An Unproductive Woman is billed as “women’s fiction,” and it is (centering as it does around domestic life and emotions), but it might be even better...moreAn Unproductive Woman is billed as “women’s fiction,” and it is (centering as it does around domestic life and emotions), but it might be even better categorized as a work of “inspirational fiction.” The theme of forgiveness pervades the novel. The template is similar to that of much Christian fiction, except, of course, that the characters are Muslim (in a polygamist, highly patriarchal culture). The object is reconciliation and the spiritual growth of the characters, and we see an eventual improvement in them. You have your stock almost-too-devout-to-be-true character in Asabe. (She does reach a breaking point, however, when she strikes her husband’s junior wife, that shows her imperfection, but she is given plenty of excuse for that.) You also have your clear antagonist in need of spiritual transformation (Sauda), and your more nuanced protagonist who is meant to be sympathetic but also clearly in need of spiritual transformation (Adam).
I say the reader is meant to sympathize with Adam (while loathing parts of him), but I had some trouble doing just that. For much of the book, the regret that haunts him is expressed in anger and unkindness and desperation rather than in repentance. Asabe loves her husband Adam, but it is unclear why. He’s angry and self-centered and sometimes unkind to her, but she tells us she loves him. If it were just a matter of time and familiarity and family affection and duty, that would be understandable, but I never felt like I got a clear sense of why she was attracted to him as a man, and she claims to love him in that sort of romantic way. I think Asabe is in some sense supposed to be the ideal model of a Muslim woman –submissive (without being a complete doormat; she leaves Adam once and stands up for the weak), forgiving, faithful, devout, and assured that whatever her current troubles or mistreatment, Allah is still to be trusted.
I had no sense of what country this book was taking place in for quite some time. Perhaps the author mentions the country toward the beginning, but if she did, I missed it. The country's name does come up a few times closer toward the end, but I would have liked more scene-setting in the beginning.
As with many Old Testament stories, An Unproductive Woman gives one a concept of why polygamy is such a bad idea through the depiction of its inevitable perils, jealousies, and pain. The author lets us into the characters’ heads, but I never felt like I could fully relate to any of them. There are many characters, and some are better developed than others. We are given a backstory for everyone, even if he or she is introduced relatively late into the novel. The writing is generally good, though the author sometimes states the obvious instead of letting the reader grasp it from context. I found it fairly easy to read the book, though there were moments when the pace slowed.
I think this book might be just the book for a Muslim reader seeking inspirational fiction, but perhaps a bit less so for the secular westerner wanting to read a work of literary fiction about another culture (though it may satisfy some of that audience too). Think less Khaled Hosseini and Juhmpa Lahiri and more…I can’t think of a representative Christian fiction author, but that’s the comparison I’d go for. This is not to say An Unproductive Woman is overly didactic – it’s not, though the religious messages are clear enough. It’s just to say that there is a clear spiritual message and object in the novel that is more in keeping with inspirational than literary fiction.
Note: I received a free copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review. (less)
**spoiler alert** I found this to be a thought-provoking book. It highlighted just how complex are the factors that contribute to the dissolution of a...more**spoiler alert** I found this to be a thought-provoking book. It highlighted just how complex are the factors that contribute to the dissolution of a marriage, how easy it is to become caught up in the fixation on the negative, how terribly difficult it is to forgive ("[Forgiveness] was such a lovely, generous idea when it wasn't linked to something awful that needed forgiving."), and how the pain we experience forms our characters ("It wasn't just that her memories of the last ten years were back. It was that her true self, as formed by those ten years, was back. As seductive as it might have been to erase the grief and pain of the last ten years, it was also a lie."). The pain we experience forms our characters, and this books asks—what if we really could forget that pain?
But we can't forget it, except in a fantasy like this novel; that pain has left its mark, and only time can ease it, allowing a new character to form yet again—at best, we can achieve a balance, but how do we even do that? Alice is able to do it only with a sudden loss and recovery of memory, but it makes one think about achieving that difficult balance of perspective in real life. ("Now it seemed like she could twist the lens of her life and see it from two entirely different perspectives. The perspective of her younger….sillier innocent self. And the older, wiser, more cynical and sensible self.")
