Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Halló Bookworms,

Today we’re going to Iceland. Yes, the land of Björk and that volcano that destroyed air travel for a time in 2010 (Eyjafjallajökull, say that three times fast!) Every blogger in all the land, it seems, read and adored Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, and I could no longer in good conscience go about having not read it. Call it peer pressure. In any case, I just finished reading Burial Rites, and I’m going to tell you all about it. Whether you like it or not. Because I’m just like that.

burial ritesBurial Rites tells the story of Agnes. Agnes is accused of the murder of her employer and one of his associates. She was convicted of the crime with along with two companions, and sentenced to death. It’s 1829. And it’s Iceland. They didn’t exactly have a great prison system infrastructure, so they sent Agnes to  the modest family farm of a low ranking government official to await her execution.

At first the family is pretty freaked out at the idea of keeping a convicted murderer in their home. They live in an old-school Icelandic dwelling where everyone sleeps in a single room- a murderer in their home meant a murderer in their bedroom. Agnes isn’t really what they expect, though. She’s not some blood-thirsty knife-wielding psycho, she’s a woman well versed in farm work who never balks at the icky tasks. As time goes on, Agnes’s heartbreaking story slowly comes to light.

The novel is based in part on a true story- Agnes did, in fact, live. She was convicted of murder in 1829 and sentenced to death. Hannah Kent did a beautiful job of giving a voice to a person who would otherwise be lost to history. A gorgeous, heart-wrenching book.

I really enjoyed Burial Rites, but I’ve got to admit I fell down the Wikipedia rabbit hole several times while reading this. I know virtually nothing about Iceland, so I kept looking things up. My real stumbling block, though, was the names. Holy cow, Icelandic, man. Accent marks and umlauts and discordant groupings of consonants! I’ve heard that Finnish is the most difficult language to learn (that’s according to an eccentric English professor I once had) but Icelandic has got to be right up there. Wowza.

Talk to me, Bookworms. Do you know much about Iceland? What are your immediate associations with it? (Anybody who says D2: The Mighty Ducks gets 5 knucklepuck points!)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

Hey There Bookworms,

I loooove me some Emma Donoghue. You might remember that from me going on and on about Room (review) and Astray (review), so it won’t surprise you to hear that when I found out Emma Donoghue had a new book on the horizon, I had to get my grubby little hands on it. I typically get the books I review (at least as far as ARC’s go) through Netgalley or publisher pitches. This is the first book I’ve ever reached out to the publisher and downright begged for. Luckily, the very sweet representative from Little, Brown, & Company obliged me and sent me an advanced copy of Frog Music. (Thanks Meghan!) *Even though I’m super grateful that I was sent a free copy of this book, my review will remain honest and whatnot. But for heaven’s sake, it’s an Emma Donoghue, it’s not like it was going to suck anyway.*

frogmusic

Frog Music takes place in 1876 San Francisco. Blanche is a French circus performer turned burlesque dancer/prostitute living the Bohemian life with her  layabout paramour and his buddy. The city is in the grips of a record breaking heatwave AND a smallpox epidemic. After a short acquaintance with the enigmatic Jenny Bonnet, Blanche’s world is rocked when Jenny is shot dead through the window of a railway saloon. (That’s not a spoiler, y’all, it’s like the first scene.)

Jenny Bonnet was a heck of a character. She was repeatedly arrested for wearing pants. Yup, back the day, dressing in “men’s clothing” was grounds for arrest. Crazy, right? Jenny was a frog catcher by trade. She delivered these frogs to San Francisco’s many French restaurants. Because frog legs are tasty… To people who aren’t me. (I don’t much care for them, but to each their own, I say!)

And Blanche? Absolutely fascinating. I don’t know why I’m always so enthralled by tales of prostitutes, but they’re all so dang varied and interesting. The girl ran away to join the circus, emigrated to the US, and became one of the most successful (ahem) entertainers in San Francisco. Her friendship with Jenny put Blanche’s life on a completely new trajectory in ways Blanche never saw coming.

The craziest thing about this story? It’s TRUE! Well, it’s based on a true story, and I read the author’s notes at the end- this novel was very thoroughly researched. Jenny Bonnet was indeed a woman murdered in 1876 San Francisco. She was in the company of Blanche, a burlesque dancing prostitute. Her murder was never officially solved, though the list of suspects was not short. Was it an enemy of Blanche? An enemy of Jenny? A random drunk who liked shooting people through windows? Very mysterious.

