November 27, 2011

Advent with Austen

Yvann over at Reading, Fuelled by Tea and others have had a brilliant idea of reading and celebrating Jane Austen during Advent. I think any time is a perfect time to celebrate Austen and her work so I am definitely in for this one! This year celebrates a very specific Austen event - the 200th anniversary of the publication  of Sense and Sensibility and so, even though I have to admit it is not one of my favourite of Austen's books, I will be starting my Advent with this. Hopefully this re-reading will bring a new appreciation for Sense and Sensibility...

November 22, 2011

The Week That Was...

I am running a little behind with my weekly photo post this week. My boy and I just got back from a lovely long weekend in sunny Brisbane and it is taking me a while to get back into reality I think...

November 11, 2011

Ruby Blues - Jessica Rudd

After reading and enjoying Jessica Rudd's debut novel, Campaign Ruby, last year I wondered at the end of my review if a sequel would be in the future - I'm not sure if I was the catalyst but a sequel has indeed just been released.
Ruby Blues starts 2 years after the end of the previous book. Ruby has been working for the Prime Minister, Max Masters, since his election win and she has also been in a relationship with his previous Chief of Staff, Luke. Unfortunately for Ruby, but fortunately for the reader, all is not well in her political or personal worlds. The glow of the election win is starting to wear off the government and Ruby's boss looks very much like losing his job at the next election if some major image and policy readjustment does not take place. Ruby's relationship with Luke is also travelling poorly in the polls with Ruby's busy schedule keeping them apart more often than not. Of course these tensions are just what is needed to drive the story along and give the reader something to care about and follow.
Rudd's writing is sharp, witty and engaging. As with the first book there are definitely quite a few plot twists that can seem a little on the coincidental side but somehow Rudd pulls them off without the book falling into the farcical zone.
Ruby herself is funny, energetic and at times just a tad annoying - but lovable all the same. Some new characters enter this book - with my favourite having to be political intern, Bettina who feels the need to express herself primarily in acronyms much to the disgust of Ruby.
A really enjoyable, fun read.

November 03, 2011

Death Comes To Pemberley - P.D. James

It was pretty much a given that as soon as I saw this book at the shops over the weekend that it was coming home with me - I was looking for something light and comforting in the reading department and my Jane Austen obsession hadn't been fed in quite a while.
Death Comes To Pemberley is set in 1803, six years after the end of Pride and Prejudice and the double wedding of Darcy and Elizabeth and Jane and Bingley. The two couples live not far from each other in their rambling, magnificent estates and when the book starts preparations are under way for the annual ball at Pemberley. The book scans the main characters that are well know to Austen's readers and introduces a few new ones who will become more prominent in this sequel.
In her author's note at the start of the book P.D. James writes:
I owe an apology to the shade of Jane Austen for involving her beloved Elizabeth in the trauma of a murder investigation....
No doubt she would have replied to my apology by saying that, had she wished to dwell on such odious subjects, she would have written this story herself, and done it better.
After finishing the book there is no doubt in my mind that Austen herself would have done a far better job - but I wonder if she would have wanted to attempt it? I have not read any of P.D.James's non-Austen related crime novels so I admit I have nothing to really compare her work to - as I don't think it is fair to compare her to Austen herself.
The story starts well enough, the scene is set, the tension is built and the crime occurs. For me there was never really any element of mystery to the plot - I had taken a pretty good guess at what was going on in the story very early on and as it turns out I was spot on in my guesses. The development of Austen's original characters was threadbare and one dimensional - I never really thought I was reading about Austen's characters, their names were merely being used. All in all this book was a little disappointing - and a reminder that only Austen can truly pull off an Austen story.