Review: Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin

A Romance of Russian Life In Verse

 

Title: Eugene Onegin

Original Title: Евге́ний Оне́гин

Subtitle: A Romance of Russian Life In Verse

Author: Alexander Pushkin

Translated by Henry Spalding

Genre: Romanticism

First Published in 1833

Year of Publication of this Edition: 2012

Published by Delphi Classics

This Work is included in The Works of Alexander Pushkin

Rating: 5/5 stars

Note: This review may contain a few spoilers!\

For me, literature is like a locked chest in which every book is a priceless jewel that awaits to be discovered, analysed and treated with care. Let’s allow ourselves to welcome a bit of romanticism in our lives every once in a while, even if it’s fictional. Therefore, allow me to tell you a few things about a book very dear to my heart and its author. Before I came across this novel, I thought that Russian literature is hard to read and understand, but time shows me every now and then that generalisations are foolish and unjust.

Eugene Onegin (Евге́ний Оне́гин, pronounced Yevgeniy Onegin), with its subtitle A Romance of Russian Life In Verse, is a verse novel written by Russian poet Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, published in serial form between 1825-1832 and as a complete novel in 1833. The edition that inspired this review is Henry Spalding‘s 1881 edition — the first English translation of Eugene Onegin. The book comprises of the following sections: the Preface, Mon Portrait, A Short Biographical Notice of Alexander Pushkin and Eugene Onegin.

Mon Portrait is a poem written in French by Pushkin when he was fifteen years old and the auto-irony found there may help us understand the resemblance between Pushkin and Eugene Onegin. Even though the poem suggests that the Russian poet may be the true source of inspiration for his beloved protagonist, no character can be completely identified to its creator.

In A Short Biographical Notice of Alexander Pushkin, we are informed that the poet was born in 1799, in Pskoff (though in other sources Moscow is his birthplace) in an aristocratic family. His literary talent may be inherited because his father and uncle were friends with poets such as Dimitrieff and Joukovsky; not to mention that Uncle Vassili Pushkin was a minor poet. Pushkin was not too fond of school, but of general reading, learning languages such as French, English, Latin, German, Italian and Spanish and writing poems. Besides poetry like Ruslan and Ludmila or The Gypsies, he also wrote prose and drama, of which I will mention The Queen of Spades (1834) and Mozart and Salieri (1832) Pushkin’s life was very tumultuous as it happens with all great writers and composers who changed our world. He moved from place to place, whether in Russia or Bessarabia because he often fell out of favour with the Tsar and some of the noblemen. A very intriguing fact is that Pushkin seemed to have foreseen his death when he wrote about Lenski’s death in Eugene Onegin (Canto VI) As well as his character, Pushkin was a literary genius who hastened to challenge his presumed rival to a duel without giving himself time to seek the truth. Therefore, the Russian poet’s life was prematurely cut short at the age of 38 because he wanted to save the reputation of the woman he loved.

Eugene Onegin comprises of eight cantos with eight titles, eight mottos and 86 notes of which I will talk about later on. The story is set in St. Petersburg at the time when Eugene Onegin is about to inherit his uncle’s estate in the countryside. Eugene is eighteen years old and he lives his life eccentrically and to the fullest: he dresses like a London dandy, spends the money he has inherited on expensive dinners, likes going to balls, and he enjoys ephemeral pleasures. He is selfish, superficial, and snobbish and behaves like his favourite characters. However, Onegin is an educated young man who speaks fluently in French, knows how to dance the mazurka and is adored by the ladies. Life is pretty uninteresting for Onegin in his uncle’s mansion because the young man loves more hustle and bustle of the city than the tranquillity of the countryside. But things are about to change when he befriends his neighbour, Vladimir Lenski, a handsome young man, a dreamer, an admirer of Kant and poet of genius, who has just returned from Germany.

Though Eugene is often bored by his new friend, he indulgently listens to Lenski’s heated poems about the glory of man and love. Eugene also hears that his friend is in love with a young woman named Olga Larina. When Lenski is invited to Olga’s house, he takes Onegin with him to meet his fiancée and her family. Olga is very outgoing and sociable; but she has a sister, Tatiana, who is her opposite. Tatiana is introverted, romantic and melancholic like Svetlana (a Russian Lenora, a poem written by Joukovsky) and she is also an avid reader of romantic novels.

