I loved this story! Pure, dark, brooding, Russia with moments of transcendent light. That said, I could never really understand why Anna was so in lov...moreI loved this story! Pure, dark, brooding, Russia with moments of transcendent light. That said, I could never really understand why Anna was so in love with Vronski, was it simply a matter of comparison between Vronski and her husband, or was there more to it? Was it just boredom?
It wasn't Anna's story I loved, but the juxtaposition it created with Kitty and Kostya's relationship. Kitty and Kostya had a rocky beginning, but in the end they became a happy couple. Anna and Vronski's relationship began as, if not happy then at least exciting, and ended in tragedy. It is Kitty and Kostya's sections of the book that illuminate the text.(less)
Book Review: The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomon
Confession: I was in one of my favorite bookstores, Denver’s The Tattered Cover (AKA: A piece of...moreBook Review: The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomon
Confession: I was in one of my favorite bookstores, Denver’s The Tattered Cover (AKA: A piece of heaven!). One of the things that I like about the Tattered Cover is that it always has interesting displays that pique my interest—even if the display is on a subject that is not usually of interest to me. So, when I saw the display of books that said, “If you loved Downton Abbey, you’ll love these” (or something like that), I was there. I loved Downton Abbey, despite the fact that my brother and sister-in-law accuse it of being boring. That doesn’t hurt me. My brother rarely likes what he calls “good books." His denigration actually makes me want to read or watch something more than I otherwise would have. Maybe I’m just contrary. Probably. Anyway, I was ready to devour Natasha Solomon’s novel about a Jewish girl from the Austrian bourgeoisie set who takes a job as a maid in 1938. She makes her way across the sea to a remote part of England and tries to make herself at home in the “downstairs” section of an English country manor. She finds this difficult, having ordered around servants herself at one time. I don’t want to give away too many details, but I did enjoy this world. It literally portrays the fall of the minor English aristocracy. The book is full of dark shadows, juxtaposed with the last pulse of light from an era that has been slowly expiring for the last three decades. I love Solomon’s characters. Elise is likable, even when she pouts. Kit is intense in his boyish playfulness, but has an unwavering dedication to duty. The Landaus were the most interesting couple of the story; she an opera singer, he a novelist. I would have liked to have spent more time with them in Austria. I liked the novel very much, but for me it was not like “Downton Abbey." If I were to compare this to a novel, I would say that in some ways, it reminded me of Daphne DuMaurier’s “Rebecca," but only nominally. This is not a mystery, but it is a memoir; both books open with a dream of a grand old manor. There is not that strict delineation between aristocracy and the house that is usually seen. Not because of the way they relate to each other, but because of the way Solomon tells her story. This is a grand house, but even in the beginning, the staff seems very small. The story focuses on just three people, and the thing that I liked about "Downton Abbey" is the nature of it ensemble cast. That said, I would recommend this story to anyone interested in the beginning of WWII and the plight of the Jewish refugees at that time. The story took me in and wrapped around me. The families surrounded me and I became a part of them. Solomon’s talent in doing that is tremendous indeed.(less)
Wonderfully-written and inspiring. It really helped me to think "outside of the box" and think of my career in different ways. I am still working as a...moreWonderfully-written and inspiring. It really helped me to think "outside of the box" and think of my career in different ways. I am still working as a traditional librarian, but Dority's book is helping me to make my position more innovative. I highly recommend it. I've read it twice now and noticed things I really didn't the first time.(less)
I loved this book! As a medieval historian, I thought the take on this moment in history was superb, but also laugh-out-loud funny--like a marriage of...moreI loved this book! As a medieval historian, I thought the take on this moment in history was superb, but also laugh-out-loud funny--like a marriage of Eugen Weber with Monty Python. Galland's character development is wonderful! While the events highlighted in the story present the sometimes tragic stupidity or western thought (and the voracious hunger for western power), the story remains hopeful and optimistic. I will definitely be recommending this to friends and library patrons!(less)
I was delighted with Nicole Galland's take on Jean Renart's thirteenth-century poem. She blended the story into an engaging novel with well-developed...moreI was delighted with Nicole Galland's take on Jean Renart's thirteenth-century poem. She blended the story into an engaging novel with well-developed characters and a plot-line that made it hard for me to put the book down. For those of us who are familiar with the original, the charmingly sarcastic Lienor is still there, and so is the gorgeous Willliam of Dole. Jouglet is there too; only this time, the author lets him stay through the entire story. In fact, it is through the court minstrel's eyes that the reader is introduced to almost all of the characters. Galland did not just rewrite the original story in modern language. She added a few plot twists of her own. Those whom Renart dismissed with a snap of his fingers or wave of his hand, Galland turns into very sympathetic characters. Even those who spent a lot of time with the original will be surprised and delighted by the turn of events, as well as pleased by this picture of medieval life. You will love the story and it will haunt you for days after you have read the last page (with a smile on your face)!(less)
When I heard about Margot Livesey’s new book, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, on Library Journal’s Book Buzz I could hardly contain myself. Harper Publishe...moreWhen I heard about Margot Livesey’s new book, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, on Library Journal’s Book Buzz I could hardly contain myself. Harper Publishers billed it as a modern retelling of Jane Eyre. I am a Charlotte Bronte addict. She is one of my favorite writers, surpassed by only a few. I have had the internal debate about Edward Rochester so many times that I cannot say for sure whether he is a hero, a would-be villain, or both. The passion and intensity between Edward Fairfax Rochester and his reticent governess, however, cannot be denied. I hoped for the same from Gemma and her employer, Mr. Sinclair. Although there are some similarities between the stories, I do not think Ms. Livesey’s book was actually helped by the comparison. Gemma’s story does have some mystery, but it is not gothic. There is never a hint that there is danger roaming about. The narrative never generates a feeling of ominous anticipation. I kept turning the pages in the hope that my craving for intensity would be satisfied. I kept wondering where it was. I liked Gemma and I liked Mr. Sinclair. She overcame hardship and propelled herself to a better position in life as Jane did. Mr. Sinclair was always kind. He was very likeable. I don’t know why this is a bad thing, except that Rochester was not always kind. He was brusque, rude and temperamental one moment and kind, perceptive and charming the next. He took Jane on an emotional roller-coaster that was constantly threatening to soar when in reality it was taking a plunge. There was none of this emotional uncertainty between Mr. Sinclair and the young Miss Hardy. Mr. Sinclair did have a secret, and when Emma learned it, she fled. But I was not convinced that her flight was actually necessary. It seemed born of petulance more than of moral necessity.
