Thursday, January 10, 2008

Burning Bright and Mini's


Here's my review of Burning Bright and some Mini news:
Title: Burning Bright
Author: Tracy Chevalier
Rating: Ambivalent
Genre: Historical fiction
Number of pages: 311
Finished: 1-9-08
Challenges: A to Z Title Challenge (B); Themed Challenge; Back to History Challenge; Book Around the World (England); 101 books in 1,001 days (#3)

After thoroughly enjoying Girl with Pearl Earring, I was looking forward to a second go at reading a Tracy Chevalier novel. There are some definite highlights to this book but then some low points as well. The development of the atmosphere and climate of l790s England is truly amazing. I could close my eyes and feel as though I was on the streets of London near Haymarket in a heartbeat. The characters are well-defined from main to secondary in a few short sentences the reader "gets" what they are all about. Where I find Burning Bright falls short is in the plot. Throughout the book, I keeping wondering where the story was going...meandered a bit off track three-quarters of the way through but neatly tied up at the end. Here are the basics of the story...family of four moves from the English countryside to big bad London after the untimely death of the favorite son and the fact that the owner of the circus that came to town off-handedly offered the father a job making Windsor chairs. Another family of four...Londoners born and bred are neighbors...fatefully befriend the newcomers (nice contrast of opposites which plays a big role in some of Blake's theories). Add to the mix the famous essayist William Blake as another neighbor and you have a story. I have to confess that at the end of the book I did want to learn more of the behind the scenes of William Blake's life as his character in the book fascinated me along with the owner of the circus Phillip Astley (who I had believed all along throughout was a fabricated character). In the end, this book is a fast read and gave me insight to a time in history that had previously been dark.

Mini-challenges completed to date:
#5. Give a book away: On January 8, 2008, I gave Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella away to a friend and now co-worker, Gina, who originally hails from London. I had previously given her the other 'Shopaholic' books to read as I thought it would be fun to hear how someone who wasn't American by birth felt about the shenanigans of the heroine. All these books are fun to read...Beach reading genre and a total escape from reality.

#6. Read two articles from any one magazine: Today, January 10, I chose two articles from Vegetarian Times ( a portion of my holiday gift from Will...another friend and co-worker...and family). This is a new magazine to me and I started by thumbing through and being pleasantly surprised. I was then drawn to the interview with Alice Walker (fatefully chosen as one of my Pulitzer authors to read in this year's challenge. Walker is a vegetarian and arrived at this life choice early on in life. She grew up on a dairy farm and discovered that becoming attached to a specific cow, Suki, made her swear off beef. She has an extensive garden and is quite passionate about championing the rights of animals.
The other article I read and will review is one entitled "Put the Veg back in vegetarian," which at the end features some very yummy recipes by Mollie Katzen of Moosewood Cookbook fame. I have most of her earlier cookbooks and was glad to discover a new one that I'll take a gander at the next time I'm at Borders...The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without. Great article to read to get the desire and wherewithall going to try to start the new year making the conscientious decision to eat more veggies and get healthy. The statistics used in the article were startling and frightening...back in 2003/2004, the estimate was that 66% of American adults are overweight and that 60% don't eat fruits and veggies as recommended. Great easy tips to change behavior...one being that instead of making 2 cups of pasta at 420 calories, make one cup and add a cup of zucchini and that's 250 calories.

#12. Book discussion: On January 7, 2008, I went to the first meeting of my Women's Reading Group for 2008 (we only read female authors). And in fact, the selection was one that I had put forth "Seduction of Water" by Carol Goodman...a literary mystery that I had discovered and read in November 2007. Everyone agreed that the book was written beautifully and the descriptions of the Catskills in New York made you feel as though you were there. Everyone who reads mysteries on a regular basis figured out the mystery and twist early on but that it did not distract from the joy of reading the story. We did get off topic a bit when we started a discussion on folk stories that we were told growing up as folk/fairy tales played an important role in the book. Most of us recalled having stories read to us...the usual fair of Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, but no one had a parent make up any bedtime stories. Having read all of Carol Goodman's books to date, I did share the fact that she has developed as a writer after this her second book with The Sonnet Lover being her best in my opinion. Next up for us is The Night Watch by Sarah Waters...and no one could remember who had suggested it (we pick out all of our books in early November for the next year).

Next blog post will definitely be about knitting!

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Jennifer said...

I'm interested in reading more Chevalier! I've read about three books of hers and have enjoyed all of them.

January 10, 2008 at 9:47 PM  
Anonymous Carrie K said...

Knitting and books are the stuff of life.

I've got The Sonnet Lover on hold at my library. Should I give Tracy Chevalier another chance? I was not that impressed w/Girl/Pearl.

January 11, 2008 at 3:30 PM  

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