A little more than halfway into this, I realized that I wasn't enjoying it, I didn't care about any of the characters, and I was much be...moreWell, I tried.
A little more than halfway into this, I realized that I wasn't enjoying it, I didn't care about any of the characters, and I was much better off completely forgetting about this book. So I took the bookmark out and dropped the book off for collection and delivery to the nearest secondhand bookstore and went to read something infinitely more interesting, more well-written, and better.
The book starts out with a gory, disturbing scene of an eleven-year-old girl giving birth. There's a lot of blood and flesh and superfluous, and revolting, detail, the likes of which makes my skin crawl and my stomach feel oddly unsettled. I should have known then that I wasn't going to like this book.
And, ten or twelve chapters later, I still wasn't liking it. I don't like Frieda - she's weird and dull and unpleasant. I don't like Tayeb - he's gritty and unfriendly and strange. And I loathe the characters of 1923 (actually they seem a lot more like Victorian women. Less 1923, more 1889).
Millicent = well, I know we're not supposed to like her, but she's so unpleasant that I really have no inclination to read about her. She's not the kind of unpleasant character who's fun to read about. She's the kind of unpleasant who makes your teeth hurt and your fingernails itch.
I also don't believe in the recent trend of pushing homosexuality on "repressed" people for no good reason. Admittedly, I didn't finish the book, but as far as I know the Millicent/Lizzie relationship had no bearing on much of anything, and in modern writers' attempts to make gay characters more accessible, which should be an excellent idea, they're actually making homosexuality even more of an oddity. But that's a very different argument and I'm not going to go into it here.
This book had no spark. I was two hundred pages in and I DIDN'T CARE. I didn't care whether every single character died in a sandstorm because it made London seem cheap and vile and Kashgar uncivilized and evil.
I didn't finish the book. I don't care I didn't finish - normally I have leftover guilt but not here. This just sucked.(less)
**spoiler alert** This book wasn't only pretty boring all the way through (and I have almost no respect for Nancy Mitford as a writer because having r...more**spoiler alert** This book wasn't only pretty boring all the way through (and I have almost no respect for Nancy Mitford as a writer because having read her sister Jessica's memoir, I know that Nancy lifted almost the entirety of The Pursuit of Love from her family life as a child), it has the most universally god-awful ending I have ever read in my life.
It's all going strong until literally THE VERY LAST PAGE and then in a few words both the protagonists are killed off, without undue emotion. It's ridiculous.
I'm not even reading Love in a Cold Climate because Pursuit of Love was so obnoxiously stupid and redundant and superfluous that there's on earthly reason to read another such disgusting novel.(less)
This book thought it was a huge sweeping love story with incredible characters and a strong mother-daughter element and wonderful writing full of beau...moreThis book thought it was a huge sweeping love story with incredible characters and a strong mother-daughter element and wonderful writing full of beauty and humanity and tenderness and tragedy.
This book sucks.
If you hold it up to that standard, it would fall flat on its face. It's also a close copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - the premise itself is startlingly similar and though it goes on to differ a lot, it's too close for perfect comfort.
This book is a love story - an unconvincing one. There's all this talk of falling in love through the letters Davey (GOD! a romantic hero named DAVEY! Davey is a name for eleven-year-olds with freckles. I don't THINK so!) and Elspeth write to each other, but don't forget that we, the reader, have read those letters and it's a pretty feeble falling-in-love. It's not convincing enough.
And I don't like Elspeth and her daughter, Margaret, is unbelievably dull and Davey's not my favorite. And it's NOT a big sweeping love story and it's NOT written that well and it's not really very good at all.
It's okay. It's not great. It is absolutely not a huge sweeping romance full of beauty and humanity and heartbreak.(less)
This book is weird. And I don't really know what to think about it.
UPDATE (which starts with some pretty big spoilers) (view spoiler)[Okay, well, I fee...moreThis book is weird. And I don't really know what to think about it.
UPDATE (which starts with some pretty big spoilers) (view spoiler)[Okay, well, I feel stupid.
I didn't realize, until my mother actually told me, that Charlie Traversham-Beechers and all the other train victims were actually ghosts. I didn't get it AT ALL. That really makes the book much more understandable, and looking back I think I'd like it more on rereading.
