Thursday, May 21, 2015

Full Moon

Full Moon
by P.G. Wodehouse

Despite marriage to a millionaire's daughter and success as a vice-president of Donaldson's Inc., manufacturers of the world-famous Donaldson's Dog-Joy, Freddie Threepwood, Lord Emsworth's younger son, still goes in fear of his aunts when at Blandings Castle. Full Moon tells the story of how he faces them down while promoting the love of Bill Lister and Prudence Garland. 

A charming Blandings comedy with a full Wodehouse complement of aunts, pigs, millionaires, colonels, imposters and dotty earls.

My Reaction:
I agree with the last line of the blurb.  Yes, this is a charming Blandings comedy.

It felt like we dragged this one out a little too long, what with one thing and another, so I don't have many clear memories or exact reactions.  To be honest, as much as I like Wodehouse, many of his books do tend to run together in my mind.  However, I remember laughing a lot, so it must've been pretty good. 

Bits that I do recall as being especially funny:
--Freddie Threepwood's unwavering enthusiasm for Donaldson's Dog-Joy...

--Bubble-headed (but beautiful) Veronica, whom I can just hear saying "Dad-dy"...

--Lord Emsworth's wish to have the likeness of the Empress of Blandings captured for future generations to enjoy...

Monday, May 18, 2015

Houses of Stone

Houses of Stone
by Barbara Michaels

It is a find of inestimable value for Karen Holloway. The battered manuscript she holds in her hand—written in the nineteenth century and bearing the mysterious attribution "Ismene"—could prove a boon to the eager young English professor's career. But Karen's search for the author's true identity is carrying her into the gray shadows of the past, to places fraught with danger and terror. For the deeper she delves into Ismene's strange tale of gothic horror, the more she is haunted by the suspicion that the long-dead author was writing the truth . . . and that even now she is guiding Karen's investigation, leading her to terrible secrets hidden behind the cold walls of houses of stone.

My Reaction:
As a fan of modern gothic fiction-- and Jane Eyre-- I was intrigued by this novel's premise, however the reading experience was not one of unalloyed pleasure.

My patience was tested by the protagonist's unhealthy obsession with feminism, and I could've done with a little more interaction between the annoying "heroine" and the two potential suitors.  If there's a romantic element in a book, the author should really take the time to include some romance.  (Seriously.  So tired of books that skimp on the romance, then expect me to swoon when two characters who have barely conversed during the bulk of the book are suddenly "Ohmygosh, So In Love" on the last few pages.)

That said, I wanted to know how it would all come out-- Ismene's identity, the denouement of the manuscript, and which "lucky" guy Karen would choose.  Though Karen and Peggy's scattershot method of investigation was a bit mind-numbing at times (so much looking, so little finding), the story kept me entertained.

Specifics (with SPOILERS):
--  "The other booksellers with whom she dealt were not given to joking about their profession-- as one of them gloomily put it, peddling the printed word to a nation of semiliterates was no laughing matter..."

Hm.  Sure, it would be great if more people saw the value of reading and enjoyed it, but I wonder at what point in history and in what country a bookseller would find a significantly more literate populace.  Maybe movies, TV, video games, and the Internet have pulled away some of the potential audience, but everyone in the modern US has the opportunity to learn to read (and very few lack the leisure time to do so, if reading is prioritized). 

--  "Simon considered Mozart the greatest composer who had ever lived, with John Lennon a close second."  Oh, gag.  I actually like Simon, but this?  *eyeroll*  Gee, Simon is super cool-- for an old dude!

--  Each chapter begins with an epigraph on the subject of women writers/women's place in literature.  There are two or three eyebrow-raising ones from Nathaniel Hawthorne, including this snippet he wrote in a letter to his publisher, in 1852:  "All women, as authors, are feeble and tiresome.  I wish they were forbidden to write, on pain of having their faces deeply scarified with an oyster shell."

