Happy Birthday, Harper Lee!

Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.

to kill a mockingbir

Above is one of my favorite passages from my favorite book. Sunday is Harper Lee’s birthday. In case you live under an illiterate rock, Ms. Lee is the author of one of the finest novels ever written in the English language, To Kill a Mockingbird. I am no journalist, I do not have to be impartial. I am only a writer, and I have to tell the truth. Sometimes, critics and professor’s claim a book is a “must-read” or a “pivotal point in literature,” and after picking up that book I want to hunt down that critic and punch that professor in the face. This time, however, I have made my own conclusion, after having read many books written in English, and I stand by what I said. I loved this the first time I read it, in high school, and I love it even more as an adult. Here is the link and below is the blurb:

“Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel–a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man’s struggle for justice–but the weight of history will only tolerate so much.

One of the best-loved classics of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has earned many distinctions since its original publication in 1960. It has won the Pulitzer Prize, been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than forty million copies worldwide, and been made into an enormously popular movie. It was also named the best novel of the twentieth century by librarians across the country (Library Journal).

I find the story behind the writing of the book as fascinating as the book itself. Harper Lee moved to New York in 1949 at the age of 23. She worked as a ticket agent for an airline and wrote stories. She managed to find an agent for her short stories (you could still do that back then) and reunited with her childhood friend, Truman Capote, who had begun his rise to fame. He was the inspiration for the character Charles Baker Harris, or Dill, the child from a broken home that was shuttled from relative to relative and who famously said “I’m little, but I’m old.”  She also made friends with a broadway composer Michael Brown and his wife, Joy. Having just come into some money, the Brown’s wanted to help her and gave her a year’s salary with the note that said “You have one year off from your job to write what you please. Merry Christmas.” And so it began. It took her a year to write the first draft.

another to kill a mockingbird

The book started off as a series of short stories, but with a further two years of editing, along with guidance from Tay Hohoff, an editor, she sculpted it into the creature it is now. Something of the short story remains within the pages, especially at the beginning. We meet up with Scout, the main character, and her brother, Jem, being raised by their widowed father. Scout is a precocious tomboy, who seems to have learned to read through osmosis. We join this brother and sister just before their age difference (at 6 and 11) really becomes apparent. Enter Dill, who proposes to Scout almost right away, then runs off with her brother to do boy things, and you’ve got an interesting triangle. Despite their differences, and Jem’s dignity, they manage to have plenty of adventures. And of course, much of that has to do with Boo Radley.

The Radley place fascinated Dill. In spite of our warnings and explanations it drew him as the moon draws water, but drew him no nearer than the light pole on the corner, a safe distance from the Radley gate.

Reading this is almost like two stories. I once made an aunt angry because I was reading it out loud to some young kids. However, the beginning is far more child friendly than the middle and end – and there was no way we would come to anything of an adult nature in a single afternoon. The really meaty plot deals with the deep seated racism of the old south. Tom Robinson, a black man, is accused of raping a white girl. This nearly tears the town of Maycomb in two. Decent folks are glad to see the Atticus Finch, Scout’s father, is trying to do right by him. Others are angry that he is doing his job, rather than just brushing the whole thing under the carpet and simply making him plead guilty. It doesn’t matter much that the accuser’s family lives in filth at the edge of the dump and lives off the county. In normal circumstances, everyone thinks less of them than the dirt between their toes. However, the decent people aren’t exactly standing up to be counted or shouting down the old guard who want to intimidate Atticus into dropping the case. When Scout confronts her father about this, he gives her an eloquent answer.

“Well, most folks seem to think they’re right and you’re wrong…” (Scout)

“They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions,” said Atticus, “but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” 

Boo Radley is the other plotline. In some ways, I think he is the spectre of white privilege: a boy who did some terrible things running wild with his friends, and yet rather than be held accountable, his father is allowed to decide what is to be done with him. He brings Boo home and according to Scout, he is never seen again. There, he descends into boogeyman status. If he wasn’t mad before he was shut up by his ultra-conservative, religious parents, he was driven there.

