**spoiler alert** I adored this book, but couldn't get beyond the first few pages until the second try, over a year later. It sat on my bookshelf unti...more**spoiler alert** I adored this book, but couldn't get beyond the first few pages until the second try, over a year later. It sat on my bookshelf until I had absolutely nothing else to read in my house, and in desperation I decided to go ahead and start it again until I could get to the library or bookstore. Two days later, I gave it a 5 star rating here. Not too bad for a book I thought I'd be hating...
The story is dark and gruesome, but the writing is so enveloping and pert that I didn't feel as if I was reading some overwrought, swooning gothic novel. The story moves at a fast clip without sacrificing imagery or robust secondary characters; both can be found in great abundance. I really did feel immersed in the town of Sunderland, trapped by the quarantine and fearful of the cholera epidemic. The town's citizens effectively helped convey the everyday life of our primary characters, and some of the more outlandish actions taken by them had more impact and seemed more realistic when taken in context of their surroundings.
I did find the events at the end to move along a little too quickly, much like the end of Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth when I wanted to relish one antagonist's grisly comeuppance, but just as in that novel, it actually seemed like the point here. Being swept away by the momentum of the mob mentality, there was little time for reflection on the intensity of the action, which was a beautiful contrast to the very descriptive writing used to convey previous dissections of sneakily acquired cadavers. To me, however, the pace did seem a little too frantic. Rushed.
Gustine's son is an interesting plot device rather than a character, but I have to admit that I didn't think that his passing was conveyed with enough intensity. True, it triggers the whirlwind action of the rest of the story and maybe it was the writer's intention to have that moment spark the frantic energy that would take the reader almost to the very end of the book. But still. Same as the action mentioned above.
Speaking of the end, I found the resolution of this story very satisfying. Having learned much about the character of The Eye and her similarities to the young girl Pink, it was wonderful to leave the book feeling hopeful for Pink's future. I found her to be completely annoying throughout the novel and could not even feel sorry for the lack of attention that led to her, well, stupidity. But as I was happy to hear in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice that moving away from Longborn and staying close to the Elizabeth's influence at Pemberly helped mature and change Kitty, I was relieved to read that Pink may have had a chance, with Gustine's help and away from her own father's lodging house. And, in the end, I felt horribly sorry for The Eye, misunderstood, even by herself, until the very end.
If you've picked up this book and couldn't get into it immediately, I encourage you to at least give it a good try again. That is, if frank discussion of human dissection and grave robbing isn't reason enough for you to turn away. (less)
This was my all time, number one, absolute favorite book when I was a child. It's one of those things that has survived my many moves, and not on acci...moreThis was my all time, number one, absolute favorite book when I was a child. It's one of those things that has survived my many moves, and not on accident.
The illustrations are simple but absolutely beautiful and perfectly fitting with the theme of imagination. They're almost deceptively simple and I adored looking at them, trying to figure out how to imitate whatever was depicted.
Christina Katerina's imaginative play always inspired me to create my own fantastical tea party or castle or race track and I'm glad that I am able to share that love of pretend with my own kids. I read it to my twelve year old over and over when he was little and he still remembers it almost as fondly as I do. My daughter is one and while I'm not ready to share it with her because she's still chewing on everything, I can't wait 'till she's ready. Hmmm, I wonder if it's available as a board book... (less)
I'm giving this book a generous rating of two stars as an average. Broken into two pairs of loosely related stories, the book in its entirety deals wi...moreI'm giving this book a generous rating of two stars as an average. Broken into two pairs of loosely related stories, the book in its entirety deals with the processes of birth. Three of the stories deal specifically with childbirth and one of them with the birthing process of artistic creation, as an author struggles with the aftermath of having published one of the other stories in the book. Incidentally, the "book" that the fictional writer had just published was my favorite of the four stories and almost made my bump my entire rating up the three stars, and so while I thought his presence in the book was pretty darn boring (and it wasn't mentioned on the back of the book either) I still had a soft spot for his character.
I have to say that I really liked the themes in here, and the connectivity between the stories, and I wanted so much to come away from this reading with a positive feeling. Instead, each of the pieces ended exactly where the stories became the most intriguing and I was left feeling disappointed. I was trying to be analytical and hypothesize that the stories ended like that on purpose just as pregnancy's natural culmination of birth is both an end and an exciting beginning, but if that was the author's intent, then I felt like I had to reach to get to it. It felt as if this book was just a revision of a later, more powerful and refined final draft that would have pulled all of these ideas together more profoundly.
