Friday, January 9, 2009

Some Reviews. Finally.

I'm hosting a special playdate here for two little girls - a trip for hot chocolate and to look at books, soon they'll be watching a movie and eating pizza and popcorn. So cute! I'm going to try to write a little something while they are occupied. In case you are interested how I am doing with Lost, I have begun the second season. It sure is different from the first with so many new characters and an overall different feel of the storylines.

I have a few books that I read in 2008 that I still need to review. Needless to say, I finished them quite some time ago so they are not terribly fresh in my mind.

In 2008 I read and reviewed Bound by Sally Gunning. The Widow's War was written before Bound and includes some of the same characters. The story, set around 1761, revolves around Lyddie Berry whose husband has died in a whaling accident. According to common laws at that time, a window only received 1/3 of what her husband owned, which left Lyddie only 1/3 of a house and the expectation that she would go to live with her daughter and son-in-law. Lyddie isn't happy living in their home, and challenging custom decides to go back to her husband's home to live. She meets adversaries and frustration every step along the way. I liked this book very much, and for many of the same reasons I liked Bound. A vivid historical setting with lots of details of everyday life, and interesting and headstrong characters. I prefer historical fiction to be about women, but not necessarily romance based. The Widow's War fit the bill and I'm hoping Gunning writes more about these characters and time period.

The Minotaur is Barbara Vine's most recent US release (her new book is coming out soon, I believe). It is the story of Kerstin, a young Swedish woman recently graduated from college who comes to live with the Cosways, an eccentric family in the English countryside. Her role in the Cosway's home is to be a nurse to adult son John who is so heavily medicated that it is difficult to tell if his diagnosis of schizophrenia is accurate. Vine creates a wonderfully atmospheric story, full of the everyday, but also the eccentric, unusual, and disturbing. There is a more modern feel to this story as compared to Vine's usual work, in keeping with the times. As is usual there is murder, and as is usual, I enjoyed this book very much. The only niggle I had with it is its ending, which I felt was abrupt and tied up much too quickly. If you're a Vine fan, this one won't disappoint.


Anonymous said...

Have fun with the young ladies!

Staci said...

Why is it that I haven't seen these books in the bookstore? Am I looking in the wrong place or are they not released yet? Anyway, I loved your review. They sound very interesting.

Ti said...

I've never heard of these books either. Have fun with the girls!

Danielle said...

I need to read The Widow's War, too, as I really liked Bound. Glad to hear you liked it. And I really liked the Minotaur (as I usually like nearly everything by B. Vine), though it's been long enough now that the ending is a little hazy.

Anonymous said...

Tara, one of my book group members enthused about THE WIDOW'S WAR at our "Best of.." meeting in December. I need to send her your review of BOUND because I'm not sure she knows about it. Anyway, the library doesn't have enough copies to use for that group, but I am including it in July when our group will read 4 or 5 different books and then report back to the large group about them. I'm looking forward to reading it.

I must start reading Barbara Vine. I think I read ANNA'S BOOK (did she write that?) many years ago, but have not continued with her. Your reviews always make me want to run right out and pick up the books!

Tara said...

bermudaonion, thanks it was fun!

Staci, I don't know - though to tell you the truth I haven't really seen these either. The Minotaur is from 2005 and The Widow's War is from 2006, so they're not old books, or brand new either. Thanks very much!

Ti, thanks!

Danielle, I sort of wish now that I'd read this one first, it would have helped me understand some of the relationships better, guess I'll just have to re-read Bound sometime.

Kay, really - how cool! She'll be lucky to read them in order, I wish now that I had. I hope you like it as well. Yes, B Vine wrote Anna's Book (or Asta's Book in the UK) - that is still my very favorite of hers. I really like her books, and will be a bit sad when I've read them all.

Sandra said...

These sound good. I've read Asta's Book and really liked it, I have a copy of The Unadapted Eye waiting on the shelves. I didn't see anyone mention it, but did you know that Barbara Vine is Ruth Rendell of mystery fame? There's no faulting her mysteries of course but I really like her more literary work under the Vine name.
So there may still be more to come.

Tara said...

Sandra, nice to know you are a Vine fan! I did know that BV and RR are one and the same. I've been collecting a few of the RR books, but haven't read them yet. They don't appeal to me as much as the more psychological BV books, but I'm curious. I hope there is more to come!

Carrie K said...

That reminds me, I never did pick up The Widow's War. Bound was interesting even if I did feel like shaking whatshername occasionally.