Friday, November 30, 2007


It's taking me a while but I'm making my way through the challenge. Up next Chocolat...

Vianne Rocher arrives in the small French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes on the first day of Lent in Joanne Harris's novel Chocolat. As the title suggests, chocolate is Vianne's business, or more appropriately, magic. In a matter of days, with the help of her daughter Anouk, she transforms an abandoned bakery into the decadent La Celeste Praline chocolate shop. Vianne watches her potential customers on their way to church, right next door, and slowly entices them into her shop and away from their Lenten fast.

Watching her is the priest Francis Reynaud. He sees Vianne as a usurper of the church, a pagan, and probably a witch. Where Reyaund belittles the problems of his flock, Vianne listens with an open heart. In a short time, Vianne wins over the people with her warmth while Reyaund never really fit in to begin. He disapproves of even the simple pleasure of good chocolate. When Vianne plans a chocolate festival on Easter Sunday, Reynaud views it as a battle for the souls of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes.

Chocolat wasn't a bad little book. The prose was lovely and the thought of all that chocolate...slurp...sorry, drooling. However, it was a little over the top. Reyaund was just so evil, it was almost silly. He is a caricature: Vianne's Black Man brought to life. I guess I should keep in mind that this is a modern fairy tale with Vianne as the Good Witch and that every fairy tale needs a dastardly villain.

Vianne herself was the least interesting character for me. She's nice, she makes chocolate, she had a hard childhood. Josephine, Armande, Guillaume, Roux, although secondary characters were lively, complex characters with odd quirks that made them fun to read about. I did enjoy reading this. It was a fun diversion.

I think I have a lot in common with Chasida and Margo. I loves me some chocolate. I wish I had La Celeste Praline near me.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

On a stormy winter night a young woman gives birth to twins, her doctor husband just happened to be the one to deliver his children and when he saw that one of the babies (the girl) had Down's Syndrome he tells his secretary to put the child in an institution. He tells his wife the baby died.

The secretary (who is secretly in love with the doctor) can't stand the idea of the baby in a place like that, so she keeps the child and raises her on her own.

Those two decisions (the doctor's and the secretary's) have long lasting implications for everyone involved and we follow their lives to their inevitable conclusions.

This was a pretty fair novel, with an original story, but the prose isn't going to light any fires. The best that can be said is that it is very readable.

I was a little disappointed that the most compelling relationship in the book didn't even start until near the end of the book and was only given 4 or 5 pages. No fair.

My good friend 3M chose this for the Something About Me Challenge because it takes place in an area of Kentucky where she used to live and like the male twin, she found out later in life that she had a sister she didn't know about. I can see why this book would so appealing to her (especially the relationship I mentioned in the last part of the book, I'd imagine). You could do worse than to read this book.

I am the Messenger

I chose to read I am the Messenger (357 pgs, Knopf) by Markus Zusak for a couple of reasons. I picked it for the "Something About Me" Challenge. It was on Jill's list. I had already read The Book Thief by Zuzak and I loved it. And finally....I liked the name!

Ed Kennedy is a nineteen-year-old cabdriver. He is a self-proclaimed screw-up. He didn't try hard in school, never went to the University, and only took a job cab-driving because it was easy. He spends all the rest of his time with his extremely smelly 17-year-old dog, The Doorman, or playing cards with Richie, Merv and Audrey -- his best friends and comrades in doing just enough to get by. But all of that changes one day.

The four friends had stopped at the bank before going home, and were caught up in the middle of a robbery. After a really inept attempt, the robber tried to flee the scene, and Ed chased after him. He held him until the cops arrived and was thus labeled the local "hero", a title that was rather unusual to Ed. He wasn't used to the attention. And then it happened. He received a card in the mail. Not just any card, but the Ace of Diamonds. There was nothing on the card, but 3 addresses, with a different time next to each. But what did it mean? What was he supposed to do?

Ed didn't have a clue what to do, but Audrey felt that he was chosen for something special because of the robbery. So late one night he arrived at the first address, only to find a very scared wife and daughter that had to endure the torture of a drunken man each night. Ed knew in his heart it was up to him to rescue them, but he wasn't a hero. In fact, he was rather a coward. Would he be able to find the courage to tackle each assignment as it came along? Could he deliver the "messages" that needed to be sent?

