Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Why I like living in the 2000s

If you read this blog, you know I love Deanna Raybourn's Silent in the Grave and Silent in the Sanctuary. I'm looking forward to reading book three in the series and did a bit of googling to find out more. Well, I discovered Raybourn's wonderful blog--and the name of her next book: Silent on the Moor! The bad news? It's not due out until March 2009--but the good news is that it's going to be a really long book (600 pages or so)--yay! Isn't it fabulous that authors blog and have websites and share all sorts of wonderful tidbits with their readers? I think I may re-read Silent in the Sanctuary again. I'm just in the mood for some fabulous Julia and Brisbane interaction.

Anyway, my latest read is Rebecca Ryman's Shalimar. The subtitle reads: "A novel of romance and espionage in nineteenth-century Kashmir." To be honest, I'd subtitle it: "A novel of politics, some espionage and what-some-people-might-deem-romance." This is actually one of the few times that I wanted a map in a book. The setting is in India/Kashmir/a bunch of other places I've never heard of. So....I was lazy and didn't look up a map; therefore part of the story was lost on me, I'm sure.

The book follows several storylines--politics of that era (late 1880s), Russian spies, English intelligence agents, some other people and a "romance" between Damien and Emma.

The book is seen through from Emma Wyncliffe's eyes. She is a headstrong spinister (insert conventional headstrong spinster stereotypes here) who is coerced into a marriage with Damien Granville--a landowner in Kashmir. Why didn't I like this couple? Well, in their first meeting, Damien tells Emma that he supports physical punishment for cheating wives--and in India, it's a pretty rough punishment. In their second meeting, he slaps her. Um, that sort of action is NEVER acceptable. I don't care if he was angry; it was absolutely wrong.

It's not like Damien spouted off support of wifely abuse, but his actions somewhat supported it. (Rebecca Ryman is a pseudonym for someone who was raised in and lived in India [but isn't Indian? Her bio didn't say.]. So I wonder if her heritage or religion had anything to do with presenting Damien in this manner--and Emma, for that matter. Emma was upset, etc., but didn't condemn Damien for his treatment of her.)

Basically, the convenient marriage romance--which I normally like--didn't work for me. The espionage parts of the book (and there were plenty) sometimes confused and bored me. At the end, the storylines do come together nicely, if somewhat unbelievably and suddenly (for example, the identity of the random Armenian slave girl that all sorts of people are looking for).

So...overall, it honestly wasn't a bad read, just not engrossing and with a shoddy romance--but I would not re-read it, that's for sure!

Rating: 6.5/10

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