What most impressed me about this book is that I think it "gets" marriage in a way most fiction doesn't. Marriage isn't about the rightness of the match itself, or about the quality of the person we marry, but about the *time in*, and the willingness to *put* that time in. "It was never so much that Dominick was wrong for her and that Nick was right. She may have had a perfectly happy life with Dominick. But Nick was Nick…They could look at an old photo together and travel back in time to the same place…" Marriage cannot be simply put asunder, because of the tangled threads ("How strange [divorce] was. Wouldn't it be a lot less messy if everyone just stayed with the people they married in the first place?"). Time binds: "Each memory, good and bad, was another invisible thread that bound them together, even when they were foolishly thinking they could lead separate lives." It's not a romantic view of marriage, but nor is it a cynical one, and it seems to me a very true one. There is actually something quite beautiful in it: "Early love is exciting and exhilarating…Anyone can love like that. But love after three children, after separation and a near-divorce, after you've hurt each other and forgiven each other, bored each other and surprised each other, after you've seen the worst and the best—well, that sort of love is ineffable. It deserves its own word."
I could have done without the Frannie subplot and Mr. Mustache which seemed to be inserted solely to add spacing to the main storyline, and I found Elisabeth writing to her psychologist to be an odd and unbelievable narrative device (as were Frannie's letters to a long dead fiancé), and of course as many have pointed out, amnesia doesn't work like that. But when I put these quibbles aside, and suspend my disbelief, I found the book very well worth reading. (less)
I’m not going to rate this because I think I would have rated it much more highly had I read it when I was its intended audience: a 10- to 12-year-old...moreI’m not going to rate this because I think I would have rated it much more highly had I read it when I was its intended audience: a 10- to 12-year-old girl. My 2nd grade daughter rather enjoyed it (we read it together), though she thought it ended too soon, on “a cliffhanger.” (When I asked her how she considered the tidy ending to be a cliffhanger, she said we didn’t know what the uncle would say – would he approve or disapprove?) As an adult, however, I was not enthralled. I found the pacing to be a little slow, but what really grated on me were the adverbs. They were everywhere, no less frequently in dialogue attribution than anywhere else. Maybe it’s only because I was simultaneously reading “On Writing” that they jumped out at me so frequently and seemed so heavy, but let me open to a random page now and see how many I spy: “he said politely,” “Kit shook her head positively,” “William rose deliberately,” and “Judith dismissed the quarrel airily.”
So I’m not a huge fan of the style, but then this is youth literature. I haven’t read that genre in a long time. It seemed formulaic and predictable and stylistically heavy handed, but I could really imagine myself having gotten caught up in the story, the tidy romance of it all, as a 6th grade girl. Other than the advanced vocabulary (even I had to look up a word or two), I’m not sure what makes this book so much more award worthy than the Sunfire historical romances I used to read in 5th and 6th grade. Of course, I haven’t read one of those since elementary school. Maybe they are far more horrible than I remember them being.
The three main female characters fit fairly neatly into three major box categories: (1) the rebellious, headstrong heroine who despite being way beyond her times and shaking up society and revolting at the idea of doing the work her slaves used to do for her still manages to earn and/or maintain the love of her relatives instead of being burned alive by them (2) the vain, boy-obsessed foil to the heroine, and (3) the sweet, quiet, submissive heroine's companion, who in the end is rewarded for her sweetness despite her total lack of self-assertion. Perhaps I should have asked my daughter, "Which of these characters do you most respect? To whom do you most relate? Which would you like to be like, if any, and why?" That would have been good grounds for discussion. Maybe I will ask her that tomorrow.
