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19, 20, 21: Thursday Next, Destined, and Jane Austen Education

19. Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

*****

fforde-lost_in_a_good_book

I truly think that there is no more brilliant writer working today than Jasper Fforde when it comes to the sheer magic, creativity and genius of building alternate worlds and dimensions and realities. (If that’s not high praise, tell me higher and I’ll use it.) That being said, I still haven’t made it all the way through the Thursday Next series (this is book #2 and this was the first time I’d read it). I think probably it’s because I know there is only so much Thursday Next in the world and I want to savor it all, and have the joy of anticipation in looking forward to reading more.

For those who don’t know about Thursday Next, she is a detective working for the SpecOps police force in an alternate dimension-type universe where there are such things as Literary Police, the Crimean War is still going strong (well, at the time of the books, which take place in the mid-1980s of this particular universe), people go to Rocky Horror Picture Show-type productions of Shakespeare plays (audience participation galore), and rogue Baconians go door-to-door to try and convince people that Francis Bacon was the REAL author of Shakespeare’s plays. Time travel is possible (there’s a whole police division called the Chronoguard) and with the right inventions you can actually step into the printed word and meet literary characters. This ability comes into play in this book as Thursday joins JurisFiction, the intra-literary police force (her mentor is Miss Havisham, yes that one), and starts learning the ropes to solve literary crimes.

To say this book and this series was completely lovely and brilliant and amazing just doesn’t quite cover it. Trust me, just start reading the Thursday Next books for yourself if you haven’t already done so (Book One is The Eyre Affair). Five stars.

 

20. Destined, by Aprilynne Pike

*****

destined2

I started reading Aprilynne Pike’s Wings series last year, just as book three came out, in the mistaken belief that it was a trilogy and I wouldn’t have to wait months for the resolution of any evil cliff-hangers. Hah. It became clear to me about 5 pages from the end when things reeeeeeeaaaaalllly weren’t winding up fast enough that I’d been mistaken and yes, book three ended on one of the most evil cliffhangers I’ve seen since Catching Fire.

I’ve talked elsewhere about my feelings on Twilight, but I’ll sum up here by saying that, yes, I do love the Twilight books like I love cotton candy: it’s sweet, it’s fluffy, it reminds you of dates at the amusement park with your high school crush, and it’s not something you should eat all the time or you’ll get sick. Also, the main character bugged the crap out of me until book four when she finally became interesting to herself and therefore to me.

So when I say that the Wings series is kind of what Twilight would have been like if the main character were strong and assertive and solved problems and could take care of herself and had other things going on in her life besides an all-consuming love for a boy, that’s a compliment. Laurel is everything I wished Bella was and more. The mythology that Pike has created for this world is fascinating, the prose is fluid and clear, and yes, the boys in the inevitable YA love triangle are both amazing. (Although I really wish I could figure out how to pronounce “Tamani.”)

So much for the series as a whole. Destined was the best capstone to a series that I’ve read in a long, long time. I can’t imagine a more perfect way for this story to wrap up. The action of the book takes place mostly in a 24-hour period immediately following the evil cliffhanger from book 3 but never feels drawn-out or clunky; you’re turning pages as fast as possible to see what happens and how on earth can they possibly get out of this horrible mess? But everything works out just as it should. Nothing feels forced or contrived; nor does it feel like Pike wimped out or pulled any punches. And the epilogue, oh my goodness. I may cry gratuitously at movies and Taylor Swift songs (that’s a whole ‘nother story), but it takes a lot for a book to make me cry. So when I say that I cried at the epilogue—not ugly Bridge to Terebithia tears or wrenching middle-of-Hunger-Games tears, but cathartic tears and those tears you get when everything is just filled with a sense of rightness—that’s high praise.

Even if you think you’re sick of the whole YA paranormal romance type of series, I suggest you check out the Wings books. They’re a prime example of the genre done right. I’m looking forward to finding out what else Pike has up her sleeve in her career; this series is a most auspicious beginning. Five stars.

 

21. A Jane Austen Education, by William Deresiewicz

****

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I really enjoyed seeing Jane Austen from the perspective of a male grad student skeptic and how he came to learn to love Austen, as well as learning life lessons from her books. His takeaway lessons from the novels were not the same as mine in a lot of cases (and a few points he brought up I don’t think I quite agree with), but in some other cases he put something so brilliantly that it was what I hadn’t realized I’d been thinking all along. His comparison between the writing voices of Austen and Joyce, for example, nailed exactly what I’ve thought about the two styles for quite some time.

