14 September 2017

Illusions of Happiness by Elizabeth Lord

Illusions of HappinessIllusions of Happiness by Elizabeth Lord
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Note: This post contains possible spoilers.

I didn't get very far in this book, but I don't feel that I can describe why I abandoned it without including some detail of the plot. You've been warned.

This book is about Madeleine Ingleton, an 18-year-old who graduates finishing right at the beginning of World War I. Her parents have arranged for her to marry a man that she likes as a friend but doesn't love. Maddie embarks upon a secret affair with the local milkman's son. With our innocent and naive heroine, you can imagine where this is going. Yes, she gets pregnant and her paramour tells her to get an abortion or fend for herself. Maddie refuses to take that course of action; in fact, she doesn't take any course of action (which is the first thing that annoyed me). She just keeps going on chaperoned dates with the man her parents have picked for her until one day she faints. The doctor is called and the parents discover she is with child. Her father, an unfeeling authoritarian, sends Maddie to a home for unwed mothers the very next day and tells her to never come back or contact them again because they no longer have a daughter.

I read up to the 28% mark and then skimmed it after that. Another Goodreads reviewer called this "a dark novel of near constant unhappiness" and that is a perfectly succinct description of how I felt about this novel. I've read books where bad things have happened to the heroine in the past or even in the first chapters of the book, but then there was a turnaround where her life improves. I kept waiting for that to happen with this book but it felt like it was never coming.  Even when Maddie marries a wealthy man and is able to move out of the tenement she was living in, she doesn't seem to be happy. That was when I decided to give up on the book. I couldn't bring myself to keep devoting my limited reading time to this book when I had a romantic comedy waiting on my Kindle that was part of a series that has already proven to bring me joy.

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03 September 2017

Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid

Beauty and the Mustache (Knitting in the City, #4)Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book does double-duty as book #4 of the Knitting in the City series and as the lead-in to Reid's Winston Brother's series. It is the story of the Winston boys' only sister Ashley returning home after being gone for nearly a decade. She has to deal with a family tragedy, get reacquainted with her brothers, and sort out her immediate attraction to Drew, the stranger who became a trusted family friend in her absence.

I started and finished this book in one day because there were several aspects of it that kept pushing me to turn the page. Despite the serious subject matter, Reid managed to include lighter moments that kept the overall tone of the book from becoming maudlin. The intelligent conversations between Ashley and Drew made me want to read Nietzsche and e. e. cummings for myself. The scenes with Ashley's knitting group were fun and reminded me to seek out other books in the Knitting in the City series, especially Alex and Sandra's story. Reid's descriptions of the TN mountains were vivid enough to make me recall my few visits to the mountains here in NC.

I read the first book of the Winston Brothers series and the first two books of the Knitting in the City series about eight months ago. I really enjoy Penny Reid's writing and regret waiting so long to read more of her work, especially from these two series. I will be rectifying that shortly!

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