Archive for March, 2009


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Paddy is a young servant that finds work in the kitchens of an estate in the English countryside. Paddy has several secrets that they need to keep in order to survive there: their name, their past, their heritage and even her gender. The story that unfolds is of a young girl’s attempt to escape Ireland during the potato famine and live a free life in America, unfortunately a serious of horrible events result in her being separated from her parents and then her brother, and being set on the run from the law and a couple that would have her enslaved and worse. Ending up as a kitchen hand is the first good turn she has and meeting up with the mysterious Mr. Serle her second.

Mina is a delightful and engaging novel with lots of twists and turns at a very enjoyable pace. Some people might have found it a little slow, but the fact that most of the plot came out as back story and only in fire-side chats made the story that much more interesting and gave it all a very cosy atmosphere, considering that the tales were about deaths, starvation, separation and mourning of great loss on both sides. I loved the descriptions of the work Mina did as a kitchen hand, the talk about the smells, tastes and textures of what was being prepared made my mouth water and left me hungry for more, literally!

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The Convenient Marriage

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My second Georgette Heyer book, The Convenient Marriage proved to be just as highly readable and endearing as the first (the novel Frederica). While having some drawbacks that Frederica lacked, The Convenient Marriage was a page turner that kept me up late and I finished it within a day of purchasing it.

Horatia Winwood is the youngest of three sisters, and when the Earl of Rule offers for her eldest sister the whole family is upset. The eldest daughter is in love with another, the middle daughter refuses to marry anyone and with an elder brother that loves to gamble has the family in desperate financial straights and so the daughters can’t afford to refuse the match. Horatia steps up and throws herself at the Earl and demands that if he wants so much to marry a Winwood that he should marry her instead. So he does. What follows is a story of at times hilarious and at times exasperating hi-jinks with the seventeen year old taking Society by storm and going from one scrape to the next. When an enemy of the Earl steps up and attempts to stir the pot and ruin his new young bride in the eyes of Society things take a dangerous turn and sword fights, high way robbery and a great deal of intrigue ensues.

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Georgette Heyer was an author known for her witty writing and historical accuracy, and was known as the Queen of Regency Romance. She wrote over fifty novels in her lifetime, though she led a very private life and so her work was not recognized until late. Her novels are now being republished, and I happened to have one of them recommended to me, the novel Frederica.

Frederica is a story about a woman who is the eldest daughter in her family, and has taken charge in the wake of her parents’ death. Her brother is off at university and this leaves her and her younger sister and brothers to fend for themselves more or less. Frederica takes the entire brood to London determined to give her sister a proper London Season, knowing that her sister’s extreme beauty will be more than enough to garner her proper suitors and have her situated happily soon enough. While there she calls upon the only relative that she knows of in London. A distant cousin, a bachelor and a Marquis, is surprised by Frederica and her pluck and determination to do for herself with little or no help for anyone and takes them under his wing. Doing so starts a chain of events that finds him in way over his head.

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The book Dracula is nothing like any of the movies or TV shows that try to depict him. There are no capes, unnaturally pointed faces or strangely coiffed hair, and no one ever says, “I vant to suck your blood!” Dracula is actually a fairly handsome gentleman with good manners (to a point) that does everything he can to appear as a normal human being: fashionable mode of dress, normal hair, polite conversation and if he is a little pale and his teeth just the slightly bit pointed, what of it? His good manners extend even to the point of entertaining his guests with jokes and stories that keep them laughing and listening well into the small hours of the morning. To his advantage.

If you take everything you ever heard or have seen about Dracula from modern media and toss it aside, the book Dracula is actually a fairly creepy tome in it’s own right, and with it’s own unique nature actually can be construed as even scarier. The best of the technology they had on hand seemed to do nothing to stop him and old wives tales and primitive treatments were their only protection in a war that no respectable person would have believed they were fighting. The insane that did believe them had their own ends for their belief, and I believe the lunatic in the novel was one of the freakiest literary characters I’ve ever come across, Dracula and his brides not withstanding. This was one of the original horror novels, upon which all others are today based.

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