Inside the house lived a malevolent phantom. People said he existed, but Jem and I had never seen him. People said he went out at night when the moon was down, and peeped in windows. When people’s azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he had breathed on them. Any stealthy, small crimes committed in Maycomb were his work. Once the town was terrorized by a series of morbid nocturnal events: people’s chickens and household pets were found mutilated; although the culprit was Crazy Addie, who eventually drowned himself in Barker’s Eddy, people still looked at the Radley place, unwilling  to discard their initial suspicions.

This book has it all. A study of morals. The painful steps between childhood and adolescence. A boogeyman. A hero. A villain. High, courtroom drama. Beautiful language, wrapped up in Southern Gothic twang as thick as honey and butter between two halves of a buttermilk biscuit. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’d love to hear what you think of it in the comments.

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Happy Birthday, Charlotte Bronte

I have been a bit remiss. I’ve tried to put up a new review every 3 or 4 days, but the combination of working really hard on editing one of my own manuscripts, doing a blogging challenge and reading a book that’s very slow has kept me from it this week. I’m not sure if the book I’m reading will make it on the blog or not. I’ve got several great library books I’m looking forward to.

jane eyre

As I said when I began this blog, I wanted to celebrate my favorite author’s birthdays. And today is the birthday of Charlotte Bronte. She was the eldest of the literary sisters, which also included Emily Bronte, author of Wuthering Heights and Anne Bronte, author of Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Charlotte is best known for her excellent novel, Jane Eyre. Critics argue that Anne’s Agnes Grey is much more representative of a governess’ life than Jane Eyre. Read it if you want to learn more about being a governess during the life of the Bronte’s, but I warn you – it is a trifle dull. If you want excitement, an almost modern heroine and gothic chills, pick up Eyre.

Here is the blurb from Goodreads:

Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. 

She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed. 

With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte’s innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.

The Bronte’s all stirred up the narrow-minded, somewhat elitist critics over their respective novels. Anne’s Tenant of Wildfell Hall drew ire for its depiction of drunkenness and the audacity of a woman to live on her own when married. Emily’s Wuthering Heights was  condemned for it’s “amoral passion” and a female character who preferred to run wild on the moors rather than do needlework. And then there is Jane Eyre. The title character is an orphan left in the care of her aunt (by marriage), Mrs. Reed. Jane is willful, unconventional, with an artistic mind. Jane will not lay down under the tyranny of her Aunt and cousin, John, but curses Mrs. Reed when she accuses her of being a liar to a school administrator. After he goes away, Jane gives her aunt what-for.

“I am not deceitful: if I were, I should say I loved you; but I declare I do not love you: I dislike you the worst of anybody in the world except John Reed; and this book about the liar, you may to your girl, Georgiana, for it is she who tells lies, and not I.”

Every time I read that I fist-punch the air! But sadly, our heroine is sent off to this awful school, branded a liar, and made to stand on a stool with a placard proclaiming her such. Despite the cruelty, the horrible food provided and the unkind treatment, Jane stays long enough to get her education and see the school purged of its greedy administrators. She remains there as a teacher, until a desire to see more of the world inspires her to advertise for a position as a governess. And this is where our story really gets interesting.

She is hired at Thornfield Hall to teach a gentleman’s ward – allegedly a daughter from the other side of the blanket, as they said in those times. At first, she does not expect to meet the gentleman himself, as it is said he is rarely at home. She has her pupil, Adele, and Mrs. Fairfax the housekeeper for company. And though she is happy and has more freedom and lives in a gorgeous mansion, she feels the house and her position closing in around her. She wishes, that like a man, she could have action in her life. And of course, what sort of book would it be if the mysterious, haunted Mr. Rochester did not make an appearance? He is intrigued by the direct, no-nonsense governess he finds attending to Adele. A woman of intelligence, who answers his impertinent questions with impertinence and who doesn’t back down, either from his surly tone or aristocratic privilege, which he doesn’t even try to keep in check – but of course he doesn’t. He’s privileged. He doesn’t have to.