You guys, this book was AWESOME. I could not put it down, I simply had to know all the sordid details of Blanche and Jenny’s lives. I had to know about the smallpox epidemic sweeping the city. I also had to get a visual image of Jenny’s Highwheeler bicycle (though I prefer the term “Penny-Farthing” to describe the contraption.) Can you imagine trying to ride that thing?

File courtesy Wikimedia Commons, author Dave Hogg.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons, author Dave Hogg.

Tell me, Bookworms. Is there a particular type of character you’re drawn to in books? Am I the only one who is absolutely enthralled by ladies of the night? (In a non-sexual, purely literary sort of way. It’s hard to talk about hookers without sounding pervy.)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

The Fellowship of the Worms: The House Girl

Welcome, Bookworms!

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300It’s that time again. The Fellowship of the Worms is now in session! This month’s selection was The House Girl by Tara Conklin. WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of The House Girl and give it a read. This post will be here waiting for you when you finish. Now that the particulars are out of the way, I’ll remind you of the premise here. I’ll pose questions in bold and answer them in regular type.  If you don’t want your opinions influenced by my rantings, stick to the bold first. Feel free to answer them in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, on your own blog. A linky list will be provided at the end of this post for anybody who has reviewed The House Girl on their own blog, even if it has nothing to do with the following discussion questions. Don’t be shy, please link up!

1. The House Girl is told in a dual narrative, switching back and forth between Lina in modern day NYC and Josephine in 1852 Virginia. In addition to the two major narrators, there are a number of additional characters advancing the story through letters. Did you enjoy the multiple perspectives? Did you find it added or detracted from the story Conklin was trying to tell? 

Personally, I dig the dual (or more) narrative. I like being able to get inside the heads of multiple characters. I thought Conklin did a great job in fleshing out Josephine and Lina’s personalities. Though, if I could lodge one small complaint, it’s that I couldn’t get inside the head of Lu Anne Bell. What a crazy contradiction SHE was. I’m always interested in how people rationalize cruelties to themselves. Given what Lu Anne clearly knew about her husband’s non-consensual relationships with his female slaves, it’s no wonder she seemed to yo-yo between compassion and jealousy when dealing with Josephine.

thehousegirl

2. Do you think that Lu Anne intentionally passed off Josephine’s art work as her own? Do you think she would have done things differently had she known the notoriety the art would eventually garner? 

Lu Anne was a complicated character, I’m a little obsessed with her, since I was thwarted in my desire to get inside her head. The Pollyanna in me doesn’t think that Lu Anne had any idea that the artwork she and Josephine (okay, mostly Josephine) created was going to become famous. Of course, as much as I’d LIKE to think that Lu Anne would have taken steps to ensure proper credit was given had she known what was going to become of the art, I doubt she would have changed her actions. The product of her shameful environment, that one.

3. Lina is the daughter of the artsiest artists in all the land, and yet she chose to pursue a career in law. What in her upbringing to you think helped spur her decision to choose a career so based in reason? 

Lina’s upbringing was never quite stable. When it was just Lina and Oscar, their existence always seemed precarious. I think Lina’s choice of career was based in part on the desire to have some financial security (I can’t blame her for that!) I also think there was an element of rebellion there… She sort of goes Alex P. Keaton and rebels against her artsy upbringing by going corporate. (If you’re too young to get my Family Ties joke, get thee to the CBS.com. Full episodes!)

4. As a house slave, Josephine walks a lonely road. How does her unique status contribute to her desire to run? 

Poor Josephine! Because she was tasked with domestic duties, she was separated from the field workers. However, being in the house didn’t mean that she was a part of the family- she was still a slave, for heaven’s sake. She was stuck in this crappy middle ground trying to muddle through. Yes, she had relationships with Lottie and a few others, but Josephine was still separate. Oh, yeah. And being in the house only made it easier for her master to make his nocturnal visits- that sure as heck wasn’t a perk. Loneliness, prolonged sexual abuse, and, uh, being property? Yep. Seems like enough motivation to get out of Dodge to me!

