I think this might be the deepest of all the Austin novels. It's certainly my favorite. The author's talent for lyricism and word usage shines brightlI think this might be the deepest of all the Austin novels. It's certainly my favorite. The author's talent for lyricism and word usage shines brightly in this book, as does her understanding of love and loss, life and death. It's a story about growing up and discovering who you are, but also learning about other people and seeing them as individuals.
There's little that can be said negatively about this book. If it is seen by some as too harsh of a voyage into reality, I would counter that the Austin family is seen by all their peers to be sheltered, and if it's something they can handle, most anyone should be able to.
Madeleine L'Engle's books, and this one in particular, are so moral and meaningful that if anything they should be read more frequently (and by more people), not less. This book has a lot to teach, without being preachy (which I don't tolerate in a novel). The reader learns as the main character learns, feels joy and sadness along with her.
There are a lot of coming-of-age works out there, granted, but you could do a lot worse than this one. It has just enough of a touch of the whimsical to keep it from bearing down too heavily....more
This book doesn't seem to fit well with the other Austin family novels. I enjoy it, but only if I can let go of my expectations about an Austin book.This book doesn't seem to fit well with the other Austin family novels. I enjoy it, but only if I can let go of my expectations about an Austin book. I missed having Vicky's perspective on everything in this book; I wonder why Ms. L'Engle chose to tell the story more-or-less through Josiah Davidson's eyes. Other characters had their turn at being the protagonist for a while, which I thought was a nice touch. I really like Vicky Austin, though; she's one of my favorite characters that the author has written about.
Also, there was a touch of the unrealistic in this book. The first two Austin novels seemed pretty firmly grounded in reality, and A Ring of Endless Light does get a bit away from that, but it doesn't seem as far-fetched as The Young Unicorns.
The only other thing that bothers me at all about this is that all the things that happen in this book seem rather isolated from the rest of the series. The year in New York is only vaguely spoken about in the next book, and characters - such as Zachary Gray and Andy, Uncle Douglas and Aunt Elena, Maggy - from the previous two novels are mentioned all too briefly for my taste, or not at all.
The characters talk about being islands in this book; the book itself seems an island within the series.
Oh well. This one may not be my favorite, but I love the appearances of Canon Tallis and Mr. Theo, and I really enjoyed the introduction of Emily Gregory. Of course, as always, I have a great appreciation for Ms. L'Engle's writing style. This still gets 4 stars because it's a great book by a great author....more
i was so excited to get this from the library. i was the first one to read this copy after the library acquired it, and that always puts a little extri was so excited to get this from the library. i was the first one to read this copy after the library acquired it, and that always puts a little extra bounce in my step.
i got rather nervous here and there about isabel and jamie's relationship, which i have always rooted for. i think it's right that since she spends so much time rooting around in other people's lives and mysteries, she should have a little bit of ambiguity in her own. i enjoyed the intrigue, and i was very glad the story went in the direction it did and that i ended this book, as usual with this series, with a smile....more
While I still love the way McCall Smith writes, I love the characters in this series, and I love the setting, I didn't find this most recent installmeWhile I still love the way McCall Smith writes, I love the characters in this series, and I love the setting, I didn't find this most recent installment to be of the same caliber as the first 3 or 4.
Part of the problem is that while the main character is always pondering ethical issues (which makes sense, as she is the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, and considers herself to be a moral philosopher), things got almost a tad preachy in this book.
It seems to me that usually, it's just the character who expresses opinions on philosophy; this time, it seemed like the author was explicitly stating his own ethical beliefs, and actually went so far as to speak badly of a very well-respected philosopher (Thomas Hobbes). I am unused to that type of writing from McCall Smith; that's not what I'm looking for when I pick up one of his books.
I remain a fan of this author, but I think perhaps prolonging both this series and the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series is doing a disservice to the characters and the story lines. It begins to feel forced after a while. I would very much like it if he created a new series, with fresh characters and a change of setting. For me, that would probably renew my passion for his writing.
