Friday, April 18, 2008

Forever Amber

This is that book I was telling you about earlier, the one that's 972 pages long and has taken me over 6 weeks to read. It was written by Kathleen Winsor in 1944, and it's supposed to be a "new classic." Yes, I know, cue the groaning and eye-rolling now, because you know a new classic is probably not going to work out well for anybody.

I finished it today, and I have to say, it turned out to be every bit as awful as I first suspected.

Well, wait a minute. This is sort of complex, because I liked some of it. You see, the book is about a girl living England in the time of King Charles II--and you all know how crazy I am for English history, especially during the time of the Tudors and I LOVED getting to read all the period detail. The Restoration, the plague, the Great Fire, what life was like as an actress or a courtier in those days, all of these details were highly Susan-pleasing.

But I have never hated two main characters more than I hated the two in this book. Amber and her lover, Lord Carlton, are just really people that I don't want to read about and that I cannot sympathize with. They NEVER LEARN, for one thing. They show no HOPE for learning. They just do the same old tired things again and again and with complete disregard for all the other human beings on the planet. And I feel bitter about this because I kept wanting to connect with them and like them a little, and I never managed to. In my eyes, they never did anything redeeming AT ALL. Lord Carlton uses Amber, and many others, in whatever way suits him, because it's easiest or most enjoyable or whatever, and Amber...she gets people KILLED! GOOD people die because of her. And that is just not okay, not when she doesn't even really NOTICE. Geez.

Also, I have to say there were a lot of details included in this book that I didn't think should be there. I can see the point of having them there, but ultimately it didn't work for me. For example? There's a short history of Amber's mother's life in the beginning of the book. Makes sense to know where she came from, and also gives us a view into life before the Restoration. But there are so many weird details that it ends up feeling like an incredibly loose end. And the author actually picks it back up a little bit later in the book, but does nothing satisfying with it. Moral of the story? Gaping holes in this story make me feel strange.

Ultimately, this book was very disappointing. The ending was typical--I saw it coming from a million miles away. Every time I had to pick up this book I cursed myself for it because I couldn't stand the two main characters, those two who supposedly have this wonderful romance. BAH! I totally don't understand why the Amazon reviewers liked it so much, but feel free to check out what they had to say about it.

But I still kept picking it up because I wanted to read about the life and times of Charles II and his subjects. So sue me.

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