5. How did you feel when Oscar dropped the bombshell about what really happened to Lina’s mother Grace?

What I want to know is how this was even possible. I know Grace told Oscar to tell everyone she’d died, but COME ON. It can’t be that easy to disappear! Wouldn’t people be suspicious that there was no funeral or memorial service? Maybe artsy people don’t do funerals? The whole thing seemed really weird to me. I’m glad Oscar came clean and gave Lina her mom’s contact information, but sheesh! What would you even SAY to your fake dead mother?! I can’t even.

Tell me your thoughts, Bookworms! How did you feel about The House GirlPlease link up if you’re so inclined! 

Top Ten Tuesday: Hist-ART-ical Fiction

Howdy Bookworms,

It’s Tuesday and you know what that means! The ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have tempted me with yet another list prompt. Today they’ve asked us to list our top ten books in ANY GENRE WE WANT. I can make up a genre, right? I mean, if I can think of ten books with a similar theme it should count as a genre, shouldn’t it? Historical fiction with  a work of art as a centerpiece is my genre of choice today… I’m going to call it Hist-ART-ical Fiction!

histarticalfiction

1. Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland:  This book follows a fictional Vermeer painting back through time from the present day to its inception. It’s chock full of interesting historical tidbits throughout the eras. I also learned a surprising amount about flooding in the Netherlands… And windmills. Bonus!

2. The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier: The dual narrative is a popular style when it comes to hist-ART-ical fiction, so it’s lucky I love it. A modern American woman moves to France with her husband and uncovers her ancestral history… Along with a very particular shade of blue paint.

3.  I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis: Based on the fictionalized life of the woman who modeled for the world’s most famous painting, I, Mona Lisa takes you deep into Renaissance Italy. You really can’t go wrong with Florence as a backdrop, I tell you. Add DaVinci and throw in Savonarola (the dastardly art hater) and you’ve got yourself a tasty piece of hist-ART-ical fiction!

It's the mother-flipping Mona Lisa, y'all! (Source)

It’s the mother-flipping Mona Lisa, y’all! (Source)

4. I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira: (my review) Mary Cassatt meets up with Degas and Renoir and Monet and Manet in this book and it’s a heck of a good time. I love me some French Impressionists! Funnily enough, I was watching The Simpsons earlier today and Sideshow Bob referred to the Impressionists as “the boy band of the art world.” The art snobbery of a cartoon character can’t destroy my enthusiasm. It’s all so pretty!

5. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant: Ah yes, back to Renaissance Florence! The young daughter of a cloth merchant is enthralled by the painter the family brings in to decorate their chapel. Art and love and Florentine drama ensue… There’s a rather scandalous tattoo involved as well.

6. The Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier: Another Chevalier? Don’t mind if I do! This book is based on a very real painting by the Dutch master Vermeer. It’s some kind of amazing, I tell you, even if there’s a rather cringe inducing ear-piercing scene…

7. The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes: (my review) More delicious dual narratives! This book is half set during WWI in occupied France and half set in present day England. A (fictional) painting vastly important to two women at the two points in time interweaves the stories. It’s Jojo Moyes, so it rocks pretty hard.

8. Leonardo’s Swans by Karen Essex: Renaissance Italy and the master of them all, DaVinci! This book explores the lives of the models of some of DaVinci’s lesser known pieces. The fame obsessed were as desperate to be immortalized on canvas as reality show contestants are to be immortalized in trashy television. Plenty of scandal to be had!

9. The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan: (my review) Man, I love the crap out of reading about the people behind the art. The model for Degas’s super famous ballerina sculpture? The Painted Girls tells Marie’s story as an impoverished ballerina-in-training. It’s as amazing as you think.

Image from Metropolitan Museum of Art

Image from Metropolitan Museum of Art

10. In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant: Alright, this isn’t as art-centric as everything else on this list, but it’s set in Renaissance Italy, so the art is THERE, if not center stage. Plus there’s a prostitute and a dwarf- how can you go wrong?

Honorable Mention: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. This doesn’t get to count in the official list because A. I haven’t read it yet, and B. it’s really not historical fiction. BUT it’s got a painting in a pivotal role, so it semi-counts.

