on the needles

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Reading Novels

I've done quite a bit of reading lately. I normally read about 40 books a year with most of those books being in the 400 - 600 page range. I read quite a lot of history and biographies but over the past year I have finally gotten back into reading novels. It felt like there was a long "dry spell" where there was just nothing too tempting to read in novels. But given the recent explosion of historical novels perhaps it's not too surprising I have found my way back to reading them!

Here's what I have read lately:

Nectar From a Stone by Jane Guill : This book started out pretty sterotypically with somewhat inferior plotting and the usual romantic historical novel devices. But by the third chapter or so I felt the characters started to develop and become more real. The plot was still rather predictable (sometimes it is hard to write anything really new and surprising!) but it was fun to read and I liked the characters. I'd rate it a 3.5 out of 5.

The Rose of York in Love and War by Sandra Worth: Unfortunately this book was not as good. I was really hoping it would be good since it is part of a series and it's always exciting when you discover the first book of a great series. But I knew when I looked at the cover that it was probably rather commonplace. You know how you can sometimes (despite the old adage) tell a book by it's cover? Well that was the case here. The soft focus Pre-Raphaelite painting was really pushing this book over the top of the romantic historical novel and down the otherside into the dark valley of the romance novel with a historic setting. Believe me there is a huge and ugly difference. Too bad too because who doesn;t like to read about the Wars of the Roses? But this author was so busy being a Richard apolgist that the book and the characters suffered. I'd give it a 3 out of 5 mainly because the Wars of the Roses time period really halfway write itself.

Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier: There was so much hype about this book - mostly due to her other novel The Girl With the Pearl Earring that I was a bit turned off of reading it. I saw the movie of Pearl Earring but haven't read the book. The movie was also super hyped & was really a disappointment. I thought it was good but not any better than good. So consequently I didn't read Falling Angels until now. But I'm glad I finally did. This book is a very fast read but it is a little gem. I really like her style and the format she uses of telling the story through each characters voice and experience. This didn't come off like a writing gimmick which would have ruined everything. I really liked all of the characters and didn't think the book was predictable. I'd give this one a 4.5 out of 5.

The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier: As soon as I finished Falling Angels I picked up this one. It is in the same format and I wanted to see if the total switch of time and place would be handled as successfully. It was. I liked this story only slightly less than Angels. Now I am inspired to go out and get her other books and may actually read Pearl Earring. I give the book 4.25.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro: I read this one for Knit the Classics. I had read it before and sometimes a book I liked the forst time around doesn't hold up under more scrutiny. Of course this one did. The book is WAY better than the movie so if you have only seen the movie you should read the book. It's very sad how people hide themselves from themselves and have to rationalize their lives instead of living them. This book gives you plenty to think about. 5 out of 5.

Come on over and join KTC and discuss Remains of the Day with us. We will be reading something from the Neo-Classical period in October.


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