A Short Rant About The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

rosie effect

I interrupt my holidays to bring you this! Be warned!

Were you happy with the way The Rosie Project ended? Then you should skip The Rosie Effect. I would prefer to imagine Don and Rosie living happily in New York than whatever is happening here.

Don and Rosie are happy in New York for some time…then… Rosie gets pregnant. And BABIES RUIN EVERYTHING! as anyone who remembers Mad About You will attest. (Wasn’t the finale awful?) Don takes on this new fatherhood project the Don way. Rosie turns into a giant asshole.

Here’s my problem with Rosie. She knows Don. She is “the only person who understands” Don, supposedly. She knows he doesn’t do subtle hints. If she wanted something from him, she should have known to tell him what she needs. Instead, she turns into a passive aggressive jerk. I was done with Rosie when while at dinner with a friend, she talks about her future plans right in front of Don without having told him first. Like he wasn’t even sitting there. I actually hated her by the end. Don’s friends and acquaintances understand him better than Rosie in this book.

Rosie doesn’t grow as a character. She’s two dimensional. She’s a blurry shadow on the edge of the reader’s vision. The male characters try to explain her bad behaviour as a symptom of pregnancy. Just the womens being cray! But if this was real life, her way of dealing with issues would create a doomed marriage. This will just the beginning of their troubles. The ending maybe “happy” but I was left feeling depressed.

The Rosie Project was a romantic story that ended in two people falling in love and it should have stopped there. So, I’m going to pretend that The Rosie Effect never happened. Lalalalala. It never happened, okay!

Happy Holidays!

happy holidays

Hey, all! I’m taking a break for the holidays, even though I haven’t been a good poster lately. I’m going to try to post more often in 2015. For now, have a happy holidays. See you in the New Year!

Chris Reads Moby: Ishmael and Queequeg’s Excellent Adventures

Bill_&_Ted

Before there was Bill and Ted, Harold and Kumar, the dudes from Dude, Where’s My Car?, there was Ishmael and Queequeg.

I’m trying to make up my mind about Ishmael and Queequeg. Are they more than besties? When Ishmael wakes up that first morning, he finds Queequeg’s arm wrapped protectively around him: it was only by the sense of weight and pressure that I could tell that Queequeg was hugging me. Then things take a humorous turn when Ishmael can’t wake Queequeg up. Oh, those guys! Later, the pair become better acquainted and Queequeg splits his worldly goods with him. [H]e pressed his forehead against mine, clasped me round the waist, and said that henceforth we were married; meaning, in his country's phrase, that we were bosom friends. Bosom friends. Sure. Thus, then, in our hearts' honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg—a cosy, loving pair. They then spend the night cuddling under the covers.

So, okay, I know there are cultural differences, but I’m pretty sure they’re a couple now. Even in the 19th century, this would be clear, right? In the previous chapters, Ishmael claims that no man wants to share a bed with another man, even his own brother, and now he’s totally down with it. What changed, bro?

For fun, look at this artwork created by AmbrMerlinus. It’s pretty awesome.

During these chapters, Ishmael spends some time observing Queequeg. At first, he finds his habits strange, but looks beyond their differences to see the man that Quuequeg is. He looked like a man who had never cringed and never had had a creditor. His forehead reminds Ishmael of George Washington. He admires his aloofness: content with his own companionship; always equal to himself. That aloofness makes me wonder. Here was Queequeg, surrounded by strangers who show little interest in him other than revulsion, when this very intense weird guy shows him all this attention. Was Queequeg lonely? It’s hard to say, since this story is told from Ishmael’s POV. I can only guess, but I would say yes.

Queequeg tells Ishmael his origin story. He was the son of the Chief of his homeland and was all set to take his father’s place, except he had the wanderlust. One day he just up and hops on a ship and is gone. It’s like if Prince William became a stowaway on a mission to Mars without telling George and Kate. He thought by learning the Christian ways he could make his people happier, but found out they were a miserable bunch. Still, he enjoyed whaling well enough: They had made a harpooneer of him, and that barbed iron was in lieu of a sceptre now.

Queequeg

The pair decided to travel to Nantucket together to search for work on a whaling ship. They catch a packet schooner to the island. There is a bit of a kerfuffle when a young jerk starts making fun of Queequeg. Queequeg grabs the guy and tosses him into the air! While the Captian has words with Queequeg, the guy he tossed is swept off the boat. Queequeg rescues him and when the whole ship congratulates him, Queequeg acts like it’s no big thing. Ishmael puffs off with pride. “That’s my man!” I imagine him thinking.

Yojo, Queequeg’s god, has decided that Ishmael will find them a ship. Ishmael begrudgingly accepts the task, though he thinks an experienced harpooneer would be more qualified. While Ishmael is gone, Queequeg settles in for a fast in their rented room at the Try Pots inn. Ishmael calls this “The Ramadan” because Ishmael knows nothing about religion. Queequeg takes this fast seriously and sits unmoving for hours, until Ishmael arrives and finds him locked out of his room. Eventually he breaks down the door, but Queequeg remains in a trancelike state until morning. At this point, Ishmael tries to argue that this religious practice is bad for him, but Queequeg is deaf to his entreaties: He looked at me with a sort of condescending concern and compassion, as though he thought it a great pity that such a sensible young man should be so hopelessly lost to evangelical pagan piety.

Religion has come up twice now. I think I’ll have some thoughts on that later on.

That’s the story of Ishmael and Queequeg so far. What do you make of them if you’ve read it?

Next Post: There are other people in this book.

MOBY DICK READS

Media Madness Monday: The Ugly Podcast Sweater Edition

media madness monday 1

I'm a media junkie, not just books, but TV, movies, music, podcasts, and internet nonsense. Every Monday I discuss something that's caught my interest this past week.

 

Tunes

ugly sweater

Want an interesting Christmas tunes playlist? If you have signed up for Spotify, give Ugly Sweater Party a listen. It’s an eclectic mix of new and old Christmas songs. There are some regular favorites: Santa Baby (Eartha Kitt), All I Want For Christmas Is You (Mariah Carey). Then there are the unusual ones: Christmas Wrapping (The Waitresses), Christmastime (Smashing Pumpkins). It has some of my old faves: Last Christmas (Wham!), Funky, Funky Christmas (NKOTB) (Everyone shut up. I like it. I don’t care.) I’ve found some new faves among the playlist. It’s great for trimming the tree, though you might want to skip Merry Xmas Says Your Text Message (Dragonette) if your Granny is over. (My husband commented, “That’s more swearing than I’m used to in a Christmas song.”)

