Tag: General Fiction

by Patricia Weitz

When I finished Fangirl, I remembered I had this other book on my shelf about college experience. It’s likewise about a girl living in a dorm for the first time- in this case she’s a bit older, twenty- and has just transferred into a larger university for her final two years, so she feels a bit out of place. But so much of the details were similar it felt odd- made me wonder if Rowell had read College Girl and subconsciously or otherwise was influenced? or is it just what we expect to hear, as readers. In both cases, there’s dorm life. There’s a somewhat brusque roommate. There’s a love interest who’s very tall and lanky, with light hair and a friendly face, always smiling. There’s hours spent in the beloved library, studying or just avoiding people. There’s insecurity and awkwardness around peers, and one professor in particular who tries to be a guiding element but meets with conflict from the student.

Much else is different, though. In this book, the protagonist Natalie isn’t much of a reader, at least of fiction. She studies Russian history, finds delight in memorizing all the minute details about events and historical figures. Just like the other character, she starts off not knowing many other students and only gradually makes friends. Her studies begin to suffer partway through the book, and then take a serious downward slide- but in this case, it’s due to becoming overly focused on a boy she becomes involved with- in an unhealthy way. He seems nice upfront, but it soon becomes obvious to the reader that he has just one reason for being interested in her, and she takes that to mean a lot more than it does. Even when the red flags start flying, she makes excuses to herself and continues to meet with him, though he treats her worse as time goes on. Natalie is kind of desperate to gain the ubiquitous college experiences, so she goes to parties, drinks, takes up smoking, and eventually sleeps with her uncaring boyfriend. It was starting to feel very dismal to the reader.

Then she goes home for a holiday break- and suddenly a lot comes into focus when the family is revealed. They’re all blue-collar workers, sneer at her attempts to gain a college education, constantly insult and criticize her. Now the insecurities and self-doubt make sense. Add to that her struggles to makes sense of loosing a brother to suicide years earlier (which no one in the family will talk about) and I started to really feel sympathetic for her. Warning: there’s talk of self-harm and suicidal ideation in this novel. I was really glad at the end to see Natalie finally give her icky boyfriend the boot, find a better roommate, get back on track with her classes, discover some direction for her future and then meet a decent guy. The ending again felt a bit too quickly wrapped up, but I was satisfied that it put this character on much better footing than she’d been for most of the novel. Reading this was like watching someone nearly wreck their life- akin to She’s Come Undone or The Book of Ruth. But it has a much more hopeful feel and I rather liked it in the end.

Rating: 3/5
328 pages, 2008

by Lisa Genova

I saw this one as a film long before I read the book. The movie really resonated with me, I was surprised to learn that someone in their early fifties could get Alzheimer’s disease, and then saddened to watch the main character’s inevitable decline. Unfortunately, I didn’t get nearly as much feeling out of the book. While it had far more details and incidents reflecting what patients and families of those with early onset Alzheimer’s go through, it lacked a sense of emotion for me. The writing style is very straightforward tell-don’t-show, which often leaves me feeling bored and uninvested. It’s not just me- lots of reviewers were very moved by this book, but a few on LibraryThing felt the same way I did.
For what it is, though, I read the whole thing through, interested to learn but feeling at a distance from the whole thing. The novel is told from Alice’s point of view- a university professor at Harvard, specializing in linguistics. What a horrific thing, for a person so invested in and deeply understanding language, to be aware she’s going to loose it, to watch and feel it unravel from her mind day to day. At first she didn’t realize anything was wrong. Anybody will forget a word here or there, miss an appointment, loose their car keys, especially as they’re getting older. But then Alice forgets to get on a flight for an important conference. She can’t recall what she’s teaching in the middle of a class. She gets lost in her own neighborhood, doesn’t recognize her grown daughter, and more. The inconsistencies in her mind and moments of confusion become more frequent and alarming, so she seeks help and a diagnoses, and of course is shocked and appalled at being told she has Alzheimer’s. She’s supposed to have so much ahead of her still- research to finish, students to mentor, grandchildren on the way . . . The story is just as much about how it affects her family too, though it’s seen through Alice’s eyes and as the disease progresses her account becomes somewhat unreliable. The reader is able to see what’s going on even as Alice forgets who people are and what she’s doing.
The ending was sad, but also heartwarming, at least in my opinion. Even when Alice lost her ability to teach and had to be minded constantly by family and caretakers, she became more content in small daily pleasures, and her relationship with one of her daughters actually seemed to improve, as she no longer criticized and held her daughter up to a high standard, but just accepted things. The husband did not seem nearly as understanding and supportive as the reader would hope, but I bet it’s a realistic depiction of how some family members react. Very much worth reading, though honestly I just did not enjoy the book much. I see the author has written other novels about brain injury and illness (one about Huntington’s disease, another about a woman who suffers a car accident and can no longer perceive or feel anything on her left side) that look interesting, but being aware of the writing style, I’d really have to be in the right mood for them.
Borrowed from the public library.
Rating: 3/5
294 pages, 2007

by Robin Sloan

If I had known what this book was like going into it, I probably wouldn’t have read, ha. So I’m glad I knew so little, because I really enjoyed it! Even though it’s about a conspiracy, a secret society, a giant puzzle to be solved by breaking a hidden code. It’s funny and quirky and weird, but also gets a tad nostalgic and tongue-in-cheek at the end. I loved it that the solution to the puzzle was something so simple and overlooked because everyone was expecting something far more complicated. I laughed out loud at how everything finally connected in the end. And of course I loved all the bookish references, especially (oddly enough) to a fictional fantasy series (which reminded me of the fictional series everyone loved in the Magicians books).

It starts out being about a guy in San Francisco out of a job, who picks up a night shift at a small bookstore. Almost immediately he notices something odd about this bookstore: most of the (very few) patrons don’t actually buy books. They borrow hefty tomes written in some kind of code, accessible only because they have membership in some private group. Our protagonist’s employer warns him to never look in the coded books in the back part of the store, or he’ll be fired instantly. But of course he is curious and when a friend eggs him on, he takes a look. And gets sucked into attempting to break the code. Which actually looks possible, because he doesn’t just throw old decrypting methods at the problem, but amasses all the scary powers of modern technology and computer brains, to crack the puzzle in just the blink of an eye (compared to the decades the secret club has been working on it). And what he finds- on practically the very last page- is a total surprise, which really made me laugh. All those people worked up over the wrong thing!

I really liked how this book meshed old knowledge and craftsmanship ways of doing things, with the blazingly fast and frighteningly powerful new powers of programming and crowdsourcing. It shows the best of both worlds, and also -perhaps- how they could mesh into something even better. There’s so much love of knowledge and things bookish in here- from how things are organized, to the vast storage spaces of museum collections, to the beauty of typefaces and the mastery of writing code. Not to mention all the odd people, and the coming together of great minds, and friends. It was great, and it all went by in a flash. There’s a prequel too, which piques my interest, though my library doesn’t have a copy of that, so I’ll have to look for it elsewhere. And of course, I loved the end message, that things written in books which are treasured and handed down from one generation to the next, are the real immortality.

Oh, also- the Google parts were weird. And I thought: maybe that’s just how the Google workplace is. But I gather from some other reviewers that it’s decidedly not. Doesn’t bother me, but it might bother people in the know.

Borrowed from the public library.

Rating: 4/5
288 pages, 2012

by Margaret Dilloway

A book that was easy to read in my currently foggy state of mind: simple in style, a bit dry in fact. Straightforward enough plot. About a woman teacher who has a lifelong struggle with kidney disease. She has dialysis every other night to keep her alive, while waiting for a kidney transplant. Meantime determined to hold down her job teaching high school science, and spend as much time as she can with her real passion: growing and breeding roses. Her dream is to create the next new rose that will get her into the commercial side of things. I found this both an interesting and dull read. I liked, of course, all the parts about rose cultivation, which I’m sure is even more painstaking and detail-oriented than the novel lets on. I found it hard to connect to the characters, to read between the lines and understand reactions the main character’s acquaintances and students had to her- she was often puzzled by things, and so was I. Most times I feel like I can figure out what the character isn’t seeing, but in this case I usually didn’t. It did fit with her character, to have the writing so dry and understated, but it sure made it hard to feel engaged as a reader.

Then there’s the huge twist thrown in (quite early on) when her teenage niece comes to stay- basically dumped on her doorstop by an estranged sister who has, according to snippets and hints about the past, always been irresponsible and in trouble. Even as an adult. So most of the story is about our Gal (her nickname) trying to create the perfect rose, attending rose shows, interacting with her friend and co-workers, feeling perhaps attracted to a new male teacher at the school (but unwilling to admit it) and attempting to parent a teen who won’t let her guard down. Plus all the trials of her health issues. Which kind of hit home for me, because one of my own children was born with reflux, had infections with high fevers as a toddler, eventually outgrew the problem but left with scars on the kidneys. All through reading this book I kept thinking: it could have been far worse. This could have been what my child went through, too. I would have liked the gardening aspects more, but there wasn’t enough of it, and the interpersonal relationships more, but they didn’t seem to have quite enough depth or insight. I think it was mostly the writing style just was not my type.

Of course, this all could be due to my unclear thinking, and not fair to the book at all. I will probably re-evaluate later on. There were some odd incongruencies, though- like one mention in the middle of the book, that Gal was color-blind. Never another word about that, and plenty of words about her admiring the colors of the roses! Also, I swear two or three characters in this novel have green eyes. It’s an uncommon eye color so that made me laugh the second time, and scratch my head the third.

Novel’s writing style reminded me of The Winter Garden.

Note: this was quickly written, due to screens making me feel ill at the moment. I’ll return later and edit for clarity, add missing details, and re-write if it’s particularly bad. I reserve the right to re-write. Here to remember and not forget, on to the next book getting me through the dullness of recovery.

Later: Nothing rewritten, but do read some of the other reviews I linked to. Apparently I’m the only person who didn’t really care for this book. It must just be me!

Rating: 2/5
397 pages, 2012

A Fairy Tale with Benefits

by Jane Buehler

This is the second book I’ve gotten from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. It was really outside of my usual comfort zone, but I sometimes like to try something new! I think I’d classify this as a fantasy chick-lit romance, though I don’t know if that’s really a thing. It’s very light-hearted in tone, though the subject matter turns a bit more serious.

The story is about a young mermaid who is on a mission to find the missing merking, but gets tangled in a fisherman’s net and looses her magic shell (it lets her communicate with a friend back in the mermaid kingdom). Determined to get it back, she goes to the island village where the fisherman must live, and starts to find out that everything she’d been told about humans was a lie. At first she’s afraid to be among them, confused by their customs and baffled by their need for clothing. She’s even more frightened to find that there are fairies among them, who recognize her for what she is (the mermaids’ tails turn to legs when they dry, so they can appear human for a while). Within just a day she’s begun to loose her fear and made a few friends. Then she falls in love with a handsome fisherman (who doesn’t know she’s a mermaid), finds the merking- who isn’t at all the fearsome proud ruler she expected to encounter- and starts to realize that the society she grew up in is full of oppression and brutality. She only recognizes this when she starts to see how kind and understanding the humans can be, and how they work together.

Of course a huge part of this story is the romance- so even though I was surprised that on her first day of knowing somebody (one of the fairies), the mermaid was discussing “human courtship rituals” and not long after she was having her first kiss with the hunky fisherman, and that led to more. But in between the steamy scenes (which thankfully didn’t have too much profuse flowery language or ridiculous euphemisms for things) there’s a strong storyline about the mermaid learning to stand up for herself, confronting the desposed merking, finding out some secrets, and returning to her kingdom to see if she can instigate some changes. Which comes with a hefty dose of danger she has to face alongside her new lover. And there’s also a serious bump in their relationship when he finds out her true identity- the shock, fear (humans have misconceptions about merfolk too) and sense of betrayal. However it all turns out well in the end. It was kind of sweet, although the constant refrain of mermaids getting manhandled by the mermen, and her having to learn to fight, and what would happen with the friction over the sea kingdom throne, and how would they set up the new merfolk society, got a bit tiresome. I did really like how some botany and understanding of weather patterns (which the fisherman figured out for himself) were woven into the story. But the writing style is not really to my taste- it was just a bit too much told, not shown. It was a nice story, and I’m a little curious about one of the precursors in the series which looks like a beauty and the beast retelling, but not quite curious enough to go seeking it out. That all said, for someone who enjoys this kind of genre already, I’m sure this book is a good read. It’s very much a romance, and very much about women finding equality.