But I have lingering questions, even knowing that all of the titular "guests" were actually dead. Why did they come to Magna? Why were they ghosts at all? How does that work? Is this a novel of the supernatural or a novel of society in which the supernatural happens to intrude? Is it supposed to be supernatural? Help me, Sadie Jones, I don't understand.
Here's the other thing. John Buchanan and Florence?? What was that? It was superfluous and strange, that's what it was. I don't know why it was necessary to the plot - it wasn't. (hide spoiler)]
With that out of the way, I can move on to the rest of the book, which I liked, I guess. Some of it seemed desperately literary, as if Ms. Jones was trying just a little too hard to be clever, but some of it was perfect. For example, the love scene towards the end which begins in the mud, is interrupted, and ends in the attic. That was perfect - sweet and tender and a little painful to read because of the clumsiness of the characters. But it really was about perfect.
The rest of the book was somewhat forgettable. I didn't really like Smudge and I thought her Great Undertaking was stupid. As for Charlotte, she drove me nuts. But I liked Emerald, I tolerated Clovis (I can put some of his unlikability down to his having such a truly abysmal name) and all in all I did like this book.
I'd like it more if I'd understood the first time who the guests and C T-B were, and more still if I understood now why they existed.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
FIRST REVIEW: This book is love and death and heartbreak in less than four hundred pages.
Also, the movie has James McAvoy.
REAL REVIEW, which includes...moreFIRST REVIEW: This book is love and death and heartbreak in less than four hundred pages.
Also, the movie has James McAvoy.
REAL REVIEW, which includes spoilers: I don't really know what to think about this. Okay, yes, I cried pretty hard in a public place, so it was very affecting, and yes, I did get sucked into McEwan's world, and yes, after I finished it I couldn't think of anything else. But on the other hand...
I realize that I was sucked into Ian McEwan's view of the world. Briony, who's thirteen - and a young thirteen, as we're repeatedly told - sees several things in the course of one day which would traumatize adults: some pretty serious sex and a violent rape, not to mention disturbing bodily harm and obscene language - in the course of one day! And then, because she's young and confused and kind of unpleasant, she does something cruel and evil, ruining the lives of more than one person.
Okay, so she lies repeatedly and insistently. And she isn't really a good person, or morally perfect. And she's not really very nice, even on the surface.
And she's a child. She's thirteen. And it was dark; she was confused; she didn't understand what was going on, and she had been exposed to an awful lot that day which she didn't understand.
But as I see it, everything boils down to her being a child. A thirteen-year-old child who didn't know what to do and couldn't have understood what was happening around her; a thirteen-year-old who is vilified by everyone else who knows what she did, who is never forgiven by her sister for, essentially, being a child.
The moral complexities of this book are really intricate, and I don't think Ian McEwan handled them very well. For her destruction of three or four lives (Robbie and Cecilia, Lola (view spoiler)[marriage to her rapist (hide spoiler)], and her, Briony's, own), Briony lives a successful life, marries, and eventually gets Alzheimer's. This is atonement?
On the other hand, for a serious mistake which she wanted to rectify, she is tormented her entire life by the error of a child; she can never forgive herself, and eventually she loses her memory and her sight and forgets who she is.
There's no easy answer to these questions. There really isn't, and it's not only extraordinarily presumptuous, but actually shows signs of being a throttlingly pompous ass, for McEwan to think that he has answered them in his book which ties everything up with some tidy string and submits everyone, everyone (view spoiler)[This is a MAJOR spoiler. Read on ONLY if you have read or don't wish to read the book. (view spoiler)[Robbie, who dies at Dunkirk, Cecilia, who lives to lose him but dies herself in a bomb blast, Lola, who marries her rapist, Briony herself, who hates herself all her life for what she did (hide spoiler)](hide spoiler)] - to death and heartbreak.
The moral ambiguities and complexities and intricacies of this book can't really be explained because life won't tie itself up into tidy little bows and it can't be explained simply, so I'm going to move on to the structure instead.
The writing is beautiful. Some of it is almost stream-of-consciousness, which I've never liked, but it's always close enough to normalcy that it makes sense; and overall, the pacing is brilliant. It's just at the end, in the epilogue, that it strikes a false note.
