When I started this book, I had no idea how sad Affinity would make me. Because it does, and it has, for at least two days even after finishing the bo...moreWhen I started this book, I had no idea how sad Affinity would make me. Because it does, and it has, for at least two days even after finishing the book.
Affinity is the tale Margaret, a young lady living in nineteenth-century London. After her father's death, Margaret has fallen ill for half a year. Now everything is slightly better, she has taken it upon her to visit the female inmates at the Millbank prison as Lady Visitor. Here she meets the spirit medium Serena, who starts to intrigue her more with every visit.
This novel unfolds very, very, very slowly. It's way shorter than the other book I have read by Sarah Waters, Fingersmith, but it doesn't contain as many plot twists as that one does. Affinity feels a lot slower. I didn't mind that much, because I happen to love the historical period, and I can easily be entertained by the gloomy mood. Still, after a while I started to wish for the end, because about ninety percent of this novel is build-up.
And when the end comes, it hits hard. I won't spoil anything for you, but I can assure you that if you have come to be affectionate towards any of the characters, it will stay with you. I personally didn't see it coming it all. It all wraps up neatly together, but not in a way you would normally get with this type of novel.
The character of Margaret is a very flawed one. We see most of the story through her eyes, and her weakness shows through every experience she has. She's not very easy to like, but I really did want her to get a happy ending, in any form or another. Madness, substance abuse and depression are a few of the underlying themes, but I wish they were more pronounced. Without explaining Margaret's mental condition, she's really just a weak woman that doesn't appreciate the things she has in life.
Affinity's strength is the vividness of the descriptions of Millbank. I could perfectly imagine the creaking iron, the cold labyrinth-like corridors, the sound of a key turning in its lock. Ms Waters is a master in painting a gloomy atmosphere.
I recommend this book if you really feel like reading something that will make you shiver. It's not as accessible as Fingersmith is, but it's still a great historical novel. Not for the inexperienced reader, as the novel is written in slightly lofty archaic language and style. (less)
The Wanderer has something that other books only pretend to offer. It has a perfect balance--between characters that feel like real people, action and...moreThe Wanderer has something that other books only pretend to offer. It has a perfect balance--between characters that feel like real people, action and suspense, romance and last but not least, sex. It is one of the best books in this genre I have ever read.
Jude is a doctor in a small town, Sylvan, somewhere in Western USA, after the Civil War. He has a little clinic where he takes care of his patients and the occasional ill farm animal. Then, one day, a stranger comes into town. Gabriel, a gunslinger, is hurt, and seeking medical attention. But there is something growing deeper between him and Jude than a mere patient-doctor relationship. This sets into motion a series of events that turn the whole town upside down.
There are a lot of books out there that use a time period as a mere stage for their characters to act on. Ms Irving, however, embraces this certain time, and creates a historic feel, that amplify the small town atmosphere. You really believe the characters actually lived then, and that they're not just planted there for convenience. Much thought has been put into the setting, which gives the story a certain credibility.
The thing that most touched me was the strength of Jan Irving’s characters. At first, I tried to label them, put them in a box, so I could place them. But I just could not make sense of them. They were not stereotypical. There was no box that would fit Doctor Jude, or the little blind boy Mouse. And I think this is one of the best parts of this book. The characters are special, they have a personality, they are individuals. You feel their pain, their happiness, their despair.
This story has so many layers. Growth, finally accepting of what you are is an important one. All main characters develop in some way or another. The one I thought was most touching was the change in Jude. He undergoes a complete transformation. He starts off as a lonely, introvert person. He lives on his own, writing poetry about love. Then, when love finally comes to him in the shape of the incredibly hot Gabriel, it takes time for him to cope with his shame, his resentment for what he really is. We learn with him, we see him coming to terms with the part of him that he has hidden not only from the world, but also himself. I thought this was beautifully, subtly done.