Deresiewicz’s writing style is friendly and comfortable but also very smart, and I thought the personal anecdotes and relations he made between his life and how he came to Austen were quite interesting. I don’t know if this book will convert any non-believers (which seems to be at least part of the point he’s writing from), but it’s worth picking up if you are even a casual appreciator of Jane Austen. Four stars.

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Skipping around: Three Mary Russell books (Yo52B #18, 28 and 31)

I’m skipping around a bit here with the chronology of my reviews, because I wanted to get all of my gushing out in one spot. These three books are all part of the same series. (Also, side note, aren’t those covers just gorgeous? I love both styles so much.)

Have I mentioned Mary Russell here before? If I haven’t, I apologize, as if you know me in real life and I’ve spoken to you at all in the past two years there’s a 90% chance I’ve recommended the Mary Russell books to you in terms so strong that you probably backed away slowly, smiling and nodding and looking for something to defend yourself with in case my not-so-latent maniacal tendencies started manifesting themselves in a more sinister way than book recommendations.

Ahem. Mary Russell is one of my current favorite literary characters. Laurie R. King has created an absolutely fantastic series about this British-American Jewish feminist Oxford scholar in the 1910’s and 1920’s who, at the age of 15, meets up with a retired Sherlock Holmes and becomes his protegee and partner. The books are meticulously researched and just sparkle with wit and intelligence. King’s Holmes is his own character but still true to the original vision of Conan Doyle (although this Holmes is rather testy about any references to Conan Doyle; he dislikes the way the latter man sullied his name by association, especially once Conan Doyle turned more to mysticism and fairy stories).

But Mary Russell, from whose viewpoint the stories are told, more than holds her own with Sherlock Holmes without becoming unrealistically superior to him. He still is able to teach and mentor her without making her appear weak. She is a worthy partner for him in every way, and challenges his mind and opinions more than he has been used to.

I’ve read three of these books this year. The Game is book 7. Later on in the year my book club read book 1, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, and I also read book 8, Locked Rooms.

18. The Game, by Laurie R. King

****

In The Game, Holmes and Russell make their way to India at the request of Mycroft Holmes in order to investigate the disappearance of an intelligence officer by the name of Kimball O’Hara, better known as the titular character of Rudyard Kipling’s novel Kim. (One of the delightful things about the Holmes/Russell universe is that many purportedly fictional characters, such as Holmes himself, are actually real and pop up at interesting times.) I loved the atmosphere of this book, which felt simultaneously menacing and full of color and spices. There were a few unexpected but satisfying twists, along with a few threads of a mystery to be picked up in the next book. All in all a solid book and great fun to read, but not quite equal to the top books in the canon (books 5 and 6, O Jerusalem and Justice Hall, were two sides of the same coin and absolute masterpieces. They were two of the top three best books I read in 2011). Four stars.

28. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, by Laurie R. King

*****

It was delightful to re-read The Beekeeper’s Apprentice a few weeks later with the benefit of hindsight (or is it foresight when you know what’s coming in the next few books? Anyway, I enjoyed it, whatever it was) and seeing how later events in the series were foreshadowed as well as seeing the clues to the answer to the mystery as they popped up in the book. It re-confirmed my conviction that Laurie R. King is a master of storytelling, whose writing style is like weaving a huge epic tapestry: everything is connected, somehow, and all the disparate threads come together to make an astonishing whole. (Yes, I have a serious author crush going on here.) Five stars.

31. Locked Rooms, by Laurie R. King

*****

I went into Locked Rooms not expecting too much, as I’d heard that it was four shorter stories rather than one complete novel. I was delighted to find that I was mistaken. The book is divided into four parts, yes, but that’s because two of the parts are actually told using third-person narration with Holmes himself serving as the viewpoint character for the first time in the series, with the other two parts in the accustomed first-person narration of Mary Russell. This may sound like it shouldn’t work, but oh, believe me, it does, and is done for very good and sufficient reasons. Far from being disappointed in this book, the ultimate result took my breath away. It stands solidly with books 5 and 6 at the top of the series. This book sees Russell and Holmes arriving in San Francisco to tie up the affairs of Mary’s parents’ estate, and a mystery from her childhood rises up to confront them. I can’t think of anything else to say that won’t give away spoilers or just devolve into garbled author-crush gushing. But seriously. Wow. Five stars and mad applause for Laurie R. King. (And yes, this book is a serious contender for the final six-star best book of the year award.)

