Having previously read 2 novels in the Reincarnationist series (The Hypnotist and The Book of Lost Fragrances) I was looking forward to continuin3.5-4
Having previously read 2 novels in the Reincarnationist series (The Hypnotist and The Book of Lost Fragrances) I was looking forward to continuing on in the series which combines suspense, supernatural and historical elements to weave a compelling story. Reading the novels in this series is akin to losing yourself in a literary labyrinth. The author presents several paths-in this case those set in the past with a tortured Victor Hugo who will do anything to connect with his beloved deceased daughter Didine, the intriguing bits set in the B.C. era, and the present storyline featuring Jac and Theo, a conflicted friend from her past. Each story arc seems to lead you slowly along as you wend your way through wondering how they will collide in a thrilling conclusion. That is the pattern I have noticed with the previous two novels I have read in the series and Seduction is no exception.
I really like M.J. Rose's writing style because her books contain great imagery that allows you to envelope yourself in the character's environment. As with most novels that have a past and present storyline I found myself enjoying the parts set in the past more. I will say that I really did like Jac's story as well and I felt I got a better sense of her than I had from reading The Book of Lost Fragrances which is the first novel in the series featuring her. I find the whole reincarnation concept of these novels interesting although maybe a tad eccentric. I loved that this story featured a conflicted Victor Hugo as one of the characters.
The one downside to Seduction is that I consider myself an impatient reader who likes some action to occur up front. I recognize the appeal of the slow reveal in a book but this type of presentation is difficult for me personally because I get distracted easily waiting for the story to pull together. This was the case here but I know from previous experience with Rose's novels that the ending is well worth a little frustration here and there while waiting for the more suspenseful elements to occur. This "issue" is more my own personal preference rather than any knock on the book itself. Seduction did present a bit of action involving a lightning strike at the beginning which piqued my curiosity but then the novel veered into more strange occurrences meant to hold the readers interest. Overall, I appreciated this one as I have the others in the series. I dig this author's unique brand of storytelling and will doubtlessly be continuing on with subsequent novels in this series.
Beautifully written and heartfelt, The Painted Girls pulls back the curtain of the Paris Opera and allows us to peer into the lives of the girls who oBeautifully written and heartfelt, The Painted Girls pulls back the curtain of the Paris Opera and allows us to peer into the lives of the girls who one day hope to grace its stage. As the novel will reveal, all is not the glitz and glamour one would expect. Told in the alternating narratives of the Van Goethem sisters-Marie and Antoinette-a different vision of the ballet world magically comes to life. Antoinette, Marie, and younger sister Charlotte live in a rundown apartment in Monmartre, left wondering daily where their next meal will come from or if they will still have a roof over their heads in the coming weeks. Resourceful Antoinette recognizes the dire situation they are in thanks to their recently deceased father and a mother whose wages go to her next bottle of absinthe. Antoinette knows that their one hope of scraping by lies in Marie and Charlotte being accepted at the Paris Opera to train as ballerinas. Things begin looking up when both girls start their training but when Antoinette is led astray by Emile Abadie, a fellow actor in a play whose true nature is evident to everyone but Antoinette, her relationship with Marie becomes increasingly strained. Without the guidance of her older sister Marie is left to navigate the more unsavory aspects of life at the Opera on her own. As both their lives take unexpected turns it remains to be seen whether their sisterly bond will survive.
As you may have already guessed I really enjoyed this novel! I was totally swept into the world of 1880's Paris and was completely captivated by the stories of Marie and Antoinette. Each has a distinct voice as they tell their respective stories and I liked both of them equally. Marie's fight to overcome her insecurities even as she is chosen to model for painter Edgar Degas touched me and Antoinette's impulsive actions left me wondering just how far she would go and how much she would sacrifice for love. Even though both face some serious trials in the novel, it is the vein of sisterly love throughout that really won me over. A brutal series of crimes followed by a sensational trial are thrown in to keep the action going. This book has been receiving quite a bit of attention as of late and deservedly so. I am so glad I picked this novel to start off 2013 with. Lovers of historical fiction-I highly encourage you to add this one to your reading list!
Almost every historical fiction novel I've seen dealing with the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte has focused on his first wife Josephine. Second Empress tAlmost every historical fiction novel I've seen dealing with the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte has focused on his first wife Josephine. Second Empress tells the story of his second wife Marie-Louise-the woman he set his soul mate Josephine aside for because he saw in Marie-Louise a greater chance of conceiving a much needed heir. At just 18 years of age, Marie-Louise seems mature for her age, recognizing that she must go through with the marriage for the well being of her empire. I'm not sure that given Napoleon's not so nice guy reputation that any normal eighteen year old would just accept that fate but she does and off to the French court she goes. The narrative alternates between Marie-Louise, Napoleon's crazy sister Pauline, and her Haitian chamberlain Paul as each gives their view of what occurs in Napoleon's court from 1809 to 1815.
As with her previous novels I felt sucked right into life in the French court. Michelle Moran really does tell a good story. While I normally like alternating viewpoints in a novel, I wish this book had delved into each character's point of view a bit more. Paul's view I kind of liked but could take it or leave it while poor young Marie-Louise having to navigate the political boundaries of her new homeland and put up with the brusque uncaring nature of her new husband and mad Pauline with her outlandish ideas of ruling alongside her brother and her deviant ways both made for compelling characters. When the book ended I found myself wishing it was longer so more of their story could have been told.
