Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Grand Story

I finished my library books and needed something else.  In the mood of total indulgence, I selected a tried-and-true Heyer, The Grand Sophie.  This was one of my first Heyers, and, while I've loved it since that first time, it has gone up and down in relative estimation over the years.  The romance is not the *most* satisfying; Charles Rivenhall not the most dashing of heroes; too much other stuff going on.  Such have been the minor complaints I have had about this book over the years. On this read (and earlier ones as well, don't get me wrong), I appreciated what made this the book the Sps recommended as a starter - Sophie's completely indefatigable, unsinkable self.  She is never at a loss, schemes to perfection, and stays the best of friends and relatives in the process.  Great fun, great gun, ya know? This is not a book where there is any tension (not that GHs generally have too much of it).  Sophie masterminds it all from start to finish.  I love it when the main character does that.  And even better, Charles keeps up with her every step (otherwise it would be no fun - no thanks to humbled love interests).  And speaking of love interest, don't get me wrong, there's a good serving of romance here too.  So a main character that really might be GH's most fun creation, and alls-well-that-ends-well ending without too much complication in the interim, and a nice dose of the good stuff (romance that is).  Squee!

Verdict: 5/5

A Turn of the Page

Well it's been a while... I had one last book to review of my library haul, the one I was so excited about after the last book of my last library set - the next Flavia de Luce.  I finished it over Succos but, since I had no more library books, just took me a while to get to this review.  So anyway - I was excited to read this book because 1) I very much enjoyed the one before this and 2) the ending of the last book left open some juicy possibilities - namely, Harriet's return.

Well, as I maybe should have guessed, Harriet's return was not really that - merely, they found her body and returned it to Buckshaw.  Not just not the happy ending we could have had - but, in fact, very sad, as the de Luce's had to confront the certainty of Harriet's death.  So quite a bit more serious for that reason alone.

But that was really the least of the differences in this book from previous ones.  The mystery in this case is not the murder of a random villager, with Flavia pottering around and solving it in her own way.  There is a murder, but it takes second fiddle to Flavia's exploration of her mother's past.  Definitely somewhat interesting to get a backstory but we lose much of the country village charm of the earlier books. And on top of that, uh wow, quite the backstory.  Spies, heroes, villains - not your staid old English family.  I mean, it's cool that Colonel and Harriet were so awesome, and makes some sense, seeing their talented offspring. But it's a bit of a leap from past books.

And at the conclusion, even more of a leap. We are asked to believe that Flavia is specially tasked with taking over the mantle of the family business (spying and whatnot).  And that her sisters' resentment of her is rooted in jealousy of her position. And that she now has to be taken away to be properly educated. It's all just rather out of the blue.

But I suppose Alan Bradley was getting bored with the old formula and wanted to move things along. I get that.  Now, I guess, we'll get some new mysteries set at Flavia's boarding school? Guess we'll see.  I hope wherever they are, they are back to their old charming form, not too full of backstory.

Verdict: 2.9/5