Total Eclipse of the Harte . . . Dawn in Eclipse Bay by Jayne Ann Krentz


Goodreads | Dawn in Eclipse Bay (Eclipse Bay Trilogy, # 2) by Jayne Ann Krentz

Krentz, J. A. (2001). Dawn in Eclipse Bay. New York: Jove Books. 0515130923

Dawn in Eclipse Bay is the second installment of Krentz’s Eclipse Bay trilogy which focuses on a small coastal Oregon community that provided the setting for infamous falling out between friends Sullivan Harte and Mitchell Madison. Ever since this notorious argument over a woman, these men and their families have been in a feud reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Capulets and Montagues. The previous Eclipse Bay brought together grandchildren Hannah Harte and Rafe Madison. In Dawn in Eclipse Bay, Hannah and Rafe are now married. In Portland, Lillian Harte (granddaughter of Sullivan, sister of Hannah) successfully runs Private Arrangements, a matchmaking agency which relies heavily on computer software and Lillian’s instincts. Rafe’s brother, Gabe Madison, is a self-made CEO of Madison Commercial. He decides to seek out Lillian’s help in finding a mate. However, after five disastrous dates and a true calling to painting, Lillian wants Private Arrangements Gabe out of her hair. Lillian suspects Gabe lied on his questionnaire and feels she cannot further assist him. She offers to refund his money for a promised sixth date. Obstinately, Gabe insists on having his last date. However, what Gabe really wants is a date with Lillian. Can these two successful people successfully pull off having a relationship? Also, how can they make their relationship work when all sorts of roadblocks such as the family feud, Gabe’s ambitious former paramour, and a devious sex therapist after Lillian’s matchmaking software?

I definitely consider Dawn in Eclipse Bay to be a contemporary romance. The events could have easily happened in 2001, when the book was published. Krentz is not shy about talking about sex and the main characters do go to bed. Another contemporary quality of this book is that the characters do struggle to define their relationship but the issue of premarital sex does not plague them terribly. The heroine and the hero are truly the good people. Prior to Dawn in Eclipse Bay, Gabe and the other Madisons were not doing as well financially as the Hartes. Yet, Gabe becomes an extraordinarily wealthy CEO and Lillian is not hurting for money. So, Gabe and Lillian are comparable in this regard. Also, the book features “The Kiss.” Readers can easily see that these two would get together happily in the end but, of course, there would be speed bumps. I can see readers identifying well with the main characters, Lillian especially. She is an intelligent person who is empathetic when it comes to others but, ultimately, sees she must follow her passion for painting as Gabe has pursued his business work. Ultimately, readers want to see these people to come together and have marriage for Lillian and Gabe to be imminent.

I wanted to read book by Jayne Ann Krentz for this report since our class will be chatting with her this week. In the past, I have read some of her books when I was not too busy with school and work. A few years ago, I read the first book in this trilogy Eclipse Bay. It had been a long time since I visited Eclipse Bay, Oregon when I picked Dawn in Eclipse Bay. I had a hard time remembering all the dynamics between the Hartes and the Madisons. When I got into the middle of the book, I starting recalling what had happened in the first book. I liked that the characters had the Krentz signature of wit and spunk. Still and all, I would recommend that readers start with the first of the Eclipse Bay trilogy and read all three books pretty close together.I would recommend the Eclipse Bay trilogy to fans of contemporary romance. Since there is sex, particularly of the premarital nature between the main characters, I would hesitate to suggest this for the Christian Fiction fans. Nevertheless, I found this to be easy reading for people seeking relaxation. This is a good read for people who want contemporary fiction.

Three Out of Five Pearls


A Turn of the Wheels; Katherine by Anya Seton


Goodreads | Katherine by Anya Seton

Seton, A., & Gregory, P. (2004). Katherine a novel. Chicago, Ill:Chicago Review Press. 9781556525322