 

Podcasting

serial

I am probably the last person to find this but, have you heard about Serial? Yeah, you did. If by some chance you haven’t, here’s the deal. The podcast series from This American Life covers one story over one season. The host Sarah Koenig investigates the story and follows it wherever it may lead. This first season tells the story of Adnan Syed, who went to jail for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee

I wasn’t sure about this podcast at first since these are real people. Adnan is still in jail and both his and Hae Min’s family are living with her tragic loss. I thought I would feel icky about it, but Sarah presents the story with respect to all involved. She does get emotionally invested in the story, though she tries to preserve journalistic integrity.

I’ve listened to every podcast so far, all eleven, and am curious to see what the twelfth and final episode will bring. It’s been very interesting.

For something completely different, there is Sawbones. Sawbones is a medical history podcast hosted by a real life married couple, Dr Sydnee and Justin McElroy. Since Sydnee is a physician, she brings in her expertise, while Justin brings the comic relief. The podcasts are fun, informative, and sometimes gross. Want to learn about gout? They got you covered. Want to know a good cure for hiccups? Like to know when did women start surviving C-sections? Ever wonder why the Victorians so into enemas? You’ll find the answers on Sawbones.

Thar She Blows!: Chris Reads Moby Dick

I know that title sounds dirty but it was unintentional.

I’m taking on a Big Project. I’m going to “read” Moby Dick. By read, I mean listen to at work. This already has varying success. If there is juicy gossip happening around me, I’m all “Moby Who?”

mark and moby dick

Here’s What I Know About Moby Dick:

There’s a dude named Ishmael. He’s the narrator. His captain is Ahab. He’s obsessed with a white whale. That’s it.

Why am I reading it?

Because everyone says I should. It seems like a big deal. I’ve read some other big deal books: Les Miserables, War and Peace. I’d like to add this to the list of Books I Have Read That People Claim To Be a Big Deal. Also, Moby Dick is referenced so much in pop culture. My blog posts are going to be filled with Moby Dick gifs!

Let’s Get Started!

Getting to Know Ishmael:

Ishmael starts things off with, “Aw, the sea! Where a man goes to be free!” Since he’s a man, he can go wherever he pleases and the sea pleases him. I wondered- does Ishmael have a wife and ten kids somewhere and he’s running off on them? Hmm.

So Ishmael looks for lodging at The Spouter-Inn (*elbow nudges* Get it? Spouter?). There’s no room at the inn, but Ishmael can share a bed with someone. This is totally not weird, I guess. The innkeeper tells him he can sleep with a guy named Queequeg, a harpooner. He wonders what kind of name Queequeg is, but after thinking about it decides he doesn’t want to sleep with a stranger. That would be my call also.

No man prefers to sleep two in a bed. In fact, you would a good deal rather not sleep with your own brother. I don't know how it is, but people like to be private when they are sleeping. And when it comes to sleeping with an unknown stranger, in a strange inn, in a strange town, and that stranger a harpooneer, then your objections indefinitely multiply.

The alternative is an uncomfortable table and after a while, that stranger’s bed seems like a good idea. The only problem is Ishmael is sleepy and Queequeg hasn’t returned from his errands. Which are? he asks the innkeeper. Selling his head, he says. This doesn’t go over well. Ishmael thinks this guy is messing with him, and he does seem to get his giggles here. Ishmael flips out. Calm down, says the innkeeper, he’s literally selling a head, one he bought during his travels.

Ishmael has enough of this nonsense and goes to bed, only to have Queequeg arrive and start noodling around the room. Ishmael gets a look at his face and sees marks there. At first, he thinks he’s been in a fight, but comes to the conclusion that he’s tattooed. Also, hmm, his skin is not white. All this time Ishmael has been staring at Queequeg and hasn’t said boo. He begins to realize that this isn’t polite but how to introduce himself now?

This is solved when Queequeg tries to get into bed and reacts like anyone would when finding an unwanted stranger in our bed. He’s all. “Eek! Who are you? What are you doing here? Get out!” He also makes threatening motions with his harpoon. Ishmael yells for the innkeeper.

The innkeeper makes introductions. Queequeg politely offers his bed to Ishmael and after these thoughts he accepts:

What's all this fuss I have been making about, thought I to myself—the man's a human being just as I am: he has just as much reason to fear me, as I have to be afraid of him. Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.

“Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian” should be cross stitched on a pillow. That’s some good advice. In the end, Ishmael has the greatest sleep of his life.

Thoughts:

This is an excellent start. “Call me Ishmael.” Obviously, the narrator. That’s direct and to the point. Ishmael doesn’t like being teased, but he is a tolerant guy. He has the ability to look at his preconceived notions and challenge them. Queequeg is a man like him. They are in the same business. They have different ways of looking at the world but, hey, who doesn’t? This is a likeable guy.

I know Moby Dick is going to get complicated, but for now I’m enjoying it. I’m hoping that by blogging about it, it will force me to pay attention and get as much out of it as I can.

Have you read Moby Dick? What did you think? Maybe you haven’t read it. Are you bananas enough to read it with me?

Next post: The friendship of Ishmael and Queequeg.

MOBY DICK READS

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters: Review

paying guests

Frances Wray and her mother fall on hard times after the Great War. Her father left the women in debt after his death. Although they live frugally, the bills aren’t getting paid. The only solution is to let out a part of their large house to a married couple of “the clerk class.” Things are awkward at first between the Wrays and their new tenants, the Barbers, but soon Frances warms to Lilian. She warms up to her a lot.

Thrown alone together for most of the day, Lilian and Frances become friends and eventually lovers. But there’s the little problem of Lilian being, oh you know, married and all that. Frances is all for them running away together, but will they do it?

If I could give Frances some advice, I’d tell her to NEVER GET IN THE MIDDLE OF SOMEONE ELSE’S RELATIONSHIP. It won’t end well. In fact, her friend Christina (what a wise person’s name) tells her the same thing. It’s too messy.

I have a lot of thoughts about Lilian and Frances. Frances was quite a bad ass during the war. She marched against the war and for suffrage. Then her brothers were killed during the fighting, and her father died and left them broke. Suddenly, Frances had the responsibility of taking care of her mother and the house. Her days were filled cleaning and cooking. She wasn’t even thirty and she’d given up. Lilian comes into her life with her problems and adds some drama to her days.

I didn’t like Lilian and I couldn’t figure out why until I’d finished reading the book. Lilian is flighty and weak. She’s the kind of person who needs someone else to solve her problems and take care of her. First that was Len, then it was Frances. She’s a woman who will forever be a girl. I didn’t like how Lilian burdened Frances with her problems and needed her to clean up her messes. Literally.

