Saturday, November 28, 2015

'A Little in Love' by Susan Fletcher #Review

A Little in LoveA Little in Love by Susan Fletcher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ok, I admit it - I didn't read Les Misérables. My French is lousy, and - well, I haven't even attempted to read it in English. That book is like a brick, and I already have a beloved brick-like classic translated from the French (The Count of Monte Cristo). I saw the Hugh Jackman movie, though. I may not have caught all the finer plot points, but I think I got the gist. Overall I enjoyed the opera more than I thought I would.

I knew nothing about the background of Eponine. I knew she was a tragic heroine whose love for our hero, Marius, was destined to go unrequited. I felt bad for Eponine.

So, when the opportunity to read an adaptation that starred the unfortunate teenager as the heroine of her own story, I took that opportunity. I really enjoyed this book, even with my sketchy knowledge of Victor Hugo's original.

Susan Fletcher has done a really nice job of imagining Eponine's world. Through Eponine's voice, she gives us a lot of sensory details about what it must have been like to be a poor woman in 1830s France.

Eponine clearly knows the difference between right and wrong, and most often she chooses to do what is right. Sometimes, though, she goes along with her family's unfortunate habits of lying, cheating, and stealing. She treats her would-be friend, Cosette, quite horribly when they are small children. When they are teens on the verge of adulthood, Eponine is indirectly responsible for Cosette's beloved foster father, Jean Valjean, being gravely wounded.

Determined to reclaim her own soul, Eponine uses her intelligence and kindness to protect Cosette. This is especially painful since Cosette and Eponine are both in love with the same man. But in order for Cosette and Marius to get their happy ending - frankly, one of the only redeeming plotlines in this tale of misery and woe - Eponine has to make a sad, sad sacrifice. This isn't really a spoiler, since we know from the first page of the novel that Eponine is dying because she saved Marius's life.

The ending isn't as sad as it could have been, though. As far as Eponine knows, her little brother Gavroche is still alive. In the opera, Gavroche dies too.

Eponine in this novel is a fully developed, well-rounded character who isn't entirely good and isn't entirely bad. She's a person, with a past and interesting point of view. She's definitely well worth reading about, and Fletcher has written a narrative that flows smoothly and seems authentic. I read this in four short sittings. It's quite fast-paced.

FYI, there are some non-explicit threats of sexual assault in this novel. Readers who are sensitive to this type of content should be aware before reading it.

I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review through the Amazon Vine program.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Three Review Quickies

The Night CircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I adored this book. I love that Celia and her beloved Marco got a happy(ish) ending, and so did Bailey and Penelope (Poppet). I'm still sad and little horrified by the story of Tsukiko and Hinata. The straight white people got to be together, but the queer women of color were horrifically separated. The one LGBTQ+ male character of color in the book, Chandresh Christoff LeFevre, only gets an unrequited love.

Chandresh loves Marco. Isobel loves Marco. Celia loves Marco. Everybody loves Marco.

Now I need to know what happened to Isobel after she left the circus. And what happened to her engagement before she met Marco. Basically I need an entire book about Isobel.

I purchased this audiobook on CD from a library used media sale with my own funds. I was not obligated to review it in any way.

Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My GrandmothersDon't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers by Adriana Trigiani

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had mixed feelings. I really loved the first chapters, full of really good sensory details surrounding the author's memories of her grandmothers. The latter chapters also had some beautiful writing, but they were advice-heavy. The somewhat judgmental tone marred an otherwise moving true-life portrait of two 20th century Italian-American women.

I borrowed this book from my mom. I was not obligated in any way to review it. Full disclosure: Adriana Trigiani and I are both graduates of St. Mary's College, although in different years.

When You Reach MeWhen You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another book I don't know if I can do justice with my words. Miranda is a thoroughly likeable heroine - she gets steadily more likeable throughout. Her adventure may not be on as grand a scale as Megs' in A Wrinkle in Time, but it is still an enjoyable journey.

I bought this book from Better World Books with my own funds and was not obligated in any way to review it.