So I find that I not-infrequently read books that I just feel rather “meh” about and they don’t seem worth writing an entire post about. However, since I also use this blog as a sort of book-review diary, I like to at least say something. So I’ve started a monthly post with minireviews of all those books that just didn’t get more than a few paragraphs of feelings from me.
Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer
Actually, I felt more than “meh” about this book – it was a delight, and an easy 4/5. However, what can one say about Heyer’s work that hasn’t already been said? The characters were lively and clever, the adventure took many hilarious twists, and there happy endings handed out all around. Heyer is always so relaxing and pleasant – never any niggling doubts as to whether or not everything will end with sunshine and rainbows. I really loved everyone in this book, and it had me snorting with laughter on more than one occasion. It felt like the ending was a bit rushed/it would have been nice to see a little bit more of a love story between Gareth and Hester, but all in all this story was just super adorable and happy.
Also, it was #10 for #20BooksofSummer!
Sunlight & Shadow by Cameron Dokey
I really liked Dokey’s fairy tale retellings (this is the third I’ve read). This story moved right along. It was a little weird because Dokey used five first-person perspectives, and never told us who we were jumping to next, you just kind of had to read a few sentences and figure it out. This felt weird at first, but once I got into the groove, it worked completely. The voices were actually really, really similar, though, so it was mostly the actual circumstances that indicated who was doing the talking.
In her afterword, Dokey said that this book was actually inspired by the story from one of Mozart’s operas, which I found entertaining. It has a very mythological flavor, since the main character (Mina) is the daughter of the Queen of Night and the Mage of Day. The story is not just about Mina finding true love (which of course she does), but about the balance between light and darkness. As always, Dokey has a slim thread of thoughtfulness running throughout a story that appears to be all fluff and lightheartedness, leaving me thinking about it a bit after I’ve finished.
An easy 3.5/5 and a very pleasant read, as well as being #12 for #20BooksofSummer!
Unwilling by Elizabeth Adams
In this Pride & Prejudice variation, shortly after the Netherfield Ball, Mr. Bennett finds out that he doesn’t have much longer to live. He regrets wasting time and money, and decides to do the best that he can to make up for it. He makes a bunch of rules for the girls, including sending Lydia back to the schoolroom, and gives them actual lessons to do, which feels a little bit weird since Jane and Elizabeth are in their 20’s. Mr. Bennett is also determined that if any eligible suitors come asking, he will marry the girls off, as long as it doesn’t seem like the guy is a total jerk. So at Hunsford, Mr. Darcy asks Mr. Bennett for Elizabeth’s hand in marriage, and Mr. Bennett says yes.
All in all, this was actually a really pleasant P&P variation. It was definitely PG13 – a lot of innuendo and discussions, but nothing explicit. It was also quite refreshing that there were no ridiculous villains. However, it did feel like only Elizabeth was doing the changing. In the original, both Darcy and Elizabeth realize their shortcomings, but in this version, Darcy didn’t really seem to have any. Towards the end, he is really insulting towards the Gardiners when he meets them for the first time. Elizabeth takes him to task and Darcy apologizes, but he never interacts with them again in the story, so it didn’t necessarily come through that he really felt remorseful about the situation.
Still, a pleasant story and an easy way to spend an afternoon. 3.5/5.
The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Burnett is another one of those authors whose two most famous books – The Secret Garden and A Little Princess – were childhood favorites (that I still love today), but somehow I’ve never really checked to see if she wrote anything else. So I added The Making of a Marchioness, along with its sequel, The Methods of Lady Walderhurst to my 20 Books of Summer list.
This was a pleasant read, but was almost like an outline of a book rather than a full-length story. It’s only around 180 pages with large print, so more of a novella. Still, the main character, Emily, was rather adorable, even though she was almost absurdly nice. Through a series of events she gets invited to a country house party (mainly so she can do a bunch of errands for the hostess) and ends up marrying the most eligible bachelor there.
However, there really isn’t much of a love story. Walderhurst admires her from afar, but during his proposal, he says that he “must marry, and I like you better than any woman I have ever known. … I am a selfish man, and I want an unselfish woman.” It doesn’t seem particularly romantic that he’s marrying her because she won’t make very many demands on his time or purse, but overall he seems like a fine fellow, so I actually did end the book believing that they would deal well together. A 3/5 and I am intrigued to read the sequel. Also, #15 for #20BooksofSummer!