Loved, loved, loved this book! I have a feeling The Painted Girls is going to make my list of favorite reads in 2013. Blending history and fiction togLoved, loved, loved this book! I have a feeling The Painted Girls is going to make my list of favorite reads in 2013. Blending history and fiction together, Ms. Buchanan has brought the van Goethem girls to life and they leap of the pages of her latest historical fiction.
I read The Day the Falls Stood Still when it came out a few years ago and really enjoyed it, so when I saw Buchanan had a new novel and it was getting really good reviews, I snatched it right up. There are times when a novel seems to just fall in your lap and beg to be read and there is a feeling of giddy anticipation, knowing this book is going to live up to the hype. The Painted Girls did just that.
The Painted Girls is a fictionalized account of Degas’ real life model for his Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. Intertwined into the lives of the van Goethem girls, Buchanan also blends the fictionalized account of a murder trial that occurred in the same time period.
Aside from the interesting historical aspect, The Painted Girls tackles issues such as destiny, family and love and asks the question is it possible to become something more than what you were born to or will poor always be poor and rich always rich.
The plot unfolds in the shifting perspectives of Marie and Antoinette. I really liked Marie in the beginning but Antoinette was hard for me to like at first. Somewhere along the way, I found my sympathies switching to Antoinette and disapproving of Marie. Questions were raised along with way that changed my view, what lengths do you go for love or family, security and success.
The historical aspects were just as engaging. The seedy streets of Paris circa 1873 come alive and as you read, are walking the same streets as Marie and Antoinette. It was really intriguing to read about a murder trial that took place over a century ago and to glimpse the inside of the Paris Opera.
Overall, I think this was a fantastic read and one I would recommend to anyone looking for the next great read. It would make a really interesting book club discussion as well. ...more
Writing a review of Outlander is hard for me. I loved this book and all of the subsequent books in the series with fierce intensity. I also feel like Writing a review of Outlander is hard for me. I loved this book and all of the subsequent books in the series with fierce intensity. I also feel like they are so personal that to write about them is baring myself a little bit. Crazy, I know, but true.
I saw a post on Facebook recently that said I wish I never read Outlander so I could read it for the first time all over again. Or something to that effect. In many ways I share the sentiment but Outlander is also a book I never tire of picking up, it’s like coming home. This is my third reading of Outlander and I love it just as much as I did the first two times. My gut clenches, my heart hurts, and I laughed and internally swooned at all the same places.
Gabaldon has created two of the most intriguing, unique, captivating and utterly unforgettable characters in Claire and Jamie. Their story is of an epic love, so deep and so true they would go to the ends of the earth for each other – and do. Yet she makes them so real I like to believe somewhere, sometime Claire and Jamie did exist and maybe still do. I can never get enough of their story, the bonds of love bound so tenuously at first to a fierce and consuming passion for each other.
Outlander begins the story of Claire Beauchamp Randall on a second honeymoon in Scotland with her husband Frank. Separated by war, they have come here to renew their love. One day Claire inadvertently steps through the stone circle of Craigh na Dun and steps into 1743 Scotland and a group of Scottish Highlanders fighting off a band of English Dragoons.
Thus begins the tale of Claire and Jamie. Stuck in 1743 with little luck of returning to her time, Claire is kept with the Scots men and led to the Mackenzie lands and to the Castle of Leoch where the chieftain and his brother will try to figure out just who she is, where she will begin a friendship with a young Scot named Jamie and the course of her life is forever changed.
Outlander is not just a love story. There’s something for everyone. The historical detail within the series is incredible. Diana Gabaldon is a phenomenal researcher and she not only has the ability to write a breathtaking epic love story but she places it in context with the times and captures the heart of the unrest of 1743 Scotland. Every step of the journey feels real and Gabaldon creates a setting where you can imagine these characters once lived and maybe in some way, sometime, still do.
When I try to describe the awesomeness of Outlander, I always think of the scene in the movie The Princess Bride when the grandfather is telling his grandson what the book is about. There’s love, intrigue, outlawry, fighting, deception, Jacobites, an evil villain, witches, passion, unrest, family. The list goes on.
Claire is a modern woman, stuck in a time when women were not assertive and did not speak their mind. Intelligence in women was frowned upon and women knew their place. Claire is all of these and none of these, she’s assertive, she speaks her mind and she doesn’t depend on anyone when she can do the job herself. She’s compassionate and willing to risk herself for others.
Jamie is everything you want in a leading man. He’s gallant and strong, protective and even tempered (for the most part). He’s sensitive and unabashedly in love. The things that come out of Jamie’s mouth, the pure sweetness, well it’s better than eating chocolate. Not only does he have the Gaelic and speak with a Scottish brogue but he can slay the reader with his heartfelt feelings for Claire, the way he talks to her. If I lived in that time, well I think I would need a snuff box because I would be swooning all the time.
There was one part that was difficult to get through and I still cringe on every re-read. I wish it could be wiped from my memory much as I imagine Jamie wishes the same but it’s there and it’s not going to change so like Jamie, I live with it. There is another scene in which Jamie demonstrates he is from another time in his actions to Claire. While it may be difficult to understand in our time, this is a novel not about our time. These things happened and the scene puts into perspective that Claire is living in a different time where the same rules don’t apply. Jamie redeems himself in his vow to Claire and the scene gives Jamie even more depth. He showed Claire justice as he was taught and both Claire and the reader unravel another layer of Jamie.
