Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category

Review of Newt’s Emerald, by Garth Nix

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

newts_emerald_largeNewt’s Emerald

Magic, Maids, and Masquerades

by Garth Nix

Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins), 2015. 291 pages.
Starred Review

Garth Nix, author of Sabriel and other fantastic books, has written a Regency romance! With magic! (The romance is in a world with magic. I don’t think he actually wrote it with magic.)

Lady Truthful Newington is eighteen years old and soon to be launched into fashionable society in London. But on her birthday, her father gets out the famous Newington Emeralds, which she will inherit when she turns twenty-five, and a storm comes up and they are stolen.

Her father lapses into illness after the loss, blaming her cousins, the Newington-Lacys. Truthful knows they wouldn’t have done such a thing, but she can hardly investigate herself as a young female. However, when you have an aunt skilled with glamours, it’s possible to disguise yourself as a young male relative, who would of course be authorized to search for the emeralds.

Along the way in the search, she encounters a young man also on the trail of the thief. Of course there’s a problem that she’s not who she appears to be.

This book doesn’t have a complicated plot or romance. The magic is mostly light-hearted and about the appearances of things. But it’s definitely a fun story. If you like Regency romances (and who doesn’t enjoy one now and then?), the magic in this one adds some extra spice.

Here’s Truthful worrying about how she’ll do in London:

In London, Truthful felt sure she would be considered plain, particularly as her sorcerous talents did not include any particular skill with the glamours that would enhance her charms. Truthful had the small weather magic that ran in her family; she could raise a gentle breeze, or soothe a drizzle. In addition to this, horses and other animals liked her and would do her bidding. But she had none of the greater arts, and little formal training.

Truthful’s time in London ends up being much more interesting than merely balls, including peril on land and sea. But you can’t have a Regency Romance without balls, and this book is no exception.

garthnix.com
epicreads.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Wrath and the Dawn, by Renee Ahdieh

Friday, November 27th, 2015

wrath_and_the_dawn_largeThe Wrath and the Dawn

by Renee Ahdieh

G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2015. 404 pages.

The Wrath and the Dawn is a reimagining of the story of The Arabian Nights, and I’ll warn the reader right up front that it’s only the first volume of that story.

Shahrzad has volunteered to marry the caliph who keeps killing off his wives. She plans to avenge the death of her best friend, Shiva. She begins by telling him a story, a story that she will continue the next night. She is planning to find his weakness and kill him, but things don’t turn out as they expect. And the caliph is not the monster she had thought him. And her childhood sweetheart, planning to rescue her, as well as her father, accessing magic, all do not understand the changes that happen in her.

Let me say first that there are some holes in this story. Given the reason we find out for the caliph’s murders, I have a hard time believing that Shahrzad would really have lasted past even the first night. And then the way magic works is very vague and feelings-oriented (which I never particularly like in a fantasy book). On top of that, we’re told that Shazi is determined and does what she sets out to do – It seems to me she would have had a plan for killing the caliph and would have put it in place the first night, rather than hoping to arouse his curiosity.

But that said, this is an absorbing and fascinating love story. I’m not sure that I *quite* believe, once I think about it, that they would fall in love with each other. But while I was reading it, I didn’t think about it and was wrapped up in the story and longing for them to really see each other.

So, yes, there are some hanging plot threads. But the book is worth it and the story is lovely and I will definitely want to read the next installment. Perhaps not with the urgency that would keep my bride alive if I were an evil murdering caliph, but I’ll definitely be reading the next book soon after it’s published.

reneeahdieh.com
penguin.com/teen/

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, by Amy E. Reichert

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

coincidence_of_coconut_cake_largeThe Coincidence of Coconut Cake

by Amy E. Reichert

Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster), New York, 2015. 318 pages.
Starred Review

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake was one of those books I enjoyed so much, once I started I didn’t stop reading until I’d finished – even though most of the night had passed. (Oops!)

