July 12th, 2010

  • cat63

Book 41 for 2010

Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones. 204 pages

I like Diana Wynne Jones a lot as a rule, and this is one of her better-known books, but I don't think it's one of her best.

The plot revolves around the orphaned Cat and Gwendolen Chant, who taken to live with the mysterious Chrestomanci in a magical castle.

The characters are interesting enough but rather more two-dimensional than I'd come to expect from Jones and the plot annoyed me because it derives from one of my least favourite fictional tropes - People Not Telling Each Other Important Stuff. This is excusable as far as Cat and Gwendolen are concerned - they each have believable motives for keeping quiet. But the motivation for the adults involved keeping certain information secret seems flimsy at best.

Still worth reading but she's written much better stories.

Books 65: Trespass by Rose Tremain.

Book 65: Trespass.
Author: Rose Tremain, 2010.
Genre: Contemporary. Literary. GLBT themes.
Other Details: Hardback. 255 pages.

'Trespass' is about place, space, territory... and the iron grip of the past.

Another beautifully written novel from Rose Tremain. I found myself reading some passages aloud just to savour the beauty of her words. Most of the novel takes place in the Cévenol region of southern France and as I found with 'The Colour', Tremain has a superb ability to evoke a sense of place. While there is a mystery at the heart of the novel, the main focus is upon the complex relationships between two sets of siblings, all in their sixties.

Aramon is a decrepit alcoholic who has allowed his family home, the Mas Lunel, and its lands to fall into ruin. His sister, Audrun, lives alone in a shabby modern bungalow within sight of the Mas Lunel and dreams of extracting retribution for the betrayals that have blighted her life. Aramon wants to sell the property to wealthy foreigners though a dispute with his sister over property boundaries and the growing worldwide recession threatens these plans.

Flamboyant Anthony Verey is a famous London antiques dealer whose business is being hit hard by the recession. His sister, Veronica, and her lover, Kitty, have already emigrated to the Cévenol and Anthony decides that he will remake his life in France close to his beloved sister. Anthony's arrival to view potential properties in the region brings disruption to the idyll the women have found. When he visits the Mas Lunel, he sets in motion a frightening series of events.

The novel's title, Trespass is very apt in terms of the novel's themes covering both the physical act of trespass and the more subtle kind evoked by the final lines of The Lord's Prayer. It is a powerful, character driven novel that explores some quite dark themes.
did you know you could fly?

(no subject)

Book #36 -- Robin McKinley, Pegasus, 400 pages.

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Book #37 -- Diane Gilbert Madsen, A Cadger's Curse (A DD McGil Literati Mystery), 336 pages.

It's rare that you get both high-tech espionage and historio-literary mystery in the same novel but it somehow worked in this one. Half of the fun was trying to figure out which shady characters were trying to cover up corporate misdeeds and which were after the secret Burns manuscript.

Book #38 -- A. S. King, The Dust of 100 Dogs, 336 pages.

I missed scoring a copy of this last year so I was happy to get it this year. It's a very different take on the pirate narrative, and the way the perspective changes from Cromwellian Ireland, to 17th century Caribbean, to modern working-class Pennsylvania, to modern Jamaica, and back again is amazing in that it actually works. As a pirate enthusiast and Hibernophile, there was no chance that I *wouldn't* like this book, of course.

Progress toward goals: 191/365 = 52.3%

Books: 38/100 = 38.0%

Pages: 10255/25000 = 41.0%

2010 Book List

cross-posted to 15000pages, 50bookchallenge, and gwynraven

Book 30

Title: Lamb
Author: Christopher Moore
Themes/Topics: Story of Jesus, Humor

I picked up this book on a whim and really enjoyed it. For some it certainly might seem a bit sacrilegious but Moore doesn't set up to turn religion on his head, but rather fills the gaps in Jesus' life as read in the Bible. I think even if you have a pretty health faith-life if you have a sense of humor you'll find the joy in this book.

I enjoyed reading about Jesus as a teen, and as a master of martial arts. Moore explains in the prologue that it should be taken for what its worth, and I found it to be entertaining and thought-provoking.

(no subject)

ANTICIPATING SHERMAN'S MARCH. In the early days of the Southern Rebellion, the senior generals east and west dithered and delayed, while ambitious junior commanders did what they could subject to the objections of their superiors. Grant and Sherman ultimately emerged as the commanders, and the Army of the Tennessee as the instrument of victory. Before them, however, was Ormsby McKnight Mitchel, also an aggressive commander, who secured the improbable cooperation of a smuggler named James Andrews in an attempt to isolate Chattanooga prior to investing it and moving to Atlanta. Collapse )

I'll leave most of the details out of Book Review No. 15, noting that a careful reader will learn much, and that the raiders described their unit's ultimate objectives in terms anticipating Sherman's March. General Mitchel is an intriguing figure. Mr Bonds credits him as prototype for Walt Whitman's Learned Astronomer, and had he lived, the lineup of field commanders in the west might have been imposing indeed. (To this day, Fort McPherson in Atlanta is a subtle reminder to aspiring secesh.)

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)