"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

19 January 2009

Best Book of 2008

This book was, by far, the best book I read during the 2008 year.

I read lots of books. It is one of my favorite past-times. I alway have a fiction book of some sort going, plus a Christian topical book or nonfiction book relating to the Adirondacks or Christianity. Plus I read the Scriptures. I usually can read a novel in a week if it is summer time. It takes me a little longer to complete a novel during the school year. The months that I complete the most books tend to be January-March; and July-August.

I bought this book last June, the last day of school, when my oldest (Courtney) found out that this novel was the required reading for the summer before her sophomore year. She decided to continue in the Honors English program, meaning it is a 10th grade English literature course but at the Honors level. Which means they do less grammer work and focus on tougher pieces of literature from specific eras. And rather than homework, they write essays analyzing the literature. They also must choose extra reading from a specific time period as given by the teacher and he has them discuss or do essays regarding these "extra" books. This is all the while reading the required books throughout the course time. They are concentrating mainly on the literature from the 1700s & 1800's but also need to read something from the early part of the 20th century. This book was published in 2006 and is the only "current" book they will read this year. So far this year she has had to read the Shakespeare Sonnets, Taming of the Shrew, Sense and Sensibility, among others that I can't remember. Currently she is working on 1984 as her extra assignment. It is a course that most high schools don't offer until the 12th grade. She is fortunate to be in this class. They also have had to do some creative writing...but..I digress....

She reported to me that it has been the best book she has had to read for her education. (meaning the "over the summer" requirements) In fact, almost all of her class loved the book and they spent most of September analyzing and discussing it in class. Dave read this book during our week of camping and I picked it up before Christmas and finished it over the holiday vacation.

If you like a "story within a story" you will like this.
If you like "surprises or mysteries that you are encouraged to figure out' you will love this.
Here are reviews as found in the beginning of the novel:

"A wholly original work told in the vein of all the best gothic classics. Lovers of books about book lovers will be enthralled."--booklist

"A spellbinding story that grabs the reader from the opening page."--Toronto Sun
(so true in my case!)

"A novel brimming with atmosphere and labyrinthine plotting that recalls the gothic-like chillers by Daphne du Maurier (think Rebecca!) and Joyce Carol Oates, spiced with flavors reminiscent of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. The language is rich, the elements intriguing."--The Sacramento Bee

About the author: she is a former academic, and specializes in 20th century French literature. She lives in Yorkshire, England.

Setting of the book: England but I am NOT telling you the time period. It actually doesn't tell you....it is something you will want to figure out on your own. I won't tell you what Courtney's class decided but they were off by about 15 years from what I thought it to be. Is her class correct? Am I correct? I don't know. I haven't checked out the author's website to find out if she ever tells!

This book is NOT a Christian fiction one but it is one of the very best books, from a literary stance, that I have ever read. It is right up there with Jane Eyre, which interestingly is mentioned often throughout the story. I don't want to ruin it for you, but keep that in mind when you are reading.

You will find yourself trying to figure out just who is Vida Winter. All of us guessed wrong, although I was close!

And how old is Margaret Lea?? Again, my oldest daughter and I had different viewpoints on this. I would love to know what your thoughts are!

Warning: this novel touches in a very subtle way, about the topic of childhood incest. It is very, very subtle and implied but.....it is there. So...it is NOT for a teen who might not know of this topic yet. My oldest daughter has been taught about this topic by me as I didn't want her learning about it in health or wherever. It is kind of important to the story but again, I don't want to give anything away!
It is definitely not a book for the average high school student. It is very much geared for teens who are in advanced literature classes mainly because of the complex elements and mature subject matter.

Did you like Jane Eyre or Sense and Sensibility? What about Emma?

If so...you will LOVE this book and I am betting you will not be able to put it down.
It. is. that.well-written.

And...it will leave an emotional effect on you. Take a few days off from reading fiction after completing this. Why? Because anything after this, seems trite and mundane and a total let-down!

And that IS something Courtney and I agreed on! :)


Connie Marie said...

Hi Faith,
Your reviews always have me wanting to find the book and read it. I loved the stories you mentioned so I know that I would enjoy this too.
I think I am getting this new situation with Mom being here down and finding out where I can be comfortable in our relationship. It looks as though she will be with us long-term and so I have to set my priorities and not be always accomodating hers only. It has been a big adjustment for me. So book reading has taken a very back and cold burner during this time. I am going to look for this book though, thanks to your review.

Susanne said...

This is on my want to read list. I've seen so many good reviews of it.

Ruth said...

Hi Faith!
I saw you liked books about the Adirondacks and especially christian books. I wanted to tell you about a book I read last year. I found it because I met the author at a local author's gathering at Barnes & Nobles, Greece, NY. It is a fantastic story, although it has so many scriptures I had to kind of filter some out. I think it is a treasure though. The setting is the Adirondacks and the main character spends an amazing day with Jesus. Climbing the Mountain Barefoot with Jesus by Kathlene A Haskins.