The Edge of Nowhere Blog Tour: Book Review

edge_of_nowhereToday I’m participating in Cathie Armstrong’s blog tour for her new book, The Edge of Nowhere, just released on the 19th of this month! You can stop by her website and check out the other blog tour stops here.  Without further ado, let’s get to it!  Book review…

Victoria Hastings Harrison Greene has lived a very long life, ais about to die. Her family has grown to despise her, and she can’t blame them, but she wants one last chance to help them understand how she became the seemingly bitter, harsh old woman they know.  Before she dies, she will leave them her story–the story of a woman who will do anything, at any cost, for the family she holds dear.  Oklahoma in the 1930’s is a cruel, dusty place, and the fight for survival will take more from Victoria than she ever dreamed possible.

Poor Victoria.  That’s really the refrain that went through my mind throughout the book.  I couldn’t help getting pulled into her story and sympathizing with her–first a grieving little girl, then a woman in love, and then a grieving woman… Usually you expect a character’s life to improve over the course of the book, but Victoria’s seemed to be a steady downhill spiral to the end, where it leveled off and became manageable.  Not going to lie, it’s depressing.  But I think it is true to life, in that it examines the incredible hardships we can and will endure for the sake of our children.  Everybody hopes and prays they don’t end up going through a life like Victoria’s, but I think we all secretly hope that if by some horrible twist of fate it DID happen to us, we would keep it together and just plow through.

The Edge of Nowhere is historical fiction, but not lovey-dovey historical fiction or a feel-good-ending. It has more of a ring of true life to it– like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas or The Nightingale.  It was well-written and had good flow to it–I was drawn into the story really quickly and just had to keep reading.

If realism is your thing, and melancholy stories make you happy (That sounds very ironic), then you should make sure you get a copy of The Edge of Nowhere and read it asap.  Even if happy-ending books are more your style (not going to lie, they are mine…) this is still a good book to read.  It should make you feel very grateful for your life, if you’ve been blessed enough to have fewer trials than poor Victoria Hastings Harrison Green.

Overall, I really liked it: 4 out of 5 stars

Book Review: The Munich Girl by Phyllis E. Ring

munich_girlReview of: The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Genre: Historical Fiction

Book Description (Cover Blurb): Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun.  Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did–that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends.  The secret surfaces with a mysterious monogrammed handkerchief, and a man, Hannes Ritter, whose Third Reich family history is entwined with Anna’s.  Plunged into the world of the Munich girl who became her mother’s confidante–and a tyrant’s lover–Anna retraces the friendship forged by two lonely women in Nazi Germany, even though the men they loved had opposing ambitions.  Anna’s journey will uncover long-buried secrets and unknown reaches of her heart to reveal the enduring power of love in the legacies that outlast war. 

The Munich Girl was an unexpected blend of mystery and the more personal jaunt literary stories tend to take.  There were so many things I liked about this book, I’m a little bit at a loss for where to begin… I guess, to start off right at the beginning, there’s the fact that it’s a clever blend of historical fiction and modern-day sleuthing/research.  If you’ve read many of my reviews, you’ll know that I have a very tender place in my heart for that story-telling blend of past and present.  The Munich Girl definitely fulfilled that niche.  Anna’s steady discovery of Eva Braun and her mother’s secret past kept the focus of the book cleverly balanced between past and present.  One remarkable thing about this book was that even though it (obviously) had a significant focus on the historical side of the story, I never felt like the story lost it’s connection with Anna.  Anna was such a strong main character throughout, that she drove the book, rather than just being the key to a story about the past.  Now, I’m not one to mind particularly if the historical aspects of the story are more alluring–I’m enough of a history geek that I relish that a bit too–but it is never a bad thing to have such a strong main character.

Talking about characters brings me to the second aspect of The Munich Girl that I really loved–the character development.  Anna was on such a deep personal journey throughout the book.  I couldn’t help rooting for her as she slowly takes control of her life.  Beyond Anna, though, and amongst all the characters, the recurring theme was friendship.  Long-enduring friendship that never faded even when life circumstances changed.

As to the more literary aspects of the book, I have no complaints there either.  It read very easily and believably, without confusion even when it switched between viewpoints for the different sections of the book.  The only part I’m still not particularly certain of is how Peggy came to have such detailed chapters about certain aspects of Eva’s life.  I get that they were friends and they met occasionally to chat, but nothing ever gave me a really clear picture of when Eva would have so openly discussed certain events in her life.  I more got the feeling that they talked a lot in generalities about the aspects of their lives that were so similar.  That’s not really even a complaint, just a lingering sense that it wasn’t completely divulged.