Seriously, if you haven’t started reading this series, do yourself a favor and pick up The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. You should read all of them in order so you can properly appreciate the sequence and build of events and facts, and all of them, even the weakest (looking at you, book 3), are solidly on the Books You’ll Be Glad You Read list.

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Year of 52 Books #9: Persuasion

Persuasion by Jane Austen

*****

Side note: I love this cover and wish I had a copy of this version. What a perfect image for this book!

When people ask what my favorite book or movie is, I usually can’t give them a simple answer. It’s like choosing a favorite child (even though I only have the one), I say. I love so many books; you can’t possibly ask me to name just one favorite! I hem and haw and list five or ten books on my rotating favorites list.

But I’m going to admit, here and now, that I really do have one single favorite book, and that it’s Persuasion.

I’ve been thinking over this review for a few weeks now and have been having much more difficulty writing it than might be expected, given that I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this book and that I love nearly everything about it. But it’s important to me that I properly articulate why this book means so much to me.

It surprises me sometimes that more people don’t know about Persuasion. Everyone knows and loves Pride and Prejudice, which is kind of the sparkly diamond necklace of the Austen canon: beautiful and dazzling and obviously worthwhile. Persuasion is more of the tiny gold band, plain and sweet and perfect, fitted to the hand from long wear and love. Most people also know about Sense and Sensibility and Emma, mainly because they know Emma Thompson or Kate Winslet or Gwyneth Paltrow. Not as many people know Amanda Root, which means that not as many people know Anne Elliot, which is a true shame.

This book, to me, provides much more than “occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one.” It is the book above all others that I know I can go to at any time and in any mood and come away feeling whole and happy, enlightened and enlivened.

It may sound silly to wax so poetic about what many would view as a typical chick-flick-Austen-love-story: poor boy meets well-to-do girl, they get engaged, she is persuaded by (probably snobby) friends that it would be better for him if she broke off the engagement, he gets upset and leaves to make a great career for himself in the Navy, she stays home and never marries. So far, so Nicholas Sparks.

Their paths do not cross again for eight years, which time has served to confirm Anne’s belief that Captain Frederick Wentworth was her ideal match, and to solidify Captain Wentworth’s anger at the woman he loved but who had not, as he believed, loved him well enough to keep him. He turns up in the neighborhood to visit his sister and to look for a wife—any woman but Anne Elliot.

Things work out, as they tend to do in Austen novels, but in a real and moving way that flows perfectly, leaving you with a sense that all is as it should be. No grand coincidences or deus ex machinas here. Anne and Captain Wentworth are drawn back together because there is no other way the world can possibly be; they are meant for each other.

But, for me, this is not primarily a love story.

I will admit that my love of love stories certainly doesn’t diminish my pleasure in this book, and that my sentimental heart beats wildly along with Anne’s through the more suspenseful and sweet portions of the story. But it’s not the romance that keeps me coming back to revisit this book every year or six months.

Ultimately, this is a story about hope. Hope that things can be mended, that mistakes can be made right. Hope that life can be good and worthwhile even if you have family troubles or heartbreak or other problems. And yes, the hope that lost love can return.

I think that’s why the basic Persuasion-style plot line—love is thwarted for a long time but eventually triumphs—is so popular and sees so many iterations. One of the more recent ones I can think of is the delightful movie Letters to Juliet. The ostensible main story line about a perky young journalist (Amanda Seyfried) looking to get her big break and her sparring with the grandson of a woman she’s writing about is cute enough, your standard chick-flick fare. But the secondary story about the grandmother, played by the inimitable Vanessa Redgrave, is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while. Simply enough, this grandmother comes back to Italy after fifty years to find the boy she fell in love with as a girl and tell him that she’s sorry she didn’t meet him to run away together like she’d promised. She’s not necessarily looking for a grand reunion, romance, the works. She just wants to tell a person who was important to her that she’s sorry she let him down.

