I'm very grateful to Gregory Maguire that he chose not to set the entirety of the book with Ada after she falls down the rabbit hole after Alice. TheI'm very grateful to Gregory Maguire that he chose not to set the entirety of the book with Ada after she falls down the rabbit hole after Alice. The parts that were set down there were tiresome enough. Lewis Carroll did Wonderland and Gregory Maguire has nothing new to add there, aside from more convoluted language that can be painful to read. I love Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and I smiled to see some favorite characters again, but even those smiles were few and far between, and bookended by frustration at having to wade through tortured language (yes, I get that he was going for a style similar to Carroll's, but it didn't work for me). Unfortunately, although the "real world" scenes provide relief from Maguire's interpretation of Wonderland, there's very little else to recommend them....more
I've read enough romance novels to know that there is usually a formula, and the formula is so plain that many people think that anyone could write onI've read enough romance novels to know that there is usually a formula, and the formula is so plain that many people think that anyone could write one. Apparently, Susan Anne Mason falls into that category. Unfortunately, she's wrong. She adheres to the formula admirably well (young people hopelessly in love but horribly unsuited to each other because of class differences? check. forbidding father? check. conflict to keep the lovers apart in the middle of the book? check. conveniently timed illness to shift the plot onto different rails? check.), but the writing is so trite and predictable, it's almost painful to read. Fortunately, it also has the required happy ending, which doesn't even seem particularly contrived, so there were warm-fuzzies all around. It wasn't enough to make up for writing that preceded it, but, you know, all's well that ends well....more
When we left Hank and Julie at the end of Gap Creek (published in 2000), they were leaving Gap Creek and heading back up the mountain to begin anew. HWhen we left Hank and Julie at the end of Gap Creek (published in 2000), they were leaving Gap Creek and heading back up the mountain to begin anew. Having survived a very rough first year of marriage, they were full of hope and love and the future seemed bright. And, indeed, the future does seem to have been good to them. In this sequel, narrated by Annie, one of their daughters, some 25 years after the events in Gap Creek, Hank and Julie have created a family, are financially stable, and overall seem to have been doing well in the years since we last saw them. How did they get there? Don't ask me.
Here is what we learn about those years: after leaving Gap Creek, Hank and Julie at some point moved back there, and then left again, when Annie was about 5 years old; Hank was able to find steady work in the '20s by building summer cottages for rich people; with steady work, he gained confidence; and they have 4 children. Why did they return to Gap Creek? Why did they leave again? Dunno. I suppose the stories must not be very interesting, since the only family lore Annie seems to know are things that happened when her parents were newlyweds - in other words, stories we already know if we read Gap Creek. A sequel doesn't have to describe every detail that we've missed in the lives of the characters, but it's almost as though Morgan's imagination just totally failed him and he just doesn't know what happened to his characters in those 25 years. In which case, quite frankly, this book needed a different title, because the road from Gap Creek is not at all the story it tells.
That being said, the writing is, of course, beautiful and evocative of Appalachia in the late 1930s and into WWII. As a stand-alone book, this would have been a lovely read. As a sequel, it just doesn't hold up....more