Jude Deveraux’s Lavender Morning (Edilean Series #1)


Jorie’s Store – Lavender Morning (Edilean) By Jude Deveraux

 
Title and Author(s):  Jude Deveraux’s Lavender Morning (Edilean Series #1)
Release Date: March 31, 2009

Publisher: Atria Books

ISBN: 9780743437202
Pages: 384
Source: Harris County Public Library

Add Book to Goodreads

Reasons for Reading: I wanted to read another Jude Deveraux as I was wanting a dash of magical realism. When I found the Edilean series, I made sure I began with the first book.

Summary: When Jocelyn Minton’s beloved friend and mentor, Edilean “Miss Edi” Harcourt, dies, Jocelyn inherits Edilean’s historic birthplace in the small town of Edilean, Virginia. Jocelyn moves away from her careless father and step family to Edilean. The late Miss Edi also left Jocelyn a letter about a mystery dating back to 1941. Lastly, Miss Edi tells Jocelyn that the perfect man for her lives there.

As Jocelyn settles into her new home, she discovers Miss Edi, among many others, aren’t quite what they seem. Jocelyn follows the clues within this mystery bequeathed to her as well as her own future.

One Thing I Learned from reading Jude Deveraux’s Lavender MorningI imagined parents hid vegetables so their kids would eat them. However, I didn’t realize that bakers actually strained spinach into chocolate cupcakes!

What I Liked: I enjoyed the banter between several characters – especially Jocelyn and Luke. Also, I liked the bits about gardening and I liked the title – the first enticement to read this book. I also loved the parts of the story that took place in the 1940s.

What I Disliked: There were a whole bunch of characters. Also, there were characters with similar names. Yet, I felt this was Deveraux’s effort to establish a new series.

RR - Yellow  Rainbow Rating: Yellow – Parental Guidance for Kids Under 13

Song: The Andrews Sisters’ – Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy Of Company B

You might also like:

For more on Jude Deveraux’s Secrets, check out the following sites:

Advertisements

Janice Y.K. Lee’s The Piano Teacher


Lee, J. Y. K. (2008). The piano teacher: A novel. New York: Viking Penguin. 978-0-00-728638-6

I noticed The Piano Teacher numerous times while flipping through Publisher’s Weekly while at work. However, I didn’t have enough interest in it until I saw the book on Amazon’s “People who bought this also bought. . .” for another book I recently read (see Marie Arana’s Lima Nights) . Sure enough, this book was on the shelf at the library where I work.

Lee tells at least two stories. Initially, she begins with young English wife Claire Pendleton in 1952. She and her husband, Martin, come to Hong Kong due to his job. With nothing else better to do, Claire seeks employment as a piano teacher. When she’s hired by the wealthy Chen family to teach their daughter Locket to play piano, Claire becomes infatuated with the Hong Kong expatriate scene as well as developing kleptomania. Through all of this, she becomes the paramour of Will Truesdale, an English expatriate with numerous skeletons in the closet.

The other story Lee tells begins in 1941 Hong Kong with the dashing newcomer Will Truesdale and his tempestuous affair with Trudy Liang, an exquisite daughter of a wealthy Chinese man and a Portuguese beauty. Will sinks into Trudy’s glib  lifestyle – parties, dinners with her efeet cousin Dominick, parties with her cousin Melody Chen, going to the beach, etc. When there are nervous rumblings on the eve of World War II, Trudy appears ambivalent and Will plays along until Japan invades.

Lee alternates between these two story lines, ultimately showing us how the past transgressions color Claire’s present. Characters face all sorts of trials and decisions, costing them all in the end.

I found Lee’s writing quite colorful and even transcendent. I especially wanted to climb into my time machine and check out pre-World War II Hong Kong.  While I didn’t like most of the characters, I found them very human and multidimensional.

I also liked how Lee confronts issues of race, class, and gender. Through Trudy, she presents us with the reality of being “not Asian”, “not Caucasian,” but simply both. Her wealthy Chinese father’s status opens doors for his daughter. I was impressed also by Claire’s awakening to this as well. Here we have 2008 values quelled in a novel about 1940s-1950s Hong Kong.

Still, I didn’t like the construction of the story much. I felt as though I was bounced around in the beginning, stuck in the middle, and rolled around like a pingpong ball in the end.  I do recall that this is Lee’s first novel and I’m sure she’ll overcome this in future novels.

As a grammar geek, I must comment on my chagrin upon reading Trudy utter the non-word “anyways.”

Two out of Five Pearls

Places: Hong Kong, Macau, China, Japan, The United Kingdom, India

Word Bank: ablution, Amah, anodyne, avuncular, collusive, consular, gendarmerie, guipure, inculcated, lissome, OBE, qipao, prescient, sotto voce, Tai Tais, venal,

For more on Janice Y.K. Lee’s The Piano Teacher: