Reading Notes November 2017

Finished in November





1. The Wanton Fires by Mariol Trevor

I was curious about other novels by the author of Sun Slower, Sun Faster which the kids and I loved so much. This novel is a regency romance, not a children’s book, but I enjoyed it all the same— though not quite as much as I enjoyed Sun Slower Sun Faster.

I realized when I was several chapters in that The Wanton Fires is the third book in a four book series. That explains why there were so very many characters from several inter-related families with very complicated backstories such that I wanted very much to have family trees to keep them all straight.

The novel is set primarily in Cornwall, though the characters also travel to London. The protagonist is Georgie, short for Georgiana, an orphaned young lady who has come to live with her recently married aunt after the death of her grandfather, who was her previous guardian. Although Georgiana is solidly middle class— her grandfather was a bookseller— a young nobleman falls in love with her and she goes to stay with him at his grand house to meet his extended web of relations. Some of them are hostile to her, some approve. Oh and what makes this definitely a Meriol Trevor book is that the young nobleman, Miles, is a Catholic convert, much to everyone’s dismay. However, that doesn’t seem to be a huge impediment to Georgie, who agrees to raise their children Catholic. However, the story is complicated when Georgie, who cares for and admires Miles but does not love him, falls in love with his cousin.

On the whole an agreeable read, quite comparable to a Georgette Heyer novel, though perhaps with rather less flashing wit. Still, Trevor’s Catholicism might edge her a little ahead of Heyer in my estimation. I look forward to reading the rest of the Warstowe saga.

Oh and I just now found the longed-for family tree near the front of the book. Not sure how I missed it before! And even with a family tree, the relationships are complicated.

2. The Fortunate Marriage by Mariol Trevor— first in the Warstowe saga and confusing a bit because there aren’t many Warstowes in it. Why is this the Warstowe saga?

The protagonist is Louie, short for Louisa, who is an orphan and has come to live with her fabulous cousin Caroline, the Caynnes heiress. Caroline is dashing and romantic and Louie is fascinated by her. But she’s also volatile and headstrong and rash. Caroline says that her husband Rowland Dynham is cruel and controlling and only married Caroline for her money. But is Caroline a trustworthy narrator?

As in The Wanton Fires, there were complicated webs of relationships, though I had a little better handle on it as I’ve seen these characters before, later on in their timelines. Some of the drama of the story was spoiled by reading them out of order. But I still enjoyed the story. Glad to find this and the other books in the series on the Kindle so I could binge.

3. The Civil Prisoners by Mariol Trevor

Caught in France after the truce with Napoleon falls apart, a group of Englishmen and women are prisoners in Verdun. Romance and drama during the time of the Napoleonic War with a cast of characters that overlaps with the other two novels, but not entirely. What is interesting is that the protagonist of each of these novels does not really feature in the others. But the other characters in these intertwining families keep showing up. I guess Miles is a constant. Perhaps it is he who is the point around which everything turns?

3. The Sun with a Face by Mariol Trevor

The fourth in the Warstowe Saga. This one is set in Italy for a nice change, though the protagonists are all British. The main character’s romantic interest appeared as a child in The Civil Prisoners. Here he’s grown up and taken his father’s place as the heroic lead. I liked this story quite a bit. A fun romp across Italy with plenty of drama and romance. I’m rather sad to get to the end of the series. The novel itself wrapped up nicely as one could wish, but I rather feel that as a series this one began and ended too abruptly. It doesn’t feel like there was a definite series arc, just a handful of novels that happen to be connected. But no overarching plot or theme, which was vaguely dissatisfying when I consider the series as a whole. I wanted there to be some kind of bigger picture to which all the novels added up and I feel a little like I’ve been staring at an optical illusion and not getting it.

In Progress

Newman: The Pillar of the Cloud by Mariol Trevor

A life of Blessed John Henry Newman that I picked up at the library at the same time as The Wanton Fires. I’m enjoying it so far. But limping slowly because I keep getting distracted.

2. Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy through Children’s Literature by Thomas Wartenberg

I stumbled across the author’s webpage and was curious about the book. I’m intrigued at the idea of teaching philosophy through children’s books. The author has some interesting ideas, though much of the book is taken up with the nitty gritty of lesson plans and directions to teachers. Wartenberg is writing to classroom teachers and assumes he has to convince his audience not only of the desirability of teaching philosophy to this age group but also it’s feasibility. So much of the novel is about logistics.

3. The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea

The kids and I have been on an Irish kick of late and someone mentioned this book and I thought I’d check it out to see if it might be an option for further exploration, but on the whole I don’t think so. It’s very, very long and drags rather. I think it could have used an editor with a heavy hand. But if that was the only issue, I’d gladly hand it off to the girls to read at least. My bigger problem with the novel is one of worldview. Set in modern Ireland, the protagonists are named Patrick (nicknames Pidge) and Brigit and there are some mentions of priests and Catholic things. But God isn’t really real in this world, just the various pagan deities. The Morrigan and her two sister goddesses are the evil force and they are countered by the Dagda. And it niggles at me that these two Irish children don’t know how to pray, that when they get into a tight spot they don’t even try to pray to the Dagda. There doesn’t seem to be anything greater than these warring pagan demiurges and well, I just didn’t enjoy it.

My previous in progress books have all sort of taken a back seat this month. I’ve hardly made any progress as I’ve been distracted by the new and shiny. But I hope to drag myself back to Hamilton and 1776 and the rest of them.

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