Of course things work out, just as they do in Persuasion. But if things never worked out, how would we be able to hope? If we had no memory of light, no hope that it would return, how would we bear the darkness? If we didn’t think that things could be mended, why would we ever try to make them right?

Anne, for all the dreary stretch of years clouded by regret, the dearth of real friendship and companionship in her life and the pain of suspense that she faces, still manages to keep hope and life and quiet joy alive, even when things look bleakest. That is her triumph. Even if Captain Wentworth had married Louisa, Anne would have kept that hope in life. The fact that things DO work out is just the icing on the cake.

And that is why this is my favorite book.

Well, that and the fact that Captain Wentworth can write one heck of a letter.

Five stars.

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Year of 52 Books #6: The Princess Bride

Yes, I’m back, for those of you keeping track. The cross-country move went well but the dust is still settling so I’ll be playing catch-up for a bit, but I should be posting more frequently now. So, without further ado, I give you book number six in my year of 52 books:

The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

*****

This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.

So begins one of my favorite books, The Princess Bride, by William Goldman. This book has been a source of both happiness and confusion to me since I was a young child.

I should explain. As you may have caught on, I’m a bit of a movie geek. Yeah. I’m the one who can rattle off actor resumes and Bacon scores faster than IMDb. If you don’t understand a comment I just made, there’s about a 75% chance that it’s a quote from a movie (and an 80% chance in that case that it’s a movie you’ve never heard of, let alone seen). I, like my father before me, stay until the end of the movie in the theater, not to see if there are any extra scenes, but to read the credits. (The advent of extra scenes, however, has really helped to convince the people with and around us not to bug us to leave early. True story: my parents were once asked to leave a movie theater. They had gone to a late showing of the Disney classic Alice in Wonderland—the real one, not that Tim Burton nonsense—and were the last people left in the theater because my dad was watching the credits. The cleaning staff just wanted to go home so they asked my parents to leave.)

But I digress.

The Princess Bride was one of the first movies I remember seeing in the theater. There was an old dollar theater near our house called The Arcade, and that’s where I remember seeing such movies as The Rescuers, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp (I chose to see that for my birthday movie, probably when I was three or four, and the projector broke), The Little Mermaid and, of course, The Princess Bride. I loved that movie. When it came out on VHS my aunt got it, whereupon she was the most-requested babysitter at our house in spite of the fact that she lived nearly an hour away. One of the best days of my young life was when The Princess Bride had  its network TV broadcast premiere and my dad recorded it so that now we had our own family copy (the downside was that this was the copy I was most familiar with growing up and so I was surprised when I went to college and got my own copy of the movie and there were parts in there I didn’t recognize because the TV version had been edited to run in the time allotted. I made up for it, though, and three years later actually became the campus champion of Princess Bride trivia. No, I am not kidding. My prize: a Princess Bride frisbee full of gummy worms, which the event organizers called “shrieking eels.” The reason I chose that prize was because I already had a copy of the movie, the book and the soundtrack, which is not surprising when you consider how I wound up knowing all that trivia in the first place).

But (coming back to the aforementioned confusion) my mom had raised a question when I was little that had always made me wonder. In the movie, when the grandfather starts reading, he says, “The Princess Bride, by S. Morgenstern. Chapter One.” But in the credits, my mom pointed out that  it says it’s based on William Goldman’s book. Which is the real author?

The real author, of course, is William Goldman. But his book is ostensibly “the good parts version”—that is, he’s writing it as though he’s abridging S. Morgenstern’s longer book, just keeping the good parts and getting rid of all the boring political satire that Morgenstern supposedly stuffed into it. But it’s done well enough that when I first read this book in the sixth grade (no, this isn’t a children’s book), I really did think there was an unabridged version floating around out there. I’m not sure how long it took me to figure out the truth, but much longer than it probably should have. (I’m guessing somewhere around my junior year of high school is when I finally accepted the fact that I would never get to read the hat-packing scenes. It’s kind of like learning about Santa.)

