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inevitableentresol: a Victorian gentleman with the body of a carrot (carrot gentleman)
[personal profile] inevitableentresol
I finished The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, after a long gap during the middle of the book where I put it down. Up until the middle, I was sure it was going to join my favourite books list without a doubt, and when I eventually picked it up again I was still hoping that the story would make a recovery after the sudden and horrifically sad direction it took. Unfortunately, it did not, and the book ended on a long, miserable drawn-out and ultimately boring note, after starting with so much promise.

After that, I turned to The Cousins' War series of novels by Phillipa Gregory. Not something I had chosen for myself, these were a present. The books are set in Tudor times and I really appreciated that they were firmly told from the perspective of women. I was watching the new Hollow Crown series of Shakespeare history plays on the BBC at the same time, and it was fantastic to have the female characters from that more fleshed out, even if the versions of the stories were often at odds with each other. My main worry with the books was that they would be dull bonkbusters that stomped all over history. This was not really the case. A lot of research had obviously gone on, and characters were allowed to have genuine beliefs in witchcraft etc that seem ridiculous to modern eyes. The main failing, instead, was that the author seemed to have convinced herself that her version of history was the right one, in a similar way to a fanfic writer who convinces themselves that their version is more canon than the one by the original creators.

Another problem was that Gregory's prose can be very repetitive. She likes to remind us every single chapter who all the characters are and what relation they stand to each other, even when they are major characters like the husband of the narrator who we've known for ten chapters. Still, I was glad to have read this series. They've given me a genuinely new perspective on that time period.

Current reading: Hyperion by Dan Simmons. It's science fiction based on the structure of the Canterbury Tales, and so far it's ticking all the boxes of many of things I like: epic world-building, dense cultural references and weird non-human cultures.
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