Rating: 2/5
294 pages, 2023

by Barbara Kingsolver

In rural Appalachia, the story of a boy who’s always down on his luck, but keeps trying to make the best of it. Damon (soon nicknamed Demon) doesn’t get a good start in life, at all. Teenage drug-addicted mother, deceased father, abusive step-father. Living in poverty and soon shunted around between dysfunctional (not to mention exploitative) foster homes. He’s surrounded by people both good and bad. He and some friends seem to make poor choices simply because their options are so few. What looks like bad choices to others, might simply be better than the worse ones easier to reach in front of them. So I thought. Midway through this book things are looking a bit up for Demon- he finally gets into a better home and starts exploring some talents that could lead to a future. Then a football accident ruins his knee and drags his life down. An operation is a months-long wait that turns into never. He succumbs to addictive painkillers- so gradually you hardly see it happening. Slides into all kinds of bad situations. Somehow you keep rooting for this character. He seems good at heart, deep down. Maybe it’s the humor? I have to say, this book took me by surprise. I felt like this author wrote a young male voice pretty well- crude jokes, foul language and all- sometimes it had me cringing a bit, more times admiring. I’ve read all over the place that this novel is a patterned after David Copperfield but I haven’t read that so can’t compare. However the voice and circumstances reminded me of several others- The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. What it did not remind me of, was Kingsolver’s other books. This one is so different. I’m not sure if I actually liked it? as in, would I avidly read it again. So much of the story was just dismal things happening. It really kept me turning the pages, though.

Borrowed from the public library.

Rating: 4/5
560 pages, 2022

More opinions:
Book Chase
Sam Still Reading
anyone else?

Volume 2

by W. Somerset Maugham

I really enjoyed these short stories- except for the ones I skipped! More on that in a moment. My opinion of Somerset Maugham’s writing remains the same: his characters are interesting, the setup slow but detailed and deliberate, the endings often leave you wondering something or chuckling at an irony, very satisfying either way. Most have some shrewd observations on human nature. All very well-written. I’d like to find the other half of this collection, but now think I’ll probably get some overlap, as the fourth volume of collected stories I read earlier, was from a different compliation.

The stories in this book were set in England, a few about individuals who travelled abroad, some sounded like the narrator was Maugham himself- staying in a hotel, or talking to someone on a train journey. Often the first few pages would tell how he met someone, and then that someone would relate the interesting story about a friend or acquaintance. They are stories of relationships, of people living in a manner that defies their social class or expectations, of characters that are happy when everyone expects them to be miserable, or unhappy in what look like perfect circumstances from the outside. There’s a story about a popular female writer, all highbrow and artistic, who subtly snubs her quiet husband in the background- but in the end it turns out he does what he likes and is the better for it. Another is about a young man whose wealthy family has educated him to take a position in politics, but all he wants to do is be a professional pianist. There’s an apparently contentedly married woman who writes a very popular book of poetry, the husband is befuddled by it because he doesn’t understand poetry, but when he finally reads it to see what all the fuss is about, realizes it’s telling the story of an affair his wife had. In another, an important man in government is troubled by dreams where he’s in terribly embarrassing situations, and then the next day something always occurs which convinces him another person knows of the embarrassment- was it real? or just coincidence? My favorite was probably the story of the vicar who couldn’t read or write- in fact I re-told it (in much simplified form) to my husband on a drive.

The stories I skipped- a half dozen in the middle of the book- are probably the ones that would interest other readers most. They were all about a character named Ashenden, who is a spy. A quiet, aloof man who does his assignments never really knowing how the information he gathers relates to the larger picture. Each story is about some incident or mission he goes on. I read the first two in here, realized that espionage (for some reason I can never explain) actually bores me, and started skipping them- it only takes half a page to realize it’s an Ashenden story. I did read in entirety the one where he’s in a sanatorium recovering his health, more about the other patients around him and their relationships, than it is about himself actually.

Borrowed from my brother-in-law.

Rating: 4/5
518 pages, 1951

by Murray Bail

A widowed father moves to a large ranch in Australia where he plants hundreds of eucalyptus trees on his land (there are 700 distinct species, I had no idea!) He’s pretty much obsessed with the trees. His daughter grows up into a beautiful young woman, admired by many in town but kept secluded on the ranch. The father announces that he will give his daughter in marriage to the man who can correctly name every tree on his property. Many come with little success- they’re really just there hoping to catch a glimpse of the daughter. Then a man arrives who is a eucalyptus specialist himself; he methodically walks the land with the father, naming tree after tree, in no hurry but looks easily able to finish the task. The daughter watches with growing apprehension- she’d thought nobody would ever be able to name all the trees. She falls into silence and despondency. Meanwhile, another man appears on the property, just sitting under a tree. He starts to show up every day, finding the daughter where she’s walking under the eucalypts, and he casually tells her stories. Odd little stories that don’t really have endings. They catch her interest and she seeks out his company day after day, while all the while becoming more dismayed that the other man will win her hand.

