Historical fiction is always tricky. On the one hand, you have the actual facts and on the other hand, you have the drama-filled version or the happy-Historical fiction is always tricky. On the one hand, you have the actual facts and on the other hand, you have the drama-filled version or the happy-ending version that most people prefer. You may find an Empress with an eating disorder and a selfish personality interesting to read about, but you aren't necessarily going to root for her. Nor are you necessarily likely to root for a young man who has affairs with married women, is obsessed about his horse, and is basically one of history's first dude bros. So, historical fiction has to cross that line - keep who the historical figures were, but (in many cases) make them more likable. Was The Fortune Hunter successful at this? Not really.
- The writing style flows very well. It's an easy and breezy read. In the six days I had the novel marked as being read, I really only read it during two days. I read it on the 22nd, 25th, and the 27th. During which time, I read about 120 or so pages a night. It was a very fast read and the story (mostly) kept me engaged.
- Apparently, there isn't much known about the real Charlotte Baird. Which means that Daisy Goodwin had to do what she could. The fictional Charlotte is bright, quirky, witty, and full of passion. Charlotte loves photography and dreams of living a life where she is loved for herself and not her large fortune. I really enjoyed Charlotte - she was a sweet, slightly naive twenty-year old and I felt for her. I spent most of the novel wanting her to run off to North America to take photographs.
- Caspar Hewes - the dashing American photographer was a character I loved. I was sorely dismayed to find out that he is completely fictional. To be honest, a lot of the minor characters were fairly likable people. I enjoyed Grace, Charlotte's aunts, Sisi's servants, even Fred and Augusta.
- The dialogue is (for the most part) great. Very breezy and fun. I adored the snarky (but oh, so polite) comments that characters would make to one another.
- Elisabeth ("Sisi"), Empress of Austria and Bay Middleton are supposed to have this torrid love affair. But, the novel doesn't read like that at all. The Empress comes across as a woman who has found a new toy and Bay comes across as someone who is purely thinking with his sex organ. They don't really have conversations nor do they have much in common. Yes, they both enjoy hunting...but, that doesn't make a relationship.
-Bay Middleton was terrible. When we first met him, he has just been dumped by his married lover,Henrietta. (Side note: the real Henrietta had a daughter, Clementine Hozier, born 1 April 1885, who was eventually to marry Sir Winston Churchill. Bay Middleton is largely rumored to have been Clementine's biological father. Sadly, Bay and Charlotte married in 1882 - that means he had at least one affair during their marriage.)
Anyway, the night he is dumped, Bay meets Charlotte and decides that Charlotte "isn't like other girls". Six months later, they are both staying in the country with Augusta's family. Bay kisses Charlotte on Monday. On Tuesday he meets Sisi and feels an intense sexual attraction. That night, he goes back and proposes marriage to Charlotte. Why? Bay feels he cannot control himself with Sisi and needs that marriage to help him. Being a good girl, Charlotte says that should wait until she is twenty-one - as to avoid scandal. On Wednesday, Bay eats supper with Sisi and ends up kissing her in the stables. On Thursday, Charlotte goes to London on family business and Bay (not receiving a note that explains this) begins a sexual affair with Sisi that evening. Is Bay a horrible person for all this? To me he is.
What makes it worse, (at least to me) is a couple of days later, Charlotte writes to Bay and explains the situation. Bay is delighted, because he still has fondness for Charlotte and wishes to marry her. HOWEVER, he still sleeps with Sisi that same night. Weeks later, Bay meets Charlotte at Fred and Augusta's wedding and makes it clear he still wants to marry her. But, he still leaves with Sisi (who crashes the wedding, as she hasn't seen Bay in a couple of weeks) and kisses her in the carriage. *Sigh*
In the end, I could never find it in my heart to forgive Bay for his transgressions. Bay’s actions proved him more a fortunate hunter than a romantic lead. Frankly, Caspar was a far better romantic lead (and I'm 90% sure he was gay or at least bisexual).
- Sisi, pissed me off every time she appeared on the page. I understand that the real Elisabeth had several issues: including an obsession with weight, an obsession with keeping her looks and being the most beautiful, and a strange fear of overweight women. All of which is here in the novel. On those things, I pity her. However, she is also rude and selfish and so very shallow. She treats Bay as a toy and speaks to him as if he is a child.
- The love stories really didn't work for me. Sisi/Bay felt very shallow and Bay/Charlotte felt very shallow, too. Sisi and Bay had hunting and horses in common. Bay and Charlotte had nothing in common, actually.