...O-kay... I don't know much about Hawthorne, beyond a couple of readings of The Scarlet Letter.  Apparently he wrote the infamous letter to his publisher in a fit of pique, frustrated by the competition of successful women writers, most of whom he found lacking in strength of authorial voice.  ...I have to say, that bit about the oyster shell is disturbing and doesn't entice me to read more of Hawthorne's work.

--  At some point, I started highlighting all the overt references to feminism and male chauvinism, because there are just so darned many of them in this book.  That is not a good thing, in my opinion.  Newsflash: I'm reading this book for entertainment, not for a lecture on how put-upon poor women writers are-- especially not an extended lecture.  If you have to address it, get it out there and be done with it; don't drag it out over the course of the whole book.  Unfortunately, it is the book-- or one of its threads/thematic elements, at least.

--  I'm stunned to learn that this novel was published in 1993, because the repeated use of the term "male chauvinist" (or "male chauvinism") feels so very dated to me.  I would've sworn this book was from sometime in the late-70s to mid-80s.  When was the last time you heard someone use it?

--  I'm serious.  Male chauvinist this.  Feminist that.  All.  Through.  The.  Book.  It's enough to make you scream.  Hurry!  Don't let a man open the door for you!  Whew.  Just in the nick of time.  You really showed him who's boss.  *eyeroll*  Also, all men want to keep women down in their places at the bottom of the pile.  Every single last one of them has an evil, innate wish to keep all the power and glory for themselves.  Even the supposedly good guys can't be completely trusted to respect a woman's intelligence and ability to fend for herself.  Stay vigilant, my fellow women!

--  "She got out of the car before Hayes could open the door for her.  He stepped back with a faint smile and a slight shrug and she knew he was thinking, 'Another of those damned feminists.'"
--  "Karen reached for the gate.  His hand was there before hers; she let him open it for her."
--  "She let him open the car door too.  When in Rome..."
(Maybe it's time to get a new hobby, Karen.  Your obsession with doors/gates and who opens them is kind of sad.)

--  Guess what, you guys!  Genealogy is also sexist, "since (of course, Karen thought sourly) descent [is] traced through the male".  "Was that information missing from the genealogy because it had not been available to the researcher, or because nobody gave a damn about females outside the direct line of descent?"  Good grief.  Is there any area of life that is satisfactory for this kind of person, or is everything cause for bitterness and discontent?

--  And then, in the midst of the feminism deluge, there comes a sunny ray of humor.  "'The girls are orphans.  Their father has recently died and they have been sent to live with their uncle, their only living relative.  They've never met him.  He and Daddy parted company years before, after a violent quarrel the cause of which has not yet been made clear.'  Peggy's brow wrinkled.  'I read a book like that once.  Forget the title; something about wolves.'  'It's a variation of one of the three original Gothic plots,' Karen said impatiently."

...Am I crazy, or is that a sly reference to one of Barbara Michaels' own previous publications-- Sons of the Wolf?  From what I remember of the plot, it certainly fits...   Now this is something I can appreciate! 

-- Speaking of references, when reading a Barbara Michaels book, I always make a point of playing "Spot the Egyptologist's Easter Egg".  So far, I think I've always found at least one reference to mummies, tombs, scarabs, hieroglyphics-- something.  In this novel, however, either there was no reference, or I completely missed it.  I'm strangely disappointed. 

-- There's a lot of smoking-- especially now that I know this was set in the 90s.   And drinking, of course, but that's not uncommon in even the most modern novels.  It does make me wonder how unique I am, though, as half of a non-drinking couple with no affiliation with a strict cult or something.  No, drinking alcohol isn't against our religious beliefs.  We just... choose not to drink.  We're weirdos who prefer to get our naughty calories in the form of junk food.  I feel like an anomaly, based on what you see in TV shows, movies, books... and online, where it sometimes feels that everyone equates a nice, relaxing evening with a glass of wine or a bottle of brew.  ~shrug~ 

--  "Before long the dangerous word 'herstory' had been mentioned..."  Ha ha ha.  I'm sorry, but I can't take "herstory" seriously.  It's just such a joke.

