Everyday Tidbits...

"I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." - Anne Shirley

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mr. Darcy's Diary...Review

About the book:
Torn between his sense of duty to his family name and his growing passion for Elizabeth Bennet, all he can do is struggle not to fall in love.

Mr. Darcy's Diary presents the story of the unlikely courtship of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Darcy's point of view. This graceful imagining and sequel to Price and Prejudice explains Darcy's moodiness and the difficulties of his reluctant relationship as he struggles to avoid falling in love with Miss Bennet. Though seemingly stiff and stubborn at times, Darcy's words prove him also to be quite devoted and endearing - qualities that eventually win over Miss Bennet's heart. This continuation of a classic romantic novel is charming and elegant, much like Darcy himself.

I liked it. And, I'm quite surprised that I liked it. It is an entertaining, creative interpretation of Mr. Darcy.

I found the author's take on Darcy interesting, as it is basically the back story of Pride and Prejudice told from Darcy's viewpoint as he records experiences in his diary. I thought that the author did a credible job of exploring Darcy's thoughts and explaining the reasoning behind many of his decisions and interactions.

I'm a purist and I don't think that sequels to Pride and Prejudice need be attempted. I have yet to find one that is truly worth my time, but this was a light, entertaining diversion.

Read 11/07

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Kathy Little Bird...Review

About the book:
From her Cree mother, Kathy Little Bird has heard stories of her grandmother, Mrs. Mike. She has also learned to sing in the Cree tradition. It is a talent that will serve her well-and soothe her shattered soul-when she becomes a famous country music singer in the 1970s.

The third sequel to Mrs. Mike. It was good. It wasn't as good as The Search for Joyful. It's one of those books that you can't quite put your finger on. Is it good? Is it not good?

It follows the story of Kathy, the granddaughter of Oh Be Joyful who was Mrs. Mike's best friend in the novel, Mrs. Mike. Kathy Little Bird has heard stories of her grandmother, Mrs. Mike from her mother, Kathy Fourquet, who was raised by Mrs. Mike. She has also learned to sing in the Cree tradition. It is a talent that will serve her well-and soothe her shattered soul-when she becomes a famous country music singer in the 1970s. It is not a happy book. It's a thought-provoking novel that leaves you thinking.

Read 5/07

The Search for Joyful...Review

About the book:
When her dear friend O Be Joyful died in a flu epidemic, Mrs. Mike Flannigan opened her home--and her heart--to her orphaned child, Kathy Forquet. But as the terrors of World War II drew closer, Kathy decided to leave this familiar home to do her part and become a nurse. Out in the world, her life fills with drama and excitement as she meets two very different men. And as she learns about herself and the world beyond her hometown, she searches for the elusive prize she has sought for so long: the meaning of true joy...

I liked it. I absolutely loved the novel Mrs. Mike, which I first read as a young girl. When I discovered that there was a sequel, I was delighted. I didn't love this book as much as I loved Mrs. Mike, but it was a moving portrayal of a difficult time in the world, and a young woman's experiences made even more difficult because of her Indian ancestry. If you're familiar with Mrs. Mike, I think you'll enjoy this as well.

Read 5/07

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Austenland...Review

About the book:
Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It's all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

I loved it! Absolutely a delightful, easy read. I needed something light, because the last three books I read were on the heavy side! So, I read this book in an evening.

The premise is fun: a thirty-something single woman with an obsession with Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy. (Well, I'm a 40-something married woman who loves Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy!) Jane receives an vacation to an English estate modeled after Austen's world. The guests all take on personas similar to her characters and live their lives as if in 1816 England. It's a cute idea.

The author doesn't make any attempt to write like Jane Austen. Neither does she make pretenses for this being a sequel. I have yet to find any attempted Pride and Prejudice sequel that is worth my time.

Austenland is a delightful book, and definitely worth the couple of hours it took to read.

Read 11/07

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gilead...Review

About the book:
In 1956, toward the end of Reverend John Ames's life, he begins a letter to his young son, a kind of last testament to his remarkable forebears. Reverend Ames writes to his son about the tension between his father - an ardent pacifist - and his grandfather who came west to Kansas to fight for abolition and 'preached men into the Civil War'. And he tells the story of the sacred bonds between fathers and sons, which are tested in his tender and strained relationship with his namesake, John Ames Boughton, his best friends wayward son. This is also the tale of a remarkable vision of life as a wonderously strange creation. It tells how wisdom was forged in Ames's soul during his solitary life and how history lives through generations.

I really enjoyed it. I was surprised that I did, because I hated her novel, Housekeeping. The story in Gilead was far more interesting to me. It is a narration of a man's life, given from his perspective: John Ames is an elderly parent of a young child, as well as a preacher ,who writes out his life's story for his young son. His conversational tone is pleasant and easy to read. His insights are simple, yet profound and his natural use of scripture to further a point or add to a passage is a bonus.

Robinson's novels are not fast reads, but require time and patience. I find that frustrating, as I tend to read quickly. But, her prose is beautiful, and I definitely recommend Gilead.

