The Bride’s House by Sandra Dallas

Happening across this book in Fred Meyer’s, I knew it would be a book that would be right up my alley. So when my English Lit buddies and I decided to start a book club, this was our first read (suggested by me ;)). I couldn’t wait to get started and was super-duper excited that our book club (ok Amanda and Mary, we need a name for our book club!) was reading this as its inaugural book. 

The Bride’s House is actually three different stories in one but they are all connected because it follows three different generations of women from one family in Georgetown, Colorado. Too keep this simple (because I started writing an overview and it was way to long) I am going to quote the description on the back, which I think does the book a great justice. 

“It’s 1880, and for seventeen-year-old Nealie Bent, the Bride’s House is a fairy tale come to life. It seems as if it is being built precisely for her and Will Spaulding, the man she is convinced she will mary. But life doesn’t go according to plan, and Nealie finds herself in the Bride’s House pregnant–and married to another.

For Pearl, growing up in the Bride’s House is akin to being raised in a mausoleum. Her father has fashioned the house into a shrine to the woman he loved, resisting all forms of change. When the enterprising young Frank Curry comes along and asks for Pearl’s hand in marriage, her father sabotages the union. But he underestimates the lengths to which the women in the Bride’s House will go for love.

Susan is the latest in the line of strong and willful women in the Bride’s House. She’s proud of the women who came before her, but the Bride’s House hides secrets that will force her to question what she wants and who she loves.”

Ok, that said all I was trying to say much more eloquently and succinctly. I was trying to add all the details into the overview and it was not working :). I really did enjoy this book; From beginning to end, the story hooked me, with the three different women, Nealie, Pearl, and Susan, intertwining in a way that was very compelling. All three ladies were strong female characters and had distinct minds of their own, which was ahead of their time periods. They were engaging characters, that I was rooting for them from the beginning. The trials and triumphs that each woman went through during their part of the journey was what really captivated me. They had such strong convictions and attitudes, even in times of great strife, that made me want to weep with sadness and clap with joy. Their stories brought me to tears and made me laugh, but most of all they portrayed woman at their finest; dealing with adversity with great amounts of character.

 The set up of the book was one that I found very intriguing. I liked the idea of having three stories in one but having each store connected to the other through different generations. That is something that I have not stumbled upon often and Sandra Dallas did an amazing job in writing all of the intertwining connections. I enjoyed that each woman of the family got their own section but they also overlapped and developed throughout the whole novel, especially when the secrets of Bride’s House are revealed towards the end. Not only is Susan great at writing these characters, she is wonderful at adding in historical data to fill in this novel. Every page with brimming with historical references, that it was a pleasure to read and made the story more real. Sandra did her research and it paid off in this novel, especially when you learn at the end in the author’s note that Sandra has bought the house that is the Bride’s House (how cool is that!). 

I should throw out there that I did have some issues with the novel. I was a little disappointed in how quickly each woman’s story took place. They were over, wham bam thank you mam. No real meat or sustenance to a lot of the plot that it felt a little rushed. There could have been a lot more detail to this novel, which would have strengthened the book and provided a better understanding of each woman. That being said I still enjoyed the story, I just wanted a longer book.

Lastly, how could I forget to mention the 4th main character, the House. The house took on an embodiment of its own. It became the setting that held this families secrets for years and without this house there would be no book. This beautiful Victorian house, stood the test of generations and came out on top in this wonderful novel. Overall, I highly recommend this book. Buy, rent or borrow it!

Rating: 425 pages out of 500.

Upcoming: The Solider’s Wife by Margaret Leroy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy and whatever else I can read.

Laters, Baby

Tori

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Austentatious by Alyssa Goodnight

So I know that I have completely slacked on writing blog posts for a month, but life got in my way. Finding time to write on here, to work, to do my homework, and to find the time to relax; I was mentally exhausted. Now I have to play catch up and go back to review books I have read since I last posted. I haven’t read to many, but there will be 2 to 3 new posts on here in the next couple of days. Get prepared for a barrage of posts in the coming months. I’m gonna be a reading machine.

Let’s start this posting spree with Austentatious by Alyssa Goodnight. I was shopping for a new hair dryer, since I completely destroyed mine, in Fred Meyer and came across this book for a 15% discount. Well any and all things related to Ms. Austen I pick up and this was no different. Austentatious is a modern adaptation/homage to P&P, which is something different so, obviously, I was intrigued. Nicola James, a straight-laced engineer, is browsing for a gift for her cousin in an Austin antique store when she come across an old journal mixed in with Austen novels. Nic knows her cousin will be happy with this gift cause she is an Janeite and loves all things Austen. Nic purchases the journal and looks it over at a local coffee shop. Next thing she knows, she has spilled coffee on the journal and can no longer gift it to her cousin. Nic keeps it for herself and places it in the revered position on her bookshelf, next to Jane’s novels. Nic, never having been a journal writer, decides to write in the journal. The next day, Nic opens the journal to find out that her entry has disappeared and all that is left is certain words from her entry to give advice back to Nic. Obviously, the thought that the journal could be writing back is ridiculous, but Nic, with her “Fairy Jane,” decides to take the advice to heart. She follows “Fairy Jane’s” advice and thus the start of Nic’s adventure. All this culminates in Nic’s romance with Sean, a gorgeous Scottish musician, in Austin for the SXSW festival. Still be a skeptic a heart, Nic reluctantly lets “Fairy Jane” lead her romance with Sean and it ends up changing her very staid, planned life.

Boy was this book a good one to read! I am always, like I stated in a previous review, skeptical of any Austen sequels, adaptations, homages etc. I was pleasantly surprised with this novel, not only because it did not detract from Jane’s works, but because it was a fresh modern taste to Austen lovers. This book had all the right elements to make it a very worthwhile read. From amazingly funny scenes (mushrooms anyone?) to heartfelt emotions between Nic and Sean, this book will make you laugh and definitely tug at your heart. Nicola is a great protagonist. She is the story and helps to create a wonderful sense of camaraderie between the reader and the writer. She is sweet and a little quirky, with a whole host of issues about how her life should be (she created her life plan at age 13). Through all the complaining about her life changing with “Fairy Jane,” Nic is a true to earth character. One that every reader can connect with on any level. She wears her emotions on her sleeve and always has a funny retort to add when the moment needs it. She makes for a great female character and without her wit and integrity, the story would not have been as good. Sean, well what woman doesn’t want a sexy Scottish musician to fall at their feet. I know I do and boy was he worth it in this story. He completely balances Nicola’s sometimes rigid personality with his carefree nature and fun-loving attitude. They go together like to peas in a pod and compliment each other so well. Sean, the carefree guy, that is usually (or at least how Nic sees it) just good for a fling but in actuality Sean is down to earth, emotional, and very serious at times. Worth having around for more than a fling, which is precisely what Nic finds out on her “Fairy Jane” adventure. Plus the way Alyssa describes him in a kilt, oh my!

From Sean and Nic’s whirlwind romance to the banter between “Fairy Jane” and Nicola this novel is worth the read. Any novel, where the premise is advice from Jane through a journal, is a novel highly rated in my book. So, pick up your copy today and read Alyssa Goodnight’s very well written novel.

Rating: 450 out of 500 pages.

On a side note: My English Literature buddies and I decided to form a book club and read as many books as we can cram into our busy lives. So a lot of the reviews from here on out will have Amanda and Mary’s views thrown in. Oh book clubs how you excite me! 🙂

Upcoming: The Bride’s House by Sandra Dallas, Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy and more.

Laters, Baby

Tori