Friday, November 30, 2012

Book Review - Louisa May Alcott's The Inheritance

The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott
Published by: Dutton
Publication Date: 1997 (written 1849)
Format: Hardcover, 188 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy(different edition than one reviewed)

Edith Adelon was rescued from an Italian orphanage years ago by the kindly Lord Hamilton to be a companion to his daughter Amy. Lord Hamilton has since died and his son Arthur is the current Lord Hamilton and Edith and Amy have grown into lovely young women. Yet Edith has always felt apart, treated by some in the household, in particular Amy and Arthur's cousin Ida, as nothing more than a servant. When Arthur's friend Lord Percy arrives for the summer, Ida can see there is a connection between Edith and the Lord... a connection that Ida wishes to have for herself. Compounding matters, when their house party expands to include Lord Arlington, he too develops feelings for Edith. Also, after a daring rescue, Edith is responsible for saving Amy's life and is now treated by all as family.

Ida will not tolerate the situation she has been placed in. If being devious won't do, she will be downright underhanded. She will make all those who care and respect Edith despise her. Ida will make it look like the girl with the heart of gold who attends to all the ill and poor of the neighborhood is nothing more than a common thief. Yet there is a secret about Edith that she herself is unaware of. A secret that will change everything, perhaps even her chances with Lord Percy.

Surfing the upper cable channels late at night was how I first discovered The Inheritance. This being before I had a handy cable box that told me what I was watching, or even a computer, I'd just catch parts of it every now and then but I never knew what it was. For some reason I've seen the ball scene probably fifty times because of this strange viewing relationship I had with the miniseries. Also, seeing as I seemed to stumble upon it always around two in the morning I'd never be able to stay awake to see how it ended. All I knew was that it was a romance and Thomas Gibson from Dharma and Greg was in it, oh, and the mother from Family Ties. But being a huge Dharma and Greg fan and seeing Thomas Gibson dancing and strutting around in period clothing was enough to keep me hooked. Quite literally years after the fact I finally found out that it was called The Inheritance and was based on one of the very first stories Louisa May Alcott ever wrote, and then I was able to get it from Amazon for about $4!

So over a decade after it was made and probably five years or more after I had stumbled upon it, I finally knew the ending and the beginning and everything in between. I was also amused that the family estate was Rory Gilmore's High School on Gilmore Girls, but that was just a funny aside because that building has been used in almost everything, even Alias used it as some Eastern European Consulate. Now that I finally knew the author was the famed author of Little Women I ordered myself a copy of the book and was excited to get to reading it right away to see how it compared to the miniseries. As is often the case with me, right away means: and over three years later I create a themed event on my blog so that I force myself to pick up books I've been meaning to read for years. Hence me and The Inheritance finally set a date to meet each other. At least it took a lot less time than getting me to watch that miniseries in full...

The first thing that stuck me about the book was how much the miniseries had changed it! I'm not talking about little things here and there, but that this book is set in England not Concord, Massachusetts, and one of the main characters who I should add is long dead in the book is magically alive in the miniseries only to die tragically. At first I could see no correlation between the two. I was more than a little confused. The book and the miniseries where done in the same year, so at first I thought, maybe the people behind the miniseries where given just a vague outline of the plot and they just made up the rest... but then little things started to pop up which I recognized. The daring cliff rescue, the horse jumping the wall... little things that made me realize that yes, this was, in it's barest essence, the same thing.

Personally, I don't know whether it's because I saw the miniseries first, but the truth is, I far enjoyed the miniseries over reading the book. Edith was a little too good. She was a goody two-shoes. Always suffering silently and working to help the poor and willing to risk her life and her reputation for promises and oaths. How did she suffer from unwanted attention! Dear me, the horrors of men liking her, please. How Ida not loving her pained her most of all. Blah blah blah. She needs a backbone! Also, I know this is in all probability the earliest work of Louisa May Alcott, until something else comes along, but, unlike authors like Austen who where quite developed at this young age, you can tell the youth of the author. Everything is so juvenile and kind of badly written and repetitive. How I wish that Louisa had gone back to this story as a more mature writer, because I think she could have made this a masterpiece, instead it feels like a clunky rough draft of her childhood fantasies.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Louisa May Alcott and Charles Dickens

Dickens' influence of writers didn't just end at his little sphere of "Dickensian" London, oh no. He influenced writers the world over. One such writer lived in a little brown house in Concord, Massachusetts. Today you can visit Orchard House, because it is a museum honoring the one and only Louisa May Alcott. Louisa May Alcott is best known for her true classic, Little Women, following the trials of the March sisters and loosely based on Alcott's own life. While she was a prolific writer, this would be the book she is forever known for. Growing up in Concord she was surrounded by many famous American authors, but it was Dickens who she admired the most, one might even say hero worshipped.

In the category of art imitating life, the "Pickwick Club" Louisa and her sisters formed, likewise did Jo and her sisters, to hold meetings on rainy days, was based of Dickens' novel, The Pickwick Papers. All the girls would imitate a character from the book at their meetings. They even produced a newsletter, The Pickwick Portfolio, in which they all wrote and edited stories in the early 1850s. Louisa and her sisters also dramatized and acted all Dickens' works, instilling in Louisa a life long love of the theatre, which Dickens also held.

When Louisa travelled to Europe, she wrote a small piece called “A Dickens Day,” wherein she recounted her sightseeing of all the places Dickens immortalized in his writing while she was in London. Yet, where his writing inspired her, finally seeing the man was a disappointment. When she was in London in 1966, she got to see him and was let down, to say the least. But it wasn't until Dickens came to America on a lecture circuit with the likes of Thackeray that Louisa saw him again and let forth her feelings of the than 55 year old man: "heard dickens and was disappointed, old dandy." But that was nothing to her further criticism when she said "youth and comeliness where gone, but the foppishness remained, and the red-faced man, with false teeth, and the voice of a worn-out actor, had his scanty grey hair curled... there was nothing genuine about him."

So, sadly, the great writer didn't live up to Louisa's expectations, but we still have to thank Dickens for inspiring her to be one of the great writers of all time, their names ranked amongst the greatest together.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Tuesday Tomorrow

Cold Days by Jim Butcher
Published by: Roc
Publication Date: November 27th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 528 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"After being murdered by a mystery assailant, navigating his way through the realm between life and death, and being brought back to the mortal world, Harry realizes that maybe death wasn’t all that bad. Because he is no longer Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard.