--  Peggy says: "Conventional history completely ignores half the human race.  What do you think women were doing while their men were shooting Indians and slaughtering animals and cutting down the forests-- embroidering doilies?"  Sheesh, Peggy!  From one woman to another, could you please take a breath and calm down?  It was a different time, and there are plenty of common men who didn't get to be in the spotlight, any more than their wives and daughters did.  That's just the way history is/was...  Also, what's wrong with embroidering doilies?  I mean, I prefer to crochet them, myself, but to each her own... ;o)

--  For two such enlightened women, Peggy and Karen don't always behave like good little feminists.  They gawk at Dorothea, and the subject of her manly size and "androgynous look" comes up repeatedly.  Shouldn't a true feminist be less judgmental of how another woman looks?

--  I don't like it when characters can't talk like real people-- that is, make grammatical errors-- without feeling the need to call torturous attention to it.  Example: "That's him!"  "Your grammar is deteriorating badly."

--  "The outline was that of a man, abnormally tall and thin.  Late-afternoon sunlight pouring through the window at the end of the hall framed his head in a golden halo, but his face was an oval of darkness."  This reminded me of Slenderman-- but that particular thread of the story fades early, never to return.

--  "An animal trail?  But surely deer wouldn't come so close to the house, not when they had acres of wilderness in which to roam."  ...You'd be surprised.

--  Karen at one point wears a sweatshirt with an illustration of Bill Clinton playing a saxophone.  Well, yuck.  As if I needed yet another reason to dislike her! 

--  Woo-hoo!  We found another source of feminist frustration!  "Hadn't she read somewhere that two [of the four elements] were considered masculine and the other two feminine?  Fire would be masculine, of course.  It was aggressive, active, destructive.  And by the standards of those super-male chauvinists, the Greek philosophers, earth could only be considered feminine-- passive, acted upon instead of active."

--  I know it's not actually pronounced this way, but every time I saw the name "Ismene", I kept hearing "EHZ-meh-nay"-- kind of like that ridiculous "Renesmee" from the Twilight series.

--  Peggy corrects Karen when the latter refers to Indians.  ("Native Americans, please.")  Yet, earlier in the book, Peggy herself calls them Indians, so... Hypocrite?

--  "Another (neurotic) habit of hers was to separate the canned goods: all the soups in one group, all the vegetables in another.  Now the mushroom soup rubbed shoulders with the canned peas and the chili was next to the tomato juice."  ...Neurotic?  That's just being organized!

--  Of course the stereotypical fat-bellied Southern "Colonel" refers to the Civil War as "The War of Southern Independence".  Because that was so common in the 1990s.  (No, that sort of crap just never gets old.)

--  Another sure sign of the Good Feminist: She expects women to care about clothes.  "'Cloaks and mantles and hoods and trailing skirts could apply to any time in the century.  You'd think a woman would describe clothes in more detail.'  'I hope you're not implying Ismene was a man.  That's the old male-chauvinist syllogism: Women's books have no literary merit; this book has literary merit; hence this book could not have been written by a woman.'"

--  "But the syllogism is hard to fight.  What the hell do you think feminist critics are complaining about?"  ...Well, based on much of this book, a whole lotta nothin'.  Look, I won't deny that there is sexism in the world-- and that there was more of it in the past-- but not everything is aimed at putting/keeping women in positions of weakness.  It seems that some people might be reading sexism into places where it really doesn't exist.

--  "Joan's red hair was windblown, and she was wearing a bright-green T-shirt covered with feminist mottoes and insignia. " (Of course she was.  Otherwise, she wouldn't be an acceptable friend and ally for our charming heroine.) "The least provocative of the mottoes read, 'A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle'." (That was old news even when this book was first published.  I've never understood why it caught on...)