Read 11/07

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Year of Wonders...Review

About the book:
When an infected bolt of cloth carries plague from London to an isolated mountain village, a housemaid named Anna Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer. Through Anna's eyes, we follow the story of the plague year, 1666, as her fellow villagers make an extraordinary choice. Convinced by a visionary young minister, they elect to quarantine themselves within the village boundaries to arrest the spread of the disease. But as death reaches into every household, faith frays. When villagers turn from prayers and herbal cures to sorcery and murderous witch-hunting, Anna must confront the deaths of family, the disintegration of her community, and the lure of a dangerous and illicit love. As she struggles to survive, a year of plague becomes, instead, annus mirabilis, a "year of wonders." Inspired by the true story of Eyam, a village in the rugged mountain spine of England. Year of Wonders is a detailed evocation of a singular moment in history.

Terrific. I couldn't put it down. It's a fictionalized story based on a true experience of a small town in England that was decimated by the plague in 1666. Rather than spread the disease, most of the townspeople decided to stay and quarantine themselves.

Riveting and engrossing. I loved the narrator, Anna. I loved how she learned about herbs and natural healing to try and stem the tide of disease. In many ways it was ignorance that killed so many people: they didn't understand the need to wash their hands or bedding and clothes and even burn things that could be contaminated. When they finally do these things, the crisis abates.

A wonderful exploration of the time and the people.

Read 11/07

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Housekeeping...Review

About the book:
A modern classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, their eccentric and remote aunt. The family house is in the small Far West town of Fingerbone set on a glacial lake, the same lake where their grandfather died in a spectacular train wreck, and their mother drove off a cliff to her death. It is a town "chastened by an outsized landscape and extravagant weather, and chastened again by an awareness that the whole of human history had occurred elsewhere." Ruth and Lucille's struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transience.

I am in the minority. It's a well crafted story with beautiful prose. She writes very descriptively.

I just didn't like the story itself and couldn't wait for it to be finished. I kept wondering what the point of the story even was. Yes, I know it's about family and life and coming of age, loss and survival and the dangerous pull of transience. It just didn't interest me.

I didn't like it, but I'm sure many others have and will.

Read 11/07

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Frankenstein...Review

About the book:
The epic battle between man and monster reaches its greatest pitch in the famous story of Frankenstein. In trying to create life, the young student Victor Frankenstein unleashes forces beyond his control, setting into motion a long and tragic chain of events that brings Victor himself to the very brink. How he tries to destroy his creation, as it destroys everything Victor loves, is a powerful story of love, friendship …and horror.

Honestly, I found more empathy for the "creature" than for Victor Frankenstein. Yes, he's truly terrifying, but was he created that way or did he become that way because of his circumstance and situation? Did Frankenstein simply fear him and was that why he regretted creating him? Or did he regret creating him at all?Frankenstein abandons the creature as soon as he's brought to life. As the creature wanders, he teaches himself to read and to speak and learns all about life and it's complexities. He understands that people abhor him, but he wants to be loved and to be able to show love. He tracks down Dr. Frankenstein and asks for a companion. Frankenstein complies at first and then destroys the new creature.

It's an incredibly complex book, but a great psychological study in addition to a novel. It explores the feeling and consequences of abandonment very well. Not for children, but certainly an interesting novel for adults.

Read 11/07

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Monk Upstairs...Review

About the book:
When Rebecca Martin finds the love of her life, it's finally time to cross off one giant task from life's to-do list. But not so fast. The wedding is a minor disaster, the honeymoon doesn't get much better, and then the biggest shock of all—living together as monk and wife.

Rebecca couldn't help falling in love with a monk, but that doesn't make it any easier. Mike is up before the sun, meditates every morning in bed, hates socializing (not to mention all varieties of small talk), and last but not least has a rich inner life with which she can't compete. When God is essentially the other women, all bets are off. What has she gotten herself into?

Returning with the same cast of characters that made The Monk Downstairs a New York Times Notable Book and a two-time BookSense top-ten pick, The Monk Upstairs is a page-turning love story that pulls back the curtain on fairy-tale romance to reveal what really happens when two people from very different walks of life fall in love, get married, and live under the same roof.

A story about a monk who leaves the order and gets married. It was ok. A quick read. I had it finished in about an hour and a half. Not bad, not great. Some insights into the catholic world of monks. It's a sequel to The Monk Downstairs which I haven't read, but don't plan to.

Can't say I recommend it.

Read 11/07

Heartbreak Town: A Novel...Review

About the book:
Lucy Hatch is a homegrown, red-dirt, East Texas girl, not at all suited for the fast life her husband was living in Nashville. Now she’s back in the small town of Mooney, working at Faye’s Flower Shop, and raising her young son with help from family and friends. Her life has finally stopped resembling a Hank Williams song . . . until she wakes up one morning to find a shiny white pickup parked in her yard. The worn-out cowboy boots sticking out the window tell her that the man sleeping inside is her husband: Ash Farrell’s back in town.

Now Mooney’s favorite son is making promises, vowing to change, and wreaking havoc on the peace Lucy’s worked so hard to find. She wants to believe that her handsome husband is serious about straightening up, but can a charmer like Ash really change?

Marsha Moyer brings colorful storytelling, a wonderful sense of humor, and an undeniable Southern flavor to Heartbreak Town, a novel of small-town life, big-time success, and a once-in-a-lifetime love worth fighting for after all.

A novel of small-town life, big-time success, and a once-in-a-lifetime love worth fighting for after all.

It was ok. Not bad, not great. An entertaining read. Classic small town situations and thinking. I don't not recommend it!

Read 11/07