Lou Johnson is a chef in Milwaukee with her own restaurant, which is just beginning to turn a profit. Her fiancé, a lawyer, doesn’t really understand her passion for her restaurant. He talks about a time when she “won’t have” to work any more.

And then, when Lou brings over a coconut cake from her grandmother’s recipe to surprise her fiancé on his birthday morning – she discovers a young intern at his house, with him in his boxers. She drops the cake on the intern’s underthings.

Lou insists that she can work anyway. But her mind is not on her work, and everyone else in the restaurant is worried about her. Most unfortunately, by coincidence, that’s the very night that the new food critic in town, A. W. Wodyski, has chosen to review her restaurant. His reviews are very popular, but he hasn’t written a positive review yet. His review of Lou’s restaurant is his most scathing so far.

The critic’s real name is Al, and he’s newly arrived from London, ready to move out of Milwaukee after he’s built up a following. He ran into Lou the day he saw her walking with a divine-smelling coconut cake, and then he sees her again at a pub the day his review is published. Lou is in a terrible mood and quite drunk, knowing this review will destroy her fledgling restaurant.

At the pub, Al shows he’s new in town and not too impressed with Milwaukee. Lou, born and raised there, offers to show him the sights. They begin spending Mondays together, Lou giving a friendly tour of the city. Their friendship grows as they discover more and more in common. Naturally, as you’d expect in a romance, Al discovers the secret between them first – that she’s the one whose restaurant his review destroyed. But he’s already in love. How can he keep Lou from finding out?

What I loved about this book? The two valued each other so much. This wasn’t a romance you had to be told was happening or a romance based on good looks. You could watch it happening, and you could see two foodies bonding over common interests. Al is such a contrast with her ex-boyfriend, who didn’t understand what motivated Lou. But Al and Lou see each other for who they are and value that – well, except for the big secret they don’t realize is between them at first.

Here’s a section I liked from when they’re first getting to know one another. They’ve gone to a Chinese exhibition with a variety of sayings painted on the wall. Lou is looking at a quotation about Delight, and turns around and bumps into Al.

Al had hoped Lou would bump into him. He stood behind her while she stared at the wall for just that reason. Intrigued by her interest, he started to ponder the quotes on the wall, too. Delight – he couldn’t remember the last time he felt delight. Maybe before Eton, when he and his parents took road trips through the English countryside, stopping in little village pubs for lunches, traipsing over hilltops to see what was on the other side, and sharing a hearty meal at the end of the day. Wait – that wasn’t quite true. During his last outing with Lou, eating a buttery, cheesy burger and tasting fried cheese curds for the first time, with the sun shining and the world humming, he had felt delight. There had been no cynicism, no pretension, just pure enjoyment. Perhaps it was more about surroundings than the emperor had envisioned.

This book is the story of a relationship built on delight. And it is lovely. On top of that, it made me want to visit Milwaukee, something I’ve never wanted to do before. There’s a strong sense of place in this novel, as well as wonderful characters and a genuinely delightful romance, which faces obstacles but comes through.

This was the kind of book which I finish and think, That’s what I want. I want a relationship where I’m valued as much as Al and Lou value each other. I’d rather stay single than settle for anything less. It was a joy to read about such a couple.

amyereichert.com
SimonandSchuster.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of A School for Brides, by Patrice Kindl

Monday, September 7th, 2015

school_for_brides_largeA School for Brides

A Story of Maidens, Mystery, and Matrimony

by Patrice Kindl

Viking, 2015. 251 pages.

A School for Brides is a sequel to the delightful Keeping the Castle, but is primarily dealing with totally new characters, so you can feel free to read this book without having read the first.

Like Keeping the Castle, this is a humorous and light-hearted tribute to regency romances. There’s a quotation taken from Jane Austen’s The Watsons at the front. The Watsons was unfinished, but is also the only Jane Austen book I haven’t read, so I don’t know if A School for Brides mirrors the plot of The Watsons the way Keeping the Castle mirrors the plot of Pride and Prejudice.