Onegin’s presence has a big impression on Tatiana, who begins to be fond of him. Being touched by love and eagerly wanting to know how Onegin feels about her, Tatiana writes a passionate love letter to him, but she doesn’t receive any reply; thus her anguish grows. When the two eventually meet in the garden, Eugene politely rejects her love, saying that he is not worthy of her, that he only has brotherly love for her and that their union would bring grief to both of them. Lenski tries to bring Eugene and Tatiana together again, but Eugene is fed up with balls because of the atmosphere and guests who gossip about him and Tatiana. In order to take revenge against Lenski who had forcefully brought him to Tatiana’s anniversary, he dances and flirts with Olga to make his friend jealous. Lenski is hurt by Eugene’s gesture; therefore he challenges him to a duel. Unfortunately, this will not be a good idea because Lenski and Onegin’s friendship will end abruptly and innocent blood will be uselessly shed. What will happen next? I will let you find out for yourselves.

Henry Spalding’s edition informs us through the help of 86 notes about Russian culture, how rich and poor people lived in Imperial Russia and there are also many literary allusions, which the Russian poet hides between the lines of his novel. For example, Onegin is considered a Russian Childe Harold — Byron’s protagonist from an eponymous narrative poem — or Tatiana is seen as Lenora from Burger’s well-known poem. There are also references to Ovid, Horace, Homer, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Richardson, poets who are friends of Pushkin and his own works such as Ruslan and Ludmila and The Fountain of Bakhchisaray.

The narrative voice is very close to the reader, witty but also a master of words. Although the narrator is anonymous, he tells us that he is a close friend of Onegin’s, who knows the entire story of his life. He is very fond of the protagonist because he calls him my Eugene or Onegin mine. The digressions found in the story serve as small breaks from the main plot and they are mostly about society, love and literature. The narrator calls his muse between the storyline and the digressions as if he were an ancient poet. At the end of the novel, he apologises to the reader for living Onegin in an uncomfortable situation and also for the grammar mistakes, if there are any.

I really enjoyed this verse novel because it was easy to read and I finished it faster than I have expected. Eugene Onegin is a priceless jewel of Russian literature and everyone should read it. If all of Pushkin’s works are as magnificent as this one, I will read more of his books.

4 Cărți pe care vreau să le citesc în această toamnă

În loc de un book haul, așa cum am văzut pe alte blog-uri, am optat să scriu un scurt articol despre cărțile pe care vreau neapărat să le citesc în perioada următoare. Anul acesta am citit primele cărți ale unor serii care păreau interesante și volume primite pentru recenzie de la câțiva autori. Unele cărți au fost excelente, altele bune, iar câteva m-au dezamăgit. Acum, după ce am citit aproape toate cărțile primite, a venit timpul să întocmesc o mică listă de lecturi pentru această toamnă. Nu sunt noi apariții, însă mi s-a pus pata pe aceste patru cărți de ceva vreme și am așteptat cu mult entuziasm să le pot citi într-un final.

Mai jos voi menționa fiecare titlu, dar și motivul pentru care vreau să citesc volumele perspective.

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Twentieth Century de Terry Deary, la fel ca restul seriei de cărți pentru copii Horrible Histories, relatează fapte și povestioare macabre sau scârboase din istorie, cu scopul de a-i distra și învăța pe copii istoria recentă sau îndepărtată a Angliei sau a lumii prin intermediul jocurilor și stilului plin de umor al autorului britanic. Deși aceste cărți se adresează cititorilor foarte tineri, eu ador această serie care mă amuză, mă relaxează și mă învață lucruri pe care nu le-am studiat niciodată la școală. Mă întreb ce lucruri noi voi afla despre fiecare decadă a secolului douăzeci?

 

The Mark of Zorro de  Johnston McCulley. După ce am frunzărit Zorro: Începe legenda de Isabel Allende, care m-a plictisit și dezamăgit deopotrivă, m-am gândit să citesc povestea originală a faimosului bandit din California. Dacă am început anul cu Zorro, firesc ar fi să îl termin tot cu el, nu-i așa?

