I think I may have pulled a muscle. In my throat. See, I was reading the book late at night, and something got particularly funny - so funny that undeI think I may have pulled a muscle. In my throat. See, I was reading the book late at night, and something got particularly funny - so funny that under usual circumstances I would have been howling with laughter, only it was after midnight, and people were sleeping, so I settled for clutching my abdomen and wheezing in a rather animated manner.
Such is the magic of Katie MacAlister's romance novel, The Corset Diaries, which had me from the time I read the cover. The front of the cover, which says "He was so handsome she could barely breathe. Or maybe it was just the corset ...." That the back provided an excellent premise was a bonus. Turns out that our heroine has been roped into flying to England to spend one month pretending to be a duchess during the Victorian era for a reality television show, filling in at the last minute for a woman named Cynthia who backed out of the role for reasons we don't learn until roughly 3/4 of the way through the book. Our heroine is a tall, plump 39-year old widow who gets paired with a taller, completely hot 34-year old divorced Englishman. I'd say that sparks immediately fly, but in fact, it is chunks that immediately fly when Tessa throws up on Max's shoes as they are introduced. And all I can say about her second meeting with Max is that she is very lucky there weren't any sparks in the vicinity, since she'd had beans on toast for breakfast, then been laced into a very tight corset, then bent over to pet the dog. If you think I'm implying that she, um, dealt it, then you are correct. (Fortunately, I read that scene the other night and at an early enough time that stealth laughter was not required. I guffawed for at least a full minute and had to wipe tears from my face afterward.)
The humor in this book was a complete gift, and I'm extremely glad I found and read it. I have a few quibbles with it, mind - there are at least two passages where Max and/or Tessa engages in rather detailed discussion of what they'd like to do (or have done) sexually that I found strained my credulity (really, I don't think that people go on like that under the particular circumstances in which they engage), and I'm still not entirely certain why the characters fell in love, really (Tessa believes in love at first sight, and Max seems put out at having fallen for her - perhaps it's her charming American ways?), but if one is in the mood for a light, humorous romance, this is your book.
I will be looking for other books by Katie MacAllister, who appears to specialize in contemporary romances that combine various role-playing sorts of scenarios. (E.g., Hard Day's Knight takes place at a Renaissance Faire, and Men in Kilts at a mystery conference.) I am looking forward to reading more of her stuff. You know, as soon as my throat muscles feel up to it....more
Edward Lear is known by many as the father of nonsense poetry. While silly poems existed before Lear started writing, his title is still well-deservedEdward Lear is known by many as the father of nonsense poetry. While silly poems existed before Lear started writing, his title is still well-deserved, since he wrote quite a large amount of nonsense poetry. In 1846, A Book of Nonsense, his first collection of nonsense poems was published.
As a child, Daniel Pinkwater especially enjoyed reading The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear, which he repeatedly borrowed from his local library. Daniel has written a marvelous introduction to this collection of Edward Lear's poems, which manages to introduce the reader to Lear and to the idea of nonsense poetry in an engaging way. What follows is a collection of ten Lear poems selected by Daniel Pinkwater, including the well-known favorites, "The Owl and the Pussycat" and "The Jumblies", each of which is accompanied by illustrations done by Calef Brown, himself a poet as well as an illustrator. The quirkiness and bold color of the illustrations pairs extremely well with the often silly verses penned by Lear, and this book makes an excellent introduction to Lear's work. The book's title is derived from a recurring line in "Some Incidents in the Life of My Uncle Arly".
One of my favorite Lear words is "runcible", an invented nonsense word that seems to stand in to mean whatever Lear wants it to at any given time. It is clear that it is (a) silly and (b) an adjective, and beyond that there's no clear meaning of the word. The word appears at least twice in this collection – once in "How Pleasant to Know Mr. Lear!" and again in "The Owl and the Pussycat".
This book is an excellent introduction to nonsense poetry and to the works of Edward Lear. Highly recommended for fans of silly poems and for libraries everywhere. My thanks to the good people at Chronicle Books for sending me a review copy....more