January Releases eARC Reviews: Miss Austen & How Quickly She Disappears

miss austen gill hornbyMiss Austen by Gill Hornby

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Categories: Historical Fiction

Goodreads

I received an advance copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Miss Austen is the story of Cassandra Austen, who famously destroyed most of the letters exchanged with her sister Jane. I enjoyed the witty dialogues, so very like the way the books are written, and I think it’s where it shines. I was however bored with it rather soon, despite its attempts at making a (fictional) dramatic account of Cassandra’s love life, Jane’s depression and jealousy of other women. All the characters seem to be taken right out of Jane Austen’s novels (on purpose, I assume), all wit and clear heroines vs antagonists, which did not work well for this novel, in my opinion. I hoped for more well-rounded characters. I was engrossed by the story at times, but much too often I was simply bored. The predictability of the plot (which, considering it’s based on real events, can’t be avoided) was not helped by the writing, or the characters. If you’re craving some Austen in your life, I think you’ll enjoy this, especially how much you see of Cassandra in this. I itched to know more about their real lives. The novel, although witty and loosely based to real events from the Austen family’s lives, did not feel quite strong enough.

how quickly she disappears raymond fleischmannHow Quickly She Disappears by Raymond Fleischmann

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Categories: Mystery, Literary Fiction

Goodreads

I received an advance copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

I hardly ever give a book 1 star, because I’d rather DNF it, but I basically rage-read this to the end, as I only realized it was going to be a 1 star read when I was past halfway through. Clearly, I had several issues with this book: first, this is one of those where the main character is clearly a woman written by a man, annoyingly so; for example, she rubs a photograph of herself all over her private parts before delivering it to the man who seems clearly obsessed with her, as some sort of rage/power move against him, like “OH you’re crazy, murderous and a psychopath who probably kidnapped my sister and maybe killed her? Here’s my POWER MOVE”. I can’t conceive that a woman would DO that. It also felt to me constantly that the native people (and black people) in the book are treated with stereotyping and were continuously treated as Others (“wilders”) who were not quite like the main characters – oh, and his German is not quite passable either. There is also underage twin incest, completely unnecessarily to the story. It felt that constantly, all the damn time, the author was trying to shock us into reveals, adding tidbits such as that to keep the story from falling apart due to absolute boredom. I did finish the novel in the end, and did not even get the answers I actually cared about. Not much happens at all, then things suddenly happen and it’s all very frustrating and doesn’t quite work.

I’m quite sorry I disliked this book so much – I was quite enchanted by its premise. The writer DOES write really well, it was the one thing that kept me going through with the book at all. I wanted a literary mystery set in a claustrophobic, cold setting and got badly written characters whose only personality traits were “I’m German” or “I’m not German”, really. Oh, it’s also a quite quick read if you rage-read this.

12 thoughts on “January Releases eARC Reviews: Miss Austen & How Quickly She Disappears

  1. Ugh, that’s too bad about How Quickly She Disappears! It was one of my anticipated releases for the month and I had a library hold placed, but you’ve absolutely convinced me that my reading time would be better spent elsewhere so I’ll be cancelling that. Sorry you suffered through it, but at least you ended up with a great 1-star review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oops I feel a little guilty now making you cancel the library hold! I haven’t actually seen other reviews on this yet, I wonder if other people had entirely different experiences with this book… and I must say that writing 1-star reviews is not something I do ever, but omg it was fun.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Don’t feel bad! I put holds on ALL of the January releases I was interested in so actually I appreciate the help in whittling my holds list down to a manageable number. 🙂 I’ve not really seen other reviews yet either, but I guess if I end up changing my mind I can always check it out later. I’m happy to take your word for it in the meantime, it was a very convincing review!

        Like

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