#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ by Anne Bronte #BookReview #Victorian @Audible #Audiobooks

I read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall too many years ago, in my teens, when I read all the Bronte sisters’ novels, but I just couldn’t for the life of me remember much about the story. So, as the version I read, narrated by  Alex Jennings and Jenny Agutter was on Audible Included, which means that as a member, I could listen for free, I decided to have a go at the audio version. I wasn’t surprised when I was hooked immediately, I’ll tell you why right away.  

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall Audiobook By Anne Brontë cover art

From the Blurb

Fleeing a disastrous marriage, Helen Huntingdon retreats to the desolate mansion, Wildfell Hall, with her son, Arthur. There, she makes her living as a painter. Finding it difficult to avoid her neighbors, she is soon an object of speculation and gossip. Brontë portrays Helen’s eloquent struggle for independence at a time when society defined a married woman as her husband’s property.

Before I start my review, I’d like to tell you why I love Audible. I know I’ve told you many times already, but it’s even better now! My monthly credit allows me to buy one audiobook of my choice every month, plus there are daily deals and frequent sales and two for the price of one offers, plus there are loads of free listens in the ‘Included’ catalogue, which has new additions every week, and there are podcasts.

And I love to listen to audiobooks while I work out, go for walks, do the cooking, the laundry, the cleaning, clearing out cubboards, and much more! Here’s more information, in case you’re interested. (By the way, I have no commercial affiliation to Audible, I just wanted to share how great I think it is!) 

My Review

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was easy for me to enjoy. You all know how much I love Victorian Fiction, and as I had completely forgotten about the plot, it was like reading it for the first time. 

It’s a very long, three volume novel, as was the custom of the time. It is over 800 pages and over16 hours of narration time. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the second and final novel by Anne Brontë, the youngest of the Bronte sisters. Her first novel was Agnes Grey, which I only vaguely remember, so I’ll probably be reading it again, soon, too.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was first published in 1848 under the pseudonym of Acton Bell. Although it was very successsful, it was considered the most shocking of the Brontë’s novels, and I can’t imagine why, because the main female character, Helen, is so very pious that she is at times quite nausiating. In fact, I was often furious with her subservient behaviour, especially in the third part of the novel, but more about that in a moment.

The first volume is narrated by Gilbert Markham (by the way, one of my new favourite romance heroes!), who is telling his friend about how he came to meet the Tenant of Wildfell Hall. He was intrigued and fascinated by Helen Graham, a beautiful and aloof, young widow, who moved into the crumbling, old Hall, with her young son, Arthur. They do eventually (very eventually), become friends, but then she becomes the target of local gossip and it is discovered that she is not a widow, because her husband is alive.

The second volume is narrated by Helen, who gives Gilbert all the letters she wrote from when she met her husband to the moment she left him. Here she shows herself to be a devoted wife, who is in love with an unworthy husband, and although she put up with a lot of psychlogical and some physical abuse, she was finally strong-willed and determined enough to abandon him.

This part of the novel certainly gives us a clear insight to the life of the country gentry and servants of the era, as well as the submission of women, even wealthy women, to their husbands,  fathers and religious notions of women’s piety.  I both pitied and admired Helen at this point, because I thought I was going to read a 19th century, #MeToo novel, and I almost did, but as I read the third part I discovered I was wrong. 

This third part, narrated by Gilbert, describes how she returned to her husband and what happens afterwards, but I won’t spoil it for you by telling you how the ending comes about. I will tell you I was exasperated with both Gilbert and Helen, and her brother, but especially with Helen, for being so obstinate and submissive. So, although I did enjoy the ending, I found it was not the feminist novel I had been expecting to read.   

A modern editor would have reduced the novel by half, even I, lover of Victorian literature, was impatient for something to happen and maddened by the going round in circles of the same events, and long drawn out conversations, which did not move the plot forward a single inch! 

