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Blog category: Book Reviews

"Daniel Deronda" by George Eliot

While it doesn’t have the concise and perfect plot of Eliot’s Silas Marner, Daniel Deronda is once again proof that she could tell an engrossing story. That is if you make it through the pages upon pages of political speeches and ruminations about character motivations–Eliot is anything but concise in this one. The political element has a reason to be there, however, as at the heart of the novel is a commentary on the budding Zionist movement in British and European society at the time. Continue reading .

"Sir Percy Leads the Band" by Baroness Orczy

In the fourth novel in the Scarlet Pimpernel series (if one counts the prequels), Sir Percy spends much of his time in Choisy, France disguised as the leader of a band of musicians who entertain the French revolutionary masses at a seedy local alehouse. The fact that the French Commissary has placed a considerable price on the head of The Scarlet Pimpernel amuses, rather than deters, Sir Percy. He is in France to spare the aristocratic La Rodiere family, the Abby Edgeworth and Doctor Simon Pradel a trip to the Guillotine. Continue reading .

"The Age of Innocence" by Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence is a story of Old New York manners and traditions. As always, Wharton writes about people in a pickle. Always they seem to have extraordinarily bad timing. Always they get in the way of their own happiness. The Age of Innocence belongs to a time when societal obligation invariably supersedes personal fulfillment. At times, the novel was a satire; the traditions of the upper crust verged on ridiculous. Although Newland is the protagonist of the story, I found him to be the weakest character. As a man, he had more options than a woman in his place would have. Instead, he caves into the expectations of the family. He gets played, by just about everyone, but especially the women. Continue reading .

"The Black Moth" by Georgette Heyer

The Black Moth, first published in 1921, is Georgette Heyer’s first novel and is also the first novel in a four-part series including These Old Shades, Devil’s Cub, and An Infamous Army. The Black Moth is set around 1751 during the Georgian era and comes disguised as an amusing but uncomplicated romance. The story appears so straightforward that you may be inclined to read it with half a mind, but that would be a mistake. Continue reading .

"Cranford" by Elizabeth Gaskell

This collection of novellas centers around the fictional English town of Cranford and surrounding areas and forms the basis for the 2007 BBC mini-series of the same name. The Cranford Novellas are not page turners, but Gaskell’s format and style provides a readier canvas on which to portray the manias, heartbreak, tragedy and joy of rural England at the time. How lucky we are that Gaskell recorded these tales so that in them we gain insight into a way of life that otherwise would have been lost forever. Continue reading .

"Anne's House of Dreams" by LM Montgomery

Anne and Gilbert finally tie the knot and leave their beloved Avonlea for Four Winds Harbour. There they find Anne’s house of dreams: a little house near the sea with a brook running through the yard. L.M. Montgomery’s story telling is as entertaining as ever in Anne’s House of Dreams. She creates an eccentric cast of characters who colour every page. The series still has it’s down home humour but it has a somber note as well. Anne is an adult now, her problems are much bigger than the small tragedies of her childhood. Continue reading .

"Clouds of Witness" by Dorothy Sayers

First written in 1926, Clouds of Witness is the second in Sayers’ series featuring Lord Peter Wimsey, after Whose Body?. Like Whose Body?, Clouds of Witness also offers up some complications arising from mistaken identity, albeit in a different context. As Sir Peter Wimsey sorts through the evidence, the clues incriminate one person, then another, until all the characters know who is dead, why this person is dead, and who is at fault. Continue reading .

The Brontë Collection

This Sunday, January 18, viewers in the US can watch part one of a new Masterpiece Theater adaption of Wuthering Heights. I had the honor of previewing this production, and you can see my review on the PBS Remotely Connected website. To coincide with this premiere, we’re offering a new ebook collection to our ebook store. It is The Bront Continue reading .

"Rebecca's Tale" by Sally Beauman

Anyone who is a fan of Daphne Du Maurier’s novel, Rebecca would benefit from reading Rebecca’s Tale. Published in 2007, it is one of the best non-author written sequels I have read to date. The most interesting facet of this novel is that Ms. Beauman tells the story from four different points of view: Arthur Julyan, the confidante who fell in love with Rebecca; the orphan, Terence Gray, looking for answers as to his parentage and to his relationship to Rebecca; Ellie Julyan, Arthur’s overly protective daughter; and finally Rebecca herself. Continue reading .

"Anne of Windy Poplars" by LM Montgomery

In the fourth of the Anne of Green Gables series, our heroine Anne Shirley has graduated university and gained a position as principal of Summerside High School. Anne’s on her own. She has to make new friends in a new town. Not much of a problem for Anne, you might think, but she finds herself in hostile territory. Told mostly through letters to Gilbert, the book’s full of Anne’s peppy optimism. Anne vows to find the good in everyone, making the reader think that even the most surly curmudgeon has a warm, fuzzy side. Montgomery’s pen is sharp, but there’s love in her writing. Continue reading .

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