To be honest, I knew absolutely nothing about this book when I decided to read it. But I liked The Book Thief, and thought I would give it a try. It turned out to be a very special that touched me very deeply. Have you ever had a book weave it's way into you soul? Deeply, like there was spot there waiting just for that book?? Well, I am the Messenger was the book that did it for me. Ed Kennedy was a wonderfully flawed character. He knew his weaknesses, and was afraid to actually do anything that might disrupt the sameness of his life. Page after page the story builds, and Ed evolves into someone new.

Usually, we walk around constantly believing ourselves. "I'm okay," we say. "I'm all right." But sometimes the truth arrives on you, and you can't get it off. That's when you realize that sometimes it isn't even an answer -- it's a question. Even now, I wonder how much of my life is convinced."

I can understand this. I can relate to this. I FEEL this sometimes. I really loved this book. The absolutely only thing that kept this a 5-star review was the ending. I thought it was rather rushed, and tied up a little too neatly. The entire premise of the book is a little unbelievable. But it made me WANT to believe that one person really can change the world. 4.5/5

Thanks for choosing this book Jill!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Man With a Beautiful Voice

by Lillian B Rubin, Ph. D.

this is my fourth read for the something about me challenge. i really enjoyed this book. lillian is a therapist. the first chapter she describes in depth the practice of therapy, what it's based on, what they teach, what they don't teach. she also describes what it was like once she officially had her license and had her first appointment. i was right there with her feeling her anxiety and trepidation and self-doubt. the following six chapters are separate accounts of specific patients. i really liked the way she described the journey she took with each one. you know how it started, where they went and how it ended. there was resolution and follow-up. i always want to know what happens after.

i want to eventually become a therapist. i really appreciated her struggles and her honesty. it made me think a lot and wonder a lot. what will my experiences be? will i be able to trust my intuition?

all in all it was a great book. if you want to know what it's like on the other side of the couch then this is a must-read.

lisa picked this book because she's a psychotherapist. i wonder, lisa, if you had similar experiences starting out that lillian describes?

JMC's Wrap-up (unless I manage to eke out a couple more reviews)

The "Something About Me" reading challenge is wrapping up now, and I obviously committed to reading MANY more books than I am going to be able to finish. My original list of the books I wanted to read is here, though I did add I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak to it later. Unfortunately, it is becoming fairly obvious that unless I figure out a way to halt the world around me while I do nothing but read the books that I have yet to complete for the challenge, I am not going to be able to read everything that I had hoped to read. I have read Oh My Goth by Gena Showalter, and will be posting a review soon. I hope to get one or two more read and briefly reviewed this week, but don't hold your breath.

I do intend to read all the books that I selected. I have all but two of them sitting on my dresser. No one has these two listed on Bookmooch and my local library does not have them. They are The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes, suggested by Christina, and Papa Married a Mormon by John D. Fitzgerald, suggested by Suey. They will remain on my Bookmooch wishlist, until I break down and just order them, as I really do want to read them at some point.

The ones I did manage to read up to today:
From Bonnie's list: Booked to Die by John Dunning

From Twiga's list: The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers

From Chasida's list: Good Grief by Lolly Winston

From Dewey's list: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

From Jill(mrstreme)'s list: Christ the Lord by Anne Rice

From Booklogged's list: From the Corner of His Eye by Dean Koontz

From Vasilly's list: East of Eden by John Steinbeck

From alisonwonderland's list: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

From Becky's list: Ender's Game (Ender, Book 1) by Orson Scott Card

From Stephanie's list: Oh My Goth by Gena Showalter

From Sarah Miller's list: The Giver by Lois Lowry

My favorite of these is The Time Traveler's Wife, no question.

This was a great idea for a challenge, and I loved getting all these suggestions of reading material. I read and enjoyed several books that I wouldn't have normally read. So thank you for expanding my horizons via my reading list!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sea Glass - Anita Shreve: Trish's review

Title: Sea Glass
Author: Anita Shreve
Pages: 376
Rating: 4.25/5

This is my fourth Shreve book and my favorite so far (coming in second is The Weight of Water). I picked this up at a booksale and read it for Something About Me - based on Library Lady and Beachreader's selections--thanks ladies!!