Besides the strange attraction of Mr. Rochester, there is the giggling in the night. The mysterious fire set in Mr. Rochester’s rooms. Jane saves him from that one – and this part is very genteelly played. She wakes, having heard a sound in the hall. She opens her door and finds a burning candle, and Mr. Rochester’s door is open. She smells smoke, and runs inside to find his bed hangings on fire.  She wakes him and they put out the fire, but instead of rousing the house and finding out what has happened, he asks her to stay in his room and waits for him to return. He goes upstairs and is gone awhile. When he returns, she wishes to go. She’s tired, she’s had a fright, of course she wants to go. He tells her she may, and then stops her. He asks how she can leave him after saving his life. He wants to shake hands, to thank her, and she insists there is no need. His voice is strange, he doesn’t speak with his usual surety. He asks her, a couple of time, if she will go… to me it seems he is almost asking her to stay. In his room. At night. You get what I’m saying? Though Jane doesn’t acknowledge this, she has just been propositioned. But being young and chaste, Jane has no intention of being seduced. It’s the sexiest part of of the whole book. Well. One of them. They have many intellectual wrangles and heartfelt interchanges that bristle with all sorts of things unsaid.

Jane Eyre has everything I love. Romance. A strong heroine who is also an orphan. I seem to like classic tales of orphans. An old, gothic house with a mystery. A brooding Englishman. It just gets better every time I read it. The Bronte’s had their own share of tragedy and gothic horrors in their lives. They all died too young, but they left behind treasures that are well worth reading.

The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell

reapers are the angels

She was in Orlando once, when she was little, and she remembers standing at the bottom of this terrific tall building and thinking that civilization’s got some crackerjack people working for its furtherance, and kicking at the base of the building with her foot to see if the whole thing could topple over, and seeing that it didn’t and never ever would. The Reapers Are The Angels, Alden Bell

Sometimes, dead is better. Pet Cemetary, Stephen King

I’ve always believed actions speak louder than words. People will defend someone, call them a great guy… despite their criminal record and penchant for getting in fights and stealing from friends. If your actions, ie: your choices, wreak pain and devastation on people, you are not a nice guy, I don’t care how great your sense of humor is, or how much fun you are at a party. As the Oracle in The Matrix told us, it’s all about choices. The same can be said for a character. Readers are like voyeurs, sitting back and watching what characters do and learning about them by their actions. You see a little girl kick the base of an enormous structure to see if she could topple it. You wonder what sort of person would do that. And her name being Temple makes you wonder about how sturdy and immovable her own base is. Here is the link to Goodreads and the blurb.

Zombies have infested a fallen America. A young girl named Temple is on the run. Haunted by her past and pursued by a killer, Temple is surrounded by death and danger, hoping to be set free.

For twenty-five years, civilization has survived in meager enclaves, guarded against a plague of the dead. Temple wanders this blighted landscape, keeping to herself and keeping her demons inside her heart. She can’t remember a time before the zombies, but she does remember an old man who took her in and the younger brother she cared for until the tragedy that set her on a personal journey toward redemption. Moving back and forth between the insulated remnants of society and the brutal frontier beyond, Temple must decide where ultimately to make a home and find the salvation she seeks.

When we meet Temple, she’s living on a small spit of land with a lighthouse on it, off the coast of Florida. She’s clearly self-sufficient, feeding and caring for herself, a bit world weary. She seems young, with an eye for beauty, despite a lack of education and all her worldly smarts. Then a “slug” washes up on the beach. She knows her time on the island wouldn’t be forever, and with the swing of the tide, the distance between the mainland and her respite is becoming traversable by the shambling remains. She’ll have to move on, but first, she goes to inspect the visitor. It’s stuck in the sand and motionless, but when it becomes clear it’s alive, she has a sort of one sided discussion with it. It’s lower jaw has been torn off, so it’s harmless. It’s odd. We’re used to people running like hell from zombies, but in this world, though numerous, the numbers of zombies don’t seem overwhelming.

