WWW Wednesday 6/10/2015

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What are you currently reading?

Hannibal by Thomas Harris (Reread since it is Fannibal Season!)

For Study:  The Ramayana by Ramesh Menon

 

What did you just finish reading?

 

Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding (Review Tomorrow!)

Fanchon the Cricket by George Sand

The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Airplane Rides by Jake Alexander

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Desperation by Stephen King

 

Fanchon the Cricket

It’s been a long road, but I have finally, FINALLY, found a French author I love. I thought it would never happen, but George Sand is quite lovely.

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Fanchon the Cricket, or La Petite Fadette, is a beautiful book, almost an adult fairy tale. Twins are born to a prosperous farmer with an already large family. His wife despairs, knowing that twins are notoriously hard to raise. The local medicine woman (see also:  witch) whom everyone fears/hates, and warns her–don’t raise them the same. Put them in different clothes, make them play separately, and give them different jobs.

Do they listen? Of course not! The family is already large, and there is no reason to hire a nurse for one of the babies when Mom has enough milk for both (the advice had been to nurse apart), and as the boys grew they were inseparable at everything, down to their color preferences on scarves. However, at age 15, there was only space for one to be apprenticed, and the younger, being slightly more independent, took the job. His brother Sylvain was devastated, and visited almost every day. He couldn’t stand to be separated.

One day, hurt from Landry’s growing independence, he disappears into the woods. Landry meets a wild young girl, Fanchon, while trying to find him. She helps him, but in return, Landry has to promise to dance with her. I’ll stop here as I don’t want to give any more away, but drama ensues.

This is a classic story of not judging a book by it’s cover. The judgment is harsh in this one. I will say there is a bit of a “take the glasses off the nerd and she’s way prettier” kind of bibbity-bobbity-boop element, but the moral is more about the reverse–pointing the finger at the judgement of others.

It also focuses pretty strongly on depression as a physical illness, which I found interesting. I wish I didn’t find that character absolutely obnoxious, but I appreciated that his infirm was treated as such a big deal, and more than once.

This is a short book, but a big one, and one I will read more than once. It is going on my “To Buy” list for sure, I definitely need it on my shelf pronto!

 

Mauprat

Why are so many of our famous love stories such toxic ones? I guess we all just love drama. “Ordinary loves” are boring.

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Mauprat is one of those super dramatic love stories. If you want to call it a love story. It fits into that brooding, toxic, anti-hero theme similar to Wuthering Heights.

The story begins with basically a “pack” of psychopathic male family members who capture a young woman with sinister intentions. Their nephew Bernard saves Edmee on the condition that she promise to marry him, which she recants as soon as she is safe at home. Because, she says, who wants to marry a wild man?

He has fallen instantly in love with her, as men do, so he agrees to become educated. She keeps in on the hook for years, even though she is engaged to someone else. Sometimes she claims to be in love with Bernard, sometimes this other guy, sometimes she says she will never marry at all. The whole thing is ridiculous. Bernard even goes to fight in the American Revolution for awhile, but still comes back under the pretense that Edmee loves him.

I won’t tell you what happens in the second half of the book, but the drama only increases, and just…UGH! Enough already! Still, I had to read the whole thing, to find out what happens.

Of course I did.

I’m really not surprised, after reading Elizabeth Berg’s historical fiction bio, that this is George Sand’s version of a love story. Sand’s romantic life was such a roller coaster, so perhaps this sort of up and down all over the place DOES seem romantic.

The mike drop quote of the book is this:  “We were two exceptional characters; our loves had to be heroic; the beaten track would have led both of us to ruin.”

Pretty intense, right? In my opinion, the couple did come pretty close to ruin, in the end, and not so close to heroism. Either way, I’m surprised this drama isn’t more popular in the world of classic fiction. If you are a fan of Bronte, you’ll like this one too.

The Dream Lover

I’ll be honest with you–I have heard of George Sand, the author. But, I thought she was a man. Which I suppose was the point when she chose her pseudonym. It certainly fooled me!

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Elizabeth Berg is coming out with a new historical fiction novel about this famous author from the 1800s, to be released April 7. The novel explores the life of George Sand, who was not just the first bestselling female author in Paris, but also a famous feminist who had a string of equally famous lovers and friends.

The name dropping in this book was crazy. I couldn’t believe how many familiar faces kept popping up. It’s always funny to me how it never occurs to us that our historical figures were actually friends with each other at one point or another. Ah the tangled web we weave!

What really intrigued me about Sand the most was her personal life. It made me wonder, if she was alive today, how she would identify. Because I read an ARC version, I cannot share quotes, but there is a whole section about how she did not want to be a woman nor a man, and another where she fell in love with a person’s spirit, not their sex. But, in the 1800s there was woman and man, and scandals if anything out of the ordinary happened. So, George Sand dressed as a man, and for the most part, did as she pleased. She was scandalous for her time, and screw everyone who got in her way. I think it caused her a lot of pain, and she had her heart broken more than a few times. But she was such a interesting person, and I don’t think you can learn about her without being intrigued by her.

Berg’s story flips back and forth between Sand’s “current” timeline and her past, so the book does get a little confusing at points. I think it would be a little easier to tell if there were two different text formats between the two, or something. But that’s really my only criticism with the book. Otherwise, I found it very interesting, and I’ve added Sand’s whole collection to my TBR. Don’t be surprised to see some of her books pop up on the blog!

 

Fulfills PopSugar #29:  A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit

Disclaimer:  This ARC was provided by NetGalley.