This whole novel feels like a parable. It has a dreamy air of magical realism, though really there are no magical elements, maybe a few slightly surreal things happen in the stories that are told. In some parts the style definitely reminded me of Gabriel Garcia Márquez. I thought at first I wouldn’t like this book- it feels like the characters are all held at arm’s length, you never really sink into anything as a reader. The storyline flits back and forth through the multitude of smaller stories- rather like the incomplete shade cast by a eucalyptus, I suppose. I was going to ditch it after the first few chapters but kept going and became more intrigued to see how it ends. It’s one I think worth a re-read someday. There is plenty of information on the eucalyptus trees themselves in the pages, the characteristics of their leaves, what type of soil the different species like, the strength of their timber and its uses, etc. Readers not much interested in plants might find this tedious, but I kind of liked it. Rather similar to how factual chapters about whales are woven through the Moby Dick narrative, another book I was surprised to like. Though many years in the past, now.

Rating: 3/5
264 pages, 1998

More opinions: The Black Sheep Dances
anyone else?

by Jonathan Evison

Don’t remember how this one came to my attention. Another audiobook to fill space in my head while I’m doing chores- but for a while there I thought I’d made a mistake. Put off by the frequent use of the f-word. And some of the crude humor- not by the main character, but one or two of his um, negatively opinionated friends. I was going to stop before even through the first cd, but kept listening, and somehow this started to grow on me. In the end I was glad I heard the whole thing, it gets much better further on and I even liked the ending. I appreciated what it was trying to say. But I also get why lots of people have protested this book, because yeah, it made me uncomfortable at several points.

Story (apparently semi-autobiographical) is about a half-latino guy from a poor neighborhood in Washington State. (This made the environs of the novel very familiar to me, but also so very different- a whole other side of the place I knew, a reverse reality I was never very aware of). Mike Muñoz is 22 but still lives with his mother, his older mentally disabled brother, and a tenant who at first lives in the backyard shed but then moves into the house. They’re always struggling to make ends meet. Mike has a job with a landscaping crew, he’s proud of making very tidy clean edges and aspires to be a topiary artist. Gets sick of the low pay and degrading way clients treat him- looses his job after refusing to clean up after someone’s dog. Drifts around looking for new employment, nothing works out. One old acquaintance has a big scheme with no real plan. Then an old high school friend ropes him into preparing properties for resale in a wealthy neighborhood, and he starts rubbing shoulders with different kind of folks- but pretty soon realizes he doesn’t like where that’s going.

And there’s the annoyance that this old high school friend won’t admit to something that happened when they were kids. This is what people are all upset about. There’s a scene from the past mentioned briefly in the book (and referred to a few times afterwards in the narrative) where Mike and the other guy, as ten-year-old kids, handled each other’s privates. No it was not actually pedophilia (as some people are saying in negative reviews). The disturbing thing is that Mike wants to discuss what happened in the past, but the other guy won’t admit it even occurred. Meanwhile, Mike is halfheartedly trying to impress a girl he admires, and finds stress relief at the library. I loved reading about the books he was reading. And his growing friendship with the substitute library guy Andrew, who’s also an activist in his spare time.

Mike and Andrew gradually become more than friends, and by the end of the book he realizes what he’d been denying to himself all along- he’s gay. His mother knew, apparently, his friends are less shocked than he’d expected. Yes there’s a scene where Mike finally spends the night at Andrew’s house, it stops short of being too detailed about their intimacy. No graphic descriptions. You’re mostly aware that Mike has come to realize something about himself, has found a place where he feels both respected and encouraged, has found someone he admires and enjoys being around- in spite of Andrew’s flaws. I felt this was a very honest portrayal about someone’s ordinary life that went through a bunch of crap and then started to become something better.