Despre Băiatul cu pijamale în dungi de John Boyne am înțeles că este o carte sfâșietor de tristă despre cel de-al Doilea Război Mondial văzut prin ochii unui copil. Vă puteți închipui ceva mai dureros decât o astfel de perspectivă? Deși este o carte pentru copii, sunt sigură că povestea nu îi va lăsa indiferenți nici pe cititorii maturi. De când am citit trilogia The Lady of the Pier, tot mi-am dorit să mai citesc niște volume de ficțiune istorică, iar această carte mi-ar putea potoli setea de lectură în acest sens.

 

Munții înalți ai Portugaliei de Yann Martel se află printre cărțile menționate în sondajul postat cu ceva timp în urmă pe blog. Deși această carte nu prea a primit voturi, atât aici, cât și în versiunea veche a blog-ului, eu voi face o excepție de această dată și o voi alege înaintea Malalei pentru că îmi este dor de Lisabona, iar povestea mi-a trezit interesul în ultimul timp. Chiar sunt curioasă cum se vor lega toate misterele din această carte, a cărei acțiune are loc într-o țară care m-a fascinat prin frumusețea, istoria și muzica ei.

Deocamdată voi lăsa doar aceste cărți pe primele poziții ale listei mele de lecturi, deși sunt o sumedenie de alte titluri tentante, însă până le voi terima pe acestea, nu mă voi gândi mai departe.

Voi ce cărți ați citit din această listă? Cum vi s-au părut?

 

The Name Game Book Tag

Pentru postarea de astăzi m-am gândit să aleg un tag pe care l-am găsit mai de multă vreme online, atât pe unele blog-uri, cât și pe Booktube. Acest tag se numește The Name Game Book Tag și a fost creat de KimberleysBookNook. Tot ce trebuie să faceți este să atașați câte un titlu de carte citită sau achiziționată care să se potrivească fiecărei inițiale a numelor voastre. Ca să fiu sinceră, nu am fost sigură dacă voi găsi titluri potrivite pentru fiecare literă a numelor mele, însă, până la urmă, am izbutit să creez o listă cu cărți care înseamnă ceva pentru mine.

AAmor Intellectualis de Ion Vianu este o carte autobiografică presărată cu informații culturale și istorice, personalități ale culturii române interbelice și limbaj erudit care necesită multă atenție din partea cititorului. Sunt sigură că o voi înțelege mai bine cu cât voi înainta în vârstă. Am ales-o pentru că aceasta a fost a doua sau a treia carte căreia i-am scris o recenzie,

L La țigănci de Mircea Eliade este una dintre cărțile mele preferate scrise de acest  excepțional autor român. Stilul plin de suspans, paranormalul care contrastează cu banalitatea vieții de zi cu zi și episoadele pline de mister prin care trece Gavrilescu în casa țigăncilor, m-au făcut să ador această nuvelă încă din liceu.

IIubirea a spus de Jalaladin Rumi este primul volum de poezie mistică sufită pe care l-am citit și care m-a făcut să văd viața într-un mod diferit. De la această lectură încoace, Rumi a devenit poetul meu preferat.

NNotre-Dame de Paris de Victor Hugo nu mi-a plăcut la fel de mult ca musical-ul, însă a fost o lectură interesantă care m-a pus pe gânduri cu privire la religie, identitate, mentalitate, istorie etc. Îmi doresc să o recitesc pentru a-i scrie o recenzie detaliată.

AAucassin et Nicolette este o parodie care răstoarnă toate stereotipurile medievale, atât literare, cât și sociale. Deși nu este o capodoperă, este o cantafabulă amuzantă.

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AAntigona de Sofocle alături de celelalte două piese de teatru din așa-zisa trilogie a familiei lui Oedip mi-au trezit dragostea pentru literatura antică. Citiți Antigona pentru a descoperi o femeie puternică pentru care datoria este mai presus de propria-i viață.

NThe Necklace of Goddess Athena de Effrosyni Moschoudi este un roman fantastic în care zeii coabitează cu oamenii de rând și le trimit semne pentru a-i ghida către adevăr. Phevos și Daphne sunt aruncați în Atena zilelor noastre pentru a descoperi anumite secrete de familie și pentru a regăsi colierul Zeiței Atena dăruit tatălui lor.

