind of liked that the book started with the steamy sexual encounter and then had you wait for the reprise, rather than vice versa, as has been typical in most of the romances I've read. That may have been my favorite twist, however, given that thinking back on it now, Ican say that neither of the main characters really popped for me, the actual diary conceit was a bit thin, the is-she-isn't-she ghost was giggle-worthy, and I wasn't really taken with the whole dad-gone-mad subplot, either. (Also, 'June' just bothers me for the name of a baby in the late 19th century...maybe it was super common at the time, but it feels like the name of a 50s housewife in suburban Ohio.) Take all that out and you're left with good pacing and a functional plot and writing, minus some silly lines about relieving "the heated tensions of [Cassandra's] womanly urges" and men smelling of "musk and leather" etc. So, end of the day, probably not coming back for another of MacLean's books, but this was nevertheless a fun book for the road. ...more
**spoiler alert** I picked this up on a whim at the library because I was in the mood for a quick crime read and all the jacket quotes about it having**spoiler alert** I picked this up on a whim at the library because I was in the mood for a quick crime read and all the jacket quotes about it having "one of the most stomach-churningly fatalistic noir endings of any crime novel published [in 2011]" etc. were rather compelling. In the end, I was a little less taken with the result, although I do have to admit that I read it through rather speedily—three or four sittings spread over a little over a week.
I suppose my main complaints are two-fold. Firstly, this book is the fifth in a series and feels distinctly transitional, as though it is kind of a road stop between other, more developed stories. It works fine as a standalone—all the back story that you need about the characters is woven through the narrative—and yet, it seems pretty clear that having prior context about Doctor Quirke's orphan past, his decision to pretend that his daughter had a different father, and his relationships with his assistant and Detective Hackett would probably make this particular story feel more significant. I've read crime novels where the plot of one is really contingent on the one before it (Louise Penny's Bury Your Dead, for instance), but those are rare. Typically with a series, you can expect to step into it pretty much anywhere and feel as though you're right in it, even if the secondary plot line about the detective has developed over the course of multiple books. But here, there are an awful lot of references to past cases, past circumstances, etc. and in many instances, those cases sound a more compelling. A Death in Summer hones in on the femme fatale element, but only seems to occasionally dip into the crime itself, most of which is resolved in one fell sweep at the end.
To that end, I might add that the conclusion (specifically the child abuse at the orphanage), though most certainly serious in its tone and subject matter, is one that has been telegraphed quite clearly from early on. Its final reveal is a little disappointing, however, because it feels pretty cursory. I would definitely not enjoy reading vivid descriptions of child abuse, but I do think the psychological fall-out, as you might call it, is pretty glossed over here. Sure, Francoise immediately shoots her husband in the face when she discovers that he has been abusing her daughter, but, for one example, the way that the child behaves throughout the book doesn't seem at all consistent with the idea that she's been repeatedly raped by her father. Neither does the idea that Richard Jewell could just up and "corrupt" a twenty year old man and convince him to repeatedly take part in the systematic sexual abuse of children really make any sense. I appreciate the delicacy that the author had in explaining the crimes themselves—the circumstances are horrific enough without having to go into visceral specifics—but the psychology of the victims could have been dealt with in a less vague manner. ...more
I gather that Venetia is a favorite among Heyer fans, and it does definitely have a lot to recommend it, not least a witty, unburdened heroine (I meanI gather that Venetia is a favorite among Heyer fans, and it does definitely have a lot to recommend it, not least a witty, unburdened heroine (I mean, she has her burdens, but she doesn't let them bury her), a smattering of enjoyable secondary characters, lots of banter, and the knowledge—within the first 30 pages—that everything is going to work out. But honestly, this one just didn't do as much for me as say, The Grand Sophy, Faro's Daughter (one which Heyer fans seem to like less, interestingly), or my all time favorite (thus far), The Masqueraders. It was all a bit too easy: the rake loves her immediately, she's immediately taken with him. Her antisocial brother likes him. Everyone has enough money. There are no meddling parents. All obstacles are incredibly narrative. You're really just waiting it out until enough pages have passed so that they can end up together.
Which is fine, really, but for my part, I've enjoyed some of the twistier plots and more madcap farces of Heyer's better. ...more
Having finished this book just minutes ago, I'm by no means ready to really write anything of substance about it. However, an initial reaction seems wHaving finished this book just minutes ago, I'm by no means ready to really write anything of substance about it. However, an initial reaction seems warranted, as this was just such an enveloping reading experience. I'm reminded of a bookstore owner's description of his favorite (vampire) novel (Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned, if you're interested): "It's just so large."
For a book that is actually a lot of fun to read (even when the events of the narrative are downright harrowing), A Tale for the Time Being is also a surprisingly dense read, bringing together such a variety of narratives and narrative techniques and schools of thought and iconic (recent) historical moments, that I did have to set it down every now and then and take a breather (I actually spent a week just reading another book from start to finish as a sort of palate cleanser.) A short and incomplete summary of some of the main themes/concepts/subjects: Zen Buddhism, suicide, depression, alternate realities, quantum physics, Schrodinger's cat, the 2011 tsunami in Japan, 9/11, Japanese cosplay communities, bullying in (Japanese) schools, tidal currents, landscape art, and, of course, theories of time...Anyway, it's a lot of food for thought and I imagine that I will be thinking this book over for a long time to come. ...more
From skimming reviews online, I'm persuaded to believe that Faro's Daughter (with its blatant shades of Pride & Prejudice) is not among Heyer fansFrom skimming reviews online, I'm persuaded to believe that Faro's Daughter (with its blatant shades of Pride & Prejudice) is not among Heyer fans' most favorite novels, but for my part, I have to say that it was quite a delight to read. It's the story of feisty Deb Grantham, a young woman who presides over card and game tables in her aunt's gaming house, and finds herself squaring off against the cold and calculating Max Ravenscar, a wealthy man who endeavors to bribe her into *not* marrying his young cousin (who she had no interest in marrying anyway). What follows is a series of increasingly convoluted, increasingly silly hijinks and wit-battles, ranging from high stakes card games to horse races to kidnapping. A few of the side characters are a bit two-dimensional and harp on the same jokes a little too often, but they all comprise a colorful and enjoyable cast.
Heyer is great at getting a plot moving and keeping the action fun and bubbly and always promising of a happy ending. Here, the last two chapters alone have about three or four major plot reversals, many of which are based on accidental omissions of very pertinent information or small misunderstandings which explode into much larger and more serious ones. It's Jane Austen sketched as screwball comedy, and ever so much fun.
I'm finding also that one Heyer book always seems to beget another: no sooner did I finish Faro's Daughter (which I read in one day), than I headed back to the library to pick up another of Heyer's books. Luckily, there's about 50 of them, so I have plenty more to work my way through. ...more