I read this at an unfortunate time, having recently finished two other girls’ boarding school books: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, by Julie Berry, and As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, by Alan Bradley. And try as I might, I didn’t get too enthusiastic about yet another book with a large cast of characters and young ladies in a boarding school, so it took me a long time to read it.

But there is fun to be had here. We’re back in the delightfully-named village of Lesser Hoo, this time at a finishing school, the Winthrop Hopkins Female Academy. Girls have been sent there to find husbands. There’s one problem: No eligible men live anywhere near Lesser Hoo.

However, the problem is solved rather quickly when a gentleman suffers an accident near the academy, and must be taken there to recuperate. Of course his friends come to visit him in his convalescence, and couples happily pair off.

There are some surprises and obstacles. A wicked governess tries to interfere with one of the students, and some of the suitors are not so acceptable as one might wish. There is also a mystery, as promised in the subtitle, when a valuable necklace disappears. Is the thief the handsome footman, Robert, who is under suspicion simply because he’s a servant? Well, the reader will suspect not, but how then was the theft carried out?

Here is the beginning of the book:

“Mark my words. If something drastic is not done, none of us shall ever marry. We are doomed to die old maids, banished to the seat farthest from the fire, served with the toughest cuts of meat and the weakest cups of tea, objects of pity and scorn to all we meet. That shall be our fate, so long as we remain in Lesser Hoo,” said Miss Asquith.

Extravagant as Miss Asquith’s mode of expression was, her fellow scholars at the Winthrop Hopkins Female Academy could not help but feel that she had a point. They nodded in solemn agreement, and Miss Victor, who was only twelve, began to cry.

The other young ladies frowned and attempted to turn and regard Miss Victor with disapproval at her outburst. This was rendered difficult by the fact that all eight were bound to backboards, wooden devices that forced their necks and spines into an erect posture. The backboards required them to rotate their entire upper bodies when they wished merely to turn their heads.

This book gives you light-hearted romance, lots of couples, a ball, and missing jewels. Lots of fun.

patricekindl.com
penguin.com/teen

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Real Thing, by Ellen McCarthy

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

real_thing_largeThe Real Thing

Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook

by Ellen McCarthy

Ballantine Books, New York, 2015. 263 pages.

Written by a wedding reporter, this book is composed of stories — stories of people committing to each other. But Ellen McCarthy didn’t stop with weddings and also includes stories of couples whose love has lasted decades. Along the way, she throws in some good advice about finding and keeping the love of your life.

Bottom line, even if you don’t take any of the advice, this book is fun to read. It doesn’t hurt to be reminded that people out there are finding love.

The author throws in her own story — she started as a wedding reporter when she’d just finished a major break-up, but wrote the book as part of a married couple with a child.

Here’s some of her introduction:

When I first started on the weddings beat — also starting, as I’ve mentioned, a new chapter of single life — I wasn’t sure how it would affect me to spend my days interviewing deliriously happy couples and watching them walk down the aisle. It could have been like salt in a wound.

But the job had the opposite effect. All of these people — young, old, rich, poor, plain, beautiful, sophisticated, and simple — they’d all found someone. I was reminded again and again that love happens every day, in all kinds of ways, to all kinds of people. And when it does, it adds a beauty and richness to life that nothing else can match.

So a couple of months after the breakup, I found my dating legs again. This time I had the lessons of the people I’d written about swirling around in my head. Their experiences pushed me to be more open and optimistic, and at least try to enjoy it.

Even more important, the collective wisdom of these couples challenged me to rethink what I was looking for. So much of what they taught me about love ran contrary to what we learn in pop culture and society. Don’t look for lightning. Forget about presenting your best self — it’s your real self that counts. And dreams do come true, but almost never how you dreamed them.

