[DWJ] Best and Worst of 2007

Elizabeth Parks henx19 at gmail.com
Thu Jan 3 12:06:38 EST 2008

On Jan 2, 2008 9:27 PM, Allison Marles Gryski <apm at alumni.uwaterloo.ca> wrote:

The Secret Countess by Eva Ibbotson (YA historical romance)
  I know some people here really like this book, and that's why I read
  it.  But it wasn't for me.  This book is embarrassingly bad. I was
  hoping for something like a Georgette Heyer, but what I got was the
  sort of romantic slush that Heyer's heroines are forbidden from
  reading. While some of the characters are occasionally charming, the
  events feel terribly contrived. The good characters are nauseatingly
  perfect and the ludicrously evil characters have no redeeming or
  realistic qualities.  (I mean, really, it's not bad enough for the
  "other girl" to be tricking the hero into marrying her just for his
  title, not to mention being nasty and self-absorbed and duplicitous?
  No, just to make it really clear that she was the baddie, she had to
  essentially be a Nazi too.  I laughed out loud at that point ... and
  in the laughing AT not laughing WITH sort of way.)

Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindberg (non-fiction, philosophy)
  This book retains a surprising amount of relevance given its age. Some
  of the unwritten assumptions about a woman's life are obviously
  dated, but the ideas of simplicity, accepting growth in
  relationships, and living in the present moment are all still
  extremely applicable to modern life.  I liked the conceit of using
  sea shells to explain and remind one of the concepts discussed.


It's funny that you say that, because I felt exactly the opposite way
around with those books.  I find Eva Ibbotson's earlier books, like
-Countess- or, my favorite, _The Morning Gift_, to be incredibly
wonderful.  The heroines are too perfect, and Ibbotson frequently puts
down things I rather like (like vegetarianism and the bluestocking
movement, just a bit), and the villain in Countess was over the top,
and yet: there is something so beautiful, so simple, so
aware-of-the-world and choosing to be good in this low-key, homespun
sort of way.  I don't frequently find wholesomeness this appealing.

Gift from the Sea, though, I thought was ridiculously (I'm biting back
about seventeen words here, because I know a lot of people love it,
but. . . ) terrible.  It struck me as cheesy and gimmicky and overly
simplistic.  It would be the one I would label embarrassingly bad.

and I think the point here is not that either one of these books was
wonderful or terrible, but that people have different tastes, and
different things they guard against or let in.



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