This book made me uncomfortable. I felt like I was reading Harper Lee's diary and I had no right to. I know, I know, I know that Marja Mills said sheThis book made me uncomfortable. I felt like I was reading Harper Lee's diary and I had no right to. I know, I know, I know that Marja Mills said she had the cooperation and full support of the Lee sisters in writing this book, but Harper Lee has since said that was not the case:
But, I was on the waiting list for it at the library, and it came in right away, so, I read it. Still, I don't feel right about it.
Even if Harper Lee did agree to this book at one point and change her mind (which is not what I'm saying happened) - still - what kind of friend claims to respect your privacy and then goes and blabs to the world the location of your favorite fishing hole and the name of every (and I do mean *every*) restaurant where the two of you apparently ever shared a meal?
That being said, I was interested in this story. Mills jumped around in time, and some details were repeated a few times and didn't need to be, but on the whole it was a good story. It's just I'm not sure it's one that should have been told, or at least told right now. (I'm still debating whether it would have been more or less exploitative for Mills to have waited to publish this until the Lee sisters are no longer alive.)...more
I remember walking out of the theater the night I went to see Keira Knightley's version of Pride and Prejudice and thinking, "That is just a good storI remember walking out of the theater the night I went to see Keira Knightley's version of Pride and Prejudice and thinking, "That is just a good story". No matter how many times it's been told, there is just something satisfying in the telling of it.
As far as I'm concerned, the same goes for the true story of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford. However, Anya Seton's novel Katherine is considered such a classic, I think it's scared away some other historical fiction authors who might have been attracted to this tale.
I'm glad Anne O'Brien took up the challenge. I have to agree with a previous reviewer that it was just nice to spend time with this couple again.
This was very much a historical romance. It is told from Katherine's perspective and focuses almost exclusively on John and Katherine's relationship. A lot of ink is spent on their passionate fights and passionate reunions at the expense of secondary character development and any but the most cursory examinations of 14th Century politics or socioeconomic realities. For example, there was a lot of hand-wringing about how their affair went against God, but I never got a sense of how powerful a force the church was on daily life in the middle ages. And their children wandered in and out of the story as the plot demanded. These flaws could have been quite annoying, but I found myself liking this couple despite them.
These were characters with a sense of humor. It was exciting to see both of them realize (perhaps at separate times) that this was an affair based on more than just lust. And, I admit by the time I got to Katherine's final conversation with John, I was in tears.
This may not be the definitive take on this story, but it's one well worth a look. It's too bad that it hasn't been published yet in the U.S. and is somewhat hard to come by on this side of the pond....more
I couldn't put this book down. The blurb on the cover promised a "tragic adventure story," which sounds ominous (and there is a certain amount of dreaI couldn't put this book down. The blurb on the cover promised a "tragic adventure story," which sounds ominous (and there is a certain amount of dread hanging over the whole thing) but this book is full of beauty and suspense, too. The name George Mallory sounded sort-of, kind-of, familiar before I picked up Above All Things, but I knew nothing about him (and, frankly, little enough about Mount Everest) before reading this fictionalized account of his 1924 attempt to be the first to the summit. His personality, good and bad, leaped off the pages, and I almost understood his reasoning for leaving his wife and children for months at a time to climb. The chapters told from Ruth's perspective certainly aren't as full of life and death as his are, but they held my attention.
In short, this story is the type of book I read historical fiction for. I felt like I was there on the mountain with the expedition. It took a little piece of history I was completely unfamiliar with and made it come alive. And I appreciated the author's note at the back of the book where she owned up to what parts of the story were historically inaccurate and gave a list of nonfiction books for further reading. I've already started to track some of those down. (And I recognized the photo of George and Ruth that is described in the book the instant I saw it.)...more
This was the book I was hoping A Fatal Waltz would be. This was a book about the Lady Emily I remember from And Only to Deceive and A Poisoned Season.This was the book I was hoping A Fatal Waltz would be. This was a book about the Lady Emily I remember from And Only to Deceive and A Poisoned Season.
In other words, I liked it a lot. It had an absorbing mystery, and even dear, sweet Ivy unveils a secret. (I thought I had it figured out halfway through and totally had it wrong.)
However, there was a lot going on at the end and it all happened so fast, it felt a bit muddled. I think I need to re-read to fully get what happened.
(view spoiler)[Also, I'm glad Emily trusts her husband and all, but I would have liked to have known what Colin was up to when she was out eavesdropping in the hallway. Something mysterious is going on and I want to know what! (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
After several thousand pages of build-up, the Revolutionary War is finally here — and with it, the excitement of the early Outlander novels returns. NAfter several thousand pages of build-up, the Revolutionary War is finally here — and with it, the excitement of the early Outlander novels returns. No offense to the residents of Fraser's Ridge, but it's a lot more fun to see Jamie and Claire interacting with Benedict Arnold than Hiram Crombie. They may be older and wiser than they were back in the Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager days, but this book has more in common with those two novels than it does with the last few that preceded it. I can't help but feel that the Frasers are back in their element; a life of quiet domesticity may just not be their thing.
