On the surface, this was a lighthearted romance. As unbelievable plot line with a few too many contrived conveniences as I have come to expect from most stories in this genre, but the characters were quirky and endearing, they faced real problems and real trauma and yet stayed true to the idea of romance. The main characters were by and large likeable. She was a little too good-natured and naive and he was a little shallow and failed to see the obvious. But both were sympathetic and many of the secondary characters were even more so.
The undertones - that dealt with coming to grips with loss, letting go of long held harmful habits and dialog, the role playing that takes place in family dynamics - were dealt with well. They gave the plot meat, but didn't overwhelm the warmth of the romance.
Overall this was a very likeable book.
If I only read this novella, I am not sure I would have rated this quite so highly. But this is a prequel to The Girl I Left Behind, which I read immediately after. The Girl I Left Behind was complete enough that if I had not read Honeymoon in Paris, I would have still been able to follow the story. But reading Honeymoon first, gave me great background information that did fill in a few blanks in The Girl I Left Behind. The only disconnect was, the newlywed groom in Honeymoon was evidently a far better husband than he came across in Honeymoon. He comes close to sainthood in The Girl I Left Behind.
The two narrators did a great job. It was easy to follow the shifts in time. This is a lovely little book and I highly recommend it. If you have not yet read The Girl I Left Behind, I definitely recommend reading Honeymoon first.
But not quite. And my issue is tiny enough I can still recommend this book quite highly.
Ms. Moyes does a great job of taking a controversial issue and helping you see it from a fresh perspective. The issue isn't quite as intense as assisted suicide, as she tackled in her most recent book. But it is still polarizing - repatriation of illegally obtained valuables and personal items during a time of war. This book takes a fresh look at the issue and the perspective she crafted was quite ingenious. She takes a step backwards from the more common storyline of evil Nazis and the pillage they committed during World War II and sets the events in motion during World War I.
The story is told from two perspectives, almost 100 years apart. Two women who are terribly different - one who continues to fight and to hope long after everyone around her has stopped and one who seems to have stopped fighting and hoping a long time ago. Through the artwork they share, the strength and righteousness of Sophie gradually becomes imbued in Liv.
The narration was wonderful, especially Sophie's voice. But both narrators performed multiple characters and accents beautifully.
Here is my one tiny complaint. I will try and express it without giving the ending away, but the resolution in Liv's story has one too many last minute reprieves to me. I felt like I was brought to the bring of resolution, only to find out it wasn't once too often.
I finished the book terribly satisfied. It is the 3rd book I've read by this author. I will definitely read another one and I recommend this one highly.
The Grand Sophy is regarded as one of Heyer's best. I was so excited that it was finally available on Audible. It is a very good book by any standards, although it is not at the top of my personal Heyer list. I liked the main characters and enjoyed their plans and machinations. But Heyer shines best with understated characters. Those that quietly evolve into the character they are meant to be without a lot of fanfare. Sophy was a little too boisterous for me, at least for Heyer's world.
There was also less finesse to the romance than you typically see in her books. Even though there is often no romantic interaction between the main characters until the very last page of the book, it is usually easy to recognize the attraction and chemistry between the two main characters, even if they never kiss. In the Grand Sophy I knew that ultimately Sophy and Charles would be together because I had read a plot synopsis. They didn't seem particularly interested in each other in the book and that made the ending seem contrived to me.
However, Sophy and her complicated plots and plans were always entertaining and the secondary characters were eccentric and generally lovable, as one would expect. So while this is not my favorite Heyer book, it is definitely worth reading.
And the narrator was annoying. I read a recommendation of this book somewhere. I've really enjoyed some time travel books I've read. I got about 1/3 of the way through it and it felt like if the hero would finally believe that the heroine was not his intended and loathsome bride the plot might kick in and it might get interesting. But after one more incident of him almost believing her, and then not, I gave up.
I do not recommend this book.
I swore after I read the last book in this series I was done with it. If The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie had not been one of the best books I ever read, I would never have read the second book in the series. Each subsequent book has been less interesting than the one before it.
I read a detailed synopsis of this book and reluctantly decided to give it a try. The main character seemed off-beat and troubled enough that I thought the author might be able to recreate a little of the magic of Ian Mackenzie's book. Unfortunately she did not. This plot was flat, the two main characters seemed to have nothing in common and no spark between them. It was never explained and never clear why they cared for each other, what in their history showed that they were meant to be together or why we should care about them. The author barely used any of the most interesting characters from earlier books and while the secondary Indian and Scottish characters were interesting, they were hardley developed.
However, in case it isn't evident, I really enjoy this narrator. And I probably would have listened to this book even if I knew it would disappoint me, just to listen to her.
This ranks up among the best of Georgette Heyer's books. I was excited to find it finally available on Audible. As usual her characterization was great. She takes a character who has a well entrenched but totally off-base view of themselves and gradually and sweetly turns them into the character they always meant to be. The struggle Sylvester went through as he shed his preconceived ideas of himself and his flawed notions of an ideal mate and turned into a fully formed man was fascinating to read.
Heyer's books are often dismissed derogatorily as "silly romances". I see her compared as often to Barbara Cartland as Jane Austen and nothing could be more unfair. Her characters have both flaws and depth, her plot revolves around more than two lovers finding each other and she captures a time and a place better than almost any author I have ever read. She has had a couple of "misses" in my opinion, but Sylvester isn't one of them. I recommend it.