- A lot of historical events are moved around to fit the story. For some reason, that actually really annoyed me. For example, Sisi had two grandchildren by 1875; the novel claims she has one grandchild. Bay Middleton also didn't win the National in 1876. Bay was Elisabeth's "pilot" from 1876 to February 1882. Bay became engaged to Charlotte in 1875 and married her in October of 1882. The entire novel (as far as I can tell) takes place between July of 1875 to March of 1876. I think the story would have worked between if it had taken place over several years, as opposed to several months/weeks. (hide spoiler)]...more
I read this novel (which is actually only 270 pages) over the course of about three hours.
The story follows Miel and Sam, two friends who are outcastI read this novel (which is actually only 270 pages) over the course of about three hours.
The story follows Miel and Sam, two friends who are outcast in their town. Miel was found in the town's water tower - her dress hems are always a little wet and she grows roses from her wrist. Sam makes and paints moons and hangs them in the trees. There are also the four Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters, who suddenly take a interest in Miel and her roses.
The writing in this novel is really beautiful, the characters are rich and complex, and there is a wonderfully magic atmosphere throughout the story. My issue with the novel is that I don't really feel like the story goes anywhere. There was a story and stuff happened, but it felt a bit dragged out. I think the whole story could have been told in half the pages. ...more
Fans of the Harry Potter universe will enjoy this, as it adds on to the universe and briefly explores older characters. It feels like the start of a wFans of the Harry Potter universe will enjoy this, as it adds on to the universe and briefly explores older characters. It feels like the start of a whole new franchise. ...more
I don't normally read anthologies, but there was something about this one that interested me. I'm very happy I picked this up.
"Mother CareI don't normally read anthologies, but there was something about this one that interested me. I'm very happy I picked this up.
"Mother Carey's Tale" by J. Anderson Coats. It felt like the beginning of something larger, and I couldn't help but feel like it could have been fleshed out just a bit more. (Maybe another 2-5 pages?) The character didn't grab me, but it was a unique story. 2.5/5 stars.
“The Journey” by Marie Lu - 2.5/5: I enjoyed her writing style in this short story. And, I thought the idea (though nothing too new) was done in a really nice way. I also really liked the main character.
“Madeleine’s Choice” by Jessica Spotswood - 3/5. The writing style was one I enjoyed. (I've never read Jessica Spotswood) But, the overall story was terribly predictable."
“El Destinos” by Leslye Walton: 5/5. A new favorite short story. A great and unique mix of myths and the real world. Beautifully written. I cannot wait to read more stuff from this author.
“High Stakes” by Andrea Cremer: 3.5/5. In a way, it felt like I was dropped into page 30 or so of a much longer novel. A really cool story, that again mixed myths and life. It was a bit cliche, but was enjoyable.
“The Red Raven Ball” by Caroline Tung Richmond: 3/5. Another story that was utterly predictable and even cliche. The writing style somewhat saved it.
“Pearls” by Beth Revis: 4.5/5. Amazing. Helen is an outstanding character, and I wish I could have read more about her and her students.
"Golds in the Roots of the Grass" by Marissa Meyer. 5/5. Wonderfully written and with great characters, too. I think that, so far, this is my favorite. It really left me wanting more. Can we get another short story about Fei-Yen and co?
“The Legendary Garrett Girls” by Y.S. Lee: 3/5. I loved the friendship between the sisters. I would actually like to read about Clara and Lily again, too. However, the overall story did not really hold my interest.
“The Color of the Sky” by Elizabeth Wein: 3/5. A well written story, that I enjoyed. Tony was a great character and it is always cool to see historical events via fictional characters.
“Bonnie and Clyde” by Saundra Mitchell: 3/5. Quick, interesting, and a lot of fun. I would have loved for there to be more of this story.
“Hard Times” by Katherine Longshore: 3/5. Rosie and Billy had a sweet friendship and I enjoyed their story. Could have done without Lloyd.
"City of Angels” by Lindsay Smith: 3/5. Good, but not great. There was something lacking in the story, that I couldn't place.
“Pulse of the Panthers” by Kekla Magoon: 4/5. Sandy and Bobby were great characters and I enjoyed the story a lot.
“The Whole World Is Watching” by Robin Talley: 3.5/5: A really strong story and a great way to end the anthology....more
This novel was a MAJOR disappointment. The writing style is great - if not a bit overly dramatic. The novel's atmosphere didn't feel so much "Gothic"This novel was a MAJOR disappointment. The writing style is great - if not a bit overly dramatic. The novel's atmosphere didn't feel so much "Gothic" as someone quit young trying to be "Gothic". To top it off, all the characters - especially our heroine - are terribly boring and/or underdeveloped.
Also - I HATED that our heroine kept mentioning her "cursed g*psy blood" - a phrase she apparently picked up from her French grandmother. Uh. . .Ms. Howard - G***y is a major slur toward Romani people. ...more