Rules of Civility is one of those books you can't put down, yet feel as though you want to make every page last forever. Set in New York in 1938, Rule...moreRules of Civility is one of those books you can't put down, yet feel as though you want to make every page last forever. Set in New York in 1938, Rules of Civility follows one year in the life of Katey Kontent. And what a year it is. From boarding house to Fifth Avenue, Katey meets an arresting set of characters, attends charming parties, and gets some terrific career opportunities.
The true appeal of Rules of Civility is Towles's ability to finely sketch the life his character leads. You feel as though you can literally taste the martinis, and no detail or description is out of place or lacking in information. In addition to a plucky heroine with pitch perfect dialogue, the cast of secondary characters in the book are well-developed as well. Towles has a way with words, and his ability to describe characters, places, and situations is only topped by his ability to create such a finely tuned plot that will maintain your attention to the last page. (less)
While I usually reserve 5 stars for books that are quite moving or near perfection, I couldn't help giving 5 stars to The Making of a Marchioness due...moreWhile I usually reserve 5 stars for books that are quite moving or near perfection, I couldn't help giving 5 stars to The Making of a Marchioness due to the pure enjoyment I got from reading the book.
Originally composed of two novels, the book follows Emily Fox-Seton, a errand-runner, of sorts, for the upper classes through her adventure in becoming a Marchioness and the trials of her early marriage. The first half of the book is a romance along the lines of Jane Austen - a witty look at the English aristocracy and a satisfying romantic tale. The second half is much more melodramatic and explores the Victorian values of marriage and the desire to improve one's class.
Emily Fox-Seton, although not a typical heroine due to her childlike and naive qualities, is the perfect leading character for the book. It is through the simplicity of her mind, words, and actions that one is truly able to see the character of the other leading figures in the book.
This read was quite easy and highly satisfying. A book in the vein of Jane Austen or Nancy Mitford, but with a much darker edge. (less)
Another well written and hilarious book by Nancy Mitford that details the exploits, opinions, habits, and hilarity of the upper classes in England bet...moreAnother well written and hilarious book by Nancy Mitford that details the exploits, opinions, habits, and hilarity of the upper classes in England between WWI and WWII.
Love in a Cold Climate follows the story of Polly, who runs in similar circles with Fanny the narrator (whom we know from The Pursuit of Love). Much like The Pursuit of Love, the supporting cast steals the show. Polly's mother is a humorous example of a snobbish individual intent on maintaining social status with the help of an advantageous marriage. The Radlett family appears in brief glimpses throughout the novel offering their eccentric habits and perspective. One can never get enough of the Radletts and Uncle Davey, and the only part of the novel that seems disappointing is that they aren't in more scenes. However, the character of Cedric is such a well drawn character with such fantastic habits and comments that he almost makes you forget the missing Radletts.
I preferred Love in a Cold Climate to The Pursuit of Love just the tiniest bit due to Polly's mother and Cedric. Yes, Polly is the least bit boring, but the comments of her relatives kept me laughing the entire time.(less)
A hilariously funny and charming book with well drawn characters and glimpses into Upper Class England during the time between the wars.
The Pursuit of...moreA hilariously funny and charming book with well drawn characters and glimpses into Upper Class England during the time between the wars.
The Pursuit of Love details the romantic exploits of Linda Radlett as seen through the eyes of her cousin, Fanny. Although Linda, her habits, actions, and comments are interesting in themselves, it's really the supporting cast that steals the show.
The Radlett family, best described as eccentric, provides numerous laughs and eye rolls throughout the book. Their exploits and witticisms are not to be missed. The characters are all so well drawn that you'll be hard pressed to decide which one is your favorite.
The Pursuit of Love was my first encounter with Nancy Mitford, and it instantly inspired me to pick up the rest of her books as well as a few biographies of her family, whom the Radletts are based upon.(less)
One of the best biographies I've read of an incredibly interesting life and an even more fascinating woman.
While not for the faint of heart at almost...moreOne of the best biographies I've read of an incredibly interesting life and an even more fascinating woman.
While not for the faint of heart at almost 1,000 pages, The Queen Mother portrays the interesting life and experiences of a common woman who ascends to the throne of England. The Queen Mother proves a fascinating character shaped by her childhood experiences, sense of duty, joy for life, and love of family. Her experiences alone make this book worthwhile, but by reading her correspondences with family and friends, one gets to really understand the reason for her appeal during her 101 years of life.
In addition to learning about the Queen Mother, you also get a glimpse of the 20th century in England from World War II, the abdication crisis, World War II, and the emergence of the modern UK. And as they say, sometimes truth is much better than fiction. (less)
The Help is a novel that centers around the lives of women in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s. In the middle of the Civil Rights movement, the book...moreThe Help is a novel that centers around the lives of women in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s. In the middle of the Civil Rights movement, the book takes the perspective of both maids and the women that employ them. Each woman offers a different portrait from the Southern socialite insistent on maintaining the status quo to the motherly maid who raises other people's children as if they were her own.
This was a book that I couldn't put down. I enjoy reading, and this is one of the best books I have read in quite a while. It is optimistic and uplifting, making one remember that things can and do change. The book presents a variety of female characters that can sometimes appear stereotypical, but the differences in these characters allow one to view a specific time period with a varied lens. Relationships form the backbone of the book, and the diversity of these relationships and the treatment of one woman to another had me at times cringing and at times completely entertained. (less)