By the end of the book, Mike has gone from working for barely minimum wage, to feeling walked all over by rich people, to being in his own little company and actually getting to sculpt hedges in people’s front yards. Having appreciation for the good work he does, expanding his artistic talent, finding a better understanding with his family too. I admit there’s plenty of incidents in this book that made me cringe, others had me laughing out loud. I really could have done without all the f-words personally. But I found the musings on social inequalities, environmentalism and the like rather refreshing- he points out so many times that things like eating organic don’t matter to the poor, if they can just barely afford to eat a sandwich at all. There’s more, but I have to stop writing or this post will get way too long.

It’s really unfortunate that this book has the exact same title as a middle-grade Gary Paulsen novel (which has no objectionable content).

Audiobook, voice is P.J. Ochlan, 8.5 hours listening time. Borrowed from the public library.

Rating: 3/5
320 pages, 2018

the Story of a Boy

by Richard Jeffries

Marvelous (but also disturbing) book from the 1800’s- others have described it as something like Tom Sawyer or Lord of the Flies and I heartily agree. It also reminded me a lot of Ernest Thompson Seton’s Two Little Savages. Bevis is the son of a landowner in rural England- and he pretty much runs around doing whatever he pleases. When the story opens, it drives straight into his efforts to build a raft out of odds and ends- I was baffled for a few pages wondering who this kid was, where he lived, what the heck he was doing, but then caught up in his unwavering intent to find items that would work to make what he wanted- because I’m a bit like that myself, when building something or other for the garden. After making the raft he goes on to rig a little (and very awkward it sounds) sailboat, he and his friend carve a boomerang, make a matchlock gun (!!), practice with bows and arrows, shoot targets with their various weapons, learn how to swim, roam around hunting rabbits and birds with their dog, stage a battle with a bunch of other boys- taking sides and planning strategies the whole nine yards, and so on and on and on.

The part I remember best is middle to the end, where Bevis and his friend Mark build a camp on an island in a lake near home, lie to their parents that they’re at someone else’s house for a visit, and live rough for a week or so. They fish, hunt small game, make pitiful attempts at cooking over a fire (with supplies filched from home like flour, potatoes, matches etc), construct a sundial, track animals pretending everything is exotic- the other kids trying to find their secret place are ‘savages’, the rabbits are ‘kangaroos’ the wood doves are ‘parrots’ you get the idea. They have to solve a little mystery of what is coming into their camp when they’re away stealing food, and another about what animal makes a wave just under the water’s surface (I thought it would be the otter but it was a type of diving bird). I was very sad when they shot the otter. It really is a story from a different time- the kids live in casual abundance- the pages are swarming with beautiful descriptions of nature, lush plant growth, myraid small wild things- which the boys delight in tracking, chasing and killing. They shoot birds for their feathers with no remorse, and are really proud of the otter skin. When they finally go home everyone praises their accomplishments and the father teaches them how to improve their shooting skills (this went on for way too many pages in my opinion). I was rather fascinated by the descriptions of sailing, though. Amazed at how ingenious the kids were at making things from observation and experiment alone. Appalled at how often they beat and kicked their dog to make it behave, and how they ignored the abject poverty the workmen’s children lived in, right alongside them on the farm but their suffering unseen.

It’s lively, full of adventure, boy’s squabbles and petty cruelties, and the richness of nature. I found it a compelling read, even though some things bothered me.

Some quotes I marked- the boys’ explanation of hindsight: “That’s just the thing”, said Bevis. “You sail forty thousand miles to find a thing, and when you get there you can see you left it at home.”

Their surprise at seeing a yellowed fern leaf, where they were sure it was an animal in the grass: when intent on one subject the mind is ready to construe everything as relating to it, and disallows the plain evidence of the senses.

The father’s appraisal of how important it was for them to learn things by experience:

He considered it best that they should teach themselves, and find out little by little where they were wrong.  Besides which he knew that the greatest pleasure is always obtained from inferior and incomplete instruments. Present a perfect yacht, a beautiful horse, a fine gun, or anything complete to a beginner, and the edge of his enjoyment is dulled with too speedy possession. The best way to learn to ride is on a rough pony, to sail in an open ill-built boat, because by encountering difficulties the learner comes to understand and appreciate the perfect instrument, and to wield it with fifty times more power than if he had been born to the purple.

I have a copy of this book on my e-reader (it was a pleasure!)

Rating: 3/5
465 pages, 1882


All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it


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