But coming to the book itself—it is simply wonderful. The movie, excellent as it is, doesn’t half do it justice. I still, to this day, am disappointed while reading the passages from the Zoo of Death because they’re not in the movie and it would have been so cool to see them! And then I remember that I don’t like seeing pictures or video or real life of snakes or spiders and think, well, okay, the Pit of Despair will do. But I still use the Zoo of Death passages as great examples of suspense and good writing in classes. I also love how much more back story you get with the characters (young Inigo listening to Domingo and Yeste in particular gives me the giggles), and I have to say that it’s much, much easier to understand the dialogue in the movie’s swordfight scene once you’ve read the book.

William Goldman is an excellent writer in every sense. You’re probably familiar with his work even if you don’t realize it—he’s an amazing and successful screenwriter as well. Think Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, Misery, Maverick, and of course The Princess Bride. But this book is a marvel of creation and of construction. Everything fits seamlessly together, especially the way he uses the frame story of the abridgment and his father first reading the book to him when he was sick as a child to actually help tell the story. Writers should study this book to see how a master crafts a story.

It’s come to the point where I don’t know for sure which I’ve done more, read the book or watch the movie. But it had been a long time since my last re-read (I know because I found a ticket stub to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban tucked inside my copy when I opened it), and I needed something familiar, comforting and lighthearted-but-not-stupid after the emotional wringer that was Wintergirls. The Princess Bride did the trick very nicely, like a long conversation with an old friend, the kind where you both end up laughing so hard you can barely breathe.

All I can say is, if you have never read this book, please do yourself a favor and pick up a copy as soon as possible. It is one of the most well-crafted novels I have ever read, and it’s entertaining and witty on top of it, which, really, is everything a book ought to be. Five stars.

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Year of 52 Books #5: Wintergirls

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

*****

How do I write a review of this book?

A week later, I’m still shaken by it.

I read Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak last year and loved it. I cried when I finished it—beautiful and cathartic tears. It hit me in a way that a lot of books don’t. It was definitely a five-star read for me.

I’ve decided that Wintergirls is a five-star read, too, but it took me a long time to make that decision.

Wintergirls is no less powerful than Speak. In fact, I’d say it packs an even stronger punch, although I hate to use such a cliché for such a book, even though I can only think of clichés to describe it. Kick in the gut, brick to the face, hit by a train, knock the wind out of you, rip you open—pick your own description here, that’s what this book did to me emotionally. I couldn’t put it down even though it was, simply put, terrifying.

The book begins with Lia, a high school senior, being told by her stepmother that Lia’s best friend Cassie was found dead in a motel room. Cassie and Lia haven’t spoken for six months, which is why Lia didn’t answer her phone over the weekend when Cassie tried calling her thirty-three times, and now Lia is haunted by the idea that somehow she is responsible for Cassie’s death.

Which sounds simple enough, and rough enough for a book premise.

But.

The reason Cassie and Lia haven’t been close is because Cassie’s parents made her stop talking to Lia after Lia’s second stint in rehab for anorexia. The first stint happened after Lia blacked out while driving Cassie’s car because she didn’t have enough food in her system and when the paramedics got there her blood pressure and body temperature were only just this side above dead, and Lia’s secret was out. Cassie wasn’t even scratched and so her secret eating disorder, bulimia, stayed secret and she stayed popular and cut off Lia as “a bad influence.”

Until Cassie winds up dead in a motel room.

Honestly, I have never read a book this intense, where the heroine seems absolutely determined to destroy herself slowly and systematically. Nearly every time a food is mentioned, Lia tacks on the number of calories in parentheses. She often speaks in strikethrough font, so you can see the war between her body and her mind as she slowly and determinedly tries to starve herself down to 99, 95, 90, 85 pounds and lower, all while hiding that fact from her family so they won’t send her back to the hospital. “I take the cup [of orange juice] from her. My throat wants it my brain wants it my blood wants it my hand does not want this my mouth does not want this.”

I had no idea until the very end whether Lia was going to make it or not, and it was a sick-making kind of feeling to watch her spiral downward out of control and not be able to shake her awake, or wave my arms in front of her parents’ faces and say “How are you not seeing this?” or heavens, just shove a cupcake down her throat or do something, anything to get her or anyone to see the madness and stop it. It was not a comfortable book to read.

And yet I couldn’t put it down. I read it straight through and felt absolutely depressed for most of the rest of the day as I processed it. Anderson’s writing style is gripping and immediate and visceral, and you really do feel like you’re living through the experience yourself, which, as I said, is not a comfortable thing. But there is no doubt it is well written.