There are two major difficulties in reading this type of Victorian fiction, for the modern reader; in the first place the excessive length, verbosity and repetition of certain parts, and on the other hand, the cultural and emotional distance, with contemporary readers. The later makes it hard to understand or sympathize with their passive acceptance of patriarchy, gender differences and medieval attitude to religion, and the former can become frustrating.  

However, there was one aspects that reminded me of contemporary society; harmful and spiteful gossip and blatant lies, which still occurs today, except nowadays it would spread on social media, instead parlours and at sunday service.   

I would recommend the audio version, because it brings the characters and events to life and makes the tedious parts more enjoyable (and you can speed them up!).

I hope I haven’t put you off, because it really is worth reading. The prose flows smoothly and the vocabulary and expressions are gorgeous, and you will be rewarded with an authentic, first-hand glimpse of what life was really like for women, men and children, in Victorian England. 

Have you read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall? What was your impression?

 

 

 

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Call Me Maybe’ by Cara Bastone #BookReview #Romance @Audible #Audiobooks

Today I’m reviewing an Audiobook, which is not available in print, at least not at this time, and quite honestly, it’s such a perfect audiobook that I can’t imagine ever wanting to read in print or kindle.

Call Me Maybe Audiobook By Cara Bastone cover art 

From the Blurb

Can a customer service call really lead to love at first talk?

True love is on the line in this charming, laugh-out-loud rom-com—created specifically for the audio format!

Paint your toes. Pick up the wrong coffee and bagel order. Drive from Brooklyn to Jersey in traffic so slow you want to tear your hair out. It’s amazing all the useless things I can accomplish while on hold for three hours with customer service.

My shiny new website is glitching, and my inner rage-monster is ready to scorch some earth… when he finally picks up. Not the robot voice I expected but a real live human named Cal. He’s surprisingly helpful and really knows his stuff, even if he’s a little awkward…. in an adorable way.

And suddenly I’m flirting with him? And I think he’s flirting back.
And suddenly it’s been hours, and we’re still on the phone talking and ordering each other takeout while he trouble shoots my website.

And suddenly we’re exchanging numbers and sending texts and DMs every day, leaving voice mails (who even does that anymore?!).

And suddenly I’m wondering if it’s possible for two people fall in love at first talk.

****

Before I start my review, I’d like to tell you why I love Audible. I know I’ve told you many times already, but it’s even better now! My monthly credit allows me to buy one audiobook of my choice every month, plus there are daily deals and frequent sales and two for the price of one offers, plus there are loads of free listens in the ‘Included’ catalogue, which has new additions every week, and there are podcasts.

And I love to listen to audiobooks while I work out, go for walks, do the cooking, the laundry, the cleaning, clearing out cubboards, and much more! Here’s more information, in case you’re interested. (By the way, I have no commercial affiliation to Audible, I just wanted to share how great I think it is!) 

Call me Maybe is on the free Included catalogue for members. 

My Review

What can I say? I was hooked from the first line.

I was about to start my weekend chores and I thought I’d listen to some light romance, believe me, it makes ironing and peeling potatoes, so much more motivating!

I didn’t know what to expect, but it didn’t matter, because it was free and I could leave it and start another book if I didn’t like it, but of course, I didn’t stop listening until the end.

I’m a fast audioreader, because I put the speed on 150 usually, so I got through the 6 hours in a few hours less. My kitchen and whole house were spotless by the time I finished reading! 

It was a hilarious, fun, sweet, uplifting romance between a shy, tech nerd and a fun-loving extrovert, who do not meet until the very end of the audiobook. There is no sex, phone or otherwise, but there is a lot of chemistry and magic between Cal and Vera. 

The characters are engaging, believable and both so unique and so likeable that I loved getting to know them. This is because the dialogue was well written, but that’s only 50% of an audiobook, the other 50% is due to the narrators who were absolutely perfect.

There was a small plot twist towards the end, which wasn’t hard to see coming, but it made the end even sweeter.

