I liked this book a lot--I found it a pleasure to read, and very engaging--but I'm having trouble articulating exactly why, now that I've finished it.I liked this book a lot--I found it a pleasure to read, and very engaging--but I'm having trouble articulating exactly why, now that I've finished it. I think it manages to have a lot of emotional weight because of the hero's (and really the heroine's, though she wouldn't describe it this way) traumatic backstories without being a disturbing book to read. I also think it treats the virginal heroine / sexually-experienced hero trope with sensitivity, thinking about what this individual woman's sexual experiences and thoughts to date mean *to her* and impact her experiences in the novel, instead of making her virginity a turn-on for the hero or her defining characteristic or why she's better than other women or whatever. Plus the food descriptions are gorgeous, and since the heroine's a vegetarian and I am too, it all sounds reeeeallly good to me :)...more
I'm someone who wants to like romance novels and has deliberately set out to find ones that suit me during recent months. I'm also a feminist literaryI'm someone who wants to like romance novels and has deliberately set out to find ones that suit me during recent months. I'm also a feminist literary scholar and writer with, just personally, extremely low tolerance for some common tropes: alpha hero, anything remotely rape-y or rape-fantasy-y, unclear consent, Sudden Love 4ever for no apparent reason, gender essentialism in characterization and description, heteronormativity, scary or disturbing stuff, tons of drama and angst caused by adults not using their freaking words, runaway figurative language, etc. SO ANYWAY my point is that I found myself really captivated by this novel and repeatedly relieved when it swerved away from, say, a thriller-y Russian mafia plot or whatever.
It's sweet. It's well-written. The female lead is a feminist. She leaves a crappy relationship that reminds me of crappy relationships I myself have had. (I admit it could be less All Straight People All the Time, but hey, at least it doesn't say outright heteronormative things, as so many romance novels do.) The characters are smart, I enjoyed the cultural references (including a couple to the excellent Roman Holiday), and it's neat that the main characters have actual families and friends with kids and stuff. There's a level of real life texture that I don't always see in Rich People Wearing Pretty Clothes media.
Hoooooly shit, this is my kind of book. Wonderful deep magic (kept reminding me of Patricia McKillip in some ways, in the poetry of the magical logic)Hoooooly shit, this is my kind of book. Wonderful deep magic (kept reminding me of Patricia McKillip in some ways, in the poetry of the magical logic), masterful writing, intriguing and intensely human characters, lush and important scenery, and an interest in how stories and fairy tales and tales of heroism work.
I am usually suspicious of first-person narration but never felt thrown off by it here; I'm also averse to High-Stakes Tales of Evil, but in this particular story's characterization and world-building any sort of good/bad us/them morality is ... gentled, I guess, as well as complicated. This book has heart, and now I want to reread it in the less-stressful I-know-what-happens mode, and I want it not to be a standalone because that totally bites.
I love the Temeraire novels, and this is really different, but I love this too....more
Okay but why is Nick the framing character/concern?
This is certainly worth reading, and I love love the Penderwicks and the preceding books. But I staOkay but why is Nick the framing character/concern?
This is certainly worth reading, and I love love the Penderwicks and the preceding books. But I started out struggling with the time jump here and then just Could. Not. Give. A. Crap about Nick. (Or Rosalind and Tommy, good heavens, although the annoying college boyfriend who thoroughly alienates the youngest siblings is pretty great.) Still, Batty is an interesting character, and her difficulty actually telling people the stuff they need to know to help her will be a familiar one for many readers--both child readers and those of us parenting them. I also liked the bits with odd dogs with odd names....more
Okay. Neat premise, with both human and dragon imagining the other as a sort of pet. Not brilliant for reading aloud, but my 8-year-old thought partsOkay. Neat premise, with both human and dragon imagining the other as a sort of pet. Not brilliant for reading aloud, but my 8-year-old thought parts were funny. He might have liked it a whole lot more if he were a couple years younger (and not sensitive about dead parents/friends, which he certainly was a couple years ago, so .... maybe just not the perfect match for us). ...more
Like: the writing, the women characters and the fact that they actually are different from each other and have relationships with each other (could stLike: the writing, the women characters and the fact that they actually are different from each other and have relationships with each other (could stand to have seen more of that interesting housekeeper!), the various settings, his male friends/colleagues not being one big stereotype and seeming to care about him in a real way, the background of the leads' childhood friendship and the fact that the other childhood friend who repeatedly offers to marry the heroine is still a friend and positive character at the end, the depiction of the vulnerability involved in falling in love and building a relationship (especially of those moments when a character shifts abruptly from powerful unselfconsciousness to uncertainty and embarrassment, that floor-dropping-out feeling).
Don't like: the abduction/"ruining" method by which the couple gets together/married (*even more* problems with how we're supposed to realize that was all Penelope's free choice, really, because LOVE, by the end), the whole appealing bad boy thing, the drawn-out angst with each lead character feeling inadequate for the other's love blah blah blah drama, and the sex scenes (which I mostly skimmed, finding them largely yucky and sort of boring too--I have no idea how this woman could ever trust this man sexually, after the emotional dishonesty he spreads around because of his discomfort with his own feelings early in the relationship). The dynamics around gender and power and consent make me very sad....more