Overall, I loved this book.  I used every free moment I had to read it, once I started, and finished it in about a day (a day filled with chasing and cleaning up after small children at that).  If you like historical fiction at all, or if you’ve enjoyed literary mysteries you should absolutely give this one a read.

Loved it: 5 out of 5 stars

Series Review: Molly Murphy Mysteries

Review of: The Molly Murphy mysteries by Rhys Bowen

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

family_wayToday’s post is more about an entire series than just one book.  Partly because it’s a fairly lengthy series, and I feel like a bunch of book reviews about books within a mystery series would end up being a little boring and redundant.  I’ve really flown through these books.  They are the perfect length for even a busy mom-of-two to read in a day or so.  So, without further ado…

Molly Murphy is a young Irish girl with an incorrigible sense of curiosity who immigrates to America at the turn of the 20th century.  Between her Irish 6th sense, and her knack for asking the right questions, she swiftly gains a reputation as a female detective in New York City–much to the chagrin to the dashing police Captain, Daniel Sullivan.  1901 is not a fantastic time to be a woman who values independence, but Molly puts up a good fight and comes out on top each time she battles.

The mysteries take on a variety of subjects–some tackling women’s suffrage, others about actual historical events, plus your average murders, kidnappings, and thefts.  Overall, I feel like even though to some extent all the books fall into a similar pattern (understandable, since they’re all about the same woman) you never know exactly what you’ll be getting as far as the type of mystery goes.

murphys_lawThey are not terribly intense, as far as mysteries go.  There is suspense, but it’s not of the bone-chilling, don’t-sleep-tonight variety.  As a self-professed pansy when it comes to scare factor in books and movies, these had the perfect amount of suspense for me.  They reminded me of the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books I loved as a teenager, but with a little bit more of the personal depth that one comes to expect from books for adults.

As with any series, there were some variations in how I felt about books.  There were a couple that didn’t really make me love them, but for the most part, I’ve felt they deserved a pretty consistent four stars.  One thing I love about this series is the character development.  Sometimes in series’, especially mystery series, I feel like the main character can end up being a bit predictable and stagnant as far as any personal growth goes.  This series moves along with Molly’s life, and there is a lot of personal development there.

If you’re looking for the perfect cozy series to immerse yourself in this winter, like some light mystery and romance, but also appreciate sleeping at night, Molly Murphy is the gal for you.  Check this series out!

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Books in the Molly Murphy Mystery series:

#1. Murphy’s Law; #2 Death of Riley; #3 For the Love of Mike; #4 In Like Flynn; #5. Oh Danny Boy; #6. In Dublin’s Fair City; #7. Tell Me, Pretty Maiden; #8. In A Gilded Cage; #9. The Last Illusion; #10. Bless The Bride; #11. Hush Now, Don’t You Cry; #12. The Family Way; #13. City of Darkness and Light; #14. The Edge of Dreams; #15. Away in a Manger; #16. Time of Fog and Fire

 

Book Review: Letters to the Lost

letters_to_the_lostReview of: Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary

Jess is running away from her abusive boyfriend on an icy night in February in downtown London. When she comes to an abandoned flat, she has no choice but to break in or freeze to death.  Never intending to stay more than one night, but with few other options available, Jess is there in the morning when a curious letter arrives, and she finds herself swept up into a mystery and love story half a century old.  It’s the love story of Stella and Dan, an American airman, in 1942.  As the Second World War takes over their lives, they find each other to be pillars of stability.  Against all odds, they are determined to be together–and with Dan being a B-17 bomber pilot, with a survival rate of 1 in 5, those odds aren’t particularly good.  All they have are their letters, and when Jess stumbles into the unused flat and finds the letters, she sets out on a mission to set right their pasts and maybe, just maybe, bring them together at last.

Letters to the Lost was a great blend of historical story and current day, that definitely deserves the added title of literary fiction.  Usually when books do the flashback/flashforward, I find myself much more involved in the historical part of the story and completely UNinvolved by the present day part of the story.  In Letters to the Lost, the different components of the story really worked together to make one cohesive plot, instead of two completely different stories that just ended up tied together by chance.

That said, I do adore this style of book.  Old letters, abandoned houses, love story… it was speaking my language, almost before I even started reading.

