This week I read two books because Shelley has been out of school for Winter Break, and we've spent tons of time at the barns for make-up riding lesson from all the snow and inclement weather. Waiting for Shelley's lessons gave me lots of time to read!
Now for the Friday 56
@ Freda's Voice
Bellman & Black book trailer
I read Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale. I loved Ausetenland, and but where Austenland is reminiscent of Pride and Prejudice, Midnight in Austenland is all about Northanger Abbey….and I thought it was *great*!
I enjoyed the late thirty-seomthing heroine Charlotte Kinder because she is a strong, well-drawn character. She decides to visit Austenland because it was recommended to her by her travel agent. Charlotte is recently divorced, and her husband and his new wife have custody of her children for the summer. There are several flashbacks in the novel explaining what makes Charlotte tick, from childhood memories to anecdotes about her marriage and subsequent divorce. I enjoyed these scenes because it really helped give a complete picture of Charlotte as well as her quirky inner monologues with herself.
Charlotte is soon inspired by Northanger Abbey's Catherine Morland because she is determined that a murder has occurred at Pembrook Park. Colonel Andrew's "mystery" that he's arranged as an "entertainment" allows her imagination to run wild, and during a power outage she swears she finds a body hidden in the mansion. This book has a definite gothic vibe à la Catherine Morland, and a few of the new characters were downright psychotic.
It was fun to see Colonel Andrew and Miss Charming again. I love their characters, and they were even more fully developed in this novel. Although a light read, I enjoyed the murder mystery and conclusion of the story very much. If you're a Northanger Abbey or Jane Austen fan in general and/or a gothic novel/ light mystery fan, you'll enjoy Midnight in Austenland.
On another note, I did finally get to see Austenland, and I thought it was so much fun. Jennifer Coolidge's performance was spot-on, and Keri Russell was cute in it, too. Jane Seymore also stars as Mrs. Wattlesbrook, the mistress of Pembrook Park. If you missed it on a previous post, here is the trailer for Austenland.
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It's that simple.
"She blew out her cheeks and tried to focus on driving. She could feel him staring at her, contemplating her, and it was such an unfamiliar sensation that she sprouted goose bumps as if she'd been tickled. Thoughts fled her head. Apparently they found the place too crazy to stick around."
from Page 56, Midnight in Austenland
I also read Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield. It was my pick for our St. Stephen's Episcopal Church book club. I'm afraid I'm about to be
voted off the island out of book club.
I have waited for years for her second book. I absolutely loved The Thirteenth Tale, and it was one of my all-time favorite books. But Bellman & Black falls way short of the touted ghost story it is supposed to be. I don't think it in any way represents that genre.
William Bellman makes a mistake as a young boy. When he is ten, he shoots and kills a young rook with his slingshot. An impossible shot, the parabola linking himself to the bird is flawless. Skip ahead a few years, and William is working in a mill he'll eventually own. But when he loses almost his entire family to illness, he strikes up a deal with a mysterious man to save his remaining daughter. As a result, he becomes and obsessive-compulsive manager, and embarks on a quest to create the quintessential Victorian mourning emporium and Bellman & Black is born.
What disappointed me so much about this book is Setterfield's exhaustingly lengthy description of Victorian textile mills and Bellman's OCD obsession with his Bellman & Black business. That's pretty much the gist of the book: description after (boring) description, and the story is totally lost. There are a few interesting breaks from the descriptions with these little personified blurbs about rooks. I had no idea that there are so many collective nouns for rooks! Maybe if Setterfield had focused on the Victorians' obsession with the dark and middle ages, occult, and funeral practices of the Celts (which she did barely touch upon) it might have made for a better story.
The only way I would recommend this book to anyone is if he or she wants to learn more about how a Victorian mill was run or about the Victorian mourning process. I really wanted to like this book. And my book club members are not going to be happy with me. I dread our meeting this morning!
If you want to learn more about the Ravens at the Tower of London and other raven lore, I suggest Boria Sax's City of Ravens. Many of the folklore surrounding the tower ravens began during the Victorian era.
What have you been reading? Please link-up and share!
Until next time…