I’ve got another ridiculous story on the docket, but I thought I should actually write about books this week. My backlog of books I’ve read but haven’t discussed here is growing, and that’s partially due to laziness on my part (it’s easier to read a book than to write about it) and to a recent trend of reading books that are actually very good (it’s easier to write about a stinky book than a very good one). At any rate, it’s time for me to get off my duff and do some on-topic writing.
At 93 pages (in my Nook edition), The Short and Fascinating Tale of Angelina Whitcombe weighs in as a novella (with an absurdly long, but perfect, title). I read an excerpt of this book on the author’s website and felt compelled to purchase it. The writing is good, and the premise is very interesting, but it was the characters that sold me on this book. Angelina is a nearly washed-up courtesan–not your average wide-eyed innocent heroine–and John is a damaged hero (of the went-to-war-and-returned-with-issues variety).
A lot of romance authors force their characters to discover love, to work it out like a difficult puzzle, throughout the course of the story. This book is different; its characters discover trust. The resulting story is so much more adult and interesting. Let’s face it: trust is hard. It’s so easy to love someone, but it’s very difficult to trust someone to love you back. I give major props to this strangely beefy novella for veering into some difficult interpersonal territory. Also, there’s a dog, and y’all know how I feel about animal antics.
On the whole, though, The Short and Fascinating Tale of Angelina Whitcombe is serious in its subject matter and content. There is wit, but it is dry. It does not sparkle, but not every book has to in order to be good and enjoyable, and sometimes I yearn for a book that doesn’t need to pretend that the world is full of sunshine, rainbows, and sparkles shooting out of unicorn butts.
Of course, sometimes a book that revels in levity, sunshine, and light-hearted humor, in which bad things either don’t happen or aren’t dwelt on is enjoyable, too. For those moments, there is this:
I gave Upon a Midmight Dream an unfair read to start with. I read it right after I finished The Siren. The difference in style, genre, storytelling, etc. was unbelievably jarring. I went back later and did a brief re-read, and I enjoyed it so much better. The thing is, this book is a fairy tale romance, so it holds only the most tenuous connection with reality. It is light and funny and a little bit spastic. And, seriously, Stefan, the hero, had to have been based on Disney’s Flynn Rider.
It was so charming and refreshing to have a truly stupid hero, that I didn’t mind all the stuff that would normally have annoyed the bejesus out of me (e.g. the plot device the keeps Stefan and Rosalind apart is Rosalind’s desire to receive a properly romantic proposal matched with Stefan’s seeming inability to deliver one, and this despite the fact that members of both their families are or appear to be dying from a mysterious curse that only their marriage can stop… SERIOUSLY?!).
If you approach this book expecting it to make sense or convey a little bit of truth about life, you’re going to be disappointed. But, if you come at it expecting to have a good time, to laugh, to say, “Wait, WHAT?” an awful lot (but not always in a bad way), you surely will.
And, again, because y’all know how I feel about animal antics in a book, this book had me at Sampson, Stefan’s horse, who is pretty much this guy:
So, there you have it. Good can mean a lot of things, depending on your mood.
Ready for a tangent? Good! My e-reader of choice (mostly because it’s the one I own) is a Nook, so when I saw this character card in a game I played with some friends over the weekend, I knew I had to post it here. My Nook Color seems just a little bit more badass, like it could don a salmon-colored capelet and punch you (or me) in the face with lightning, if it wanted (thanks, Jason!).