For me, Outlander and the rest of the books are some of the best books I have ever read. I love these books with a fierceness of a mama bear. Just knowing they are sitting on a shelf in my library is comforting, that I can go in a pick one of them up at will, or even just look at them. After I finished the series the first time, I was bereft; I didn’t know what to do with myself. These books suck you in and grip you until you feel as though you are a part of the scenery, a casual observer of the life and times of Claire and Jamie and you believe somewhere, in some time, these lovers do exist and they are together, happy. ...more
A combination of curiosity, and a watershed moment led Jake Epping through a rabbit hole and into 1958 in the gripping new novel by Stephen King.
JakeA combination of curiosity, and a watershed moment led Jake Epping through a rabbit hole and into 1958 in the gripping new novel by Stephen King.
Jake Epping is a high school English and GED teacher. When he asks students to write about an event that changed their lives, he never thought it would change his. Jake’s watershed moment occurs when he reads Henry Dunning’s essay about the night his father came home and killed his mother, his sister and his brothers with a sledgehammer.
Two years later Jake is summoned to a diner owned by his friend Al Templeton. Al, who looks as if he has aged 20 years overnight, explains the secrets of the diner’s pantry to Jake. It is a portal into a particular day in 1958. You always go to the same date and time and no matter how long you are gone, only two minutes has elapsed in the present time. You will still age though, so if you spend two years in the past you will age two years (hence Al’s appearance). Al is unable to continue what he has made his life’s mission so he recruits Jake for the job - to go back to 1958 and stop Lee Harvey Oswald from firing the fatal shots that changed our world forever.
I thought this book was going to be about a man trying to prevent John F. Kennedy’s assassination and what the world would be like if he succeeded. I was wrong. It was so much more. I loved every page of this book, from the first line. While the meat of the novel is Jake’s mission, the heart of the novel is the love story. It’s about a time when life was simpler, people were more trusting, the air smells better and the food tastes better.
Jake and Sadie are two phenomenal characters, both strong and well-written. They will go down in my own personal hall of fame. The supporting cast is just as good and the time period becomes a character in itself. It is clear how well researched this novel was. The history of that time, of Lee Harvey Oswald and JFK is fascinating.
11/22/63 has been hailed as King’s Tour de Force. King does a phenomenal job of bringing the late 50’s and early 60’s to life. I also think it is his love letter to that era. I could envision myself in a full skirted dress doing the Lindy Hop and the Madison right along with Jake and Sadie. And isn’t that a mark of a great writer, to be so engrossed in the story we feel we are right there with the characters?
While I would have preferred a different ending, I know it is the only reasonable way this novel could have ended. But if time is elastic and different threads are being pulled at all times, maybe somewhere, somehow things are different, simpler. If you haven’t read this novel, do it. It was one of the best books I have read in a long time.
Read the alternate ending here and ball your eyes out all over again, I did. ...more
The Winter Sea weaves together the past and the present and Susanna Kearsley has done an exceptional job of bringing the two storylines together. NotThe Winter Sea weaves together the past and the present and Susanna Kearsley has done an exceptional job of bringing the two storylines together. Not only are her characters beautifully well written, but Scotland and the historic era of the Jacobites as well.
Novelist Carrie McClelland is working on her latest novel involving the 1708 plot to bring James Stuart back to the throne of Scotland when she stumbles upon the ruins of Castle Slains on the Scottish coast close to Aberdeen. She becomes enthralled with the ruins and soon she is settled in a cottage not far from the castle.
The novel alternates between past and present – Carrie in the present and the novel she is writing in the past. As Carrie delves into the history of Slains castle, her novel begins to flow out of her. The castle and its inhabitants are at the heart of the second storyline. These characters are embroiled in a plot to bring King James back to the throne of Scotland. And Sophia, a character Carrie only intended as secondary to her novel emerges as the primary voice. Susanna Kearsley explores the theme of genetic memory as ideas and events Carrie believes are products of her creativity turn out to be historically accurate.
In both storylines there is a love story, and while I loved both, I would have liked to see a little more of Carrie and Graham. While I think it is a little harsh to say Carrie took a back-seat to Sophia, I do believe Carrie’s own love story did. I felt throughout that Carrie and Graham were meant to be a modern version of Sophia and Moray of sorts, but I still would have liked to see their romance a little more developed.
I loved the characters and did not want each character’s story to end at the end of the chapter. Both Carrie and Sophia have a strong will and deep-seated strength. I’m a sucker for a Scottish male character and Moray and Graham fit the bill nicely. The novel was filled with an assortment of wonderful supporting characters as well- the Countess in the 1708 storyline, and Jimmy Keith in the present day.
I was also interested in the historical aspect of the novel. The Jacobites are a sad and curious part of Scotland’s history. I have read other historical fiction involving two more well-known risings culminating in the infamous Battle of Culloden in 1746, so I enjoyed reading about the lesser known plot of 1708. I imagined Carrie takes a lot of her research skills from Susanna Kearsley and her well-honed ability.
The novel builds up to an emotional climax. We know the plot of 1708 does not succeed, but what does that mean for Moray and for Sophia? I found myself alternating between dread and anxiousness as I raced to finish. The ending was emotional and heart wrenching and I loved every second of it. After I was finished, I mentally put Sophia/Moray and Carrie/Graham into my imaginary happily ever after where all great characters go once I’ve finished with them. They are doing wonderfully....more