Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Friday Night Knitting Club

For the March edition of the Book-A-Month Challenge I chose Friday Night Knitting Club. The March theme was craft and as we all know knitting is not only a handi-craft but an art, I thought this would be the perfect book. I went into it expecting to thoroughly enjoy it. After all it sounded like an interesting book about women's relationships & friendships brought together through a shared hobby. My kind of read.

Imagine my surprise when I found that it comes across as a lot of disjointed "woe is me" "he broke my heart" "i didn't follow my dream" passages that also throws out knitting terms without explaining what they are. There's a lot of talk about the love of knitting and how old-fashioned as it may be, it's still something special. I understand having a passion for a hobby and getting wrapped up in sharing that passion with others that you sometimes forget to explain things to the folks that are just learning. I have no idea what Casting On is even after seeing the term mentioned in the book more then ten times in the first few chapters. Other terms such as types of stitches, wools, and patterns were thrown into the story but never explained even though some of the characters were supposed to be beginners just like some readers. Some may feel that it wasn't necessary to explain the hobby which is only the plot device for bringing people together, but I have to disagree. When a hobby is used in this type of story I want to feel the passion for the hobby that the characters have and part of that is telling me exactly what their language means. Translating the terms into concepts I can understand.

The main character of Georgia starts off as a strong woman with a successful shop and a wonderful daughter, but she quickly becomes tiresome. She isolates herself from her customers and often comes across like she's a martyr to Single-Motherhood. She comes across to me as cynical, unable to trust anyone but her mentor Anita and after the first three chapters I found that I really didn't care about her any more. None of the characters truly really came alive for me, though Anita came close - yet there was something about her that was almost too saintly.

I got through the first 125 pages and put the book down, instead turning to other books that the Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler. Due to moving I haven't finished that one, I was laughing and enjoying the read though I'm having a hard time identifying the narrator so far. Other books that pulled my attention were the classic graphic novel Infinity Gauntlet & Christine Feehan's Dark Possession. This is the first of Ms. Feehan's books I've read and so far I'm thoroughly enjoying it so I'll be hunting for more from her.

The April theme for the Book-A-Month Challenge is Beauty. Not sure what book I'm going to read for that one yet, though first of next month be looking for my review. Happy Reading!

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Queen's Fool

Yes, I'm still on my Philippa Greggory kick.

For the February Book-A-Month challenge the theme was the heart, naturally given the month those so inclined turn towards romance. While Queen's Fool has a bit of romance in it just like The Other Boelyn Girl, romance takes a back seat to duty, intrigue, and the royal court.

The Queen's Fool tell the story of Mary Tudor's reign and Elizabeth's rise to power through the eyes of a young Jewish girl, Hannah, who has the gift of the Sight. After she's discovered by Lord Robert Dudley he begs her for a fool to King Edward at the end of his brief reign. Now in Dudley's service, Hannah is forced to make difficult choices, usually bending to Dudley's will as she becomes infatuated with him on sight. This doesn't make it easy for her to find her own happiness, but over time Hannah gains the trust of both Tudor Princesses and successfully navigates the minefield of political intrigue. Through it all there is the shadow of her Jewish heritage and the betrothal to a young medical student named Daniel. Like her is he also a Jew in hiding, a common bond between them though the length's Hannah's father went to in order to hide her made Hannah independent and less inclined to accept Daniel's orders the way the women in his own family do. This independence causes problems for the couple, but along the way Daniel is loyal to Hannah and she to him though they both have periods of doubt and time apart.

I particularly enjoyed the way Gregory weaves Hannah's private life through the threads of history and how intriguing she makes both Elizabeth and Mary. The ghosts of their mothers are very present in the story and you can see how each woman was effected by the treatment their mothers recieved throughout their lives. Queen's Fool was a great read and left me itching to get my hands on The Virgin's Lover which I'm almost finished with now. Another excellent book that I'll talk about next time.