The reading theme of women taking charge of their lives in historical fiction continued into the first two weeks of the New Year. January sucks, but that’s what books are for.
Both books I am talking about today are different in detail but have the same idea of women pushing out of their confined roles and prescribed goals to find their own sense of contribution and use. They are also similar in that they are starts of series, even though one wraps up better as a standalone novel and the other cuts off just as a new chapter has already started. I’ll always love the theme of being useful because I would never be able to be purely ornamental either. If anyone asked me to be ornamental in the first place. They might not, ha.
Lady of the Ashes, Christine Trent
A woman who already defies convention as an undertaker in Victorian England becomes further elevated and independent when her husband becomes increasingly daft and reckless in his pursuit of even greater fortune. The novel is not just about her, though. The author works hard to paint a clear historical context for her story. The setting is a character in and of itself. Not just the lives of women but the political movements and lives of the much more mobile men are talked about to intersect with her story. There is even a significant plot thread dealing with Queen Victoria and her devastation over losing Albert. There are plot lines having to do with the relationship between America and Great Britain regarding the Civil War in this country. I mean, and I may have said this before, if you are going to take all this time researching a context for a novel you should have a lot of that context actually in the book.
This one has a nice concluded ending with the promise of the next book clear and looming. I might pick up the next one at some point, too, but this one was a read down on the huge number of unread books on my kindle.
Dark Days Club, Allison Goodman
A woman in Regency England (before Victorian… 1812…yeah I had to look into that too) discovers she has inherited her questionable mother’s talents and her calling to defeat supernatural threats to the whole of England. She was also born into privilege and society, and her supernatural gift manifest while she is being forced into this mold in her first Season, her coming out. She has to make some choices about what world she is going to inhabit.
This one too was meticulously researched for the context, but there were no plot lines about males. Not men who were existing in the actual time, that is. Men who had the same supernatural calling have some backstory. I thought it was a little slow. I hate to even say that because of the work that clearly went into the book, and maybe I am just saying that because I am picking up on the tedium of the life of society that looms ahead of the protagonist. All the social rules and the focus on dresses and marrying a man after a few short encounters would have been a struggle for me to care about in that world. I do like the tag line on the cover that “high society can be hell.” True true.
This one stops just as she makes the major decision of the novel and has committed to that choice. So there is a whole other part to be explored there. She leaves it more of a cliffhanger than Lady of the Ashes.
So, a brief note about this blog in the coming weeks. (duh duh duuuuuh)
I won a creative writing course via a short story contest hosted by the lovely Mia Botha at writer’s write. I have done the 12 short stories and I will be doing it into January, but this was a separate contest hosted by the site. Anyway, I won the course and I am using my time with the instructor to start on a novel I have had kicking around in my bead that needs to manifest. I have eight Skype sessions with her to use before July, so I don’t know how much time I will have for reading for the blog. I am going to be hopefully immersed in my novel at the time. I have worked on dismissing my inner critic who thinks my writing is useless and I have Ms Botha to pull me along and help me give shape to the piece when the inner critic shows back up thinking we might be able to get back together.
Not only will the reading need to slow down, so will the knitting. I am not allowing myself new projects right now and if I have a chunk of time I need to use it toward developing my novel, not on turning on an audiobook and blissfully knitting. It’s an excellent past time, but my ultimate goal is not knitting. I do love it though.
I am unsure the status of the 2018 Snow Read. I don’t know how I will do the brain down time. I don’t know if I will need an epic novel or I will need something lighter. I need to go back to writing for ten minutes every morning instead of scrolling Facebook. I am going to be cramming my margins. Cramming.
But this is what following my heart will be about. Interesting that I had been unable to commit to any 2018 goals, training, reading or otherwise, which left a space for this course. Usually my snow read is no question, it floats down out of thin air and demands to be read, and although I am excited about the book I did pick, it has not been one that has been tantalizing me from the margins. It didn’t go on ebook sale around Christmas and demand the next place in line.
I don’t know what is next.