I do like that “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” was not enitrely black and white; while it certainly portrayed the Puritans as narrow and not a lot of fun, it also made them human and varied, and it certainly gave my daughter and I adequate inspiration for discussion about denominational differences in Christianity. And of course (though written in 1958) it drives home the most popular of modern themes: be tolerant and refrain from judging. This it does, I will credit it, less simplisticaly than it could; it's a two-way street in the book: the judging goes both ways, and our heroine learns that although the Puritains should be less judgmental, she too should have been less inclined to judge them (in particular her uncle).(less)
I guess I'm a sucker for those Kindle daily deals. What a $15 book that's only 99 cents? And I've never heard of the book? I'll buy it anyway. After a...moreI guess I'm a sucker for those Kindle daily deals. What a $15 book that's only 99 cents? And I've never heard of the book? I'll buy it anyway. After all, I did read that Robert Browning poem it's based on a couple of times...So it turned out to be something of a torrid and rather graphic Harlequin romance style book, with a higher vocabulary and more scenery. The one good thing about it was that the villain was not one dimensional as he very well could have been. Yet it was so predictable that I could skim large portions of it and miss nothing. Usually when I do some skimming, I have to backtrack at some point - wait, what's going on here, did I miss somehting? Let me go back and see. I never once had to do that with this book. There was nothing to miss, I guess. (less)
I was glad to see another continuation of Charlotte Collins’s story. My own, An Unlikely Missionary, was published in 2009, and I wondered at the time...moreI was glad to see another continuation of Charlotte Collins’s story. My own, An Unlikely Missionary, was published in 2009, and I wondered at the time if anyone but me would care about the fate of this plain friend of Elizabeth Bennett. I realized that Charlotte may never be of as much interest to general Pride and Prejudice fans as she is to me: I have observed that my earlier novel Conviction: a sequel to Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, which focused on Georgiana Darcy, continues to outsell my version of Charlotte’s story, despite being two years older, and a search of P&P sequels will find precious few focusing on Charlotte. Yet I have always felt Mrs. Collins deserved to have a fair shake and a story of her own, so when I saw this book, and at the very reasonable Kindle price of just $2.99, I had to purchased it.
I admit that when I read the blurb describing the book, it did not sound particularly exciting – the drudgery of a boring marriage, followed by a death, followed by feverish work to secure one’s livelihood – but, as a writer, I also realize authors typically do not get to write their own blurbs. So I gave it the benefit of the doubt and plowed in. In fact, though the description led me to believe I might be subject to many scenes of tedious married life, the novel opens on the funeral of Mr. Collins and moves at a decent pace from there, and Charlotte’s quest to secure her livelihood is not a focus. We are almost immediately treated to a ball and amusing flirtations, and from there romance and conflict unwinds.
The book is somewhat predictable and formulaic, but this is true of most Regency romance, and so I do not really fault it for this; one expects to be surprised by a mystery or a thriller, but not so much by a romance. The book held my interest, which is the key, and I gulped it down in a single day. There were moments of wit here and there that made me smile. This was gratifying because I always enjoy a touch of humor in Regency romance and find it is too little present. No, it doesn't arise to the level of Austen; it is funny rather than satirical, but one cannot really expect sequels to equal the classic original in that regard.
There were elements of the risk to Charlotte’s reputation that I did not find quite plausible, but to avoid spoilers I will not discuss that here. Suffice it to say that, despite any implausibility, this risk functioned well as a plot device, created tension, and kept the story rolling. While the book does not have a great deal of thematic depth and meaning, I did not feel it needed to nor pretended to - it is simply a fun, light read that moves quickly, and therefore one of the better P&P sequels I have attempted.
I don’t think I’ve read a coming of age story since…well, since I came of age. On the other hand, I think there is a sort of second “coming of age” (i...moreI don’t think I’ve read a coming of age story since…well, since I came of age. On the other hand, I think there is a sort of second “coming of age” (is that a synonym for disillusionment?) that occurs in adulthood for many people, so I probably related to this book better in my 30’s than I would have if I had read it in my late teens. Surprisingly, I don’t have much to say about the book except that I liked it and often found it amusing, though occasionally predictable and a bit unrealistic. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable book with larger than life yet complex characters, an occasional profundity, and a perfect touch of humour. (less)
This really wasn’t my cup of tea, but I read it for a book club. I found it dragged because of the excessive detail. I realize I’m a woman, yes, but I...moreThis really wasn’t my cup of tea, but I read it for a book club. I found it dragged because of the excessive detail. I realize I’m a woman, yes, but I really don’t care a great deal about shoes. Or what clothes people are wearing. Or how the room is decorated. I hardly notice these things in real life; I certainly don't want pages and pages and pages describing them (often in list-like fashion) in fiction. It has an interesting ending for a romance. I’ll give it that. Otherwise, it was entirely predictable and a bit annoying with regard to its view of how women must act in marriage for a marriage to succeed. I'll be bringing an extra bottle of wine for the meeting, to ensure an edifying discussion. (less)
If you are looking for a sequel that once again brings to life Austen's characters, this book is not for you. Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are (somewhat inexpli...moreIf you are looking for a sequel that once again brings to life Austen's characters, this book is not for you. Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are (somewhat inexplicably) off in another country on a diplomatic mission, and the novel follows the lives of their daughters, inventions, of course, of the author. However, if you just want a decently written Regency Romance with links to the original Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy's Daughters might satisfy. I found it slightly dull myself, and I'm not sure why. (less)
**spoiler alert** What do you get when a Puritan marries a libertine? A lot of misery, a lot of cataloging of that misery, and a lot of lecturing abou...more**spoiler alert** What do you get when a Puritan marries a libertine? A lot of misery, a lot of cataloging of that misery, and a lot of lecturing about why people shouldn’t do the sorts of things that cause such misery.
