“Emotional Geology” by Linda Gillard

Back to my Kindle again with Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard. Rose has moved to island of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides to try and make a new start in life and immerse herself in her work as a textile artist. She makes friends with her neighbours and is attracted to the neighbours brother, Calum. She must then decide whether she can come to terms with her previously tumultuous relationships and her own enforced estrangement from her daughter enough to be able to move on with her life and the promise of love in the future.

I really enjoy reading Linda’s books. There is always more to the love story than meets the eye, Continue reading

Advertisements

“Colonel Brandon’s Diary” by Amanda Grange

Date finished: 20th April 2012

The diary starts back in 1778 when Brandon is still at university and comes home to visit, and asks Eliza to marry him, and follows through their story, before joining up with Sense and Sensibility and his relationship with the Dashwoods.

As with the others I’ve read in this series, I’ve loved seeing one of my favourite books told from a different perspective, and the diary format works wonderfully for this. I think it’s such a clever premise to start them earlier and give more body to the earlier lives of our heroes, and expand on the little back story that we know from the Jane Austen original.

One thing I felt with this book was how much younger Brandon felt, even twenty years after it starts, you still feel there’s a youthful side to him, despite the image of himself he projects, and it is especially awakened when Marianne comes into his life.

Another thoroughly enjoyable book in this diary series from Amanda Grange.

“Persuasion” by Jane Austen

Date finished: 17th February 2012

Persuasion was my second Jane Austen read of the year, and what an absolute joy it was. I’m so glad I’ve decided to embark on my year of reading her books and others inspired by them, as I’m already enjoying it more than I could have imagined.

In the early 19th century, young women who had not married by the age of twenty-seven, such as our heroine, Anne Elliot, were no longer seen as young, and often would have probably have lost any expectation of finding a husband. When her family are forced to economise and let their home to a naval man while removing themselves to Bath, Anne encounters Captain Wentworth, a man who had proposed to her when she was just a teenager, but who Anne had been persuaded by her friend, Lady Russell, to break the engagement as Wentworth had no fortune and was just embarking on his own naval career. The story follows them as they become reacquainted, all the while examining the society of the time.

I adored this book. It’s only the third time I’ve read it, and probably not since I was a teenager, and I don’t remember it affecting me quite so much back then, but now I felt every emotion along with Anne as the story progresses, and at times it is very melancholy and sorrowful. The characters are wickedly observed, including Anne’s self-centred sister Mary, her vain and snobbish father and eldest sister Elizabeth, and the salty Admiral and his friendly wife. It was also lovely to see the scene move around some of my favourite places including Lyme Regis and, of course, the city of Bath, and Austen describes the different societies beautifully and with a wit that as always, sparkles. Fabulous.

“Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen

Date finished: 26th January 2012

The first read in My Year With Jane Austen challenge was Sense and Sensibility. This was the first of Austen’s novels to be published and follows the fortunes of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne. After the loss of their father, their mothers meagre income forces the family to move to a cottage in Dorsetshire in much reduced circumstances. The story follows them through their romantic disappointments all the while with a witty look at the society of the period.

I haven’t read this book since Emma Thompson adapted it for the big screen, which I’ve just looked up and was seventeen years ago! I’d forgotten some of the differences, including some of the characters, such as Lady Middleton and Miss Nancy Steele, but I definitely hadn’t forgotten how lively and sparkling the writing is. I loved the second chapter where Fanny is trying to disuade John Dashwood from giving his half-sisters or his step-mother money after promising his dying father that he will look after them when he inherits his estate. I sometimes find classics hard to read, as the style of the writing and the language can feel quite foreign to a modern reader, but Austens words just seem to flow off the page, and her characters, even the ones we shouldn’t like, have a charm about them.