His relationship with Gabriel was interesting. It develops slowly, and sometimes you doubt if this is even going to work, but in the end you just know they are right for each other. There is some domination love play in this book, but I thought it was quite sweet. I liked how they acted like they were somewhere else, being somewhere else. Everything you could want from sex scenes are here. They were hot, steamy and variable. In some books you feel like you are reading the same scene over and over again, with just a slightly different setting. This was not at all the case with The Wanderer. Every scene is exciting in its own, unique way.
I definitely recommend this book if you are looking for an erotic romance with a well thought-out story. It’s fast-paced, very nicely written with clear descriptions, and is just a great book overall. Its bitter-sweet ending was absolutely perfect. You will not be disappointed.
Listened to this as a free audio book on LibriVox.
Don't have much to say about this that hasn't been said over a million times before. It's a sad stor...moreListened to this as a free audio book on LibriVox.
Don't have much to say about this that hasn't been said over a million times before. It's a sad story. Very tragic. Not really romantic. Makes the world look like a dark place that hates everyone. Oh woeful me, me miserable wrench! Exit(less)
Sue Trinder, an orphan raised in 'den of thieves' by her adoptive mother, Mrs. Sucksby, is sent to help Richard 'Gentleman' Rivers seduce a wealthy he...moreSue Trinder, an orphan raised in 'den of thieves' by her adoptive mother, Mrs. Sucksby, is sent to help Richard 'Gentleman' Rivers seduce a wealthy heiress. Posing as a maid, Sue is to gain the trust of the lady, Maud Lilly, and eventually persuade her to elope with Gentleman.
This book was not at all what I expected. It was more dark and depressing. It kind of fits the time, but I think it was a little bit too dark for this kind of story. The main characters don't even see each other for the biggest part of the time. The asylum is portrayed very accurate and London really feels like London how it has once been.
Ah, the lesbian romance, the thing we were all waiting for... Well, it's pretty non existent. Okay, it's there, but how can we be satisfied with just one kiss and a very tiny love scene? I wanted a little bit more. It feels like the romance was in complete disproportion with the heavy weight of depressing stuff in the book. We need some light, Sarah!
The ending was all right. Not even a little kiss? Shame on you. If it had been a guy/girl thing they would have kissed! Don't be such a prude. Especially since Maud knows exactly what to do. *giggles*
Five stars for the setting, Four for the plot twist and two for the story itself. Overall I think four stars is quite generous for this book.(less)
This book was horrible. It was amazing. I almost cried when it was over. I wanted to throw it across the room and scream to it. I wanted to hold it in...moreThis book was horrible. It was amazing. I almost cried when it was over. I wanted to throw it across the room and scream to it. I wanted to hold it in my arms and never let it go again.
I can't write a coherent review about The Sweet Far Thing. The title is perfect for this book. It's such a bitter-sweet story, with the perfect open ending. It lacked the pace Rebel Angels had, but to make up for that, TSFT had a building sense of impending doom.
The first half of the book was quite a bore, nothing much happens, but then again, that was how life was in that time. There was nothing to do for ladies, except for sitting around, have some tea, and gossip. Attend some dances and get married with good fortune. You were not supposed to have an opinion of some sort, and your whole life was planned for you before you were even ten. Libba Bray shows this helplessness perfectly, and what happens if you just do not fit in this society. It makes me once again glad to live in this period of time, where it's okay to be different, and where it is considered normal for a girl to have a voice in her own life.
The realms were beautiful. I loved the growing darkness, the sense that everything they've worked for is falling apart, that Gemma is growing mad, the line between nightmare and reality thinning...
Gemma makes horrible choices. But then again, can we blame her? What would you do if so many people (and other creatures) depend on you, while you have absolutely no idea what you are up against. She is absolutely lost in all her responsibilities, without anyone to help her. Of course, Felicity and Ann, her closest friends are still there, but even there are some problems. 'Cause well, they just can't understand how great a burden it is for having all the magic of the realms bound inside of you. The sense of being misunderstood and being all alone is very strong in this book. Most of the time Gemma is brooding over what she is supposed to do. And I think this is portrayed very realistic. If I was in her shoes, I would have collapsed under the pressure a long time ago.