There are twelve or so pages in the epilogue, and at least nine of them are about Briony seeing her family and revisiting "The Trials of Arabella" and feeling sorry for Lola. Okay. This is unimportant to the scope of the entire novel; it slows down the ending, leaving it suffocating under all this superfluous ballast, and I'd rather just have a few simple pages about Briony's illness and the very last page and three-quarters, which are enormously moving.
This is a difficult book in many ways - it's wrenching and heartbreaking and gory and troubling and moving and complicated and reading it was sometimes like running a race, but it's really very, very good. There are faults, of course, and some of them are serious ones - but the good things in the book, and there are definitely those, are excellent.
And the movie still has James McAvoy.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
So, I have a feeling that after writing this review I'm going to get a lot of scathing feedback of the "you must have misunderstood" type. After readi...moreSo, I have a feeling that after writing this review I'm going to get a lot of scathing feedback of the "you must have misunderstood" type. After reading Anna Karenina, or rather, during, I dared to not enjoy it - or even like it - and after reading it, I dared to decide I really didn't like it, and now I'm daring to give it a not-glowing rating and a far-from-glowing review. So sue me.
First of all, for a book NAMED "Anna Karenina", more than half of the book wasn't about Anna at all. It was about Levin and Kitty, both of whom I started out liking, but by the end I was kind of wondering why they hadn't jumped under the train, too. They were really supremely useless beings. Levin ran a farm and Kitty sat around looking pretty and waiting to be proposed to, and sure, their domestic bliss was lovely and, well, blissful, but that's not very interesting to read about, and by the fourth time Levin went jealous and catty and accused Kitty of horrible things, I was ready to throttle him. And when Levin shouted at her - what did Kitty do? She cried.
Tolstoy apparently based Levin off himself, so Levin's a very convincing character - more so than any of the other characters, certainly; more than the one-sided Kitty, the unbelievably dense Vronsky, and the incredibly, absolutely, utterly self-centered witch that is Anna herself. (More on Anna and her unbearably lover later.) Anyway, knowing that someone almost exactly like Levin once existed, I can only say that I'm very, very glad that I didn't know him.
Levin is unbearable. There's nothing actually wrong with him; he's not a bad guy, and he doesn't have screwed-up moral values, and he's normally pretty nice to his wife and family, but something about him is so infuriatingly, ragingly "I'm a good guy with the proper moral values" that I had to restrain myself several times from flinging the book across the room and stomping on it. (It's worth nothing that the only reason I did not do this is that the book belongs to my library, and they wouldn't like it very much.) While Levin was courting Kitty, I liked him quite a bit, and as soon as they were married, he became really awful. Indescribably awful. I mean it, I can't describe him.
On to Anna.
I've heard that she "sacrifices everything for love", that she's a "strong woman who gives up her life to spend the rest of it with her lover," that she "loves with a startling intensity," and that's just flat-out ridiculous. Anna is rich, with a son she loves, and about a zillion relatives who love her. Yeah, it sucks being married to a boring guy with whom you have nothing in common, but it sucks even more when you leave your only child - your son, who trusts you - to be with someone else. Anna chose Vronsky over her son, and maybe that's what every woman would do in that position, but I'm afraid that if Tolstoy wanted her to be a heroine he pretty much lost that entire aspect of her character the second she betrayed her son.
And then, far from being a good woman with flaws, Anna turned into this vindictive, malicious, jealous, vain, irritating, witchy monster with no good qualities AT ALL. In the end, her final act of suicide isn't about not allowing the world to torture her or giving herself up for love; it's about making Vronsky really, really unhappy. So I'm done.
First: How do you "rate" a book commonly held to be one of the Best Books Ever, an American Classic, a...moreI can't bring myself to give a "rating" to this.
First: How do you "rate" a book commonly held to be one of the Best Books Ever, an American Classic, a Perfectly Perfect Novel? How do you "rate" a book that has found its place in the Canon of Excellence?
Second: How do you "rate" a book which, even though you know is a Best Book, American Classic, etc., etc., left you completely underwhelmed?
What can I say? In my opinion, which if you've read many of my reviews you'll know isn't often humble, there's only one book that really sums up humanity and love and tragedy and hope and suffering, and it's not Steinbeck or Hemingway or Graham Greene or any of those old white guys whose idea of living was drinking and smoking in a crowded flat in Paris. And okay, Steinbeck wasn't one of the old white guys who lived in Paris and cheated on their wives...but on the other hand, though clearly he's a fantastic writer, and I mean it, his style is excellent, the word that came to mind most often while I was reading this was...well...