--  Blah blah blah... (I'm editing my notes, because I'm getting feminism overload.)

--  Yes, Mrs. Fowler is obnoxious, but I totally get her frustration at having her flowers (which some gardeners work hard to grow) broken by the neighbor's cat.  Peggy: "It's hard to confine cats, Mrs. Fowler.  But it's a shame about your pretty flowers."  ...What a lazy excuse!  The author's love of cats comes through loud and clear.

--  After her scandalous lecture at the meeting of the literary club, Karen suffers pangs of remorse:  "It isn't what I said that bothers me-- it's the way I said it.  Not only was it counterproductive, it was rude!  Those poor stupid pompous people can't help being the way they are.  They were trying to be nice to me.  And what gives me the right to assume they are all stupid and pompous?  Am I turning into a damned intellectual snob?"  Turning into an intellectual snob?  Oh, no, honey; I think you've been one for quite some time.

--  Despite her snobbery, Karen isn't such hot stuff, herself!  When Peggy and Karen discuss the manuscript, Karen seems to be less skilled at predicting characters' actions and decoding their motives than historian Peggy.  If Karen's career (and passion in life) is literature, shouldn't she be better at that sort of thing?

"'You really are jumping to conclusions.'  'I'm making educated guesses,' Peggy corrected. 'That's part of the fun of reading mysteries-- trying to figure out the solution.  Ismene has set up the plot, and unless she cheats by introducing a new character or a vital clue at the last minute, an intelligent reader ought to be able to predict what will happen.'"

-- There is not enough Cameron in this book.  I would've loved to have read more conversations and interactions between Karen and Cameron-- preferably something a little less antagonistic than most of what's already there.  Cameron is somehow likeable, even though we know precious little about him.  However, I'm not sure what he sees in Karen.  Must be mostly a physical attraction, because they hardly speak (or even see one another) for most of the book-- and then all of a sudden, they're in a steady relationship! 

--  That said, I was pleased that Cameron "won".  I was afraid Bill (or whatever his name was) would be the hero, and he and Karen would make such a boring couple, imho.  ...Anyway, it's nice when the right guy turns out to be the hero, even if the romantic element as a whole was lacking.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Wildfire at Midnight

Wildfire at Midnight
by Mary Stewart

(Edited) Publisher's Blurb:
A young crofter's daughter is cruelly and ritually murdered on the bleak Scottish mountainside. In the deceptively idyllic Camasunary Hotel nearby, the beautiful but troubled Gianetta Brooke cannot seem to escape her pain or her past -- not even in the remote hotel on the Scottish Isle of Skye. When she discovers that her ex-husband has booked into the same hotel, the peaceful holiday for which she had hoped takes on quite another complexion.

Very soon Gianetta finds herself tangled in a web of rising fear and suspicion. One of her fellow guests, however, is also hiding secrets... and a skill and penchant for murder. And now the killer only has eyes for Gianetta....

My Reaction:
(As is so often the case, I felt that the blurb was full of spoilers, so I've edited it.)

Though the destination of this mystery-thriller was eminently predictable, the journey was captivating and held my interest better than many other, more finely crafted mysteries have done.

Some may say this novel feels dated.  I'd have to agree; however, while a couple instances of "datedness" frustrated or annoyed me, some others lent charm.  Reading one of these old thrillers from the 50s or 60s (this one was published in 1956, I believe) is pleasantly like watching an old movie.  Harking back to another time contributes as much to the escapist/vacation-book/beach-read feeling as the exotic settings Mary Stewart so often chose.

All in all, a pleasant read, though I was irritated by one or two aspects of the novel and its heroine.  (I'll detail them below, because they are distinctly spoilery.)

Specifics (with SPOILERS):
--  In the past (maybe even in other of Stewart's own books), I've made note of the word "scree", only to forget it until I came across it in yet another novel.  Well, if I haven't learned it from this book, there's no hope.  Scree scree scree scree scree!  It practically tumbles off the page.