He is now Harry Dresden, Winter Knight to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. After Harry had no choice but to swear his fealty, Mab wasn’t about to let something as petty as death steal away the prize she had sought for so long. And now, her word is his command, no matter what she wants him to do, no matter where she wants him to go, and no matter who she wants him to kill.

Guess which Mab wants first?

Of course, it won’t be an ordinary, everyday assassination. Mab wants her newest minion to pull off the impossible: kill an immortal. No problem there, right? And to make matters worse, there exists a growing threat to an unfathomable source of magic that could land Harry in the sort of trouble that will make death look like a holiday.

Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent the annihilation of countless innocents, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own…His soul."

Ok, while I'm still bitter that they cancelled the wonderful The Dresden Files TV Show, at least we have the books right? Now if only Paul Blackthorne could come by and read them instead of being on that stupid Arrow show...

The Lucky Ones by Anna Godbersen
Published by: HarperCollins
Publication Date: November 27th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 416 Pages
To Buy
The official patter:
"Letty's rising star is threatened by a new rival...

Astrid's relationship with Charlie takes a dark turn...

And Cordelia vows revenge against the Hales - once and for all..."

Yeah, I'm a sucked for period pieces...

The Emperor's Conspiracy by Michelle Diener
Published by: Gallery
Publication Date: November 27th, 2012
Format: Paperback, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Set in early nineteenth-century England, this vivid and romantic historical novel goes from the most elegant ballrooms of London to the city’s most tawdry slums, as a spirited young woman helps unravel a plot by Napoleon to bleed England of all its gold.

Through good fortune, Charlotte Raven escaped the poverty of the London slums and is now an educated, wealthy Society lady. But she lives between two worlds, unable to completely turn her back on her old life—specifically Luke, her childhood protector and now a ruthless London crime lord.

When Lord Edward Durnham is asked to investigate the alarming movement of gold out of England, his search leads him to London, and his recent acquaintance with Charlotte affords him access to a dark world he barely knew existed. As they delve deeper into the underbelly of London, danger lurks at every turn, and Charlotte must navigate between her two worlds to save England.

And soon she faces a defining choice: to continue in the familiar limbo she’s lived in for years, or to take a painful and risky leap toward a happiness she never thought possible."

Regency England, OH YEAH! Also, cover lust, I want that dress!

Moonshiftedby Cassie Alexander
Published by: St. Martin's
Publication Date: November 27th, 2012
Format: Paperback, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"After surviving a brutal vampire attack, Nurse Edie Spence is ready to get back to work—attending to supernatural creatures in need of medical help. But her nursing skills are put to the test when she witnesses a hit-and-run on her lunch break. The injured pedestrian is not only a werewolf, he’s the pack leader. And now Edie’s stuck in the middle of an all-out were-war…

With two rival packs fighting tooth and nail, Edie has no intention of crossing enemy lines. But when she meets her patient’s nephew—a tattooed werewolf named Lucas with a predatory gleam in his eye that’s hard to resist—Edie can’t help but choose sides. The question is: can she trust this dangerous new ally? And can she trust her own instincts when she’s near him? Either way, Edie can’t seem to pull away—even if getting involved makes her easy prey…"

I've had friends who hated the first book in this series and those who loved it, I still have yet to read it, but I'm excited to see that if I do like it I have another one waiting in the wings.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Published by: Penguin
Publication Date: November 27th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 416 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"It all begins with a letter. Fall in love with "Penguin DropCaps", a new series of twenty-six collectable hardcover editions with a gorgeous type cover for each letter of the alphabet. Featuring lettering by Jessica Hische, a superstar in the world of type and illustration, whose work has appeared everywhere from Tiffany & Co. to Wes Anderson's films to Penguin's own bestsellers, "Penguin DropCaps" debut with an A for Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice", a B for Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre", and a C for Willa Cather's "My Antonia". A is for Austen. Few have failed to be charmed by the witty and independent spirit of Elizabeth Bennet in Austen's beloved classic "Pride and Prejudice". Elizabeth's early determination to dislike Mr. Darcy is a prejudice only matched by the folly of his arrogant pride. Their first impressions give way to true feelings in a comedy profoundly concerned with happiness and how it might be achieved. Jessica Hische is a letterer, illustrator, typographer, and web designer. She currently serves on the Type Directors Club board of directors, has been named a "Forbes Magazine" "30 under 30" in art and design as well as an ADC Young Gun and one of "Print" Magazine's "New Visual Artists". She has designed for Wes Anderson, McSweeney's, Tiffany & Co, Penguin Books and many others. She resides primarily in San Francisco, occasionally in Brooklyn, and can otherwise be found in airplanes en route to speaking engagements."

I am like the biggest sucker for re-buys, especially of Austen. Also, I really adore Jessica Hische, only thing is... she's just really off the mark with this new Drop Cap series. Not only are most of the letters ugly and illegible, but most are the antithesis of what the books are about! Ugly, avoid and don't buy, show Penguin, that while they are awesome, they are not ALWAYS right. Also, go google the rest of them, see if you can guess which one I hate most.

Fairest by Bill Willingham
Published by: Vertigo
Publication Date: November 27th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 160 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"New York Times bestselling, award-winning creator Bill Willingham presents a new series starring the female FABLES. Balancing horror, humor and adventure in the FABLES tradition, FAIREST explores the secret histories of Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Cinderella, The Snow Queen, Thumbelina, Snow White, Rose Red and others.

The first 6-issue tale follows the misadventures of Briar Rose immediately after the events of FABLES #107 (collected in Fables Volume 16: Super Team), in which she was stolen away by the goblin army. Following this first collection, Willingham will serve as a consultant on all story arcs and introduce new writers from other mediums to the FABLES mythos."

Again, more Fables, yeah!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Book Review - Anthony Trollope's The Warden

The Warden by Anthony Trollope
Published by: Everyman's Library
Publication Date: 1855
Format: Hardcover, 203 Pages
Rating: ★★
To Buy (different edition than one reviewed)

Mr. Septimus Harding is the Warden of Hiram's Hospital in Barchester. He is also the precentor of that town's cathedral. Yet it is his care of Hirman's Hospital that brings him much grief. The hospital was founded by John Hiram many many years before as an almshouse for the care of twelve bedesmen. Hirman's wish was for his Hospital to care for those who had worked hard all their lives and had no one to care for them. Here enters the Warden. The Warden would care for the spiritual and psychical well-being of the men. Over the years though the position of Warden has become an envious position and a gift of the Bishop, because while the cost of living has changed, the men still only receive what was stipulated in the will, while the rest of the now considerable money goes into the pockets of the Warden.

