- CA, USA
- member since April 7, 2008
“Another entertaining comic mystery with interesting characters, this time including Coco Chanel and a dashing marquis.”
“Like the first Maisie Dobbs, this is a very thoughtful mystery. We continue to learn about Maisie's back story and her evolution as a person and a detective. The case, too, refers back to historical events and attitudes, the results of war, and family relationships.”
Kiki68 is now reading a book.
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christine b reviewed a book.
“This was such a romantic story but with lots of twists & turns. Really enjoyed it.”
Kiki68 finished reading a book.
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christine b reviewed a book.
“Just loved it ! A really moving story.”
“The title character is a slave catcher in pre-Civil War America. At times the book moves rather slowly, but it's more than just an adventure; it's the story of a man's evolution. There are other carefully delineated characters, but Cain's perspective is the one we follow and grow to understand.”
“Fascinating true story of horrendous crimes, criminal investigations and the judicial system in Italy.”
Kiki68 reviewed a book.
“Ms Moore has obviously done extensive research in assembling such a detailed and interesting story out of such an apparently abhorrent subject. My eye was caught by the almost absurd title of this book while on the Internet one day, and the cover illustration (reminiscent of my 1970's Fashion...”
“Ms Moore has obviously done extensive research in assembling such a detailed and interesting story out of such an apparently abhorrent subject. My eye was caught by the almost absurd title of this book while on the Internet one day, and the cover illustration (reminiscent of my 1970's Fashion Plate toy) also pulled me in. I love Jane Austen and the Brontes, so naturally, I was curious what this book was truly about. Do not let the title fool you, this is a serious study of one man's completely misguided attempt to create the perfect mate for himself.
Thomas Day was inspired by Jean-Jacques Rosseau's work Emile (or On Education) published in 1762, which asserted that every child is born with an innate goodness, but is corrupted by society and it's constraints (religion, education, etc.). The work was highly controversial, and was banned in Paris that same year. Day decided to take this work and apply its principals to a real life situation (the book is a fictional experiment in which a child is raised in a completely natural and unschooled manner). Day managed to coerce a good friend, John Bicknell, to help him obtain not one, but two "apprentices" under false pretenses from an English orphanage. These two young women, renamed Sabrina and Lucretia for Day's own purposes. As orphanages during the Georgian era were bursting with children so many poor of the population had given up, unable to care for them, few questions were asked (although records were kept). Day's tightly knit circle of eccentric friends were supportive and willing to help him in his bizarre endeavors, no single person cited in this book seemed to question what Day was doing, except Rosseau himself. Day's close friend Richard Lovell Edgeworth even attempted his own version of the experiment on his own child, Dick, which was ultimately a great failure.
The premise of this book seems outrageous to us, of course, and it was also thought to be so by most of his friends at the time, since the young ladies were kept quite in the dark throughout their entire "education" at the hands of Day, but it also seems to verge on being criminal to our contemporary minds. Day was an eccentric character: pompous, annoying, hard to relate to by most who knew him, though loved by his true friends, and by Sabrina, who knew little else of love and caring in the world.
I was completely engrossed by this book. The society that Day was involved in was educated and open minded (obviously), and while Day's behavior would certainly not be rewarded today, but punished, the cast of character was fascinating and interesting, both male and female alike. Moore doesn't just tell Day's story, but that of Sabrina and eventually her family. Moore explains many aspects of Georgian culture. I found her in depth description of orphanages at the time to be heart wrenching. Moore also discusses Rosseau's philosophy and its misapplication and how it has affected education today.
If you are a reader of Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, the Romantic poets, or Maria Edgeworth (daughter of Day's close friend) or even Charles Dickens or William Makepeace Thackeray, this book should be of great interest to you, and I highly recommend it. Very readable, and a compelling story of education gone awry.”
Kiki68 reviewed a book.
“Jennifer Haigh is a wonderful writer, with a lovely way with a turn of phrase. I've read two of her novels, and was very excited about her short fiction collection, and it does not disappoint. These vignettes of people's lives in a small Pennsylvania town, Bakerton, from shortly before World War...”
“Jennifer Haigh is a wonderful writer, with a lovely way with a turn of phrase. I've read two of her novels, and was very excited about her short fiction collection, and it does not disappoint. These vignettes of people's lives in a small Pennsylvania town, Bakerton, from shortly before World War One to the present are poignant, sad and hopeful.
Haigh gives us 10 beautifully wrought short stories, each with a meaningful name and its own character. We are introduced to the inhabitants of Bakerton initially in Beast and Bird, through two Polish teenage girls from Bakerton sent to work for Jewish families in New York City. It is in this story that we learn the flavor of provincial life in Bakerton: mind your own business, make smart choices (not emotional ones), do your duty and accept your fate.
This thread continues, back in Bakerton, when we are introduced to a spinster teacher, a relative of the Baker's for whom the town is named, who lives with her simple minded sister, but is flattered by a student who reminds her of her "first love." Here we find out that appearances in Bakerton are not, and never have been what they seem.
Broken Star, one of two first person narratives, reveals several family secrets, like layers of an onion, peeled back and causing tears. The stories move slowly forwards through time, and we begin to recognize names we've heard before, as in this story, we recognize family connections. Thrift also introduces characters with deep ties to place, two sisters, a caretaker and a spoiled baby sister.
A few people think they escape Bakerton, but they return, or are haunted by the place and its pull in their life. Haigh uses astronomical objects as metaphor in the names of many of her stories, and we can feel the gravitational pull of sun and star, just as the people of Bakerton feel the pull of place, like it or not. Escape is rarely fully possible. Many often return and are unable to cut the ties that bind, and often cut.
This is not full of stories with happy endings, but full of genuine life endings: people die, secrets are usually revealed to family at those times, and people choose to embrace those secrets as part of their loved ones, or continue to deny them. One of the most striking stories, Favorite Son (the other first person narrative) is about a man who returns, defeated, unemployed, and lost. The problem is no one understands how long he's been keeping the secret, or how painful it is, until it is too late. Someone almost always knows. The town is slowly dying from the start of the book, through the loss of its young men to war, to the mines, to unemployment. In the second to last story, we never really meet Sunny Baker, a descendant of the founders of Bakerton, but she is discussed and trashed ad nauseum: her home is an eye sore, she has been the town eccentric as of late, and with the building of a new prison, something must be done. However, the prison has been there all along.
Haigh has done an amazing job with these stories, reminiscent of Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge in their depth and warmth, and in their examination of small town life. I highly recommend this book to any fiction lover, it is a form that is wildly under appreciated, especially with artists as talented as Jennifer Haigh.”
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