I read both The House at Riverton and The Secret Garden. 1/2 of The House of Riverton would have been a good book. I enjoyed the Secret Garden, although I fast forwarded through the fairy tale. It didn't seem relevant to the plot, was terribly repetitive and just slowed it down. Just because a character is a writer, that doesn't mean the author has to prove it by including the fictional writer's work in the author's novel. But other than the fairy tale, and the slow narration, The Forgotten Garden was a very enjoyable book - better than her first outing.
So I was optimistic about The Distant Hours. Unfortunately my optimism was not warranted. First it started with another contrived fairy tale which was read so slowly and so ponderously it reminded me of the Giant character in the old cartoon version of Jack and the Beanstalk. I kept waiting to hear the actor whose voice had been slowed way down to say Fe...Fi...Fo...Fum. I am certain they must be slowing down this narrators voice in the studio. It just doesn't sound natural. And the fairy tale story itself about mud people was just dull. If I had read it as a child I would have thrown the book away.
This fairy tale was so grating and it seemed apparent it would be repeated ad nauseam throughout the book that I gave up about 3 hours in. I was just starting to learn about the elderly sisters and they seemed like interesting characters. But by then, the mud story and the narrator had given me a splitting headache.
I hate to give up on a book and seldom do. This one though just wasn't readable to me. What is strange is I rarely give a bad narrator a second chance. There are all sorts of books on Audible I would like to listen to but never will because of the narrator. Caroline Lee has annoyed me for three books now. So much so, I couldn't finish the last. But I like her voice. If she was reading something lively and spoke at a natural pace I think I would really like her.
The plot of this novel intrigued me. And I typically like novels that are based on an older person's memories. The plot didn't disappoint me and many of the characters were well developed and relate-able.
However, the book moved very slowly. Almost painfully so. I actually like long novels, as long as the story moves along and the plot is full and complex enough to warrant the time spent. This story could have been told thoroughly in about 1/2 the time or less. While interesting, the plot was not nearly complex or layered enough to warrant this size of book. A little plot, interspersed with pages of angst.
Unfortunately, I think the narration made it worse. I like the narrators voice and would gladly listen to her on another book, because I think she matched the speed of her narration to the ponderous pace of the book. Many times it sounded like the sound mixer actually slowed the speed down on the narration. It seemed impossible to say some words as slowly as she did.
All of this said, I finished the book and I am glad I did. Again, the story and the characters
were interesting. It just moved at an interminable pace.
I actually like this book and recommend it. However, I think this is the first time that my Overall rating is lower than the rating for the Performance and the Story. I thought the performance was well matched to the characters and the plot. Overall, I thought the plot was very interesting and it certainly kept my attention. Sometimes there was a little too much lag time between a specific scene and when it's relevance to the plot was finally revealed, but other than that, I thought this was a great story, plotted out well.
My issue was that the author's style was terribly wordy. So wordy that it made the story drag and made it more difficult to clearly understand the characters and their motivation. The words just got in the way.
I read reviews comparing the story and the writing style to Fitzgerald. To a degree, I understand this. But in spite of the fact that the length of The Great Gatsby movie lasts about as long as Gone With the Wind, the book itself is very short. Great writers always value quality over quantity in their writing. If this author had followed their lead, this book could have been close to perfect.
It was quickly obvious where this novel was headed. The author could hardly deal with such a serious subject cutely. There could not be a "riding off into the sunset" HEA. I've read other reviews that called it a romance, a love story. I saw it more as a life story. Any romance was really just a potential. A potential that could never develop. About the only part of the book that rang untrue to me was Clark's declaration of love. If I had been on the receiving end of that declaration, right after hearing that the person giving it knew my secret, I would have thought it just another attempt to try and get me to change my mind, a ploy and a ruse.
But life is real and rarely if ever cute. I thought the author did a good job of presenting the dilemma of this particular life in an upfront, even handed way. There was very little preachiness and even after finishing the book, while I am relatively certain where I stand on the issue, the author did a very good job of not passing judgment. I expected her personal opinion on the issue to be evident at the end. It wasn't. At least not to me.
This is one of those novels that deals with an issue that needs to be discussed. As long as we continue to place more value on the quantity of life rather than the quality of it, this issue will not go away. And sometimes it is an issue that simply can't be raised on its own - discussing the plot of a novel is a more benign way to start the conversation.
Several other reviewers I read admitted to weeping through the last hour of the book. I can cry over a sad story, as much as the next guy, but I didn't cry over this one. I think that was partially because I knew where we were headed, so I wasn't caught off guard by the inevitable conclusion. I also don't think of it as a weepy read, because the real sadness, the accident that left Will a quadriplegic, was dealt with quickly in the first 3 minutes of the book. That was the tragedy, not the inevitable after-effects of it. And the tragedy was presented fairly clinically and abruptly at the beginning, before I was emotionally invested in the characters. So it didn't have the emotional punch to start the tears.
This was a better book than I expected it to be. I lost patience with Clark several times. She started out too immaturely. So much so it was a stretch to believe she came so far in such a short amount of time. And her complete lack of relationship skills, with her boyfriend, her family, or anyone else seemed a little extreme. That might be my only character-related complaint. I appreciated that the author didn't make Will a tragic figure. He wasn't a saint before the accident, as a matter of fact, he did not sound particularly likable. Nor was his family. That made it more believable than if he was portrayed as heroic, generous,compassionate or kind.
I usually don't like multiple narrators. Instead of clarifying perspective, they tend to just confuse me. I thought they all did a very good job on this and the periodic switch was helpful.
This was not an easy book to read. I had to put it down several times. I had a lighter, easier read going at the same time. That distraction helped me get through this. But I highly recommend it. It made me pause, made me think, made me dig deeper. And for a novel, that is saying a lot.
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