This is a beautiful story about strong girls. And in the same time I have no idea if I even liked it. One thing I can certainly say: this was one hell of a read.(less)
In one word: amazing. Rebel Angels had everything I missed in A Great and Terrible Beauty. The love is bitter-sweet, the realms magical, the action th...moreIn one word: amazing. Rebel Angels had everything I missed in A Great and Terrible Beauty. The love is bitter-sweet, the realms magical, the action thrilling and the friendship genuine.
The writing also improved greatly since the last book, and unlike in GBT I actually understood what was happening without having to read back. The mystery was maybe a little predictable, but still very well done.
I admire Libba Bray for taking risks and not stay inside the safe-zone. She actually dares to talk about sexual abuse and neglect and self-mutilation in a young-adult novel, without describing it too shocking or explicit.
I also think she has done some good research on the age she is writing about. The balls and visits feel like Austen, only written in a modern way.
Haunting book. Absolutely loved it. Give me more Kartik!(less)
This is the dark and horrible story of Victor Frankenstein, who gave birth to the frightening, hideous, infamous monster.
I read the abridged and simpl...moreThis is the dark and horrible story of Victor Frankenstein, who gave birth to the frightening, hideous, infamous monster.
I read the abridged and simplified version when I was young, and well, I though it was pretty boring. Now I read the original unabridged version I can only begin understanding how brilliant this story really is.
Sceptic as I am, every time I heard people raving about how the genius 18 years-old Mary Shelley wrote this astonishing tale, I thought that this was just overrated following-the-crowd crap. But I got to admit; good old Mary captures human nature just perfectly.
We see the ambitious Victor Frankenstein grow up, see how he passes time with his caring family, we see his drive, how he developed his affection for his studies. Life is still fun and it holds great promise for the future; but we all know there are terrible things about to happen, and Shelley won't let us forget that.
I really liked we didn't get to see exactly how the monster was formed, and that she actually has found a good reason to not tell us. It isn't just a simple writing trick, it fits perfectly in the story and suits Victor as character.
The further we advance in the obscure world of misery, it becomes clear that Shelley will not spare our heroes. She does about everything to torture them. The monster wants revenge on his creator, and in doing this, he hurts himself beyond what is reasonable.
Frankenstein is not a strong character, he is actually quite weak. But that is his charm, and that's what, in my opinion, makes this story so disturbing. Because Victor is so stunningly normal, it feels close to home. He is not some kind of super hero with super humanly powers and traits; he has many faults, some even unforgivable, but a good heart. You just can't help to feel for him, as he descends in his own personal hell. His love for Elizabeth and Clerval and his father is genuine and heart-warming, and his misery is portrayed perfectly. It doesn't feel like self-pity at all. I really started to get a soft spot for the poor man. No human being should endure such a hardship.
A few things that struck me while reading: - Mary really likes the word "wretch". No, she absolutely adores it. It is mentioned on almost every other page of this book; and what I found quite interesting is that both Frankenstein and the monster consider themselves wretches, and both consider themselves as the most miserable. - Was it normal for men to cry back then? Tears start flowing everytime someone is done injustice. I wonder if it's just because the writer was a woman, and that she has a certain idea about how men should be, or that it was generally accepted then for men to weep, and let their tears run freely without shame. - The undying admiration for nature. It's like their TV. They don't get tired of watching it and studying it closely. It makes me want to see the world through their eyes.
Yes, I will have to admit it. Mary Shelley did write a classic tale about humanity and what will happen if we lose ourselves in science. The only thing I wonder about is if she really knew the complexity of what she wrote. Did she really understand what her little horror story would mean for us in this time? Anyway, a must read. (less)