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The Lost Entwife has commented on (174) products.

Reuben and Rachel : Or, Tales of Old Times (09 Edition) by Susanna Rowson
Reuben and Rachel : Or, Tales of Old Times (09 Edition)

The Lost Entwife, September 7, 2014

If you are anything like me, Susanna Rowson is not a name you've stumbled across at any point in your life. I've read a lot of books, but I tend, generally, to avoid early American novelists because, well, the puritan thing really gets to me. However, now I'm in a class that has me studying four of those novelists and Rowson was first up on the list. I got a taste of her in reading CHARLOTTE TEMPLE, but REUBEN AND RACHEL really took that taste and made it into a full-fledged meal, including dessert. If you are at all interested in exploring this author, let this review serve as a guideline to help you through the book.

First, have a pen and paper handy. No, make that a pencil and paper, because you will be erasing things. This is important because, ultimately, REUBEN AND RACHEL is a multi-generational saga that will expand on a family tree way too intricate for you to keep track of in your head. And, to make matters worse, the story will begin somewhere in the middle of that family tree, trace itself back through a series of letters, and then continue forward in a way that reminded me of a full-speed locomotive.

Now that you are prepared, let's talk about the two volumes of this story. The first volume is mostly historical. There's not a lot of action, there is some, but it's nothing compared to the second. Mostly, you need to remember that Rowson was playing with a very important historical figure here (Christopher Columbus) and teasing out his relationship with Ferdinand and Isabella. This leads into a very convoluted story that explores the exploitation of people in Peru, the glorification of Columbus into a sort of Christ-like figure, and finally, the worship of Isabella as she reappears in the names of various women in Columbus's genealogy throughout the book.

That said, once you get through the letters and move onto the the actual saga, things get interested. Provided you keep track of where you are (again, the pencil and paper help for notes - get used to pinging and ponging back and forth across the Atlantic), the story moves at a good pace. Just don't expect the title characters to show up for a while.

On page 194, just a mere page away from the start of Volume 2, REUBEN AND RACHEL make their appearance. It's incredible what you've gone through at this point. There's incest, murder, various deaths due to other natural reasons, chains, arrests, rape, accusations... the list goes on and on. So it was a relief to finally get to the title characters, as you can imagine. Little did I know.

Volume 2 flies by, folks. Seriously, hang on to your seat and keep that pencil and paper handy because all sorts of men will fly in and out of Rachel's life. If you get invested into stories like I do, you will find yourself gasping out loud and angry and righteously incensed at the mistreatment of Reuben and Rachel from the various people in their lives but that is what Rowson wants! Remember that! There are even moments when she interjects her own voice to bring you around to her way of thinking.

This is a book that spawns hours of conversation in a classroom so keep that in mind when you pick it up. Choose it for a book club or read it in partnership with a friend so you can have someone to discuss it with. I promise, REUBEN AND RACHEL will hold your interest just as much as any modern thriller would. Just give yourself time to invest yourself in it.
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Naked and Marooned: One Man. One Island. by Ed Stafford
Naked and Marooned: One Man. One Island.

The Lost Entwife, September 7, 2014

It's only natural that since I am fascinated by survival stories in fiction that I should also look to some crazy real-life stories. That's exactly what caught my eye when I saw Ed Stafford's book. NAKED AND MAROONED is a heck of a title and a little bit of marketing genius. Who could pass something like that up? Then, upon further reading, I noticed that he spent his time in the South Pacific and, given my recent time spent in the Pacific, I had to know what it was like.

I've never been a survivalist. I cringe away from bugs, scream at snakes and rats, and would not be able to spend the night outside even if you promised me a really, really big paycheck at the end of it all. Knowing this, I opened up Stafford's story fully aware that there would be parts of his story that would have me gagging at the thought of it all and I was not mistaken. Stafford does not hesitate to talk about the most minute detail of his experience - from the shape and texture of his "poos" to the day in and day out eating of raw snails. Yes. Raw snails. Gag.

Still, it was what I was expecting from a survival book and, I'm sad to say, that the first few weeks were the most interesting because he was actually exploring and learning his new surroundings. Where the book faltered and eventually died off for me was when he got into the building mode. From shelters to traps to rafts, I just could not picture what he was doing and, I think unless one was very "build-mode" oriented, not many people would be able to see it well either. I got lost in descriptions of "Y" shaped poles and something about hibiscus something-or-other and it just wasn't all that interesting. There were moments when Stafford would say something out loud or look at the camera and joke or reveal a bit of the turmoil he was going through, but the majority of those pages focused so much on the building that there wasn't much of anything else happening.

I don't know if my expectations were just unrealistic, but I never once felt as if he was really exploring this to the full. He was there with cameras, antibiotics, a phone, and a beacon and just 8 sea miles away there was help. So yes, he was naked and marooned and I have no doubt that it was the hardest experience of his life, but it never actually was something he had to be fearful of - because help was just a phone call away.