Mr. Harding though is an innocent man. He does not think of money but only the well-being of his charges. All this changes when Mr. Bold appears on the scene. For quite some time he has been a friend to Mr. Harding and a hopeful suitor to his daughter, Eleanor Harding. Yet Mr. Bold is also a bit of a reformer. He likes seeing his name attached to good deeds in the press and here is the Warden, oblivious in the ways of the world. A man who doesn't know he is doing wrong and continuing the evils of the church. Despite his love for Mr. and Eleanor Harding, he launches an attack on the hospital. With the newspapers grabbing hold of the story, it soon turns into a witch hunt with lawyers on both sides and the poor Warden in the middle.

Trapped between doing what he loves and feeling that perhaps he is in the wrong, Mr. Harding for the first time in his life has to dig deep inside his soul and find an answer for himself. While his son-in-law, Dr. Grantly, is zealously defending the church and his own father, the Bishop, it might come down to the evil muck flung at Mr. Harding by the press that finally sways him. To be thought to be doing wrong is more than this innocent lover of music and caregiver can take.

Quite a few years back now I remember watching The Way We Live Now and thinking, damn, this Anthony Trollope is awesome. As it often happens with me, I first devoured all the miniseries I could, falling deeply in love with The Pallisers, and then going out and getting all the books I could lay my hands on. This was harder then it is now because at the time Trollope was oddly out of print here, but thanks to Andrew Davies and the BBC that has since changed. In fact, because of the surge of interest in Trollope they re-released an old BBC Miniseries The Barchester Chronicles. I immediately bought it, mainly because it had Alan Rickman in it, so it couldn't be bad, now could it? I was sort of wrong... there where times when it was wonderful, and times when I was bored to tears. The miniseries followed the first two books in the Barchester Chronicles, and can you guess which part bored me to tears? That's right, the part based on The Warden.

Yet, despite my boredom with the miniseries, I knew one day that I would read this book. Mainly because the Barchester Chronicles, all six books in the series, are some of the most loved books of their time. I thoroughly enjoyed the Pallisers, so I HAD to eventually get to reading this book. In fact, I was hesitant on many occasions. But my desire to read about Barchester, a land so loved that even other authors, like Angela Thirkell, have taken up their pen to this hallowed ground eventually won out. That and I was determined to read a Trollope book for my Dickensian Denouement and the first book in the Pallisers, Can You Forgive Her, is like five times the length and with school, my time is precious.

I will say I was pleasantly surprised at first. The story was simple and sweet and even if you don't care anything for church politics and reform, Trollope was able to make the story engaging by having you fall in love with the characters. Yet there was a flaw that Trollope repeatedly fell prey to that made me more than once set the book aside after my eyes had glazed over and I almost fell asleep. He had these long diatribes that would be inserted almost but not quite randomly into the story. Not only did it break up the narrative and take you out of the book, but dear lord, there was almost more diatribe than plot for a lot of the book!

Trollope's two main attacks where against the press and against popular sentimental authors. While the attack on the authors was funny, because it was clearly aimed directly at Dickens and in particular Bleak House, which had just finished it's weekly run, and it's limp heroes and heroines (Ester anyone?) and fascinating though absurdly named secondary characters. Yet this rant went overly long and the amusement I felt waned and I just wanted it to end. His other rant was even longer. The press and popular journalist where his other target. While it is more than a little terrifying that in his lambasting of the press he was able to nail the growing power that the press has gotten a hold of, to the extent where it creates the news, even to this day, I didn't sign up for reading so much about it, thank you very much.

Though, I have to say, I'm excited, now that I've gotten through the first book, who knows the awesomeness that awaits. I hope people have not been steering me wrong all these years and that the rest of the series is as wonderful as they say. If Trollope sticks on topic, I have no doubt of his abilities... Tom Towers indeed, get thee and thy press away.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Anthony Trollope and Charles Dickens

Anthony Trollope was one of the most successful and prolific writers in Victorian England. He out wrote Dickens two to one, writing forty seven novels, as well as dozens of short stories and a few books on travel. His best loved novels are the Pallisers series, which was made into a BBC series in the seventies, and the Chronicles of Barsetshire, that are so loved, other authors, such as Angela Thirkell, used the imaginary county as a setting for her books. Oddly enough, one of his lasting contributions was from his work in the Post Office, when he introduced the Pillar Box to England, which is a free standing post box for mail which is still in use today, a lasting image that is truly British and is all thanks to Anthony Trollope.

Dickens and Trollope mainly knew each other through Dickens's friendship with Trollope's family, mainly Anthony's elder brother Thomas. Dickens also corresponded with Trollope's father and his mother, Francis, who was a well known writer in her own right. So it can be safely assumed they knew each other for quite some time, at least since the 1840s. Though the extent of their friendship is not known, they dined at each others homes and Dickens even corresponded with Trollope's wife Rose, though perhaps he had ulterior motives... one never knows with Dickens!

Their friendship was quite cordial, though Dickens apparently didn't like Trollope's writing, even though he published The Duke's Children in All the Year Round. They mainly saw each other at literary functions where occasionally they would speak on the same platform. The real reason Trollope must be mentioned with Dickens is for sheer output. You can not talk about one without the other. These two authors baffled their readers with how much they could produce. Yet, aside from their overabundance in writing, they greatly differed, moving in different crowds, Trollope loving the domesticated life and his work at the post office and his clubs, whereas Dickens felt stifled by his home life and loved to abandon it for actors and actresses and caused quite a to-do with his leaving his club.