I love discovering new authors and I’m glad I got to know Cara Bastone. I’ll probably be reading or listening to some of her other books, such as Just a Hearbeat Away in the future (my TBR pile is endless and growing every day!).

Just a Heartbeat Away (Forever Yours Book 1) by [Cara Bastone]

(I couldn’t resist the temptation, so I started Just a Heartbeat Away last night, on my kindle. It’s such a sweet romance, with such endearing main characters, but more about that another day!)

Do you listen to audiobooks? Which was the last one you listened to? And if you don’t, I think you really should!

 

 

 

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Other You’ J. S. Monroe @Scribd #BookReview #Tanka #MedicalThriller

The Other You: a gripping and addictive new thriller for 2020 by [J.S. Monroe]

From the Blurb

Is he who you think he is?

Kate used to be good at recognising people. So good, she worked for the police, identifying criminals in crowds of thousands. But six months ago, a devastating car accident led to a brain injury. Now the woman who never forgot a face can barely recognise herself in the mirror.

At least she has Rob. Kate met him just after her accident, and he nursed her back to health in his high-tech modernist house on the Cornish coast. When she’s with him, the nightmares of the accident fade, and she feels safe and loved.

Until, one day, she looks at Rob anew – and knows, with absolute certainty, that he has been replaced by an impostor. Is she right? Have her old recognition skills returned? Or is it all in her damaged mind?

*****

My Review

The Other You is a spine chilling techno and medical thriller.

It’s a well plotted and tightly written novel. It has engaging characters; some are the good guys, who are led astray, and others are villains, who are very, very cunning and evil. Part of the suspense is figuring out who the good and bad guys really are.

The plot of The Other You brings us face to face with actions which push well over the limits of ethics, by using technology to fuel unlimited greed.  It makes us think about how far science and technology could go to literally take over our lives and even our minds.

It is an enthralling, entertaining and fast paced read, with a frightening, but believable premise and engaging characters. A 5-star read!

I listened to the audiobook version which was brilliantly read by Eilidh Beaton.

Especially for lovers of disquieting psychological and medical thrillers.

By the way, you can get it for the price of a coffee on kindle, right here!

Amazon.com author page

Amazon UK author page

Scribd

My Double

If I could live twice,
I’d be both saint and sinner.
My double and me,
We’re under your very eyes,
But you will never see us.

****

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Love Her or Lose Her’ by Tessa Bailey #Romance @Scribd #Audiobook #BookReview

Today, after a few heart-pounding thrillers, I’m reviewing a sweet and steamy, second chance romance, Love Her or Lose Her, by Tessa Bailey.

Love Her or Lose Her: A Novel by [Bailey, Tessa]

From the Blurb

Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.

****

My Review

Love her or Lose Her is a sweet and steamy, second chance romance by Tessa Bailey.

It’s easy to fall in love with your High School sweetheart, marry and expect a happy ever after, but what happens when real life takes over dating and having fun? Can couples stay in love after marriage? What’s the secret to staying in love after years of marriage?

There is plenty of food for thought in this apparently light romance. Why do couples fall out of love? Why do some pull through, while others split up? It’s a complex question, and although this novel isn’t a deep, psychological or sociological analysis of love and marriage, it did make me wonder about why love doesn’t always last and how to decide if it was a mistake or whether it’s worth making the effort to pull through the rough patch.

Rosie and Dominic are a young married couple who has fallen out of love. Tessa thinks her high school sweetheart and husband doesn’t love her any more and she leaves him. There is no cheating and no third parties involved. They’re both unhappy because over the years they’ve given up their cherished hopes and dreams and they’re not communicating their feelings or needs.

Some of the best moments of the novel are the sessions with their unique and insightful marriage guidance councillor. It made me think I know a few couples who would benefit from his therapies! And it made me realise how vital it is for a couple to communicate their feelings and if they can’t, how important it is to get professional help, before deciding to break up.

A sweet, second chance romance. A nicely written and plotted romance with angst, humor and lots of food for thought.