And then after I started reading, I was so involved in it that I was actually upset when it ended.  It was definitely not the happy lovey-dovey ending I wanted, but I guess it was realistic, based on the rest of the book.  The ending wasn’t bad, it was just one of those melancholy types. I wanted more happiness for Stella and Dan, not just an ending.  Oh well. I know people like different things in a story.  My husband loves that melancholy type ending, and I’m more of a happily-ever-after style… to each his own.

If you like the historical/literary fiction genres generally, this one should be on your to-read list.  If you loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato-Peel Pie Society or Letters From Skye, pull up Amazon in between basting the turkey and making rolls and get this one NOW.  You know you wanted something to read over the holiday weekend 😉

I really, really liked it: 4 out of 5 stars.

 

Happy Thanksgiving Day, y’all! I’m thankful for good books and happy reading time, among other things.  I hope you are too!

BOOK REVIEW: The Midwife of St. Petersburg

midwife_of_stpetersburgBook Review of: The Midwife of St. Petersburg by Linda Lee Chaikin

Genre: Historical Fiction

Karena Peshkev wants to be a midwife and attend the medical school in St. Petersburg, like her mother always dreamed of doing.  As the daughter of a farmer though, she can feel that dream slipping farther away with every year that passes.  Already considered an old maid, she despairs of ever scraping together the money for tuition, even as her father urges her to consider an arranged marriage.  When Karena travels to visit her wealthy cousin in St. Petersburg, she hopes to make some connections that might open the door to medical school for her, but she doesn’t count on meeting Colonel Alexandr Kronstadt.  They forge an instant, though tremulous connection but are unable to pursue it.  As the Bolshevik rebellion gains momentum, Karena finds herself caught in the crosshairs and wanted by the police for a murder she didn’t commit.  Alex is able to protect her from a distance, but she will have to make the choice for her own safety even if it means leaving St. Petersburg forever.

The most important thing you need to know about this book is that even though it is called ‘The Midwife of St. Petersburg’ there is an absolute minimum amount of midwifing involved.  It’s more about how Karena wants to be a midwife, rather than actually involving her medical training and career.  Though you perhaps, might not be disappointed by the book if you go into it with muted expectations of the midwifery aspects, I had a really hard time getting over the fact that the title had very little to do with what went on in the book.

It’s not that it wasn’t a good story.  Certain aspects of the story were good, and I think as a light historical fiction romance it was above the masses so far as quality goes.  I just kept expecting the midwifing to play an actual role in the story and it never did.  It was much more about the romance between Karena and Alex, and about the beginning of the Bolshevik rebellion.

So, if the fact that the title and the story don’t have that much in common doesn’t dissuade you, then you’ll probably get to the end of the book and we can do a collective head-smack and have a wonderful little “Holy crap, what just happened? Did the publisher forget the last chapter?” moment together. I really don’t know what was going on with the ending.  It felt like the story was taking too long, and the editor or the author was crunched for time so they just went with the first random conclusion that presented itself.

This book was really a bit of a disappointment.  It had been in my to-read list on goodreads forever, so to finally read it and be completely underwhelmed was a little annoying.  Nonetheless, if you’re a big fan of the slightly romance-y historical fiction types, go ahead and give it a try.  It’s a fairly quick read, so you can be sure and let me know what you think of it 😉

It was okay: 3 out of 5 stars.

 

Book Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

the_lake_houseReview of: The Lake House by Kate Morton

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Alice Edevane is an imaginative, budding writer at the tender age of sixteen.  In 1930’s Cornwall, England, she lives with her family on an idyllic estate near the lake until tragedy strikes at a Midsummers Eve party when her little brother Theo disappears.  Her life and those of her nearest and dearest family are irrevocably changed after that night.  Many years later, the mystery of Theo’s disappearance has never been solved.  Sadie Sparrow is a police detective on forced leave of absence after her misled involvement in a child abandonment case.  When she sets off to visit her grandfather in Cornwall, she expects to be taking a break from crime–not finding a decades old cold-case to soak up her curiosity.  As Sadie joins forces with Alice to find out once and for all what happened that summer in Cornwall, the past and the present day mysteries test their deductive skills and make them doubt their intuition, leading to a stunning and always surprising conclusion.

Kate Morton has done it again.  I’ve been waiting on this book ever since I found out she was writing it, and it did not disappoint.  There is just no other author that can rival her for creating these massive, picturesque landscapes and mansions that are so real you can almost taste the air and sneeze on the dust.  The Lake House is laden with such amazing description it really took my breath away.  As we all know though, description without a stellar story just drags on and can send you to an early grave, so it’s lucky for us all that Morton can weave such a riveting mystery.

