The Summer Country by Lauren Willig

Reading two novels with racism themes running through them back-to-back was a bad idea, since I put a pin in writing this entry for two months. Oops!

42653795I’m usually a huge fan of Lauren Willig’s standalone novels, but this one was tough. Set in the Caribbean and told partly in flashbacks, it was hard to keep everyone straight – who exists in which time period, who is European and native, etc. But it’s clear that most of the characters suck, which is to be expected when it comes to white people and the exploitation of black people on sugar plantations.

I started out reading this in hardcover, but never wanted to bring the book with me anywhere, so I borrowed an ebook from the library. It was a lot easier to pick up on my Kindle app on my phone for a few pages at a time (though perhaps this contributed to my confusion about who and when things were happening. I did like a bit of the open-ended ending, but at that point, I was so confused and upset that I was mostly happy the book was over.

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen

36608892Georgie and Darcy are married!


 ETA 3/24/19: I clearly forgot to finish reviewing this and now I’ve forgotten much of the book. But publishing this to remind me to come back for it later.

The English Wife by Lauren Willig

34945222I had to finish this book quickly in order to not get another late fee from the library and for once, I really wasn’t eager to do so. I think this is the first Lauren Willig book where I’ve been #TeamNobody.

There are two stories being told simultaneously – one is Janie’s as she tries to find the truth about the death of her brother Bay and his wife, Annabelle – and the other is Annabelle’s a few years earlier as she meets Bay and starts a life with him. Nothing is as it seems and things are very confusing. Is Annabelle pretending to be someone else? What’s the real truth to Annabelle’s past? And of course, who killed Bay and Annabelle (assuming she died since they never found her body)?

Everyone is both obliviously awful and maliciously awful to each other, so it’s hard to root for another. Janie’s the most likely hero, but even she is wishy-washy and ridiculous a lot of the time. Plus, we don’t get find out important things like why she doesn’t have suitors or how she got be so meek. Why is her cousin so awful to her all the time? Does her cousin really support Bay in his chosen lifestyle or does she just like fucking with people?

In the end, Janie finds “love,” the killer is discovered and there’s a small measure of justice, but there’s so much left unanswered and Bay is still dead. I still want the questions answered, but I’d had enough of all the characters to last a lifetime.

On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service by Rhys Bowen

32969127I have several books to finish from interlibrary loan, so I grabbed this one next, as this series is always a quick read. I had forgotten about Georgie’s trip to Ireland, but it came back soon enough. It’s quite nice that she’s (almost) settled, though it does seem that perhaps there’s an end to this series coming.

Which may be a good thing because Georgie is becoming a little bit like Jessica Fletcher. I’m surprised that Queen Mary hasn’t noticed that every time she sends Georgie on a little spying mission, someone ends up dead and Georgie has to solve a murder. And given the short amount of time that seems to pass during and between books, she’s racking up quite a body count.

This installment takes us to Italy, where Georgie is ostensibly visiting Belinda, who is waiting to have her baby, but really she’s been “invited” to a house party to keep an eye on the Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson. There’s intrigue, Hitler, and perhaps a preview of Georgie’s life as a Catholic wife. Oh and Georgie is almost raped – twice. But then her would-be rapist is killed, her mother is blamed and of course, the local police is useless. It would be a nice change of pace to the the local law enforcement not a group of bumbling fools, but then, I guess, Georgie wouldn’t get a save the day in her own way. Georgie’s fiancee, Darcy, is also about, spying on the meeting that’s taking place under everyone’s nose, trying to get the Prince of Wales on the side of Hitler and Il Duce. Sigh.

The whodunit is pretty well done, so I didn’t figure it out until much later than usual, which was great. There aren’t any new books listed, but fingers crossed we get at least one more, so Georgie and Darcy can finally get married!

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

30841109Over Thanksgiving last year, I went on a book buying spree with my family, picking up a few new releases, including this one. I was excited to read it in advance of the PBS airing of the ITV mini series. I’ve previously enjoyed books by this author and I knew that she was also the showrunner/head writer for the mini series. I gave it to my mom to read before I left and she enjoyed it as well, so I was ready to love it.

Unfortunately, I just didn’t very much. Perhaps it was because I saw a bit of The Young Victoria on cable as I started reading it, so this felt like a retread. Or it was just too slow going in the beginning. Once Victoria stopped behaving like a spoiled child, it was much easier to read. I mean, I get that she’s the Queen and like 17 when this all happens to her, but there was a little too much stamping her feet and having a crush on Melbourne for me. Or maybe it was Melbourne indulging her instead of being the adult that I couldn’t take.

In any case, it wasn’t until about halfway through the book that I actually felt interested and/captivated. I’m also quite curious why the mini series appears to go way past the events of the book, if they were written at the same time. Regardless, I’m happy to finally catch up on the mini series and check this book off my list.