That being said, I continue to appreciate the intelligence and grammatical precision of Alexander McCall Smith's prose. His descriptive style always seems to hit the mark, for me - never too flowery, but never lacking. In this book as in all the others, he makes great use of sensory description, leaving you feeling cozy and satisfied, as if you had just finished a comforting meal and are pleasantly situated by a warm fire. He adds a pinch of subtle, witty humor to the mix, and always comes out with an elegantly executed novel, a truly pleasant read....more
i am loving this book so far. the main character is such an incredible person. this is such a great combination of themes of family, adventure, love,i am loving this book so far. the main character is such an incredible person. this is such a great combination of themes of family, adventure, love, and humor. i laughed particularly hard (and i'm not at all sure i was intended to, but these things happen) at one particular thing the main character said:
"I am plum fed up with all the work I have to do and it is all because of a worthless man, and any other man ever comes around me better be carrying a pistol with one more bullet than I've got or I'll have the last word."
i just adore a strong female character.
...ok, i have finished the book, and found many more things to like about it. sad things did happen, but they did not take away from my enjoyment of the book. this is about a real woman's life in a very rough time period, so i was prepared for unfortunate events. what an amazing woman, though. i think there might be a sequel to this book, and i'm going to seek it out....more
While not as fantastical as the Time Quartet, this book is much more action-packed and full of intrigue than the Austin family novels, which make up tWhile not as fantastical as the Time Quartet, this book is much more action-packed and full of intrigue than the Austin family novels, which make up the bulk of my L'Engle reading. I liked it a lot, despite that. It delves into the issues of trust and betrayal, and learning to still find goodness in mankind after having been betrayed. Someone learns something, in every Madeleine L'Engle novel, about his/herself as well as people in general... and the reader finds him/herself learning right along with that character, without it being forced or cheesy.
This book is my first experience with the O'Keefe family, and I definitely was pulled in by them enough to keep up with the rest of the series. They have a theme of kindness and acceptance similar to the Austin family, with the addition of the chaos of 7 children and a more exciting European cultural environment.
I really enjoy Ms. L'Engle's crossover characters, and I was very interested to read about Adam Eddington's experiences in Portugal that are only hinted at later on in A Ring of Endless Light (one of the Austin family books). This explained a lot about his personality for me, and I like his character even more after reading this book, which acts as a prequel for me.
I really enjoy the fact that I learn about science when I read these books. All the information and theory about regeneration was fascinating in this novel, and contributes to making this (as all the rest of her books) a well-rounded and thoroughly engrossing read....more
i did not really care for any of the characters in this novel, but that did not take away from the fact that i could NOT STOP reading it. i almost goti did not really care for any of the characters in this novel, but that did not take away from the fact that i could NOT STOP reading it. i almost got a bit tired of the unending plot twists (...and now we find out that ***, but now we find out that *****, and oh my gosh, i can't believe it, she's actually ***!!!). but like i said, almost. this author keeps me on my toes. i read tipping the velvet quite some time ago, actually after seeing the bbc version, and i really enjoyed it, but never pursued anything further. then while in a "womyn" store in provincetown, MA, i stumbled across a copy of fingersmith and decided to take it out of the library when i got home... and i read that and affinity and night watch all within a couple of weeks. i suppose i should have paced myself, since now i'm out of sarah waters books to read....more
**spoiler alert** this book really kept my interest, but i was honestly rooting for a happy ending for the main character of margaret. i appreciate a**spoiler alert** this book really kept my interest, but i was honestly rooting for a happy ending for the main character of margaret. i appreciate a good surprise in a book, which i very much got, since i actually thought that selena's character was honest and that within the context of this novel, the things that she (seemingly) believed in were real. it did not occur to me that she was a nasty little trickster just looking for a vulnerable young girl to completely screw over. and when viewed in that light, which i guess is the light that i was supposed to read it in, i find that the idea that selena's whole plan was to make this margaret fall in love with her (which she conveniently did) so that selena could manipulate her is completely unrealistic. considering the time period, how on earth could selena have expected to be able to count on yet another female with lesbian tendencies? and how could she have known that margaret was one girl with whom that would work? it seemed to me that margaret's previous 'relationship' with the character of helen, whatever that may have consisted of, was kept rather between the two of them (marg. and helen). i guess i think the whole thing was a tad bit far-fetched, and i'm not much of a fan of a story that is so completely unfriendly to its main character. ...more
This is a novel about a family whose members share their experiences with each other, who accept each each member with love, trusting each other enougThis is a novel about a family whose members share their experiences with each other, who accept each each member with love, trusting each other enough to not feel the need to hide things. We could all learn a thing or two from them.
