Reader, I Married Him – Edited by Tracy Chevalier – Book Review

Reader, I Married Him

 

If you are someone who has read Jane Eyre more than once, I believe that you will enjoy these stories, written by a collection of authors (Tracy Chevalier, Tessa Hadley, Elizabeth McCracken, Francine Prose, and others) who were inspired by the “reader, I married him” at the end of Jane Eyre.  I also believe that even if you are not *gasp* a fan of Jane Eyre, you will still enjoy these short stories.

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Charlotte Bronte

Each author has a different take on how this line could be interpreted, and each short story is unique.   I loved the diversity of the stories.  There were different settings, different voices and ways of telling each story.  The creativity that runs through these stories is a true pleasure to read.  How can it be that 200 year latter, Charlotte Bronte is still causing our imaginations to soar?  I highly recommend this book!

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Glory Over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom – Book Review

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I loved this book.  Unknown to me before writing this review (because I obviously didn’t read the entire title – Dewette Decimal can be quite clueless), this novel is the continuation of a story begun with The Kitchen House.  However, if you haven’t read the first novel, this one can stand alone very well.

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This is the story of Jamie Pyke, who escaped from slavery to Philadelphia, and is now passing as a white man, the proprietor of a thriving sliver shop, and an artist.  He discovers that a child who has been in his employ has been stolen by slavers and taken down South to be sold.  At the same time, his “lady friend” has become pregnant with his child, but she has no idea that he is part black.  Jamie’s life threatens to go off the rails, and he becomes quite unhinged by it all, as he fears that a certain slave catcher is still searching for him.

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Kathleen Grissom

This is the story of how Jamie reacts to all these problems, and whether or not he will manage to prevail.  I loved the fast pace of the novel, and all the different components these problems caused.  Jamie is truly a man who does the best he can given his own fears.  I highly recommend this novel.

Prayers the Devil Answers by Sharyn McCrumb – Book Review

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I have to say that I loved this book.  The characters were well-developed, the story was riveting, and the atmosphere of 1936 Appalachia were perfect.  The story is prefaced by an old-time “game” called the Dumb Supper which supposedly pointed a girl to her husband.  Needless to say, the supper doesn’t work out quite right, and a “curse” may or may not be following one of the participants.

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Ellie Robbins, a typical married women with two children finds herself a young widow with no means of support.  Instead of existing in extreme poverty, she decides she will request the county to let her finish out her husband’s term as Sheriff.  Surprisingly, she is allowed to do so.  The novel chronicles her personal development as she conquers this unfamiliar role.  During her stint as Sheriff, Ellie discovers facts about her husband that she was unaware of, the typical small town lawlessness, and finally the condemned prisoner that she has to put to death.

I loved how much Ellie grew into her role as Sheriff and how she was able to become both father and mother to her two young boys.  However, that being said, the last few pages were the best.  I’ll leave that cryptic sentence for you to figure out when you read the book.  Well done, McCrumb!

Sisi: Empress on Her Own by Allison Pataki – Book Review

Empress on Her Own

This novel was the second relating to Sisi, Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary.  Pataki takes us into the ritualized world of Austrian Royalty where every move is dictated by rules and regulations (including the rule that if the Emperor doesn’t speak during a family dinner, neither can anyone else).  I did indeed read the first of these two novels, The Accidental Empress, (which I also recommend) but it can also stand on its own.

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Sisi was celebrated as the most beautiful woman in the world.

The story of this actual woman, an Empress who feels stifled, suffers depression and tries her hardest to have a life of her own is fascinating.  Sisi traveled as far and wide as she was allowed.  She lived through a time when Monarchies were falling and the world was re-inventing itself all around her.  I really loved how history, letters, speeches and real events were interwoven within this fictional novel.

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I highly recommend this novel.  It gives an up-close and personal view of the life of the royals who don’t really have the life you would think that they would.  I loved the historical facts and the family relationships as they were portrayed here.  This is a book that I’ll be thinking of for some time, mostly about the wasted opportunities for good and healing both politically and personally that were left unfulfilled.  Well done, Allison Pataki!