Hey all! A book recommendation today for anyone who loves character-driven novels with romance and history! So, that’s definitely me. I stumbled across this book called The Girl at the Lion D’Or a couple years ago at my favorite bookstore, Westsider Books. I like thrifting at secondhand bookstores because you find books that have been forgotten or lost, and you can find some true gems.
I have been counting down feverishly to the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for MONTHS, and on Saturday night at midnight, like so many other die-hard Potter fans around the world, I finally got my hands on it.
I don’t need to explain what this eighth story means for Potter fans: it’s like coming home, revisiting the magic we fell in love with when we were kids, and feeling like that magic won’t ever end. It meant reading more about the characters and where they ended up, and for me, it meant being immersed in that amazing world again. And even though this story is only in the form of a scriptbook, most of us had little to no doubt that the last story would shine as bright as the other installments. However, after reading the book, a lot of people felt a little disappointed. Here’s what I thought.
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Raaave review coming! If you’re into historical fiction like me (I would say I’m more obsessed), then I would absolutely recommend a new release called The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore. Set in the late 19th century, The Last Days of Night really intrigued me because it promised a fictional account of a subject I didn’t know so much about: the legal and dramatic battle between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison to answer one very important question: Who invented the light bulb?
In school, we learn that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, but the truth is actually muddled, confusing, and varied. The narrative of this book is from the perspective of a man named Paul Cravath, a Tennessee-born New York lawyer who, at 27, is a precocious partner in a law firm with a lot to prove. He’s approached by George Westinghouse—and threatened by Thomas Edison—to lead a countersuit against Edison for the right to manufacture the incandescent light bulb.
Sounds dry, but within the historical narrative is intertwined drama, attempted murder, glitzy New York parties, THE Nikola Tesla, and a snapshot of New York during the Gilded Age. I ADORE New York fiction because I grew up here in the ‘burbs (and attended college in Manhattan and the Bronx) and so New York was always my playground, and I absolutely love reading about the history of what I consider “my city.”
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We Could Be Beautiful is about a 44-year-old rich woman named Catherine West. Catherine is all about the luxury and the privilege: she’s got a perfectly immaculate West Village home stocked with fine art, the best furniture, and a whole lot of hired help. She gets $80k a month from her trust fund, has a mother slowly succumbing to Alzheimer’s, and the thing that Catherine wants more than anything is to be married and have a child. Enter William Stockton, an impeccably dressed and well-spoken businessman who meets Catherine at an art gallery. It was love at first sight. Or was it?
Called “psychological,” this book aims to fully portray several characters in all their depth, foibles, and idiosyncrasies. There’s Catherine, who thinks she’s moral and strong, but who is actually petulant, childish, spoiled, privileged, and completely farcical. There’s William Stockton, a man who seems perfect but who is absolutely too good to be true. And then there’s Catherine’s sister Caroline, more honest and self-aware than her sister, and much more aware of her own privilege.
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Summer, for me, is all about how many books I can read on a beach, on a plane, or even through audiobook on my commute. Even though I’m trying to save money, these are four new 2016 book releases I cannot WAIT to get my hands on. I’ve been in desperate need of new books to read, thanks to a year-long book-buying drought. Breaking the fast now!Read More »
Next on my to-read list for this year was a Charlotte Brontë novel I’ve been meaning to read since college: Villette. I’m slowly working my way through my classics shelf via my Over Drive app (yay for audiobooks!) and I’m happy to have read this amazing book.
Jane Eyre is the Charlotte Brontë novel most people are familiar with, but this one, Villette, was Charlotte’s last novel and her most autobiographical. Even though it took me forever to read, this classic is a must-read!
Anyone who has read this blog before knows I am obsessed with historical fiction. It may be my favorite genre ever, and one that I have been reading since I was in eighth grade. I think that good, accurate historical fiction is the best way to learn history, and is also one of the most entertaining kind of novels because you learn more than you would from textbooks, and anyway, the romantic in me absolutely loves imagining and reading about previous eras. Who doesn’t?
And in keeping with this year’s resolution to shop a whole lot less, read more, and most important, read the books I already have, when I was given a whole, lazy Saturday at home one weekend, I reached into my shelves and drew out a book I bought in 2012, one that I hadn’t ever opened before, and one that is by one of my favorite authors: Anya Seton.
Anya Seton was a successful, bestselling historical fiction novelist in the 1950s, known best for her works Katherine and The Winthrop Woman. But she also wrote a slimmer, young-adult novel named The Mistletoe and Sword. At 250 pages, this book was the perfect size to devour in a day. Here’s what it’s about.
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If you’re like me, then you know Daphne du Maurier from two things: her story “The Birds” and Rebecca, that freaky book you had to read in high school. But recently, I came across her romance novel!!!! in a secondhand bookstore in the city, and I had to have it. It’s called Frenchman’s Creek, and it will give you feels. I have to say, this has automatically become one of my favorite works of literature; it has almost everything I look for in a great story. Read more about this recommendation!
What it’s about: Frenchman’s Creek is about a noblewoman named Dona St. Columb (a perfect romance-novel name, IMO), who feels stifled in her life in London. It takes place in Restoration England, and the entire narrative is a kind of flashback through the eyes of a modern-day yachtsman visiting the place in Cornwall where Dona flees to when she can’t take her life anymore. The framed narrative creates a spooky atmosphere that is definitely characteristic of du Maurier’s other works.
When Dona arrives in Cornwall at her house called Navron, with her two children in tow (but not her husband), she is consumed by a feeling of freedom she’s been craving all her life. Eventually, she meets and has an affair with a philosopher turned pirate named Jean-Benoit Aubéry, who teaches her that even though she craves escape, it’s almost impossible for a woman to have the same freedom as a man does. Their relationship becomes a metaphor for societal expectations placed on women, and the whole metaphor is couched in the language of a high romance novel with plenty of passion. Oh, and the writing is utterly breathtaking, so you don’t have to feel bad about reading romance!
Through her experiences with the pirate, she tests her strength, her courage, and finds herself outside of her constructed “proper” persona. She becomes her own person, someone whole and fulfilled in both life and love. She finds freedom and happiness.
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Oh, man. Candide is one of those books everyone should read once in their lives, if only for the laughs. Written by the genius wit Voltaire in the late eighteenth century, this slim satirical novel is basically an evisceration of the common “optimistic” ideology of the time that basically argued that tragedy (war, natural disasters, crime, murder) is no big deal, because evil serves a greater purpose: to bring good into the world. Voltaire HATED this philosophy, and so he wrote a funny little novel about it. (A funny little novel that cemented his status as one of the great genius thinkers of his time, and ensured his immortality in literature and culture.)
What it’s about: Candide is about optimism. Plotwise, it’s about a man named Candide who lives on a manor estate in Germany and who has been taught by a philosopher named Pangloss that the world they live in is “the best of all possible worlds.” Pangloss is a vehement Optimist, and instills in Candide the idea that tragedies happen for the best (for the greater good), and that the world they live in is the best it could possibly be. Right afterward, Candide and a dozen of other characters undergo a series of absurd, over-the-top, ridiculous sufferings, so that Voltaire can basically make fun of an ideology he abhorred so strongly.
I wasn’t kidding about the laughs! Everything each character goes through is so unbelievably exaggerated, like Pangloss being hanged, burned, and cut open, and yet at the end of the novel he comes rowing up to Candide like nothing ever happened. I read this mainly on audiobook, and I was laughing hysterically on my commute!