If you’ve ever read this blog before you know I really love two things: books and Jane Austen. So when I found out Charlie Lovett, author of The Bookman’s Tale wrote an Austen fan-fiction novel (my label) I was super excited! I requested a copy from the publisher and received no compensation for my opinion.
Many authors have tried to write novels featuring Jane Austen at the time she wrote her stories and try to connect her novels to her life. However, few have done it as well as Lovett has in First Impressions. The author worked around many of the issues other authors face (mirroring Austen’s language and getting the time period and personality of Austen and her characters correct) by immediately jumping into Jane Austen’s life. The book opens in the late 1700s with Austen on a walk through the countryside (hello Lizzie Bennet) and as the reader gets to an interesting point Lovett jumps to modern-day London. This could be confusing, but Lovett does it effortlessly.
Give me a book about a another book (missing, newly discovered, controversial, etc) and I’m happy. The writing could even be mediocre (this one was better than mediocre) and I can still deal with it!
I’m pretty sure this only serves to further verify I am a bibliophile, which isn’t at ALL shocking. I requested and received a copy of this book from the publisher after previewing it on NetGalley and received no compensation in return for my honest opinion.
Overall, I enjoyed the novel. It was a quick and fascinating read. However, I had some issues (and this may be from the fact this was a digital ARC copy) with the books structure. The book is set up as three intertwining stories: the original story/timeline of Robert Green’s Pandosto (1592-1879) (Wikipedia link), the beginning of Peter and Amanda’s relationship (early-to-mid 1980s – 1993/4) and the current events of the story (1995).You can imagine how this would be a bit confusing, especially as I never read anything about a book before I jump into it!
If it weren’t for the strength of the last book and Colfer’s series in general, the opening line of this novel might’ve made me turn back! I originally requested a copy of this from the publisher and you can read about my issues here (last paragraph under Books and Bookish – yes I’m naming and shaming now).
However, given the opening lines “meh” and the fact this is a second book in a series (almost always “meh”) this book turned out to be almost as good as The Reluctant Assassin the first of the W.A.R.P. series.
Part of the struggle, for me, with this novel is that the first one came out early last year and I’ve read so many books since then! Add in that this book starts in an alternative present and it took a few chapters to really start remembering characters and what happened in the previous book. I’m not sure if every book will be like this and I’m pretty sure not with the way this ended but there was a Chekhov gun introduced that I’m assuming will span the series (or at least another book)!
It is very rare that a second novel, let alone a middle novel in a trilogy, can surpass the first. In this case, not only has Shepherd done it, she’s surpassed an incredibly well written debut novel with an even more creative, intense and harrowing follow-up. It is NOT a place holder as many middle books are in trilogies and I was incredibly impressed.
Whereas H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau inspired The Madman’s Daughter, took her inspiration for this novel from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and I CANNOT wait for the third novel, thankfully it give me time to read the book it’s based on, but I won’t tell you in case you want to read it as it’s revealed in the final pages of this novel.
After hours and hours of discussions about a personal relationship with someone who experiences bipolar disorder/manic depression and recommending I read this book on multiple occasions, my therapist finally made me take this book with me after an appointment one week and I’m glad she did. I won’t go into that relationship here, as it wouldn’t be appropriate, one day I might write about it on my other blog at some point, but I doubt it, so on to the book.
I was pleasantly surprised as I read this book with how easily accessible it was. I was concerned it was going to be too scientific and not personal enough for me, but I feel it struck an excellent balance between the two. In the last few chapters she goes in-depth into how and why she decided to write the book and one of the big decisions had to do with her personal experience and how it influenced her entire career and research focus and opportunities.
This book ended better than it started, but wasn’t at all what I wanted. I hate having to write that, but it’s the truth! Even as I’m writing this I realize I’ll probably drop it from a three star to a two star rating on Goodreads when I post this, but I’m not sure – it’s probably a two-and-a-half star book. I was honestly relieved to see this was Wyler’s first novel as she shows a lot of potential and clearly I thought the story was an excellent creation, just the writing (or editing) needed a lot of work.
The idea behind this book was fascinating and perfect, but the execution just wasn’t there. I almost wish Wyler sold the story to another author to write it better, but she didn’t and we have this novel. I sort of think of this as a crossing between Becoming Jane Eyre/Becoming Jane and Austenland in a weird sort of mash-up where historical fact quickly turns to fiction and modern-day collides with it.
Welcome back Classic Club! I apparently needed a four, almost five, month break from the club. There wasn’t a specific reason other than perhaps the epic-ness of War and Peace, but I’m glad I took the break. I think this was an even better break because I came back with such a wonderful book! There were so many cool things that I learned that I didn’t know, or some how avoided knowing, came from Dracula!
I thought for sure I was familiar with the plot of Dracula, we all are aren’t we? But I was so wrong! I’ve never seen a film version of this and most of what I know is what pop culture has co-opted over the years. One of my favorite podcasts, Good Job Brain, even did an episode titled Very Superstitious which included a lot of fun trivia (some I think might’ve been wrong) about the myriad versions of Dracula. However, what I found out that most caught me off guard was that although the book was about Dracula he wasn’t the main character AND there was a bad ass female protagonist who rocked. There are spoilers, the book is over 120 years old so get over it! :-D