As for Frances, I wondered if she fell in love with Lilian simply because of proximity and boredom. She was so active in her younger days only to become a drudge later. She needed something to make her feel alive again. Lilian seemed like such a bad match for her. Christina with her tell-it-like-it-is attitude would’ve been better. Christina knows her so well, but that shipped sailed long ago. When she says that Frances is a mix of conventionality and impulsiveness, she hits the nail on the head. It’s that combination that leads her into trouble with Lilian. 

I tried to muster up some sympathy for Lilian. She was young when she married Len. Okay. She was forced into it as much as Len was. Sure. They are miserable together, so why keep going? It’s not like they are particularly religious. They don’t live in a small, judgey town where everyone would be in their business. I think they liked making each other unhappy. They’re both terrible people.

Being familiar with Sarah Water’s other books, I was expecting a Big Thing to happen. When it did, the events following the Big Thing were kind of a bummer. How could anything good follow that? As much as I enjoy Water’s writing, there were moments where I wanted the plot to hurry along. There were too many “Oh no! What are we going to do? Oh, let’s just wait it out” moments. The inactivity was boring.

I can’t say that The Paying Guests is my favorite of Sarah Waters. The whole thing hinges on my feelings for Lilian and what happens in the last third of the book. My expectations were high for this one and because of that it didn’t meet them. I’d put this one in the middle of the list.

Let’s Never Talk About Women’s Fiction Again

There have been so many articles and blog posts in every newspaper in the world about women’s writing that I can’t even bother to list them. David Gilmour poo-poos the ladies’ books. What are ladies writing about anyway? Oh the domestic, the feelings, the uteruses (uteri?). So many doilies cluttering up the place. How is a manly man supposed to read about that stuff?

Stop. Right. There.

I just read a book written by a man (The Book of Strange New Things) in which there are not one but two thorough descriptions of semen. What it looks like, how it smells, how much there is (a lot).

gross

If I can read that without my eyeballs bleeding, I think the manly men can handle the domestic interludes in women’s fiction.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (Audiobook): Review

strange new things

Peter, a British minister, has the opportunity of a lifetime by becoming a missionary. Not here on Earth, but on the planet Oasis only reachable through the technology of a company called USIC. Peter leaves his wife and their beloved cat behind to minister the native inhabitants, Oasians, of this planet. These beings are all about Jesus. They call themselves Jesus Lovers: Jesus Lover One, Jesus Lover Two, etc. They want to hear more about their friend Jesus and his miraculous adventures by having Peter read to them from The Book of Strange New Things (The Bible).

Peter’s wife Bea can only communicate with him through a device called The Shoot. It’s a magic typewriter of sorts. Peter is enjoying his time with the Jesus Lovers, but back on Earth things are quickly going to shit. Bea sends him increasingly disturbing messages about natural disasters and economic upheaval. Bea is not in great shape herself. Her apartment is coming apart, the cat is stressed, and her job as a nurse is the last job anyone would want during the end of the world.

Peter seems to believe Bea is exaggerating, or being hormonal, or possibly drunk. None of the human inhabitants on Oasis, the USIC workers, are too upset about the happenings on Earth, or about anything for that matter. The only exception is a pharmacist named Granger. She’s in charge of supplying the Jesus Lovers with medication, which is exchanged for food. She’s sceptical of everything, including Peter’s role as minister.

With the Earth so far away and life on Oasis so peaceful, Peter has a difficult time imagining what Bea is going through. It’s not until Peter is jolted into reality that he begins to question not only what is really happening on Oasis but his own faith.

The Book of Strange New Things is a difficult book to categorize and I struggled with where it was going. Is it a commentary on colonialism? Not really. The Oasians, even the Jesus Lovers, are getting along fine with the humans and aren’t changed by their presence. Other than trading with them, they have little contact. Is it science fiction? Not really. There’s a sort of ordinariness about the situation despite the setting. Human beings living away from their families on a project in an isolated land isn’t a foreign idea to me. So what is it all about? Mostly it’s about Peter and his journey of faith. And this was a bit of a problem for me.

Peter got in my nerves, which is the intention, I think. Peter is unknowingly a jerk to his wife. He’s somewhat preachy, even when he’s trying not to be. He struggles with being a good shepherd to his flock, and I sympathized with him, but ultimately I didn’t care about him. I cared more about Bea and Joshua the cat. I cared about Jesus Lover Five way more than I cared about Peter and his journey.

There were some great moments in The Book of Strange New Things. Moments, as I was listening to the audiobook at work, I needed to keep myself together. “Don’t you cry, dammit!” I told myself. There was a part that made me want to BURN EVERYTHING!

daenerys-targaryen-fire-explosion

In the end, I was disappointed by the answers to the questions I had. There were things I just didn’t buy. Although so many people are loving The Book of Strange New Things, I thought it was only okay. It left me wanting more but not in a good way.

About the audio: The Book of Strange New Things is narrated by Josh Cohen. One of the weirdest experiences listening to this book is the voices of the Oasians. I can’t even explain it. At first, it was annoying, but eventually I got used to it. There is a long speech at the end of the novel that is in their language and it wasn’t translated so who knows what was going on there. It was an interesting experience anyway!

audiobook review

Thanks to Random House Audio for the review copy. All opinions are my own.

Girl Runner by Carrie Synder: Review

girl runner

Get ready for one-of-those reviews, where I can’t decide what if I liked a book or not.

Aganetha* “Aggie” Smart is an 104 year Olympian living in a home for the elderly. She is taken on a joyride by an Olympic hopeful and her brother/filmmaker. While Aggie wonders what they want of her, she thinks back to her life as a runner, from her childhood on the farm to her time training in Toronto and beyond. The sibling pair just think of Aggie as a means to their own ends and never realize the secrets she’s been carrying around inside her for decades.

Girl Runner was quick out of the gate. Aggie has a complicated family. Lots of death and secrets. For me, the novel was great until after Aggie came back from the 1928 Olympics. The Olympic Games should have been a much bigger part of the novel. Aggie trained hard and she was one of the first women allowed to participate. (FYI, Aggie is fictional.) Instead of revelling in her success, Aggie has such angst over beating her friend. I found this fretful woman hard to reconcile with the girl who did hand stands on her barn roof. Aggie was reckless and loved attention as a child, but wants to give it all to her friend as an adult? It didn’t add up for me. Years later, she’s still torn up about it, even after her friend did something really shitty to her.

