Author: Tracy Chevalier
Published: Plume, 2001
Where I Got It: I sound repetitive, Goodwill
Why I Read It: I loved Girl with a Pearl Earring by the same author
I was hooked by the very first page, no, the very first sentence.
"I woke this morning with a stranger in my bed."
What a hook. I just had to keep reading! Anyways, within the opening pages, Queen Victoria dies. Two seemingly different London families living different lives meet at the cemetery to mourn her. One family looks towards the future and change, the other family is firmly rooted in their Victorian ways. These families become entwined with each other and the rest of the book follows them throughout nine years of ups and downs.
Some argue that the mothers/wives of the two families, Kitty and Gertrude, are the main characters of the book. I believe that their daughters, Maude and Lavinia, are the two stars. They endure the most change throughout the story. We watch them grow up through the eyes of their parents, friends, household, and each other.
There are a lot of characters and side stories; usually, this would throw me off and annoy me. Here, not the case. All of the characters are fresh, interesting, and realistic. Each individual's voice is distinctive and offers a new perspective to the story. The cemetery, where the two families originally meet, acts as a character itself. It's where the title of the book came from, where many other significant events take place, and represents Victorian England's obsession with death.
An interesting side story is Kitty Coleman's involvement in the women's suffrage movement. The actions that she takes greatly affect both families, and lead to the heartbreaking ending. I felt I learned a great deal about not only the suffrage movement, but also about Victorian/Edwardian customs in the household and for mourning.
I loved everything about this book. I love books that are either found by accident or are seemingly unheard of that turn out to be jewels. This is definitely one of those; a keeper to read over and over. 5 stars.
I read Remarkable Creatures by this author and loved it. I own Girl with the Pearl Earring and the Lady and the Unicorn but haven't read them. This sounds like a good one!ReplyDelete
I have to give this book a try. I've read "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" and thought it was good.ReplyDelete
I really enjoyed Girl with the Pearl Earring and Virgin Blue, I'm excited after reading your review to read this one as well!ReplyDelete
I bought this one after I read and enjoyed Girl with the Pearl Earring, then promptly forgot about it. Thanks for the reminder!ReplyDelete
I also really enjoyed The Girl with the Pearl Earring, and that first sentence would hook me as well :) Sounds like a book worth picking up!ReplyDelete
This was actually the first Chevalier book I read and I really enjoyed it. She does a great job capturing the essence of a historical period while still creating characters that the reader can relate to. The story was very original too and I liked that it was not predictable.ReplyDelete
This one sounds really good! :-)ReplyDelete
I liked your review of this book!ReplyDelete
I'm actually doing a giveaway of it on mine!
I read this years ago and it has been one of my favorite books ever since. I've reread it countless times. I'm always really glad to see other people enjoying it! Thanks for the lovely review!ReplyDelete
This sounds interesting. I haven't read 'The Girl with the Pearl Earring' but I've heard only good things about it. I think I'll put this one on my 'to-read' list.ReplyDelete
I just ordered it. It sounds great!ReplyDelete
The first sentence is most definitely a fantastic hook. That alone makes me want to know what is going to happen. Then, after reading your review, I for sure knew that I want to read this book. It sounds great. Need to add this to my list. Thanks. :DReplyDelete
I loved "Girl with a Pearl Earring" as well. This one needs to be on the TBR list too - especially after you shared that opening sentence! Talk about a hook!ReplyDelete
I linked this as part of my Friday Five at Kate's Library.
Have a great weekend!
I think this novel was the first Tracy Chevalier I read, but I loved it. I should really re-read it. I have enjoyed all of her books, but there's something just a little more magical about this one.ReplyDelete
sounds like a great read, I've really enjoyed both the girl with a pearl earring and the lady and the unicorn so I must read this on soon!ReplyDelete