Sadly, Temple was born after the plague, or whatever it was that set the dead to rise – and much of what we take for granted, like reading, cotton candy, and living in one place with a house and friends and family, are beyond her experience. Temple is not a simple creature that just fights for life – she stops to wonder at beauty and what has been lost, and what would have continued if humanity’s discoveries and wonders hadn’t been brought to a stop. At one point, I wrote in my notes that she wasn’t very sophisticated…and then laughed at myself for looking for sophistication in a zombie book. Her thoughts tell us she is haunted by her past, and she thinks of herself as some sort of monster, an inhuman machine. Her choices tell us she isn’t. She finds a big galoot of a man running down the road of a suburban area, followed by zombies and carrying the body of an old woman. The man appears mentally challenged, and instead of just rolling on by, she goes back and helps him. She drives past a weird creature along a forested road, and out of curiosity, she stops to check it out. Both of these things have drastic consequences, of course, or we wouldn’t be in a zombie book.

I did have a problem with a few things. First of all, how are these vehicles she finds and gets going still working? Where is the gas coming from? The hordes have been shambling for about 25 years, and there is still gas and electricity in unpopulated places. One episode of “Life After People” teaches us this would not be the case. It would not take very long for the power grid to fold or even to cause massive fires. Even with the small population actually still alive and undead, before the zombies affected the numbers of the living, there would have been problems with supply. Mass exodus would have drained the food and fuel supplies in most areas as people tried to flee. And how is it the batteries in the cars aren’t dead? The state of the remaining cities and towns is also too tame. As Life After People teaches us, it will take no time at all for mother nature to undo what we have wrought. After 25 years, subdivisions won’t just be overgrown, they would revert to forest, jungle, barely recognizable. But those are quibbles.

This book tore me up. It’s not sweet and fluffy, but who reads dystopia or apocalypse tales to feel all cheery? Be prepared with the tissues. The writing in this is amazing. I am going to leave you with a spoiler free taste of what this has to offer. It was hard to not pepper this review with bits and snippets, so I’m indulging in a rather longish quote. I highly recommend this.

A slug dressed in black with a white preacher’s collar lifts his hands toward the sky as if calling upon the god of dead things, while a rotting woman in a wedding dress sits open-legged against a wall, rubbing the lace hem against her cheek. Here, the monstrous and the perverse, the like of which Temple has never seen before. A slug with no arms nestled up against he swollen belly of a corpse recently dead, chewing away at its exposed viscera like a piglet at the teat of its mother. These, the desperate and the plagued, driven to consume beyond their usual ken – a swarm of them pulling apart a dead horse with their hands, using their teeth to scrape the offal from the backside of the bristly skin. Some even so bubbling with abomination that they turn on one another, by instinct preying on the weak, pulling them down, the children and the old ones, digging their teeth first into the fleshiest parts to give their clawing fingers some purchase, a mob of them backing a pale-faced girl against the concrete base of a building. She opens her mouth to defend herself, sinks her teeth into the arm of one of her attackers, but there are more, a groaning howling brood like coyotes on the concrete plain. And, too, a carnival of death, a grassy park near the city center, a merry-go-round that turns unceasing hour by hour, its old-time calliope breathing out dented and rusty notes while the slugs pull their own arms out of the sockets trying to climb aboard the moving platform, some disembodied limbs dragging in the dirt around and around, hands still gripping the metal poles-and the ones who succeed and climb aboard, mounting to the top of the wooden horses, joining with the endless motion of the machine, dazed to imbecility by gut memories of speed and human ingenuity. And the horde, in the blackout of the city night, illumined only by the headlights of the car, everywhere descending and roiling against one another like maggots in the belly of a dead cat, the grimmest and most degenerate manifestation of this blighted humanity on this blighted earth – beasts of our lost pasts, spilling out of whatever hell we have made for them like the army of the damned, choked and gagging and rotted and crusty and eminently pathetic, yes, brutally, conspicuously, outrageously pathetic.

