Decent, if not groundbreaking. Occasionally stilted and weighed down with expositionary dialogue, but nonetheless an engaging read and look at the lifDecent, if not groundbreaking. Occasionally stilted and weighed down with expositionary dialogue, but nonetheless an engaging read and look at the life of one of France's most infamous Queens. Though Madame Serpent was definitely not the best Jean Plaidy novel I have ever read, I can say I enjoyed it - for the most part - and that it was worth the $10 for the ebook....more
I usually immediately launch myself into a Dunant novel and am immersed until I have finished. This book was the first one to break the pattern. UnlikI usually immediately launch myself into a Dunant novel and am immersed until I have finished. This book was the first one to break the pattern. Unlike The Birth of Venus or In the Company of the Courtesan, Sacred Hearts started out fairly slow and fairly boring, sad as it is to say. However, I stuck it out because even when the subject wasn't my favorite, I cannot help but enjoy the way she writes. So the writing, if not the plot itself kept my interest just long enough for me to be completely enthralled by the story. Building slowly, the reader finds themself in a colorful world, awash with political maneuvering, young love, and defiance and independence on different and individual terms. Yes, it's a slow starter, but after a while I found the pages flying by and me desperate to know how everything was going to end. Dunant's strengths are her writing, and her descriptions of Renaissance Italy. Her protagonists were different and intriguing women, that despite initial antipathy quickly grew into well-developed, intelligent, fun to read characters. I am very happy I read the entire novel and realized how lovely it was. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
Good, but could use some editing. As Renae pointed out, the vocabulary is anachronistic and once you notice that, it's hard to not to see it. Still, IGood, but could use some editing. As Renae pointed out, the vocabulary is anachronistic and once you notice that, it's hard to not to see it. Still, I enjoyed it, and plan to read the sequels....more
From the initial sentence of, "His gondola slips through the water like a knife cutting intRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
3.5 out of 5
From the initial sentence of, "His gondola slips through the water like a knife cutting into dark silk," I knew I was in for an atmospheric historical read. I love when settings are strong, vivid and alive almost (see: Constantinople in Theodora: Empress. Actress. Whore; Prague in Daughter of Smoke and Bone; Prague again in The Book Of Blood And Shadow, etc.) and my hopes were set high for Venice and for Cross My Heart itself. The cover is pretty apt for the novel as well: showing both the light and dark sides to the fabled Italian city and foretelling a dangerous future for our intrepid heroine. Laura della Scala's tale didn't enrapture me as much as I'd anticipated from the eerie first sentence but instead grew on me slowly, involving me more and more as each chapter drew to a suspenseful close. A slow-burner rather than an instantly engrossing read, Cross My Heart should definitely be given the benefit of the doubt and read to the end.
Laura, a likeable if not totally remarkable teenage protagonist, was consigned to a convent at an early age. With an older sister to marry off ("through nothing but an accident of birth, she remains free, while I languish") and a spendthrift father Laura is nothing but a burden on her family. So once thrust from the convent, Laura is generally and genuinely unlike most girls her age of Venice: she is sheltered, naive and trusting - that is to say weak in a city of sharks above water. Laura's subsequent enrollment into the secret society of La Segreta exposes her to dark elements in her own hometown she never suspected. Going from under the thumb of the dictator-esque Abbess to the supervision of her father, Laura is never the one making the decisions about her own life: a situation many teens reading this will find easy to relate with and similar to their own modern-day lives. With that act of quiet rebellion that is simultaneously the first time Laura chooses something for herself, Laura eventually realizes she has only exchanged the convent's reins for her father's and her father's for the mysterious women in the society. There was only ever an illusion of control once she joined them, and Laura's life gets unpredictable and dark in the streets and canals of Venice.
The style of writing is elegant and feels entirely natural. I enjoyed Sasha Gould's consistently smooth writing and simple but steady style. Her style lends itself well to the tone of the book as well as to the city of Venice itself. I did wish for more detail and life from Venice the city; I loved what was there but I just wanted for more about the city and less about the colorful pageantry and parade of the noble class and their balls. There were several side plotlines threaded in with the mystery of Laura's sister's death that seemed slightly generic and fully predictable. The teenage romance with the painter, the "reveal" . . even the decades-long feud that was ended with a whimper... all seemed slightly underdeveloped. What kept me going and interested was Venice itself, as well as the original mystery of what happened to Beatrice and why she was murdered. That compelling plotline was pulled off marvelously well: I was genuinely fooled by many a red herring placed by Laura's suspicions/the author and the eventual villain surprised and delighted me with what it meant for the storyline. In a slowly paced novel, I just wished it had felt less rushed at the conclusion and more in pace with the meat of the story.
Ms. Gould's keen eye for setting and atmosphere provide an excellent - and darkly alluring - setting for a murder-mystery with a splash of teenage romance. Though it was not a perfect outing and better than my first impressions lead me to believe, Cross My Heart ended with me keen on getting my hands on the as-yet-unnamed sequel set in the same beautiful and deadly city. Keep an eye out for this one later in the year: it's scheduled to hit the shelves March 13, 2012. ...more