While Dickens has come to be known as the Victorian paragon, during his time, aside from his writing, he was rather outre. He left his wife for an actress twenty seven years his junior. Trollope more embodied the ideals of the era, Victoria and Albert and all that is good and British. After Trollope's death in 1882 his popularity has greatly fluctuated. When his autobiography was published posthumously, his critics took great glee in learning that Trollope adhered to a strict daily writing quota, siting that output doesn't mean excellence, though that's just their opinion on the matter. Yet Trollope has surfaced again and again in popularity over the years and has strong societies dedicated to his works in both the US and UK. Two of his books, The Way We Live Now and He Knew He Was Right, have been recently adapted by the paragon of adaptations, Andrew Davies, for the BBC. His writing style is also far easier to enjoy than Dickens, but that is just a personal opinion. Anyway you look at it, the two of them dominated the literature of the Victorian era.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tuesday Tomorrow

Soulless 2 by Gail Carriger
Published by: Yen
Publication Date: November 20th, 2012
Format: Paperback, 240 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Settling into her new life as the Lady Woolsey, Alexia finds her days quite challenging. Whether it is a regiment of supernatural soldiers camped out on her front lawn or the demands of being the Queen's "muhjah," there never seems to be a want of new hurdles to overcome. But when stories of supernaturals rendered normal by some unknown force begin cropping up, Alexia has a rather serious mystery on her hands. Can she root out the cause of this phenomenon, which smacks of some larger plot at work?"

Ok, why they aren't calling it Changeless makes me a bit confused, but the truth is, I don't care, I loved the Manga adaptation of the first book, even if I wished the whole thing was in color, and now it's my favorite book in the series being adapted. Yeah, sqwee, happy dance! Also, I want that dress!

Fables: Wolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham
Published by: Vertigo
Publication Date: November 20th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 144 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"FABLES: WEREWOLVES OF THE HEARTLAND is a riveting original graphic novel that is both an integral part of the FABLES mythology and an entry point to the long-running, best selling series.
Bigby Wolf takes center stage in the most brutal, action-packed FABLES story to date. Sent out into modern day America at large, Bigby’s on a quest for possible locations for a new Fabletown. In his wanderings, Bigby stumbles across a small town named Luperville, somewhere in American’s vast heartland, that, amazingly enough, seems to be populated by werewolves.

These werewolves are descendants of a World War II German project to create an army of werewolf super soldiers, some of whom who were infected with Bigby’s tainted blood. And even more unfortunate the fact that they’ve captured, caged and tortured the most popular and important canine in history: Bigby Wolf."

I've kind of become addicted to the Fables comics... so yeah, I'm really looking forward to this!

The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery  by Agatha Christie
Published by: Harper
Publication Date: November 20th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In 1922 Agatha Christie set sail on a ten-month voyage around the world. Her husband, Archibald Christie, had been invited to join a trade mission to promote the British Empire Exhibition, and Christie was determined to go with him. It was a life-changing decision for the young novelist, a true voyage of discovery that would inspire her future writing for years to come.

Placing her two-year-old daughter in the care of her sister, Christie set sail at the end of January and did not return home until December. Throughout her journey, she kept up a detailed weekly correspondence with her mother, describing the exotic places and the remarkable people she encountered as the mission traveled through South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, and Canada. Reproduced here for the first time, the letters are full of tales of seasickness and sunburn, motor trips and surfboarding, glamor and misery. The Grand Tour also brings to life the places and people Christie encountered through the photos she took on her portable camera, as well as some of the original postcards, newspaper cuttings, and memorabilia she collected on her trip.

Edited and introduced by Agatha Christie's grandson, Mathew Prichard, and accompanied by reminiscences from her own autobiography, this unique travelogue reveals a new adventurous side to Agatha Christie, one that would ultimately influence the stories that made her a household name."

Agatha Christie travelogue about the trip I dream to one day make? Sign me up as sold!

His Spanish Bride by Teresa Grant
Published by: eKensington
Publication Date: November 20th, 2012
Format: Kindle
To Buy

The official patter:
"When Intelligence Agent Malcolm Rannoch proposes to Suzanne de Saint-Vallier, the tumult of the Peninsular War recedes-if only temporarily. For their union may have shattering consequences for the more fragile partnership between Britain and Spain. But meanwhile, let the celebrations begin . . ."

If you're a fan of Lauren Willig and Tasha Alexander, but haven't yet tried Teresa Grant, I have to ask, what is wrong with you!?! New e-reader exclusive in Teresa's Charles and Melanie Fraser series!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Book Review - Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
Published by: Penguin
Publication Date: 1853
Format: Hardcover, 257 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy
Miss Mary Smith often visits Cranford. While she provides an outside view of the goings on of this town of "Amazons," she views herself as a true Cranfordian. She usually stays with Deborah and Matty Jenkyns, and later, after Deborah's death, with just Miss Matty. Yet she has been known to stay with the gossipy and often inadvertently hilarious Miss Pole, in particular during the misunderstanding of what a cage is... to some, a piece of undergarments, to Miss Pole, erroneously a parrot cage. Everything is go in Cranford, from cows in pajamas to imagined burglaries, to widows remarrying way too soon to financial disasters. There is love, romantic and platonic. But most of all there is the bond of friendship between all the towns residents. Sometimes life isn't one logical story from beginning to end, but a series of stops and starts, which is what Mary's cunning eye captures in her loving portrait of her, sometimes batty, friends. Just wait for the fake burglaries to understand how batty these ladies can be! Heaven forbid the thought of sleeping with a man, but sleeping with the silver to avoid a theft by gypsies that may or may not be women or men or hunchbacks, that's just common sense.

Going into Cranford I didn't quite know what to expect. I had heard that it was very much a sweet comedy for many years, that's until I saw the miniseries and my expectations went out the window. Aside from the humor, it felt more like Elizabeth Gaskell was a Victorian George R. R. Martin, willing to kill off a character every five minutes. Watching the miniseries you had to have a thick skin and just expect that everyone was fair game. It could also easily be a drinking game where you'd end up very very drunk. So, I was a little surprised than that the book only had three major deaths. THREE!?! Ok, I know that the miniseries was based on some of Gaskell's other writings as well,* but I wouldn't have put off reading this book for so long if I'd known that all the characters I love and care for make it through the book unscathed. I know Heidi Thomas, who adapted the works, has a love of pulling your heartstrings, so much so that it's now a given if you watch anything she does you end up in tears, but still, gaw, you almost made me not want to read this book Heidi. Also, I'm not forgiving her for killing off Martha! She lives Heidi! SHE LIVES! And Deborah doesn't like eating sliced oranges, so there!

*I will also mention here, that because of the two other books integrated into the Cranford miniseries, I went on and read them as well. I personally think that it was a mistake to incorporate My Lady Ludlow and Mr. Harrison's Confessions, seeing as they are, for the most part, where all the depressing resides. My Lady Ludlow was basically a hundred some page treatise on why Lady Ludlow thinks that letting the lower classes read will lead to another Reign of Terror, which was glossed over with one sentence in the miniseries. As for Mr. Harrison, note the "Mr." not "Dr.," it was just the romantic blah that was in the miniseries, but with "Mr." Harrison being far more unlikeable. Enough about Gaskell's other writings, back to the one at hand!

