Sunday, November 11, 2012

What I Read This Weekend

What I Read This Weekend . . .

The Autumn Rose by Fiona Hill -- Regency Romance

Lady Caroline Wythe has come, with her chaperone, to London to stay with her sister-in-law's brother Lord Seabury, his cantankerous father and silly young cousin Amy. Caro feels a bit lost and in need of an ally, and decides upon Lord Romby, Lord Seabury's father, to be her new friend. She is appalled at his account of treatment at the hands of his son and declares Lord Seabury to be a hateful man. Lord Romby's sister, lady Beatrice, takes an interest in bringing out Caro, but Caro is too old, too tall and too thin. Lady Beatrice decides to cultivate an eccentric persona for Caroline. Caroline quickly attracts the attention of eligible gentlemen, and some ineligible like her neighbor Lord Mockabee. Even Lord Seabury seems to take an interest in her though he has been long promises to Lady Susan Manning. Soon Caroline has her hands full fighting with Amy, denying suitors and discovering that she has been quick to make assumptions about people. When Amy creates chaos, Caro feels guilty so she must find a way to right the wrongs she feels she has created. I liked and admired Caroline for not wanting to marry and for trying to do the right thing. The rest of the characters are flat and unappealing. Amy is like every other bratty young teenage girl, one gentleman is a true villain and the other is so impossibly good he is rather annoying. The plot moves along slowly until the last few chapters and then it wraps up too quickly. The romance is a bit unsatisfying if you like courtship and waltzing into love. The romance is more of a friendship and a true meeting of the minds type. I read this book at least once before, possibly twice, and I am sad to say it did not stick in my memory. The plot will probably be promptly forgotten again when I return the book to the library.

May B : A Novel by Caroline Starr Rose -- Middle Grades Historical Fiction

This novel in verse gets inside the head of Mavis Elizabeth Betterly, May B. May lives on the Kansas prairie with her parents and beloved brother. She dreams of being a teacher one day but everyone says she can't because she has difficulty reading. Her dreams are ruined when Papa hires her out to a neighbor, Mr. Oblinger, to help his new eastern bride settle in. May doesn't want to leave home but she has no choice. The Oblingers' sod house is not as nice or clean as May's family home and Mrs. O is rude and whiny. Mrs. O hates the prairie. She can't see the beauty in it the way May can. Then one day May finds herself all alone in the cabin. The winter is coming and it's sure to be cold. She must stay strong if she is to survive. I don't usually care for novels in verse because they're quick reads. I loved pioneer stories when I was a young girl so I chose to read this one despite the easy level. I found that I rather enjoyed this novel. May is a strong and courageous heroine. She has a learning disability but she doesn't let it stop her even when the odds are against her. The descriptions of life on the prairie are incredibly detailed and I felt like I was right there with May. I couldn't put the book down until I found out what happened to May. This is a great read for Laura Ingalls fans. It adds another dimension to the story of pioneer life and what it was like to be a child at that time.

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