Monday, February 24, 2020

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Being a fairly avid Jane Austen fan, I fairly salivated when seeing this title. Assuming the story would mirror the wit and craft of the book's namesake, I eagerly tucked into the book as one would a long anticipated banquet.

Things started out quite beautifully in the village in which Austen had lived. An American tourist searching out the novelist's home and being assisted by a friendly local. One wondered where that thread might lead. As each character is introduced, readers get a hint of a parallel Austin character and will wonder which of the novelist's storylines is playing out in a contemporary setting.

One thing I have appreciated about Austin is that even the nasty characters have a certain amount of decorum and one can read the books without being assaulted with vulgar language or graphic detail of exploits. Upon encountering a cohabitating couple, I was sorely tempted to chuck the book. The obligation to complete a review was the only reason I carried on until the end. And by the time I'd finished, my disappointment had turned to sadness as the book closed on a very un-Austin like note. 

I had some nigglings as the book went along with the characterization of a couple characters and their lifestyles. But given their minor role in the story, I plodded on only to be completely blindsided when the book concluded with the final "pairings."  I felt as though I'd witnessed the vandalization of a work of art. Sorry, this is one book I will not be recommending.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of The Jane Austen Society from NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received and the views expressed are my own.

Friday, February 7, 2020

The Blue Cloak by Shannon McNear

The Blue Cloak is part of the "True Colors" series comprising historical fiction about crime in America.  Shannon McNear relates the events that took place over The Wilderness Road in Kentucky beginning in 1798. Two men who may have been cousins, posed as brothers and travelled through Kentucky wreaking havoc in the wilderness.

The events surrounding the serial killing done by these men for sport, revenge, or to procure supplies was hard to imagine. The author does a good job of mostly depicting those acts with veiled references but a few acts of cruelty are described in more detail.

Almost as horrifying as the killings, were the fact that three women were often made to witness to these acts. The make-up of the travelling party of two men and three women is based on historical fact. One woman had been completely blindsided by one who had professed to be a Christian, attended her father's church and had been recently baptised. How deeply he hid his true nature as she was entirely in the dark about his true character until the day he brought her to his home where she found two women were already in residence.

Reading this account, readers witness not only the madness of two of America's first serial killers but also the tragedy of domestic abuse and the evil power that kept the women entrapped. How could those women willingly follow these men for so many years?  Because they knew if they tried to escape, they would most certainly be hunted down. 

This may be a good series for those with an interest in true crime and historical fiction. Without overly gory detail, readers will be able to learn about some of America's painful past in a pretty sanitized manner. I would definitely recommend this book for adult audiences only. 

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of The Blue Cloak from NetGalley for the purpose of review. Opinions expressed are my own.