Friday, August 19, 2011

Good Romance Hits Home

A few things I've done recently - attended several ballets, did research on traveling to South America, and went to Borders for the going out of business sale.   All that equals what, next on my reading list? Eva Ibbotson's A Company of Swans (you weren't supposed to get that, don't worry).  Other than The Morning Gift, which I of course already own, it was the only Eva Ibbotson (only adult one, didn't check for kids ones) Borders had, so it was the one I bought (Sarah Basya asked me why and I said it was my second favorite, but then she reminded me of The Reluctant Heiress so really it's my third I think, ahead of A Countess Below Stairs and A Song For Summer).  I've read it at least twice before, but not for a while (at least as long as I've had this blog for sure :)) and I haven't read it since I went to see Giselle and Swan Lake, both of which feature heavily.  And as an added POI, my South American research findings included a map of Brazil's destinations, one of which was Manaus, the central setting of the book and a place I have never heard of otherwise.  In short, I was on the eager side to read it, so it came up first after all the mandatory (library :)) reads.

As Sarah Basya pointed out, this book is not *that* good, none of Eva Ibbotson's other books compare to The Morning Gift.  But that's like saying not all ice cream is Haagen Dasz; it's still one of my favorite foods :) Eva Ibbotson is truly a woman after my heart, creating stories that are purely and totally about the romance, and about the romance of good old fashioned girls and rich gentlemen.  They've got an artsy element too, but as books always have to have another element, I'm not complaining.  Ballet is interesting and so is Brazil.  And Harriet herself actually mostly doesn't have that annoying Ruth-like quality of "loveable" whimsicality that bothers Huvi and S.b. so much.  So why isn't this one as good as The Morning Gift?  Well, I guess that's not a fair question - The Morning Gift is so good because it's one of those indefinably good books - you forget how much and why you like it until you read it.

But I think I forgot how much I liked this one too.  I was happy to read it, but I wasn't ecstatic to have bought it.  When I picked it up though, I didn't want to put it down.  It was kind of funny because I was reading it last Shabbos and I was strangely eager to come back home - it took me a while to figure out that I was eager to get back to the book.  Of course, it was full of all the maudlin expression typical of Eva Ibbotson but I probably just wasn't in the mood to care.  Rom really liked Harriet, Harriet liked Rom too, and the obstacles keeping them apart felt totally legitimate.  The pathos was exquisite, also in true Eva Ibbotson style - Harriet's life is really pathetic and Rom does a good job taking her away from it all :) Harriet herself is a bit of an idiot, but I didn't find it too annoying.

So either I was preconditioned to like this book or it really is quite good.  Against the first, we have that I was *not* overly excited about it and against the second, that I did *not* love it the first few times  I read it.  But that's not true, I did like it, I just had reservations.  So I guess I just was preconditioned to ignore my reservations :) Makes sense because with my reading list as of late, fluff is appreciated all the more.  Oh that there were more authors who just understood good romance.

Verdict: 4.5/5

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