The book fell apart for me after A Man appears. He’s not even remotely interesting. He’s so typical and the plot goes in an obvious direction at this point. I was disappointed. Maybe I’ve read too much Sarah Waters, but I thought things with Aggie were going to go in an entirely different direction. It really seemed that way to me! Take this paragraph, for example:

Glad seems very near to me, although she isn’t, not really. We are staring at each other and I can’t read her eyes. They aren’t laughing, like they almost always are. This does not seem, suddenly, to be a joke.

SEE?!

Then there are the secrets. So many secrets. Everybody’s got a secret. Secrets that aren’t even necessary. Secrets that are not even that secretive. It created a false sense of suspense.

secrets

I might be giving the impression that I didn’t like Girl Runner at all but that’s not true. I did like Aggie and her compulsion to run. I think that her creator, Carrie Synder, piled on the suffering too much. I know that’s it’s a Canadian thing to make characters suffer over and over, but Aggie should have been allowed to have fun sometimes too. The Olympics should have been fun. She was doing what she loved to do! Let her have that. The time period and the difficulties of women, or any athlete, training during that time was fascinating and I wanted more of that.

Girl Runner is told in first person from Aggie’s point of view. Aggie is 104 years old and sometimes she can’t remember what has recently happened. She can remember everything that’s happened far in her past. That feels very realistic. The plot isn’t linear, it leaps in and out of the past. It can be discombobulating. I didn’t mind it too much. I didn’t like the little foreshadowing statements sometimes made, “considering what happened later…” etc. Those kind of things always take me out of the present, whenever that happens to be.

So, in the end, I recommend Girl Runner, but with tempered enthusiasm.

*Thankfully, she’s called Aggie. I can neither say nor spell Agneathaha.

Kobo Chat: It’s Been a Long Time

kobo chat2

What’s new on your Kobo or other ebook device? First, let’s take a look at the electronic reading I’ve been up to lately. I’ll talk about what I’ve finished, what I’ve downloaded (bought or borrowed), and how that’s working out for me. Grab a coffee and let’s chat!

Finished

Wow, I haven’t finished anything since The Lake way back in September. I blame work. I am seriously going to read a book this weekend. For real.

New to the Kobo

  • Bought. Kobo had another 70% off sale, so of course I had to have a peek. This time around I bought Let’s Bring Back- An Encyclopedia of Forgotten- Yet- Delightful, Chic, Useful, Curious, and Otherwise Commendable Things from Times Gone By by Lesley M M Blume and They Found Him Dead by Georgette Heyer.
  • Borrowed from library. Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder

 

 

Let’s Talk

I’ve been reading Girl Runner off and on the past couple of weeks. Even though it’s good, I’m taking forever to read it. It’s not even that long!

I’m still on the waiting list on the library site for The Paying Guests. Just 10 more people in front of me. Yay.

As for the ones I bought, Let’s Bring Back, etc. was a book I heard about years ago and then forgot. It was $1.99 so why not? And Georgette Heyer is always delightful.

How about you? Are you reading anything interesting on your device? Find any good deals? Tell me about it!

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore: Review

wonder woman

When I was very young, I would watch Wonder Woman (also the Bionic Woman. I was all about the strong female protagonist.) I can’t say I was ever into the comic books but Lynda Carter with her long dark hair and red boots was my heroine. I didn’t remember much about Wonder Woman when The Secret History of Wonder Woman came onto my radar, but the description mentioned feminism and suffrage so really how could I say no?

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore isn’t so much about Wonder Woman herself but her creator and the women who influenced him. William Marston doesn’t seem like a man that would be the driving force behind a comic book hero. His life is a labyrinth of failures and accomplishments that lead up to the creation of Wonder Woman. He was the inventor of the polygraph, a psychologist who wrote The Emotions of Normal People, and scriptwriter for Hollywood. He was an intellectual Jack of All Trades, which meant he was Master of None. He was a professional failure by the time the opportunity to shape the character of Wonder Woman came around.

In his personal life, he was into Free Love, bondage, and sex parties. He had a long term polyamorous relationship with his wife, Elizabeth Holloway, and Olive Byrnes, the niece of Margaret Sanger. I love the irony of Marston’s DC Comics wiki page: Personal History of William Marston is unknown. Or do they not want to try and sum up that part of his life? Elizabeth herself was a successful psychologist. Olive had aspirations of an academic career but because of their circumstances couldn’t pursue them.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman meanders into Greek mythology, experimental science, suffrage, birth control activism, and first wave feminism. It’s often hard to see how these things connect with Wonder Woman until Lepore points it out. What I got from it was that when Marston didn’t have a say in what Wonder Woman did on the pages of her comic, she wasn’t the strong, bad ass, feminist protagonist that we know. Instead, she was reverted into what men believed was womanly at the time: a powerless damsel, an accessory, or simply disposable. Marston created a physically powerful character who didn’t need men and believed in justice for all.

Jill Lepore must have done a ton of research for The Secret History of Wonder Woman. That story must be a book in itself! It was worth it because The Secret History of Wonder Woman is quite the education. I could have done without most of the polygraph stuff though.

About the Audio: Jill Lepore herself does the narration. I was on the fence about listening to the audio version but am glad I did. Her narration adds so much to the book. She’s an excellent speaker.

Now go back in time to 1975 and relive some great moments from the TV series.

Thanks to Random House Audio for the review copy. All opinions are my own.

Media Madness Monday: Bob and Boudica

media madness monday 1

I'm a media junkie, not just books, but TV, movies, music, podcasts, and internet nonsense. Every Monday I discuss something that's caught my interest this past week.

On the TV

bob's burgers

Do you watch Bob’s Burgers? If not, why not? It’s the best animated comedy on TV. The Belcher’s are a typical family of five just trying to keep the family business running. Bob is a hamburger artist, his wife Linda and three kids: Tina, Gene, and Louise, help out when they can. They’re all a little kooky but I can relate to them all. Bob begrudgingly gets involved in his family’s antics. Linda is always bubbly and encourages the family to have fun, usually with singing and dancing. Tina is a hormonal teen, Louise a terrifyingly angry and devious little kid. And Gene is…Gene. 

Last week, Tina fell in love with a ghost Louise convinced her lived in a shoebox. Meanwhile, ghosthunters invaded the restaurant. The kids often have separate adventures from their parents but everyone meets up at the end of every episode. It’s just a lot of offbeat fun.

Podcasting

stuff history

I've been binge listening to Stuff You Missed in History Class during work. This is a fantastic podcast for anyone who loves history. All episodes are around 30 mins so you can listen to one on the bus, in the car or wherever. I’ve already gone through Growing Up Bronte, Les Filles du Roi, New England Vampire Panic, Hypatia, and Boudica. There are so many more on countless topics. Check it out!