DDavid Copperfield de Charles Dickens este prima carte despre care am știut că îmi va plăcea chiar și înainte să o citesc. Dickens are talentul de a-ți zdrobi sufletul prin relatarea copilăriei triste a lui David și maturizarea sa treptată cu toate greutățile și micile bucurii care vin să îi modeleze personalitatea.

RThe Rocker Who Holds Me (The Rocker) de Terri Anne Browning este o poveste de dragoste contemporană plină de dramă, suferință, gelozie, dar și prietenie și dragoste cu o protagonistă care are grijă de cei patru membrii ai trupei Demon’s Wings atât ca  manager, cât și ca o soră, fiind recunoscătoare pentru că acești bărbați i-au salvat viața cu mulți ani în urmă. Cum va reuși Ember să-și facă sentimentele cunoscute față de Nik, solistul periculos de atrăgător al formației?

EEscape from Sudan (Lust, Money & Murder) de Mike Wells este, din punctul meu de vedere, cea mai bună carte a seriei Lust, Money & Murder. De ce? Pentru că te ține în tensiune de la început până la sfârșit, iar tu nu poți să-ți dezlipești ochii de pe pagini sperând că Elaine Brogan și celelalte personaje vor supraviețui atacurilor extremiștilor, vremii neprielnice și animalelor salbatice care le ies în cale. De când am descoperit această serie thriller de spionaj, nu o mai pot lăsa din mână; mai mult, a devenit o „plăcere vinovată” pentru mine.

EThe Ebb (The Lady of the Pier) de Effrosyni Moschoudi este prima carte din trilogia scriitoarei din Grecia menționate mai sus, unde două povești aparținând unor epoci istorice diferite se împletesc frumos într-o poveste de dragoste paranormală cu acțiunea atât în Insula Corfu, cât și în Brighton, Regatul Unit. De ce Sofia este vizitată în vis de o doamnă îmbrăcată în negru, care recită versuri pe ponton în fața valurilor întărâtate de furtună? Citiți și veți afla sau așteptați recenzia primei cărți.

AAmintiri din copilărie de Ion Creangă este una dintre cele mai frumoase cărți românești pentru copii care fascinează cititorii atât prin limbajul neaoș și savuros al autorului, cât și prin pățaniile lui Nică, pe care, din ce în ce mai puțini copii le înțeleg.


În încheiere, voi eticheta câțiva bloggeri și vloggeri, însă oricine este invitat să-și alcătuiască propria listă și/sau să posteze răspunsurile sau link-ul către blog-urile sau videoclipurile personale mai jos. Sunt curioasă să aflu ce ați ales. Așadar, etichetez următorii bibliofili: Elena de la eLitere.ro, Adela de la Vanilla Moon Books, Anca de la Anca și cărțile, Geo de la Just Reading My Books, Tyna și Oliviana de la Delicatese Literare și Robert de la Lectură și ceai.

 

Review: You & Me Forever by Megan Linski, T. Ariyanna, Cindy Ray Hale, Pamita Rao, Amy Reece, Audrey Rich, Constance Roberts and Yesenia Vargas

A Sweet Romance Collection

 

Title: You & Me Forever

Subtitle: A Sweet Romance Collection

Authors: Megan Linski, T. Ariyanna, Cindy Ray Hale, Pamita Rao, Amy Reece, Audrey Rich, Constance Roberts and Yesenia Vargas

Genre: Short Stories, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult, New Adult

Year of Publication: 2017

Published by: Gryfyn Publishing

Rating: 3/5 stars

Note: I purchased this book as a freebie. However, this aspect didn’t influence the review I wrote or the rating I gave this book.  In this review, you will find only my honest thoughts and opinions about the book I’ve read!

You & Me Forever: A Sweet Romance Collection  written by Megan Linski, T. Ariyanna, Cindy Ray Hale, Pamita Rao, Amy Reece, Audrey Rich, Constance Roberts and Yesenia Vargas is a young adult (and sometimes new adult) romance collection comprising eight short stories and a novella ranging “from thrilling, to dark, to emotional, to wholesome.” (Loc. 71) The stories are arranged in alphabetical order by the author’s last name and they are written both by best-selling and first-time writers.I only read Pamita Rao’s Gates of Heaven which was a nice book, so, when I saw this anthology, I was really curious to see what it was all about. Also, this is one of the fewest new releases of this year that I read.

