Sunday, November 09, 2008

October booklist

Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones: This one was odd, in a good way. It felt dream-like.

Fool's Run by Patricia McKillip: The only sci-fi McKillip I've read so far. I liked it, although in some ways it felt more like fantasy than sci-fi.

Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey: One of my all-time favorite books by Josephine Tey.

The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer: A wild romp, complete with unlikely heroes, crazy siblings and duels.

Witch's Business by Diana Wynne Jones: Eh. If you're on a Diana Wynne Jones kick, go for it. If not, there's no real reason to read this one.

Borrower of the Night by Elizabeth Peters: Leila at Bookshelves of Doom was reading this one. Looked fun, so I picked it up. It was fun. It's one of those that if I'm ever in the mood I'll read another in the series but I don't feel any particular compulsion to keep going.

Better Than Running at Night by Hillary Frank: Eh. Young Adult in a style I don't often enjoy. "Realistic" teen fiction. Well, I suppose it is realistic for some people but it's not for me and it didn't touch anything in me.

A Drowned Maiden's Hair by Laura Schlitz: It took me awhile to get into this, but after I did it was worth it. A tale of mystery and horror. Be aware that several of the main characters are involved in conducting fake seances.

Princess Ben by Catherine Murdock: Somewhat in the style of Ella Enchanted, but I like Ella Enchanted better. It was sitting on the shelf at work and I finished it in one four hour shift. Not amazing, but not terrible either.

Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer: A comfort read. There's something so magical about Lucinda Wyman and her year of New York life.

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer: I enjoyed this one a lot. While I often grump about Independent Girl raised in Unconventional Manner Thwarts Male Authority and Makes Her Own Way, Georgette Heyer often manages to pull it off without annoying me. Maybe it's because her plots feel like plots, not Message in Disguise.

Stopping for a Spell by Diana Wynne Jones: Short stories. Not wild about it.

Downright Dencey by Caroline Dale Snedeker: I enjoyed this one a lot. One of my favorite classic children's books. There is some major of-its-time description of a Native American character. But it's still a lovely read.

Away Goes Sally by Elizabeth Coatsworth: Another comfort read. I always loved the bear and the house on a sled. Next up: Five Bushel Farm.

The Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip: I've found myself really enjoying Patricia McKillip's work and this was one of my favorites so far. Very haunting.

The Year of Jubilo by Ruth Sawyer: We revisit Lucinda from Roller Skates, several years older and suffering from the recent loss of her father. This has a very different feel from Roller Skates. Older and less exuberant. But Lucinda is still Lucinda and it's a beautiful book.

The Foundling by Georgette Heyer: Probably in the top 10 Georgette Heyers for me. I liked that the main character was male and he was interesting on top of it!

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer: This one, not so much. Nothing wrong with it, but it didn't stand out in any way from the rest.

The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones: I didn't like this one terribly. It was confusing and felt almost claustrophobic. Meh.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Again, for school.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell: Also for school. I'm always struck by how much they changed Bessy Higgins' character for the movie. Also the ending. Can I say, as period-incorrect as the ending of the movie is, I like it much better than Gaskell's? Oh well.

Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorenson: Sweet story of a family struggling to re-adjust after WWII. Not amazing, but very nice all the same.

The Book of Atrix Wolfe by Patricia McKillip: I couldn't keep several of the minor characters straight, but I got enough of the plot to enjoy it a lot.

Leerie by Ruth Sawyer: Eh. It's a typical late 40s-early 50s romance: sweet and innocent. But it lacks the dash of the Lucinda stories

Seven Miles to Arden by Ruth Sawyer: Ditto Leerie.

Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones: After several disappointing Diana Wynne Jones, we're back on track with this one. Quite nice.

Chalice by Robin McKinley: I re-read it because I'd gobbled it down so fast the first time. Just as good on a second go.

Dragonfield by Jane Yolen: Short stories. Very lovely and haunting.

Dealing With Dragons by Patricia Wrede: I've loved these books since middle school. They turn fairy tale conventions on their heads but do it in a fun and sweet way.


