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Sunday, September 15, 2013

"The Death of Lyndon Wilder and the Consequences Thereof" by E.A. Dineley and "The Beating of His Wings" by Paul Hoffman (short reviews by Liviu Suciu)

"When governess Anna Arbuthnot arrives at Ridley Hall, she finds a house in deep mourning. Lyndon Wilder, oldest and most beloved son of Lord and Lady Charles has been killed in the Napoleonic Wars, leaving behind him a now orphaned daughter, Lottie and other undiscovered troubles. Anna finds it easy to establish a bond with her young charge, but other relationships in the house begin to strain under the weight of Lyndon's absence. 

When Thomas Wilder, the younger son and new heir, returns from war, he finds his family in chaos and Lyndon's legacy threatening Ridley Hall's future. As executor of his brother's will and guardian of his daughter, Thomas is forced to leave the military life he loves, and is confined to the faltering estate of his childhood. It is only with Anna's help that Thomas can save Ridley, and most crucially, protect his parents from the truth about Lyndon Wilder..."

The Death of Lyndon Wilder and the Consequences Thereof by E.A. (Libby) Dineley is a delight to read and a page turner to boot, mostly due to the chemistry between the main characters - the governess and the soldier turned heir - and the antics of the supporting ones  -the parents, the widow who wants "to catch" the heir etc - with a great mention to the two kids - Lottie and Horatio - who keep the novel fresh and bring a great perspective to the "grown-up" world and the personal issues of the adults filtered through their perspective...

Out of the modern Jane Austen sub-genre novels - and once in a while when in the mood I look at some, so over time it added to quite a lot I tried - this one stands out and offers a great reading experience if you want to read what it is advertised in the blurb, as this is precisely what you get, smartly done and with enough of an original touch to avoid pure repetition.

While not as tight as in the original Jane Austen - where trying to better your lot in life across class lines was the ultimate wickedness in the social life and the author had to portray such characters as inherently bad - the class lines are respected here too - no lord marrying the beggar girl - but with a tinge of the modern - as here the governess is actually from a reasonably good, though not wealthy family, who wanted to do that to escape the memories of his former "almost fiancee" who married her younger sister...

Great stuff and highly recommended, while I am looking forward to more from the author


As this is the ending of The Left Hand of God trilogy and the blurb contains spoilers for the earlier novels, I will not include it but direct you to FBC Reviews of Book 1 and Book 2.

Once upon a time a huge asap, "The Beating of His Wings" left me a bit cold on arrival and I decided to browse through and see if it rekindles my interest or I put it down for good; after a while some great stuff got me hooked again so I went back to page 1.

However when I finished the book I thought that while overall it was a good ending to the series, it became essentially "superhero - or anti-superhero if you want - against the corrupt world and the big baddies" and the specialness of the first volume and to a large extent second disappeared leaving behind a pretty banal novel.

There is also a lot of explanation and trying to make sense of the world both through classical in-the-book devices - manuscript found in a bottle (ok not in a bottle, but you get the idea) by future civilization, is it historical reality or fantasy genre popular ages ago stuff? etc  - and authorial end-notes and that ultimately subtracts from the series rather than adding to it.

Let me elaborate a little about the above: The Left Hand of God which I really, really loved, hinged on a few things - strange setting, Thomas Cale, the changes in tonality and the weird characters and their habits/sayings etc

By The Last Four Things, the setting started losing its mysteries, the tonality became much more uniform - and dark of course - and the weird characters became familiar, while In the Beating of His Wings all but Thomas Cale is "same again" so the book distills to "super anti hero" Thomas Cale against the baddies and that was not quite enough to sustain the huge promise of book one.

Of the secondary characters, the best here - and I would say by far, though Arbell and Vague Henry have some good parts with Idris Pukke his usual cynical self - is Conn Materazzi and the most devolved to one-dimensional villain is Bosco...

As noted the ending ties things up and offers resolution, but I really miss  the open-endeness and the promise of the beginning volume and overall, The Beating of His Wings can be just browsed to see what happens in the end and maybe to read the few powerful scenes that sprinkle an otherwise forgettable novel.


Unknown said...

I wish the Death of Lyndon Wilder was available for Kindle purchase in USA. You piqued my interest but alas.


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