Anyway, this book is about a number of characters who are drastically different from one another but manage to come together for a common cause. The book takes place during 1929-1930--the first difference from the other books I've read which are more contemporary--and follows each of the main characters instead of a select two or so--which is also different. Among the characters there is Honora, the naive young wife of Sexton who is not always entirely honest. McDermott, a lower class factory worker who takes in the young Alphonse under his wing. And Vivian, an upperclass socialite who gets mixed in with the others at first just for something to do.

The rest of the review is on my blog: HERE The only book left on my list is Pride and Prejudice!!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

From the Corner of His Eye

I read From the Corner of His Eye by Dean Koontz for the "Something About Me" reading challenge. It's the story of a boy who can stay dry in the rain by walking where the rain isn't, a man who can toss quarters into other worlds, a girl who can see all the ways things are, a narcissistic killer who suffers terrible physical ailments when he kills, and the ways in which their lives intersect.

I found this novel to be quite interesting and I enjoyed reading it, though I did miss the dry wit found in many of the characters in Koontz's other works, most notably (for me, who hasn't read ALL of Koontz's work) the Odd Thomas trilogy. While the wit and non sequiturs are absent, the novel makes up for it with many diverse characters. In addition to the main characters mentioned above, there are twin brothers obsessed with disasters, one with natural disasters and one with man-made; the twins' sister, also the dry-in-the-rain boy's mother, the amazingly generous pie-lady; a pharmacist who takes to constant walking once his beloved polio-stricken wife dies; the Baptist minister, whose sermon about "This Momentous Day" serves as a common thread throughout the various stories, and his wife and daughters; the doctor who delivers the girl who sees all the ways things are, who had lost his wife and twin sons; Maria, a seamstress from Mexico; a piano-playing landlord-from-hell; a private investigator with perfect teeth; and a lawyer with morals.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There were a few places where I felt like things may have dragged a bit, where I felt like, "come on already, bring these stories together," but I'm glad that I read it. Koontz has a perspective on good and evil that resonates. The novel makes one think about the ways in which each decision, regardless of its seeming import, a person makes can affect his/her life and the lives of many, or even all, others.

I chose this book from Booklogged's list. She said that Koontz is one of her "chocolate" authors. I can definitely relate; I have a TON of "chocolate" authors myself.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

i finished the seventh of my picks for this challenge last week, and i've posted a general review of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn on my book blog. i can't believe that i never read this book before. it was delightful!

i selected this one from Becky's list. she had only discovered it about six months before this challenge started, but she picked it because she identified with the main character Francie. this is a quote from the book that Becky included in her post - and it's worth repeating here, i think, as many of us book lovers can probably relate:

From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood. There was poetry for quiet companionship. There was adventure when she tired of quiet hours. There would be love stories when she came into adolescence and when she wanted to feel a closeness to someone she could read a biography. On that day when she first knew she could read, she made a vow to read one book a day as long as she lived.

Anne of Green Gables

By L. M. Montgomery. I missed on reading this Canadian classic when I was kid. I really wish I had. It was a bit slow at first, and I wasn't sure I had warmed to Anne, but I think she won me early on. I liked all the characters in this book. The dialogue was clever and observant, and while loquacious at times, Anne is such a great character. I love her curiosity, kindness, ambition, and dreaminess because I can be quite similar, and her love of the outdoors and of Green Gables. From the get-go, I really loved the characters of Marilla and Matthew. The book is also very Canadian in my humble opinion. Montgomery seems to really know her characters and their quirks. It's no wonder this book is a classic. I really enjoyed the simple life of Anne at Green Gables. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Crossposted from my blog aquatique,net

Many people picked this for their list: Gracie, Trish, Ennavic, and Tiny Librarian. Thanks for the push to read this.

East of Eden

So finally, after a long long time of no book reviews, I am getting around to writing one for the "Something About Me" reading challenge. I still have a bunch to do, so I've got to get crackin.' I finished reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck over a month ago, but being the huge procrastinator I am, I am just now getting around to the review. I decided to read this book for the challenge because I don't normally read classics just for the heck of it, but I always feel that I should read them. So basically, I need a reason. When Vasilly listed East of Eden, a book which I had always thought I'd get around to reading some day, I decided that here was my reason.