My dear artsy Bookworms, do you have a favorite hist-ART-ical fiction book?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira

Bonjour Bookworms,

Let’s talk about art. I’m not going to pretend that I understand much art, but I do have a soft spot for the French Impressionists. I got a calendar at the dollar store when I was like 10 and I was all “oooooh pretty!” I’ve been a sucker for Impressionism ever since. I have two Monet poster prints hanging in my office at work. What can I say? I’m a fan. When I saw that I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira got all up in the inner circle of the French Impressionists, I JUMPED at the chance to read it.

ialwayslovedyouFull Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The fact that I’ve been staring at Monet daily for for years to psych myself up was just a bonus.

I Always Loved You focuses on a young Mary Cassatt. She moved to Paris after the American Civil War in order to focus on her painting, but after 10 years she’s feeling disenchanted. Just as she’s about to throw in the towel and moved back into Pennsylvania when she’s introduced to the enigmatic Edgar Degas and his band of misfit painter pals.

Renoir and Manet and Monet, oh my! All the household French Impressionist names are represented in this book with all the behind the scenes glory that only historical fiction can provide. Mary Cassatt is one of the less familiar names among the Impressionist crew, so it was really cool to get a better idea of what she was all about. Heck, I never realized she was an American, given that she is always listed in tandem with the French masters.

This painting is discussed in detail in the book. Check out more of Mary Cassat's work

This painting is discussed in detail in the book. Check out more of Mary Cassatt’s work at www.marycassatt.org

I Always Loved You also provided me with a lovely parallel. One of the books I really dug last year was The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan (my review). That novel focused on the life of the model for one of Degas’ most famous works, Little Dancer of Fourteen Years. This novel offered a little peak into Degas’ perspective while working on the sculpture, and it was wonderful. These books compliment each other beautifully.

 Tell me Bookworms. Have you ever met two books that just sort of belong together? 

*If you choose to make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio

Hidey Ho Bookworms!

I’ve been feeling more blah than usual this winter. Perhaps the double dose of polar vortex is taking its toll, but I’ve got cabin fever something fierce. I’ve been finding refuge in my comfort fiction- short-ish novels with pretty covers and garden motifs. A while back, one of my favorite people in the UNIVERSE, Jennifer AKA The Relentless Reader, offered up some spare copies of Sarah Jio’s novel The Last Camellia. I said, “me, me, pick me!!!” into the twitter, and she sent me a book out of the goodness of her heart. (Shout out to Jen, she’s got winter way worse than I do, she’s up in Northern Wisconsin.)

thelastcamelliaThe Last Camellia is written in a dual narrative, which is delicious, because I love ping ponging back and forth in time. I’m a regular Marty McFly. The first part of the story is set on the eve of World War II. Flora is a young woman living with her parents in Brooklyn. She has a passion for horticulture (girl after my own heart) but her ambitions are stymied by her family’s poverty. Her parents are extremely kind and generous in the running of their bakery, but when you’re not getting enough dough for your, uh, dough, shady characters show up and try to shake you down for money. When Flora is offered the opportunity to go to England and hunt down the last remaining Middlebury Pink Camellia, she jumps at her chance to make some money for the family. Unfortunately. she’s stealing the rare flower for a crook who plans to sell it to the Nazis, but her conscience takes a back seat when it comes to her family’s welfare.

The second narrative is that of Addison… Addison married Rex, the son of a well-to-do family with connections to England’s aritstocracy… Or part of the aristocracy? Titles confuse me. Anyway, they two end up spending their summer in the very same manor Flora occupied 60 years earlier, and Addison is particularly entranced by the camellia orchard. Sadly for Addison, she can’t just get her garden on, because she’s being stalked by her scandalous past. This book has intrigue and drama and mystery. A few of the mystery elements seemed a little rushed at the end, but all in all, I found this book to be a nice little read. I think it’s impossible for me not to like a book about flowers.

Alright Bookworms. Let’s talk about comfort reading. Is there a genre of books you feel drawn to? What’s your happy place?

*If you choose to make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will not be spending the proceeds on camellias, because APPARENTLY, it’s too cold for them in central Illinois. Hmph.*

Jazz Age January: The Other Typist

You know what’s the bee’s knees, Bookworms?

