Rose in Bloom

I was so excited when I got Rose in Bloom from the library; but somehow, it wasn't what I had expected. The charm had gone out of it for me. Now re-reading Eight Cousins (its prequel) was so much fun. I loved reading about Rose's developing relationships with her newly found relatives in that book, but somehow, Rose in Bloom was much too slow paced for me. I knew what was to come and I felt the it was dragged on a bit ( I know this is probably the effect of re-reading books ).

Rose has come back from a trip to Europe with her Uncle. Her seven cousins eagerly await her with something more than simply friendship. Over the years that we haven't seen Rose, she has become a woman; her cousins see her with new eyes and some hearts - or just one heart? - beat faster. Romance is in the air and soon the matchmaking begins. The aunts vie for her attention and favors, all wanting their son to be the one who wins the heiress. But do they love her for her? or is it her fortune that tempts them? By this time, Rose knows her aunts - and her cousins - well. Will her Uncle's experiment in training her to be a good woman become a success? Only time will tell.

Rose, once back with her cousins, begins again to use her influence towards doing good. Prince Charlie has lived up to his name and become the prince that he was destined to be - will he be the one who wins Rose? The cousins think so, and with no one else vying for her attention, Rose begins to think so as well. But Charlie is not the boy that she left behind; he has gotten into a bad set and is fast moving towards destruction. Can she save him before he falls over the edge? Will the book end in a happily ever after for Charlie and Rose?

Why Shoot a Butler?

I had almost forgotten about this book. I read it, thought it was okay, and forgot all about it. I barely remember the names of the characters! I think the heroine's name was Shirley (why this memory loss??). Bear with me. I remember the story. \o/

Summary
Frank, on his way to his Uncle's home, loses his way, and with dinner time long past gone, he is in a hurry. He runs in to a woman standing next to a car. Stopping to ask for directions, he is struck by her odd behavior.

He sees a dead body in the car.

Frank, on realizing this, asks the woman about it and then leaves. Apparently the fact that he is a barrister is not important right now. The woman, whether she his guilty or not, is to be left standing there and he goes on his merry way to a late dinner.

On reaching town, he informs the police of the murder (THANK YOU) and doesn't mention anything about the woman (!). 

The crime centers around Norton Manor

Some thoughts
As it turns out, the murdered man is the butler. Things are confusing from start to finish with no clues available and the only suspicious character, the valet, murdered later on in the novel. Heyer leads us on a chase from which we can't hope to emerge victorious as various facts vital to untangling the events are known only by the esteemed barrister, Frank!!

Now I don't get the title. I can think of various reasons why the butler, why any butler could be murdered. He could hold secrets that someone doesn't want to leak out. He could be part of a nefarious smuggling ring, He could have issues of his own (yes, he could!). He could be someone in disguise!! (okay that ones a bit far-fetched.) All these options and more make the title ridiculous..............

Reading back, I think I went a little crazy. Well, that's how it's gonna be. Why Shoot a Butler? isn't a huge success, nor is it a colossal failure. It is just mediocre...

After the Funeral

It's been sometime since I've read an Agatha Christie mystery. So long in fact that I'm out of the phase where I see similarities in all novels and can appreciate each one separately!
 
Rating: ***

After the Funeral is one of those mysteries that I always fail to appreciate. I can't like it although it is well written, and has a strong plot and character portrayal. It just doesn't sit right with me and I don't know why. Maybe it's the grey atmosphere, the sadness that somehow pervades the novel that I can't like. Whatever it is, After the Funeral is not one of my favorites.

It is a sad day (or is it?) when the family gets together to attend the funeral of Richard Abernethie, the eldest Abernethie. Having been wealthy beyond measure, the remaining relatives: a brother, a sister, two nieces and a nephew have only one thing on their minds - how much has he left them? In this 'solemn' atmosphere, the irrepressible Cora Lansquenet blurts out the revealing phrase "It's been hushed up very nicely ... but he was murdered, wasn't he?" 

So begins a maze of theories and suspicion....was he murdered? was it one of them? who was it? The initial doubt soon evaporates with the brutal murder of Cora herself. With another murder, the faithful old family lawyer, Mr. Entwhistle calls in a trusted friend: Hercule Poirot.

Who needed the money the most? Was it the brother - always inferior to his successful brother? or was it the sister - still resentful about the nonacceptance of her painter husband? It could be any one of the next generation - all in need of money for one reason or another (there is never a lack of motive in an Agatha Christie novel). Hercule Poirot must sift through the various motives to find the real murderer ...... someone who has been very clever, and yet not clever enough.


