compelling, evocative, Gulliver
I've read a lot of Nora Roberts' novels and many of them blend together for me, which means that they were less than compelling or memorable. Not bad, mind you. Just not exceptional in any way.
A couple of her novels have stood out for me, and this I think is the one that I like best. I certainly admire Roberts' ability to make the perilous world of fire jumpers come into focus. A lot of research went into this, but (and this is the hard part) she never indulges the temptation to simply show off what she learned -- Roberts provides just enough detail to get a real sense of how physically and mentally challenging fire jumping is. I got a good idea of the current technology and how it's used, and maybe most important, I began to understand the mindset and priorities that would drive an otherwise sensible and intelligent human being to jump out of a plane into a raging fire.
The primary romance is exceptionally good. Rowan, a veteran fire jumper, and Gulliver, a rookie. I find I can't resist the urge to use the totally predictable descriptive phrase: they generate tremendous heat.
Rowan tells Gulliver the truth.
The scenes between Rowan and her father were very well done. She realizes that he has been lonely, and that she doesn't want him to be lonely, no matter how much change scares her.
Tremendously interesting, and an alpha-hero who tempers near perfection with a good dose of self-awareness.
I am a big fan of Brockmann's other books -- especially the last five or so SEAL Team series. On that basis, I thought I'd try this novel, one of her early (earliest?) efforts. Everybody starts somewhere, after all.
This is not a bad novel, but it is awkward and strained in tone, and the characters are less well rounded than those in later books. The narrator handled all the different regional and social dialects well.
Somehow it just didn't gel for me.
Hmmm. I'd rather see Izzy Zanella on a big screen, I think.
Byatt weaves together two story lines, one set in Victorian England and the other in present day academia, in England. She is an academic herself and this is probably the best (and funniest) portrayal I've come across. At the same time the themes are deep and resonant. It's hard to believe that she made the two Victorian poets out of thin air, they are so clearly drawn.
Byatt writes beautifully, but mostly she can tell a story that works as a mystery, love story, academic send-up, and an historical.
The scene in the graveyard was the perfect crisis, exciting, evocative, satirical.
Christabel LaMott, the Victorian writer and poet.
Byatt composed two sets of poetry for this novel, one for each of the Victorian poets. This is not light reading, but then on the other hand you can get a lot out of this novel even skipping over the poetry. The narrator really delivered, as well.
Ivory writes complicated characters who are anything but run of the mill. Louise is, in my opinion, Ivory's best. A young woman raised by loving parents with endless resources, very beautiful, a master of social expectations and conventions of her time (circa 1900) and place (New York, and then then the Côte d'Azur) and she is interested in nothing so much as math and the sciences. She knows her own failings and owns them to Charles telling him that she is vain and self-centered, but he has seen the parts of herself she hides away.
The second half of the story, once Louise arrives at Charles' home on the Côte d'Azur.
She narrates Charles to perfection. Perfect accent, intonation, tone. The dialogue between Charles and Louise is handled so well that sometimes I found myself breaking out in gooseflesh -- and I'm not talking about the sex scenes, which are beautifully done -- but the way they talk to each other.
No, I wanted to stretch it out.
Some people find the beginning of the book -- letters between Louise's parents and Charles -- go on too long. Rosenblatt narrates them so well that they fly right by.
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