The Roaring 20s! I had such a great time reading The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty (my review) that I thought I’d participate in Jazz Age January (put on by the very cat’s pajamas, Leah at Books Speak Volumes) again and tackle The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell. What can I say? When the giggle juice is flowing freely in the speakeasy, I get a little carried away.

jazzageThe Other Typist begins with  young woman named Rose telling the story of her life. She grew up in an orphanage, but thanks to some enterprising nuns championing her cause, she was able to attend good schools and soon secures a position as a typist in a New York City police precinct. Unaccustomed to wealth and privilege, Rose is quickly enthralled by the glamour of the newest typist at the precinct, Odalie Lazare.

Odalie is a force of nature, sweeping through the city and dabbling in moonshine and bootlegging. She is the quintessential flapper, from bared knees to bobbed hair. Odalie invites Rose to move from a modest boarding house and into her swank digs. Rose accepts her offer and is drawn deeper into Odalie’s luxurious, freewheeling, and potentially dangerous lifestyle. As often happens in these sort of arrangements, things begin to get complicated…theothertypist

Odalie may not be all she appears to be. Then again, perhaps Rose isn’t either. When I picked up The Other Typist, I was expecting some charming historical fiction, and the slow drift into psychological drama territory caught me by surprise. The ending left me reeling (and frankly, kind of confused…) If you like to dabble in madness and bathtub gin, The Other Typist may just be your new best friend.

Bookworms, I simply must know. If you lived during Prohibition, do you think you’d have partaken in a little tippling under the table? Who among you would’ve hit up the speakeasy? (I probably wouldn’t have turned my nose up at a good sidecar, I can tell you that much… )

*If you make a purchase through a link in this post, I’ll receive a small commission… Which will probably go toward the purchase of some cocktails, to celebrate the legality of it and all.*

Jazz Age January: The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

Get a Wiggle on, Bookworms,

jazzageIt’s time for Jazz Age January! Leah at Books Speak Volumes is hosting this swell event. Today we’re going to celebrate this sockdollager with some great reading about the 1920s! My first pick for this event is The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, and was it EVER the bee’s knees!

The bulk of the book is set during the summer of 1922. Cora Carlisle is a 36 year old woman in need of an adventure and some answers about her past. When the opportunity presents itself to chaperone a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks to New York City for the summer, Cora jumps at the chance.

thechaperone

Unfortunately, Louise isn’t an easy gal to chaperone. Oh no, that little dollface has her own agenda that doesn’t include propriety, sobriety, or any other -iety. Louise is set on having a gas in the big city. Though Cora has her hands full trying to keep Louise out of trouble, we soon learn that Cora is no stranger to controversy.

Cora’s decision to accompany Louise was based in large part on her desperate desire to uncover some information on her birth family. Yep. Ye olde Orphan Train strikes again! Cora was shipped off from NYC as a 6-year-old and moved on to a life on a Kansas farm. But that’s not all. Cora’s life has more secrets than meet the eye and her trip to New York is more fruitful than she ever imagined.

I think what really made this book a winner for me was the opportunity to view social issues through a 1920′s lense. Cora’s escapade with Louise in the city was a vehicle to look at the era as a whole. Prohibition. Women’s suffrage. Birth control. Homosexuality. Marriage. Social hierarchy. It was downright titillating.

Oh, and BTW, modern folks, Louise Brooks goes on to become one of the most famous movie stars ever. She ruled silent films, but her difficult attitude led to her untimely downfall in the film industry. Louise’s life was crazy, but certainly never boring. She published her memoirs shortly before her death in 1985 to great acclaim. It would seem Louise managed to get the last laugh.

What is your favorite book about or written in the 1920s? Has anybody else read The Chaperone? What did you think?

*If you choose to make a purchase through a link on this site I will make a small commission. This little flapper wouldn’t mind those berries.*

North and South by John Jakes

Holy Moly, Bookworms!

My friend Lauren from Filing Jointly demanded that I read North and South by John Jakes. She was all, “Katie, it’s like if The Pillars of the Earth was set during the Civil War.” And I was all, “Ooooooh, that sounds wonderful.” Technically, I finished this after midnight on New Year’s Eve, so I’m going to say it counts as my first official read of 2014.

north and southThis bad boy was chunkster-iffic. Weighing in at 812 pages, I was shocked to get through it in less than a week. Family scandal and treachery will do that to you… As well as vacation days. (I love you, vacation days!) North and South begins a trilogy of books that tell the epic tale of the Mains and the Hazards.