The stories themselves were mostly interesting in their own way as well, but in the end I found each one of them lacking. I thought the characters were only halfway interesting and so I only halfway cared about anything that happened to them. I was, however, very impressed with the author's ability to move between the various voices effectively and give each piece a distinctly different voice. For the most part I thought that the writing displayed was very skilled. The imagery used was very impressive. But it just wasn't enough.
The greatest disappointment, even above the homebirthing character's complete lack of understanding of homebirths or perhaps even birth in general, was the manner in which the futuristic birth story was presented. Written as a series of interviews, it wasn't long before the story that I had been anticipating most became my least favorite to read. I wanted to know more about the society the prisoners had fled and the illegal, wild village that they had briefly held together, but the author chose otherwise. The repetition of the questioning and the insistent changes in language could have been interesting in a longer novel, but as the stand alone representation of the author's world, it was actually kind of annoying. Even finding out at the end how this story was connected to another one in the book was totally uninteresting, though the revelation could have been sublime.
I'll definitely seek out other works by this author, as I think she's very talented. But I just hope that her stories and executions are better refined in other publications. (less)
The diary format makes this a quick read and if it weren't for the fact that the author is using already de...moreCome for the novelty, stay for the orgies!
The diary format makes this a quick read and if it weren't for the fact that the author is using already developed characters, the book might be highly entertaining. However, even the very Austen-like writing can't improve upon the disparities found between the original characters and ones found in this version. Don't mistake my point; I enjoyed the book on its own merits and it may have warranted even a generous THREE stars. But because I was expecting to see familiar faces, the rating must be reflective of my dissatisfaction. The original Mr. Darcy is too much of a prig, highly aware of propriety, to carry out some of the more licentious behaviors scripted for him in this raucous retelling. Risk the Darcy name with the chance of a bastard with a Netherfield maid? And did I say orgies? Yes, orgies. Not one, but two orgies hosted by Lord Byron? Oh, Darcy. What have they done to you?
If you're looking for even more seduction and intrigue than was found in the original telling of the Darcy / Elizabeth romance and absolutely insist on descriptions of Mr. Wickham's half naked form, then do not hesitate reading this tawdry tale. But before you delve deep, or even beyond the fist few pages, be prepared to cast aside the characters you know and love (and those you love not at all) in exchange for wholly new personalities. If you can do that adequately (and I could not, in the end), then you might think this a very worthwhile diversion. However, if that is truly your aim, you might better be served by a reading of the very enjoyable Pride and Promiscuity: The Lost Sex Scenes of Jane Austen.(less)
The premise is solid and exciting, and Amy Hatvany clearly has the chops to tackle this subject matter; she handles the char...moreUltimately disappointing.
The premise is solid and exciting, and Amy Hatvany clearly has the chops to tackle this subject matter; she handles the characters of David and young Eden with beauty and grace. The treatment of present day Eden, however, feels like it belongs in a completely different book of lesser quality. The build up of David and young Eden feel organic and authentic. While heavy handed, even the cooking scenes seemed to fit somehow. Without that feel of authenticity, the present day cooking scenes felt belaboured and the characters surrounding Eden all felt like caricatures or stereotypes. Eden's idealistic (but wealthy, fortunately for the final scene) boyfriend ties up the lessons to be learned in tidy little bows and I didn't feel like Eden had to stretch very far as a character. Even her big "explosion" at her mother seemed to fall flat. Where there should have been YELLING, there was only yelling.
The absolute worst part of this book was a literary tic that Hatvany displayed when trying to convey a sense of...intimacy or I don't even know what during moments of dialogue. On a few occasions, characters would say something - and I don't have the direct quotes here but this is pretty dang close - with their chins lowered to their chests. The first time, it seemed weird. The second time? Okay maybe that's what this one character does. Got it. But when other characters did the same thing, it was a giant throbbing thumb.
With that being said, I will be seeking out other Amy Hatvany works, because the bits in this book that work, work beautifully. And even for all my issues with the book, I am very glad to have read it.
This hallucinogenic toad of a book should have been titled "Fitzwilliam Darcy Has A Giant Wang". While it is forgivable that it was published under a...moreThis hallucinogenic toad of a book should have been titled "Fitzwilliam Darcy Has A Giant Wang". While it is forgivable that it was published under a more marketable title, it absolutely cannot be forgiven that it was published with at least three times the word count than absolutely necessary. The awful bloating of this novel is not excusable in any way; not only does it not enhance the story, it actively detracts from the novel's otherwise spectacular attributes. Had this book been edited properly, it would have easily been a very solid four star feast of a trashy, rowdy and absolutely hilarious fanfic. But as it is, it aspires to an excessively generous two stars, which I give only because a few key scenes are awesomely unforgettable.
