The Printed Letter Bookshop

By Katherine Reay

“Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition. I loved that line. I’d laughed out loud when I stumbled across it and read it at least five times to commit it to memory. It was so true. It applied to work and it applied to life. So much did not call for rational opposition.”

This book was much better than A Portrait of Emily Price. The characters were complex and flawed. Although I didn’t like them or their actions all of the time, I was rooting for them and interested in their development. The author did a superb job of painting the characters fully. She showed where they were coming from when they did or felt stuff I couldn’t relate to.
The romance was pretty lame, but that’s OK because it was really just there to add another shade to the character. All three of the women ended up improving or repairing the relationship with their men. There was definitely a much more prominent Christian element in this one. Some will love it and some will roll their eyes and page on by. I liked it OK.
The author told the story from the 3 perspectives of the 3 women. I did find it difficult to follow who was talking when because she changed tenses and went from 1st person to 3rd person. Some of her writing was awkward, and I sometimes had to re-read passages because it seemed like I missed something. Sometimes I had, and sometimes I hadn’t-It was her mistake or oversight. Her sentences didn’t always flow into each other smoothly or logically. And that took me out of the story.
Ending on a positive note, I did add a couple of books to my TBR pile and will add more, I’m sure, once I peruse the list of novels and non-fiction that are mentioned somewhere in the book. I will definitely be reading Dear Mr. Knightley. But unless it is fantastic, probably not anymore.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

June 9, 2020

A Portrait of Emily Price

by Katherine Reay

This is a well-written book, but there was not a lot going on. I wouldn’t call it a romance exactly because it was basically love at first sight for Ben and Emily and it was smooth sailing from there. They were nice and normal, but that doesn’t make for gripping character arcs or plot. There was a minor personal problem that Emily felt compelled to help people, but was it really a problem? She kept finding jobs for her younger sister when all her sister wanted to be was a party planner. But it was on her sister Amy to put her foot down, not Emily. But then Emily moved to Italy so that whole “conflict” was dropped before it could lead to any kind of drama or showdown. She lost her job, but no problemo there either. It freed her to move to Italy. And besides, she was offered a dream job in short order anyway. Her true passion, painting, was missing something that kept her from being a professional rather than a hobbyist, but that was easily solved by choosing the right subject at last.

When she moved in with Ben’s family she didn’t fit in, but she didn’t do anything wrong at all. It was due to Ben’s mother who was hostile to her for no fair reason, but she had the beloved patriarch and the true power in the family totally on her side as well as her husband. However, I was disappointed that Emily was never honest with Ben about how toxic his mother was. She never spelled it out. Another missed opportunity for drama. The big focus was Emily’s uncovering a mysterious mural that concealed a big family secret, but she did this at the request of the head of the family. So again, she had nothing to apologize for (even though she kept apologizing for everything for no good reason.)

This author reminded me of Rosamunde Pilcher or Elizabeth Cadell. Not quite the charm or the period feel but with the atmosphere and ambiance of place and geography, in this case, a small Tuscan village. I can easily see myself dipping in to many more of her books. This one was nice. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

June 8, 2020

Dear Mr. Knightley

By Katherine Reay

I thought I would really really love this book. I like the two other books I read by the author. I thought they were well written. I love Daddy-Long-Legs and Jane Austen, and epistolary novels in general. But I didn’t love this. I’m not going to rant and rave about it. I will just say that the main reason was that I didn’t like Sam, the heroine. I didn’t understand her, I was bored by her, and she was a real pill throughout the whole book. I was over her at the 4% mark when she was at the end of her rope and out of nowhere she was gifted a full scholarship to Northwestern’s prestigious School of Journalism, and she wanted to ungratefully wheedle out of journalism and into English literature. And the book itself, Sam’s journey to be her real self, whatever that means, was so long, repetitive and boring. I don’t understand why people cared about her and loved her so, like the Muirs and Alec. Maybe because she looked like Anne Hathaway? And since I didn’t value Sam, I didn’t get the romance which went on and on. And then she turned on him for no reason (not talking about the big reveal here, but her rage when he went to New York.) I did like this wise quote towards the end:

Self-protection keeps you from love, Mr. Knightley—all love. I am so sad at how I’ve kept them at a distance—the Muirs, Alex, Father John, Kyle, Hannah . . . anyone and everyone who has ever stood by me. I played God in our relationships. I determined their value and their worth by how much I let them in, by how much I let them determine my worth. I’m not God.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

July 7, 2020