Mini Reviews: Monkeys and Althea

27 May

While I do love or really like most books I read, there are those that don’t affect me one way or the other. This doesn’t mean these are bad in any way, just that they were probably not for me. We can’t love everything we read. Althea by Madeleine Robins and Monkeys by Susan Minot are two such books I read recently that fit the bill. 

Genre: Historical fiction/Regency romance

Author: Madeleine Robins

Publisher: Fawcett

Pub date: 1977

Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer

Althea is a spirited young woman who keeps house for her difficult father and spoilt-brat brother. When her father disowns her yet again, she runs away to her sister Marie in London. In London, she is presented to the Ton. Althea ha snot only to learn about the minutia of etiquette in society, but has also to learn to keep her sarcastic tongue under control.

In this society, she soon racks up many eligible men who are interested in her. The story then starts to take some twists – romantic entanglements, unsuitable beaus, misunderstandings and new friends.

This story is set in a time so alien to everything I’ve known that it was interesting reading about it. Althea is an easy character to like – she is witty, well-read, interested in learning and dismissive of many of the rigid expectations of her time.

But all told, this is not really my kind of novel. The plot was rather predictable and the characters stereotypical. If you’re looking for a simple Regency romance however, this fits the bill. According to other reviews it is quite a bit simpler than other books in the genre. It is a quick read and well written. Worth a shot if this genre is of interest to you.

Rating: 3*


Genre: Literary fiction / Short stories

Author: Susan Minot

Publisher: Open Road

Pub date: 26 Oct 2010

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Monkeys tells the story of the Vincents, an Irish Catholic family over 10 years. They seem like a normal happy family, but are dealing with their father’s alcoholism and struggling to keep up their lifestyle.

Told in the form of short stories, this collection sees the family grow and go through some difficult times. I saw some similarity to Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse – just in the broad strokes about the large family dynamics. There are some brilliant moments in this – one that stands out is when the family decides to hide to surprise their father. But for me it just didn’t work as a novel. I didn’t get to know or like any of the characters and while there is some reading between the lines that is left to the reader, I didn’t come away feeling anything.

I’ll leave you with the blurb from NetGalley to decide for yourselves if this sounds like your cup of tea.

“Written by the bestselling author of Evening, Monkeys is a powerful story of one family’s struggle to overcome life-changing tribulations and Minot’s wrenching ode to the ties that bind even the most wounded of families. “

Rating: 3*

*See my Rating policy

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