So Jane Casey's currently the only author whose U.K. releases I make a point of going out of my way to buy, because I'm that hooked on the series andSo Jane Casey's currently the only author whose U.K. releases I make a point of going out of my way to buy, because I'm that hooked on the series and the U.S. editions don't come out for AN ENTIRE YEAR LATER. And after this installment, I'm once again counting down until I can read the next one.
After the Fire isn't quite as expertly rendered as the last book, The Kill, but Casey is shaping up to be quite the virtuoso when it comes to POV and tight writing. She's always had a good handle on fascinating, complicated characters, and so naturally, once again, Maeve and Josh Derwent are fascinating, complicated, flawed, and each other's greatest/worst allies, and it's wonderful to read. Maeve's nuanced points of view of the other characters, her uncomfortable shifting through the emotional debris of her life, and the way she has to deal with negotiating sexism & being a woman in a sexist workplace are some of the series' greatest strengths, and this book was no exception....more
Beautiful. So, while forced to shelter with other elderly women during a hurricane (she had wanted to be left in her home to drown and die alone), MarBeautiful. So, while forced to shelter with other elderly women during a hurricane (she had wanted to be left in her home to drown and die alone), María Sirena sets the story of her life--her loves, her family myths--aflame. If, like me, you could read forevermore about how stories and storytelling are like the connective tissue of history and how that's all so messy and wonderful and awful, then you might like this book. I thought the story dragged in the middle, but the final third was riveting and made me cry. I don't think they're similar in style or complexity, but Acevedo's treatment of the terror-born touchstone of mothers and their children reminded me a bit of Toni Morrison....more
I liked the humor, and I laughed out loud a couple times. The book, however, was poorly written (flat prose and lots of grammar mistakes) and featuredI liked the humor, and I laughed out loud a couple times. The book, however, was poorly written (flat prose and lots of grammar mistakes) and featured extremely thin characters and plot....more
Solomon's use of small details, and of smaller stories within the bigger one, is so effective. There's a richness to Kenya's world and her coming-of-aSolomon's use of small details, and of smaller stories within the bigger one, is so effective. There's a richness to Kenya's world and her coming-of-age that made this book so wonderful to read. I also liked the way stories and books featured in Kenya's life, and how she tried to inscribe narratives of best-friendship, of family, of love and of sacrifice, and how that didn't necessarily provide her with the tools to author her own life. While reading, I was reminded often of Alice Munro's work, and I thought Solomon did a fantastic job of something Munro also does exceptionally: tell a story of childhood without letting the specter of adulthood cast too much of a shadow, but still without letting the reader forget that childhood is not something separate from adulthood. That this is growing up, and it can feel like being buffeted by storms from all sides, and this moment matters, not just as context or a starting point or a moral of a story, but because this is where you are.
My challenge with this book was primarily structural. It didn't feel like a novel to me. Maybe this harkens back to the Munro comparison, but it felt like short stories / novellas about a character. This can be a natural fit for coming-of-age stories, but this book was trying to be a novel, and that didn't work for me. There wasn't a strong enough narrative line, and the ending in particular suffered. It felt like a thrown-together ending point, and as someone who loves, loves, loves endings of books, I was left feeling a little disappointed, even though I did really like most of the book....more
Quite sweeping and expansive, even with the rather episodic bent to its plotting. The primary protagonist Jupiter is well-written and complicated andQuite sweeping and expansive, even with the rather episodic bent to its plotting. The primary protagonist Jupiter is well-written and complicated and an engaging character to follow. The plot did kind of get TOO MUCH for me, all the character connections and conspiracies and omg-how-are-you-alive-still and the trail of dead bodies EVERYWHERE, and made me wish I could have more pages of the interior complexity of all the other characters instead of so much of the murdertimes and mutinies.
I loved the elegantly blunt writing style, revelations sitting unadorned and unassuming in the middle of other sentences, and the thematic treatment of memory and of freedom....more
My favorite Susanna Kearsley book. I'm a sucker for a historical road trip romance, what can I say?
I can say more, though. Namely, that this is very mMy favorite Susanna Kearsley book. I'm a sucker for a historical road trip romance, what can I say?
I can say more, though. Namely, that this is very much a Susanna Kearsley book: if you generally think her pacing is too slow, or if there's too much romance (or not enough), or if the more tepid contemporary sides of her stories don't make the more exciting historical sides worth it, or if you've heard enough about the Jacobites already, then this book might not be for you. Also, there are no paranormal elements in this book, which may or may not be a selling point.
The concept of this book (modern day: an amateur codebreaker translates an 18th century diary written in a difficult cipher; historical: the full story of the diarist and her headlong fall into a great adventure) gave Kearsley a lot of room to play around with the nature of storytelling and of narratives, of authorship and control over one's own life and one's fate, of trusting other people's word/narrative, and I think this is what made it a five-star book for me--in addition to just how much I loved Mary, the diarist, and just how wonderful Mary's ending was. There was so much thematic stuff, and the writing in the very ending made me think that Kearsley levelled up as an author with this book.
And if you need "Does the dog die??" spoilers: (view spoiler)[Frisque is alive and happy and with Mary at the end of the story. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Fantastic use of first-person. Arden has a witty voice, and she has nuanced relationships and is capable of reactive, nuanced perspectives on other chFantastic use of first-person. Arden has a witty voice, and she has nuanced relationships and is capable of reactive, nuanced perspectives on other characters; I really didn't feel like I was missing out by not having Gabriel's persepctive--and I'm a hard-sell on first-person (and on having only one POV in a romance novel). I wasn't sold on the mid-apocalypse setting, both as a matter of personal taste (I guess I'd have preferred a straight-up stereotypical snowbound-together-in-a-remote-cabin romance instead; I don't like apocalyptic or possibly-apocalyptic stress in my romance novels, it turns out), and how uneven the treatment of that background was. The uncertainty in the character's lives and the wider context--as realistic as it would be under these circumstances--translated to a less than vivid, less than stable footing for the book itself, as well as a less than even tone/approach for the book overall. Like, the opening scene is ACTION and PERIL and BADDIES and that's not reflective of the more emotional, more sedate scenes that comprise the rest of the book--at least up until the climactic scene, where there's ACTION and PERIL and BADDIES. And I didn't like the climactic scene at all (or the opening, for that matter), a tangle of awful and complicated stuff that I didn't really want in a romance novel and that didn't feel developed nearly enough to make me think it was handled well.
So I loved the voice (like, seriously, some of the best first-person I've read, especially in romance), I liked the relationship, I was meh about the story and its lack of cohesion, and I learned more about my reading preferences. I'll stick to no-apocalypse or at least very-post-apocalypse in my romances from now on, probs....more