Sunday, September 11, 2011

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

The Wicked Marquis by Marnie Ellingson -- Regency Romantic Fiction

Now impoverished after her Italian opera singer father's death, Esme Leonardo has come to live with her very English cousins. She s quickly charmed by her cousin Kit, but he sees her as just another little sister. Esme comes to love Kit like a brother and is determined to help him with whatever is bothering him. Kit's sister, Drusilla, Constance and Hope share the (in their mind) tragic story of Kit's ill-fated romance. Kit once engaged in a youthful passion for an unsuitable woman. Their uncle, on whom they are dependent, wants Kit to marry a neighbor, Lydia Milliman, a particularly awful girl who desires a title. Though Kit doesn't have a title yet, he is heir to his cousin, the Marquis of Locklynde who is known for his wild lifestyle. The Marquis has determined that Kit should marry Lydia without ever having met the girl or even really knowing Kit. Esme has already made an enemy of Lydia and Esme knows Kit and Lydia would not suit. Esme comes up with one crazy scheme after another, finally deciding to inform Lydia that she (Esme) is engaged to the Marquis. Complications arise when the Marquis comes to London and the ton learns to Esme and Jared's supposed engagement. The Marquis agrees to Esme's wild idea. The wicked Marquis takes an unusual interest in the plain-speaking Esme, who can't help but wonder about his motives. The premise of this book sounds a lot like Georgette Heyer's The Grand Sophy. Esme is similar to Sophy but not quite as outrageous. The plot is light and moves along quickly, providing a few chuckles along the way. There is a subplot involving Dru which is entirely predictable as is the primary romance plot. The witty dialogue doesn't quite sparkle like Heyer or Austen but it's fun and funny. I really liked this book though it was not at the level of Heyer. It's a nice, pleasant read for fans of the genre.

The Little Balloonist by Linda Donn -- Adult Historical Fiction

This novel chronicles the life of Sophie Armant Blanchard, a female aeronaut in Revolutionary and Napoleonic France. Sixteen-year-old Sophie loves her pretty home by the sea and precious moments spent with her best friend Andre. She dreams of marrying Andre but he seems to have withdrawn from her. Andre is a healer. He can heal people with a single touch. He has decided that he needs to learn how to be a healer and love Sophie at the same time, which he feels is impossible at this moment. Andre heals a young Republican soldier who brings back the story of the charming young Sophie to his friend, Napoleone Buonaparte.  Unbeknown to Sophie or Andre, the Armants have already betrothed Sophie to Jean-Pierre Blanchard, a pioneer balloonist who visited their home before Sophie's birth. Though Sophie's mother wishes for her daughter to marry for love, Sophie's father overrules her objection and Sophie is married off to a man twice her age whom she does not know or love. Life with Jena-Pierre is difficult. He is consumed by his passion for creating and flying in new and better balloons. Sophie meets the young revolutionary Napoleon and he falls instantly in love and their lives become entwined forever. Sophie, not having any children to love, decides to become an aeronaut. The free spirited young woman loves the feeling of flying free and her husband loves the fame it brings. The beautiful Sophie becomes the toast of Paris rubbing elbows with Napoleon, Goethe, Darguerre and other luminaries of the day. Through it all, Andre continues to love her. When her husband dies, Sophie is torn between the love of her childhood friend and the advances of the Emperor Napoleon. Above all else, she desires freedom. This is a really slow moving novel which covers the life of one woman from age 16 to death. It's told in third-person omniscient and sometimes interrupts the narrative to tell the reader what will happen in the future. The narrator is detached from the story and never engaged me as a reader. The plot skips around from character to character and there are far too many to keep track of. Sophie's life is summarized rather than fully shown. The epilogue does not match the prologue or even the rest of the novel. I found this book really slow and uninteresting. I wanted to like it but I just couldn't get into it. The story of Sophie's childhood would make a great young adult novel.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for comparing my Mother to Heyer and Austin, her favorite Authors.


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