The Reunion

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Anabelle by Akalle

Lord Wyndham a celebrated general has been traumatized by battle, and he has decided to retire from public life. He moves to his family’s ancestral home in rural England and begins to rehabilitate the estate. He wants to marry, have a family, and live in the country, far away from the social life of London. He is searching for a wife who will share the life that he intends.

To find a wife, he has an extended house party at his estate. Guests come from London for the duration. Girls who live nearby appear each morning and stay until dinner ends each evening. Each girl attempts to capture his attention and impress on him her qualifications to be his wife. Annabelle Munson lives at Munson House, a neighboring estate, and she desperately wants to marry him. She does not plan to share his rural life, however. She intends for them to live London.

The Duke of Oldbury, a friend of Lord Wyndham’s arrives. He sees that Annabelle is not fit to be his friend’s wife, and he steps in to prevent any marriage between the two.

I find it disconcerting when a book’s main character is not a likable person. As a result, I tried very hard to like Anabelle. When she behaved inappropriately, I tried to find an explanation. When she was selfish, I tried to excuse it. When she told a lie, I tied to rationalize the untruth. Ultimately, though, I realized that Annabelle is not a nice person, and the Duke is quite correct in his conclusion about her suitability to be Lord Wyndham’s wife.

Central to the story is the idea that we do not always know what it is that will truly make us happy. Sometimes what we think we want will, in truth, make us desperately unhappy, and those things that we want to avoid are exactly what will make our lives complete. So the characters in the book discover.

The book’s descriptions, − of the ladies’ dresses, the countryside, the characters’ feelings, and, especially, the characters voices and emotions− are all vivid and are a particular strength of the book. While some aspects of the plot are rather improbable, this book is extremely well-written, and the reader finds it quite easy to suspend any doubts.

I was rather surprised, given the tone of the book to find some rather serious sexual content. The descriptions, like the others, are extremely detailed. I routinely review romance novels, and I found these scenes to be more explicit than those I have seen in quite some time. On the other hand, they flowed from the story, rather than being imposed on it, and I did not find them to be objectionable.

The descriptions, an entertaining story, and a rather unexpected conclusion result in a very enjoyable book.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Silver by Kristen Lynch

Set in the small mining town of Silver in the late eighteen sixties, the story concerns the adventures of-Adelaide Johnson. Addie grew up in the mid-west, traveling to Silver to search for her father who had arrived in town some time earlier, hoping to strike it rich. Her father died when his mine caved in. Addie inherits his silver mine. Even though she has no interest in being a prospector, she falls in love with the town and decides to stay.

She becomes the teacher for the town’s school and, as the book opens, has taken a second job as a reporter for the local newspaper, writing a column about the citizens of the town and current events. The town’s sheriff, Dan Forrester, falls in love with Addie, and, even though she does not return his feelings, he becomes her special friend and protector.

The reader is treated to a light-hearted look at the activities in the town− the fourth of July festivities, dances, book clubs, and musical events. We read about the pompous mayor, the blacksmith, the owner of the dry goods store, and the miners. We learn about crime – fighting, drinking, prostitution, even murder. While a western mining town might seem to be far removed from large cities in the East, if it happened in the East, it happened in Silver.

The story is written in the style that one might have expected to find in a book written in Addie’s time. The language and the phraseology are those of that period, rather than of the twenty-first century. Addie’s newspaper columns, for example, sound exactly like the narrative, itself. The style is unusual, and it contributes to one’s enjoyment of the book. The author manages to present events in a rather lighthearted fashion, with the result that, even though some very tragic events occur, the story is a joy to read.

I thoroughly enjoyed Silver. The writing was good, the dialogue was convincing, and the story was entertaining. Good book!