The different parts of the mystery in The Lake House unfold perfectly–each clue leading up to the next discovery, and somehow managing to surprise you at the end.  I’m generally pretty proud of myself for my skill at guessing ‘whodunit’, but Morton always throws me for a loop and sends me off on a wild goose chase so that I’m properly stunned at the end.

One of the things I love most about Morton’s mysteries are how gripping they are without being terrifying.  When it comes to mysteries, I am a huge ninny.  I don’t read horror or psychological thrillers or mysteries with tons of gory, scary details, but I DO like a good mystery.  The Lake House had just enough suspense to keep me going, but not anything so scary that I had to stay awake twitching at every little noise in the house after dark.

I can’t really imagine anybody NOT liking this book, but especially if you like historical fiction, layered mysteries, and literary, kind of gothic novels, read this book.  Oh, and read everything Kate Morton writes, ever.  The worst part about this book is that now I have to wait another few years before there’s another Morton novel.

I loved it: 5 out of 5 stars

BOOK REVIEW: Thompson Road by Scott Wyatt

thompson_roadReview of: Thompson Road by Scott Wyatt

Genre: Historical

This book was sent to me for review by the author, but all opinions expressed are my own.  Check out his website at www.scottwyattauthor.com

Thompson Road is an illustration of growing up, and how life sometimes changes even your wildest dreams for yourself.  Raleigh Starr is a football star in his high-school days prior to WWII.  Spurned by the Sally Springs–a popular and talented dancer in his class–he is determined to do anything he can to win her over.  When he accidentally sees Mona Garrison dancing one night, he is captivated and instantly sees her skill as a way to make Sally sit up and take notice of him.  There’s just one problem though–even though Mona is 15, she has been labeled “slow”.  He doesn’t want to be seen as taking advantage over a handicapped child, but the more he gets to know Mona, the more certain he is that whatever else she may be she is not retarded. When he persuades Mona to practice swing dancing with him and they enter a state fair competition together, it sets the town and their families into an uproar.  Sally can’t help but notice him, but when the competition is over and done though, he finds himself empty and disappointed in himself.  Years and a war pass before Raleigh realizes that he has loved Mona since the first time he saw her.

Whatever else you do, do not write this book off as just another teenage romance.  I was expecting it to be something of a teen romance, and that didn’t bother me because it was historical and looked good, but it was so much deeper and impressive than any “teen” book I’ve ever found.

Thompson Road is more than a story about high school.  It encompasses decades and it is a story about how choices follow one through life.  Bittersweet and touching, Thompson Road illuminates a little-known aspect of social history, while thoroughly tangling up your heartstrings.

I, for one, had no idea how poorly people with dyslexia were looked upon as recently as the 1940s.  Dyslexia has only recently begun to be treated as merely requiring different methods of learning.  Early in the 1900s, people who may have been dyslexic were simply labeled slow or retarded, and shipped off to whatever mental health asylums were available.  Mona’s story in Thompson Road is horrifying, just because of that, though there is resolution in the end.

Overall, Thompson Road very successfully accomplished the two main things that I judge all historical fiction by.  Firstly, the story itself was well-written, gripping, and believable.  Secondly, it called to attention a specific and previously unknown-to-me aspect of history.

I highly recommend this book, particularly if you have any special love of historical fiction, or the bizarre social issues of years gone by.

I loved this book: 5 out of 5 stars

BOOK REVIEW: Bittersweet by Colleen McCollough

bittersweetReview of: Bittersweet by Colleen McCollough

Genre: Literature, Historical Fiction

In early 1920s Australia, two sets of twins undertake a studying program at the local hospital to become the area’s first registered nurses for varying reasons, but mostly to escape from the domineering thumb of their stepmother.  For Edda, the oldest of the twins, nursing is a compromise.  She truly wants to be a doctor, but as a woman, undertaking that level of education is frowned upon.  Without the funds to put herself through medical school in spite of the naysayers, Edda settles for nursing and finds herself consumed with the study of it.  Grace, Edda’s twin, has no inclination to nursing at all, and despises the work, but she joined the program to escape her stepmother, and in that aspect at least she is successful.  She wants to be married, and Tufts (the next sister) wishes to never be married.  Tufts fell into the role of nursing and excelled at it.  Along with Edda, she discovered her passion within the field.  Kitty, the youngest of the girls, suffered the most at the hands of their mother, so that now all she truly wants from life is a relationship free of domineering ownership.  Bittersweet follows these four girls through their tumultuous young adult lives and the trials they face on their paths to happiness and fulfillment, and their ultimate realization that life is rarely perfect, but just as rarely unbearable–it’s bittersweet.