--  "Bagnio" is a new word for me-- one that I doubt I'll be getting much use from.

--  The descriptions of Skye made me long for somewhere green and cool and misty-- with running water.  Oh, to live within walking distance of a chilly little stream or waterfall!  (Please excuse me; we're getting into the beginning of summer, in the Deep South.  Cool, fresh air and the bubbling sound of moving water is the stuff of fantasy.) 

--  So the mountains in this book are based on real mountains?  I just assumed Stewart had made them up!

--  You just know that Gianetta will end up back with her ex-husband by the end of the book, from the very first mention of him.  And yet we hardly see them interact until the very last pages-- and what we do see of them together doesn't make my heart go thumpity-thump.  Basically what I'm saying is that I wish she hadn't gotten back together with him.  I know; I'm a terrible person for not wanting the reunion of a formerly married couple, but they're not real, so there's no need to feel guilty about it.  ;o)

--  When Gianetta first met her ex-husband, Nicholas, "he had at that time-- he was twenty-nine-- three terrifyingly good novels to his credit, as well as a reputation for a scarifying tongue."  What?  Only three "terrifyingly good" novels?  Pfft!  What a slacker!  And a scarifying tongue, too.  A dream come true.  :o/

--  "Sunset and evening star-- all the works, in fact, in glorious Technicolor."  Yep.  Glorious Technicolor.  Would the under-30 crowd even get that reference, these days?  What about the under-20s?  (I'm starting to feel old-- older every year, actually.  I can't think why!)

--  Marcia Maling (an actress in the book) has a "famous three-cornered smile", which I can't quite picture... Some random person online suggests that it's the same thing as an enigmatic smile.  So... like Mona Lisa, then?  Or maybe it's more like the strange (2nd) illustration in this blog entry.  If that's what Marcia Maling's smile looked like, I can't say that I think much of the standards of beauty so appreciated by the men of this novel... In other words, ick.

--  "Muscular Christianity"?  Never heard of it.

--  "Oh, and there's an aged lady who I think is Cowdray-Simpson's mother and who knits all the time, my dear, in the most ghastly colors."  I always love a good mention of knitting or crocheting in a novel.  I do wonder, though, what those most ghastly colors might have been...

--  "At half past nine on a summer's evening in the Hebrides, the twilight has scarcely begun. There is, perhaps, with the slackening of the day's brilliance, a somber note overlying the clear colors of sand and grass and rock, but this is no more than the drawing of the first thin blue veil.  Indeed, night itself is nothing but a faint dusting-over of the day, a wash of silver through the still-warm gold of the afternoon."

--  "I found myself wondering what was on his mind.  It couldn't just be the strain of starting a new book, though some stages, I knew, were hell."  It's always interesting to get a peek into what an author thinks of his or her own profession-- or of how s/he thinks others view it. 

--  Alma Corrigan is angry and hurt over her husband's obvious flirtation with Marcia Maling.  Gianetta says, "She couldn't help it, you know... She's been spoiled, I suppose, and she is such a lovely creature."  ...Ok.  Maybe she can't help being beautiful and spoiled, but she can darn well stop herself from flirting with married men.  Is a beautiful woman less accountable for her actions than a plain one, simply because she's gotten used to being desired and squabbled over?  What a load of hogwash!

Gianetta continues: "She had to have men's admiration, all the time, no matter who got hurt in the process.  I-- forgive me, but I'd put it behind you, if I were you.  Can't you begin to pretend it never happened?"  ...Um, what?  No, I don't think that's such great advice.  If Alma's willing to forgive, that's one thing, but just pretending that it never happened?  NO, don't do it.

