Quick Lit // May 2015

northanger 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.

dovekeepers 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.

voyage 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.

secret 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?

nestingThe 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.


12 thoughts on “Quick Lit // May 2015

  1. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for your list. I find Northanger Abbey such a refreshing departure for Jane Austen (though I love all her books so I don’t think she “needed” a departure :-). Have you seen the movie, with Felicity Jones as Katherine? It’s delightful (though it doesn’t quite do justice to Henry’s wittiness).

    • arenda says:

      I have seen the movie, but it’s been a long time! I think I’ll try it again soon; I love watching the movie when the book is still fresh in my mind. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  2. The Literary Curator says:

    I agree with the Dovekeepers. I teach Old Testament history at the university level and found her discussion interesting but yes problematic. I really want to read the Narnia series with my almost 5 year old but wasn’t sure if he was old enough yet. I’ve only read the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe so I wasn’t too sure if he could handle it yet!

    • arenda says:

      Hmm, interesting that your thoughts on Dovekeepers were similar. I really wonder why her book was written in that way . . .
      We started reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe kind of accidentally but James ended up completely absorbed in the story. He found parts of it sad and troubling (the White Witch killing Aslan) but we talked through that and he now loves talking about how good is stronger than evil. 🙂 We tried Prince Caspian, too, but that was definitely over his head!

  3. dawnomite says:

    I thought The Secret Keeper was fantastic! It was interesting to read your not-as-glowing review but I completely understand your reasons!

  4. Krysta says:

    I haven’t read Northanger Abbey in a long time, but I remember Tilney as being rather a highlight. He’s a bit more personable than some of Austen’s other male leads. At least he seems to talk a lot more than Darcy!

    Dawn Treader is my favorite Narnia book! And Eustace’s growth is such a beautiful part of the story. You start out finding him disagreeable and then you realize that he’s actually quite a wonderful character. He just needed to refocus his priorities.

  5. bethanny says:

    I am stuck in the first half of Secret Keeper and felt like I was the only one! Thank-you for validating me!! 😆

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