For me, Elinor is the heroine of this novel, the sensible, reserved sister, who hides her own disappointments in order to prevent distress for her family, and supports passionate Marianne through her more public failed romance. Interestingly, the character who I’ve really changed my opinion of from my memory of my original reading, is Willoughby, who I used to feel a sympathy for (although I suspect this is because I find him a more sympathetic character in the film adaption) but who I now feel is much more selfish and self important than I remembered. This was particularly pertinent for me after his discussion with Elinor at Cleveland, when I completely lose any sympathy I may have been holding for him up until that point.

I’m so glad I started with this novel for my Jane Austen reading, and it’s been an absolute joy to read again.

“I Capture The Castle” by Dodie Smith

A very English novel, written at a time when there was no genre called “Young Adult” and books were either for children or adults, and playwright Dodie Smith wrote this, her first novel and a story of teenagers and first love told by Cassandra about her eccentric family. Living in a gradually crumbling castle, her widowed father has remarried, but is struggling with writers block, leaving the family in financially dire straits.

I’d heard lots of people talk with affection for this book, so I’d settled in for a good read when I picked up my copy for my reading group, but I actually found it quite an unsettling read. Although the narrator says how old she is on the first page, I’d actually forgotten this fairly quickly, and struggled to place her. At times she seemed to talk as a young teenager, and at other times she spoke of things as though she was bordering on adulthood and in her late teens. And I didn’t only struggle with Cassandra, I also had problems with other members of the family. Her younger brother was spoken of as a child initially, then towards the end of the book, it seems as though the author suddenly needed him to be almost an adult, and he is shoe-horned into the plot with knowledge of psychiatric principles!

I didn’t like the development of the relationships between Rose and Cassandra with Simon and Neil, it all felt too staged and predictable, but I wonder if this was more original at the time it was written, and I’ve read many other books and seen films since which have similar stories.

An uneven narrative and I didn’t find any humour in the book which others have commented on. I didn’t feel satisfied by the book, and felt a bit discomforted by some of the story, and overall, I just didn’t enjoy it.

“Waking The Witch” by Kelley Armstrong

Waking The Witch is young witch Savannah’s first full length story, and follows her as she decides to cover her first solo investigation unbeknownst to Paige and Lucas who are enjoying a well deserved holiday. I loved how Armstrong shows Savannah trying to prove that she has conquered her hot-headed, impetuous nature and act like a mature, experienced investigator, all the while making some mistakes and some enemies along the way.

Lots of twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes, the story of the case is pacy enough to keep you turning the pages leading to an almost Scooby Doo style reveal at the end, something I certainly hadn’t seen coming, and it is left with the promise of more Savannah stories to come.

I’ve never been disappointed by a Kelley Armstrong book yet, and this was no exception. A worthy addition to the Women of the Otherworld series.

“Linger” by Maggie Stiefvater

I absolutely loved the first book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, Shiver, and it was such a great story, I’d been hoping it would remain as a stand-alone book, so when I found out there would be two more I had mixed feelings. However, as time drew nearer to the release of Linger, my anticipation mounted and I couldn’t wait to read it when it was finally released.

What a wonderful book Linger turned out to be. Stiefvater plugs into the gamut of teenage emotions including Isabel’s anger, Cole’s depression, Sam’s insecurity and loneliness and Grace’s hidden sadness and worry. I did miss the closeness and intimacy of the story of Grace and Sam with the inclusion of Isabel and new character Cole as narrators, but both felt necessary as the story develops and leads up to a heart wrenching climax and cliff hanger for the final part of the story.

There is an undercurrent of sadness running through this book. It pervades every line of the writing, and left me with a feeling of melancholy as I finished the book. Stiefvater’s writing is beautiful yet measured, and her style is clean but emotive.

I was a little disappointed with one aspect in that one of the elements I loved most of Shiver was the descriptions of landscape and homes and even trucks, yet this was missing from Linger although I guess the setting hadn’t changed at all, so the need it wasn’t there, nevertheless, I missed them.

Overall though I loved it, and will wait eagerly for the final installment so I’ll be able to read the whole saga again in one fell swoop!