When I was a kid, I LOVED this book. I can still tell you the exact shelf in the children's room of my local library it was on, because I checked it o...moreWhen I was a kid, I LOVED this book. I can still tell you the exact shelf in the children's room of my local library it was on, because I checked it out so many times. For a couple years now I'd only been able to picture the cover but not remember the title, despite searching for it, so the day it suddenly popped into my head I immediately put in an inter-library loan request. Of course, when it finally came, it didn't come with a dust jacket and the cover I'd been so clearly picturing I didn't even get to see. I'd love to be able to own this book but unless I run across it at a library book sale, it's not happening.
It's kind of crazy how much of this book I so clearly remembered, even word for word, and pictured it all exactly as I did at 8 or however old I was when I first read it. It was just as enjoyable at 24 as it was then, and as my first foray into historical fiction I think it probably had a lot to do with my interest in history to this day.
This is a great book period, well-written and providing a well-researched and accurate idea of the history of the time, which is easily accessible for children but I found engaging as an adult as well. The "romance" is minimal and only adds to the story, about a princess' journey through which she grows up and finds her place in the world.(less)
I read this at a time that I needed an excuse to have a good cry, and it delivered in several places. Surprisingly quick and absorbing, I wasn't that...moreI read this at a time that I needed an excuse to have a good cry, and it delivered in several places. Surprisingly quick and absorbing, I wasn't that satisfied by the ending but I adored the settings and the atmosphere, and I loved Gemma. The reworking of Jane Eyre intrigued me, and though I definitely didn't like Mr. Sinclair as much as I liked Mr. Rochester (he was a bit bland really), the tear-jerking but excellent first half of the book and Gemma's childhood more than made up for it.(less)
I keep going back and forth between 3 and 4 stars, which is actually kind of a shame since for most of the book it was seeming like a solid 4. I liked...moreI keep going back and forth between 3 and 4 stars, which is actually kind of a shame since for most of the book it was seeming like a solid 4. I liked the setting and the characters, and the switch between 1943/44 and 1955, but I wish more had been made of the story of the war years and developing the characters more fully in that time, because the mystery of 1955 fell totally flat in the end. The last quarter of the book, despite its apparent efforts, was not as suspenseful for me as I'd have liked, and the mystery aspect kind of failed, I think because enough time wasn't really spent on it and it wasn't developed well enough. I had no guesses at all who it could be, which is annoying, and ultimately the reveal just kind of elicited an "oh. okay. sure?" reaction from me, which is disappointing.
I wanted to like this book, and I did really enjoy most of it, especially as it was easy to immerse myself in the setting and the writing, but I just wish the mystery had been better executed.(less)
This book was almost too perfect. Hard to put down, writing that blew me away, and a main character who is now near the top of my list of favorites. A...moreThis book was almost too perfect. Hard to put down, writing that blew me away, and a main character who is now near the top of my list of favorites. And the books! Especially Katey's description of reading Agatha Christie, so spot on for me I had to stop reading for a minute. I want go drink gin and read Dickens now.(less)
Apparently, Deanna Raybourn outside of the Lady Julia Grey series just isn't for me. I really did not enjoy her last standalone book The Dead Travel F...moreApparently, Deanna Raybourn outside of the Lady Julia Grey series just isn't for me. I really did not enjoy her last standalone book The Dead Travel Fast, but this one sounded so interesting I was excited to give it a go. I was very disappointed.
Quite frankly, this book was a bit of a mess from start to finish. The main characters are developed in sudden bits and pieces, and don't really make sense. The other white settlers are pretty awful, and pretty flat in most cases, and while I really liked Gideon and Moses and the other African natives, I think there was a lot of problematic "white savior" elements which isn't very surprising from such a setting, but were not addressed like they could have been and left a not-so-nice taste in my mouth. The other thing which really bugged me was Ryder basically threatening to rape Delilah, while outdoors alone with her, made even worse as from the beginning he is established as her protector in the wilds of Africa - yet this instance isn't a big deal at all.