What else can I say about Echo? Several characters and storylines from the early books (and even the Lord John series) return, but several new, very likeable characters are introduced as well. There were enough twists, turns, and mysteries to keep me glued to the pages... and I hope it won't take forever for the next Outlander book to come out because quite a few surprises happen late in this one and don't get resolved before the end....more
Without a doubt, this was the best dog story/love letter to eighties music I have ever read.
At times, it was heartbreaking to read about how isolatedWithout a doubt, this was the best dog story/love letter to eighties music I have ever read.
At times, it was heartbreaking to read about how isolated Amy's life was, but I absolutely loved the chapters written from Carlie's perspective. Yes, I can see a somewhat hyper little Westie thinking that way. Amy's relationship with fictional Robert Maguire was also a nice touch.
I could completely see this book being made into a nice PG-rated little romantic dramedy. (Okay, or a Lifetime movie of the week - but, hey, I liked it.) If they got Gerard Butler to play Robert Maguire it would be just like Nim's Island for grown-ups.
I love the Lady Emily Ashton mystery series by Tasha Alexander, so I was hoping for good things when this series - which sounded remarkably similar -I love the Lady Emily Ashton mystery series by Tasha Alexander, so I was hoping for good things when this series - which sounded remarkably similar - was recommended to me.
Lady Emily and Lady Julia seem to have a good deal in common at first. Both are young, Victorian widows who discover their own unconventional sides while trying to solve the mystery of their husbands' murders with the help of an extremely attractive Crown agent / private investigator.
However, that is where the similarities ended for me. I found myself enjoying Lady Julia's story on its own right, without even wanting to compare it to the Ashton novels. Perhaps that is because Silent in the Grave is a much more moody, psychological piece. Nicholas Brisbane is as much Heathcliff as he is Holmes and I'm looking forward to finding out what other secrets he's hiding about his past.
But the Gothic elements of the story were balanced by the many humorous characters in Julia's large and eccentric family tree. I can see myself wanting to follow these characters through another mystery....more
It's refreshing to read about a Victorian woman who pushes the boundaries ofI liked this sequel even better than its original ( And Only to Deceive).
It's refreshing to read about a Victorian woman who pushes the boundaries of what's acceptable for a woman in her time, but never comes across as a 21st Century anachronism. Lady Emily Ashton is smart and inventive - but all in a completely believable way. And, Stephanie Plum, take note - it really is refreshing to read about an amateur sleuth who's not TSTL ("To Stupid to Live").
And, to top it all off, I think I'm developing a serious literary crush on Colin Hargreaves.
In any case, I'm eagerly looking forward to their adventures in the next book in the series....more
This one was a complete impulse buy. I picked it up because the jacket copy promised "a cauldron of intrigue, scandal, and danger" set in the BritishThis one was a complete impulse buy. I picked it up because the jacket copy promised "a cauldron of intrigue, scandal, and danger" set in the British Museum and said it would be the result "had Jane Austen written The Da Vinci Code."
What hyperbole. It was none of those things. But it was a delightful, little, romantic Victorian cozy mystery. If anything, it reminded me of the Amelia Peabody mysteries - except instead of tracking down Egyptian artifacts in the field, the heroine of this novel tracks down stolen museum pieces relating to her late husband's obsession with ancient Greek art.
This is supposed to be the first in a series. I'm hoping the author will let the promising romance from this book continue on throughout the rest and that she won't introduce a new love interest every book....more
This "companion" novel to Follett's 1989 classic The Pillars of the Earth is set in the same community, 200 years later. I'd been excited about it eveThis "companion" novel to Follett's 1989 classic The Pillars of the Earth is set in the same community, 200 years later. I'd been excited about it ever since I heard it was coming out this fall - Maybe too excited, because it just didn't live up to my expectations.
The first half of the book seemed a sort-of ho-hum retread of "Pillars". In place of Jack Builder, we have his look-alike great-great-great-many-times-over grandson, Merthin. Instead of Aliena, we get Caris (who I wanted to slap several times during the course of the story). Instead of Big Villain William, we get Ralph, Merthin's knightly (but less-than chivalrous) brother. And a bridge-building project stands in for the cathedral construction of the first book... As if anything could.
The only character I found remotely original was the first one we meet in the book, a little girl reduced to pickpocketing by her starving parents, who grows up to be hopelessly in love with a handsome, honest young farmer.
I missed Prior Philip, from the original book, who was a character who at least had some integrity and depth to him. All the clergy in "World Without End" seemed to be corrupt - including the ones we're supposed to like.
Something big happens about halfway through, to change the book's course - and it doesn't get resolved as quickly as I thought it would - but the big payoff from the opening scene never materializes. ("That's IT?" I wanted to say when I read the explanation of what happened.)
There are some good scenes, showing how war and pestilence affect ordinary folk - but the "heroes" in this book talk and think too much like people from the 21st Century to make the setting really believable. If you loved "Pillars", you might as well try this one, but it's not any great shakes....more
The ponderous tone of the first chapter almost made me set this one aside before the story really got going, but I'm glad I soldiered on to get enveloThe ponderous tone of the first chapter almost made me set this one aside before the story really got going, but I'm glad I soldiered on to get enveloped in this one.
