Sunday, February 28, 2010

What I've Read: A Long Overdue (and Overlong) Post

Annette Vallon, James Tipton
I got this book from the bargain section and had no idea what to expect. The jacket said it was a novel about William Wordsworth's first love, a French woman who he fell in love with on the eve of the French Revolution. Not knowing a lot about that time or about Wordsworth meant that I learned a lot and I'm definitely interested in finding out what was fact and fiction. The beginning of the book, which was more of a love novel, was nothing special, but about 1/3 of the way in the Revolution hit full swing, the action picked up, Annette began to figure out what she was about, and I was hooked. For all my readers who like to read about strong, independent women (and I know there are a lot of you), this will be an enthralling read.

The Sealed Letter, Emma Donoghue
Most historical novels show the reader the contrast between the past and the present. The Sealed Letter managed to both highlight the differences but also remind us that some things never change. It's the story of two friends, Emily "Fido" Faithfull and Helen Codrington and how they weather the storm of Helen's divorce from her husband. Just as it is now, the public is fascinated by the gruesome details of Helen's affairs and the couples' personal lives. Although it was slow at points, I enjoyed the twist on a traditional tale.

Interred with Their Bones, Jennifer Lee Carrell
I picked this up on the bargain shelf at the bookstore a few months ago with the idea that it would be a fun read for a trip when I wanted to read a lot without thinking too much. Well, I got one out of two. I read it during a relaxing camping trip a few weeks ago and it was definitely a page turner. The novel is a page turner mystery about people searching for the original manuscript of one of Shakespeare's lost plays. The concept was good but the plot was unbelievably convoluted and I had trouble following it at times.

The Forgery Of Venus, Michael Gruber
The first few times I heard about this popular novel, I thought the plot sounded too contrived for me to enjoy it. But after numerous strong reviews from diverse sources I added it to my list. As a result I was surprised when I found a hardcover copy for $5.98! I'm never one to put down a bargain book so I grabbed it, and as soon as I started reading it I couldn't put it down. It's the story of a painter in present day New York City whose style and technique belong in an older era. When he joins a clinical trial for a new drug designed to increase creativity, he finds himself traveling back first to his own youth and then to that of a famous painter. Soon he's not sure what is real, past and present, and when a painting by an old master is discovered the reader no longer knows who the real artist is. It was an unexpected page turner!

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