Delilah and Ryder are not well-developed characters, as much as all the random information about them that's thrown at us tries to do so - they come out with things in conversation that just don't make sense. I'm still not sure exactly how old Delilah is, but despite her apparent age, multiple marriages, and continent-crossing travels, she seems stupidly immature, which makes the wise things she sometimes says all the more jarring. Their romance was so hot and cold and contradictory that I lost interest, and it was just rather boring in the end. The plot was all over the place, and despite the numerous and varied Big Events of the book, it all kind of felt like filler, for Delilah to fall in love with Africa...well, the small specific part of Africa near Nairobi, but it's all just "Africa".
I really enjoyed the setting, and for that alone I was determined to finish it, but I kept hoping it would get better and it never did.(less)
I wish I could give this 4 stars, but I just don't think I can. Like other reviews have said, the "twist" was visible from very early on, but I liked...moreI wish I could give this 4 stars, but I just don't think I can. Like other reviews have said, the "twist" was visible from very early on, but I liked vaguely knowing where it was going; and because of this I think I was more intrigued to see how it would play out. But while for most of the book the writing was great, the more I think about the way in which the two stories come together, the more I'm really not sure it worked for me. From that point on, certainly, I can say honestly that I lost a certain amount of interest and was just trying to finish it quickly. I think ultimately, I like the idea of the book and what it tried to do, and it was an enjoyable read with fantastic settings and atmosphere, but in the end I was a little disappointed by the execution of the narratives and left feeling oddly unsatisfied by the plot.(less)
3.5/5. Great writing which gets tiring quickly, a plot which totally dragged for about the middle third and after all is said and done seems a bit bor...more3.5/5. Great writing which gets tiring quickly, a plot which totally dragged for about the middle third and after all is said and done seems a bit boring, a female main character who I identified with in ways which made me feel self-conscious and guilty (and only one other character I actually liked, another female who I wish we had seen more of), and an ending which was clever but ultimately frustrated me(view spoiler)[, just as it would Serena (hide spoiler)]. But overall I enjoyed it.(less)
Honestly, I'm not sure why I'm continuing to read this series. I read the second book first without realizing it when I checked it out from the librar...moreHonestly, I'm not sure why I'm continuing to read this series. I read the second book first without realizing it when I checked it out from the library, wasn't a huge fan but figured I'd give the first one a try, and I was curious about the references to the previous book's characters & plot. It was a little better, but the third one is the closest I've come to really liking it. Giving A Fatal Waltz 3 stars is stretching it a bit actually, but based on the fact that I was finally surprised by the solution to the mystery (and wrong in my own prediction), its probably fair.
I'm a sucker for historical mysteries with strong, rebellious female protagonists, but either I have read too many or this series is too derivative with not enough innovation. Lady Emily gets a bit boring, and Colin Hargreaves is almost too sweet. The characters, as well as the plots, are pretty predictable, and its the minor characters and the settings (and the fashion) that are keeping my interest I think.
I find myself comparing Emily & Colin to the exploits of Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia & Brisbane a LOT, to which this series does not measure up in my opinion. Maybe that's why I'm finding it so hard to properly like. Plus the dark & brooding Brisbane and his somewhat steamier scenes with Julia is more interesting than the more Victorian society-conscious Colin & the author's glossing over of their romance. I don't need outright sex, but a kiss described in more than a sentence is always nice in books clearly aimed towards women, despite being described as "a novel of suspense" on every book's cover.
I do intend to read all of the series so far though, because I do still have hope that they'll get progressively better. Plus, they are actually addicting and extremely quick reads, and after a semester of graduate history classes & the readings that go with it, these books are proving an effective way to un-fry my brain and enjoy reading again.(less)
A bit slow at first but the last half moves very fast and was more exciting than most of the first book put together. I'm especially loving all of the...moreA bit slow at first but the last half moves very fast and was more exciting than most of the first book put together. I'm especially loving all of the Shakespeare quotes & references, and the Marches are as quirky and lovable as ever. I've been able to guess the murderer in both, but am always fully surprised by motives and other twists, which makes me very happy. Its been years since 500+ page books went by so fast for me. Onto the third!(less)