In Check Mate by T. Ariyanna (3.5 stars), Liz heard that a foster child has run off from the correction facility he lived in. When the assailant tries to hold her hostage after he crept into her room, Liz uses her self-defensive skills she has learned to free herself. Why has Rook run away from the facility? Will Liz give in and fall for the beautiful stranger? I liked Liz’s courage and composure in such a tensed situation and I’m sure that it suits her to become a cop like her father. The main theme of this short story is domestic abuse.

In It Was You by Cindy Ray Hale (3.5 stars), Aleyna McKenzie’s dream is to become an actress, but she only finds small roles as an extra, which help her pay the bills, but nothing more. However, her life is about to change when handsome actor Carson Peters comes into her life, befriends her and helps her understand how the film industry really works. This new adult short story, which looked more like a novelette, was very enjoyable because you can see how hard life is for aspiring actors to break the ice or receive an offer for a major role. I also enjoyed the romance because it was low-burning and realistic and I liked the contemporary elements found in this story: Aleyna loves social media and she has her own YouTube channel. The theme of the story is: follow your dreams no matter what and persevere even when things are tough.

In Taken Away by Megan Linski (3 stars), Rosemary McGowan and Noah Cash come from broken families, but that doesn’t mean they can’t become friends or even fall in love. “We both long to be free in a way that we never can be, free of our obligations from our overbearing parents and able to go out on our own into the world. If it was truly up to us we would take his bike and leave, drive to the beach somewhere and leave the old world behind us.” (Loc. 1828) Rosemary loves spending time outside in the open, while Noah is the bad boy who loves riding his motorcycle. One night, after returning from work, Rosemary is kidnapped by someone pretty familiar to her, but Nosh looks for them and he will not give up until he brings his girlfriend safely back home. What family secret will Rosemary discover? The story is a bit suspenseful and Rosemary has the courage to attempt her escape, but I also liked Noah’s determination to look for her. It’s a new adult romantic thriller story and the main themes are domestic abuse and family secrets.

In Forever Together by Pamita Rao (4 stars), Ava begins to fall in love with her best friend Liam. Should Ava follow her heart and confront Liam about their feelings or shouldn’t she ruin such a great friendship? I will let you discover how Ava will find the truth. It’s a cute young adult contemporary romance that will remind you of your first love, the sweetness and the anxiety that comes along with it. I know that it’s a predictable story, but I enjoyed it because it made me feel like a teenager again.

In A Thousand Stats by Amy Reece (3.5 stars), Charles Maddox is Madison Iver’s best friend since childhood. Maddie likes him, but she prefers to put him in the friend zone rather than to ruin such an old friendship. This is a young adult contemporary romance and its themes are friendship and unrequited love like in the previous story. Fortunately, this story isn’t just about falling in love with your best friend, but also about becoming aware that having a pretty face is not everything. Besides finding love, Maddie needs to focus on her future, on her career and stop being a people pleaser.

In When There’s Smoke There’s Fire by Audrey Rich (4 stars), Graziella Roberts is rescued from her burning house and brought urgently to the hospital. Daniel Stevenson, a boy from school Graziella secretly had a crush on, came to visit his brother Liam, the firefighter who saved Graziella’s life. Will this be the perfect opportunity or Graziella and Daniel to know each other better and to share their secret feelings?

In Down the Road by Constance Roberts (3 stars), Sophie and her friends are gone camping and drink a lot of booze. Rylan, Sophie’s a controlling and abusive guy, not like Blake who treats her nicely. Will Sophie have the courage to break up with the jealous jerk and give Blake a chance? It’s different from the other stories. The main themes are domestic abuse and unrequited love.

In This Is Not a Drill by Yesenia Vargas (3.5 stars), Max moved to a new school, but he felt out of place after his parents’ divorce. When a drill occurs into the school, Max and Lucy are lead to a dark classroom until the coach comes back for them. Why the school is placed on lockdown and who is the assailant threatening the institution? It’s an interesting story about family secrets.