Curley and his doomed wife; George and Lennie and their utterly doomed enterprise; old Candy and his doomed dog. Everything they ever do is doomed to failure and everything they will ever do is doomed to failure and life sucks and then you die. And nothing is okay and it will never be okay again.
If Elizabeth was really the petulant, screaming, angry witch presented in this pitiable novel, then I doubt she would have succeeded so well on Englan...moreIf Elizabeth was really the petulant, screaming, angry witch presented in this pitiable novel, then I doubt she would have succeeded so well on England's throne.
Okay, first: I hated her. She didn't take ANYTHING calmly: every other line she was screaming or weeping or kicking her feet. This is Elizabeth I, remember, one of the most powerful and intelligent monarchs ever to have lived, and she proved her male advisers completely WRONG about her "womanly weakness", but in Rosalind Miles's version she takes the sixteenth century version of feminine frailty to new levels.
Second: Why all the paragraphs in italics? I mean, really, they're not very striking; they're more self-conscious than anything else.
Third: Robin/Leicester, if you were really this touchy and stupid, no wonder she didn't marry you.
Fourth: Terrible characterization. TERRIBLE. (See note on Elizabeth above.)
Fifth: Elizabeth calls Mary, Queen of Scots, a "con". This is the French word for an absolutely terrible name equivalent to/possibly worse than the word in Huck Finn that had everybody in a huff. After that, I couldn't read any more.
So much for Rosalind Miles. If you haven't read Margaret Irwin's trilogy on Elizabeth, you'd be much better off with them. This is honestly not worth the time.
NOTE: I read about 2/3 of this before I put it down. I don't think I've ever stopped reading a book with so much of it left. That says something.(less)
Why the 3-star rating? The writing wasn't as good as I remember Libba Bray being - it was decent, but not great. This is one...moreWow. This was really good.
Why the 3-star rating? The writing wasn't as good as I remember Libba Bray being - it was decent, but not great. This is one of those books that, if the writing was better, I would absolutely love to death - but I couldn't. Didn't. Wish I had.
On the other, more positive hand, I'm going to be reading the next books in the series, definitely. So if that's any indication, I liked this more than just "all right."
It does seem like this was a set-up for the next books; I have a LOT of unanswered questions. And I'm going to expect answers in the next book, Ms. Bray, so please, please, keep writing!!(less)
It's 530,982 words in English. It's longer than Don Quixote; it's longer than Emma; it's like Don Quixote and...moreThis is the longest book I've ever read.
It's 530,982 words in English. It's longer than Don Quixote; it's longer than Emma; it's like Don Quixote and Emma put together. It's amazingly, unbelievably long.
Here's where I do a bit of bragging, because I finished this immensely long book in two weeks. Two weeks in which I had at least two hours of tennis practice every night, plus schoolwork, plus I had to eat and sleep at least a little. I've achieved something!
More important than having finished it quickly, I have now read one of the very best novels ever written, the kind of novel that consistently makes the Best Books lists, the kind I would feel better having on my shelf. The kind that makes you laugh and cry and think and marvel and question.
Oh, there's nothing to say about this book. It's indescribable. If you haven't read it, read it at once. You won't believe how good it is.
ADDENDUM: Oh, Cosette, why must you be so silly?(less)
First, "books appealing to Downton Abbey fans" is NOT a genre. I don't know how any self-respecting writer could take that seriously.
Second, this book...moreFirst, "books appealing to Downton Abbey fans" is NOT a genre. I don't know how any self-respecting writer could take that seriously.
Second, this book is the worst novel I have read for some time. The writing is strange stream-of-consciousness mixed with some brief, random obscenity. The characters are, every one of them, miserable, pathetic, time-wasting monsters, who frankly made me feel ill. The plot is bland, predictable, and unpleasant.
Honestly, there's not a single positive thing about this novel. At the end, the two main characters have completely given up on every chance of happiness.
Some choice words to describe it: foul, vile, ghastly, revolting, abominable, horrendous, hateful.(less)
Ack! This is worth more than three stars (the beautiful writing, the fascinating history, the one powerful love story) but less than four stars (the u...moreAck! This is worth more than three stars (the beautiful writing, the fascinating history, the one powerful love story) but less than four stars (the unconvincing modern heroine, the boring contemporary love story).