 

On the Web

If you can’t get enough of Hypatia and Boudica in the podcast, have a look Rejected Princesses. Those ladies, along with many other great women of history, are reimagined as cartoon characters. The women are rejected princesses because their stories wouldn’t translate into 90 minute movies for children. Some of the brightly coloured illustrations feature happily smiling heroines decapitating their enemies. So, yeah. But it’s great!

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Novembering

november

Hello, November-inos! I probably complain about November every year but November is the worst. It is also the month that I think to myself, “I really have to get my Christmas shopping started.” So, I did…for myself…I ordered a bunch of books as presents for ME.

I picked up some books at Value Village a few weeks ago. Books were 50% off that day! I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. The selection wasn’t super but I did get these gems.

books

I now have two copies of The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery. I bought Christina Queen of Sweden because of the title (Queen Me!). I’ve been waiting to read something from Natsuo Kirino for some time now so I grabbed that copy of Grotesque right quick. The Moonstone I bought just because.

A Book Blogger’s Dilemma

Twice this week while I was reading (actually listening to) two different books, some interesting tidbit captivated my attention. It was something that got my mind going in a million different directions but when I sat down to write my reviews, I couldn’t find a place for them in the post. One piece of information is developing into a possible discussion post, but the other is just a small thing that I can’t see going anywhere other than “Guys, look it this!”

I’ll tell you that it was from The Secret History of Wonder Woman, and was a passage where some dude was quoted as saying, “Women should be willing to die in childbirth every time they have sex.” There is quite a bit about the birth control movement in the early 20th century in the book. I thought to myself, “Dude, if it were that simple the human race would have died out ages ago.” Other than me thinking about how things haven’t changed much with the mindset of some people in a hundred years, I didn’t have anywhere to go with it. It was just a snippet that stayed with me.

Bloggers, does this ever happen to you? What do you do with it? Do you tweet about it? Read it to your spouse while he/she is trying to watch Scandal and demand some kind of reaction? Do you lock it away in the vault of your mind until it develops into something you can write about? Let me know.

That’s it for my thoughts this week. I bought a new lens for my camera but yesterday was such an icky day that I could only take pictures inside. That’s why I took that photo of my tree from my kitchen window. I think it turned out pretty good though.

Bride of New France by Suzanne Desrochers

bride of new france

Laure, an orphan from the streets, lives in the Salpetriere, a prison for the poor of Paris. She has dreams of becoming a wealthy seamstress with the help of her friend Madeleine but due to her own bad decisions is chosen to become a Fille de roi, one of the women sent to Canada to marry and bear lots of children with a stranger in a dangerous country. New France is full of bachelors, but light on eligible women. For a successful colony, the King needs to populate the country with his own loyal subjects.

Armed with a dowry from the King, Laure and her friend Madeleine cross the ocean to meet their destiny in the Canadian wilderness. There are plenty of men, but either they have little interest in Frenchwomen, since they’ve been with the native women for years, or they lie about their own circumstances. The men have been given land but farming requires different skills from soldiering. Most of the men have little more than a tent to offer their new wives. As an incentive, if the new families produce some tiny French babies, they’ll receive more money from the King.

As the title suggests, Laure becomes a bride, but things are far from Happily Ever After.

I knew a little about the Filles de roi from my high school history. They breezed over that bit because ladies, am I right? If you aren’t a dude putting a flag in something, who cares? The Filles de roi only populated New France, after all.

Desrochers starts Bride of New France in one of the worst places in 16th century Paris, the Salpetriere, where Laure works as a lacemaker. A girl literary dies of scurvy. SCURVY. Still, no one wants to go to Canada. It’s like moving to Mars. The plot at this point moves about as fast as a herd of turtles. There were details that didn’t advance the plot, like the prayers and such. I had to speed up the narration on the audiobook or I would have fallen asleep.

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Once Laure gets off the boat (not a cruise ship), things get a little quicker though not much happier. Death, starvation, general terribleness continues. Some of the characters suffer from Helen Burns Syndrome; they’re too good to live. As for Laure, she’s sort of a jerk, which would be okay if she was interesting, but she wasn’t. She is awful to a dying girl and manipulates her friend into going to Canada with her. There is a reason no one likes you, Laure.

Although I had issues with Bride of New France, it’s a valiant attempt to fill out a little known piece of history and the unknown women who were an important part of it. 

About the Audio: Emma Bering does the narration. She has a lovely accent but she’s slooooooooow. I increased the speed and barely noticed. She also over pronounced certain words, like prostitute, and it made me crazy.

The Last Policeman by Ben Winters: Review

last policemanBen Winters writes a lot of books for Quirk: those weird Jane Austen books (Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters), the itchy Bed Bugs, and the Last Policeman series. I’ve somehow collected a bunch of his titles without even realizing it. For the 24 Hour Readathon I finally took on The Last Policeman.

It’s the end of the world… or at least the last six months until the end of the world. People are quitting their jobs and fulfilling their bucket lists before life as we know it ends. Not Detective Hank Palace. It was his dream to be a detective and even though he’s come into the job by default, he’s going to do it right.

With the end nigh, it’s not a surprising to find a corpse hung in a McDonald’s bathroom; Concord is known as Hangertown. It’s the preferred method of self-disposal. This situation doesn’t look like the usual to Detective Palace. He suspects murder and he’s willing to hunt for a killer when everyone else is happy to call it suicide and go home to their loved ones.

The Last Policeman is not your usual detective story. Along with the need to solve the case, there’s the psychological pressure on the characters of knowing that everyone on earth is going to die soon. How will they handle this fact? It’s the last six months, society is still pretty much intact. There are people who have decided to do all the things they’ve meant to do, and people who end their lives before a giant chunk of ice ends it for them. The news of where an asteroid will hit the earth hasn’t been revealed yet. It’s still a bit of an abstract idea. Slowly, reality begins to hit the characters over the course of the novel. How they react to this realization is one of the most interesting parts of the story. What would we do? Just go on with our lives?

Detective Hank Palace doesn’t dwell on the incoming space rock too much. He’s a man with a one track mind which makes him somewhat socially awkward.  He can recite parts of Criminal Investigation but will bend the rules when he feels he’s right.

The mystery was of secondary interest to me. It was clunky and I knew who the killer was when they showed up on the page, just not the why. There is a subplot involving Hank’s sister that have potential. I’m very curious to read the rest of the series.

Media Madness Monday: Canadaland and Eddie Rochester

media madness monday 1

I'm a media junkie, not just books, but TV, movies, music, podcasts, and internet nonsense. Every Monday I discuss something that's caught my interest this past week.

