February Book Club: The Undomestic Goddess

The Undomestic Goddess Book Cover
I’m not sure where to start with this one.  For starters, nothing about this general plot of this story was surprising. Girl appears to make mistake, girl has to learn how to stand on her own two feet, girl realizes that she didn’t make a mistake, girl is offered a job back… etc etc. That being said, I loved every moment of it. I loved the image of Samantha walking blindly onto a train only to end up interviewing for a housemaid position. There was something comforting to her putting herself back together, or rather, watching her grow into the person that she was meant to be. In a world where hustle and bustle is everywhere, it’s easy to forget how hard it can be to take things slow and to take the time to  sew a button on yourself.

One of the things that I found interesting was that when Samantha’s life is a mess, so is her work space. True, she had a lot of things going for her when she was a lawyer, but she didn’t have a life. She didn’t have time to do anything, much less hire a milk man. When she ran away from Carter Spink and took a new job, she couldn’t even cook dinner, much less turn on a washing machine. As Samantha began to become the person she was meant to be, or blossom as her neighbor put it, her life and the world around her became less messy. This is an interesting visual to provide the reader, along with the sharp contrast between how Samantha physically looks at the beginning and end of the novel.

Additionally, it was interesting to read about how the press saw Samantha’s decision to remain a housemaid instead of going back to be a lawyer. How it seemed to be telling the world that a woman belongs in a kitchen or that they can’t handle the work force, when in reality feminism should focus on supporting her choice. She had the option to do what she wanted, and she made a choice. It’s always hard to read/listen to women being unsupportive of one another.

That being said, it also made it funny to read about the media trying to get her to pose “tastefully” in a french maid costume — a direct nod against feminism. After all, would her story make the news if she had been a man?

This book also offers excellent life lessons along the way:

  1. A mistake isn’t a mistake unless it can’t be put right
  2. You don’t always have to know who your are, sometimes it’s enough just to know what to do next.
  3. You will never get your youth back.

I found March’s book club book while perusing a list of books that NPR has mentioned curated by my local library. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi is the first book in a multi-part series (the second book is slated to be published this coming September and book three has been given a nod to). It will be interesting to see if this book inspires me to look forward to a second novel or if the first one gives me enough of a taste to feel comfortable moving on to a different story.

39863498No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.

 

January Book Club: Picnic at Hanging Rock

791345As I said in last month’s book club post, I don’t find myself reaching for historical fiction very often (unless it’s to sit down with a book that has become historical fiction, ie Jane Austen). It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading about a different time, it’s that I typically find myself drawn to books that take place in the future or in a different land. That aside, I’m so glad I read this book before watching the series on Prime.

For starters, the book does an excellent job of keeping you reading. A few lines in, I was hooked and found myself struggling to locate good pausing points within the book so I could do things like take my dog out or go to bed. I found myself looking for more time in the day to curl up and become absorbed in the mystery surrounding hanging rock. How do four people disappear without a trace? How does one resurface over a week later with clean feet and tattered clothing? Irma’s sudden appearance left me with more questions than answers (where did her corset go?).

I wish the connection between Albert and Sara lead to a reunion. It would have been nice if he had known she was there and was able to visit from time to time, then again, perhaps it would have been too convenient if they had bumped into each other. It leaves the reader wondering what would have happened at the picnic if Sara had been allowed to attend. Would the girls have gone missing? Would the reunion have altered the chain of events that lead to their disappearance? One can really only surmise.

Having finished the book and discovered that Lindsay removed the final chapter from the book, I did a little digging and found that it was published upon her death. The chapter was published in a book that spends time discussing the various events of hanging rock and offering potential expectations. While I’m open to discussions of how a story was meant to be interpreted, I did not read anything beyond the unpublished chapter. Honestly, it neither adds nor detracts from the story, leaving many to wonder whether or not Lindsay actually wrote it. Essentially, the four women fell into a wormhole of sorts, and Irma was worthy enough to stay in. The argument against Lindsay writing it is that there is no evidence within the text that allows the chapter to fit within the current narrative. To this, I would argue that there is an importance behind Miranda being called an Angel by Mademoiselle and something magical assumed about the rock. Also, Irma’s clean feet, absent corset and missing memory fits into the idea that they were removed from time for a period. All in all, I prefer the chapter removed from the book and agree that in order for the chapter to fit the other parts of the book that were removed would need to be read as well.

Finally, some thoughts on BBC’s mini-series — I loved it. It felt as though time was taken to flesh characters and their stories out. True, this means that the story is not completely true to the book, but what movie adaptation really is? If anything, it made Sara’s plight more heartbreaking.

It was very hard to pick a book for February, possibly because a handful of series that I’m reading just released the next book and I don’t think having a book club read book four before reading book one is a good move. After a lot of book review reading, I’ve decided on The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella, in honor of anyone who is using the new year as an excuse to make changes (big or small) in their lives.

33722._SY475_Workaholic attorney Samantha Sweeting has just done the unthinkable. She’s made a mistake so huge, it’ll wreck any chance of a partnership.

Going into utter meltdown, she walks out of her London office, gets on a train, and ends up in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big, beautiful house, she’s mistaken for an interviewee and finds herself being offered a job as housekeeper. Her employers have no idea they’ve hired a lawyer–and Samantha has no idea how to work the oven. She can’t sew on a button, bake a potato, or get the #@%# ironing board to open. How she takes a deep breath and begins to cope–and finds love–is a story as delicious as the bread she learns to bake.

But will her old life ever catch up with her? And if it does…will she want it back?