Reminded me of Lord Fenton's Folly, but better. I think I would have enjoyed this a lot more had I not read LFF first. Short, sweet, nice, but not parReminded me of Lord Fenton's Folly, but better. I think I would have enjoyed this a lot more had I not read LFF first. Short, sweet, nice, but not particularly memorable. ...more
Jessica Day George is rapidly becoming one of my new favorite authors. Her books are like cotton candy. They're light, sweet, and happy. There are antJessica Day George is rapidly becoming one of my new favorite authors. Her books are like cotton candy. They're light, sweet, and happy. There are antagonists and hurdles, but you know they'll be resolved and good will prevail in the end. Sometimes things work out a little too perfectly, but this comes across in a more cozy, heartwarming, makes-this-reader-happy way than in an annoying Mary Sue manner. When you just want to take a break from life and get lost in a "nice" book that'll make you smile, Jessica Day George delivers.
Creel is a thoroughly likable character, flawed yet endearing, capable and determined without being pushy or obnoxious. I really liked her and found her first-person narration a pleasure to read. I liked Creel so much that when the antagonists of the book were horrible to her I wanted to reach into the book and strangle them. Luckily Creel is awesome and didn't put up with their abuse.
One thing I wasn’t sure about at first was the embroidery scenes. I couldn’t imagine they would be very interesting, but I was so wrong. I absolutely loved reading about the different embroidery projects Creel was working on. I almost wish the book was illustrated, but Jessica Day George created such vivid descriptions that I could picture everything as if it were right in front of me.
The plot is engaging, with Creel's development as a dressmaker creating an easy going storyline that nicely compliments and frames the more dastardly political intrigue simmering beneath the surface. The mystery of the slippers is slowly unraveled and satisfyingly concluded.
I thought there was never a dull moment, with the plot moving along at a nice pace that isn’t too slow or too fast. There’s a little court intrigue, a little adventure, a little mystery, a little war, and some fun balls. There is also a touch of romance, but the plot focuses primarily on Creel’s adventures (though I wish there was just a teeny, tiny, little bit more romance. Just give me *that* kiss). I was so into the book and the characters that I even cried at one point! This is a Special Shelf book for me for sure.
This is the first book in a series of three, but it works just fine as a stand-alone story. The book is light enough for middle graders but fully developed enough for YAs to enjoy as well.
A nice diversion. Don't think I'll make any of the recipes or do any of the crafts, but I liked the "live" parts, the pictures, and the easy going tonA nice diversion. Don't think I'll make any of the recipes or do any of the crafts, but I liked the "live" parts, the pictures, and the easy going tone. ...more
I've been trying to read through more of the books I own, and I've owned The Virgin Widow for about four yeaOriginally posted at Small Review
I've been trying to read through more of the books I own, and I've owned The Virgin Widow for about four years. For such a large book (hey, for me 400 pages is large!), it was a pretty quick read.
It was also a pretty surface-level read. Which, isn't a bad thing, but it is a little disappointing. Anne O'Brien mostly focuses on events and throws in a few one-note emotions for flavor. Basically, Anne loves Richard. Anne doesn't like admitting that to Richard (this causes misunderstandings). Anne likes her mom. Anne pretty much dislikes everyone else. Her emotions are shared in a very surface-level way without much explanation or depth, but Anne O'Brien makes sure the reader gets it through a lot of repetition. This effectively sorts the characters into the "good guys" and the "bad guys" without much nuance or character development.
The closest O'Brien gets to the type of exploration I'd prefer is with Anne's changing relationship with her father. This was also pretty thinly explored, but at least it was explored and is one of the only instances of Anne actually growing or changing as a person.
I also hated the invented incestuous relationship between Margaret of Anjou and her son. And, really, their entire characterizations. They were clearly the Baddies and Anne O'Brien seemed to relish in making up evil actions for them to engage in. I'm surprised our heroine didn't walk in on the pair cackling evilly over a cauldron. This was embarrassingly awful, but once I accepted it, it was actually kind of fun in an absurd way.
I'm not sure whether to put this in as a good thing or a bad thing, but I couldn't help but picture all the characters as they appeared in the miniseries version of Philippa Gregory's The White Queen. The events follow so closely and the characters are more or less written the same (though, TWQ miniseries had a lot more character depth and development, and that's not saying much). Despite its flaws, I enjoyed the miniseries and was able to get on board with most of the casting, so the association actually enhanced my enjoyment of The Virgin Widow.
I also appreciated how lockstep the characterizations were between this book and the miniseries. I don't think we can actually know for certain how all of these people acted, thought, and felt, but consensus among authors gives the illusion of truth (or plagiarism. Or lack of originality. I'd rather just pretend it's evidence of truth).
As for events, the broad strokes are all pretty much true. There are some tweaks in timing, and don't look too closely at the details, but if you unfocus your eyes and look at the blurry structure of events, it's pretty spot on. You have all the major players and events represented, just with a little mixing, tweaking, and smushing going on. Yes, I realize how absurd that sounds.
Despite its numerous flaws, I couldn't help but enjoy The Virgin Widow. Anne is likable enough and I didn't mind the overly fluffy romance between her and Richard. The story ends before Edward IV dies, so everything is happiness and love for Anne and Richard when we leave them. It was nice.
If the story felt a little false, it was a nice, fluffy kind of false. Look at this more as a romantic novel with a dash of history rather than the reverse. I think I would have been bothered more by The Virgin Widow if I didn't already know enough about the Wars of the Roses to be able to spot the inaccuracies. As it was, I wasn't fooled into "learning" something about history that's wrong (the biggest reason I hate inaccurate historical fiction), and I could just enjoy the romantic spin on what is, to me, an undeniably exciting slice of history....more
Really could have done without the out of place political lectures. The author is a better writer than that and could have (and has!) easily made herReally could have done without the out of place political lectures. The author is a better writer than that and could have (and has!) easily made her point in a less ham-fisted manner. The writing took a dive overall in this one. Tybalt and Toby are becoming caricatures of themselves. And if I ever read the word "nonplussed" again it will be too soon. ...more