As someone who has read more about the life of Marie-Louise's great Aunt the ill-fated Marie Antoinette, this was a fascinating look at a period in French history I knew next to nothing about. I enjoyed watching Marie-Louise blossom from a young woman resigned to her fate to a stronger willed one determined to do what she must to protect what is most precious to her. Although I was really wishing for more character development and a longer story in general, this was an entertaining fast paced read. If you liked Moran's previous novels you are probably going to like this one too.
Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow picks up right where Becoming Marie Antoinette (which I read and really enjoyed last year) leaves off. Marie Antoi3.5
Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow picks up right where Becoming Marie Antoinette (which I read and really enjoyed last year) leaves off. Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI have now ascended the French throne and are struggling to find their place. We follow the journey of the young royal couple as they navigate the highs and lows that come with ruling one of the greatest nations in the world. This book was very well researched and one of the things I enjoyed most about this one and the first in the series is how real Grey makes Marie and Louis seem and how well she captures the grandeur of the French court. I loved going inside Marie Antoinette's world and experiencing her relationships with her inner circle, the rivalries and fights for her favor (especially between her two closest friends Gabrielle de Polignac and the Princess de Lamballe), and her frustrations concerning her marriage.
I did like this book quite a bit but I had trouble connecting to the glamorous queen as much as I did in the first book. In Becoming Marie Antoinette it was so easy to sympathize with her because she had to go through so much just to be able to marry the Dauphin but here now that she is Queen she proves time and again how out of touch she is with how her actions and frivolous spending impact the populace. While her decisions often come from kind hearted motives, she constantly fails to see the big picture beyond her own wants and needs and those of her friends. I did like how she gained a great deal of maturity as she embraced motherhood. While I appreciate the amount of period detail contained in this novel, I think the pacing moved a bit slower and I am not quite sure if it was just me or if it was because there was so much content here that it slowed it down for me. Still, even though this took me a little longer to get through I really did enjoy it.
Juliet Grey does a wonderful job of crafting the world of this much maligned queen. This is the second in a trilogy and I think by time I finish the third one there will not be one thing that I don't know about Marie Antoinette. We all know the tragic end in store for Marie and Louis. I am anxiously awaiting the third book to see this author's spin on it.
The war is at an end and Margot Rosenthal, daughter to the Ambassador of Germany sent to represent the country as part of its delegation at the TreatyThe war is at an end and Margot Rosenthal, daughter to the Ambassador of Germany sent to represent the country as part of its delegation at the Treaty of Versailles, elects to accompany her father to Paris. Margot is a conflicted young woman who is uncertain of her future. Is it with Stefan, the fiance injured on the front lines that she grew up with and agreed to marry before he left? Or is it somewhere else? Margot isn't sure. All she knows is she feels stifled by her family's expectations for her. Even in Paris Margot is bored with the endless dinner parties and tired of the veiled resentments directed towards her as a German national-that is until she meets Krysia, a Polish musician who intrigues Margot. Hoping to fend off her loneliness by securing Krysia's friendship, Margot discloses some sensitive information in front of Krysia's friends which leads her to danger. Further complicating matters is handsome German Officer Georg who arrives with the German delegation. As Margot spends more time with this intelligent but troubled man her life is thrown further into confusion.
Not having read much about World War I, I was eager to pick up this book. It was not quite what I expected as it was lighter on the history since our narrator Margot is not directly involved in many of the events occurring, and heavier on the romance. The story really picks up when Margot places herself in the aforementioned sticky situation and now must decide if she will do what is necessary to extricate herself from it or keep trying to in vain to find an alternative way out of her troubles. Margot's unlikely friendship with the communist leaning Krysia was also well done. Of all the characters Georg stuck with me the most as the handsome idealist who has such great hopes for Germany even now when they have suffered such a devastating defeat. I think I had a wee bit of crush on him as I read along.
There were two problems with this book for me. The biggest one? Margot! I understand the girl is only 20 years old but for someone of her intelligence she comes off as completely clueless at times. Also in regards to her injured fiancee Stefan, she employs the avoidance tactic instead of actually dealing with her feelings. This of course means the poor guy is left hanging and is treated much worse than he deserves by the indecisive Margot. It may have been my modern girl sensibilities creeping in, but as I read along I grew increasingly frustrated with Margot and wanted to shout at her "Just make a decision already!" My second problem was that the drama in some parts of the book felt a bit exaggerated, especially in regards to Margot's unfortunate situation and the resolution of her troubles with Stefan. The latter seemed entirely too soap opera-esque to me. That being said I did like this book. I just wished it included a bit more history and a heroine that was a bit more likable.
I was unaware at the start of the book that this is a prequel to Jenoff's novel The Kommandant's Girl so if you haven't read this author yet this book would be the place to start. The edition of The Ambassador's Daughter I read was the Kindle version which included the first Chapter of The Kommandant's Girl at the end of the book. I read it and was completely sucked in so I plan on plucking it off my shelf and reading it shortly.