East of Eden is about two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons, their lives and how they intersect and affect one another. There is sibling rivalry akin to Cain and Abel, and love, or its absence, plays a pivotal role. Good and evil, and the measure of each in a person, is a continuous thread through the work. For me, this novel was not a fast read. It was not an edge-of-your-seat, have to know what happens next immediately type of read. It was interesting and satisfying, and at times surprising in its modernity. I'm not sure what I expected from a book written in the 50s and set in the late 1800s to early 1900s, but modern urban slang wasn't it. "Frigging" was used in place of "fucking" in one instance, and the word "crib" was used as a place to live, albeit one run-down and decrepit, whereas today it can mean any type of home. I also didn't expect a sociopath or a gang rape.

What I liked:
I liked the character Lee, the way he faked who he was to be what people expected, but then was able to be himself later, and his humble and wise ways.

I found it interesting that Steinbeck himself is a character in the novel. As a descendant of the Hamilton clan, the book is told as if he is telling the story, which made me wonder if, in fact, this is an autobiographical work. I quick perusal of the Internet, and consensus seems to be semi-autobiographical.

I liked A LOT of the observations Steinbeck makes throughout the novel. He inserts them seamlessly into the text, yet they easily stand apart from it. There are so many passages that I would like to quote here, but then this review would be entirely too long. So just one particular favorite:

Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of a man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.

Okay, one more:
Humans are caught - in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too - in a net of good and evil. I think this is the only story we have and that it occurs on all levels of feeling and intelligence. Virtue and vice were warp and woof of our first consciousness, and they will be the fabric of our last, and this despite any changes we may impose on field and river and mountain, on economy and manners. There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well - or ill?

There wasn't anything in particular that I recall that I didn't like. It was well-written and interesting. It was obvious why it is considered a classic.

What does this choice tell us about Vasilly? Well, I actually couldn't tell much from this one choice, but looking over all five of her choices, I think I can deduce that she is a spiritually oriented person, in that she looks within herself to her spirit and beliefs when faced with difficult situations. Am I close?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Island of the Blue Dolphins

I chose this book from Juli's list, as well as for Nattie's Newbery Challenge (my list is here). I can't find Juli's post about this novel and why she chose it, but I imagine it's tied to the adventure and wonderful story.

This was one of my favorite books when I was growing up. I loved it, probably because I admired Karana's resourcefulness and strength. I still do. What an amazing book! I can't wait for my daughters to read and enjoy this.

I had the privilege of meeting Scott O'Dell himself in 1983 when I was in the 8th grade. Michele Andrews and I were chosen from both of Ms. Wood's 8th grade Unified Studies classes to be a part of a day where we could interview Mr. O'Dell. We had a great time, even though we were the oldest students there! (I think almost everyone else was in the 5th and 6th grades.) I remember Mr. O'Dell commenting on Michele's lovely Texas accent, and complimenting us on our insightful questions. That evening, I heard him read from one of his books, can't remember which one, but I remember his white hair, and his voice.

I am happy to show you the autograph I received inside my copy of the book!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chocolat -- Dewey's review

Cross-posted at my blog.

I love the movie Chocolat, and have seen it many times, so when Chasida listed it as a Something About Me book, it seemed time to finally read the book.

I was really surprised by how different the book is from the movie. I suspect that if I had first read and love the novel, I would have been annoyed by the movie.

For those who have neither read the book nor watched the movie, a quick summary: The main character is Vianne, who is a single mother with a young daughter, Anouk. She moves into a small French town and opens a chocolate shop. She is met with resistance by a community that is steeped in a tradition of self-denial, and unfortunately the opening of her shop coincides with Lent. She finds herself at odds with the town priest and members of the community, both over differences in opinion about the evils of life's little enjoyments and over differences in opinion about accepting a nomadic group of river gypsies.

The biggest surprise in the book was, for me, that instead of a seriously straightlaced and repressed mayor and a young, more open-minded priest, there was only one character, Reynaud, who was basically the same as the mayor in the movie, only he was the priest. I read at Harris' site that those involved with the film decided to make the main antagonist a mayor instead of a priest to avoid offending Catholic people. Personally, I don't find Catholic people that easily offended, and I hate censoring art in order to avoid upsetting a powerful group, but ok. It works beautifully as a movie anyway. In the novel, the priest is a more prominent character, and is even the narrator in some chapters.

Another surprise is that I've always perceived the movie to be set in the 1950s. The Wikipedia article states that it's the winter of 1959. The book, though, seems set at the time of its publication, 1999.

Sadly, the Roux character is not Johnny Depp in the book, and he seems to belong more to Armande (as a friend) than to Vianne. But in the book, the prejudice of the town towards Roux and his friends is a stronger storyline than in the movie.

