"Lydia"

Lydia by Clare Darcy

  • This is my first Clare Darcy novel.
  • It is, like the two Georgette Heyer novels I've read, a frothy Regency romance.
  • Plot: a young woman, her brother and their grandmother arrive in England for the purpose of improving their financial condition, through marriage or rich relatives, the method doesn't really matter. Lydia, beautiful and fiesty, is linked romantically with various wealthy suitors but falls for the one person she swears she could never be interested in. These novels all end the same so it's not really a spoiler to say that all the main characters end up with true love, great wealth and enviable social standing. No surprises, no sadness - that's why we read these books, right?
  • I like this time period in any novel, but I like those better that were actually written in that time. I know the authors of the newer ones do lots of research to make sure the fashion, manners, morals and language are authentic, but I feel like they're trying too hard. There are too many details brought to the reader's attention that don't advance the story in any way, and so much Regency slang used that it becomes tedious to read. All the tricks they use to make the novel authentic backfire and make it feel false. They sell though, and I guess that's the goal of the authors and the publishers. Jane Austen's wonderful books would probably get nowhere in today's publishing world.
  • I always find it disappointing, after reading a novel meant to convince me I'm experiencing life in a bygone era, to later discover it was written in 1973. That's not a critique, just a quirk of mine. I guess the reason I look in the first place is because something about the book doesn't feel authentic and it's a let down to find out there's a good reason for that. There are of course thousands of books set in history that are so well written you never even question the authenticity, but these are not those. 
  • Darcy and Heyer are authors I might turn to when I want to read something I don't have to think about, a harmless distraction from real life and weightier books. I may not read a lot of them (or I may, who knows...), but I am keeping their names on my go-to list for light reading. Very light reading. Not that there's anything wrong with that.  

"The Disappearing Spoon"

The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of Madness, Love and the History of the World from The Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean


  • The title describes the book perfectly. It's a wild ride through the periodic table with scads of stories about the elements themselves, the scientists who discovered them, and the way the elements are used in the world. Some funny, some serious, some mind-boggling.
  • Some pages were slow going for me but within another page or two I would always find something to catch my interest again and I'd be drawn back in. 
  • It's a goldmine of interesting tidbits you can use at your next book club or dinner party to impress people with your wonderful knowledge of sciency things.
  • Some of the chapter headings: 4.Where Atoms Come From:"We Are All Star Stuff"; 10.Take Two Elements, Call Me In The Morning; 11.How Elements Deceive; 12.Political Elements; 13.Elements As Money; 14.Artistic Elements; 15.An Element of Madness; 17.Spheres of Splendor:The Science of Bubbles. How could anyone not want to read this?
  • I recommend The Disappearing Spoon to anyone who is fascinated by science but not so much by dry textbooks. This book is fun.  




 

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