I've read other books in the Austin family series before this one; out of order too. I love A Ring of Endless Light so much, my copy of it is literally falling apart. Recently I decided I really ought to start at the beginning. I was very glad I did. I can't get enough of these Austin folks. I would just love to step into one of the books and sit down at their dinner table for some talk about philosophy, religion, art, music, science, and life in general.
Once in a while a book comes along that talks about life and God and the way things are, and it makes you think about your own views, challenging you, without making you feel threatened or as though you're being preached at. This is very much one of those books. The characters get up on soap boxes occasionally, sometimes finding out they are wrong, and sometimes teaching each other. They all grow and learn throughout the book, parents included, and you almost feel as though you are a part of the family along the way.
Vicky Austin is probably one of my favorite heroines, possibly because she is rather modest and unassuming as heroines go. There is no sugar-coating of adolescence on the author's part - you read about the good things as well as the moody behavior, and it's all very real.
I wish I had found these books earlier in my life. This series would have been a great comfort to me during my own angst-ridden teenage years. As it was, when I did discover A Ring of Endless Light, which was my first L'Engle experience, I clutched at it and held onto it for dear life. Reading about this family remains, years later, a soothing experience that I can always turn to when the seas get a bit rough.
...So thank you, Ms. L'Engle, for the Austin family novels....more
i understand that the whole point of this book is to explore each of the characters' pasts, and not to really move forward with the plot, but i was qui understand that the whole point of this book is to explore each of the characters' pasts, and not to really move forward with the plot, but i was quite frustrated with the fact there is so much detail, and yet the author manages to leave out certain details that i felt were somewhat important to the plot and to understanding the characters fully. i can appreciate the desire to leave some loose ends, and to leave some things to the imagination. i just didn't feel i had quite enough to work with. the reverse effect of the book was interesting enough, but each time the book would skip backwards, i would read to the end of that new section, and it would not lead up to the start of the previous section in any truly satisfactory way. this caused gaps in the storyline that made me feel that this was the least cohesive of all of Waters' books, and the least enjoyable (because of the frustration). one example of this was the character of helen - she starts the book in a relationship with julia, and we learn that she was previously in a relationship with kay, and met julia through kay, and fell in love with her. we are then left to wonder how long her infidelity went on for, and how the relationship with kay ended, since we are never actually shown the end of that relationship, or the official beginning of the one with julia. it just didn't flow well, in my opinion.
i rated this book moderately well simply because the author writes in such a way that i feel compelled to keep reading to see what she has coming next. she is one of the only authors who manages to create plot twists that i honestly do not expect or even suspect a lot of the time. so even though i was disappointed with the plot as a whole, i was very involved in the book right up to the end....more
i read this and the next one in the series, and while they were mildly humorous, they were quite unimpressive compared to the author's other books. eai read this and the next one in the series, and while they were mildly humorous, they were quite unimpressive compared to the author's other books. each series i read of his i loved except for these. there's probably something i just didn't get about them, which is fine with me; i'd rather think that than believe alexander mccall smith could ever write something that wasn't genius. :)...more