Book reviews

Yes, you read that right. This week you get not one, but two book reviews in one post! I was just going to write about Twenties Girl, by Sophie Kinsella, but before I got a chance to write it, I started The Jewel Box by Anna Davis, got halfway through (yes, I read fast), and realized I cannot finish the book. So here it is folks, two for the price of one week!

First, Twenties Girl. I liked it. It’s about a not-very-successful twentysomething girl in London who attends her great aunt’s funeral and finds herself haunted by her great aunt (manifesting as her twenty-three-year old flapper self) who can’t rest without her favorite necklace.

It’s the sort of book I sometimes feel I shouldn’t admit to liking, because it’s not a very serious book. In fact, it’s pure fluff. But it’s sweet fluff. Lara, the girl, learns a lot about the value of hard work, family, and relationships. Most of all, she learns about herself.

Halfway through, I was tempted to put it down, because it just kept getting more and more sappy, but I persevered. Very quickly then the plot tightened up, some loose ends were cleaned up, and the motivations of the villain were revealed.

I really appreciated the attention to historical detail, too. I feel a little strange writing that, because the book is set in this century, but one of the characters (the great aunt’s ghost) is from 1920s London. The details were perfect — just the right amount, not so much as to bore you with research, but just enough to make you feel you could see the rouge, the dresses, the hats. And the slang was just right, too. Not too much, and always in context, so you could figure it out, but true and spot-on.

Now, for The Jewel Box. It’s a lovely book, very exciting. I must complain about the slang and the research. For being an actual historical novel, the research seemed a little shaky. Instead of being there, really there, I always had the feeling I was on the outside looking in. It feels like just enough research was done to give the feel of 1920s London, but not enough to make it seem like you are there. Instead of being the 1920s, it is 2008 done up to look like the 1920s. Of course all novels are really about the time they are written in, not the time they are written about. But the best ones make you forget when they were written, and take you to the time of which they write. The Jewel Box fails at that.

But that is not why I quit reading it. No. I quit reading it because about halfway through, two of the characters embark on a love affair.

He could throw you bodily across the room with barely an effort and you’d lie there all broken and crumpled, and how glorious it would be to be broken by him.

I cannot read a book that contains the preceding sentence. I don’t believe any woman thinks like that, I can’t believe a woman wrote that, and I refuse to read it. It glorifies violence against women, and worse, it condones it and says women like it that way. They don’t and it’s wrong to write so.


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