I found The Tenant of Wildfell Hall slow going at first. It took me a long time to get into it; in fact, I think I was more than half way through before I was really caught up, but caught up I was, and, in the end, I’m glad I read it, even if I didn’t love any of the characters. It was interesting to hear a romance narrated from the point of view of a man for a change, even if I found the epistlatory structure that allowed a shift in narration back and forth between Helen and Gilbert to be largely unbelievable. (Who writes 15 pages letters recording dialogue?)
I find myself uncertain about how I feel about both the book and its main character. I alternated between admiring Helen’s moral strength and singleness of purpose and seeing her as an inspirational example for enduring whatever suffering occurs at the hands of others in my own life, to finding her a moral prig who, though in possession of good values, has taken them to an extreme that admits little enjoyment of the good things of life. Her position should be pitiable, but it is hard to surmount the fact that she went into her marriage with ample warning from family and friends and that not even her husband really deceived her about his character.
In the world of the Brontes’ (I noticed this especially here and in Jane Eyre), there’s a strong emphasis on supressing your passions in order to do the right thing whether or not you feel like doing the right thing. Some might say Wuthering Heightsdoesn’t fit this bill, but I think that’s what Wuthering Heightswas also about after all – the ill consequences of giving into the passions rather than following cool, calm moral reasoning. (The second half of the book, which is often forgotten, concludes with an eventually matured and tempered couple - who are, if droller, far happier than the miserable Catherine and Heathcliff.) The Brontes want their readers to come out on the right side in, as The Tenant of Wildfell Hallterms it, the “violent conflict between reason and passion.”
Very little romantic literature focuses on this theme, and I believe it is great to have these examples of truly strong women (feminists of a special breed) who do this. The Brontes admit it is not easy and involves much emotional pain. But fortunately in the Brontes’ fictional world (and this book is no exception), one is always ultimately and conveniently rewarded for doing the right thing: even when you walk away from your heart’s desire to do what’s right, you end up with your heart’s desire (and usually money!) in the end. It’s convenient, and not precisely true to life (because virtue is not always rewarded in the end of earthly life), but it’s not overly convenient – the virtuous must always suffer awhile for their virtue first, sometimes in a personal purgatory that can last years. Indeed, it’s not much of an advertisement for virtue. Yet there’s an admirable strength in these women, Jane and Helen, hanging onto virtue by tooth and claw, long after the world has screamed at them to discard it.
I say there’s an admirable strength, but I’m not entirely sure where that strength morphs into stubbornness and self-righteousness. I found spiritual truths in this book, but it felt like – I don’t know how else to say this – grace was somehow missing. I don’t mean the protagonist doesn’t put up with her husband enough (rather too much and too long!) or show him forgiveness, hope for his transformation, and tell him that the blood of Christ can cover his sins. Indeed, at one point, the narrator even hopes for universal salvation, putting forth a defense of the possibility in a theological, Bible-quoting conversation with her Aunt (this could not have been a popular doctrine for Bronte to dare to assert in her day). But somehow, I just felt, most of the time, a kind of absence of grace.
Maybe it was that Helen seemed too assured of her own rightness – that she knew God as Lord, surely, but maybe didn't realize she herself needed him as Savior - that she seemed sure everyone else needed transformation while she herself only needed endurance. Perhaps it was that in attempting to spare her child from the vices of his father she took extreme positions on morality. Perhaps it’s that she seemed to think she had the power to earn heaven by the sacrifice SHE makes - i.e. “and I do know that to regret the exchange of earthly pleasures for the joys of heaven, is as if the groveling caterpillar should lament that it must one day quite the nibbled leaf to soar aloft and flutter through the air…” I can’t quite put my finger on what was niggling me; there’s certainly plenty of talk to her husband about Christ’s sacrifice and forgiveness. I can only say that somehow, on some level, I felt the heavy absence of grace, and it bothered me. Duty and perseverance and moral fortitude, certainly, but…not quite grace.
