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Joined 4 months, 2 weeks ago

recovering Victorianist, tech worker, fan of giant books. Portland, OR.

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The young Clementina (1970, Holt, Rinehart and Winston) 3 stars

Review of 'The young Clementina' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

This isn't a witty good cheer slice of life romance like a lot of Stevenson's work: the synopsis promises something frothy but it's kind of a downer about tragic mistakes and an ugly divorce with an unusually generous helping of imperialism and classism and so on. If you're looking for another Miss Buncle's Book, probably skip this. If you want an angsty romance with a lot of horsey people in it, go for it.

Mrs. Tim carries on (1973, Holt, Rinehart and Winston) 4 stars

Hester Christie, wife of Major Tim Christie, continues her diary with entries chronicling life in …

Review of 'Mrs. Tim carries on' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

You will like this, if this is the kind of thing you like.

I recently discovered D.E. Stevenson while laid up with a busted knee, and if what you need is gentle but not too idiotic or romance-y tales of mid-century village life in England Scotland, this is the sweet spot. They are quirky, with odd and annoying characters that often perplex the main characters, but not obsessively focused on these conflicts; they are full of the details of managing meals for a family or unexpected guests (in this case in wartime); they often have funny and perceptive asides; there is usually at least one romance plot that nevertheless doesn't take over the book. The main subjects are human relationships and householding.

This is a long-delayed sequel to a military wife story I haven't read, with the formula (competence porn and happy marriage) adjusted for wartime. There are some thrills …

Review of 'Wylding Hall' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

I enjoyed this the whole time I was reading it, but it didn't quite resolve anything to my satisfaction, whether by preserving the terror of the mystery or by demystifying the horror. Unlike the author's novel Waking the Moon, which was legitimately scary, this was more atmospheric than frightening (and I'm a big weenie about horror, easily kept up at night by very mild scares).

However I fully appreciated the characters, the 70s chaotic band dynamics, the folk song geekery and the spooky house, so it wasn't a wasted read for me at all. It could have been much longer and I would still have been engaged.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin, Fiction, Historical, United States, People & Places, Readers - Chapter Books (Hardcover, 2006, Aegypan) 3 stars

Review of 'Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin, Fiction, Historical, United States, People & Places, Readers - Chapter Books' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

I hadn't read this since childhood and it hasn't aged very well.

Anne of Green Gables, which was published a few years later, rips off the plot and even some of the scenes and descriptions fairly shamelessly. But L.M. Montgomery made much better use of the material, from the fuller characterization, to the added humor and pathos, and even to the nature descriptions. Rebecca feels much more like a period piece at this point.

Especially the much older male benefactor lovingly watching over her development till the "womanly" age of 17, ugh.

Review of 'Net for Small Fishes' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I probably would give this a 4.5 if possible, just because the ending trailed off a bit, but it is so much better than most historical novels, especially ones that are based on real historical characters and events. There is court intrigue and fashion, but the emphasis is on the gritty reality of women, in high and low life, trying to control their own destiny under patriarchy. Both the atmosphere and the characters are convincing and immersive: they're not modern people with interesting clothes, they're people who have fully internalized the place they're struggling with and their attempted solutions aren't modern ones either.

It brought to mind the movie The Favorite, and Emma Donoghue's historical novels.

The Pull of the Stars (Hardcover, 2020, Little, Brown and Company) 5 stars

In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an …

Review of 'The Pull of the Stars' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This is probably four stars from the perspective of the rest of Emma Donoghue's work, which means amazing by anyone else's standards. It is quite graphic on the subject of birth. Think Call the Midwife ++ (things that can go wrong will, also pandemic), so very satisfying and very focused on women, but also horrifying in spots, gynecologically and socioeconomically.

I wasn't 100% convinced by the central relationships--this feels a bit slight compared to her other books despite the grim subject matter--but the characters were enjoyable and interesting.

This Is How You Lose the Time War (Paperback, 2020, Gallery / Saga Press) 4 stars

Two time-traveling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange …

Review of 'This Is How You Lose the Time War' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I rarely love a book with prose that's more acrobatic than lucid, but I loved this one. The time travel mechanics are peripheral: it's at least as much romance as SF. Funny and brainy and overstuffed with allusions and wordplay and yes, thrillingly romantic.

Girls in white dresses (2011, Alfred A. Knopf) 2 stars

Review of 'Girls in white dresses' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

What everyone else said about the interchangeability of the characters, but also even though one character's personality is "the one who drinks too much," everyone in this book appears to associate the joy of their college days with getting puking drunk. They spend their whole 20s feeling whiny about jobs and men and gossiping about each other, and they get hangovers every singe time they go out. They apparently don't have any interests. Depressing.

Very far away from anywhere else / Ursula K. Le Guin. (2004, Harcourt) 4 stars

Owen Griffiths, a seventeen-year-old outsider, learns to find his own way to a future in …

Review of 'Very far away from anywhere else / Ursula K. Le Guin.' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Ursula Le Guin was a genius, and this novel isn't anywhere near the top of her game. It has some clunky bits, and a point of view on humans and conformity that comes off cliché and isn't the best expression of one of her recurring themes: the relationships between exceptional people and the societies they have to live in, which inevitably include a lot of people on a different wavelength.

That said, this is a beautiful, immersive story that I loved as a teenager and still love now. It's very eloquent about the way great ideas and music and literature can strike the teenage mind with titanic force, and about how lost you can be as a young person trying to grow, until you find your people and find yourself. Set in rainy Portland where I live now.