Oh hi! Happy Week After Tiny Chocolate Bars and Leaping Backward In Time. I blame both of these on this late edition of Media Madness Monday.

 

Podcasting

So, before that bombshell about Jian Ghomeshi hit, all I knew about Jesse Brown was that he hosted Canadaland. Actually, I didn’t pay much attention to the show until I saw in the podcast show list that he’d interviewed Kate Beaton recently. It is such a great interview. First, she talks about her website and its success, how even if it seems to be a specific kind of comedy, it attracts all types of people (Canadian topics, American audience) Then she discussed her time at Fort McMurray. If you are Canadian, you know at least something about the oil sands and Fort Mc. It’s where the money is but it’s got problems. What Kate Beaton has to say about it made me very emotional since so many people I know have worked there at some time.

 

On the Web

On a lighter note, for the lols follow Mr Edward Rochester on his Tumblr. Read his rants about his first wife and Jane leaving him. Also, thoughts on how awesome he is. The notes include arguments from Jane, Heathcliff, and Catherine Earnshaw.

See you next time!

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood: Review

stone mattress

The Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast recently aired an episode titled Women of a Certain Age. Part of the show discussed how women are pushed aside as they age. No one wants to listen to the opinions of an older woman. They (we) become invisible. Some younger people think there is something creepy and sad about women who share their thoughts with the world. In looking for books with female protagonists who are older, I had a hard time finding any that weren’t about midlife crisis or featured crime solving spinsters. But then came Stone Mattress

Margaret Atwood has written women characters from young to middle aged to elderly. Stone Mattress is heavy on the elderly. The first three stories center on the life of a successful author of fantasy novels: Constance braves an ice storm with help of her dead husband’s voice, her old boyfriend is surprised by a young student’s interest in Constance’s writing rather than his own poetry, and finally Constance heals old wounds at a funeral.

Six more stories follow this trio. In Lusus Naturea a woman is born with a genetic disease that forces her to hide from humanity. I really liked this strange little story of loneliness and desire. The Freeze Dried Groom and The Dead Hand Loves You were my least favorite. The Dead Hand Loves You focuses too heavily on a campy horror novel written by the protagonist. I never did get around to reading The Robber Bridegroom so Zenia With the Bright Red Teeth was a tad confusing. Still, I got the gist and enjoyed Atwood’s cheeky humour.

If there is a clear winner in my opinion, it’s the title story, Stone Mattress. It’s about revenge. I’m Team Verna, even if she is a murderer through neglect and her secret weapon, her sexuality. The story took me on an emotional ride. Verna is not all that she seems on the outside and when she gets a chance to get (somewhat) even, I was cheering her on. (Because it’s fiction, people!)

The last story, Torching the Dusties, is a hyperbolic example of the elderly becoming not only obsolete but unwanted. A mob of young people decide that the elderly have taken too many resources and must die. Inside a very swanky retirement home, Wilma, a woman with macular degeneration can only learn about the events happening through other people. A very frustrating situation for her. The plot to destroy the elderly seems both ridiculous and repulsive, but even Wilma concedes that the young people have a point as the residents take on a “let them eat cake” attitude during the siege.

The older characters in this collection are never props for the younger characters to learn something about themselves or impart some wisdom. If anything, the stories show that we’re never finished. We’re never too old to feel hurt, or angry, and it’s never too late to mend fences.

Atwood is as dark and funny as ever, with everything I’ve come to expect from her work, including the naughty sex bits. I hope she never changes!

Media Madness Monday: The Craft

media madness monday

With Halloween on Friday, I picked an old favorite for a rewatch over the weekend. The Craft, yes, The Craft. I have so many feelings about The Craft.

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First of all, this was a cheap DVD from Walmart and it was a little blurry. I’m not sure if this is because of the cheapness of the DVD or if it always looked that way. The Craft was released in 1996 (I thought it was way older), and cost $15 million to make. That’s seems like a lot of money. Is that a lot for a movie in 1996?

Onto the plot. Three misfit girls who practice witchcraft find a fourth to “call the corners” in the new girl at school. The new girl, Sarah (Robin Tunney) has secrets and issues. Her mom is dead. She’s tried to kill herself. Lead witch Nancy (Fairuza Balk) says this is “punk rock.” Sarah is also a “natural witch” as is declared by the proprietor of the local witch shop. With the increase in their powers, the girls use spells to vanquish their enemies or improve their lives. Sarah wants a jackass to like her, Nancy wants out of her trailer home, Rochelle (Rachel True) wants to smite her racist swim competitor, and Bonnie (Neve Campbell) wants her scars to disappear (and finally wash her greasy hair, I guess). It doesn’t take long for things to go horribly wrong.

The actresses are great, especially Fairuza Balk who went all in as the demented, power hungry Nancy. She embraces the crazy, campiness of the character. Robin Tunney is an expert at crying a single tear. Just one tear. She plays this sympathetic character well, as this “good girl” is obviously the one we’re to root for. She definitely has a Bella Swan vibe to her. The other two ladies, played by Neve and Rachel, were actually compelling characters with real problems until the last third of the movie. I’ll get to that.

the craft girls

The adults though, where did they find these people? When they were present at all, they are caricatures of real humans. The homeless guy with the snake, I don’t even know what his purpose was other than to die in the first ten minutes. Nancy’s mom gives the worst drunk person impression ever. Sarah’s dad is more like a creepy uncle than a parent. I loved the last scene when he walks by, waves and says, “Hi girls!” like “No, nothing weird happened here.” The only decent adult part was the lady witch store owner. I got to say though I hope she had a second source of income because her only customers stole from her, something she knew. Even if she wasn’t a witch, she’d be an idiot not to know. She should have gave those moochers warts.

Despite the campy beginning of the film (the snake guy, the bad date, Nancy’s trailer), I thought the first part was the best part. It’s all “Yay! Girl Power!” After the girls “invoke the spirit” things get crazy. After the douchey football dude attempts raping Sarah, Nancy tries to sleep with him in some weird power grab. Who even wants this guy? Ovaries before brovaries, ladies. Plus, Rochelle and Bonnie become puppets of Nancy and lose all agency of their own. If they had any sense, they would side with Sarah who is less crazy and more gifted.

The Craft is so 90s. The soundtrack features songs from Elastica and Matthew Sweet. The clothes! Chunky heels, stockings, crop tops, nose piercings. Nancy rocks the goth look.

The Craft passes the Bechdel test, since they aren’t always discussing boys. These ladies don’t need saving from a boy either. They fight it out amongst themselves. It had some unintentionally funny moments, like Sarah’s flailing run down a dark alley. It’s a bit goofy. It’s not scary, if that is an issue for you. If you are of my vintage, you’ll enjoy this blast from the past.

