It's been years since I've read this book. Over a decade, in fact. I'd forgotten how intensely interior it is, focusing on the heart and mind of one m...moreIt's been years since I've read this book. Over a decade, in fact. I'd forgotten how intensely interior it is, focusing on the heart and mind of one man. I don't think it'll replace The House of Mirth as my favorite Wharton, but I feel like I'm appreciating it's beauty anew. This is a truly remarkable book. (less)
This book was exactly what it set out to be an no more. If you like the "secret family connection to the royalty of a small country discovered, sudden...moreThis book was exactly what it set out to be an no more. If you like the "secret family connection to the royalty of a small country discovered, sudden inheritance of wealth/lands/title, and wow is that prince hot!" plot line, odds are relatively good that you'll like this book. Just don't expect it to be more than what it is.
I do think that the writing was a little rough. While I can't pinpoint any exact moments of roughness for you, I can say that it seemed to be the novelistic equivalent of an American Idol judge calling a singer "pitchy." At times, the verb tenses just seemed odd. I felt as if the writer were moving back and forth from present to past tense, but I couldn't really isolate one of the shifts. Something about it just struck me as odd. That feeling of oddness was increased by the choppy sentence structures. I think this book could have used another go-around with an intense language editor.
That said, this book is not bad. It's fun. The main characters are interesting, although I'm not fully certain that I accept the depth of their bond. Still, I liked it. The language issues are unlikely to upset most readers; I teach freshman composition, so I'm rather tuned into the sentence structure. (And since I couldn't locate the shifts I was sensing, that does indicate that they may not exist--it's possible I was reacting to some other barely sensed problem with the text.)(less)
All things considered, I think I'd rather read the book than listen to this narrator. I don't want that to sound too mean. There was nothing especiall...moreAll things considered, I think I'd rather read the book than listen to this narrator. I don't want that to sound too mean. There was nothing especially bad about her reading (although her version of Cammon's voice was awfully twee), but there was nothing remarkable about it either. Considering how long the audio version is, I can get through the print version much more quickly and move on to the next. So that's what I did.(less)
It was extremely predictable, which is why it gets four stars rather than five and is not listed on my favorites shelf. Ho...moreI greatly enjoyed this book.
It was extremely predictable, which is why it gets four stars rather than five and is not listed on my favorites shelf. However, despite that failing, the book was entertaining and frequently lovely.
Ahern is a gifted writer. She's able to litter the everyday world with magic. Her characters seldom think twice about the way reality bends around them, and she's also able to get readers to suspend their disbelief.
From the few books that I've read, I'd say her work seems to focus on recovering from mistakes and embracing the glorious nature of one's own life.
Lucy's life is something of a mess. She's working a job she hates, among people she despises, and she dreads every interaction with her family. Her apartment is small and barely livable, and she's got an illegal cat. Before the start of the book, she receives cards mysteriously arriving in her apartment. They're from the Life Agency, and they're informing her that she has an appointment. As the book opens, Lucy is finally forced to keep that appointment. Her life turns out to be an ugly man, and she despises him on sight. Lucy is unable to avoid him, though, and she's forced to confront why she hates her own life so thoroughly. He is, he explains, something like the xray of a broken bone; he is the visible proof of what's wrong with her life. And he's going to follow her everywhere until she starts to face the decisions that have put her on this miserable path.
(view spoiler)[Her life winds up being something like Nanny McFee; as she comes to make better decisions and enjoy her own life again, he becomes more attractive and happier. Cheesy, I know, but fun nonetheless. (hide spoiler)]
Ahern's writing style is very interesting to me. She tends to take her characters just a little further than I'd like into embarrassing situations. Still, those situations seem real, and her ability to take readers along on her characters' mental journeys is fascinating. As a reader, I can point out the many plot and reality holes surrounding Ahern's Life Agency, but as the read the book, I really didn't want to. That may be what I think is Ahern's gift: she makes the implausible seem, if not likely, something you wish were likely. (That said, I'd rather not meet my life, thank you.)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I first read this book years ago. So long ago, that I did not remember it very well. At the time, I remembered thinking that there were parts of the b...moreI first read this book years ago. So long ago, that I did not remember it very well. At the time, I remembered thinking that there were parts of the book that were simply stunning but not really understanding other parts of the world.
Now that I've read Swordspoint, the first book in the series, I understand the events of this one much better. I do think The Privilege of the Sword can stand on its own, but it is helpful to understand the relationships among the characters.
At its heart, I would say this is a book about what it takes to make a woman of this time and location capable of making her own decisions. Lacking the legal standing to do much of anything, women must rely on their families and their husbands. Disliking this exceedingly, the Duke Tremontaine decides to shake things up (he likes to stir the pot quite a bit) by giving his niece the privilege of the sword. In training her to be a swordsman, he gives her what amounts to a phallus--a legal right to act on her own behalf. I'm not referring to anatomy here--although there is an amusing scene straight out of Renaissance lit whereby Katherine wonders if she's growing a "birdie." A phallus is a symbolic representation of power, and Katherine's sword appropriates it for her own use.
This book is making miss academic writing--there's so much I could say about it in the right context. (less)
Am I so shallow that I'll allow a new cover to change my opinion of a book? Perhaps.
As an ebook owner, I am occasionally pissed off when the covers of...moreAm I so shallow that I'll allow a new cover to change my opinion of a book? Perhaps.
As an ebook owner, I am occasionally pissed off when the covers of books are updated by some anonymous server somewhere. This time, I was pleased. The cover went from something that was a very generic Regency England period work to a more modern artistic rendering with digital enhancement. I can't help but think that the new cover fits the book much better--even if the original art did represent the character's appearance rather well.
Seeing the art change in my library led me to decide to give the book another read. I'd rated it one star in the past and shelved it on the "never again" list. Last time, I was expecting something much more faithful to Jane Austen's tone. All of the reviews that I'd read had compared it to her books, and I was disappointed that I did not see the similarity. There are similarities of topic--life in a small village, visiting soldiers, men wooing women for money, the dangers of sensibility. . . it's all there. What wasn't there was Austen's tone. Even in Sense and Sensibility, Austen was occasionally biting and critical of her characters' selfishness. In this book, the narration is firmly in the hands of Jane Ellsworth. It is not a first person narration, but the viewpoint is firmly attached to her nonetheless. Jane is occasionally envious, but she doesn't have the same sharp humor of Austen. The first time I read this book, I missed Austen's sharp comments as well as her more distinct narrative style.
As I read the book this time, I was able to put aside my comparisons and enjoy the book on its own merits. It has an intriguing magic system, and the character development seemed realistic. This time around, I found myself rooting for the characters.
The other reason I reconsidered reading this book? Any author willing to be part of the Mary's Angels cover shoot deserves a second chance.(less)
A light and fluffy romance, this was what I needed to distract myself from a bad day.
It does touch on serious issues, so calling it "fluffy" is a bit...moreA light and fluffy romance, this was what I needed to distract myself from a bad day.
It does touch on serious issues, so calling it "fluffy" is a bit inaccurate. What I meant by that is that this book is a very simple story about a young woman choosing between two men and the life they represent to her. There's no large social issues at play here. It is a very personal story of an emotionally scarred woman. That said, this book isn't about Pepper's scars. It's about what we look for to heal ourselves.
Still doesn't sound fluffy, does it. Hmm. I'm going to leave the word in this review because it accurately represents my emotional reaction to the book even if it doesn't reflect on the book itself.(less)