One difference I liked a lot is that the character Armande is more developed and more interesting. The movie glances lightly over the fact that Armande is diabetic, and Vianne at times seems careless with Armande's health in allowing her to indulge in chocolate. The viewer does perceive that it's not really a black and white situation; Armande is an adult and should be allowed to make her own decisions about her health. In the book, though, it's much more clear that Armande, as a woman in her 80s, does not want to spend her few remaining years restricting her diet or being treated like a child by her domineering daughter. The reader is made very aware that a woman that old is going to die fairly soon, and Armande chooses to die in her home living her life as usual, rather than in a facility being an invalid. I had respect for the book Armande's decision to enjoy the remainder of her life to the fullest, including developing a relationship with her grandson. The movie Armande just seemed stubborn and grumpy, and as a much younger woman (60?), self-destructive in her decision to behave in a way that led to her death.

The novel also focused more on Vianne's past, her relationship with her mother, and her relationship with her daughter, Anouk, all of which were rewarding storylines the movie could only glance over.

There's a sequel to the novel, The Lollipop Shoes, which I'd like to read and will add to my wishlist.

The Polysyllabic Spree -- Dewey's review

Cross-posted at my blog. This was one of Athena's books.

This book really reminded me of a blog. Nick Hornby, an author whose fiction I enjoy, had a column in The Believer, called "Stuff I've Been Reading." The Polysyllabic Spree ia collection of those columns. There's a list for each month of what books he bought, which books he read (not always the same as what he bought), excerpts from books, and his musings about the books and the reading life.

There's a sequel, Housekeeping vs. The Dirt, more collected columns.

Someone put a list of all the books Hornby bought and read September 2003 to August 2004 at Wikipedia. Thanks, list-happy person!

I recommend this book for people who liked So Many Books, So Little Time and Book Lust. For me, the most interesting thing about the book was reading Hornby's comments on books I've read. I'm sure that for some people, reading this book would make the ol' wishlist grow, but I mostly skimmed when he talked about books I haven't read.

Although I liked the book, I think that rather than buying Housekeeping Vs. The Dirt, I'll just read Hornby's columns.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Life As We Knew It

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Summary: Sixteen year-old Miranda's normal life of swim team, friends, a crush, and life with her divorced parents and two brothers comes to a halt when a meteor crashes into the moon, throwing the earth's forces of nature off course and causing earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. Her diary details her family's struggle to survive.

My thoughts: This one has been getting a fair bit of good press and one of my colleagues is simply crazy about it, so I thought I'd give it a go. Survival stories aren't usually my bag, but this one was really well done. I thought it was a pitch-perfect account of what life would be like - the dwindling food, fear, cabin fever, finding joy in small things, alternating between optimism and despair and between loving and hating the people you were trapped with. School Library Journal rightly describes it as "frighteningly plausible." It also blew my mind that a change in gravity would cause all of those disasters - what do we take for granted more than gravity?

What I learned about SheReads: She says she found this book fascinating and not so far-fetched that she couldn't see it happening in the here and now. I agree with her on both counts, although I certainly hope it doesn't happen! She also noted in her challenge writeup that she seems "to read a lot of books that are YA and fewer and fewer adult books." - I'm finding that happening to me, too. I'm trying to reduce my TBR pile but SO many fab new YA titles come across my desk that the old adult ones get put aside yet again.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Daphne du Maurier was partially inspired by Jane Eyre when writing this book, so I could not help compare it to that book which I love. The characters are not exactly the same, but I enjoyed reading this book almost as much. It is very well written. I'm not someone who writes a lot gothic or mystery literature, but the atmosphere is almost perfect. Du Maurier is an excellent writer. The prose can be poetic. She's good at dialogue especially with characterizations as well. Mrs. Danvers is incredibly creepy, de Winter is mysterious, and the nameless protagonist is relateable. While very naive at the beginning, it's hard not to feel sympathetic for the character. She's also been put in a very hard situation when they go back to Manderley. The use of the nameless protagonist device is something I encountered in Fight Club, so I was not put off by that. Though it did feel du Maurier was teasing the reader at the beginning with the fact we'd never find out. All in all, a very good read with lots of atmosphere, suspense, and just enough romance.

