Book Reviews: December 2016Posted: December 28, 2016
I only managed two books this month. In my defense, one is long and kinda boring, while the other is shorter but really boring, so I had to reread other books (Hogfather, for one, and other favorites) in between to give myself a break. Anyway, here are the books:
(Somehow I managed to read on a theme again – both books are about women in the 17th century, though one is fiction and set in the Netherlands, and the other is non-fiction and set in England.)
Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach:
It seems I haven’t learned my lesson with The Miniaturist, because when I saw another book set in 17th century Amsterdam, about another young woman married to an older man, I decided to pick it up again. My reasons this time are “Well, at least there is no mystery in it” and “It’s made into a movie with Christoph Waltz, Alicia Vikander, and Dane DeHaan, so it must be good, right?” WRONG! The plot is simple – a painter is hired to paint the portrait of a rich merchant and his much younger wife, he falls in love with the wife, and together they hatch a risky plan to escape together. It’s a very standard romance plot, but the historical setting could have saved it and turned it into an entertaining, if not particularly deep, read. However, this book features some of the least developed characters I have ever read, and possibly the most stupid protagonists. I couldn’t care less what happens to them, and the “thrilling and tragic climax” touted in the blurb is simply the result of stupidity, not because of some great flaws in the characters’ personalities or circumstances. The writing is the same flowery prose found in this type of historical romance. It’s not as bad as The Miniaturist, but it’s not great either. 1/5
The Weaker Vessel: A Woman’s Lot in 17th century England by Antonia Fraser:
I bought this book because it was on sale, not because I have any particular interest in 17th century England. More exactly, I’m interested in history in general, so I will read any historical non-fiction books I can get my hands on. This book is certainly well-researched and touches upon all aspects of a woman’s life in the past – marriage and divorce, health (some gruesome stories about childbirth in there), education, religion, politics (it was the Civil War after all), etc. – but I can’t say it’s a super interesting read. I can’t put my finger on what’s exactly wrong with it, I just find it boring. It took me three weeks to finish! 3/5
Now, for next year, I’m approaching my reading goal a little differently. For the past three years it has all been about the numbers for me, but next year I’m not going to do that. Instead I want to read more non-fictions, try some new genres (thrillers and mysteries, perhaps? I might give the Harry Hole series another go, seeing how Michael Fassbender is playing him and all), reread some stuff (most of all American Gods, because the TV show is coming out in 2017), and finish the Sandman comics. So that may mean fewer new books to review. We’ll see.