I absolutely love the idea of two parallel stories, one long ago, one in the present, spanning the whole length of a book, but I've never actually read a really good one. The Pink Carnation series? Gag. The Rossetti Letter? Double gag. Juliet by Anne Fortier? Decent but nothing that special.
So I haven't had good luck with that parallel stories idea. Until this book.
Oh, I loved Sophia, even though she wasn't my typical heroine - she's quieter and less fiery, but she's really, really brave. And Moray - ahem, *swoon.* I had no idea about the Jacobite revolution or the ridiculous treatment of Scotland; and I loved to read about it.
Carrie, the modern heroine...well, she wasn't nearly as interesting. Neither was her love story. So she doesn't like (view spoiler)[one brother, but she does like the other, but she doesn't want to give the first one the push because she's afraid it'll hurt his feelings?? Get a grip. (hide spoiler)] She was a good vehicle for a better story, but I wish she had been just a bit more...well, interesting. And her eventual love interest didn't do much for me either.
But I have to say, this was really lovely. If you read or have pretensions to reading historical fiction or love stories or books about Scotland, then you should read this. It's good. Really. Even though I just can't give it more than three stars.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Well, not having learned anything from the astonishing too-longness of the first book of her trilogy, Deborah Harkness has written yet another mind-nu...moreWell, not having learned anything from the astonishing too-longness of the first book of her trilogy, Deborah Harkness has written yet another mind-numbingly long book.
I have nothing against long books. This isn't a lie. Emma, Gone With the Wind, The Once and Future King (which, if you haven't read yet, you should have), The Count of Monte Cristo, etc, etc, I like them. I really like long books.
But...I don't like this long book.
Here's the condensed version.
DIANA: Now we're in Elizabethan England. Hello, Matthew's six friends, who are either wildly famous (Raleigh, Marlowe) or made up from whole cloth. Well, whatever. Guess I'll describe my clothes.
Twelve pages of clothing descriptions.
DIANA: I think I'll practice my Elizabethan writing.
Twelve pages of writing practice.
MATTHEW: You have to learn how to be a witch so you aren't useless anymore. After that we have to find Ashmole 782, the significance of which is apparently nil. Hey, old lady, come and help my wife.
OLD LADY: Yipe! Your wife is the devil!
ONE OF MATTHEW'S SIX FRIENDS, WHO ARE ALL PRETTY MUCH INTERCHANGEABLE: The big guys in the village are coming to arrest Diana for being the devil.
MATTHEW: Whatever, it'll all go away in the morning.
MATTHEW'S DAD, PHILIPPE: Come and see me.
PHILIPPE: Matthew has blood rage, which means he might fly off the handle and kill everyone around him. You'd better get married.
A hundred pages about the wedding. Some bad sex.
DIANA kills a witch. THEY go to London.
MATTHEW: We have to find a witch so you're not so useless. Oh wait, you're not allowed to leave the house.
DIANA: Look Matthew, I found a witch to teach me!
MATTHEW: Does that mean you went outside the house? Wow.
GOODY ALSOP, the stupidest name ever: You are a weaver. You have to create your own spells.
ELIZABETH I, apparently a petulant crone with no intelligence: Go to Prague.
THEY go, because that is apparently where THEIR special book is.
A million pages about RUDOLF ogling DIANA. [EDITOR'S ASIDE: Why don't they use this infatuation on Rudolf's part against him, as in use Diana to confuse him, then snag the book they want? Well, because that would mean they were clever. END ASIDE.]
MATTHEW: "After all my searching, I discover that I am who always was: Matthew de Clermont. Husband. Father. Vampire. And I am here for only one reason: to make a difference."
[EDITOR'S ASIDE: That was a direct quote. Not kidding. END ASIDE.]
DIANA and MATTHEW: We found the book we wanted! Only it's really gross. Let's just go back to England.
ONE OF MATT'S SIX INTERCHANGEABLE FRIENDS, who it turns out is evil: Come with me, Diana, let's go and have fun on the river.
DIANA: Ooh, that sounds fun! Okay! What should I wear?