Nightmare at 20000 Feet by Richard Matheson: Review

Nightmareat20000Feet

Well, that was disturbing.

Back in October 2008, I read I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, a novella that really impressed me. Now in October 2014, I’m revisiting Matheson through the audiobook collection Nightmare at 20000 Feet.

Stephen King warns in the introduction of this collection that “he will wring you dry” and he certainly did. At the end of many of these stories, I was left with an eerie sense of unease. He has a cynical eye for the human race. What are the worst things we are capable of? What does madness do to a person? Can you trust your family, your neighbours, your own sanity? 

Nightmare at 20000 Feet is the classic Twilight Zone episode featuring the only man on a plane who sees a gremlin on the wing. It’s been remade many times. Even Bart Simpson had an encounter with the gremlin. The short story is much more scary than the television episode. We learn more about the man’s state of mind. He’s nervous, he’s taken drugs, he’s suicidal (he has a gun ON THE PLANE! Something unimaginable now.) Is he a reliable narrator? Is the gremlin real or a figment of his sick mind?

BartandGremlin

A couple of my other favorites were

Disappearing Act. A one night stand begins a chain of events leading to the literal disappearance of a man. He starts to freak out after trying to get into contact with the woman he slept with only to find she doesn’t exist. Then other parts of his life start disappearing, including his wife and home.

Legion of Plotters. A little too close to home. A man begins to suspect the little annoyances he endures throughout the day are part of a plot to destroy his sanity. It doesn’t end well.

Dance of the Dead. The future, 1997, is a place ravaged by war but young people are still seeking a good time. One thrilling entertainment is watching the Dance of the Dead performed by LUPs. You’ll find out what they are. 1997 sure sounds a lot like the 1950s though.

The Distributor. I can’t call it a favorite because it left me feeling terrible but it is compelling. A man moves into a quiet neighbourhood and slowly begins to destroy the lives of the people on the street. It ends in murder and suicide. I was most disturbed by the cold, calculated way he goes about it for no apparent reason.

The stories reveal a lot about attitudes towards race and gender during the time period. The women are harpies, victims of violence, or sexual predators. Slaughter House features sexytimes with a ghost! The men are driven crazy for it. One of the neighbours in The Distributor are afraid of being outted as black, whether they are or not.

There are ghosts, monsters, vampires, zombies, all your typical Halloween creatures, but not so typical.The writing is creeps up on you. The mundane details add up to the macabre. It’s a slow process that raises the hair on the back of your neck. If you want to be freaked out, read Nightmare at 20000 Feet.

About the Audio: No Stephen King does not read his own intro. Damn. There are several narrators for the collection, although only one woman, Julia Campbell. Yuri Rasovsky’s oddly cheese-grater-like voice was one of the ones that creeped me out the most. I couldn’t listen to him vocalize a child’s voice in Dress of White Silk. I had to skip that one.

Evil Book Bloggers: Everything You Heard Is TRUE!

First things first, just like Canadians, all book bloggers know one another (Shout out to all the Bobs in Saskatchewan!).

gilly

We are all part of a Super Secret Society and have monthly meetings.

creeper

A virgin is sacrificed. Virgins are so hard to get these days. It’s a hardship.

fay-wray-king-kong-1933

We dance around a Fire of Vengeance and burn the books of our enemies. Sometimes there are marshmallows!

fire

Through a complex ritual, we decide the fate of authors. Who will be destroyed? Who will be revered?

nancy the craft

I’m not saying book bloggers eat babies but…

alison doesn't want to know


In case you didn’t get it, this is a (hopefully) humorous response to some authors’ ideas about what book bloggers do. Like we sit around plotting the demise of writers and books because we hate them so much. Or we’re all drunk with some imagined power, a power we do not actually have.

big time blogger

But really we’re just sitting here like…

stolenbooks

Well, maybe not the stealing part though.

Shock-tober: Good Lady Ducayne

good lady ducayne

I actually paid cash money for this audiobook ($1.95 on iTunes).

Spoilers, but really there are no surprises here.

Bella (another Bella in a vampire story!) Rolleston is just poor girl, she needs your sympathy. She’s looking for a job as a companion to help her Mama pay the rent. Her only option is to pay an employment agency to find her some work. Although the Superior Person at the office takes her money, she informs Miss Rolleston that finding her a job will be near impossible since she has no skills. Bella, ever optimistic, hoofs it to the agency every week in hopes that someone will give her a job.

Being at the right place at the right time pays off, when she happens to be at the agency upon the arrival of Good Lady Ducayne. The old lady takes on Bella immediately, despite her lack of accomplishments. Like an employment ad on Kijiji, if it’s too good to be true it probably is. Bella fails to see the red flags. Old Lady Ducayne wants to take her to Italy (red flag). She asks the following, “Have you good health? Are you strong and active, able to eat well, sleep well, walk well, able to enjoy all that there is good in life?” (Red Flag). She needs a healthy girl because all her other companions became too ill and had to leave her employment (RED FLAG).

In Italy, everything is fine until Bella starts feeling tired. She’s having strange dreams and has mysterious cuts on her arms. Lady Ducayne’s Italian doctor tells her those are mosquito bites. Yeah, that’s it, mosquito bites. What kind of crazy-ass Italian mosquitos leave bites that look like cuts? Bella buys this hook, line, and sinker. I began to question this girl’s intelligence. She’s like that girl in Mean Girls with the psychic boobs.

fifth sense

Oh and then she learns that no one knows how old Lady Ducayne is. She could be over a hundred. And by the way, all her former companions didn’t just get sick: THEY DIED. (RED FLAG!!!!! GET OUT NOW, GIRL!!!!)

Bella doesn’t get on the first coach to Splitsville because the money is good and Mama doesn’t have to knit mantles or whatever it is she does anymore. Plus, Lady Ducayne is sooooo easy to work for!

Eventually, Bella is rescued by a young English doctor because, surprise, Lady Ducayne has been syphoning off Bella’s plasma to keep her alive.

This isn’t a very scary story, really. Lady Ducayne doesn’t turn into a bat or a wolf or anything. She’s just using questionable scientific methods to stay alive indefinitely. The deaths of all those girls was just collateral damage. It’s a trope of the sensation novel that the Italian doctor, or count, or French maid is totally evil. Obviously Bella hasn’t been reading Wilkie Collins or she’d know this. Poor, stupid Bella needs a man to get her out of this one because she is too dumb to realize she’s in trouble. No one ever tells her what was really going on. 