The writing style of this twisted tale of incest, evil twins, and lifelong secrets is heavy-handed throughout. Many of its plot points (such as the narrator's obsession with the conjoined twin she lost at birth) are melodramatic, and just plain weird. But somehow The Thirteenth Tale is more than the sum of its parts (which, frankly, could have just as easily been made into a V.C. Andrews' novel).
It's a love letter to old-fashioned storytelling, antiquarian bookshops, and other treasures the 21st Century literary marketplace is all too eager to dismiss. It has a timeless quality to it that I adored, and I found many, many bookish quotations throughout.
In this book, she tackles the topic of her lifelong love affair with words and literature. Her funny, erudite essays are somAnne Fadiman understands!
In this book, she tackles the topic of her lifelong love affair with words and literature. Her funny, erudite essays are some of the best I've read on the subject. The librarian in me absolutely adored the opening essay, in which she explains that she didn't really feel married to her husband of five years until they decided to consolidate their book collections....more
I have been a fan of the "Anne Girl" since elementary school. Countless rereads later, I can honestly say I still enjoy visiting Green Gables (and theI have been a fan of the "Anne Girl" since elementary school. Countless rereads later, I can honestly say I still enjoy visiting Green Gables (and the House of Dreams and Ingleside). I get something different out of the hijinks of Anne, her best friend Diana and her sworn enemy/later beau Gilbert Blythe now, but the later novels in the series aren't just the children's books they're often made out to be. Anne's House of Dreams and Rilla of Ingleside, especially, tackle some pretty grown up hurts and philosophies.
One thing I always did wonder about the series was why I found Book #4 Anne of Windy Poplars and Book #6 Anne of Inglesideflat compared to the others. I found the answer a few years ago reading a bibliography of L.M. Montgomery's work. Although Windy Poplars and Anne of Ingleside are chronologically Book #4 and Book #6, L.M. actually published those two last - at the insistence of her publisher and long after she'd run out of fresh ideas for Anne. They're comprised mainly of worked-over short stories from her early writing career (which goes a long ways towards explaining why the stories suddenly veer off in the direction of minor characters in spots.)
Ever since I've felt justified in recommending people read the "Anne" Books in their original order so they don't get bogged down by the weaker books:
Originally, I had given this book 5 stars, but, after a reread, I decided to knock it down a mark. Don't get me wrong, it's still a good book, but it'Originally, I had given this book 5 stars, but, after a reread, I decided to knock it down a mark. Don't get me wrong, it's still a good book, but it's probably my least favorite in the Outlander series so far. It's just one bad thing after another happening to these characters that I've learned to love — Yet, at the same time, not a lot happens to move the story forward as a whole.
It's a necessary read for an Outlander fan, but, as I'm in the middle of reading the next book in the series for the first time, it's feeling more and more like this one was filler to go between The Fiery Cross and An Echo in the Bone....more
People kept telling me how good the Outlander series was, and I kept putting off reading them because they're time travel romances. Time travel romancPeople kept telling me how good the Outlander series was, and I kept putting off reading them because they're time travel romances. Time travel romances are always completely cheesy aren't they?
Well, I finally broke down and read "Outlander," and quickly discovered it's one of the most original novels out there. I was happy to see that Barnes & Noble recently moved them out of the "romance" section because they are way more involved than your typical girl-meets-boy.
Claire, the World War II combat nurse who wanders through an ancient stone circle in the Highlands of Scotland and finds herself suddenly in the 18th Century, is a refreshing change from the princess-type heroine. Jamie Fraser, the Scot who winds up being the love of her life, is at times both a sweet innocent and a dangerous and passionate warrior. In the later novels I've come to love their daughter and son-in-law as well.
Be forewarned: these books are gargantuan pieces of historical fiction mixed with fantasy, some very steamy erotic stuff and the occasional gruesome torture scene. They are also addicting. I stayed up until 3:30 one night finishing "Outlander." The next day, I headed back to the bookstore to get the rest of the series....more
This book is both a spiritual coming of age tale and a hauntingly-beautiful love story. Anya Seton wrote some other good books, but make no mistake —This book is both a spiritual coming of age tale and a hauntingly-beautiful love story. Anya Seton wrote some other good books, but make no mistake — this is her masterpiece.
Katherine is based on the true story of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt from 14th Century England. John, a younger son of King Edward III, was one of the richest and most powerful men of his day. His marriages were strategic alliances — but the great love of his life was Katherine, the humble, orphan daughter of one his father's heralds.
Katherine grows from an love-struck teenager into an intelligent and aware heroine over the thirty-year course of the story. John has moments of arrogance, but is also capable of tender acts of sweetness — He should join Rhett Butler and Mr. Darcy on the list of sexiest men in literature.
The couple's relationship develops slowly over the first half of the book, but the payoff is well worth the wait. The last page of this story always makes me sigh.
Katherine is the kind of novel that sucks you right in to its time and place. If you're anything like me, you're going to want to rush out and find out the true story behind it when you're done because you just can't let it go....more