The audio was just was wonderful as I'd hoped it would be. This book is bibliocrack for me--the best kind of light reading that I can return to repeatThe audio was just was wonderful as I'd hoped it would be. This book is bibliocrack for me--the best kind of light reading that I can return to repeatedly....more
I tried this one but didn't get anywhere with it. It doesn't help that I'm listening to the audiobook of Dracula right now, so the differences in toneI tried this one but didn't get anywhere with it. It doesn't help that I'm listening to the audiobook of Dracula right now, so the differences in tone, voice, and character were apallingly evident.
I think many people will like this book. However, as someone that spent years studying Victorian literature, I just couldn't embrace this book....more
I don't think this book will appeal to everyone. It took forever to "get going," but the beauty of the language made up for the slow, slow pace. I lisI don't think this book will appeal to everyone. It took forever to "get going," but the beauty of the language made up for the slow, slow pace. I listened to the audio read by Jim Dale, and his amazing voice skills enhanced the narrative wonderfully. ...more
This was, without a doubt, one of the most irritating books I've ever read. It continues and reinforces Orientalist characterizationOrientalist trash.
This was, without a doubt, one of the most irritating books I've ever read. It continues and reinforces Orientalist characterizations without a single qualm. As a scholar of nineteenth-century British literature, I'm used to seeing Orientalist tropes used in books from my period. While they are regrettable, they're also part and parcel of the time in which they were written. While this novel may have been set in nineteenth-century Victorian India and England, there was no need for Bray to continue those same tropes. As this is a fantasy novel, that sort of realism in the setting was not necessary, especially when it is never condemned within the novel.
It's been six years since I read this book, and it still makes me angry. Sometimes, I think I would like to reread it just to confirm that it was as hateful as I first thought. However, that tends to be a passing urge. Life is simply too short to waste on bad books--especially when I have a dissertation to write.
I read this book when I worked for Waldenbooks the first time, back in 2001-2. While I love some neo-Victorian fiction (especially the work of DeannaI read this book when I worked for Waldenbooks the first time, back in 2001-2. While I love some neo-Victorian fiction (especially the work of Deanna Raybourn and Caro Peacock), this book did nothing for me. The symbolism was heavy-handed and the story felt plodding and dismal. I would not recommend this title to others....more
I downloaded this book for my nook as a Free Fridays book from B&N. So far, I've really enjoyed their Free books--even if I don't like a title, thI downloaded this book for my nook as a Free Fridays book from B&N. So far, I've really enjoyed their Free books--even if I don't like a title, they've helped me discover which authors to ignore in the future. When the only thing I have to sacrifice to try a new book/author is time (rather than money--or dignity by asking that my library find a copy for me!), I'm often willing to take the chance.
Thankfully, I picked up this book when I was in the perfect mood for it. I wanted a light-hearted romance without too much graphic sex. And that's what I got.
Light-hearted is perhaps a strange way to describe this book. It's not funny. It's not even silly. But it is a fun, involving sort of read, one that didn't make me angry (as bad romance novels often do . . .) That's enough for me to call a book light-hearted.
I think my favorite aspect of the book is the world that Kennedy built. It's an alternate Victoria England (where apparently Victoria has a sense of humor . . .), and rather than pass down titles purely through primogeniture, they also pass through magic. Basically, the nobility are ranked according to their degree of magical prowess, and their children only inherit their titles upon proving that they also have the same level of magic. As the novel opens, Felicity is about to take the test to determine if she will be a duchess, and she knows that it's going to go badly. Despite her uncle's faithful teaching, she's never been able to master the smallest of magics, and the thought of losing her late parents' estates terrifies her.
At the testing, only one man seems to notice how beautiful Felicity is. His name is Terrance, and he's a baronet. In this world, the lowest rank of nobility is reserved not for magic-users, but for those immune to magic--shapeshifters. He can see that there is magic of some kind surrounding the woman, but he'll have to get to know her in order to discover if he's a villain or a victim, a friend or enemy to the throne he's sworn to protect.
I will definitely seek out the other two books in this series when I need something fun. This title was not so enchanting that I must read them today, but I believe that they'll be a good read when I need one....more
Caro Peacock's Liberty Lane was my first entry into the evolving genre of neo-Victorian female detective fiction. After reading the first two LibertyCaro Peacock's Liberty Lane was my first entry into the evolving genre of neo-Victorian female detective fiction. After reading the first two Liberty Lane novels (A Foreign Affair and A Dangerous Affair), I chose to read Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Gray series and the first book in Tasha Alexendar's Lady Emily series. Each of these three take a very different tack in telling the story of a female detective.
In my mind, Alexander's Lady Emily is undoubtedly the weakest of the three characters and of the three series. On her husband's death, she inherits so much money that she can travel on a whim, and she no longer feels confined by many Victorian mores.
Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia is also a widow, but this series is much stronger. Lady Julia is much more restricted by society and has to make her decisions with care. The (mild) element of paranormal in the series does it make less realistic, though.