Alma complains about her husband's behavior-- following Marcia around like a lap dog, etc.  "It's all very well saying she can't help it, but what about Hart?  Why should Hart be allowed to get away with that sort of thing?  I've a damned good mind to--" And so Little Miss Know-It-All Gianetta responds, "Do you want to keep your husband or don't you?"  Alma replies that she does, so the Fount of Wisdom goes on:  "Then leave him alone.  Don't you know yet that there's no room for pride in marriage?  You have to choose between the two.  If you can't keep quiet, then you must make up your mind to lose him.  If you want him, then swallow your pride and shut up.  It'll heal over; everything does, given time enough and a bit of peace."

...Now, I won't deny that there's some sense in that.  Yes, if you want to stay married and have a happy relationship with a person even after he's cheated on you, you will eventually have to accept what's happened and move past it.  Otherwise, you'll just make yourself miserable and probably drive him away.  BUT-- I don't agree that you should have to just take it and "shut up" without even broaching the topic.  If he's going to leave just because you dare give voice to your feelings, he's not worth having.  You need to have a serious discussion.  Figure out what went wrong and why, so that it won't go wrong again.  Mr. Idiot-Cheater needs to know-- and express to you-- that he's done wrong.  He needs to want to do better in the future, or else why would you even want to stay with him? 

UGH.  This part of the book just really, really frustrated me-- this sickening attitude of "if you're a good, intelligent woman who wants to keep her man, you need to shut up and forgive him if and when he cheats".   I wonder if Gianetta would've given the same advice to a husband whose wife had "wandered"... Probably not a two-way street.

--  Quite a bit of cigarette-smoking in this book.  Another sure sign of an older novel.

--  The Golden Bough plays a significant role in this novel.  I remember reading another book fairly recently (within a year or so, I'd guess) in which that title was also mentioned.  I wish I could remember which it was... Maybe another of Stewart's books.

--  It's annoying when a supposedly bright character does something so stupid as this... When Gianetta makes the connection between Heather's lost (and found) brooch and Roderick's description of the crime scene, instead of keeping her realization to herself, she blurts out the whole thing to him.  Why?  It makes no sense.  Lazy writing, in my humble opinion.

--  Don'tcha just love it when the Villain delightedly chats to his intended victim about past crimes?  "It was all quite easy," he tells her.  He's so proud of his handiwork!  Let him now proceed to spill each and every last bean.

-- "His eyes met mine ingenuously.  'I think,' he said, 'I must have been a little mad.'"

--  Oh, and then there's one of my very most favorite pet peeves-- a character who can't bring herself to hurt someone in self-defense.  SO annoying.  Gianetta threatens to throw a large stone at Roderick and/or crush his head with it, if he continues to climb up to her ledge.  He tauntingly replies that she "wouldn't do a thing like that"-- "couldn't do a thing like that"-- and no, she can't, so she weakly drops the stone back onto the ledge.  The mental image of a smashed head is just too much for poor old Gianetta.  "I put out both my hands as if to ward off the sight of the violence I could not do."  It's up to her wonderful ex-husband to scare off the Bad Guy, instead. 

Now, I wouldn't relish the sound or sight of smashing a head, either.  I have a low tolerance for gore.  Heck, I have a hard time even smashing a big, juicy bug-- but I'd like to think that I'd have the nerve to at least try to defend myself from someone intent on murder, though.  Wimping out like that is not a sign that you're wonderfully ladylike-- so gentle and sweet and perfect that you just can't bring your delicate little self to hurt another human being.  It's a sign that you may not be tough enough for a brutal world.  I'm not impressed, Gianetta.

--  Roderick, we learn, is truly cuckoo.  He drew a bad lot in life and inherited the crazy gene from his grandmother and father.  So, he's completely nuts-- and acts it, too, at the end of the book.  Laughing and singing at odd times--  doing all sorts of strange things.  But he very conveniently managed to keep all his craziness hidden for weeks.  I mean, he was living in close quarters with this small group of people.  They ate meals together and spoke to him on a daily basis, and no-one could tell he was mentally unstable until this one afternoon/evening when he's magically unable to contain the crazies any longer.  ...I am skeptical.