Katherine tells the story of actual Katherine Swynford (neé de Roet), a pivotal player in the history of English royalty. In the Fourteenth Century, lady in-waiting to Queen Philippa, Philippa de Roet sends for her younger sister, Katherine. Katherine de Roet has been living at a small, country convent. With the prioress, Katherine makes the journey to London. Innocent Katherine takes the London court by storm with her beauty. She comes to the attention of rough knight, Hugh Swynford, and John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster and fourth son of the king and Blanche, the Duchess of Lancaster. Katherine more than reluctantly marries Swynford but the Lancasters do not forget Katherine. In a few years, while John of Gaunt and Swynford are dealing with the 100 Years War, a plague claims many victims including Blanche of Lancaster. However, Katherine eases Blanche’s suffering and finds a priest to administer the Duchess’s last rites. In grief, John of Gaunt takes notice of the lovely Katherine and gives her her own coat of arms, bearing three wheels which signify St. Catherine and Katherine’s maiden name, de Roet. From there, the relationship escalates into an affair which has stunning and long lasting effects on not only their contemporaries but their descendants as it precipitates the Wars of the Roses.

This particular work of historical fiction is remarkable in the amount of research done on an era long past in order to make the novel seem authentic. Having published this in the 1950s, Anya Seton had to research. While most of the narrative takes place in England, Katherine and other characters are Flemish and speak French. Seton’s characters sometimes converse in an older form of French. In a note preceding the novel, Seton explained that she used the names of people she saw in registers. Also, most of the characters are real: Katherine, John of Gaunt, Katherine’s brother in-law Geoffrey Chaucer, John Wycliffe, etc. Seton provides much detail of Medieval English life. With this, the reader experiences the difficulty of survival, particularly of women such as Katherine.

My mom remembered reading this book as a teenager and this spurred her interest in both English history and literature. When I read it, I was fascinated by the book and some of the people who made cameos. The mention of John Wycliffe has spurred quite a bit of amateur research on my part. In reading the 2004 version, I was able to read a foreword by Philippa Gregory (writer, The Other Boleyn Sister). Like Gregory, I think Seton set the tone for the historical novel. Seton did her homework and her creation was a labor of love. Gregory also points out how Seton subscribed to Freudian concepts and had a 1950s mindset. Although I agree with this as well, I think Katherine is an excellent work.

I would recommend Katherine to the female historical fiction audience. It is a bit romantic. Also, this would be a great introduction to some nonfiction work on English history. The world’s interest in Katherine Swynford has led to many websites dedicated to her. Readers may catch the craze. Also, the reader must not be opposed to long novels; Katherine is over 500 pages.

Four out of Five Pearls

 

 

What’s in a Name? The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri


 

Goodreads | The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

*1001 Books Book (2008)

Lahiri, J. (2003). The Namesake. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 0618485228

Young Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli have come from Calcutta, India to live in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the late 1960s. Ashoke is an engineering professor at MIT and Ashima is desperately homesick and pregnant. In 1968, Ashima finds herself going into labor and she gives birth to a son in an American hospital. The Gangulis await a letter from Ashima’s grandmother to arrive; one which will have the name for their son. The grandmother has not told anyone the name. This is a Bengali tradition. Somehow, the letter becomes lost before reaching the Gangulis in Massachusetts and the grandmother dies. Another Bengali custom is to give children a pet name as well as a formal one. However, the pet name of Gogol (namesake of the Russian writer) becomes the formal name of the Gangulis’ son. Being an Indian American and the namesake of a Russian writer further complicates the experience of the first generation American in his search for identity. Throughout the rest of the book, Gogol struggles to find himself as a person who has one foot in his parents’ Bengali existence and the other in the pervasive land of his birth, America. Gogol even reaches the point of trying to solve his “name problem.”

The Namesake definitely tells of the Asian Indian experience in the United States. While the story is delivered in third person, most of the narrative is seen through the eyes of protagonist, Gogol Ganguli. A couple of key parts of the book are spent with Ashima Ganguli and these capture the confusion of a person in unfamiliar territory.Yet, it is Gogol and his younger sister, Sonia, who teach their parents about American traditions such as Christmas. Later in the book, Gogol faces further issues of bridging the gap of East and West. There are numerous events within the book where Ashima is hosting a party where Indian food is served and enjoyed in great proportions. As an adult, Gogol compares the experience of eating dinner with the Gangulis to that of dining with the family of a Caucasian woman he dates as an adult. Another element not to be missed in the book is the arranged marriage of Ashoke and Ashima versus marriage for “love” at which the American Gangulis seek.  