Even though I found Bella too stupid to live, I did love that she didn’t just sit around waiting for her luck to change. She went out and tried to take charge of her own destiny. I had to admire her for that. It was a short one too so I didn’t have to put up with her for long.

About the Audio: Good Lady Ducayne by Mary Elizabeth Braddon was narrated by Anne Rosenfeld and she did an excellent job. It was very entertaining and over the top. This audiobook is just over an hour.

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Start Me Up: Readathon (Update)

Scroll down for update

I’m awake. It’s time to get the readathon started. I’ll be posting and updating throughout the day. Here’s a small pile of books I’ll be reading. I also have to go to the library so I might get more there or download some graphic novels.

readathon books 2

So

  • The Stratford Murders by Agatha Christie
  • The Last Policemen by Ben Winters
  • Pirates! by Celia Rose
  • Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder

Snacks

  • Chocolate cupcakes
  • Veggie Tray
  • Hummus and chips
  • Lays BBQ chips

 

Meme #1:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Nova Scotia, Canada
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? The Last Policemen
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Chocolate cupcakes!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I like to run, I do it a couple of times a week, but I do not enjoy races and rarely participate in any.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? I might take a little walk this time (weather permitting) to clear the cobwebs.

That’s it for now. I think I’ll start with The Last Policeman. I’ll start after I’ve been caffeinated.


Oh, hello! It’s Hour 13. I know, right! Where have I been?

I’ve been reading, The Last Policeman specifically. I also took a break to go to the library for books (How to Tell If Your Cat Is Trying to Kill You by The Oatmeal and The Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger: graphic books) and the liquor store for beverages.

cider

It’s been a good day.

Hour 12 Challenge

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now? I think I’m moving onto the Oatmeal book.
2. How many books have you read so far? Just the one, Readathonerinos!
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Definitely the Oatmeal one. I need some humour.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Just a few. Once I had to fix a sewing machine, but that’s about it.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? Not many surprises. I keep getting distracted by Twitter though.

Well, I think I need another snack. The husband is watching the hockey game (Canader!) so I think I’ll play a little music, eat some chips, and read my books.

Readathon Crasher: Readathon Oct 2014

I hemmed and hawed but when I saw all the excitement about the 24 Hour Readathon happening on Twitter, I finally decided to join in. I’m super late, a party crasher, really, but I couldn’t resist. Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy anyway, the perfect weather for reading.

wedding crashers

So I threw my name on the reader list. I’m not expecting to be visited by anyone though I always love visitors. I’m just going to do my thing and check out Twitter too. Did you know that there are literally almost 1000 people signed up for the Readathon? I remember when we had just 50!

I’ll post my reading list, if I make one, tomorrow. Hope to see you there!

Shock-tober: Aurora Floyd

Aurora_Floyd

Successful banker, Archibald Floyd, owner of Floyd, Floyd, and Floyd, surprises everyone when after decades of bachelorhood, he marries a mediocre actress by the name of Eliza Prodder. They have a happy year together until she up and dies, leaving Archibald to raise their only child, Aurora, alone.

Aurora, with “black eyes and blue-black hair,” is doted upon by her father, he lets her live a wild country life with horses and dogs as companions.

She said what she pleased; thought, spoke, acted as she pleased; learned what she pleased; and she grew into a bright, impetuous being, affectionate and generous-hearted as her mother, but with some touch of native fire blended in her mould that stamped her as original.

Aurora sounds like a bad ass girl I’d like to hang out with, actually!

But all good things must end and Aurora “disappears” from her home for fourteen months after which she reappears, serious and grave. Her father asks, “Is he dead?’ “Yes,” she replies. Oh, a mystery!

Aurora may have changed but she still has obligations, including attending balls with her rosy-cheeked cousin Lucy. At Aurora’s birthday ball, she catches the attention of Captain Talbot Bulstrode, a dude with attitude. He will not be snared by some calculating female out to get his title. As the son of a baronet, he thinks he should have a high quality wife. He’d look down on the Virgin Mary if she was in the room. Aurora has no interest in this guy other than to ask him, “Do you know if Thunderbolt won the Leger?"

He is appalled! Disgusted! How dare a woman be interested in racing? How vulgar! Of course, he falls madly in love with her but he has a rival in the good-hearted Yorkshireman John Mellish. Talbot gets there first and asks her to marry him and it’s all good until he hears a rumour about that mysterious fourteen months. He confronts her and she tells him that she can’t reveal her secret and he must trust her. Imagining that she must have been dancing naked at the Moulin Rouge, he dumps her.

Moulin-Rouge

A much better man marries Aurora. John Mellish doesn’t care that she has secrets. He loves her the way she is. He and Aurora are blissfully happy together, breeding horses and dogs (not to each other), until a stranger appears. Dun-dun-dun!


This was the soapy-est! Secrets! Blackmail! Murder! I actually thought Aurora’s secret would be way more scandalous than it turned out to be. Oh well. These were also the richest of rich people who at times behave badly. They pretty much just go to horse races and play Master of the Manor, which they literally are. It was like Dallas without the oil.

lucille banana

I’m happy to report that Not All Men in this Mary Elizabeth Braddon novel are terrible for a change. Archibald is the best of dads, even Talbot turns it around at the end. John Mellish is slavishly devoted to Aurora, although some of the things he says are a teeny bit creepy.

"I would rather see your coffin laid in the empty niche beside my mother's in the vault yonder"—he pointed in the direction of the parish church, which was close to the gates of the Park—"than I would part with you thus. I would rather know you to be dead and happy than I would endure any doubt about your fate. Oh, my darling, why do you speak of these things? I couldn't part with you—I couldn't. I would rather take you in my arms and plunge with you into the pond in the wood; I would rather send a bullet into your heart, and see you lying murdered at my feet."

Er…simmer down now, Heathcliff. A murder-suicide is not the answer. There is a lot of allusions to Othello by Braddon too and with her penchant for foreshadowing I thought there’d be trouble in this area. Aurora seems to know that this is all just talk. She forgets Talbot fairly quickly once she marries Mellish. For once a Braddon heroine marries the right man. Two people could not be better suited. They’re both a little wacky.

Somebody gets murdered but whodunit isn’t hard to figure out. The Scooby-Doo gang could have it solved without even leaving the van. I suspect there will be some issues for the modern reader around who did the deed. Also, there’s not a lot of sympathy for the corpse, who was not a nice person, but someone died, people.

Anyway, it’s no Lady Audley but it ain’t bad. The surprise relative was the best!

About the Audio: This was another Librivox recording. It was a compilation of many readers. Some were very good and some were…. not at all. Maybe read this one with your eyes.