Cranford is more just comical vignettes than a book really. In fact, this is what I would call ideal writing for a piece released in installations, like this one was through Dickens' magazine. You're not overly desperate for the next chapter because the plot doesn't drive the story, the character's quirks and foibles do. Also, while you think a town of widows and spinsters would be sad, Cranford is not depressing, but a melancholy sadness for life and opportunities lost written with wit and understanding. It shows us to make the most out of what you have and to rely on the kindness of your friends. Oh, and cows are awesome in pajamas!

A note on the edition. So, I have to say, that I have coveted the cloth-bound Penguin Classics ever since they started appearing in bookstores a few years ago now. I wanted them all! But, I restrained myself and only bought Cranford. Why only Cranford? Well, if truth be told, I did have other editions, at least two, but the gorgeous lime green with the dark green runner beans was just too too perfect. The thing is, these books where made for display, not for reading, in my opinion. I'm so glad I never bought more of them, because, they're pretty but impractical. Firstly, some of the dark green screen printing has rubbed off with my holding it. Secondly, it was impossible to read because the book didn't want to open. I got cramps in my hand trying to pry the book open long enough to read! It's like Hagrid's Monster Book of Monsters, there has to be an easier way to read it, but I couldn't find it. Also, the fluctuation in font point size depending on introduction, book or appendixes was annoying and pointless. But finally, what put the nail in the coffin of this edition was the superfluity of footnotes and appendixes. There should not be more pages of extraneous "extras" than the actual book is long. Bad job editing Patricia Ingham, I will avoid you at all costs from now on.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Elizabeth Gaskell and Charles Dickens

Elizabeth Gaskell is probably most known among Anglophiles for the BBC's stunning adaptations of her books Wives and Daughters, Cranford and North and South, the later being responsible for the cult of Richard Armitage. She could also be considered the half way point between Jane Austen and the Brontes, being bleak, like the Brontes, but willing to embrace romanticism and love in a way the Brontes never did, seeing as they looked down their noses at the likes of Austen.

Elizabeth Gaskell published Mary Barton anonymously in 1848, though within a year her authorship was widely known. Mary Barton was an immediate success, like her previous venture of a book of poetry with her husband William, a Unitarian minister, Sketches Among the Poor, she dealt with the harsh realities of the Victorian poor. Always an advocate for those without a voice and believing in good works, in early 1850, she wrote to Charles Dickens asking his advice on a young woman she met in prison. While the fate of the young woman is unknown, at least to me, Dickens had praised her work on Mary Barton and invited her to contribute to his magazine, Households Words. Cranford began it's serialization in Households Words the following year, with North and South to follow in 1854.

With the exposure from Dickens's magazine and his help, Elizabeth Gaskell became a popular writer, her Gothic ghost stories being favorites among her readership. While Dickens did help establish Gaskell, whom he referred to as dear Scheherazade, there was a power dynamic between them that lead to constant struggle between the two. From the onset Dickens tried to exert control over Gaskell, making editorial changes to Cranford despite the lack of her approval. He even would deny having gotten letters from her, even though he had, till after the story had gone to press so that his changes would remain. While his main change was to omit the jokes about his own story, The Pickwick Papers, claiming that it seemed like self-aggrandisement, being published in his own magazine, it comes across that perhaps he couldn't take a joke. The reason the reference is funny in Cranford is because everyone knows Dickens and therefore gave the joke a universality!

During the publication of North and South, a title foisted on Gaskell by Dickens, he was also writing of similar material with Hard Times and criticized her story, which he was publishing it must be said, as "wearisome to the last degree." Gaskell herself had a hard time working within the serialized construct of Household Words as well as the technical constraints and time pressure. When her books where eventually published after their serialization, she would often go back in and fix things Dickens had changed and expand on ideas he had made her omit. Their difficult working relationship can be summed up with what Dickens said to his sub editor about Gaskell's work on the magazine as a contributor: "Oh! Mrs Gaskell-fearful-fearful! If I were Mr G. Oh heavens how I would beat her!"

Needless to say, that she eventually moved on from Dickens and her final piece, Wives and Daughters, was serialized through Thackery's magazine, The Cornhill Magazine. This could be considered a slap in the face to Dickens who was occasionally on rancorous terms with Thackeray. Sadly, Gaskell died in 1865 before Wives and Daughters was complete, which was a true lose to literature. For awhile it seemed as though she would disappear into obscurity, but luckily she now ranks as one of the most highly-regarded British Victorian novelists. I'm sure that her connection to Dickens helped, despite their ups and downs. Also, the miniseries didn't hurt any either, mmm, Richard Armitage.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tuesday Tomorrow

Reached by Ally Condie
Published by: Dutton
Publication Date: November 13th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Cassia faces the ultimate choices in the long-anticipated conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Matched Trilogy

After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.

In this gripping conclusion to the #1 New York Times bestselling Matched Trilogy, Cassia will reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honoring a love she cannot live without."

The newest book in this wildly popular series, which I really have to get around to reading...

The Inexplicables by Cherie Priest
Published by: Tor
Publication Date: November 13th, 2012
Format: Paperback, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Rector “Wreck ‘em” Sherman was orphaned as a toddler in the Blight of 1863, but that was years ago. Wreck has grown up, and on his eighteenth birthday, he’ll be cast out out of the orphanage.

And Wreck’s problems aren’t merelyabout finding a home. He’s been quietly breaking the cardinal rule of any good drug dealer and dipping into his own supply of the sap he sells. He’s also pretty sure he’s being haunted by the ghost of a kid he used to know—Zeke Wilkes, who almost certainly died six months ago. Zeke would have every reason to pester Wreck, since Wreck got him inside the walled city of Seattle in the first place, and that was probably what killed him.Maybe it’s only a guilty conscience, but Wreck can’t take it anymore, so he sneaks over the wall.

The walled-off wasteland of Seattle is every bit as bad as he’d heard, chock-full of the hungry undead and utterly choked by the poisonous, inescapable yellow gas. And then there's the monster. Rector's pretty certain that whatever attacked him was not at all human—and not a rotter, either. Arms far too long. Posture all strange. Eyes all wild and faintly glowing gold and known to the locals as simpley "The Inexplicables."