Aside from the religious questions it raises (What is true piety? How do we live a life touched by grace? How do we best respond to the sins of others? Is it possible to make an idol of duty?), Tenant raises questions about marriage (How does marriage affect women? Do women tend to rush into it too quickly and too blindly? What influence can women really have on their husbands? When should one give up hoping for a spouse’s transformation? When should a woman extract herself from a bad marriage?). I think I liked the book not for its plot or characters or even its writing, but more for the mere fact that it made me think. And I liked that it was by no means a typical romance. I think I would have enjoyed it more had I not already known the entirety of the plot from watching the miniseries.
I had to make more use of the dictionary feature of my Kindle for this book than for any I have read in some time. It was not fast paced. The hero is certainly not a man to swoon for – not even a passionate jerk like Charlotte’s Rochester or a pitiable and detestable psychopath like Emily’s Heathcliff – just a – well – just some guy. I mean, his name’s Gilbert, if that gets the point across.
If you intend to read only one book by Anne Bronte, I’d advise Agnes Grey instead. But if you have time and perseverance, you can stick with Helen and find some reward. (less)
This book reads more like pop fiction than literary fiction, and I'm not sure why it is being regarded with such high seriousness, except, perhaps, be...moreThis book reads more like pop fiction than literary fiction, and I'm not sure why it is being regarded with such high seriousness, except, perhaps, because it required a great deal of research. The only reason I give it three stars is because it is, quite frankly, a good (and easy) read. From a literary standpoint, though, it was not deeply impressive.
Characters: The villains (August and Uncle Al) were interesting if a bit stereotypical (because they were underdeveloped). The heroine was weak and seemed to have no personality of her own apart from her relationship with the men in her life; the narrator was the best developed of the characters, because we see him as a youth and an old man, but I found him a much more sympathetic and interesting character as an old man.
Plot: In some respects the plot was predictable, or at least overly convenient, and the ending was unbelievable. The story did, however, have a few surprises. It was certainly well paced (and well structured with the alteration between the present and the flashbacks), so that it definitely kept me reading.
Style: The writing style left something to be desired. I certainly don't need anything overly flowerily or verbose, but at times the writing was so simplistic as to be distracting. (At times, it was rather like saying, "I did A. I did B. I did C, while doing D. Then I did E.") It also went a little overboard on the lewd sexual details. I really don't need a description of a dwarf masturbating to explicit Popeye cartoons to further the plot.
THEME: The most impressive thing about the book was probably its look at what it feels like to be aging, to be an old man in a nursing home toward the end of life. If you haven't called your parents in awhile, you will want to after reading this. Other than that, however, the books is without any truly profound overarching theme. (less)
Admittedly, this isn't a sequel. It isn't a prequel either. If a term has yet been invented for a book that occurs simultaneously with the events of a...moreAdmittedly, this isn't a sequel. It isn't a prequel either. If a term has yet been invented for a book that occurs simultaneously with the events of another book, I don't know it. But "An Assembly Such As This" begins with the Assembly at Mereton and ends in medias res.
The twist? The entire tale is told from Mr. Darcy's point of view. We get to see the gaps in Jane Austen's narrative filled in, and we get to see one writer's take on Darcy's actions and motivations. The characters remain more or less true to their originals, although Mr. Darcy's motives and thoughts are different from what I, personally, would have imagined them to be. (For instance, he is forever looking for an opportunity to apologize to Elizabeth for his "she is tolerable" remark and trying to overcome her ill opinion of him, whereas I imagined that he was ignorant of his need to apologize and that he simply assumed she was attracted to him.)
