Monday, October 11, 2010

Good Writing Evens the Odds

I'm not really in the mood of posting - stressed about my new job and all - but I just want to do this so I don't have to think about it later... On Shabbos I read Deanna Raybourn's Dark Road to Darjeeling, the 4th in the Lady Julia series.  If you remember, (I know you don't, don't worry :)) I mentioned this series previously as very similar to Tasha Alexander.  Both are recommendations I picked up from Lauren Willig - so they are Victorian mystery/romances.  That's similar enough to Lauren Willig herself's books, to Gail Carriger... but beyond that, they are both about independent widows whose first husbands died under mysterious circumstances and whom they were not in love with.  They both solve the mysteries of their husbands' death and then more mysteries side by side with the professional inquiry agents, eligible, handsome men, up to now impervious to ladies' charm.  Both get married at the end of the third book... both ladies celebrate their independence and indifference to societal norms, and both travel in the fourth book.
Okay, fine, so how do they compare? Well as I mentioned in the Tasha Alexander post, Lady Emily comes off as more annoying than independent and the writing is not the best.  Lady Julia is a much more well-crafted character, not bucking the ways of society for no reason, but only when they get too much in her way.  She has a lot of respect for tradition, earl's daughter that she is.  And in general, the book is much better written, the drama not feeling at all manufactured.  So that's one for Ms. Raybourn.  On the other hand, the Lady Julia books are just plain too dramatic, too serious.  There's not enough fun stuff in them! Especially when they take place in the wilds of India.  And person after person dies.  First the murderered one of course, but also the dr's wife b/4 we come on the scene.  And then there are two dramatic deaths at the end, of arguable necessity.  And then, right at the end, a *thoroughly* UNnecessary death.  Really ruined the happy ending.  So that's one-all.  Any way to break the tie? Well, I'd say both did a fair job of keeping the angsty romance alive post marriage (pregnancy issues vs. unresolved professional differences) but Deanna Raybourn has one more annoying thing that puts me off the books - annoying to those of us who do not share her liberal sensibilities- and I'll just leave it at that.  So I guess in the end, it's Tasha Alexander.  Except... well good writing is good writing... So I'm leaving this unresolved for now :)

Verdict: 3/5
Food: Solidly good in its way, but not the kind of thing that excites me, or anything overly healthy - perhaps sauted vegetables... though that might be healthier than appropriate... sauted w/ soy sauce

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