So overall, NAKED AND MAROONED came off as just an experimental journey, something to see if he could do it but with a catch in the contract to help him if he couldn't. Maybe I should look to my survival stories in fiction because there is no real guarantee there that the character will actually survive. That sounds extremely thoughtless and uncaring of me, but there's enough of the bloodthirsty adventurer still inside, under all that wishy-washy, scaredy-cat-ness, to wish that this story had been just a little more dangerous.
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The Hidden Child by Camilla Lackberg
The Hidden Child

The Lost Entwife, September 6, 2014

I don't read a lot of crime books. I was burned out on them years ago, but there are a few authors that make the cut for me and Camilla Lackberg is one of them. I've been following her Fjallbacka series since the first book was released and I'm always excited to see a new release pop up in my notices. THE HIDDEN CHILD did not disappoint. It solidly landed among some of my favorites of Lackberg's books and I was reminded, once again, of just how intensely absorbing this genre of book can be when it's written well.

In THE HIDDEN CHILD, Lackberg explores the relationship of two brothers, each with a vastly different view of WW2 due to each of their circumstances (age, etc). She takes her readers through the story by revealing other bits and pieces of what the war was like in Sweden; how it affected families and lives and the dynamic of life - especially as relating to the border of Norway. But more than just a history lesson, Lackberg immerses us in the story through Ericka, a crime writer/new mother who just happens to be married to a detective Patrik Hedstrom. So in addition to the story of a crime unfolding, the story takes on a more personal, human feel as the couple tries to navigate their lives and who fits what where and learns that, well, life can be messy.

I really enjoyed THE HIDDEN CHILD. I read it in a single afternoon/evening and not once thought about putting it down to do something different - including dinner. I snacked and laughed and gasped as various aspects of the story were revealed to me and I think fondly of that day as a day that I just had a really good time. I don't think there really is higher praise that I could give a book, so I'm going to leave it at that.
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Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood
Stone Mattress: Nine Tales

The Lost Entwife, September 6, 2014

I have a confession to make. I haven't been reading as much as I want to - well, I haven't been reading fiction "for fun" as much as I have wanted to. The reason is that now that school is in session and I'm focusing on a specific area of literature and navigating my way through graduate school, I just can't afford to set aside time to read for pleasure. But then, the other night I was thinking about that and I realized that it shouldn't be the case. Just because I'm in school and reading other things doesn't mean I can't pick up a book for fun and so the first one I picked up was STONE MATTRESS by Margaret Atwood.

There's a reason I went to Atwood. She never fails - not once - to get me out of a reading slump. Her style of writing just grabs me by the throat and, essentially, forces me to continue to read until the last page has been turned and the story finished. STONE MATTRESS was no exception. I loved - no I adored this collection of short stories. I think it's Atwood at her absolute sharpest in wit and her best in storytelling. There's a story in here where a woman commits the "perfect murder," a connected group of stories about the art of writing and what makes for good literature and what doesn't and explores the lives of people who think they determine these things... the stories just go on and on and every one kept building on the one before until I felt completely overwhelmed (in a good way) with the sheer genius on the page before me.

I know it's a stylish thing these days to gush over Atwood. If you are any serious sort of book lover, it seems to be expected that she ranks high on your list, but I have to say all that aside, she's just a damn fine writer and deserves every bit of praise coming her way. STONE MATTRESS is testament to that and I highly recommend you pick it up as soon as possible and discover what I found in there. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)



The Memory Garden by Mary Rickert
The Memory Garden

The Lost Entwife, August 8, 2014

I finished reading THE MEMORY GARDEN by M. Rickert last May and now, months later, I still have conflicted emotions when I think about it. I remember thinking that this should be the perfect story for me - an old family secret, a girl surrounded by characters who have rich pasts, conflict, friendship, love - maybe even a little magic, be it of the supernatural or the chemistry kind.

Unfortunately, I think THE MEMORY GARDEN really fell short for me on most of these. I remember, while reading, that I would feel these little kindling thoughts like.. this could be it, this could be where the story really gets moving - but instead those bits of kindling died out and, instead, I found myself trudging through more story and more text (because some of it, honestly, was quite dull).

That's not to say it was all bad. There were those moments. And that's why I'm having a hard time giving this book less than a 3-star rating, in spite of my reservations about it. Because those moments were...almost... magical. I can practically feel my fingertips tingling a bit as I remember the bits and pieces, and I just wish that the rest of the book would have followed suit.

THE MEMORY GARDEN by M. Rickert may just have been one of those books I read at the wrong time. Perhaps it needed to be read when there was rain outside and fall colors and a cup of tea by my side instead of in sunny Hawaii while sitting at the beach. Maybe I'll try it again and see if the setting can make a difference. I wouldn't discourage anyone to not pick this one up because maybe you will just have better luck with it than I did this time.
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