Saturday, May 23, 2015

What I Read in January Part I . . .

What I Read in January Part I . . .

Gossip from Thrush GreenGossip from Thrush Green by Miss Read--Historical Fiction

Changes are coming to Thrush Green... This story has way too many modern references, including smoking pot. The story focused a bit too much on the two teachers and their changes in the beginning. I didn't find their plot very interesting. I was also not interested in the new neighbors renting The Tullivers. My favorite character is Dotty Harmer, the eccentric animal-loving spinster (um me in several decades?). I was happy to see her included in the plot but sad at the direction the story takes her. I also love the three little old Victorian ladies. Winnie Bailey is another favorite but she's mainly an observer this time. It sounds like the author tried to wrap things up with the novel or perhaps take the story in another direction. I'll try the next book and see what happens.

The Glad SummerThe Glad Summer by Jeffery Farnol -- Historical Romance

When Nicholas Harbourne travels to Sussex to his newly inherited estate, he discovers the locals are filled with animosity towards their new landlord and Joanne Marsden, mistress of the farm Fallowdene is grieving to have to sell her beloved home. Nicholas, in disguise as the lowly handyman Anthony Anson, sets about to woo the lovliest woman he's ever seen but only if she'll have him for himself. He manags to charm her young niece Priscilla and her aunt Jemima but Joanne remains cool. Nicholas is determined she will have him and her happily ever after before the summer is out.

This story was only so-so for me. I'm not fond of stories based on deception and I hate when the hero persists in going after the girl even when she says no even if she means yes. I liked the hero until he grabbed the heroine and kissed her and punished her by holding her close. His conduct was not that of the villain but it still bothered me. I liked him until that point. He's a beta hero who seems like a slow, lazy rich man or a foolkish bumpkin when confronting the villain. He's a kind and generous soul - almost too kind. He's too perfect to be true. I don't believe in love at first sight and though his relationship with Joanne developed from there, love at first sight was his motivating factor.

I really liked Joanne. She's strong and brave in the face of poverty yet she has a sense of humor at times. She's beautiful and loving towards her family and a caring employer. She's almost too perfect. I can see why she falls in love with Anthony but I don't blame her for reacting the way she did when she found out. What she learned was true in a way, if you look at it from a certain angle but she knew a different side of Nicholas/Anthony that should have allowed her to dismiss the story as false claims.

I liked the secondary characters much better. Aunt Jemima is wise and caring and little Priscilla steals every scene she's in. She's completely adorable in her childish innocence. The villain is rather two-dimensional and is a proper period romance villain. The farm workers remind me of The Wizard of Oz's Zeke, Hunk and Hickory. They're devoted to their mistress and true blue, hardworking men.

The story was written just after WWII as a look back at the idyllic seeming Victorian era. There's a heavy handed message that concludes the story which I didn't like. I love reading about the Victorian era but I know better than to romanticize it and as we know from the beginning of the story, life was less than perfect for most people.

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