I had high hopes for this new biography of the relationship between Queen Victoria and Prince Consort Albert. While I learned a fair bit and enjoyed wI had high hopes for this new biography of the relationship between Queen Victoria and Prince Consort Albert. While I learned a fair bit and enjoyed walking through their history, the biography suffers from some of my most frustrating history-writing pet peeves. Information taken from letters and diaries often gets written narratively, such as "Seated on a little blue sofa, Victoria nestled in Albert's bosom," instead of indicating the voice of the journal's author. The result is that personal details and moments end up reading like campy historical fiction instead of actual words from the profiled people.
Also, the book often takes on a patronizing tone towards its subjects, too often critiquing Victoria and Albert from a 21st century posture rather than fleshing out their actions and relationship in light of their context. Not that proper context isn't ever given, it just felt like Gill often took cheap shots, writing dismissively of Victoria's emotional expressions and flippantly of Albert's professorial demeanor.
If you're expecting to read the book version of "The Young Victoria," you won't get it here, nor did I expect to. But I did hope to see a fuller portrait of this rare royal marriage, beyond an attitude of "oh those dull and repressed Victorians." ...more
Sometimes you love a book not so much for the new things it brings you, but for how it names what you've always known. Such is The Heroine's BookshelfSometimes you love a book not so much for the new things it brings you, but for how it names what you've always known. Such is The Heroine's Bookshelf. By profiling twelve of the most influential female literary heroines of the past two centuries and the women authors who created them, Blakemore narrates the soul-shaping encounters we have with literature. While the process of internalizing life lessons from fiction may be a largely unconscious process for many, Blakemore allows readers into her own transforming encounters with each book and its author, thus inviting readers into deeper awareness of how reading can be challenging, healing and sustaining, rather than escapist or avoidant. Blakemore not only provides insightful looks into the courageous, contentious and sometimes tragic lives of authors such as Zora Neale Hurston and Charlotte Bronte, but assists readers in thinking deeply about how we allow ourselves to shaped by the stories we enter. As this topic is something I'm already deeply passionate about, reading Heroine's Bookshelf was a tender and encouraging reminder of the women who have knocked down walls so I could walk freely, and the literary heroines who have strengthened my imagination and my own sense of courage. I hope this book will reach those whose literary journeys have yet to venture beyond consumer chick-lit tailored to the status quo and wallet, rather than hope and integrity. I'm sure it will.
Further, while I loved the book for resonating where my heart already rings, there were still whole chapters that found me shocked, intrigued and totally inspired to pick up books that somehow never made it on my radar. And while Blakemore advocates passionately and compassionately for the heroines and authors who fought for their faith and freedom against adversity, her real victory is her ability to offer that same passion and compassion on behalf of characters and authors who's integrity is less obvious and are more recognizable for their flippancy, selfishness and scandals. My favorite chapters were on Collette's "Claudine" novels and Margaret Mitchell's Scarlet O'Hara, whom Blakemore proudly proclaims as literature's "most famous bitch."
Heroine's Bookshelf is a delight, both encouraging and entertaining, and definitely stirred my own sense of heroism with gratitude and gumption. Thank you Erin Blakemore....more
I thought this book would never end. Though I've been loving my journey through juvenile and young adult fantasy fiction- this series by Jeanne DuPrauI thought this book would never end. Though I've been loving my journey through juvenile and young adult fantasy fiction- this series by Jeanne DuPrau may be one that really is meant to just be read by ten year-olds. I was bored throughout and got a severe headache from the way the book's themes were hammered against my head. While I believe great writing- even for children- can always be nuanced as opposed to overt and literal- the hammering might not have been so obnoxious if I was 11 instead of 30.
But basically- this is Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" if it was told as a children's story. While "People of Sparks" was published first- the post-apocalyptic theme is hard not to intertext. But DuPrau draws lines both too blindly optimistic and too contrived, to actually make a compelling story or three dimensional characters. It's unclear if her message is Go Green or World Peace- and while the two should be able to coexist within her story- this second book in the series muddles what seemed to be a clear anti-consumerism/pro-environment message in the first (City of Ember).
Basically- it's hard to believe that this book is recommended to the same age group that the Golden Compass is marketed to. If Golden Compass is an example of what authors and book publishers feel ten year olds can read, follow and enjoy, then to give them People of Sparks seems like saying to a reader, "Hey- you like Anna Karenina? Then you'll love Bridget Jones' Diary!" ...more
a) For my research, I purchased both "Young Lady in Waiting" and "Lady in Waiting" assuming this "young" version would b***see updated review below***
a) For my research, I purchased both "Young Lady in Waiting" and "Lady in Waiting" assuming this "young" version would be directed toward adolescent girls as opposed to adult or even young adult women. But from what I can tell, "Young Lady in Waiting" is literally the same text as "Lady in Waiting" with a pink cover and pocket-sized shape. While hypothetically written to "young" readers, the text references the fact that the reader may be a divorcee or in their 40's. How is that different than just plain "Lady in Waiting"? is there somewhere "a Teeny Tiny Lady in Waiting" book I need to refer to?
b) Shockingly, despite the fact that the book patronizes its readers (however young or old they may be) with trite devotional questions and horrifically simplified life application examples, the advice---wait for it---is not tremendously terrible. It's incomplete and over-generalized, but in the sea of Christian publishing geared towards women's participation in male/female relationships, this may be the least offensive I've found. I don't like the medium AT ALL, but much of the message appears more helpful than detrimental, even if it is grossly over-simplified.
*******Update************* Okay, I take that all back. I think my original "it's not the worst there is" response was because I wrote much less in the margins than in the other books I'm reading in this genre. But less notes does not equal less dysfunction. As I type up my notes from the book, I'm seeing more clearly the theme of disconnecting women/girls from their physical selves, particularly their experience of pleasure. The assumption (and sometimes explicit message) is that physical expression of sensuality or sexuality will automatically mean loss of relationship/intimacy with the guy you want to be closer to- thus playing into the paradigm of women only understanding their bodies and sexuality as something they give over to men because men want it- but that it will mean a loss of self. You give sex to men because they want it (and you as a woman will never want it except as a way to keep a man interested in you) but sex is scary because you lose intimacy even as you give it. This is the message the book conveys about premarital sex, but if girls follow the book's logic (as the patronizingly persuasive text is designed to make you do) then girls will fear sex in marriage as loss of friendship just as they've been told about before marriage.
I'm not advocating that books should teach girls to chase after sexual experiences before marriage, but I definitely don't want girls in my life to be taught that their sexuality belongs to men and comes at the cost of their relational self. ...more
I am actually reading this cover to cover. It's one of the scariest things I've ever done. It would be hilarious if it weren't for the fact that womenI am actually reading this cover to cover. It's one of the scariest things I've ever done. It would be hilarious if it weren't for the fact that women actually embrace it.
Again, of all the books I've delved into so far, this is the deepest rabbit hole my research has taken me to.
I probably won't bother reviewing it, but I really should. ...more