Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Marriage”

Bothari’s #CBR4 Review #55: Sylvester by Georgette Heyer

I’ve tried several times this year to love Georgette’s mysteries as much as I love her romances, but after listening to Sylvester on audio book on my way home for Christmas, I’ve decided it’s no use – there is a lightness in her romances that is missing from her mysteries. Sylvester was absolutely delightful. Plus, it was read by Richard Armitage! It’s not hard to love a book when it’s read to you by the king of the dwarves.

Phoebe Marlow is a budding author who wrote a book skewering several prominent members of the upper-class Ton after her first season in London. She is horrified when Sylvester, Duke of Sulford, shows up at her father’s house to supposedly make an offer for her hand. Sylvester has a reputation for being cold and arrogant, and she had made him the villain of her book (under a pseudonym, of course – genteel young ladies didn’t do such vulgar things as novel-writing). He needs a wife to run his estate, and Phoebe is unfortunately eligible.

Determined to marry only for love, Phoebe flees with her childhood friend Tom. They get stuck in an inn in a snowstorm, coincidentally alongside Sylvester and his hired man. Naturally, they all get to know each other, Phoebe learns to like and respect the man behind the villain, and they become friends as they both settle in London (Phoebe decides to move in with her grandmother, continuing her plan to run away even after she finds out Sylvester doesn’t want to marry her anyway).

The rest is pretty typical – budding love, misunderstandings keeping them apart, flirting and arguing – but the wonderfulness of Georgette’s writing makes even the most unexceptional story sing. The downside of the audio book was that I couldn’t flag pages for favorite quotes and words to look up, but it definitely made my road trip more fun.

Valyruh’s #CBR4 Review #55: The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger

The Newlyweds is about an inter-racial, cross-cultural marriage between George, an American 30-something man who has held off on marriage in hopes of finding a different but non-complicated woman, and Amina, an educated 24-year-old Bangladeshi looking for a way out of her impoverished country for herself and her immediate family. They meet through an internet site and after months of email exchanges, George goes to Bangladesh to meet her family, reluctantly agree to convert to Islam, and bring home his bride-to-be. George is enamored of Amina, but Amina is busy setting her timetable for achieving U.S. citizenship, to be followed by getting pregnant and bringing her parents home to live with her, Bangladeshi-style.

We are given the makings of a fascinating exploration of relationships and culture clash which, alas, is never realized. Instead, we are given boring details of Amina’s search for a job which never develops into anything of real interest; her sexual disinterest in George; her community college class which never develops into anything of real interest, and details about other characters’ lives which appear both incidental and also not very interesting. Indeed, The Newlyweds, at least in the first part of the book, takes on the quality of a soap opera: she seeks the friendship of George’s non-conformist cousin Kim, only to discover that George and Kim had had an affair during George and Amina’s long-distance courtship that had led to a quickly-aborted pregnancy. Feeling betrayed, Amina returns to Bangladesh to bring her parents back to the U.S. While there,  she gets embroiled in a violent feud among her father’s relatives and flirts with the idea of a quick love affair with her cousin.

Amina never attempts to fall in love with George, nor does she plan to leave him, as he is her golden ticket to an American life for herself and her parents. And so what sympathy I had for her character at the beginning of the book quickly dims, and by the end, it is George I find myself sympathizing with. Freudenberger’s attempted depiction of Bangladesh is interesting in part, but is quickly colored over by the petty feuding, criminality and violence she presents as somehow typically Bangladeshi in the latter part of her book. By the time the story ended, I was thoroughly disinterested in Amina’s marriage. In fact, I found more honest emotion and real poignancy in a short story called “The Thing Around Your Neck” by Ngozi Adichie, about a Nigerian woman newly arrived in America, and her inability to mesh American and African cultural values during an attempted romance with an American man. If this theme interests you, try reading Ngozi Adichie’s short story collection and leave The Newlyweds alone.

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #30 Wither by Lauren Destefano

Yet another dystopian novel jumps on the bandwagon, hoping somehow to snare a portion of the reading audience so enchanted by Hunger Games. Like Matched and a few of the other novels I have been reviewing as part of this challenge, Wither makes a brave attempt to carve its own place among the competition.

The marketing campaign behind this series is brilliant and certainly has its pulse on where the next generation goes to create a buzz. The website for the trilogy is slick and the trailer on YouTube feels almost like a movie trailer aiming to entice a techno-savvy generation into reading this novel.

The basic premise of the Chemical Garden series is simple yet disturbing. Thanks to the meddling of science and the attempts to eliminate diseases, a plague has affected all of the younger generations of humanity. Men now die at the age of 25 and women at the age of 20 from the virus that plagues civilization. The gap between rich and poor has widened to the point where the wealthy are now able to entice or kidnap multiple brides for their young sons to breed successive generations or find a cure before they themselves (the untouched older generation) perish wither and die.

I found this novel very disturbing as my rating and the rest of the review will explain. It does contain information which could be considered “Spoilers” so I did not post the full review here, but kept it to my bookhoarding dragon site.

I found this novel very disturbing as my rating and the rest of the review will explain.  It does contain information which could be considered “Spoilers” so I did not post the full review here, but kept it to my bookhoarding dragon site.

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