Set in English society before the 1832 Reform Bill, Wives and Daughters centers on the story of youthful Molly Gibson, brought up from childhood by her father. When he remarries, a new stepsister enters Molly's quiet life, the loveable, but worldly and troubling, Cynthia. The narrative traces the development of the two girls into womanhood within the gossiping and watchful society of Hollingford.
You’ll love this as well. With a feminist heroine and good people trying to do right (although not always succeeding), it’s a bit of a relief from today’s world, which seems to have lost its compassion. These days, it seems hard times fall and no one lifts a hand to help; its pleasant to pretend there was a time people reached out to help others. All that said, warning: there are a few racist references concerning a character’s trip to Africa, and these statements go unchecked. But they don’t total more than 5 minutes in a 22 hour work...so you are allowed to forget it (if that’s okay with you)...
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Here is one of the best historical novels ever written. Lame, stammering Claudius, once a major embarrassment to the imperial family and now emperor of Rome, writes an eyewitness account of the reign of the first four Caesars: the noble Augustus and his cunning wife, Livia; the reptilian Tiberius; the monstrous Caligula; and finally old Claudius himself. Filled with poisonings, betrayal, and shocking excesses, I Claudius is history that rivals the most exciting contemporary fiction.
“I, Claudius” takes some liberties with history, but many times to greater humorous effect, in particular when Claudius is commenting on the vagaries of historical accounts...because, of course, this novel purports to be, itself, an historical account.
Sometimes it is hard to keep the alliances and familial relationships straight...sometimes it is hard to recall, for instance, if it was Agrippa or Agrippina who was Livia or Livilla’s enemy or friend. And when I looked it up online, I couldn’t find an accurate family tree, let alone diagrams of alliances.
That said, it is an enjoyable novel, and oddly resonant with today’s leaders, who seem to place an equally high value on loyalty without nearly as valid a basis. (After all, it’s been a long time since one’s frenemies actively plotted one’s murder.)
The narrator was quite good, but the announcements of new chapters sometimes nearly overlapped with the narration, as if they were clumsily spliced during production. Jarring at times, but far from fatal.
William Whittlestaff, an aging bachelor, becomes a guardian to the much younger Mary Lawrie. Having lost the woman he loved to a richer rival many years ago, he now finds himself falling in love with Mary despite knowing that her love belongs to another man, John Gordon. John left three years previously in search of his fortune in order to make himself worthy of Mary. Not knowing if she will ever see him again, Mary accepts Whittlestaff's proposal only for her true love to return.
The narration is excellent, but this novel contains brief racism and only one major plot line, making it not my favorite of Trollope’s works. While, like most of his novels, the characters have more honor and nobility than the people I know in my life (making it, as always with him, a means to regain my faith in humanity) it’s not his best work, and the casual references to the diamond trade remind me of the distance between the world he creates and the one we live in. I’d recommend it only for those who want to exhaust all his works. For those who want to try one or two, try nearly any other, or you won’t have given Trollope a fair reading.
Former Marine helicopter pilot Jack Morgan runs Private, a renowned investigation company with branches around the globe. It is where you go when you need maximum force and maximum discretion. The secrets of the most influential men and women on the planet come to Jack daily - and his staff of investigators uses the world's most advanced forensic tools to make and break their cases.
If you like your male characters to have tragic pasts that justify their bad one-liners; if you like them to have outlandish tech and Lamborghinis*; if you like women to fall at their feet while the men remain emotionally unavailable in the most macho way; then this is your book.
This is also your book if you like to know what a woman is wearing; how that expresses her hotness; or what to do when she is only wearing her panties.
Oh, the plot? Something about nerd revenge on the type of teenage girls who dissed them in high school, but without that sort of justification. Of course a man has to stop this craziness, with the help of beautiful, driven women (as rare as the Lamborghini, but his for the asking!). There is also a subplot with the obligatory beautiful dead woman, found, of course, naked, but earning her murder in the same way horny teenagers earn their slashing in a horror movie.
So...yes, there’s an audience for this. And if it’s you, go with it. I won’t judge. But it’s not me.
*Okay, even I like this.
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In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don't say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.
With lyrical narration by Caroline Lee, Truly Madly Guilty probes the complexities of human relationships with humor, dignity and insight. Liane Moriarty gives each of her characters the compassion of a best friend, but spares us none of the flaws. The plot revolves around a barbecue, that ubiquitous modern-day mini-festival that some of us delight in and others barely tolerate, and while that alone might serve as worthwhile social commentary, the terrible occurrence at the barbecue leaves even a hapless next-door neighbor guilty, to varying degrees, of causing great harm.
Living on her family’s gorgeous lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, clever, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented fourteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure ...One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest son, Theo, has vanished without a trace.
Kate Morton does a wonderful job drawing her readers into her narrative. Her characters are compelling and her setting is richly detailed. The ending depends a bit too much on coincidence and some improbable actions--such as one character who waits decades to exact revenge that could just as easily been done a day after it was deserved--but the reader doesn't really mind. It's a nice story that's a joy to read, with reasonably plausible--if unlikely--plot twists.
Superstar comedian and Hollywood box-office star Kevin Hart turns his immense talent to the written word by writing some words. Some of those words include: the, a, for, above, and even even. Put them together and you have the funniest, most heartfelt, and most inspirational memoir on survival, success, and the importance of believing in yourself since Old Yeller.
Kevin Hart's memoir shouldn't be read as a book. It should be performed by him, as it is here. The life lessons are honest, interesting and hopeful. When told by the man himself, they take on new truth, making even the credits funny. This performance is among my very favorites of the genre, ranking up there with Tina Fey and Trevor Noah.
Ralph Elllison's Invisible Man is a monumental novel, one that can well be called an epic of 20th-century African-American life. It is a strange story, in which many extraordinary things happen, some of them shocking and brutal, some of them pitiful and touching - yet always with elements of comedy and irony and burlesque that appear in unexpected places.
Joe Morton gives an inspiring narration to this classic and timely novel. I could hear the influence of Langston Hughes and Jazz...I could feel the influence of Richard Wright and the blues. This is the first time I've come to see narration as a type of performance art...adding its own magic to the original. Truly wonderful.