Monday, February 15, 2016

Book Review: Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey

Etienne de Brabant is brokenhearted. His wife has died in childbirth, leaving him alone with an infant daughter he cannot bear to name. But before he abandons her for king and court, he brings a second child to be raised alongside her, a boy whose identity he does not reveal.

The girl, Cendrillon, and the boy, Raoul, pass sixteen years in the servants' care until one day a very fine lady arrives with her two daughters. The lady has married Cendrillon's father, and her arrival changes their lives.

When an invitation to a great ball reaches the family, Cendrillon's new stepmother will make a decision with far-reaching effects. Her choice will lead Cendrillon and Raoul toward their destiny -- a choice that will challenge their understanding of family, test their loyalty and courage, and, ultimately, teach them who they are.

In my “papers” somewhere or other there is a very long, very rambling, and very enthusiastic review for this story... But it simply wouldn’t do.

Because that’s not quite the story. Not that I don’t feel rambling and enthusiastic about it, but the beauty of this story (and the other books in this series that I have read so far for that matter) is its fresh simplicity. Oh no, not simplicity of plot, that takes some breath-taking spins on the good-old fairy-tale. But they have a “moral” and the story spins out around it. For instance, this one focuses on the power of love. Not so much romantic love as the kind of love that grows strong even when there is no earthly way it could have grown there. Love that grows in forsaken places and transforms frozen wastes into places of abundant and pure beauty. Or sunflowers as the case may be: a flower I love and whose symbolism is stunningly beautiful in here.

It’s “Cinderella” with a twist completely opposite to the original, but that doesn’t weaken the center of the tale in the least. Cendrillon is forsaken and lonely... it’s just who she’s forsaken by (and who becomes her family). That, my friends, is my favorite part.

The end is perhaps a little rushed (as in, she only knew Certain People some twelve hours before she has Very Definite feelings for them), however that didn’t really bother me because of other people and happenings. Hence I thought it actually worked out quite adorably.

It is a golden, sunshiny, romantic tale to set your heart aglow on the coldest of days.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Book Review: Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery

Her whole life, Jane had believed her father was dead. It was, therefore, quite a shock to receive an invitation to stay with him for the summer on Prince Edward Island. From their very first meeting, Jane falls in love with her charming father and his whimsical cottage on Lantern Hill. A whole summer of fun and adventure, meeting neighbors, and making friends―far away from her grandmother's dreary house in the city. If only she could get her mother to come too.

As Jane juggles her love and loyalty for both parents, she dares to dream...a dream that she and her parents could live together without Grandmother directing their lives―of a house where they could all find home.
(from Amazon)

I went on a holiday this past week (six days by my record) to Canada in Toronto and on P.E.I, to wit the coziest little place tucked up in a hill overlooking the gulf. It was named Lantern Hill and I was with my friend Jane (isn't there some poem or children's book that mentions “my friend Jane;”? I think it's in My Mama's a Llama… where am I going with this?) Let us return to Jane of Lantern Hill because that's where I was. And oh, was it a glorious time. Baking, exploring the country-side, looking through her little bedroom window at the moon above the hill, delighting in all the blooming green things in her garden, listening to the sound of the gulf. It doesn't matter that I was a thousand miles and 75 years away from there, I was still there. Because that, my friends, is the magic of story and most especially the gift of Montgomery.

All of L.M. Montgomery's stories are made of beautiful descriptions, but this one surely has the most beauteous of them all, for instance…

The little flower-beds were edged with blue forget-me-not's and in one corner was a big, clump of early, dark red peonies. Violets and plots of red and white daisies grew under the parlor windows.

And each one becomes only more lovely, perfectly showing the world through the eyes of a deep-hearted young girl.

The girl Jane: lover of spring winds and the call of the sea, practical and house-wifely, with a fine glow of imagination. She is exactly that type of person who would make the dearest of friends.

Her father Andrew Stewart is one of those men with keen jaws, laughing eyes and fly-away hair (where are they all now I wonder? :)) and you may be sure it was awe-filled admiration for me at the first word of description. He might just equal Roger Penhallow as one of my Favorite Heroes. Let there be a shocked pause, because that means I really like him.

Jane's mother is golden, laughing, and not quite grown up in many ways for her status in life because her wealthy childhood was not one to mold her well for its challenges. However, she does makes Jane the most darling mother and behaves quite well at the end. And her name is Robin. One of my aunt's is named that and I’ve always thought it the prettiest name, so I ended up quite loving her.

Reading this story is as if you have the magic gift to be able to pop into the wondrous freshness of spring at any moment and that is a very dear gift indeed. Yes, siree, I loved it and you may well believe that Jane of Lantern Hill and her refreshing tale are now on my shelf of most beloved stories.

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