In the process of tracking down these creatures, Rector comes across another incursion through the wall—just as bizarre but entirely attributable to human greed. It seems some outsiders have decided there's gold to be found in the city and they're willing to do whatever it takes to get a piece of the pie unless Rector and his posse have anything to do with it."

More Clockwork Century, what!

The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era by Julian Fellowes
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: November 13th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The Great War has ended, but Downton Abbey is far from peaceful...

"Americans can't get enough of 'Downton Abbey,'" said The Boston Globe. As Season 3 of the award-winning TV series opens, it is 1920 and Downton Abbey is waking up to a world changed forever by World War I. New characters arrive and new intrigues thrive as the old social order is challenged by new expectations.

In this new era, different family members abound (including Cora's American mother, played by Shirley MacLaine) and changed dynamics need to be resolved: Which branch of the family tree will Lord Grantham’s first grandchild belong to? What will become of the servants, both old and new?

The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, carefully pieced together at the heart and hearth of the ancestral home of the Crawleys, takes us deeper into the story of every important member of the Downton estate.This lavish, entirely new book focuses on each character individually, examining their motivations, their actions, and the inspirations behind them. An evocative combination of story, history, and behind-the-scenes drama, it will bring fans even closer to the secret, beating heart of the house."

I can never say no to more Downton!

Chicks Unravel Timeedited by Deborah Stanish and L.M. Myles
Published by: Mad Norwegian Press
Publication Date: November 13th, 2012
Format: Paperback, 272 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The sister book to the 2011 Hugo Award-winning Chicks Dig Time Lords...

In Chicks Unravel Time, editors Deborah Stanish (Whedonistas) and L.M. Myles bring together a host of award-winning female writers, media professionals and scientists to examine each season of new and classic Doctor Who from their unique perspectives.

Diana Gabaldon discusses how Jamie McCrimmon inspired her best-selling Outlander series, and Barbara Hambly (Benjamin January Mysteries) examines the delicate balance of rebooting a TV show. Seanan McGuire (Toby Daye series) reveals the power and pain of waiting in Series 5, and Una McCormack (The King's Dragon) argues that Sylvester McCoy's final year of Doctor Who is the show's best season ever.

Other contributors include Juliet E. McKenna (Einarrin series), Tansy Rayner Roberts (Power and Majesty), Sarah Lotz (The Mall), Martha Wells (The Cloud Roads), Joan Frances Turner (Dust), Rachel Swirsky ("Fields of Gold") and Aliette de Bodard (Obsidian and Blood series)."

I really enjoyed the first nook in this series, Chicks Dig Time Lords, and am happy to see a Fez on the cover... but really, can anyone believe that Sylvester McCoy's final year was the best? I think I need to by the book for that argument alone!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Book Review - Wilkie Collins's The Frozen Deep

The Frozen Deep by Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens
Published by: Hesperus Press
Publication Date: 1866
Format: Paperback, 112 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy(different edition than one reviewed)

Miss Clara Burnham doesn't mingle much in society. Raised in the Scottish hinterlands, she has grown up pale, delicate and odd. She is odd in that she believes she possesses the power of Second Sight, a power which her dear friend Mrs. Crayford is desperately trying to convince her is just a fancy, nothing more. Mrs. Crayford's husband is the First Lieutenant of the ship The Wanderer, which, with The Sea-mew, leaves port tomorrow to find the Northwest Passage. Therefore a ball is in progress. Clara longs to follow her heart and accept the advances of Mr. Frank Aldersley, who ships out on The Sea-mew the following day, yet she harbors a secret. Clara believes that the violent and temperamental Richard Wardour, a man who she spent much time with because of their fathers friendship, is under the misapprehension that they are engaged. Richard has been at sea and Clara worries that the letter she sent to him to clear up the misunderstanding has been mislaid.

Clara has every reason to worry. Not only is Richard still believing himself attached to Clara, but he returns that night and seeks her out at the ball. He ferrets out the truth, that her heart belongs to another. He declares that he will find this man and destroy him. Clara, with her superstitions, believes that Richard will succeed, and that a reckoning will happen between the men. Little does she realize how right she is when Wardour secures a berth for himself on The Wanderer... Clara must than wait for news. Years pass as the expedition fails and they become ice bound. Yet, learn Frank's identity Wardour does, now one must hope that Clara is mistaken as to what her visions see in store.

This is an odd little book. The story, having started it's life as a play sometimes seems to still cling to it's old identity. Descriptions of places have the ring of stage directions verses prose. But knowing that this was the story's origins and also having spent a good portion of my life doing theater, I was able to overlook this slight flaw and enjoy the story for what it has become, after it's first life as a play. Yet the question still must be asked, how much influence did Dickens have on this story? Many have said that once a play got into his hands he'd do whatever he wanted to make it "better." Better being more like his work than subjectively better. Therefore The Frozen Deep is sometimes credited to both authors, but the truth is, the play was just "under the management of Charles Dickens," while the novella was substantially re-written by Collins to use as public reading material for his American tour.

I have to say that, having read Collins's other works, The Moonstone, and in my mind, the superior, The Woman in White, a lot of the book rang true to Collins and his style. The narrative set in England with Mrs. Crayford and Clara felt like Collins at the best of his writing. I even had fantasies that this story could have been expanded beyond the short story and made into a fully fleshed out novel, but seen more through the eyes of those left behind than those on the ship, because I don't really care for arctic voyages or the privations that an ice bound ship faces and, lets not mince words, cannibalism. Yet, there's another part of me that applauds Collins for creating such and captivating story with strong female leads, a Collins speciality, without the story going to hundreds and hundreds of pages. Brevity has never been a trademark of Collins, and therefore I was pleasantly surprised by this story.