Once again, I feel compelled to admit that I’ve been judging books by their covers.  I had just finished the latest season of Downton Abbey when I saw Bittersweet at the library, and the cover exuded that 1920’s style period drama… and that’s really as far as I thought it through.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Bittersweet was definitely more of a literary drama style than I’ve been reading lately, and it was good to change it up.

There were several things I found particularly interesting about this book.  First and foremost was the historical setting.  Books set in small town Australia during the early part of the 20th century are a unique category unto themselves.  The women’s suffragette movement was in it’s finest hour all across the world, and through the course of the book McCollough did a fantastic job of capturing the changing sentiments.

Secondly, the character development throughout this novel was really intriguing.  Each of the characters developed and changed in ways that were completely unexpected to me.

Thirdly, I loved that the bond they all shared as sisters remained so strong throughout the book.  It was the main element that made the book cohesive and not just a random smattering of life stories.

My only real complaint about this book is that some of the Australian lingo wasn’t immediately clear to me.  Some of the slang terms really puzzled me, even in context.  It did give the characters a unique sound, but at points I felt like it hampered the story, because I would spend so much time trying to figure out what exactly the slang meant.

Overall, if you enjoy the drama/literary genre, if you’ve watched Downton Abbey obsessively, or if you’ve enjoyed books by the likes of Kate Morton or Kristin Hannah, you’ll probably be pretty happy with this book.

I really liked it: 4 out of 5 stars.

 

BOOK REVIEW: A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

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Book: A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

Genre: Historical Fiction

For nearly 300 years, the mysterious journal of Jacobite exile Mary Dundas has lain unread — its secrets safe from prying eyes. Now, amateur codebreaker Sara Thomas has been hired by a once-famous historian to crack the journal’s cipher. But when she arrives in Paris, Sara finds herself besieged by complications from all sides: the journal’s reclusive owner, her charming Parisian neighbor, and Mary, whose journal doesn’t hold the secrets Sara expects.

It turns out that Mary Dundas wasn’t keeping a record of everyday life, but a first-hand account of her part in a dangerous intrigue. In the first wintry months of 1732, with a scandal gaining steam in London, driving many into bankruptcy and ruin, the man accused of being at its center is concealed among the Jacobites in Paris, with Mary posing as his sister to aid his disguise.

When their location is betrayed, they’re forced to put a desperate plan in action, heading south along the road to Rome, protected by the enigmatic Highlander Hugh MacPherson.

As Mary’s tale grows more and more dire, Sara, too, must carefully choose which turning to take… to find the road that will lead her safely home. (description from goodreads)

Before I get started with this review–do you, my lovely readers, like reading the goodreads or amazon description of the book and then moving on to the review, or do you prefer it when I try to summarize the story in my own words? I’m always afraid that I’ll be doing the author/publisher a disservice by not including their description of it, while at the same time feeling a little like a hack for just going with their description. Thoughts?

Moving on…

I adore Susannah Kearsley’s writing. I’ve read nearly all of her published books, though I still haven’t posted all the reviews I’ve written on them. Too much content is certainly not a bad problem to have, but it is a tiny bit frustrating when I think I’ve written reviews for all of these other books I love–and I have–I just haven’t published them. You can read my review of Season of Storms here.

A Desperate Fortune definitely carries along Kearsley’s buckets-of-history writing style. She loves weaving tons of history into the dialogue. If you’re not even slightly history-nerdish, I can imagine that might be a bit overwhelming, but I truly feel that the stories are exceptional enough to make it worth it. Telling stories from dual viewpoints is always popular, but Kearsley has a real knack for weaving stories between the past and the present. This also reminds me a lot of the Outlander series (currently reading that, by the way, loving it, and will probably have at least a series overview of it eventually). I’ve been trying to take it slowly with the Outlander series, since one of my great phobias is finishing the published books in a series before the next one is out. I do have to say though, although the Outlander series has buoyed my love of the Scottish theme, that whole phase for me was started by Susannah Kearsley. The Winter Sea, Mariana, and The Shadowy Horses are most notably set in Scotland, but The Firebird also has a good deal of Scottish history in it, and all of her books have that same gothic romance setting to them.