Overall, You & Me Forever was a cute collection of stories and novellas. Though I’m not a big fan of the young adult books, I took my time to savour each story and I found something I liked pretty much in all of them. Besides, the repetition of a chapter in Cindy Ray Hale’s It Was You and a few editing errors, the stories were clean and well-written. My top three favourite stories from this anthology were It Was You by Cindy Ray Hale, in which I learned about what happens behind the scenes of a film or TV, series Forever Together by Pamita Rao, a sweet short story that made me feel nostalgic for the first time I fell in love and When There’s Smoke There’s Fire by Audrey Rich, a story about courage, survival and young love. These nine works of fiction also changed my opinion about short stories and made me crave for more in the future, stories not necessarily belonging to the young adult/ new adult genre.

Review: Our Little Secrets by Merry Farmer

Book 1 of Montana Romance

 

Title: Our Little Secrets

Author: Merry Farmer

Genre: Historical Romance, Western

First Published: 2012

Self-Published

Series: Montana Romance

Rating: 4/5 stars

Note: I purchased this book as a freebie. However, this aspect didn’t influence the review I wrote or the rating I gave this book.  In this review, you will find only my honest thoughts and opinions about the book I’ve read! This book contains adult themes and language!

Today I’m going to review Our Little Secrets, a western and historical romance novel written by Merry Farmer, which is the first book in the Montana Romance series. “I think both of you have guilty consciences that like to make up terrifying stories.” (p. 192)

It’s 1895 and Charlotte Baldwin, a runaway heiress, arrives in the frontier town of Cold Springs, Montana, hoping to find shelter from the man who is constantly following her and she wishes to start over as Charlie, a new identity that might keep her out of danger… or so she thought. Charlotte meets Michael West, the owner of the general store, a man who seems to live a quiet life – the kind of life Charlotte dreamed to have for so long.

Destiny has a strange way of bringing people with dark pasts together and here it makes no exception. Partially due to lust, partially due to practical benefits for both sides, Michael and Charlotte decide to exchange vows for a marriage of convenience, the only rule is not to intrude or to ask any questions about each other’s past. Will such a marriage work? What do they have to hide or be ashamed of? “All he needed to do was make her believe what she wanted to believe, and that was something he was very, very good at.” (p. 53)

Without spoiling your read, I’m only going to say that the book was pretty good even though I personally found the second half better because it was more alert than the first half. The first part introduces us to the little frontier town, its people who enjoy gossiping about the other inhabitants, Michael’s friends and enemies, the way they perceive Charlotte, but also the overall secrecy that poisons both Charlotte and Michael’s minds and hearts with doubts and questions about their partner’s past. Though I understand why the two strangers wed so fast, I personally would have wanted them to know each other a little because it would have saved them from some of the complicated situations they had to face.

In the end, Our Little Secrets actually came as a surprise because I hadn’t expected to like it this much. For the tense moments, entangled situations and the way the characters react, I give this book four stars. If you know or think that you will enjoy this genre, then don’t hesitate to pick up this book!

 

Review: Poetry from The Lady of the Pier by Effrosyni Moschoudi

Title: Poetry from The Lady of the Pier

Author: Effrosyni Moschoudi

Genre: Poetry, Romance

Self-Published

Year of Publication: 2015

Rating: 4/5 stars

Note: I purchased this book as a freebie. However, this aspect didn’t influence the review I wrote or the rating I gave this book.  In this review, you will find only my honest thoughts and opinions about the book I’ve read!

Though I read the entire Lady of the Pier trilogy back to back and I consider it one of the best stories I’ve read this year, I’m going to review the Poetry from The Lady of the Pier first to give you a flavour before reviewing each of the three books. In short, this small volume comprises of ten romantic poems, an excerpt from The Ebb and a bonus short story set in Sifnos Island.

Even though you can read the poems without picking up the trilogy, I think that they make more sense after discovering Laura and Sofia’s story. Because this is a poetry collection, I cannot review it in detail, but I can give you a sneak peek into the novel to make you understand the context in which these poems were written. In short, this paranormal romance revolves around two women coming from different time periods and different countries: Sophia lives in Greece in the late 80s while Laura lives in Brighton (UK) in the late 30s. One night after meeting a cheeky Brit named Danny, Sophia is visited in her dreams by a mysterious lady dressed in black who stands on a pier and recites verses. The poems Sophia hears in her sleep are linked to the important events in the woman’s life and the feelings these poems will stir inside you range from happiness and joy, to sadness, nostalgia, regret and despair; while the main themes are (lost) love and death.