Because of the nature of the book, it is inevitable that large portions of Austen's dialogue are copied verbatim, although the author tries to summarize the dialogue in narrative where possible. The easy and natural flow of Austen's dialogue is broken by narrative observations, so that we may have Darcy's perspective; and while it is good to have his perspective (that's the point of the novel, after all), it does sometimes make Austen's scenes appear choppy and lessen the impact of the characters' words. A rare few of the added scenes seem nonessential to plot or character development, and appear more as filler, which can slow the pace of the novel occasionally. Nevertheless, this is one of the better Pride and Prejudice sequels I have read. Pamela Aidan has knowledge of and respect for the original, which is more than I can say for a great many sequels. (less)
At first, I thought the author’s style of writing somehow rigid, in that I had difficulty reading her words with ease; but in time, I grew used to the...moreAt first, I thought the author’s style of writing somehow rigid, in that I had difficulty reading her words with ease; but in time, I grew used to the writing, and it flowed well enough to read. The plotline is unbelievable and not in keeping with the personalities of Austen's original characters. Elizabeth is suddenly a figure utterly lacking in self-confidence, and Georgiana is intermittently pleasant and haughty, as though the author was not sure how to draw her. (In the original, I think she was only shy—any indication of her being proud was owing to rumor, not fact.) Darcy is something of a secretive, sullen jerk, though Tennant vaguely tries to give him motivations for his clandestine actions.
I also have some technical quibbles with the work. Emma Tennant has Jane with a one year old child less than a year after the Darcys are married. Now, unless my math is rusty, this would mean she had conceived well before her own marriage, a highly unlikely possibility. She has Lydia with four children "under four"—which, a year after the marriage of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, seems a bit much, as she was married only a few months before Elizabeth. She makes Rowsley (rather than Lambton) the former home of Mrs. Gardiner. (less)
This novel is based on the true story of Regine Olsen's engagement to Christian philosopher Sören Kierkegaard. However, you need not know much about K...moreThis novel is based on the true story of Regine Olsen's engagement to Christian philosopher Sören Kierkegaard. However, you need not know much about Kierkegaard to appreciate the novel. Everything is told from the point of view of his fiancé, and if you are interested in Kierkegaard's philosophy, this isn't the way to delve into it. Really, if you are looking for anything very much deeper than a Christian romance novel, look elsewhere. But if you are looking for a Christian romance novel that is not overbearing in its morality or utterly simplistic in its use of language, then Loving Sören is a good choice. It stands out among most novels in the genre because the religious element is somewhat more subdued (though still obvious) and the book is not written on your usual 6th grade reading level; indeed, the language is occasionally beautifully crafted. Loving Sören also dabbles with some serious themes, like what it means to be a Christian (to suffer or to embrace life?), although these themes are not as developed as I would like. The book somewhat satiates the intellect without being at all obtuse. The novel focuses on Regina's process of maturing beyond her obsession with Kierkegaard, which she never fully does by the end of the novel. She does, however, at least come to confess this obsession as a weakness, although her realization of this is rather sudden and slightly unbelievably portrayed (this is the typical "conversion scene" you often find in Christian fiction). Overall, though, I recommend the book.
When I first read Northanger Abbey as a teenager, I thought it little more than a clever, entertaining parody on the gothic romance genre, and a rathe...moreWhen I first read Northanger Abbey as a teenager, I thought it little more than a clever, entertaining parody on the gothic romance genre, and a rather captivating romance story itself. Upon my second reading, however, I now see it only secondarily as a parody, and primarily as a satire on the duplicitous nature of civilized man, including (but not limited to) an exposé of the games courting men and women play. Northanger Abbey is very well written, and though it lacks the subtlety of Austen’s later novels, it is certainly her funniest. I began my second reading with the intention of highlighting all of the humorous sections, but after I had turned an entire page yellow, I desisted. Take, for example, the fabulous opening description of our heroine’s father, as only Jane Austen could phrase it: "Her father was a clergyman, without being neglected, or poor, and a very respectable man, though his name was Richard . . . and he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters."
Despite its general failure to receive the kind of critical acclaim that has been heaped on her other novels, I think Northanger Abbey is a real contender for Jane Austen’s best book. Henry Tilney is, at least, among her most appealing and interesting protagonists, described by the heroine herself as—and this is instantly intriguing—"strange." Many diverting scenes result from the contrast between Henry’s wry wit and our heroine’s innocence (for, as Henry says, Catherine’s "mind is warped by an innate principle of general integrity"). No one who enjoys a good laugh should ever overlook this book.(less)