I don’t know if I liked this book or not. I do know I won’t forget it any time soon.

And I think that I’m going to have to recommend it to people to read. Not like Speak, which I think everyone should read, period, no exceptions. But I think that some people should take the opportunity to read Wintergirls because even though it’s not a comfortable experience, it is a powerful experience, and one that will change you.

(And if you do read it, I’d love to discuss it with you.)

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Year of 52 Books #3: I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
*****


I have been meaning to read this book for some time, and was spurred on by several references that Kristen has made to it in the past few months. (I would claim that I also picked it up because the author also wrote The Hundred and One Dalmatians, the book upon which my son’s favorite movie is based, but I have to admit that despite seeing Dodie Smith’s name in the credits as often as I do, I didn’t make that connection until I glanced at the author bio in the back of the book. Movie recognition fail.)

This book hit me in a funny way that I can’t quite describe. I was pre-disposed to like it based on what I’d heard about it and also the fact that I approve of plots that resemble Austen in general. (People often mistake Jane Austen books for romantic comedies, which is true to some extent, but that misses the HUGE undercurrent of the do-or-die struggle that is the Regency marriage game.) And I did enjoy it, but it went deeper than that.

The Mortmain family is living out their 40-year lease of an old castle which has fallen and continues to fall into disrepair. They are in a state of not-so-genteel poverty, although the grinding hopelessness of their situation doesn’t really crash down on the reader as it might because it is held at bay by the wonderful personality that is the narrator, Cassandra Mortmain. Can I just say that I love her? I love her in the way you love a sister or a best friend (or, occasionally, yourself), who you cheer for and laugh with and who makes you tear your hair out when they do really stupid things that you can’t save them from and which you know they are better than. I loved her voice, the way she frequently stops to take stock of herself and her feelings, and her determination to be fully honest with herself in the journals she’s keeping.

Cassandra’s older sister, Rose, out of desperation, determines to marry strictly for money. I get this. I remember a time during law school when my husband and I did the calculations and said unless something can change and soon, this is the day we will run out of money. It’s a terrifying, suffocating feeling, and you get just enough glimpses of it through the lens of Cassandra’s plucky (but not foolish) optimism to forgive Rose for deciding to do whatever it takes to never be in that situation again. And for the record, I like Rose a lot better than I ever liked Scarlett O’Hara, who made a similar vow.

I had more problems with Mr. Mortmain, the father of the family. For reasons I (and the other characters) can’t quite fathom, Mr. Mortmain fritters away his time and talents NOT writing his second book for years as his family sinks farther and farther into the above-mentioned poverty. I was frustrated that he could be as callously oblivious as he seemed to be to his family’s bleak situation. (Although I have to confess that from the descriptions of the book he wrote, I wouldn’t want to read it myself.)

The rest of the cast of characters are worthy of this book in every way. Dodie Smith has a gift for characterization that makes you feel as though you know these people, or might run into them at any moment.

The book was extremely well written, and I loved reading it. I’m not sure that I liked finishing it, though. In order to explain, I may need to get ever-so-slightly SPOILER-y, although I won’t give away any main plot details.

This book wormed its way into my heart, and I wanted nothing more than good things for Cassandra especially. I wanted her to be happy. And in the end, it felt like I hadn’t quite gotten that for her, and had to settle for her being smart instead, with the hope that happiness would follow sometime in the future. The ending was almost devastatingly effective for me, rather like a kick to the gut, in that even though it was a good ending as far as being hopeful and as far as the welfare of the characters was concerned, I felt every bit of the ache that Cassandra must have been feeling, and it stayed with me long after I finished. It’s taken me a few days to come to terms with it and write the review.

That being said, the book was absolutely worth that kick in the gut. I’m not sure how soon I’ll want to re-read it, knowing what’s coming (because who likes being kicked all the time?), but I’m betting it will eventually go into my re-read roster.

Let me reiterate that it’s really not a depressing book and that nobody gets eaten by the eels at this (or any other) time. But if you tend to fall into deep smit with fictional characters and live their lives vicariously, be warned that this one is going to be a bit of a ride.

In short, this book truly was extraordinary. I’ll be feeling it in my bones for a long time to come. Five stars.

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