Valerie said...

I really didn't care for Bessy in the book, either. On the other hand, I love her in the movie.

Laura Essendine said...

When you say "movie" of North and South" do you mean the TV adaptation starring Richard Armitage?

I know this adaptation doesn't follow the book but it was wonderful nonetheless. The scene where he stands on the steps in the snow, watching Margaret drive away, gets me every time.

Laura Essendine
Author –
The Accidental Guru

Pam H. said...

We didn't like Roller Skates by Sawyer - the protagonist commits suicide at the end, just because she doesn't want to grow up. Too flippant. My 12-year-old was horrified.

MaureenE said...

VB, the fact that she's played by Anna Maxwell Martin didn't hurt either. :)

Laura, yes I do mean the Richard Armitage/Daniella Denby-Ashe version. I tend to say movie when I say TV-miniseries. That scene gets me choked up every time as well. It's just a beautiful adaptation and I think a good example of what can be changed without doing violence to the heart of the story.

Pam, I've never read the ending of Roller Skates that way. The way I've always read it, the narrator is actually Lucinda years later and the skating off at the end is the part of her childhood that is always alive somewhere. Actually, since Lucinda is the main character in another book where she's several years older, I don't believe she could have committed suicide.

Mimi said...

I remember "Roller Skates" wow! I've not thought about it in years!

Pam H. said...

But what I remember is, she felt dismayed at the idea she had to grow up, then skated to the top of the dam, and the next scene makes it sound like the narrator is seeing her ghost. If one jumped off a dam with roller skates on, one would surely drown. My daughter and I both saw it that way, reading it separately. In fact, she came to that conclusion on her own, having read it first.

I didn't know there were other stories of her as an older person. I never read another Ruth Sawyer book again.

MaureenE said...

Here's the last paragraph of the book:

"She reached the reservoir and stopped, climbed the steps to the railing and looked into the still, placid water. Leaning over she could see her face reflected in it. She addressed herself solemnly: 'Lucinda, how would you like to stay in the Park? How would you like to stay always ten? You could tell Tony and Uncle Earle perhaps; and Mr. Gilligan. They'd keep the secret for you. Winter you would sleep with the bears in their caves and come out in the spring. Come out every single spring always ten years old, never any older. That's what I call a perfectly elegant idea!'"

I guess I can see how you might read that as a preamble to suicide, but I certainly never did.

I don't want to seem like I'm jumping down your throat or anything. You're certainly welcome to that reading. I've just never seen it.

Pam H. said...

I didn't mean a despairing kind of suicide - more the kind where people seem to assume life after death is guaranteed to be happier, and that taking one's life is a valid option. It seems very prevalent in today's society. I was afraid the author was introducing her readers to the concept. (Whoever leads one of these little ones astray, it would be better if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. I paraphrase....)

Pam H. said...

Oh - and the paragraph you quoted isn't the last paragraph in the book, as I remember it. I'm pretty sure there is another chapter, or paragraph, or something, which has a part that sounds like the narrator is speaking about Lucinda's ghost. I wonder if there's more than one version....? I don't have the book, to quote to you.

MaureenE said...

So, I didn't know this, but apparently Lucinda was actually based on Ruth Sawyer herself as a child (See here) which I think falls in line more with my reading (the narrator is actually Lucinda grown up and suddenly reminded by the children roller skating of her year in New York).

I'm pretty sure that is actually the last paragraph in all editions, but I could try to order another copy from the library to check.

You are, of course, welcome to keep believing your reading of the ending, but I'm still not convinced that she did, in fact, commit suicide.

Jess said...

It NEVER occurred to me that Lucinda was suicidal - she just sounds a little Peter Pan-ish at the end.

Hmm, I might have to check out North and South. I do love a good book followed by a good mini-series!

Laura Essendine said...

North and South isn't a "good mini series". It's quite simply the best thing the BBC have ever done. Even better than P and P with Colin Firth or the recent fabulous Bleak House.

Complete magic.

Laura Essendine
Author – The Accidental Guru
The Books Limited Blog