In An Old Promise. Joanna, a posh  American widow travels to Sifnos after many years because there’s an old promise she has to keep. The first time she went to this majestic Greek island, Joanna was twenty-one and she fell in love with a young man, but they lost touch with each other and carried on with their lives. Will Joanna’s trip to Sifnos help her relive or mend the past she was so fond of? This s a story about memories, love and a second chance at happiness. The writing is good, the depictions of Athens and Sifnos are vivid and, if the poems from the fist part of the book broke your heart and made you feel emotional, this story will mend it and warm it with its beauty and an ending filled with hope. This story is also a metaphorical love letter to Greece, its beauty and the magic it casts upon those who visit and fall in love with it. The only two complaints I have with this short story are the fact that the story was a bit too sugary and that Costas was too emotional and a bit unrealistic as a male character.

Those were my thought on this short volume. Stay tuned for more reviews and other bookish content! I post new articles every Wednesday and Friday. Until then, happy reading everyone!

 

Review: Heaven in His Arms by Lisa Ann Verge

Title: Heaven in His Arms

Author: Lisa Ann Verge

Genre: Adventure, Historical Romance

First Published: 1995

Year of Publication of this Edition: 2014

Published by Bay Street Press LLC

Rating: 4/5 stars

Note: I purchased this book as a freebie. However, this aspect didn’t influence the review I wrote or the rating I gave this book.  In this review, you will find only my honest thoughts and opinions about the book I’ve read! This book contains adult themes and language!

“All single men in the colony must marry within a fortnight of the arrival of the king’s girls. If they don’t, they’ll be denied their precious fur trading licenses.” (Loc. 500-501)

For today’s post, I’ve chosen to write a review for an adventure/historical romance entitled Heaven in His Arms, written by Lisa Ann Verge, which is set in Quebec in the 17th century, a place of which I’ve never read anything before.

Genevieve Lalande’s past is filled with grief, terrible events and circumstances that led her to a miserable existence on the streets of Paris. Her only chance to escape from the wretched underbelly of the French society and to begin a better life is to switch places with a king’s girl (Marie Duplessis) in order to become a mail-order bride and to be sent to Quebec, the newest colony in King Louis XIV’s possession.

“Every year since she’d arrived in the Salpêtrière, dozens of girls had been given a dowry by the king and sent off to the Caribbean islands or to the northern settlements of New France, to marry and settle in the colonies.” (Loc. 61-62)

Even if Genevieve will be forced to marry a stranger when she arrives in Quebec, she accepts to do so because anything seems better than a life of poverty, theft and constant humiliations. She went through a lot of hardship in the past to be afraid of the unknown, whether it is the place where she will be settling down or the man who will choose her as his bride.

Meanwhile, in Quebec, André Lefebvre has to marry and settle down into the colony, due to an ordinance sent from France, if the fur trader wants to keep his license. Obviously, André hates this new law because he is a man who loves freedom, pleasures of all kinds, venturing into the unknown parts of New France, and he’s not at all interested in raising a family of his own. Though André tries to avoid such a marriage of convenience, he reluctantly obeys the ordinance for his trade’s sake, picks up the sickly Genevieve and quickly marries her, secretly hoping she will die soon. So much for a warm welcome, eh?

But André doesn’t know that Genevieve can play dirty too and he can’t fool her that easily because she’s also tenacious – she looks for him and insists to go with him on the voyage he planned for so long. Even though André doesn’t want her around, partially because he lusts for her and partially because he’s afraid she won’t survive the journey, Genevieve’s presence is actually useful sometimes because she has skills that surprise her husband who thought that she would have a hard time adapting to the expedition.

In fact, Genevieve somehow belongs in the wilderness because she is a free-spirited, courageous woman like the native Indian women and even though she makes silly or apparently innocent mistakes, she knows what she is doing most of the time. I think that her attitude and adaptability to any unexpected situation is a lesson for misogynistic André, who wrongly compares her to the whiny Frenchwomen who needed comfort, protection and coquetries to be happy: “This woman was as unpredictable and as stubborn as this great stretch of untamed land. A man could spend a lifetime making love to her, and it would be like riding these rapids—wild, exhilarating, bordering on the brink of control.” (Loc.1852-1853).

