How much poorer the world would be without literature in translation. And Anthea Bell made a huge impact.
Thoughts on things, mostly books.
Promised to the Crown is the story of three young women who are King's Daughters - women sent to New France (Quebec) to be wives. Each women comes from or is fleeing a different circumstances. Elizabeth fleeing an arranged marriage, Rose to escape froma sitution without end, and Nicole because her family is poor. The women adjusted to life in early Quebec.
It's true that at times a few of the characters, in particular the men, feel a bit too modern. And the term shotgun is used, which is particularly jarring.
Yet, there is something compelling about the book, and the characters are not perfect. The conflict between Elizabeth and the priest is very well done. The interactions with Indigeous people is also dealt with somewhat, and there are hints that such will be dealt with more fully in the next book.
Despite the almost too modern feel, the story is entertaining and enjoyable. In particular, I like the dangers of childbirth at the time.
I swear we like reading books about lists so we can quibble over the lists. Mustich is the man behind the Common Reader book catalog, which went out of business in 2006.
This actually is a pretty good list of books to read before you die. Unlike other books of similar titles, with a few exceptions, Mustich confines it to one book per author. There are 71 exceptions to this, including Shakespeare and Dickens. 58 of the 71 are male, 13 female. The list breaks down to roughly 663 men and 204 women, with only 3 Native American authors. The books run though various genres, and while some choices are no suprise, there are quite a few surprises.
There is attention paid to fantasy and sci-fi (though the writers chosen in those genres are primary male) as well as sports writing. Children's books are present as are graphic novels (most of those chosen are by women, so that's nice)
The best part are the notes section under each volume - listing other works, further reading, and the odd factoid. The Try feature actually makes this a list of over 1,000. There is a checklist at the end. Additionally, there is a themantic index in addition to the general one.
Of course, there are some things that don't quite make sense. Why no mention of Angela Carter? Why no mention of the editorial work of Datlow and Windling whose fairy tale series paved the way for the rich retellings we have today? Why no Terry Pratchett has an offical entry, but only a try?
Still a lovely well crafted volume.
But who would be on your list?
I have to admit, this series is not as good as the She-King series. First, there is far, far, far too much info dumping, including a whole info dump by one character about what happened in the first book. Which, okay, sometimes people start with book 2, but wasn't that what the foreward bit was for?
Second, the change in loyalities should have been more developed. It comes across as far too sudden.
There are some good points, more women interacting with each other in positive ways instead of just sexual competition, but the plot that forms the third part of the book is deeply flawed and doesn't make much sense.
Writing is good, and the up until the third half of the book, the plot works
At first blush, there is really nothing wrong with this look at three women in Augustus' court. The three are Cleopatra Selene (daughter of Cleo and Tony, raised by Octavia), Julia (Gus's daughter by his first wife), and Livia (Gus's second wife). Selene is well drawn as a character. It's just that the book leaves you with the vague feeling that there should have been more. And Julia seems to do a half character change with little reason.
This is less of an enquiry and more of an mediation, if that is a right word. There is not solving the mystery (and the young women are still missing), but more of a look at only one of the many cases of missing Indigeous women. The writing is powerful, even if Walter still sometimes inserts herself too much in a native. When she does so, it doesn't come across as if she is showing off, but more that she wants you to be moved in the same way she is.
The books are from Shakespeare and Company (Phily Branch), NYRB Oct Selection, a Kickstarter, Chicago Press, Barnes and Noble, and a Strand book box. I was depressed. In fairness, many of them were from sales.
The Dr Who is from Barnes and Noble and Features a novella by the Rivers for London dude.
Also Baby Salamanders have been under a log in my backyard.
Disclaimer: Digital ARC via Netgalley. It did not have many of the illustrations, but if the frontispiece is anything to go by, the illustrations should be good.
Me, handing in the review to the Review God: Here you go.
Review God: Wait, wait. You can’t give it five stars and then simply say because of Saint Eeyore.
Me: Why not?
Review God shakes bookshelves.
Me: But it mentions Saint Eeyore. That should be enough to make anyone read it. But okay fine. Give it here, I’ll add something.
Review God takes back the review: What’s this say? Your handwriting is horrible.
Me: Saint Eeyore, Stinkletoe Radishbottom, Lee the Harper, and William Shudderpike are all mentioned. Plus, there is a really funny hobbit title. Read this book now.
Review God delivers that stare with the glasses.
Me: Okay, fine, give it. Look, I can’t add more, if you don’t give it here.
Review God: You dictate, I’ll write.
Me: But if you’re a god, why do you need a pencil.
Review God shakes the bookshelves again.
Me: Alright, just wondering. Hamm. Let’s see. A Dreadful Fairy Book is a fairy tale that will charm readers of all ages. In theory a children’s book, the novel is a love parody . . .
Review God: that’s not a thing.
Me: It is now. Funk and Wagnalls said I could. So there. The novel is love parody poem to the joys and wonders of reading. It will make any long-time reader weep tears of passion. The story, supposedly related by Quentin Q Quacksworth Esq, who is a bit miffed at having to tell it, is about the heroine we have all been waiting for – Shade. A young sprite who goes on an epic quest to find another copy of her first book love, after her book and library were savagely destroyed. Along the way, she encounters various people and other characters, including a Professor who may actually be a professor, a troll who likes tea, and the “nephew of the second most prosperous cheesemaker in Bilgewater”.
The story includes fantasy titles of famous real-world works, such as Lee the Harper’s to Murder an Insulting Finch. There are fights, lost parents, owl wings, and changelings. Long the way, the reader will have to duel with Quacksworth who has gotten it into his head that this story should not be told. This is because he does not understand the wonder that is Shade, a beautifully flawed, book loving, sprite of color. She also has really cool wings, though flying makes her tummy feel funny. She can curse! The book even passes the Bechdel test.
There are a couple wonderful send ups of Tolkien as well as knightly fighting. There is a squire who knows his weaponry. A kick ass mother. There are references to family members’ body parts.
Review God: That’s disgusting.
Me: No, it’s not. You haven’t read the book. Look, if you are a reader, this is a book about reading. About how reading can bind a family together. How reading makes outcasts feel less outcastery. YES, I KNOW. How dangerous a lack of reading can be. If you read, you will love this book. Is that what you want Review God?
Review God: Yes.
Me: Okay, but we all know that everyone is really reading it for Saints Eeyore and Figgymigg. And the scene with the Three Billy Goats Gruff.
Disclaimer: I received an ebook ARC of this book via a giveaway at Librarything.
Gaslight Gothic is a collection of ten stories that combine Sherlock Holmes with gothic literature, in terms of style and characters. Poe makes an appearance in one story as does Hyde for example. Most of the stories are more gothic in style and plot than borrowing characters.
As in the majority, if not all, short story collections, the stories are a mixed bag. Many of the them follow the conceit of having Watson write the stories. In “The Strange Adventure of Mary Holder”, Nancy Holder nails Watson’s voice the best. In many ways, she also captures the character of Holmes the best. “The Cuckoo’s Hour” by Mark A. Latham is also a strong contender for best story in the collection. It does remind the reader of the Holmes stories that take place on a country estate. James Lovegrove’s use a well-known gothic tale works extremely well.
The use of Holmes and the gothic novel does seem to fill a hole in the Sherlock Holmes oeuvre that I didn’t know needed filling.