THE EVIL FRIEND: I tricked you! Instead, Matthew's sister and I are going to try to kill you!
DIANA: I'm stuck here because even though I'm a witch and I've started unlocking my powers, I am still useless.
SOME PEOPLE save DIANA.
DIANA and MATTHEW: Guess it's time to go back to the present. Of course, even though we've been parading the fact that Matt is now married, when we vanish and the 16th century one returns, no one will notice that Diana is not here anymore.
[EDITOR'S ASIDE: You've got to be kidding me. END ASIDE.]
MATTHEW: Let's go back to the present. Let's drive this spiffy car. Let's go to Sept-Tours.
DIANA: Okay Matthew, you know best!
EVERYONE AT SEPT-TOURS: One of the superfluous daemons from the first book now has a kid. Woot. Only somebody died, and we're not going to explain it to you unless you buy the next book.
[FINAL EDITOR'S ASIDE: WTF? Where were the characters? Where was cleverness? WHERE WAS THE PLOT????? END FINAL ASIDE.] (less)
This isn't because I don't like long books. I do. Emma, Gone With the Wind, The Once and Future King - all long bo...moreAfter three hundred pages I gave up.
This isn't because I don't like long books. I do. Emma, Gone With the Wind, The Once and Future King - all long books, and all among my favorites (well, GWtW isn't, but I do really like it). The reason I bought this one was because it was long and it looked silly and it would admirably fill a few long summer days.
It's a multi-generational story, but what this really means is that it would be ten times better as a series of four books. Violette, from what I can see (third generation), is basically skipped over so we can get right to Rose. All four generations (Marguerite, then Jasmin, then Violette, then Rose) of women are really the same - impetuous, passionate, beautiful, all that stuff. After Marguerite - who I managed to finish reading about by sheer force of will, because she REALLY ticked me off - and halfway through Jasmin, I just couldn't keep going. I skipped through and I pretty much know what happens.
At one point there's a four-page (note: these pages have about four hundred and fifty words on them; most books have at most three hundred and twenty-five) soliloquy on the part of Louis XIV; at the end of these sixteen hundred words we find out that he's still pissed at the madwoman who shouted at him twelve years ago. Then ten years can pass in a sentence, so you have to pay close attention to the bad writing.
There's really nothing more to say. It's agonizingly slow-moving; the characters are either a) nasty and mean to to the...moreGood grief, this was terrible.
There's really nothing more to say. It's agonizingly slow-moving; the characters are either a) nasty and mean to to the point of being actually evil (the vile Framboise and her ghastly mother) or b) stupid (Paul) or c) weird (Tomas Leibniz, Raphael, etc.) or d) incomprehensible and flat.
For the first fifty pages, literally nothing happens. It's painful. The whole book was a masterpiece of badness.
My first Joanne Harris book turns out to suck. If I hadn't already bought Chocolat (a mistake?), I don't know if I'd bother with another one.
Actually, I know I wouldn't. 5 Quarters was appalling.(less)
Slowly. Make sure you savor it, and that you know who everyone is - there's a useful cast list in the fro...moreIf you want to be blown away, read this book.
Slowly. Make sure you savor it, and that you know who everyone is - there's a useful cast list in the front of the book so if you're confused by the vast array of people, you can normally clear up your confusion easily. Absorb the full skill of the writer.
Ellen is a fantastic main character - funny, strong, flawed. There's never a big deal made about her beauty; it's just there. She tells her story vividly, in a slightly anachronistic voice, sure, but it's still extremely evocative and vibrant. The plague, the Great Fire, Charles II himself, the surrounding cast of characters - they are presented intelligently, cleverly, smoothly. (I have a particular fondness for Teddy.)
The vast majority of historical fiction tends to include at least one heavy-handed sex scene. It's basically a given. Philippa Gregory might have started the trend or she might not, but she certainly made it wildly popular. And get this. There is NOTHING like that here. Of course, when your main character is a mistress to three men (but not all at once, and over the course of more than five years), the topic is bound to come up, but Priya Parmar handles it beautifully - mildly, elegantly, in a civilized way, not the voyeuristic way that some other authors (*cough*) have written their novels.
I loved reading this book - Ellen's diary, Ambrose Pink's columns, Charles's letters to Minette - and I cried at the end. It's a wonderful book. It's really a very wonderful book.(less)