Wool (Omnibus Edition) by Hugh Howey

I knew the moment I finished this book it would take awhile for it to sink in. I didn’t want to write a review. I didn’t know how to do one without spoilers. Let me give you the Link to Goodreads and the blurb:

wool

This Omnibus Edition collects the five Wool books into a single volume. It is for those who arrived late to the party and who wish to save a dollar or two while picking up the same stories in a single package.

The first Wool story was released as a standalone short in July of 2011. Due to reviewer demand, the rest of the story was released over the next six months. My thanks go out to those reviewers who clamored for more. Without you, none of this would exist. Your demand created this as much as I did.

This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside.

I don’t know why I should feel bad about spoilers – the author spoils things at every turn. It keeps you flip-flopping around like you’ve been stung by an eel! He makes up for it with  his use of flashback and cliffhangers. He somehow manages to break all the “rules” and yet I kept on turning the pages!  The very first “story” is an enormous spoiler all by itself, and yet he takes several chapters to brings the story back around and we learn how the first chapter came about. Do you see where I’m heading, here? This is so hard. I’m trying to describe the color orange.

Let me try this again. We’ve got a nest of humanity living in a dwelling described as a silo. The first thing I think when I hear silo is “missile” silo. Those things are big, but nowhere near large enough to fit the description of this place. Thousands live and work and maintain the society, with the necessities of the silo arranged on different levels. Some are devoted to growing food, raising animals, the nursery for newborns, there are even levels for the sole purpose of maintaining the silo itself. It’s a micro-city. Well, rather too big to be micro, especially if you imagine that all of humanity lives within this dwelling… or does it? You know humanity is inside because of the toxic environment, but when and why was this silo built? Is everybody inside? Where is this silo, geographically? No one knows. And what if you want to go outside? Better not to mention it where anyone can hear you!

Criminals, some who just dream of living in another place or who rock the boat, are sent out “to clean.” This entails being stuffed in a “cleaning” suit, going outside and wiping down the external sensors that beam the bleak view of outside to screens inside the silo. This is a big deal. People come to the viewing level to see the screens that display the outside. Over time, dust clogs the viewers and dims the picture. You’d think they would want it to go dim… because part of the view are the bodies of those who have gone out to clean. The environment is so toxic that even inside a suit, the cleaners don’t have long to live. So once you go out, you aren’t coming back in. This makes everyone wonder: why do they do it? Why don’t they just give the silo the middle finger and go die? No one does. Everyone that goes out follows the careful series of instructions they are given before being sent out. They all clean.

The silo itself is more than setting, it’s a character. It seems ancient and eternal, but there is a finite serviceability to everything. The steps that hug the edges of the silo are described in minute detail. The paint is wearing, there is a dip in the middle of each fret, where countless feet have taken countless steps. The diamond cut for traction has worn down. It gives slightly as people walk up and down. Traveling in either direction, you jostle people coming the other way. It made me wonder: if the only way to move through the silo is up this rather thin staircase, what would they do in case of evacuation… and then it hit me. This was the evacuation.  This was the saving grace of those who left the outside world behind. The silo wasn’t made to be evacuated.

That the sensors need cleaning at all is one of the first clues the silo has limitations. What if no one is sent to clean? Will the view be completely obliterated? One character notices square white dots within the frame of the viewscreen. He knows it’s a projection, that the image is made up of things called pixels and he wonders what will happen when more of them begin to go white. Do they have the knowledge or parts to fix them? If they do, why haven’t they? One character loses a sibling to a faulty incubator and makes the life changing decision to go down below and train in maintenance, to try and fix the technology that keeps the silo running. What you get from this is that the threat is piled up in layers: the outside desolation, the interior mechanics and of course, the political and social stress of humans trapped in a metal building dug in the ground.

I can’t remember reading a book that had me gasping out loud as often as this one did. Most of this emotion came from caring about what was happening to the characters. Every one felt well rounded and had clear motivations. I never wondered “Why on Earth would so-n-so do that?” Add a villain that makes you grind your teeth, and you have a page turner.

Despite having been released in parts, this doesn’t feel like a series of short stories, other than perhaps the first. It’s a prologue that works like a proper prologue should – a necessary bit of background that sets up the rest of the story. It’s a hell of a read. There are secrets upon secrets, going as deep as the silo itself. And what is out there beyond the ridge? Beyond the bodies moldering in the distance? You have to read it to find out.