I decided to read The Namesake because it illustrates a contemporary immigrant experience in addition to one of a first generation American. When the reader is with Ashima, he or she sees life of a bewildered and lonely woman in a strange place. Then, Gogol shows what it is like to be the link between India and America for his parents. I found both Ashima and Gogol to be sympathetic characters making the best of their respective plights. These two are good hearted and well-intentioned. Also, the Gangulis and most of the other characters in this book were very easy to recognize for me and I am not Bengali. I learned a whole lot about some Indian traditions and moral dilemmas (i.e. vegetarianism, celebrating Christmas, etc).

Not only would I recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about Bengali life in America or readers looking for an experience similar to their own, I would suggest this to anyone who enjoys good literature. Jhumpa Lahiri’s characters and situations are very realistic and encourage readers to consider the answers to questions like “Who am I really?” and “Am I defined by my family or my name?” This is a great read for patrons wanting something a little different and edifying. Also, fans of Madame Bovary and ironic situations would appreciate this book. I do not imagine the Christian fiction audience would like it much due to bad language and sexual situations. This is not a light, fluffy book, either. I would be excited to encourage anyone else to read The Namesake.

4.75 out of 5 Pearls

 

Twentieth Century Ms. Robin Hood with a Vendetta – Sweet Revenge by Nora Roberts


Goodreads | Sweet Revenge by Nora Roberts

Roberts, N. (1989). Sweet revenge. Thorndike, Me: Thorndike Press. 0-89621-931-5

Princess Adrianne of Jaquir is as multifaceted as the jewels she has been stealing for a decade. The daughter of a fallen Hollywood star and a Middle Eastern king, the notorious thief “The Shadow”/ Adrianne plans to avenge the atrocities done her mother, Phoebe Spring, by Adrianne’s father, King Abdu of Jaquir. Playing the part of the very public celebrity philanthropist, Adrianne essentially steals baubles and beads from the fabulously wealthy to give to the poor (charities for abused women, orphans, the destitute, etc). Adrianne aims to pull of The Shadow’s biggest feat, taking The Sun and the Moon, Abdu’s wedding gift to Phoebe. The Sun and the Moon is a phenomenally costly necklace bearing a large diamond (The Sun) and a large pearl (The Moon). Yet, will Adrianne be able to make the biggest heist of the Twentieth Century? Will she be intercepted by Interpol’s reformed thief of legend, Philip Chamberlain?

Like a Western hero/heroine, the thriller’s hero is a loner. Since Adrianne is a cat burglar wanting to make her father pay, she works alone. Adrianne does tell her Godmother, Celeste Michaels, some of what she is doing. However, Adrianne’s alter ego – The Shadow, is kept hidden from all others. When Philip Chamberlain comes into Adrianne’s life, Adrianne does not trust Philip. Sweet revenge definitely falls into the crime/ caper sub genre. The reader is given great detail of how Adrianne goes about relieving people of their jewelry. Due to the fact that Adrianne’s mother, Phoebe, was abused and her wedding gift was kept from her, Adrianne is a sympathetic character. Her efforts to regain what belongs to her mother seems justified. Additionally, Adrianne’s “victims” seem to deserve to have their gems taken.

I decided to read Sweet revenge for two reasons: it was recommended by Saricks and it was written by Nora Roberts. Saricks recognizes the book as a crime/caper thriller. Also, the prolific Nora Roberts knows how to tell a story. Nevertheless, I did not enjoy this book much. In the beginning of the book, Roberts employs sins such as rape and violence to evoke sympathy from readers. Yes, these actions do make Abdu quite despicable and Adrianne appears right in her actions. Such things as rape and violence make my stomach turn. However, I found it sad that Adrianne was so fixated on hurting her father. Also, I did not care for ugly light in which Islam was presented in this book. While Roberts does bring in non-Islamic characters behaving abominably, I found Roberts’ treatment harsh and cruel. I did appreciate that Roberts provided years throughout the book. As in Sue Grafton’s series, the current action takes place in the late 1980s. This book was written in the 1980s and was not hampered by technology. Thus, Adrianne and others had a lot of leeway within the book.

I might recommend this book to people who enjoy Nora Roberts and romantic suspense. While I would prefer to read other books, even some other books by Roberts, I can see that female fans who enjoy page turners would like Sweet revenge.

Two and a Half Out of Five Pearls