I’m glad that I’ve read this book. I don’t have many complaints about it, except for Genevieve’s pet name – Genny – that sounds very American to me and not quite French and the sex scenes after André, Genevieve and their crew arrived at their destination. I understand that the purpose of those scenes is to show that the relationship strengthened and that the two lovers had their duties as a married couple, but sometimes these sex scenes dragged a little. However, the rest of the story was very interesting and I didn’t expect to enjoy it this much.

Overall, it was a pleasant read that made me imagine what Canada looked like before the country we all know today. The characters made this fictional journey pass very fast, in good company, and Genevieve and André’s relationship made the experience steamy and unique.

Review: The Greeks of Beaubien Street by Suzanne Jenkins

Detroit Detective Stories

Book 1 of The Greektown Stories

 

Title: The Greeks of Beaubien Street

Subtitle: Detroit Detective Stories

Author: Suzanne Jenkins

Genre: Family Saga, Mystery

Year of Publication: 2012

Published by: Jenkins Associates LLC

Series: The Greektown Stories

Rating: 3/5 stars

Note: I purchased this book as a freebie. However, this aspect didn’t influence the review I wrote or the rating I gave this book.  In this review, you will find only my honest thoughts and opinions about the book I’ve read! This book contains adult themes and language!

The Greeks of Beaubien Street is the first instalment in Suzanne Jenkins’s mystery/family saga series The Greektown Stories which revolves around Jill Zamos, a Greek American detective who lives in Detroit with her large family. In this first book, she works on the case of a murdered young woman named Gretchen Parker, whose lifeless naked body was found in a remote alley. At first glance, the premise of the book should form the main plot of the novel. However, there’s also a secondary plot through which we enter into the universe and day to day life of Jill’s family. Even though I’ve enjoyed reading about Jill, her father Gus who owns a grocery store and the lives of their other relatives, I felt that their family history (seasoned with problems like infidelity, misunderstandings and rivalities between the in-laws) overshadowed the plot about Gretchen’s death. There’s also an esoteric aspect thrown into the novel (Jill has visions linked to the murders) which don’t make sense here. I think that a detective should work with evidence and logic to solve a case, not with visions. However, Jill is not only superstitious and spiritual, but also intelligent, observant, professional and caring when it comes to her father and her brother who suffers from a mental disorder.

If you think that some of the issues of the Zamos family are a bit questionable, such as a dark secret that threatens to break the family apart, just wait and see (I mean read) how Gretchen’s life has been. It’s such a disturbing issue that my mind wasn’t capable of imagining it.  I know that I’m very vague, but I don’t want to get too deep into the subject because it makes me cringe. Though this book is part of a series, I hoped that the narrator would state clearly who actually killed Gretchen Parker, but the ending was very abruptly and I was still left with unanswered questions. That’s definitely not a good sign for a mystery book.

I really feel that there are too many characters and stories for a single book (or first instalment) and I totally understand why other readers were disappointed by this book because they were predominantly interested in the mystery. Though the two plots are loosely linked to Jill and the theme of family and its dark secrets, they belong to very different genres and as much as I would like to tell you otherwise, they don’t go well together. It’s like the author couldn’t decide if she wanted to write a mystery or a family saga and ended up writing about both.

Even though the novel needs another round of editing, I enjoyed reading about Jill’s extended family, her childhood, the relationships between the in-laws, traditions, Greek cuisine, Jill’s colleague Albert Wong who is a gay Asian American character I liked and Alex, Jill’s Polish boyfriend who loves art, but ended up working at the morgue. Most of the characters are pretty well-developed and there were some I liked such as Jill, Gus and Albert, but there were also some I really despised. However, now, after a few months after reading the book, I can’t say that I remember all the relatives Jill has.

In the end, I think that the novel would have been better either as a mystery or as a family saga, not both. I’m not particularly recommending it because it has some disturbing stuff in there and not everyone has the stomach to read about that subject. Also, I’m not planning on reading the rest of the series.