I did not read this book for awhile because I had seen the Alfred Hitchcock adaptation with Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine. I did not have the time to rewatch the film, but I remember liking it very much as I do most Hitchcock films, and I also like Olivier. I recommend it as a companion to the book.

What I learned about Chris: She mentioned relating to the young heroine in this, and I did as well. She also appreciates good prose and gothic suspense. Unsurprisingly, Chris has good taste in

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Awakening

Sometimes we, as modern women, forget just how many freedoms we have. In the midst of all the complaining about unequal wages and glass ceilings, we neglect to acknowledge that we currently have a voice in society to even make such complaints. We forget that it wasn't always this way.

There was a time when women were deemed fit only for bearing children and tending to the house. They weren't allowed to have interests about the larger world, or hobbies other than art, nor were they allowed to exhibit any kind of passion. Women who married well-to-do men weren't even allowed to do the chores: what a horrible, boring way to live.

Kate Chopin gives readers a peek into the life of just such a woman. Edna is married to a wealthy businessman in New Orleans. She has a couple of kids and a wide circle of friends. She seemed happy, until her passion was sparked by a young man named Robert. Suddenly, she saw that her life was, in fact, a prison from which there was no possibility of escape.

I was deeply moved by this book; moved in a way that I can't even fully explain. I think all women feel like Edna at one point or another. Chopin really beautifully captured the first blush of passion, the mind numbing effects of romantic obsession and what it feels like to be a conflicted woman.

"As Edna walked along the street she was thinking of Robert. She was still under the spell of her infatuation. She had tried to forget him, realizing the inutility of remembering. But the thought of him was like an obsession, ever pressing itself upon her. It was not that she dwelt upon the details of their acquaintance, or recalled in any special or peculiar way his personality; it was his being, his existence, which dominated her thought, fading sometimes as if it would melt into the mist of the forgotten, reviving again with an intensity which filled her with incomprehensible longing."

I love that. Edna was obsessed with the mere idea of Robert's existence.

I highly recommend this book. It was chosen by Pattie for the Something About Me Challenge, who read it at a time in her life when she was separated from her husband and children for a week. I can understand why someone in those circumstances would feel such a strong connection with Edna. This book was also recommended to me by my good friend and former bandmate Karen. I can see exactly why this book affected her so much. Thank you both ladies for giving me such good reasons to read this truly outstanding book.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

i finished reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova this past weekend. i found it to be an amazing book! you can read my thoughts on my book blog (here).

The Historian was on the "something about me" lists of three different challenge participants. as to the reasons that they chose it, said, "I love history, I studied history at university, and I have always wished I could go on some kind of quest!" Heidijane said, "I'm an archivist and am very familiar with historical research (although have never taken it too these lengths)." and Maryanne said, "When I was young I used to believe in vampires and ghosts." it appears that all three of them were as captivated by this book as i was!

by the way, this is the sixth book i've read for this challenge. i'm hoping to get at least two more finished before the end of December.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Right after I finished it, I had this very un-courtly, modern reaction to this 16th century-set blockbuster: "Man, that was a crazy-good book!!" :-)

I'd enjoyed Gregory's The Queen's Fool earlier this year, enough to give the author another go when I saw this book on the challenge list. Boy, am I glad I did! It had all the scandals and sex of a soap opera but was well-written and very well-researched. I've always been quite interested in Elizabeth I and this was a fascinating look at her mother and her mother's family. I hadn't realized how long it took Anne Boleyn to actually get Henry VIII to marry her - I thought he divorced Katherine of Aragon very quickly, but Anne actually had to keep him interested without bedding him for 6 years, quite an amazing feat considering he was so selfish and fickle. And I had no idea that her younger sister had had him first! It was quite a portrait of a complex sisterly relationship - the Boleyn girls seem to have a had love/hate relationship where they alternately hated and really needed it each. I found it interesting but sad that they kept alternating between being "the other Boleyn girl" and that their family really didn't much care which of them was doing what, as long as the family was advancing. So it was also a very interesting look into court life and how high-born women were nothing but pawns in men's plans, even after if they were Queen of England. After reading this, I can see even more clearly how incredibly smart Elizabeth I was to avoid marriage and remain queen in her own right.

What I learned about Margo: We have very similar taste in books. She also has Flowers in the Attic, Chocolat, and The Undomestic Goddess on her list, all of which I enjoyed reading.

(Full review here.)