While the book is ostensibly about the failed, some might say doomed, expedition to find the Northwest Passage, it was everything else that drew me too it. I might even say that the fact it was about a Arctic expedition made me avoid reading it for quite some time. Yet the other worldliness and the relationships between the characters are so riveting, the expedition is almost just used as a plot device to bring the two men together for their final confrontation than as anything of true significance. There is one thing the I found interesting and if I could go back in time and talk to Collins I would ask. The way the two men pursue each other across the pristine white landscape, the way they are at odds but are still connected and still need each other reminded me eerily of Frankenstein. The way the creature and the doctor have their final showdown on an ice bound ship, I think we must say that Collins had to be a fan, or at least an admirer of Shelley's. Leaving aside the fact that one of the characters is called Frank, it is really Frank who has turned Wardour into a monster, a creature bent on revenge. Therefore, it is my belief that this story owes far more to Shelley than it does to Dickens.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens

Wilkie Collins was a great Victorian writer mainly known for his "sensation novels," The Woman in White and The Moonstone. The Moonstone is viewed as the beginning of what would be the traditional detective story and remains one of Collins's most critically acclaimed works. Dorothy L. Sayers referred to it as "probably the very finest detective story ever written." Yet, it is Collins's friendship with Dickens that has probably led to his fame more than anything.

Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens where lifelong friends. At the time of their meeting in 1851, Dickens was already a popular writer with his editing of the weekly magazine, Household Words, which Wilkie himself would later be published in. They met through a mutual friend, Augustus Egg, who invited Wilkie to join Dickenss' amateur theatrical company. The two authors collaborated together on stage and off, writing dramatic and fictional work. During the beginning of their acquaintance they where never apart, Wilkie spending much time at Dickens's homes, loving the domesticated life that Dickens didn't. Yet, don't think they spent all their times in domesticated bliss! They where often cavorting the nights away in the streets of London and Paris, visiting music and dance halls and stopping in at their favorite restaurant, Verrey's, where they always had a table waiting.

Despite their friendship, Dickens didn't automatically publish anything Wilkie wrote, in fact, he notabley rejected his stories if he viewed them unfit for his audience. With "Gabriel's Marriage" in 1853, Wilkie finally became a contributor to Household Words. By 1856 Wilkie was a regular contributor and Dickens was considering making him staff, which soon became a reality. In 1859, Dickens stopped working on Household Words to create his own paper, All the Year Round. Launching in April of that year, by May, Wilkie already was published in the periodical, following where Dickens led.

By 1860, they where not just friends but family, with Wilkie's younger brother Charles, marrying Dickens's daughter Kate. Yet their literary friendship took a blow when Wilkie left All the Year Round in 1861 because of the success of The Woman in White. In 1862, Collins was extremely ill with gout and Dickens offered help... in the form of writing for him, which Wilkie turned down. What Wilkie did accept though was laudanum, which led to an addiction that would last till his death.Yet by 1867, Wilkie was back with Dickens and The Moonstone was serialized in his periodical. Though, this return to normalcy wouldn't last.

Around this time, with Dickens travelling to America, their friendship started to sour. It could be the burden Wilkie's brother was to Charles, the fact that Collins's life was taken up with two separate women in a convoluted domestic bliss, or even the fact that Collins requested written evidence stating that he owned his own copyrights, and not Dickens's magazines. Dickens died in 1870. Wilkie was asked posthumously to finish Edwin Drood, which he refused. Collins lived till 1889, but the quality of his work declined after Dickens's death. Whether this was just because he missed his dearest friend, Dickens mentorship or his increased dependence on drugs, will never be known. One thing is certain, these two men made each other better writers, and when one thinks of Wilkie Collins, you can't help but think of his dear friend, Charles Dickens.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tuesday Tomorrow

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: November 6th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 528 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone was declared a "must read" by Entertainment Weekly, was named a Best Book of the Year by, and The New York Times called it "a breath-catching romantic fantasy."

My friend Jess has been begging me to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, so hopefully by the time you're reading this I will have obeyed!

Curse of the Thirteenth Fey by Jane Yolen
Published by: Philomel
Publication Date: November 6th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 256 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A reimagining of Sleeping Beauty from a master storyteller

Gorse is the thirteenth and youngest in a family of fairies tied to the evil king's land and made to do his bidding. Because of an oath made to the king's great-great-ever-so-many-times-great-grandfather, if they try to leave or disobey the royals, they will burst into a thousand stars.

When accident-prone Gorse falls ill just as the family is bid to bless the new princess, a fairytale starts to unfold. Sick as she is, Gorse races to the castle with the last piece of magic the family has left--a piece of the Thread of Life. But that is when accident, mayhem, and magic combine to drive Gorse's story into the unthinkable, threatening the baby, the kingdom, and all.

With her trademark depth, grace, and humor, Jane Yolen tells readers the "true" story of the fairy who cursed Sleeping Beauty."

I always loved the story of Sleeping Beauty, even if, now older, I realize how freaking weird it is!

Still Life with Shape-shifter by Sharon Shinn
Published by: Ace
Publication Date: November 6th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Shinn returns to the alternate present-day setting of The Shape of Desire with a triumphant tale of love and loss. Melanie Landon has been protecting her half-sister, Ann, since they were children. When reporter Brody Westerbrook shows up at Melanie’s door asking whether Ann is a shape-shifter, Melanie is terrified of what might happen if Ann’s secret comes out. Carefree Ann can’t be bothered to worry about either the reporter or her deteriorating health, leaving Melanie with enough concerns for both of them. The everyday relationships—the love shared by siblings, friends, and romantic partners—shine with even more wonder than the magic. While Melanie and Brody’s romance is a touch unconvincing, Melanie’s relationship with Ann is utterly compelling, and the secondary story of a lonely young woman who pursues a cure for shape-shifting to save the man she loves becomes a delightful counterpoint to the primary story. This series is not to be missed."

For my friend Matt who is always going "When is there a new Sharon Shinn book out?" Here you go Matt!

The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: November 6th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"She may be thirty-fifth in line for the throne, but Lady Georgiana Rannoch cannot wait to ring in the new year—before a Christmas killer wrings another neck…

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—well, actually, my true love, Darcy O’Mara, is spending a feliz navidad tramping around South America. Meanwhile, Mummy is holed up in a tiny village called Tiddleton-under-Lovey with that droll Noel Coward! And I’m snowed in at Castle Rannoch with my bumbling brother, Binky, and sourpuss sister-in-law, Fig.

So it’s a miracle when I contrive to land a position as hostess to a posh holiday party in Tiddleton. The village is like something out of A Christmas Carol! But no sooner have I arrived than a neighborhood nuisance, a fellow named Freddie falls out of a tree, dead…. Dickensian, indeed.

Freddie’s merely a stocking stuffer. On my second day in town, another so-called accident turns up another mincemeat pie—and yet another on my third. The village is buzzing that a recent prison break could have something to do with it… that, or a long-standing witch’s curse. I’m not so sure. But after Darcy shows up beneath the mistletoe, anything could be possible in this wicked wonderland."