But… Back to A Desperate Fortune. It’s not really surprising to me anymore, but I was not that into the current-day story. It was okay–I was interested enough to keep reading–but the real driving impetus was getting back to Mary Dundas’ story. I feel that way about nearly every book in this dual-time structure though. It is always about getting right back into the history of it all… for me anyways.

I feel like the historical aspects of the story always make more sense. For example, in A Desperate Fortune, Sara is on the autism spectrum, though pretty high-functioning, and has some real trouble dealing with people in certain situations, but she never just tells anybody about it. Maybe that’s the autism talking (not talking?) but it just doesn’t make any sense to me. She acts like it’s a big secret, when the fact of the matter is that some people do have to know, or will find out eventually. Then again, maybe she just hopes that she’ll blend in with the other crazies. Goodness knows there are plenty of people that are just naturally shy, reserved, and a little socially awkward (who? me? aheh… no idea what you’re talking about…)
I don’t know. The long and short of it is that I was really impatient to get back to Mary’s story, and while I did enjoy reading about Sara’s struggle to break the cipher, I was secretly thinking “just hurry up and get on with it!” the whole time.

So! If you’re in love with the Outlander series–read Susannah Kearsley. If you like historical fiction–read Susannah Kearsley. If you like any sort of fiction with crazy beautiful settings, and the classy pride-and-prejudice style romance–read Susannah Kearsley. That about cover it? I think it does!

I loved it: five out of five stars.

BOOK REVIEW: Miss Grimsley’s Oxford Career by Carla Kelly

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Book: Miss Grimsley’s Oxford Career by Carla Kelly

Genre: Historical Fiction, Literature

Ellen Grimsley is brilliant and talented, and desires nothing more than to study at Oxford University.  Unfortunately for her, she lives in a time when the very idea of women pursuing higher learning than embroidery, and perhaps a little French and Geography, is scandalous.  Still, she manages to prevail upon her father to allow her to study at one of the finer women’s colleges of the time, in Oxford, England.  Sorely disappointed in her classes, and bitterly aware of how little her older brother Gordon values the privilege of studying at Oxford, she finds herself agreeing to write his papers for him, if only to catch a glimpse into the world of higher learning.  The plot thickens when a charming Oxford student discovers her secret, and she finds herself falling if love–if only she could be certain of what exactly love might be like.

After reading this book, I find myself needing to take back a certain bit of advice I once gave about judging books by their covers.  I officially modify my stance.  As I mentioned in my post about ways to find more time to read with kids in the house, sometimes for a busy mom, judging a book by it’s cover is a good way to be able to single out books that you’ll enjoy.  In this particular case, I think it would have actually made me skip this book, and that would have been a shame, for reasons that we’ll get to in a moment.  This book is a powerful example of how two different covers imply two entirely different books.  Observe, if you will, the earliest edition cover.

miss_grimsley-1

There’s nothing exactly wrong with this cover, but somehow, my judgey-mom mind, would most likely dismiss it as just another bodice-ripper romance.  I probably would never have even opened the book if this was the cover I saw first.

Compare it to the edition with the cover I’ve linked you to and BAM.  Completely different feel, eh?  I officially feel bad for some of my judginess though, because this book was spectacular.  I started smiling two pages in and could scarcely put it down.

This book reminds me of Jane Austen’s Emma.  It’s witty, and fun, and dashes right along.  I seriously cannot even tell you the last time I enjoyed a book like this.  Despite the questionably scandalous cover, the most scandalous things that happen are a few kisses–unless you actually still consider the idea of women running around Oxford, attending lectures, while wearing pants to be scandalous.  If you do, I can’t really help you.

The sad part is that this book is actually historically accurate.  As noted in the back of the book, the first women’s college attached to Oxford, only began in the late part of the 1800s, and women weren’t given degrees until 1920.

I think I liked this book so much because I sympathized with the main character.  The idea that women have ever been banned from academia is repulsive to me.  I love learning, and reading, and the knowledge that I can study whatever I take it into my head to study, so the idea that women have ever NOT been allowed to pursue their studies of interest… ooh, it burns me.

So.  If you like Jane Austen–read this book.  If you like books in general, with crazy intelligent characters, and lots of wit–read this book.  It’s an easy read.  340 pages flew by.  I could hardly read them fast enough.

I loved it: 5 out of 5 stars.

miss_grimsley