Yes, reading these stories could have been like pouring salt in my wounds. But it wasn’t. Instead, this book left me smiling and encouraged.

ellen-mccarthy.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Read Bottom Up, by Neel Shah & Skye Chatham

Friday, June 19th, 2015

read_bottom_up_largeRead Bottom Up

by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham

Dey St. (William Morrow), 2015. 239 pages.

I’m reading like crazy for the 48-Hour Book Challenge, and this book is a fluffy romance that was a fun diversion. Okay, it’s not exactly a romance, since the Authors’ Note at the front pretty clearly indicated that the relationship is doomed.

This book is the story of a modern relationship — told through emails and texts, not only between the principals themselves, but also with their best friends.

And yes, that rings true! In a relationship don’t we go over everything with our friends? Okay, this book was nice to assure me it’s not just me who does that. I loved the way Madeline analyzes everything including the speed or lack of speed with which Elliot answers her emails.

Another fun thing about the book is that the co-authors only shared with each other what the characters shared with each other — the discussion of the relationship with the respective best friends was totally written separately.

Here’s how they put it in the Authors’ Note:

Somewhere deep in your Sent Items graveyard are the emails you wrote to your former flame along with the emails you wrote about those emails to your best friend. It’s all right there — a partial record of your relationship. But what if you could see the whole picture? Not just your side of it. After all, somewhere in the pixelated part of the world is your ex’s inbox. Therein lies all sorts of analysis to which you were never privy. What if you could read the whole funny, tragic, wincing train wreck of it all, if you could finally open up your relationship like a dollhouse (or, say, a cadaver) and know the truth of what happened?

This book is fun and a quick read. And as someone theoretically facing the whole dating world, it made me feel not alone.

hc.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Deeper Dating, by Ken Page

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

deeper_dating_largeDeeper Dating

How to Drop the Games of Seduction and Discover the Power of Intimacy

by Ken Page, LCSW

Shambhala, Boston. 2015. 255 pages.
Starred Review

I like the philosophy of this book so much, almost as soon as I’d read the Introduction, I ordered myself a copy. I will confess that I haven’t actually dated anyone while I’ve been reading it, and I haven’t done all the exercises. (There are some designed to help you find someone to date.)

However, I still love the principles behind this book, and I have a better idea of what I’m looking for, and I’m happier while I’m waiting to find someone, as well.

Let me quote from the Introduction to give you an idea of what’s found in this book:

The path to a loving relationship is about something much more profound, essential, and life changing than we have ever been taught. The real search for love is about embracing our most authentic self, sharing that true self with the precious people who know how to honor it, and learning to offer others the same in return. The amazing paradox is that the parts of our personality we think we must fix in order to find love are usually the keys to finding that love. On the path you’ll be taking, the focus won’t be on fixing yourself; it will be on honoring and expressing your innate gifts. And that changes everything. Instead of holding the whip of self-improvement over yourself, as many of us have spent so much time doing, you will learn to value, trust, and express what I call your Core Gifts.

What are Core Gifts? They are simply your points of deepest sensitivity to life. You will find them in the things that inspire you most, the things that touch you most deeply — and in the things that hurt you the most. Often we think we need to conceal these vulnerable parts of ourselves, to hide them or fix them in order to make ourselves more attractive, but the absolute reverse is true: they are the bullet train to authentic intimacy. When we learn to lead with our Core Gifts, our lives shift on their very axes. Our personal magnetism becomes stronger. We experience more passion and more connection to ourselves and others. Most important, we move closer to the love that may have previously eluded us, a love that empowers us and brings us joy.

This book explores how these ideas relate to your dating life. I especially enjoyed the section about finding your Core Gifts — because these things make life more rich, even while you’re still single.

The more you feel close to your joys, the more the people who are right for you will notice you and become attracted to you. Your joys are some of the very things your partner-to-be will love most about you, and will need most from you….

