Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir

The Chilbury Ladies' ChoirThe Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I should have liked this more. All the elements are there: a cast of characters in a small English village, young people and older folks making do during wartime and dealing with adversity. "Keep Calm and Carry On." But I found reading it a slog. I skimmed the last half because it seemed so long getting going. Maybe it's in part due to my mood now. Or I've been reading too much historical fiction set in WWII England.

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Monday, May 25, 2020

The Jane Austen Society

The Jane Austen SocietyThe Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Head over to Austenprose for my review of Natalie Jenner's debut novel, The Jane Austen Society. For a comfort read in time of uncertainty, this one is up there with my favorite standbys: Miss Read (Dora Saint) and D.E. Stevenson.

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Monday, April 6, 2020

Miss Austen

Miss AustenMiss Austen by Gill Hornby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Head over to Austenprose for my review of Gill Hornby's novel, Miss Austen. It focuses on on Cassandra, rather than her famous sister Jane, though Jane does feature prominently.

“She was the sun of my life, the gilder of every pleasure, the soother of every sorrow, I had not a thought concealed from her, and it is as if I had lost a part of myself.”

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Friday, February 21, 2020

Jane Austen, the Secret Radical

Jane Austen, the Secret RadicalJane Austen, the Secret Radical by Helena Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Head over to Austenprose for my review of Helena Kelly's examination of some of the radical subjects that Jane Austen explored in her novels. Like what? Oh, slavery, poverty, feminism, the Church, evolution. Just a few of the topics subjected to the Austen treatment, while her heroines search for eligible husbands. Women have always been multitaskers.

It’s impossible for anyone to write thousands upon thousands of words and reveal nothing of how she thinks or what she believes. And, contrary to popular opinion, Jane did reveal her beliefs, not just about domestic life and relationships, but about the wider political and social issues of the day. (10% Kindle)

Nowhere in her surviving letters is Jane openly critical of her father or of her brothers. But in both Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice she permits herself to write about the carelessness, and thoughtlessness, of men who do nothing to provide for their female dependents, and to touch on female financial anxiety and the psychological pressures of being beholden to more fortunate relations. (24% Kindle)

There’s no reason at all for the reviewer of Emma to start writing about “fanaticism” or religion. The final paragraph of the review has nothing to do with Emma, but the talk of “fanatical novels” and “fanatical authoresses” applies very much better to Jane’s previous book. The reviewer seems to want Jane to know that he has understood—and heartily disapproved of—what she was doing in Mansfield Park. (64% Kindle)

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Tuesday, January 28, 2020


CastleCastle by David Macaulay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not many books deserve to be called fascinating. This one does. Just enough text to accompany the superb illustrations. I wish I had known about this author when I was a child, but frankly, I may not have appreciated his work as much as I do now.

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