Finally, we get to Liberty Lane, the heroine of Caro Peacock's books. (The books are originally published in the UK under different names, so I'm not going to bother to name the series.) As we find out in the first book, Liberty is an unmarried orphan, set loose from society by her lack of familial ties. In order to support herself (and the growing number of people that come to rely on her), she teaches music and works as an independant investigative agent. She works to discover truth and prevent scandal both privately and discreetly. Of these three series, the Liberty Lane books seem to have a stronger connection to the Victorian era (early rather than late, as in the other series). The historical detail is accurate and never intrudes on the story, but the setting does provide restrictions that hinder Libery's freedom of movement and of choice. Peacock also includes a few real people in her books that add to the story. In this novel, we have Pratt, an armorer on Bond Street in London, and future PM Benjamin Disreali. While I am not a scholar of Disreali's life, Peacock's portrait of him as a careful politician that feels compelled to involve himself in everyone's stories seems accurate. In his lifetime, he was an incredibly powerful man, largely through the ties he built between himself and others. In Peacock's novels, Liberty Lane becomes not only his friend, but one of the people that helps him to create and solidify his connections.
In this third outing for Liberty, she's been living with her small household in London for a year or so. Disreali informs her that he knows of a job that she could do. Apparently, a lawyer needs to know whether his employer's wife, Lady Brinkburn, is insane. Her husband is dying of syphilis, and now that he's incapacitated, she's announced that her older son is not the proper heir to the estate, and that it must go to the younger son. The scandal is outrageous, pitting brother against brother, and could mean a Parliamentary investigation if the matter of the heir is not resolved prior to the Lord's death.
Before Liberty gets too involved in the case, bodies start appearing, and she knows it's all connected.
I recommend this series highly. Liberty is a fully-fleshed character, and she's rather unique in neo-Victorian fiction. As I explained above, both Raybourn and Alexander set their stories among the titled nobility. Each of those novels includes a romantic element that we don't see in Peacock's series. Liberty, a gentleman's daughter with a solid (if unconvential) education, does not have the benefit of rank. She can move freely among the minor nobility and tradespeople. In setting her character among this developing middle class, Peacock illuminates a class that gets too little attention in neo-Victorian fiction. The fact that these are good, solid, mysteries helps, too. Once again, I recommend Peacock's books highly, but readers should start with the first book, A Foreign Affair....more
As the novel opens, Lady Emily Ashton is horrified. She's a recent (and young) widow, and her period of half-mourning is not yet over. She's entered tAs the novel opens, Lady Emily Ashton is horrified. She's a recent (and young) widow, and her period of half-mourning is not yet over. She's entered the stage where it's acceptable to participate in limited social events, and her mother plans to use these occasions to relaunch Emily into the marriage market. Emily had chosen to marry her husband to get away from her mother's matchmaking; apparently, even her status as a widow is not enough to protect her from her mother, now.
Her husband died when on a safari, and after one of his companions visits to offer his condolences, she becomes curious about the man she had married but had barely known. Her curiosity leads her to the British Museum and to the study of Greek artifacts. Emily never knew that her husband was an avid scholar and collector of antiquities; she had thought his only hobby was the rather repellent hunting.
As Emily digs deeper into her husband's life, she learns that he loved her dearly, and she comes to love him as well. She also finds herself in danger from his secrets . . . and those that fear she may uncover them.
I liked this book for about the first half. That section of the novel deals with Emily's desire to educate herself and understand her new identity. After that point, when the mystery kicks in, the book lost my interest. I could see the number of places where Emily was making bad decisions, and it annoyed me. Instead of making her a flawed character (and therefore interesting), her bad decisions seemed designed only to move the plot forward.
Also, does every man in the empire think that she's the most beautiful women he's ever seen? ...more
It had all of my favorite elements of a neo-Victorian Gothic--the impoverished gentlewoman seeking to make her way in liThis was a truly perfect book.
It had all of my favorite elements of a neo-Victorian Gothic--the impoverished gentlewoman seeking to make her way in life; the mysterious, sensual young count that catches her eye; mysterious deaths; superstitious locals; and a fraught relationship to the past.
Theodora is an orphan, and her grandfather has recently died as well. When her schoolfriend, Cosima, invites her to Transylvania to be a guest at Cosima's wedding to the local count, Theodora views it as a handy escape. She's a writer, and she knows from Cosima's childhood stories that Transylvania will provide fertile ground for her imagination. Also, she'd rather not live with her sister and brother-in-law, who are expecting their fifth child.
Upon her arrival at the castle, Theodora is thrilled with the magnificent setting, and her writing takes off. She is troubled that Cosima's wedding has been called off, and Theodora is even more disturbed when she realizes just how attracted she is to the count.
In true Gothic fashion, secrets from the past continue to haunt the present. Was the current count's father so evil that he rose from the grave as strigoi? Why did the count's father and grandfather hate each other so deeply? What secrets of love and passion will drive these characters to commit desperate acts?
Raybourn has a fantastic narrative voice, and her ear for dialogue is top-notch. Unlike so many neo-Victorian romances, her characters speak naturally, with only small differences from our modern speech. Clearly, Raybourn has read many Victorian novels in order to master the language so thoroughly. This book was a joy to read, and I would have loved to read it slowly and savor it, but I was too engrossed and had to know what happened next. ...more