I always like a little holiday cozy murder... cause nothing says Merry Christmas like a good murder!

Her Sky Cowboy by Beth Ciotta
Published by: Signet
Publication Date: November 6th, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Amelia Darcy has no interest in marrying well. Her heart belongs to the sky and the dirigibles of brass and steel that swoop over Victorian England. But when her father, an eccentric inventor, dies, the Darcy siblings are left with scrap metal—and not a penny to their names.

Their only hope to save the family reputation and fortune is to embark on a quest to discover an invention of historical importance in honor of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Armed with only her father’s stories of a forgotten da Vinci workshop, a mechanically enhanced falcon, and an Italian cook, Amelia takes flight for Florence, Italy.

But her quest is altered when her kitecycle crashes into the airship of ex–Air Marshal—and scandalous dime novel hero—Tucker Gentry. Tuck agrees to escort Amelia to her destination, but the two are challenged by political unrest, a devious sky pirate, and their own sizzling attraction. Soon the pair is dragged into an international conspiracy that could change the course of history...again."

Steampunk, Austen overtones, SOLD!

Fairy Tales from the Borthers Grimm by Philip Pullman
Published by: Viking
Publication Date: November 6th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Two centuries ago, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first volume of Children’s and Household Tales. Now Philip Pullman, one of the most accomplished authors of our time, makes us fall in love all over again with the immortal tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Pullman retells his fifty favorites, from much-loved stories like “Cinderella” and “Rumpelstiltskin,” “Rapunzel” and “Hansel and Gretel” to lesser-known treasures like “The Three Snake Leaves," "Godfather Death" and "The Girl with No Hands." At the end of each tale he offers a brief personal commentary, opening a window on the sources of the tales, the various forms they've taken over the centuries and their everlasting appeal.

Suffused with romance and villainy, danger and wit, the Grimms' fairy tales have inspired Pullman's unique creative vision—and his beguiling retellings will draw you back into a world that has long cast a spell on the Western imagination."

Hmmm, this could be very interesting or very weird...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Dickens and His Fellow Writers

Charles Dickens held a unique place in Victorian England, in that he was connected to so many other literary folk. From friends to family, frenemies to fans (nod wisely if you get the Doctor Who joke), Dickens knew most of the other writers of his time. Whether it was just because of the ease of contact due to modern living, or his magazines which employed and mentored fellow writers and exposed them to an audience that might otherwise have never read their works of genius, Dickens was a lodestone of the time. From his deep friendship with Wilkie Collins, to his love hate relationship with Thackeray, to publishing and erroneously editing Elizabeth Gaskell's works, he knew, and occasionally worked with, all the Trollopes (and no, this isn't a bad joke), Dickens was the center of this motley crew of literati.

Over the next month I'll take an in depth look at Dickens' relationship to four other authors of his day, one is even an American! How did Dickens influence or infuriate them? Because one can not just look to the man, to get an true appreciation of Dickens one must look to those around him, to realize the scope and range that made him the sensation he was and why we are still lauding the man 200 years after his birth and marvelling at the legacy he left behind.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dickensian Denouement

You really didn't think I'd forget about Charles Dickens this year did you? I mean, really!?! There are very few writers who have endured and who will continue to endure like Charles Dickens. Hundreds of years from now, I have no doubt, people will still know who he is, many of them grumbling high school students, but still, people will remember him. To most, he represents an entire time and place in history. He is Victorian London, hence many people calling it Dickensian London. Two hundred years after his birth, the love of his writing has not slacked in the least. Two hundred years! Just think of that! Dickens lived to be 58 years old, and his legacy has lived for almost 4 times the span of his life, so far.

Therefore, taking two months of the bicentenary year of his birth seems small potatoes. Also, I did chose the most Dickensian months, really it was planned, not just me going, damn, two months to fill, what to do, what to do. Ok, maybe it was a little of that, but, I mean really, Christmas has Dickens written all over it, A Christmas Carol, hello! So let's have a little Boz Birthday Bonanza! (Boz was an early pen name of Dickens fyi.) So, there's going to be author profiles, book reviews, movie reviews, miniseries reviews, you name it, you've got it. Also, of course, the obligatory giveaway, below. Might just have to buy that book for myself... so, sit back, be thankful you have a belly full of food and a warm place to call home and a roaring fire, it's time to discuss Dickens.

Terry Pratchett's Dodger, where Dickens himself appears as a character!

"A storm. Rain-lashed city streets. A flash of lightning. A scruffy lad sees a girl leap desperately from a horse-drawn carriage in a vain attempt to escape her captors. Can the lad stand by and let her be caught again? Of course not, because he's . . . Dodger.

Seventeen-year-old Dodger may be a street urchin, but he gleans a living from London's sewers, and he knows a jewel when he sees one. He's not about to let anything happen to the unknown girl—not even if her fate impacts some of the most powerful people in England.

From Dodger's encounter with the mad barber Sweeney Todd to his meetings with the great writer Charles Dickens and the calculating politician Benjamin Disraeli, history and fantasy intertwine in a breathtaking account of adventure and mystery.

Beloved and bestselling author Sir Terry Pratchett combines high comedy with deep wisdom in this tale of an unexpected coming-of-age and one remarkable boy's rise in a complex and fascinating world. breathtaking account of adventure and mystery."

The Rules:
1. Open to EVERYONE, just because you haven't been following me all along doesn't mean you don't matter, you just get more entries if you prove you love me by following.
2. Please make sure I have a way to contact you if your name is drawn, either your blogger profile or a link to your website/blog or you could even include your email address with your comment(s).
3. Giveaway ends Monday, December 31st at 11:59PM CST 
4. How to enter:

Answer me this: Who is your favorite character in all of Dickens?

5. And for those addicted to getting extra entries:
  • +1 for answering the question above
  • +2 for becoming a follower
  • +10 if you are already a follower
  • +10 for each time you advertise this contest - blog post, sidebar, twitter (please @eliza_lefebvre), etc. (but you only get credit for the first post, so tweet all you like, and I thank you for it, but you'll only get the +10 once). Also please leave a link! There's a handy code on the side for your sidebars!
  • +25 if you comment on any of the posts during Dickensian Denouement, with something other than "I hope I win" or a variation thereof.

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