I am all in on Suzanne Rindell. I loved The Other Typist (potentially more than it deserved?), and I loved the writing in this book too. Rindell can sI am all in on Suzanne Rindell. I loved The Other Typist (potentially more than it deserved?), and I loved the writing in this book too. Rindell can set a scene, and her descriptions of New York and San Francisco in the 1950s are gorgeous and so evocative. I also loved the quick rhythm of the narrative voice, which could have veered too much towards stream of consciousness but instead felt perfect for the three characters who tell the story.
The first 3/4 of this book was a five-star read - I couldn't put this book down - but ultimately I felt fairly let down by the ending. It's not just the sequence of events that's disappointing, but also that the perfect narrative voice seems to careen off the track and abruptly cease telling the story, like the end has been abbreviated in some way. (view spoiler)[It's perhaps more realistic, though disappointing, that Miles doesn't get closure on the novel until the 80s, and that Rusty and Cliff are able to publish the book anyway. Hearing about the trajectory of Miles's life feels like a letdown. Maybe I'm just not a fan of the flash forward, where it seems like everything is wrapped up a bit too neatly. Part of the charm of this book is that you have three very different people colliding in Greenwich Village in a very specific time, and I felt the ending took away from that. (hide spoiler)]
I saw that another reviewer said they wanted to read Miles's book on Greenwich Village in the late 50s, and I also wish that this book had indexed more heavily on those scenes. The publishing world is all fine and good, and I especially enjoyed the Eden subplot (view spoiler)[where she has to change her name from Katz to Collins (hide spoiler)], but it's the parties on the roofs in the East Village that really come alive. Similarly, I'm a bit confused by the title of the book. I don't think I would have gone with "three-martini lunch." It seems to be an inaccurate description of what this book is actually about.
And my favorite quote about New York and San Francisco, under a spoiler tag:
(view spoiler)[The city struck a stark contrast to everything I'd known growing up in New York. Manhattan is concrete and ambition, steam rising from a manhole in winter, a hot blast from a subway grate in summer. Its inner workings grind away at all hours, purring in the name of commerce. New York streets are distinctly sultry--especially in Harlem. The defining sights and smells are those that humans make. The eye-catching colors of shop signs, of awnings, of advertisements. The scent of meat being grilled, of ladies' powdery perfumes, of sour body odor--all this mixing with the cabbagey smell of garbage hovering on the street curbs.
I found that in San Francisco the vibrancy of life was not so much evinced by the enormity of man-made ambitions as it was embedded in the nature that surrounded the city; its brilliance was cached in the cypress trees that leaned romantically against the hills, the glitter of the bay, the startling patches of blue sky that occasionally broke through the fog. This was what inspired and enlivened the young people and artists in the city, what called to starry-eyed couples and nostalgic bohemians. I took a walk in Golden Gate Park. It had a peculiar tang about it that took some getting used to at first--some sort of herbaceous pungency that at times smelled incredibly fresh and clean, and at other times sharp and feral, not unlike cat piss. It seemed to emanate from the wet bark of the eucalyptus trees, intensified by the cool, crisp breeze of the Pacific. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I picked this up after devouring The Seventh Bride. I didn't enjoy this quite as much--though I've read quite a few reimaginings of Beauty and the BeaI picked this up after devouring The Seventh Bride. I didn't enjoy this quite as much--though I've read quite a few reimaginings of Beauty and the Beast, so perhaps it was that it was harder for this book to feel original. It does have the elements that I really liked in The Seventh Bride, though, like a willingness to incorporate the grisly elements of true fairy tales ((view spoiler)[the servants in the windows!! the bloodstained room!! (hide spoiler)]) mixed in with a humorous narrative voice:
The next few days settled into a routine that was actually rather pleasant, insomuch as being held captive against one’s will in a giant enchanted manor house with a somewhat sarcastic Beast could be.
Bryony is an appealing protagonist, and I liked the neat inclusion of (view spoiler)[Beauty as a failed past visitor (hide spoiler)]. I also liked her relationship with her sisters and the growing relationship with Beast, and the gardening/clockmaking hobbies that show up here. And Sir Matthias Irving is my favorite character in the entire book, or ever, probably. It feels a little cheap to take off a star because I didn't fully like the ending, but so it goes. (view spoiler)[Is it wrong to be a person who likes when the Beast transforms back into a human? I find the idea that he's a Beast forever unsatisfying, but I know that other people may like that more because the ending doesn't feel quite as neat. (hide spoiler)]
All said, A++ to T. Kingfisher, whose entire oeuvre I am slowly working my way through.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more