Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen ★★★★☆ (re-read) – up to this point in my life, I haven’t paid much attention to Henry Tilney, but he really is quite a delightful character: handsome, intellectual, witty, and forever dissecting Catherine’s choice of words (which reminds me of my husband a little). The gothic satire gives the book a funny edge, too. Not quite Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion, but a wonderfully diverting read nonetheless.
The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman ★★★☆☆– half fascinating, half frustrating, this novel tells the stories of four women at Masada (Herod’s fortress in Israel) in the years leading up to the Roman siege in 73 AD. Both the setting and the time period are fascinating and provide plenty of dramatic tension. However, my main beef with the book is that the author presents pagan worship of the goddess Ashtoreth as something meaningful, natural and effectual, while not one character seems to have a genuine faith in the Jewish God (prayer to him is ineffectual and escapist, his laws are oppressive, etc.). For a book about Jewish zealots fighting against Roman oppression, that’s problematic.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis ★★★★★ (re-read) – Lucy and Edmund are part of this Narnian story, but the real focus is on nasty cousin Eustace who’s inadvertently drawn into Narnia and the way he changes during his time there. I found Eustace’s education in facts, facts, facts (never stories!) thought-provoking; CS Lewis keeps apologizing for his inadequacies by explaining that “of course Eustace had never heard any stories about those sorts of creatures.” The book worked perfectly as a read-aloud for my 3-year old son as nearly every chapter unveils a newly discovered island with its own peculiarities. James (my son) was spellbound by the section in which Eustace is turned into a dragon; and who of us can’t sympathize with his profound desire for friendship just when it is most unlikely.
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton ★★½☆☆– the first half of this novel is quite slow, as all the pieces of the plot are being set in place; the second half is more engaging and full of surprising plots twists. Those surprises are what Kate Morton excels at – but I’m more interested in characters than an “aha!” that catches me off guard. And the characters were either unappealing (Laurel, Dorothy) or caricatures (most of the male characters) . . . which is one of my pet peeves with modern novels: why are the men in today’s books so un-masculine and un-admirable? Where’s a modern Henry Tilney when you need him?
The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith ★★★☆☆- the second half of the title pretty much sums up the gist of this easy-to-read book on home decor. My favourite part: perusing all the photos of the author’s former homes (there are so many)!
I’m linking up with Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy for this month’s Quick Lit; check out her blog for more mini book reviews.