Also, the more time you spend with the things that touch you and move you, the more you will be noticed by the people who are good for you. The kind of person you are seeking is someone who is drawn to your Core Gifts, your authentic self. If you wait until you know someone loves you before you reveal these parts of yourself, it’s as though you’re waiting for the harvest without planting the seeds. It’s the vulnerability, warmth, and humanity of your gifts that will make the right person notice and come to love you.

Would you like to think about how these ideas can play out in your dating life? I highly recommend this book.

deeperdating.com
shambhala.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on my own copy, purchased via Amazon.com.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal

Friday, March 6th, 2015

shades_of_milk_and_honey_largeShades of Milk and Honey

by Mary Robinette Kowal

A Tom Doherty Associates Book (Tor), New York, 2010. 320 pages.
2010 Nebula Nominee for Best Novel
RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Fantasy Novel 2010

Thank you to my sister Melanie for giving me this book for Christmas.

The book is essentially Jane Austen – with magic. Now, it didn’t enchant me as much as the other Jane Austen with magic series which began with Sorcery and Cecelia. I think the reason was that the sibling rivalry was a bit intense for my taste. The younger, more beautiful sister, Melody, is intensely jealous of her older sister Jane’s accomplishments. (I missed the love between Elizabeth and Jane in Pride and Prejudice.) Those accomplishments include ability with Glamour – magical enhancement of art and music.

The story is fun, in many ways mirroring Pride and Prejudice. I rightly looked for romance to develop with the most distasteful man Jane was initially introduced to. But things do stay interesting. I didn’t particularly like the jealousy subplot, as Melody also has some men to choose from. Does she really need to like the same ones as her sister? Meeting and getting to know the various eligible men and their sisters takes up most of the book. It was also not a surprise that one of the men turns out to be a cad.

Here’s a taste from the first chapter:

When all was settled, Jane seated herself at the pianoforte and pulled a fold of glamour close about her. She played a simple rondo, catching the notes in the loose fold; when she reached the point where the song repeated, she stopped playing and tied the glamour off. Captured by the glamour, the music continued to play, wrapping around to the beginning of the song with only a tiny pause at the end of the fold. With care, she clipped the small silence at the end of the music and tied it more firmly to the beginning, so the piece repeated seamlessly. Then she stretched the fold of glamour to gossamer thinness until the rondo sounded as if it played in the far distance.

The door to the drawing room opened. Melody leapt to her feet with a naked expression of welcome on her face. Jane rose slowly, trying to attain a more seemly display. She placed her hand on the pianoforte as the room spun about her with the lingering effects of working glamour.

But only their father entered the room. “Hullo, my dears.” The plum brocade of his waistcoat strained across his ample middle. He looked around the drawing room in evident pleasure. “Are we expecting company?”

Melody said, “Mr. Dunkirk said he would honour us with a visit this afternoon.”

“Did he?” Her father looked befuddled. “But I saw him not fifteen minutes ago passing through our fields with the FitzCamerons. They looked for all the world as if they were going hunting. Are you certain you did not mistake his meaning?”

Melody’s face soured. “His meaning was clear. But perhaps he preferred to spend the afternoon in the company of a lady than a farmer’s daughter.”

Jane winced as Melody flew from the room.

If you’re in the mood for a fun old-fashioned romance with a nice dose of magic, this book is a fun read.

tor-forge.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on my own copy, a gift from my sister Melanie.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Caller, by Juliet Marillier

Saturday, November 8th, 2014

caller_largeThe Caller

A Shadowfell Novel

By Juliet Marillier

Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2014. 437 pages.
Starred Review

The Caller is the third book in the trilogy begun in Shadowfell. You should definitely read the books in order. This is a wonderful culmination and completion of the story.

The book did not go as I expected. Neryn was planning to complete her training from the last two Guardians, and then go to the Gathering at Midsummer and Call the Uncanny Folk to fight on the side of the rebels. But early on, people and situations require her plans to be changed. The servants of the White Lady have been killed. The king, who rules the land with a reign of terror, has found a Caller of his own. He is planning to Call the folk to fight on his own side, and he doesn’t mean to ask nicely.

