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Blog category: Book Reviews

Review: "The Enchanted Castle" by E. Nesbit


Although I’m not nostalgic and seldom reread children’s books, I had astonishingly good taste as a child: I read Little Women, Linnets and Valerians, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Friday’s Tunnel, An Episode of Sparrows, and E. Nesbit’s The Enchanted Castle. E. Nesbit’s charming fantasy classics were my favorites, and I demanded them for several birthdays and Christmases. I didn’t call these fantasies: I referred to them as “magic adventure books.” The adventure happens to witty, independent, intelligent children against the background of ordinary life at the turn of the twentieth century. Continue reading .

Review: "Camilla" by Fanny Burney


First published in 1796, Burney’s third novel revolves around the economic and matrimonial concerns of Camilla Tyrold and her close family. The story takes us through many hardships in the Tyrold family, most caused by misunderstandings, on the path to true love and solvency. After a slow start, once all the characters are introduced and start to interact, Burney weaves a captivating story. If you have enjoyed Evelina and Cecilia and are hungering for more Burney, Camilla will satisfy you. You also will be satisfied if you are a Jane Austen fan and are curious about her influences. Continue reading .

Review: "Adam Bede" by George Eliot


First published in 1859, Adam Bede is set in the rural farming community of Hayslope in 1799. The plot centers around four characters and the entangling relationships amongst them. The titular character is a well-respected young carpenter who is in love with the pretty Hetty Sorrel. Hetty in turn is in love with the rich Arthur Donithorne who returns her feelings but has no honorable intentions. Dinah Morris, Hetty’s cousin and a Methodist preacher, is introduced early on and becomes a pivotal character near the end of the novel. Continue reading .

"Northanger Abbey" Review by Joyce

A Northanger Abbey Cliff’s Notes version might have helped me understand the intricacies of the ending, which came tumbling at me so fast I scarcely knew what hit me. No ending has taken me as much by surprise since I read Georgette Heyer’s The Black Moth. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy my first venture into Jane Austen. However, it got me wondering how a laundry bill could become such a pivotal symbol in the progress of the story and wishing I had paid more attention at its discovery. My real issue with the ending was that I understood on some level what happened, but the dénouement was not spelled out for me as I expected it to be. This is not so much a fault of Jane Austen as it is of my inexperience in reading Jane Austen. Continue reading .

Review: "Memoirs of the Court of Marie Antoinette" by Madame Campan


First published in 1823, these memoirs were written by the first lady-in-waiting to Queen Marie Antoinette of France. Madame Campan became close to the Queen during her 18 years in service. Her memoirs divulge details of the daily life at the royal court as well as recount the events of the Revolution from the royal family’s perspective. he Memoirs are written so that you can feel her devotion and see her true attachment to the royal couple. Her style is empathetic, descriptive and very lively; she brings the court to life. Continue reading .

Review: "The Shuttle" by Frances Hodgson Burnet


First published in 1907, The Shuttle begins with the marriage of Rosy, a heiress from New York, to Sir Nigel who despises Americans but has entrapped her for her money. Back in England, he abuses her psychologically and physically until she turns over most of her money to him. He also cuts off Rosy’s communications with her family. Twelve years later, Rosy’s sister Betty suspects Rosy may be Sir Nigel’s victim and sets out to rescue her. Continue reading .

Review: "Underlying Notes" by Eva Pasco


Hot flashes, a 25-year marriage, unfulfilled career ambitions, a restless retirement, a large stash of amber liquid hidden in the basement, and a husband whose life work involves garbage collection all set the scene for an unlikely romance. However, Eva Pasco has managed to weave all these elements into an amusing story line that wanders here and there at a steady clip—a story line as enticing and unpredictable as the heroine, Carla Matteo. Continue reading .

Review: "The Sylph" by Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire


Deep down inside, author Georgiana felt like a naïve girl who knew nothing of the world she took part in. It is that inner, scared child that becomes Julia, the heroine of The Sylph. While it is not an autobiography, The Sylph depicts many revealing, real-life situations from Georgiana’s social circle. Published anonymously when she was twenty-one, the book shocked many due to its revelations. Today the book is just as eye-opening as it was when it was published. Continue reading .

Review: "The Return of the Soldier" by Rebecca West


First published in 1918, The Return of the Soldier is the First World War I novel written by a woman. It might also be the first novel that explores the psychological aspect of the casualties of war. The story centers on a British officer who returns home from the front physically sound but suffering from amnesia brought on by shell shock. His memory loss wipes out the past 15 years of his life during which he married a society beauty, Kitty, and had a son who died in infancy. The story asks more questions than it answers, but the reader can infer what happens and whether the ending is indeed the best possible scenario. Continue reading .

Review: "The Happy Medium" by Janice Tarver


Although she has sometimes been referred to as a clairvoyant, author Janice Tarver prefers to describe her abilities as those of a medium. Her gifted abilities are derived from her Christian heritage for she is neither a fortune teller nor a card or chart interpreter. The Happy Medium centers upon Janice’s interactions with clients, the clients themselves having submitted many of the experiences described in the book. Janice has a gift, albeit one she has not always been comfortable possessing, much less using. Her journey through acceptance and actualization of that gift comprises another facet of the story. Continue reading .

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