Monthly Archives: February 2016

The River of No Return – Bee Ridgway

The River of No Return - Bee Ridgeway

The River of No Return – Bee Ridgeway

This was one of my book club books that was highly recommended by one of the members. I had never heard of it and it proved to be quite difficult to find a paper copy. In the end I found one at the library and read it quickly to pass onto someone else in the group.

Here is the blurb …

Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Lord Nicholas Falcott wakes up in twenty-first-century London. The Guild, a secretive fraternity of time travelers, informs him that there is no return. But Nick yearns for the beautiful Julia Percy, who remains in 1815. As fate and the fraying fabric of time draw Nick and Julia together once again, the lovers must match wits and gamble their hearts against the rules of time itself.

Rich in romance and historical detail, Bee Ridgway’s debut is a thrilling, fast-paced narrative evocative of Deborah Harkness’s time-bending bestsellers.

I found it very compelling and enjoyed the detail of the various time periods. It was long and could have been edited to make a snappier story. It also had that annoying plot device where one character doesn’t communicate a significant plot point to another and the story continues for another (unnecessary) two hundred pages – an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. It always reminds me of day time soap operas.

I hope there is a sequel in the works because the story didn’t seem finished to me – it would make a great movie too.

More reviews …

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/bee-ridgways-the-river-of-no-return/2013/05/03/73c1a286-adce-11e2-a986-eec837b1888b_story.html

http://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/books/403931/Book-Review-The-River-Of-No-Return

 

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Golden Age – Jane Smiley

Golden Age - Jane Smiley

Golden Age – Jane Smiley

I read this straight after Early Warningso that I would have all of the characters and plot lines straight in my head. I struggled a bit with the gap between Some Luck and Early Warning.

Here is the blurb …

A lot can happen in one hundred years, as Jane Smiley shows to dazzling effect in her Last Hundred Years trilogy. But as Golden Age, its final installment, opens in 1987, the next generation of Langdons face economic, social, political—and personal—challenges unlike anything their ancestors have encountered before.

Michael and Richie, the rivalrous twin sons of World War II hero Frank, work in the high-stakes world of government and finance in Washington and New York, but they soon realize that one’s fiercest enemies can be closest to home; Charlie, the charming, recently found scion, struggles with whether he wishes to make a mark on the world; and Guthrie, once poised to take over the Langdons’ Iowa farm, is instead deployed to Iraq, leaving the land—ever the heart of this compelling saga—in the capable hands of his younger sister.

Determined to evade disaster, for the planet and her family, Felicity worries that the farm’s once-bountiful soil may be permanently imperiled, by more than the extremes of climate change. And as they enter deeper into the twenty-first century, all the Langdon women—wives, mothers, daughters—find themselves charged with carrying their storied past into an uncertain future.

Combining intimate drama, emotional suspense, and a full command of history, Golden Age brings to a magnificent conclusion the century-spanning portrait of this unforgettable family—and the dynamic times in which they’ve loved, lived, and died: a crowning literary achievement from a beloved master of American storytelling.

As you can see from the blurb, this continues the story (saga) of the Langdon family. Some bits of this I really enjoyed – Andy recovering from her alcohol addiction getting her own back on Michael and his dodgy financial practices, but found the extrapolation into the future unsettling (that might have been the point) and Guthrie’s fate was very upsetting. Once again, it is beautifully written in simple prose. It reminds me a bit of Forrest Gump in that the Langdon family just happen to be around for significant historical events, but these novels cover a huge range of history and how the events affected different segments of society.

More reviews …

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/oct/21/golden-age-jane-smiley-review-final-volume-the-last-hundred-years-trilogy

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/golden-age-review-jane-smiley-brings-america-into-the-age-of-terror/2015/10/12/b64bba0e-701f-11e5-8d93-0af317ed58c9_story.html

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Early Warning – Jane Smiley

Early Warning - Jane Smiley

Early Warning – Jane Smiley

This is the second novel is Jane Smiley’s trilogy The Last One Hundred Years – it started with Some LuckI enjoyed reading Some Luck but took my time getting this second volume (I did move straight onto the third though – Golden Age – but more of that later).

Here is the blurb …

From the Pulitzer Prize winner: a journey through mid-century America, as lived by the extraordinary Langdon family we first met in Some Luck, a national best seller published to rave reviews from coast to coast.

Early Warning opens in 1953 with the Langdons at a crossroads. Their stalwart patriarch Walter, who with his wife had sustained their Iowa farm for three decades, has suddenly died, leaving their five children looking to the future. Only one will remain to work the land, while the others scatter to Washington, DC, California, and everywhere in between. As the country moves out of postwar optimism through the Cold War, the social and sexual revolutions of the 1960s and ’70s, and then into the unprecedented wealth—for some—of the early ’80s, the Langdon children will have children of their own: twin boys who are best friends and vicious rivals; a girl whose rebellious spirit takes her to the notorious Peoples Temple in San Francisco; and a golden boy who drops out of college to fight in Vietnam—leaving behind a secret legacy that will send shockwaves through the Langdon family into the next generation. Capturing an indelible period in America through the lens of richly drawn characters we come to know and love, Early Warning is an engrossing, beautifully told story of the challenges—and rich rewards—of family and home, even in the most turbulent of times.

Out of the three novels this has been my favourite – I felt I learned a bit of American social history (Peoples Temple, the cold war spy drama, etc) and the characters are so diverse but equally beautifully written. This novel reminds me a bit of Middlemarch in its sprawling nature with a lot of characters and plot lines. This novel is about individual characters, but it also tells the story of a particular country at a particular time.

More reviews …

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/apr/30/early-warning-jane-smiley-review-american-tolstoy

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/early-warning-by-jane-smiley-book-review-the-complete-chronicle-of-american-life-10215664.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/jane-smileys-elegiac-look-at-an-american-family-in-early-warning/2015/04/27/9f56ab4a-e525-11e4-905f-cc896d379a32_story.html

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