I did enjoy the book. The section prior to Emma going to school is wonderful. I love the relationship that develops between Emma and her uncle. Her experience at the school is interesting as well--the characters here are engaging and for the most part, more complete than those that Bronte sketched. I also loved the exploration of Emma's parents' histories. Margot Livesey's writing is impeccable as always, but I think the constant comparison to Jane Eyre tainted my enjoyment of it and made it seem lackluster. In my opinion, the relationships here cannot be compared to those in Bronte's novel. Even the relationships Emma forms after leaving Blackbird Hall are not as intense (that is the only word that will fit!) as the connections she makes to her cousins; and St. John Rivers would have looked really good compared to the corresponding character in the modern novel. I would have taken more pleasure in it had it stood on its own merit—except for Gemma’s flight itself; in her flight, she becomes exactly what it is she is fleeing from. Perhaps that happens with most, if not all, idealists.(less)
This is a book written for young adults and, as I do with so many books in this genre, I got sucked right in. The characterizations were vivid, the wr...moreThis is a book written for young adults and, as I do with so many books in this genre, I got sucked right in. The characterizations were vivid, the writing interesting and sometimes surprising and the plot was mostly unexpected. (less)
Another top-notch novel in Anne Perry's William Monk series. This time, things have changed between some of the major characters, so the interest in t...moreAnother top-notch novel in Anne Perry's William Monk series. This time, things have changed between some of the major characters, so the interest in the story goes up for me even more. The question is, will the quest for truth and justice prevail, or will that change to an unbending adherence to family loyalty? There were times when the dilemmas that Oliver Rathbone faces made my stomach drop to the floor. I cannot wait to read the next one to see how the shift in dynamics will continue to influence these characters that I have come to love. I've decided that Hester Latterly Monk is a wonderful role model, even if she is at times awkward and too outspoken (or maybe she is so wonderful because she is awkward and outspoken!).(less)
I just finished reading this book and the one it follows--and I will read more about Anita Blake's adventures. This is a book I'm glad to borrow from...moreI just finished reading this book and the one it follows--and I will read more about Anita Blake's adventures. This is a book I'm glad to borrow from the library, or borrow. I am not enthusiastic enough to buy them for myself--yet. I like Anita Blake. I like her hard-as-nails-but-admits-she's-afraid attitude. Her comments are continually and consistently funny. And, Jean-Claude? A charmer. I do have to say that I enjoy the Southern Vampire mysteries more. Not only are the "main" characters intriguing, but the town is interesting too. Perhaps I just haven't read these long enough, but there seems to be a greater sense of community in Harris' books that is somewhat lacking here. I don't know why that should be important in a genre like this, but it is.
In this book, I enjoyed the exchanges with the Master Vampire more than in the first book. I guess his character was more filled out here. For all of his vampiric danger, the fact that Anita amuses Jean-Claude and makes him laugh (when he least expects it) endears him to me. I've resisted reading these for a long time. I haven't wanted to admit that I like "vampire" books, but who am I kidding?! They are a "guilty pleasure" (ha ha), as long as there is some humor with the gore. I'm still a bit baffled that I can find this genre such a treat, but even a Gaskell purist can't read British social novels all the time! (less)
I really enjoyed this book, though it turned out to be different from what I thought it would be. There are some wonderful images and Lahiri really is...moreI really enjoyed this book, though it turned out to be different from what I thought it would be. There are some wonderful images and Lahiri really is a craftswoman with words. I highly recommend it.(less)
This is definitely a classic. The imagery and structure that Dante and Ciardi convey is breath-taking. The poem is bitingly witty and sometimes even m...moreThis is definitely a classic. The imagery and structure that Dante and Ciardi convey is breath-taking. The poem is bitingly witty and sometimes even morbidly funny and ironic. Wonderful. Beautiful. Intense. Frightening!(less)