Georgiana Darcy’s Diary by Anna Elliott

Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge for 2013**

In celebration of two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I’m taking part in the Austenprose Bicentenary Challenge for 2013.Here is the original blog post if you are interested. The idea is to pick a challenge level (Ie: how many Pride and Prejudice inspired books, be they prequels, sequels, non-fiction, fan-fiction, etc., or movies or miniseries) then post our review on your blog.

This month I am reviewing Georgiana Darcy’s Diary by Anna Elliott

georgiana darcys diary

My first foray into Jane-ite fiction (not this book, a previous attempt) didn’t go so well. As a matter of fact, it was so bad I wiped it off my list of books for this challenge and replaced it with something else. I wasn’t sure what to expect of this one, but I’d heard it was a fan favorite. Well, consider me one of those fans. I want you to know, I am going to try really hard not to gush about this.

Here is the blurb:

Mr. Darcy’s younger sister searches for her own happily-ever-after.

The year is 1814, and it’s springtime at Pemberley. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have married. But now a new romance is in the air, along with high fashion, elegant manners, scandal, deception, and the wonderful hope of a true and lasting love.

Shy Georgiana Darcy has been content to remain unmarried, living with her brother and his new bride. But Elizabeth and Darcy’s fairy-tale love reminds Georgiana daily that she has found no true love of her own. And perhaps never will, for she is convinced the one man she secretly cares for will never love her in return. Georgiana’s domineering aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, has determined that Georgiana shall marry, and has a list of eligible bachelors in mind. But which of the suitors are sincere, and which are merely interested in Georgiana’s fortune? Georgiana must learn to trust her heart and rely on her courage, for she also faces the return of the man who could ruin her reputation and spoil a happy ending, just when it finally lies within her grasp.

When we meet Georgiana Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, she is a bit of a mouse. If memory serves, I don’t think she says a word of actual dialog. Elizabeth recognizes her alleged “pride” as shyness. Here she a few years older and under her sister-in-law’s gentle guidance and good example, she has seasoned a little. She is still a shy girl, but she isn’t satisfied to stay that way.

“I said before that I hate being shy, sometimes. But it is more than that. If I could change one quality in myself, I would wish that I could stand and fight more easily, rather than wanting to run away and hide every time I am shocked or afraid.”

I like that. It’s something I totally relate to. Miss Darcy might be shy, but she has pluck. When a gypsy woman starts to read her fortune, Georgiana stops her, mid-gush. “Hadn’t you better stop while you’re ahead?” I asked. “There aren’t all that many more nice, promising-sounding adjectives you can use to describe this mysterious gentleman.” Well, instead of getting a gypsy curse dumped on her head, the old woman laughs and tells her a true fortune. She says that a former love is going to come back and everything is going to change. Considering she is surrounded by possible suitors brought in my Lady Catherine, here known as Aunt de Bourgh, she is glad to hear it.

This is more than a romance – this has a wonderfully layered plot. There is Aunt de Bourgh, bound and determined to see Georgiana engaged. There is cousin Anne, who Georgiana wants to draw out of a shroud of imagined frailty. A mysterious Frenchman who fled the revolution has his eye on Caroline Bingley… or does he? And what is Caroline up to, sneaking out of the house and disappearing at odd hours? And then there is cousin Edward Fitzwilliam, the man Georgiana has been in love with since she was six years old. He has returned from the war suffering from a wound, and not entirely himself. Something stirs between them, but Georgiana fears he still sees her as a child. And of course, there is romance. It shows up in unexpected quarters, it runs away, it gambols in the meadows. I don’t want to ruin the pairings!

This was such an enjoyable, well balanced read. Great voice, wonderful main character, who is likable but not perfect. Mystery. Romance. Foolishness. Delight. Ok. that’s enough. I guess I better stop before Georgiana chides me for my excessive use of adjectives.

There is a sequel that I haven’t gotten yet.