From the author of One Hundred and One Dalmatians and I Capture the Castle comes a newer novel: A Tale of Two Families.
My first impression of this book was that it was going to resemble Smith's I Capture the Castle in more ways than this novel actually did. Her characters are impressionable, and every one of them lends a new perspective and voice to the novel. It feels as if you're set down amongst these two families; for the first half of the novel, there is little action in the plot besides what is in people's thoughts of what they might do in certain circumstances. It is as if the action creeps up on the reader, and--with the arrival of a very colorful character to Dower House in the English countryside--the novel picks up. The slow paced first half is not at all unpleasant; it rather mimics the switch from the fast moving London to the slow life of Dower and its residents.
Sarah Strange (an intriguing name choice) is perhaps the most likable character in Smith's novel. She addresses intellectual concepts to the reader while being portrayed at times as less-intelligent than the more major characters. Her matter-of-fact acceptance of what occurs in her life shows her to be a woman who thinks of others and hardly gives a thought to herself and to her own happiness. Something about her makes me want to read the parts with her in them again, as if I missed some quality at first.
More to come on this title...
My rating: 3/5 stars
Faults: The pacing was too slow
Praises: Character development was good, but not stellar
This book changed my life.
Seriously, it did. After school hours when I was in elementary and middle school especially, I would spend time in the small library reading A Gentle Calling. The historical fiction element was what first drew me in, and I learned a great deal about the foundations of Methodism as it began and started to gain ground in England.
The places fascinated me and so did the characters, but none more strongly than Catherine Peronett herself. As I grew up with the novel, I loved rereading the stories of Catherine and her brother Ned as well as the Wesley brother. Catherine's struggles to find God in her life always struck me as sincere, and led me to think about my own life as a result. Ned's composition of his hymns was gripping to read, because as he struggled with the correct phrasing of what he wanted to express in the hymns, I was silently encouraging him to continue.
Knowing that these characters really lived (with the exception of Philip Ferrar) caused me to love this story even more than if they were fictitious characters. Donna Fletcher Crow truly brings out the heart of the religious tension in Cambridge, England and the surrounding areas in the 1800s.
My rating: 5/5 stars
This book is targeted to young adult readers, and I believe that for the age group it was spot on in terms of the narrative and plot development. The idea of being stuck inside a game has appeared in many books, movies, and other forms of media. However, Velde writes from a vantage point that is a fresh take on an old idea.
She cleverly combines fantasy, futuristic ideas, and the familiarity of tales of knighthood to draw the reader in. I was captivated by her characters and their development throughout the story. Every time the game reset, it was as if I was Giannie in her frustration to reach the end alive. I applaud the well-crafted writing and entertaining plot. This is a good book for all ages, even I was entertained reading it as a college student.
My rating: 4/5 stars