Orry Main and George Hazard meet as cadets at West Point in the 1840s. Though Orry hails from a slave-owning plantation in South Carolina and George’s family owns an iron company in Pennsylvania, the two strike a fast friendship. Their friendship isn’t without struggle though. Even prior to the outbreak of the American Civil War, tensions ran high between the North and the South. There was fiery rhetoric on both sides of the Mason/Dixon, and it was kind of scandalous for a Yankee and a Southron to be hanging out.

Orry and George graduate from West Point and go on fight in the Mexican-American war together. After their service they each return home to their respective families and continue their lives. As the years progress, the friendship endures, but political tensions rise. Plus, they’ve got these big crazy families and businesses to run. It’s all so intense and passionate!

I have a tiny complaint though. Elkanah Bent is our resident villain. He is super evil and has been deviling the Main and Hazard clans since Orry and George’s days at West Point. I don’t object to a villain, I mean, villains are necessary and interesting and wicked. What I found unnecessary was that Bent was the only overweight character in the entire book. If you’re read this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m super sensitive to authors writing unsympathetic descriptions of obese people, and Bent’s obesity was used as another aspect of his evilness. That I could have lived without.

What I can’t live without? The rest of the doggone trilogy. Holy cats, you guys, I’m enthralled. Heck, I’ve had spirited conversations about Ashton Main (Orry’s sister) and the pantalettes she refuses to keep in place (if I were ever going to slut-shame a fictional character, it’d be Ashton Main)! Epic historical family sagas are where it’s at!

Is anybody else out there a sucker for a saga? Tell me your favorites! 

*If you decide to purchase North and South through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Hi Ho there, Bookworms!

I hope everyone’s holidays were spectacular! I know I enjoyed myself, but now ’tis the season to get back in the swing of things. Shall we?

I spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming about how I would cope if I were sucked back in time. I blame Diana Gabaldon for my obsession, but the concept is pretty universal. What would you do? My biggest concern is the fact that I wear contacts. I can’t believe that people back in the day had significantly better eyesight that the current population, which makes me wonder how they coped with the blurriness… Of course, I can afford to focus on trivialities like eyesight because that because my ancestor weren’t enslaved simply based on the color of their skin. Slavery was THE WORST.

kindredKindred by Octavia Butler explores the story of a woman named Dana. Dana lives in the 1970s in California with her husband. She’s African American and he’s a white dude, but aside from the occasional bigot with an attitude problem (who are sometimes family members), they’re able to live a fairly nice life… That is, until the day when Dana is mysteriously transported back in time and space and winds up in antebellum Maryland.

Time AND space! How much does that suck? She was totally living in California in the 1970s, but back when it became a state in 1850? Slavery wasn’t legal. Still sucked to be black because civil rights were awful, but at least you weren’t OWNED. Poor Dana is linked to this redheaded kid who lives on a frickin’ plantation in Maryland. She gets yanked back across time and space every time his life is in danger, which for this kid is a LOT. Time travels a lot faster in the past than in the present, so five years in the antebellum South is little more than eight days when coming back to the here and now. Oh yeah. That’s the other part. In order to GET back? Dana has to nearly die herself. Sooo, that sucks.

I really enjoyed this book and the concept of time travel being linked to a specific person. Dana’s struggles as a modern woman encountering slavery are stunning. She comments over and over again on the ease of accepting the most outrageous sorts of dehumanization. It gives a unique perspective to a modern reader who simply cannot fathom how slavery ever existed. I do, however, have one small complaint. The ending was a bit abrupt. I felt that Dana’s “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment should have come earlier, but that’s just a tiny objection intermixed with a whole heap of love. If you have any interest in fiction involving time travel or the antebellum period in history, I highly recommend you check out Kindred by Octavia Butler.

So, Bookworms. If you were to be carried back in time (let’s leave out the SPACE part for the sake of argument), what would be your biggest concern? Spectacles? Pestilence? Lack of deodorant? Tell me!

*If you make a purchase of Kindred using a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*