Meanwhile, Neryn’s beloved is in the middle of it all. It’s getting harder and harder for him to keep up the pretense of being a loyal king’s man. And how can he stand by while the Good Folk are being harmed?

Here’s how the book begins, in a Prologue that gets right into the action and the tension:

Done. He was done. No more lies; no more acts of blind savagery; no longer any need to pretend he was Keldec’s loyal retainer. His precarious double life as Enforcer and rebel spy was over. He had turned his back on it, and he was going home.

Crossing country under moonlight, he pondered what his sudden decision would mean. He would be at Shadowfell, the rebel headquarters, over the winter. He would see Neryn again: a precious gift, though there would be little time alone together in that place of cramped communal living. His arrival there would bring a double blow for the rebels, for he carried not only the news of their leader’s death, but also an alarming rumor, passed on to him by the king himself. Another Caller had been found; Neryn was not the only one. If true, these ill tidings set the rebels’ plan to challenge Keldec at next midsummer Gathering on its head. An expert Caller should be able to unite the fighting forces of humankind and Good Folk into one mighty army. He shuddered to think what might happen if two Callers opposed each other. He must take the news to Shadowfell as fast as he could. That, and his other burden.

I wasn’t willing to wait for the library to get this one – I preordered it as soon as I heard it was coming out. And I am glad I did; I will want to reread this trilogy many times, to once again enter the ancient Alban of Juliet Marillier’s brilliant imagination.

JulietMarillier.com
randomhouse.com/teens

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on my own copy, purchased via Amazon.com.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of Kilmeny of the Orchard, by L. M. Montgomery

Friday, July 18th, 2014

kilmeny_of_the_orchard_largeKilmeny of the Orchard

by L. M. Montgomery

Bantam Books, New York, 1989. First published in 1910. 134 pages.

I turned 50 last month. As a way of celebrating, later in the year during the few weeks when all three of us are 50 years old, two childhood friends and I are hoping to visit Prince Edward Island. In preparation for that trip, and as part of my celebration, I thought I’d reread L. M. Montgomery’s books. Update: The trip’s not going to work out after all this year, but we’re going to try to go before we turn 55. And it’s still a good excuse to reread the books!

Kilmeny of the Orchard is actually the first novel Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote, though she didn’t get it published until after her classic Anne of Green Gables was published and was immediately wildly popular. To be honest, as a writer it encouraged me greatly to learn this. If L. M. Montgomery’s first effort was a masterpiece, well, then, who was I to think I could ever write anything?

Let’s just say that after reading Kilmeny of the Orchard, I was not surprised to learn it was the author’s first effort. A lovely first effort, yes, but not a masterpiece like her first published novel.

Kilmeny of the Orchard, like all but one of L. M. Montgomery’s books, takes place on beautiful Prince Edward Island. It’s a romance, simple and sweet. There is lots of flowery description and the young lovers are good and true and the story will make you happy.

Yes, the plot is highly unlikely. L. M. Montgomery used to find surprising stories in the news and then put them in your fiction — not realizing that fiction needs to be less surprising than truth in order to be believed. Worse, there’s a villainous character who is clearly villainous because he’s from “Italian peasant stock.” And our heroine is essentially the most beautiful woman in the world, and innocent and sweet (even though she’s lived away from people except her aunt and uncle and the villain all her life). The hero is handsome and smart and rich, but working as a schoolteacher to help a friend.

However, you still can see the seeds of L. M. Montgomery’s greatness. She may overdo the description in this book, but she has a gift for it. And you can already see the quirky characters appearing whom she is so good at bringing to life.

All the same, this is the book that reassures me that L. M. Montgomery was human, too. She, too, had to work at her craft.

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Source: This review is based on my own copy, purchased years ago.

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