On The Same Page

SonomaLass has a great idea for promoting book discussion that’s a little more group-centred than the TBR challenge and a little less organized than a book club:

I have listed the books that I plan to read, or have recently read and plan to review, in the next few months. If one or more of those titles is one you’re interested in reading and talking about, leave a comment to that effect. (I’m likely to prioritize those books, to be honest.) When I post my reactions, I will tag the tweet with “#onthesamepage.” I’ll do my best to let you know that I have posted, so that you can come comment, and we can have a discussion.

Ridley’s posted a list too. I’m afraid this will add to my TBR, but I love the idea.

I know what I’m reading next: Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes, because I have to return it to the library in a week. 

After that, Patricia Gaffney’s Wyckerley books, which I’ll probably post about in July and August so that others who haven’t read them before can do so, if they wish, when they’re digitally released in June.

What I’ll mix in with that, I’m not sure, but I’ll post a list when I’ve had a chance to think about it. I think I have the Meg Maguire on Ridley’s list in my TBR, and I’ll definitely be reading Cecilia Grant’s next book, which comes out at the end of June.

I just finished Mary Stewart’s Nine Coaches Waiting. I enjoyed it but I didn’t love it. And I am too lazy for a proper review. Here’s some bullet points (and they are spoilery because it’s an old book–although I think no spoilers that are not utterly predictable):

  • I love the prose. It’s not purple or over the top, but there’s some rich, atmospheric description. It’s a natural voice for Linda’s first-person narration. And it’s, you know, correct. There weren’t sentences I had to give the side-eye. That seems so rare now. (There were a few typos).
  • I love the quotations and literary allusions, including those the characters make to Jane Eyre, apt for a Gothic-y novel with an orphaned governess heroine. Linda is not unlike Jane, independent, self-possessed, but also lonely.
  • This is another book with a great heroine (I’ve had quite a few of those lately). She was my favorite thing about the book. I liked that a character who, in another book, would have been the shy little mouse was variously described as an adventurer, a bit of a tiger, and gallant. Go, non-doormat ingenues! That’s a fitting heiress for Eyre.
  • The whole Gothic suspense plot was predictable and kind of silly. But it didn’t matter because I liked Linda and was having fun.
  • Gothic mysterious heroes are not really my bag. Raoul is kind of cardboard. Even Linda admits this: “for the first time, I began to see him as he really was–not any more as a projection of my young romantic longings, not any more as Prince Charming, the handsome sophisticate . . . .” Which is all very well, but that’s one paragraph on the penultimate page of the book. If you want a fully developed romance, this book won’t satisfy. I didn’t really care, but I saw a glimpse of a more interesting relationship.
  • William Blake, the diffident, anxious, but in the end quite nobly heroic forester, was a more developed and to me more interesting character than Raoul. Not that I thought Linda should have chosen him. She picked right for her, I think. But I’d love to see more romance heroes like William. I’m so tired of “tough, arrogant” alphas. Or just guys who must be slotted into one of two boxes. I don’t think William is a beta hero either. He’s just a guy.

I know some people looooove this book and will think my “pretty good” verdict wrong-headed, so have at it in the comments.

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5 Responses to On The Same Page

  1. helenajust says:

    I do love NCW but can see the merit in your point about Raoul. I suppose the problem that the author had was that if she fleshed him out more (both for Linda and for us) then it would have been improbable for Linda to think that he just might be evil.

    I also have a secret liking for William!

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      I agree. In a book like this, he can’t be a fleshed out character and it can’t be a fully developed romance.

      In some ways, Linda was the only fully developed character, and I think that makes sense–a Gothic plot like this is all about her (mis)perceptions of those around her and how she responds to them. As long as the narrator/protagonist is a strong character, the book will be satisfying. So this worked fine for me, it’s just not really my kind of story.

  2. victoriajanssen says:

    My favorite Mary Stewarts are her Merlin books, but these are the ones I re-read the most: THE MOON-SPINNERS, THIS ROUGH MAGIC, THE GABRIEL HOUNDS (Orientalism alert!), and TOUCH NOT THE CAT. AIRS ABOVE THE GROUND is pretty fun, too.

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      I have AIRS ABOVE THE GROUND and THIS ROUGH MAGIC from a used bookstore trip, so there’s more Stewart in my future!

  3. Touch Not the Cat is my absolute favorite Stewart. However, despite my love of gothics, she was never a top author for me. There is a crisp vagueness that always held me at arm’s length.

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