Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Book Review - A Merry Requiem Part 1: The Gathering Storm by Margaret Pritchard Houston

How did I come into possession of this book?
I was contacted by the author in the form of a very nice and personal email.  I was very interested in the topic of the book since she mentioned it was loosely based on Victor Hugo’s life and since I’ve never read Les Mis (until now!) but always wanted to know more about that time period, I thought it would be a good book to read.  The only thing that was holding me back was that it was an ebook, and up until Christmas I was slowly reading those on my computer.  But since I got a fantastic present of a kindle, I was finally able to easily read it and it was the first book I read on my new kindle!

First Lines:
“The little girl with black ringlets shrieks with laughter as they push her into the center of the circle.”  (Houston Loc 58)

What is it about?
It follows a writer during the 1820s in France through his marriage (to a women his mother didn’t approve) and into his young writing career.  He struggles to find something worth writing while still being able to make a living for his child and wife.  This is the first book in a series and it follows a lot of the politics of that time from an artist’s point of view.

What did I think?
I really enjoyed this book.  I have never read anything set in this time period and I do enjoy historical fiction as long as it doesn’t get too boring, and this one didn’t!  I loved how I was getting a look at a totally different time but it was written in a more modern voice.  I always want to read classics but get so bogged down by the writing style that I have a hard time enjoying them.  This was a great balance of modern voice still set in an older more classical setting.  I also really enjoyed the internal struggle Phillippe was having, when he had to decide if it was worth the King’s pension to not write exactly what he wanted.  I think many people (including me!) can relate to a similar situation.  Do I take a good sum of money to do something I don’t exactly want to do or believe in?  Or do I do what I want at the risk that I won’t be able to support myself financially anymore?  The other part of this book I really enjoyed was learning more about what was happening in France during this time period, I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book.  I do have one thing I didn’t enjoy and that was the wife, I hope she plays more into the story in the future books, but she just seemed to disappear into nothingness.  Her character seemed great and independent at the beginning and now she is so dependent on everything Phillippe does.

Who would I recommend it to?
If you are interested in another book set during revolutionary France (besides Les Mis) this is one for you.  Or if you’re just interested in historical fiction, this would be a book for you as well.  Also, if you are looking for a change of genre this is a well written book and will keep you interested the whole time.  It is only in ebook form, and you can get it here through smashwords!
Did you read this book and review it on your blog? Let me know in the comments and I'll add your link!

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