Kate / Lady Lucy Hampton-Wentworth
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be -
I had a mother who read to me.
- Strickland Gillilan (1869-1954)
- Br, Australia
- member since September 1, 2008
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“Heirs and Graces, the seventh installment in Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness mystery series, finds Lady Georgiana Rannoch at Kingsdowne Place, the home of the Duke of Eynsford, in 1934. The Duke’s mother has recruited Georgie to educate her son’s recently discovered heir, Jack, in the ways of high...”
“Heirs and Graces, the seventh installment in Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness mystery series, finds Lady Georgiana Rannoch at Kingsdowne Place, the home of the Duke of Eynsford, in 1934. The Duke’s mother has recruited Georgie to educate her son’s recently discovered heir, Jack, in the ways of high society. This task is not without considerable challenges given that Jack has only recently arrived from the Australian Outback, where he was raised. Georgie, however, is soon confronted with a bigger challenge when the Duke is found dead with Jack’s knife stuck in his back. While it appears that Jack has the most reason to want the Duke dead, Georgie is convinced that he isn’t the culprit. Can the real murderer be found before it’s too late?
In Heirs and Graces Rhys Bowen once again delivers a fun and clever read. Lady Georgiana is one of the most refreshing heroines in historical fiction. She’s intelligent, sensible, and portrayed in a manner consistent with the fact that she’s the daughter of a duke and a member of Britain’s royal family. Like its predecessors, Heirs and Graces is full of quirky and eccentric characters both old and new, many of whom are easy to love, including Georgie’s non-aristocratic grandfather. Darcy O’Mara, Georgie’s longtime love interest, also makes an appearance. One of my favourite aspects of this series, which is reflected in this novel, is that rather than overshadowing the main plot Georgie and Darcy’s relationship complements it. The mystery itself is well developed and, even though there are a number of clues pointing to the murderer’s true identify sprinkled throughout the book, the ultimate resolution is still unexpected.
Overall, Heirs and Graces is as great addition to the Royal Spyness series.
Note: This review first appeared in Historical Novels Review (Issue 66, November 2013). I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. ”
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“How did I come to possess this book? Well, the combination of a Books-A-Million going out of business sale, my mistaken assumption that it would be a collection of essays written by various people who had once waited tables, and a cover blurb from Anthony Bourdain calling it "painfully funny" was...”
“How did I come to possess this book? Well, the combination of a Books-A-Million going out of business sale, my mistaken assumption that it would be a collection of essays written by various people who had once waited tables, and a cover blurb from Anthony Bourdain calling it "painfully funny" was apparently a heady combination that led to this bit of buyer's remorse.
To be fair, this is not a bad book, nor is it a terribly interesting one. Alas, Waiter Rant is by one waiter who depends upon his anonymity as he blogs about his job while still in the trenches (he has since been revealed to be Steve Dublanica). Dublanica finds himself middle-aged and without steady employment, so takes a wait job as a stopgap between careers--and then never really leaves. The rest of the book follows his adventures and misadventures with the surly kitchen staff, incompetent wait staff, and the snooty, entitled patrons who can make a waiter's life a living hell.
I assumed (based on the description and various blurbs) that all of this would be funny. Except it's not. By one-third of the way through, it failed to elicit a chuckle, a twitter, a smirk, or even one of those weird laughs that consist of basically blowing air out of your nose really hard when something catches you kind of off-guard and you're not sure if it's appropriate to laugh. And I like to think that I'm not humor impaired. I laugh and laugh often. The problem here is that being cynical is not the same as being funny. Now when funny and cynical come together with a dash of acerbic wit, it can be a beautiful and miraculous thing (I'm looking at you, Anthony Bourdain), but there's no magic here and I'm reading it because--once again, I'm looking at you Anthony Bourdain.
The other reason it failed to entertain me is because its main message seems to be that people suck. And they do, I'll not argue against that. But waiters don't have the market cornered on I-don't-get-paid-enough-to-put-up-with-ungrateful-and-crazy-all-day-long. Anyone who has any job that requires contact with the public knows this spiel. I've been a waiter, a cashier, a secretary, a teacher and the dynamic is always the same--as long as there's a customer, someone's going to be an asshole because you're there to serve them and, by God, that means doing precisely what they want when they want it and if not then they will be talking to your supervisor. Having lived this, reading about it is not how I want to spend my hours away from work.
Throughout, Dublanica comes across as some kind of super-waiter and, while I have no reason to doubt that he was good at his job and took it seriously, his stories fail to come to life as he seems incapable of portraying himself as flawed. He always seems to have the upper-hand and becomes the sage keeper of knowledge for the younger employees. It also makes the dining experience seem all about the waiter: what's best for the waiter, how to keep your waiter happy, tips that help make the waiter's job easier, etc. as though it's the customer's job to cater to the waiter. Now, as previously mentioned, I've been a waitress (briefly; as part of my training, I was seriously told to "kiss the babies and flirt with the old men"--homey don't play that game so apparently my "perkitude" wasn't up to their standards and I was unceremoniously fired). And, yes, people can treat waiters terribly and there are things one can and should do to make a dining experience pleasant for all involved. Most of those things involve simple human decency. But Dublanica makes it sound like such a one-sided affair that waiters should be leaving tips to customers who jump through all the hoops outlined in the book to make it a pleasure to serve them.
While some of the information about the dynamic that exists among the employees in a restaurant is mildly interesting, there's nothing really surprising here. ”
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