I wavered between 3 and 4 stars for this one and went with the lower score due to the rationalization of the culprit. If it weren't for that, I would'...moreI wavered between 3 and 4 stars for this one and went with the lower score due to the rationalization of the culprit. If it weren't for that, I would've given this a 4. I can't really go into the reasons why without spoiling the end. Otherwise this was a fun little piece, reminded me a bit of the Christmas one, as it took place in a stately home in England, with Georgianna as a guest. At the end of the day, I believe these are meant to be lighthearted romps and the author delivers, so I can't really complain.(less)
The term "historical novel" should be used extremely loosely in the case of this book.
I should also note it was no small miracle of will (compulsion)...moreThe term "historical novel" should be used extremely loosely in the case of this book.
I should also note it was no small miracle of will (compulsion) on my part that I was able to grit my teeth and finish this book.
I don't bother with summaries in my reviews as there's always the back/inside cover/sometimes-helpful-blurb-in-the-description-section-on-websites that will likely detail it better. Allow me instead to inform you what this novel is not.
1.) This is not a mystery. We are informed of the killer fairly early on and are dogged with his insipid presence throughout the book through italicized passages. For emphasis, presumably. Being Whitechapel in the year 1889 it should not surprise the reader to find that there is actually more than one murderer afoot. I'll try not to spoil anything (how could I though when they author does it himself so well?) Basically I can only believe that the asinine connection to the Ripper presence was the author's misguided attempt to ride on the Ripper's notorious laurels. It's certainly what drew me in initially when I glanced at the summary of the book.
2.) This ultimately has nothing to do with the Jack the Ripper though boy does the author try. Too hard in my opinion. Why did the author bother? The information he utilized was cursory at best. Maybe he presumed we already knew enough facts about the Ripper (or Saucy Jack as he insisted on calling him, which is fine except it was used like a given name for the Ripper) Except, I'm sorry, I've seen those photographs, I've read the reports, in fact the Ripper interests me greatly so I find I'm unable to suspend my sense of disbelief when you have not one but two characters that have managed to survive (well for a period of time in one case) having their throats slit to the bone. I'll be delving well and deep into the spoiler-y sort of zone if I get too much into it but how does that even make sense? There is so much muscle and sinewy, not to mention, you know, a major artery or two. I understand it is possible to survive having one's throat slit if the cut isn't deep, or isn't both of the major arteries and if the circumstances are right, if help is immediate and stellar. Shall we look at the date again? Shall we look at the district of London this little tale takes place in?
3.) This will not show an accurate picture of Victorian London in 1889. I mean, at this point why even bother setting this in England? I think the author became a little geographically confused, thought himself in New York for all the abundance of brownstones that made their startling appearance. This story, beyond the echoes of the Ripper failure, had no need to be set in London. In fact, I would've been a lot more forgiving if this had been set in say, New York or Boston or Chicago. Certainly the London geography was.... bizarre at best. Not to mention Inspector's wife's obsession with preparing mock turtle soup. Let's not forget the killer commenting on he prefers to abstain from electricity. On his salary it seems unlikely he would ever be able to afford it. Gas lighting I will give.
I think I've warn myself out with all of this griping but I'm sure my point has come across.
As of this moment, I think this will stand as one of the worst, if not the worst books I have read this year. If I could give this a negative 5 star rating I would. A dreary 1-star don't-bother-using-this-book-for-anything-other-than-fire-fodder. Though I only have myself to blame for slogging through this disaster, I hope you will take my advice and read something else.(less)
**spoiler alert** What to say about this one? Intertwined stories with an underlying sense of something sinister? Perhaps leaving one with the expecta...more**spoiler alert** What to say about this one? Intertwined stories with an underlying sense of something sinister? Perhaps leaving one with the expectation that something yet worse is to come? Some of the stories start off innocuous enough only to betray themselves a dozen sentences later, usually with a rather startling admission.
There is a subtlety and ambiguity to Ogawa's writing which is typically Japanese. Very rarely do we get a character name and if we do it's usually an initial alone (Dr. Y, Mrs. J) Sometimes even the gender of the narrator is not precisely evident (come to think of it, this may be a statement only true to the English translation as in the Japanese version it may be apparent as there are different gender-based ways to say "I"). Even the character descriptions and locations are vague, usually with enough given to define the person but also leaving much to our imagination. These stories could take place almost anywhere, these characters could be almost anyone. Maybe that's what the author wants us to think--to second guess the girl behind the counter at the bakery, the beautician who cuts our hair, the receptionist at the hospital. Many of the stories start off like a fairy tale and even the ones that don't still have that quality to the story-telling.
All in all, I very much liked the book and I in fact wish there had been more of these strange little stories than the eleven we were treated to. I will definitely check out the other books she has written.(less)