Friday's Child

Sheringham, rejected by the woman he believes he loves, vows to marry the first lady he sees. This happens to be his childhood friend and adorer Hero Wantage. Whisking her off to London, Sheringham marries Hero and buys a house. But married life is not what Sheringham thought it would be. Rescuing Hero from social blunders become his constant job. What will he do when she commits a mistake which even he can't undo? Hero soon finds out..................

Some thoughts
Friday's Child promised to follow one of the themes I like best in Georgette Heyer (spoilers): only after marriage does the couple realize they love and respect one another. But it was full of disappointment for one simple reason: it was too long. Added to that was the fact that Hero, the heroine (I know!) was apt to make too many mistakes. I am the first to admit that there is some charm in a heroine who makes certain social blunders and lightens up the stuffy atmosphere; but innocence and plain stupidity are two different things! I may be being a bit too harsh here, but I found Hero exhausting and only wondered that Sheringham didn't as well.

The side story fared little better. Isabella Milborne, the childhood friend of Sheringham and Hero, can't figure out her own heart. It takes considerable heartbreat, a rejected suitor, and a scandal before she finds out who she loves. Things follow the normal Heyer drift with people finding eachother at unexpected places and others rushing to track down runaways or lost or otherwise misplaced people etc.. All in all, not one of my favorite Heyer romances.

Libraries

So I've rediscovered the joy of libraries; it's been over 15 years that I've stepped into one and things have changed. For one, I never knew about the online facility of putting holds on books........it's heaven! For example, many of the books I wanted to read kept on showing up as available at central storage. I didn't know what that meant in regard to getting the book, so I just got up and asked the librarian. Lo and behold I can just place a hold and it gets sent to my location. The first thing I did on learning this was place holds on TEN books. The books I've put holds on are as follows:

by L. M. Montgomery

Akin to Anne
A Tangled Web
Along the Shore 
Among the Shadows

by Louisa May Alcott

A Long Fatal Love Chase
Rose in Bloom

Lost Laysen by Margaret Mitchell
Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig
The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss
The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie

As you can imagine, I'm thrilled. I can put holds on books I want that I haven't been able to read in years - this is making me giddy. I'm especially happy about the L. M. Montgomery's books that I haven't been able to get my hands on in Pakistan. Now that I'm surrounded by books, you can expect a surplus of reviews and posts. Well, I'm off to the library! See you later :D

Anne's House of Dreams

L. M. Montgomery's most beloved creation Anne. I can't say much that hasn't already been said. I love Anne and aspire to be like her; dream like her; love like her; live like her. She has always been one of the most powerful figures in literature for me due to her joyous nature and ever optimistic outlook on life.

Anne's House of Dreams, the fifth novel in The Anne Series, follows Anne on her journey into matrimony and the responsibilities that come with it.. After her marriage, Anne and Gilbert move to Four Winds Point where Gilbert is to take over the practice of his Uncle. Here Anne and Gilbert set up their 'house of dreams'; a place near the sea shore imbued with its mystery and charm. A new place means new 'kindred spirits' and wherever Anne goes, she is sure to attract many. The first of these is an old sailor by the name of Captain Jim.

"The old captain held out sinewy hand to Anne; they smiled at each other and were friends from that moment. Kindred spirit flashed recognition to kindred spirit."

Next we are introduced to Miss Cornelia Bryant. An inveterate man-hater who can never find anything good to say about any man. Somewhat odd (like the Mr. Harrison of previous novels) she is definitely a kindred spirit - or of the race that know Joseph as she calls it. Anne and her new home have begun to grow into a new and dear family.

What about a romance? Well, to start you off, here is one of Montgomery's flawless descriptions which hints at romance to come....

"The girl of the golden hair and sea-blue eyes was sitting on a boulder of the headland, half-hidden by a jutting rock ....... She was bareheaded, and her splendid hair, more than ever like Browning's "gorgeous snake," was bound about her head with a crimson ribbon. She wore a dress of some dark material, very plainly made; but swathed about her waist, outlining its fine curves, was a vivid girdle of red silk. Her hands, clasped over her knee, were brown and somewhat work-hardened; but the skin of her throat and cheeks was as white as cream. A flying gleam of sunset broke through a low-lying western cloud and fell across her hair. For a moment she seemed the spirit of the sea personified -- all its mystery, all its passion, all its elusive charm."

I love quoting Montgomery. Love it.