 Especially for readers who are in a very romantic, feel good mood!

Scribd link to Love Her or Lose Her

****

Tessa Bailey

Tessa Bailey is the New York Times Bestselling Author of the Line of Duty Series. She lives in Long Island, New York with her husband and exuberant daughter. When she isn’t writing, eating cheese, listening to true crime podcasts or reading romance, Tessa enjoys a good argument and thirty-minute recipes.

Follow Tessa on twitter.

Tuesday

Photo taken on my morning walk, in Córdoba, 4th February, 2020

Check out my other reviews!

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Dutch House’ by Ann Patchett @ParnassusBooks1 #BookReview #Audiobook by @TomHanks

The Dutch House: A Novel by [Patchett, Ann]

I am ashamed to say that this is the first novel I’ve read by Anne Patchett, and I’m so glad I read it. I was so impressed that I read her most famous novel Commonwealth, straight after, and I enjoyed it even more, but more about that another week.

The Dutch House (from the blurb).

Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. The story is told by Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakeable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

****

Ann Patchett

ANN PATCHETT is the author of seven novels and has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including England’s Orange Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the American Bookseller’s Association’s Most Engaging Author Award, and the Women’s National Book Association’s Award. Her books have been both New York Times Notable Books and New York Times bestsellers. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages.

In November, 2011, she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, with her business partner Karen Hayes.  She has since become a spokesperson for independent booksellers, championing books and bookstores. In 2012 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

****

My Review

The Dutch House is such an emotional novel that I had to wipe away some tears as I listened to the last lines.

It’s hard to describe the beauty of the story and the smoothness of the prose, in a novel where nothing exceptional happens and yet so many extraordinary things take place over three generations.

Danny, the narrator, is an honest and endearing character. We first meet him as a child trying to understand the world and the contradictory adults in his family. As he grows up, he becomes a generous and reliable narrator who tells every character’s story with insight and empathy.

Danny chronicles a tragedy about dysfunctional families, including deficient parenting and the destructive power of jealousy leading to cruelty bordering on abuse, and yet it’s also an uplifting tale of love, forgiveness, and goodness.

Nothing is repaired, because the past can’t be changed, and yet everything works out, because life’s like that; it’s a cycle, so, in a way, we are always going back and revisiting the past, occasionally, as in this case, with some improvement.

A warning, the beginning is slow, but it’s well worth persevering, and if you can, listen to Tom Hanks magnificent reading. Unforgettable.

A must read for anyone who enjoys family sagas set in 20th century USA, and for those who believe in the healing power of forgiveness.

*****

More reviews by Luccia here!

#TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ by Heather Morris @Audible

I’d heard about this novel when it first came out, but it was after recently listening to an interview by Richard Armitage, who is the narrator on Audible, that I decided to purchase it with my monthly credit, and I’m so glad I did. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is more than a book, it’s an emotional experience.

BLURB

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

 

****

My Review

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is one of the most emotional love stories I’ve ever read. It’s about Lale and Gita, both from Bratislava, who meet and fall in love in a concentration camp in Poland.

It’s the story of Lale’s resourcefulness, strength, tenacity, goodness and love for Gita, during the three years they spent in the camp, and how he found her again when they lost touch after leaving Auschwitz.

It’s also about the horrors of war, the cruelty humans are capable of, and the need to take risks and compromise in order to survive.

The struggle for survival in extreme situations is complex and unimaginable for those who have never experienced it. The emotional and psychological cost of that survival is just as unimaginably distressing, and also comes across in the narrative. 

Yet the end of the novel, the epilogue and their son’s testimony, makes it ultimately an uplifting novel, because there is more gratitude and faith in the future than bitterness or desire for vengeance about the past.

In the end it’s not a novel about war or evil, it’s about the power of love.

Did I tell you I listened to the audio version brilliantly read by Richard Armitage?

US Buy link

UK Buy link

Read more of my #TuesdayBookBlog reviews.