Harris’s books appear in charity shops frequently, so I find myself buying them as cheap relaxing reads. I couldn’t resist this one when I realised it goes back to Vianne of Chocolat and Lollipop Shoes again.
This has strong parrallels to the original Chocolat, looking at conflict within the traditional rural community of Lansquenet. However this time instead of being set in Lent it is set in Ramadan. But eight years have passed, people have grown up, the community around the chocolate shop has changed and Father Reynaud is possibly no longer The Black Man against whom Vianne has to battle. But the magic still works and communication through food is still at the core of the story.
I was a little worried about how the Islamic component of the story would be handled, especially as at first it felt as though the new community had been brought in purely to provide a different background to Chocolat. Then there was the concern about the new antagonists seeming to be purely from the Islamic community.
Of course Harris moves into a world where life is not that black and white and everyone is shown to have complex motivations driven by plausible experiences, loyalties, guilt, love and fear. I’m still not sure I like the ending: even if it is the only solution it seems too brutal.
This is an early 20th Century novel aimed at “college girls”, which would be a standard young adult market today. On the surface, it is an enjoyable charming set of letters which read quickly and paint a picture of a girl who is escaping a fairly grim background in an orphanage with a generous benefactor who is sponsoring her through college.
I have a fondness for books told entirely through letters, the pace at which they go and the difficulty in conveying information which happens in the gaps. I also like writing them, there’s something special about sending a nice handwritten letter. And even more special to receive one.
The “but” which follows involves spoilers…
But the twist at the end in which she accepts a proposal of marriage from her wealthy benefactor makes the whole book an uncomfortable read. Her deciding to take a wealthy husband rather than become a renowned author in her own right is problematic enough. The fact that this husband is her benefactor to whom she feels greatly indebted and who has controlled her social interactions and limited her contact with other potential suitors over the previous four years is deeply uncomfortable.
This book is of course a product of its time, in which marriages between equals were not the norm, and does make attempts to promote women’s suffrage. That doesn’t make the promotion of such an imbalanced relationship sit any more comfortably, the power is far too firmly on one side in every respect and this isn’t even recognised.
I need to mention that RENT was my very favourite musical when I was 15-17 (ish). I saw it 4 times in the Prince of Wales Theatre in London (whilst living in Lancashire) and still am word-perfect with the lyrics. So its no great surprise that I loved this.
Its still as raw and powerful as ever, and the basic set with musicians on stage added to that. I think there must have been a speck of dust in the auditorium because I had a tear in my eye by the end, then everyone was up on their feet for the finale and encore.
I do feel old now, just because aside from the film I haven’t seen this in a decade and it was so much of my life then.
A short and sweet book describing the British relationship with the weather. Really a collection of 4 essays looking at different aspects of the weather. This book is full of appreciation of how mild the British weather is as well as looking at the more extreme weather, from how nature reacts after a storm to halcyon days in the sunshine.
Picked out from a library stand because I feel that with so few people using the village library someone has to take books that the librarians recommend. They’re almost always interesting even if not something I would choose to read.
OK, cheating with this one, but I have been discussing each chapter of each book over on Mark Reads. I’ve enjoyed reading this quartet this way, despite it being one of my favourite series to re-read I have discovered details that I had never noticed before.
This is the story about how a fairly ordinary, unGifted, but very talented and determined girl decides she will be the first openly female page because she feels she has a duty to protect those who cannot protect themselves (“The Small”). I want to be her when I grow up, that level of determination and persistance even in the face of impossible obstacles would be fabulous. But its remarkably different from the Song of the Lioness when the basic premise is so similar.
There is also so much friendship. Winning people’s respect and then friendship generally the hard way, and them backing her up, even when it meant treason and a risk of losing their own heads.
I also like that the book doesn’t close on her settling down with her one true love (TM) but instead confidently forging a career with the respect of her peers, superiors and the people she is in command of. That’s what Kel wanted from life, and she got it.
This is the 9th book in Pierce’s Circleverse sequence (in book time) set between the Circle Opens quartet and the books Will of The Empress and Melting Stones. Because of this a lot of major plot points are already known for those reading in publication order.
Briar is travelling with his student Every and teacher Rosethorn through distant lands. They have made more friends in the temples they visit and the three of them are very close, with Rosethorn quietly taking a mothering responsibility for the two young people,
As the title suggests, the three end up getting caught in a war, using their ambient magic, to assist in the defence of Gyongxe , a mountain country, against the Yanxing Emperor. His a David and Goliath war, but Gyongxe has a few tricks.
I like the Circleverse because although there are religious orders for the most part those gods worshipped have little supporting evidence. This is a strong contrast to Tortall where many of the protagonists are ‘God-touched’. Because of this I’m not sure I like how ‘alive’ the gods are in this book.
in Gyongxe or the ‘excuse’ for why this wasn’t already known because people who leave the high mountains forget the living supernatural beings. Or why they let so many people be slaughtered before they interfered to protect the country.
It also makes it harder to see how Briar ‘gave up Envy when they reached Winding Circle. Although she was still with Rosethorn, he considered her his responsibility so much in this book, reading the next one’s where she is still in need of a teacher and he has left doesn’t feel right,
But this is all nit-picking, and by my level of involvement with the characters I know I still love these books,
Thanks also to Anna C for a loan of her ARC (and the rest of the Mark Reads Tortall community: I love the trust and good faith which allowed that to be passed around) giving me time to have all these thoughts before my hardback copy arrived.
A brilliantly funny (and very crude) musical which I got to on the West End see as my main birthday present. I was very impressed at how they balanced between making fun of Mormons who have gone out to Missions and treating those Mormons as good people who try to rationalise their own beliefs. Apparently they did this so well that the Church of Latter Day Saints actually likes the musical (and the program includes adverts for the actual Book of Mormon).
The music has good repeated themes throughout to tie the production together, as is sufficently catchy that when I hear “Hello” I now automatically follow it up in my head with “…my name is Elder Price”.