Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Mini-Review Roundup


  Mini-Review Roundup

I was hesitant about this author because I've heard his Richard III books are very biased (against Richard). But, I've been so tempted to try one of his books because he writes about so many subjects I enjoy reading. So, I picked up his book about Eleanor, and it is biased in the sense that you can definitely tell which people he likes and doesn't like, but thankfully in this case he likes Eleanor. 

Otherwise, this was a pretty straight forward linear account of Eleanor's life. Readable, engaging, and hits on all the high points without being boring for readers who are already familiar with Eleanor's story. Chapters are long enough to have substance but short enough to keep things moving at a pretty good pace and not feel bogged down or like I needed to set aside an hour plus just to read through one chapter. It wasn't a love, but it was enough of a strong like that I'm definitely going to pick up more of his books (just, maybe not his Ricardian books).
Oopffh, this has been sitting on my shelves since 2015! I'm glad I finally read it, but since I also have an e-book version I didn't love it enough to keep the print version too. 
Basically, if you like Eva Ibbotson's The Countess Below Stairs then you'll probably at least enjoy this book as well. Though I didn't think it was anywhere near as good as Ibbotson's take, the gist of the story is pretty much the same: girl escaping WWII ends up as a servant in a British household and falls in love with the lord of the manor. Essentially. There are differences and I won't spoil them here, but if that type of plot is appealing then this might be worth seeking out. 
There is a levity that was both amusing and also, somewhat, out of place. It's hard to reconcile "zany hijinks" with "Jews fleeing Nazi Germany," but Sullivan makes it work and I went into it with those expectations (it's kind of her style). Everything falls into place too perfectly, but, again, if you can suspend disbelief and just enjoy this as a fun romp then it makes for a nice way to pass the time.

I spent some time knocking off books that had been on my TBR for near on a decade, and so I feel a sense of satisfaction having read this one just for that fact alone. That said, I did enjoy the book, but not enough to keep my print copy.
I loved the premise and even though the main character wasn't particularly likable, she's going through a lot and does change over time so even though she wasn't always the most pleasant person to be around, I felt for her. The premise is right up my ally and the execution was pretty good, too. I felt a pretty decent sense of place, particularly during certain scenes (that hot springs scene, so minor in the story, is seared in my mind pun intended). The mystery about the main character's mother kept my interest and tugged at my heart. 

I would have liked this a whole lot more, but there were three characters that really rubbed me the wrong way. One is a potential love interest who is painted far too black and white. I thought there was a real opportunity with this character to explore things, but the hamfisted characterization made this a missed opportunity. One character was so unlikable as a person, and yet I got the sense I was supposed to give her a pass. I'm sorry, I don't. I don't think the main character was wrong about her and I didn't like the way it felt like I was being lectured by the author to be sympathetic toward this character. 
Finally, the love interest was okay, but then he'd start spouting off these anachronistic lectures at the main character whose only real sin was that she held the actual beliefs of her time and place (and was far more open minded than the love interest gave her credit for). Not only is this annoying, but it also made him a pretty awful love interest. Where is the mutual respect in this romance? I was disappointed in the main character for falling for a guy who treated her so poorly.
Had these characters been better, I probably would have adored this book. As it was, I can't help but feel like a modern author decided to write about the past, half so she could write about the past, and half so she could insert her modern viewpoints in to lecture the reader and the main character. Sorry, agree with the author or not, I don't like being lectured like this and I don't like my historical fiction infused with modern thoughts and approaches. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...