The novel has its fair share of romance, happy moments, tragedy and laughter. Be ready to shed a few tears and have a few laughs. Pick up a cup of steaming cocoa, wrap yourself in a warm blanket, and open up Anne's House of Dreams. Enjoy.

Footsteps in the Dark

I really enjoyed this book. It was somewhat long, didn't have as much romance as I would have liked and was slow in developing; but despite all this, I enjoyed reading it. Maybe it's because I'm incurably addicted to Heyer and unconditionally love all her books. Or maybe it's because I have started reading after a year and a mystery was just what I needed! Whatever the reason, I finished the book and started another all in the course of one day and find that I have to say something about it.

Margaret, Peter, and Celia come to the Priory: a house they have inherited from a relative. The sisters are captivated by its charming, old-world look and convince Peter, their brother, and Charles, Celia's husband, to stay. It is only later that they discover that the house is supposed to be haunted by a mysterious Monk who randomly appears and scares away any tenants. The story is so popular that no one dares to go near the place and consequently it has remained deserted.

The mystery increases when members of the family begin seeing the Monk themselves and hearing eerie cries around the place. Is it possible that the Priory really is haunted? Celia thinks so when they discover a skeleton which mysteriously falls out of a hidden priest hole.

Peter and Charles are not so convinced. They set out on a hunt to find the human presence they believe is behind the sightings. Someone is trying to scare them away. But why? Lack of any apparent reason trumps them until...........

A nice read. I only wish that Heyer had been more imaginative in the uncovering of the mystery. I would have liked more rational deduction by the characters. What was lacking in the novel were deductible clues; this would have invested readers who like to put their own brain cells to use in uncovering a mystery.

Why haven't they made the movie?!: Cotillion

My last venture into the world of book based movies was The Three Musketeers. I liked it and ever since I've watched the film, I've been on a quest to read all books made into movies. But what I find much more important are those books which aren't turned into movies: classics (in my opinion) and great books that have been looked over for something more 'sellable'. One such looked over author is Georgette Heyer. Her book Cotillion is one of my favorite romance books (Heyer excelled in Regency Romance, a sub-genre adapted from Jane Austen). I decided to re-read it so that I could see how I would cast the main characters! Go here for my review on the book.

Well, first and foremost, the characters in this novel while not ugly,  aren't spectacularly beautiful or dashing beyond measure! Kitty, the heroine of the piece, is a pretty brunette who comes into her beauty when she comes into contact with fashion in London. Her natural beauty shines through, embellished by her simplicity and innocence. Emma Stone is someone that comes to mind as somewhat Kitty-like!

Freddy is not at all the tall, broad shouldered sportsman featured in most Georgette Heyer novels. He is slim, average height, elegant and amiable looking..... But although he isn't the dashing hero we're used to, I find him charming and  just perfect for Kitty.


What would you all think of Shia LeBeouf as Freddy? I'm not too sure, but it has to be someone with a slightly innocent 'air'! Thinking up a good cast for my favorite Heyer novel is harder than I thought!

Laying that aside, the other important character, Jack, is the type that can be easily cast. Just choose one of the many manly hunks from Hollywood and Voila! you have Jack. Only remember, he has to have a ruthless and arrogant look about him or it wouldn't be JACK.

All in all I think the cast is not as important to the success of this fiictitious movie as is the direction. The characters must be as they are in the novel or the humor and subtle beauty would be lost. For example, Kitty can be a blonde or a brunette, but if she doesn't have an innocence coupled with a certain shrewdness, her role would fall flat. Sometimes I think I'm the only one who can direct any book based movie well!! :P........ (Come on. You know it's true).


Eight Cousins

Eight Cousins, along with its sequel Rose in Bloom, is one of my favorite books by Louisa May Alcott. The depiction of family life and hope that is so pervasive in Alcott's novels doesn't fail one here. That one can always change, be better, be healthier and that love can do wonders is the message in most of her stories. I know that whenever I read her novels, despite the somewhat exaggerated goodness, I too see a better world through her eyes.

Eight Cousins centers around Rose; a young, recently orphaned girl who is thrust into a new world with relatives she barely knows. With the fear of a new guardian and seven new cousins, all boys, whom she has never met, Rose has grown to be constantly ill and tired. Will the arrival of the mysterious guardian and the companionship of her cousins help her heal? Those who have read a novel by Alcott must already know the answer. The novel promises a fun voyage through the ups and downs, surprises, and magic of Rose's new family life.........A MUST READ!