--  So, the madman has been apprehended and carted off to the lunatic asylum.  Now it's time to sort out the looove story.  Nicholas explains-- no, promises her-- that when Gianetta saw him kissing Marcia, he was "more kissed against that kissing".  He hastens to disabuse her of the idea that he spend the night with Marcia (that was poor Alma's loser of a husband she heard whispering behind the door).  No, nothing so bad as that.  "I merely got-- how shall I put it?-- momentarily waylaid, through no intention of my own."  Gianetta responds, "I'm sure you struggled madly," and Nicholas grins and says nothing.  Be still, my heart!  The romance!  Such swooning!

The heart-melting continues!
"He said: 'I'm not going to begin with apologies and self-abasement, though God knows you have plenty to forgive me for, and God knows, too, why you have apparently forgiven me.  I'll say all that to you later on.'"  ~uncontrollable, almost spasmodic eye-rolling~  Someone fetch me my smelling salts, please.

"Somehow the biggest shock to my egoism was when I found you'd even discarded my name, and my ring."  Well, we the readers know that she'd only shed them at the last moment, to avoid embarrassment when she learned he was at the hotel-- but REALLY?  Dude, you've been divorced for, what?  Three or four years?  Divorced because you were cheating on her.  And your poor pathetic little ego got a shock at the thought that she'd dared to discard your ring and your cursed name?!  Why in Hades should she have wanted to keep either?  You hadn't apologized-- made amends-- expressed remorse or even your continuing affection for her in all that time.  Why in the world should she not have wanted to rid herself of every reminder of your existence?  The nerve of this guy!  He's almost enough to make a man-hater of me.  Of course, then there's Gianetta, who's enough to make me loathe my own sex, as well.  A grand couple they make, the two of them!

But we're not done, yet.  They have some smoochy time (not described in detail, thank goodness), and then there's this exchange:

"'So you're going to let me walk straight back into your life?  After what I did?  After--'
'You said we'd not talk about that.'
'No, I like things made easy, don't I?  It would serve me right if you turned on me now, and told me to get back where I belonged, and stop making a mess of your life.'
'No,' I said.
. . .
'Just don't-- don't ever leave me again, Nicholas.  I don't think I could bear it.'
His arms tightened.  He said, almost with ferocity, 'No Gianetta, never again.'"

~tremulous sigh~
That was so... beautiful.
~wipes away a tear~

...Why can't my husband cheat on me so we can get a divorce and then fall back in love again without ever actually discussing what went wrong between us, so that there's no reason to suppose it won't just happen again?

--  So.  Is it any wonder that-- even though I swear to you that I knew for most of the book that Roderick was the murderer, despite the red herring evidence pointing to Nicholas-- I was wishing (up until CrazyRoderick replaced CharmingRoderick) that Gianetta would somehow end up with him instead?  I mean, sure, he's psychotic, but at least he wasn't an egomaniac cheater.  Right? ;o) 

--  Gosh, I do so love ripping into characters like this!  It makes up for the annoyance of reading about them in the first place.  ...And again, I actually enjoyed this book, when I wasn't fuming about cheaters and Gianetta's know-it-all act.

-- ETA:  Reading another reader's review reminded me of yet another frustration.  At some point in the novel, Gianetta begins to suspect Nicholas (the ex-husand) of being the murderer.  This is a man she was married to for at least a couple of years, remember, so it's a bit odd that she's so easily suspicious that this man she loved/still loves could be a killer.  Then, when the murderer's true identity is revealed, there's precious little discussion/internal monologue on the subject of, oh yeah, twenty minutes ago, I thought Nicholas was trying to kill me, but now I know he wasn't, so everything's peachy, tra la la.  It's not at all believable.  Or, well, not believable for a remotely intelligent person.  Nicholas should've been at least a little more disturbed, too, that the woman he supposedly loves could have suspected him of those brutal crimes.

I guess you're just not supposed to be thinking when you read these things!