I liked the general storyline of the book. I like where the author took our beloved Longbourne friends. I like the dish about the Pemberley help, and, of course, I more than like just how much of the word count is devoted to sex. But I was only awarded these things by sheer will and patience (well, that and and a stubborn disinclination to quit any book once I've really begun). Other readers with less patience and more social life might lose all interest after reaching the third or fourth display of a wholly unreadable paragraph. And I do mean unreadable. There were chunks that made absolutely no sense, no matter how many times I read them. I was actually tempted to get out a pen and paper and try to diagram the sentences just see if I could make heads or tails out of them. As it was, they were completely unnecessary to the rest of the page, chapter, universe. Even sensible passages were aggressively superfluous. Okay, it's nice to know a little back story here and there, and Ms. Austen was herself prone to many a canny aside, but when the aside leads to development of characters who have no reason to be developed, it's just dead weight. And what a shame.
And touching for a second on the comparison between Ms. Austen and this author's attempt, this book lives up astoundingly to the chief complaint I have of all the P&P fanfic that I have read so far. None of them even make a passing attempt at capturing the wit of Austen's characters. Lizzy has a quick tongue and challenges Darcy, who is so accustomed to being treated with reverence and admiration. Mr. Bennett is hilarity and social commentary itself, every statement uttered better than the last. Mr. Collins is the very display of unchecked pride and vanity that Darcy must wrestle after Lizzy's rejection. It is expected that all writers take liberties with these characters, but separating Lizzy from her intelligence and forthrightness and turning Mr. Collins into simply slapstick comedy is really disappointing. And that's speaking as someone almost embarrassed to confess how hard I laughed at the scene with Mr. Collins on the pony during the fox hunt. I get comedy. I do not get not using the characters' actual attributes.
Don't get me wrong. The parts of this book that I did enjoy, I enjoyed so thoroughly that I was compelled to read pages at a time out loud to my husband. (He is, fortunately, a very patient man and at least feigned amusement when we weren't both laughing out loud.) But those were separated between oceans absolute nothing (not garbage, but actual nothing) that when Darcy struck Reed for mishandling a horse, I wanted to believe that the author was likening her editor to the vicious and wholly unforgivable Reed, and her own book as the woebegone beast.
The other mention I have is that this book reads as if it were two wholly separate stories. We have Darcy the newlywed, bestowing his GIANT WANG on his new bride in every possible circumstance, and a veritable ticker tape parade of sexy, silly, bawdy fun. I giggled, and often. But then almost exactly halfway through, it seems like the author decided she had written enough "for better" nonsense and it was time for the "or worse" part of the marriage to commence. And so it did. That's fine and all, and like I said, the basic plot was actually enjoyable. But the division was jarring and noticeable, and ultimately made the entire book feel like a night of excessive partying gone horribly wrong.
I wish that I had marked my favorite passages, because I certainly don't want to read this whole monstrosity again just to giggle a bit about Mr. Collins killing a fox by landing on it after being spectacularly thrown from his pony, or Jane wondering placidly after sex if Bingley ever did get it in.
A final thing that I must add is that the largest surprise I found in this entire acid trip was the tender and almost beautiful care taken when discussing the tragedies of the Darcy's two pregnancy losses. Elizabeth and her husband absolutely shine in these sequences, and I admit that I found myself at least a little verklempt. Oh, would the author had taken as much care with the rest of the scenes, this would have been a truly enjoyable work of almost degradingly trashy fanfiction. (And I mean that last bit as a compliment!)(less)
Having read this immediately after the ridiculously raucous The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy, I found myself satisfied with this author's rendering of o...moreHaving read this immediately after the ridiculously raucous The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy, I found myself satisfied with this author's rendering of our noble hero, yet found everything else about the book completely lacking. This version follows the Darcy we know and love fairly faithfully, but that may very well be the novel's undoing. While it may seem interesting to read the "he said" side of the story, in this attempt, it actually...isn't.
Still, the story is familiarly sweet and the diary format clips right along making this a very quick read. And since, admittedly, you'd only be reading something like this because you wanted to spend more time with Lizzy and Darcy and Bingley and Jane, and yes, even Mr. Collins, it is definitely not a waste of the sparse time and effort you'd exert in its consumption. If you're looking for a Mr. Darcy diversion while in bed with a cold or on the bus to and from work, you could do far worse. (less)