Monday, September 21, 2009

CROSSED WIRES by Rosy Thornton

Crossed Wires
Crossed Wires
by Rosy Thornton

December 11th 2008 by Headline Review
Hardcover, 320 pages
0755345541 (isbn13: 9780755345540)
Fiction/Literature, Romance, British

4 of 5 stars

"Autocare Direct Motor Insurance."

Mina - Wilhemina - is a young, single mother who works at the Sheffield call center for car insurance. Peter is a Cambridge geography professor who's just crashed his car into a tree stump. They're both single, both parents. In America, this would be a definite One Fine Day type of hit. But they're not in America; they're in England. And the class difference between them is palpable, pronounced. Throw in Peter's colorful next door neighbors, Mina's deadbeat little sister, and three of the most fun children in literature, and you've got a full-on MIAM (Make It A Movie).

I almost hate to recommend Crossed Wires as a MIAM, so read it first before Thornton sells a screenplay. Thornton's writing is so cozy - the written equivalent of a roaring fire and the perfect pot of tea. She's speaks directly to those of us who grew up and/or raised children during Harry Potter. She makes Dr. Seuss references. She speaks directly to so many experiences - male couples who have lived together their whole lives but never clarified their relationship; parenting twins; scraping by on just enough money; reading in a university library. Your feeling is that she must have snuck into your brain and shared your experiences, so keen are her portrayals.

I waited to review this novel until the leaves started changing here in Colorado. Crossed Wires involves bonfires and New Year's and coats and boots, so it's not the best summertime read. As a fall read, it's excellent. Buy it if you're a romance (but not erotic romance) fan (think Sleepless in Seattle), or check it out if you're not - though you'll probably end up buying it anyway.

Friday, September 18, 2009

THE WET NURSE'S TALE by Erica Eisdorfer

The Wet Nurse's Tale
The Wet Nurse's Tale
by Erica Eisdorfer

August 6th 2009 by Putnam Adult
0399155767 (isbn13: 9780399155765)
Historical Fiction

3 of 5 stars

"There was snow on the ground when my time came"

Susan Rose is a lower-class maid in Victorian England. When she becomes pregnant by the lord's son, she escapes to London where she finds work as a wet nurse, as her mother had done before her. She moves from job to job, as she's needed, all the while commenting to the reader in dry tones about the scandals of the higher classes. When tragedy strikes, Susan has to decide if she can continue the life she's chosen, or if she must return and do her duty by her family.

Erica Eisdorfer is a fellow Duke grad, yet she works for the trade bookstore on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill. Just as Eisdorfer's loyalties are a little mixed up (ahem, Blue Devils vs. Tar Heels), so Wet Nurse's Tale, her first novel, is a mixture of well done and poorly done. In fact, the well done is so well done - warm, accessible, witty writing -  it accentuates the poorly done piece all the more.

Susan is a lower class, illiterate character. She has to hire someone to write letters for her. And yet, the tone of this first person protagonist is that of an educated gentlewoman of poor means - a slightly randy Jane Eyre, if you will. To have Susan address us as "Dear Reader" - suggesting she is herself writing the book, and therefore not illiterate - completely throws us out of the comfortable rhythm of Eisdorfer's otherwise spot-on writing.

For any mom's group who's had the breast v. bottle debate, this is fun with an open perspective that won't invalidate either side; you'll want to buy it so you can underline the bits you like. For any mom who has breastfed, this is a humorous journey into nursing during another era. And for everyone else, it's a bouncy, well-researched piece of historical fiction that's neither sentimental nor hard-nosed. Check it out from the library, especially if you're a fan of Jane Eyre.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

SHRINKING VIOLET by Danielle Joseph

Shrinking Violet Shrinking Violet
by Danielle Joseph

May 5th 2009 by MTV
Paperback, 304 pages
1416596968 (isbn13: 9781416596967)

3 of 5 stars

 You're listening to Sweet T on 92.7 WEMD SLAM-FM.

Teresa Adams, high school senior, dreams of being a deejay on her stepfather's hot Miami radio station. The problem is that she can hardly speak a word in school, she's so shy. Making eye contact, answering teachers' questions, and not to mention a nitpicking mom who thinks she's still a teenager herself - these are all the daily trials that plague Tere. An unexpected mishap lands Tere her dream. She's transformed into Sweet T, the fresh new deejay on SLAM-FM. When SLAM announces a songwriting contest in which the prize is a date to prom with Sweet T, Tere panics. Can she face the crowd, the publicity, and her hottie crush Gavin without falling apart?

If ever a book should be made into a movie with Demi Lovato, this is it (MIAM - Make It A Movie). There's no fault in the writing. Joseph's characterizations are easy and authentic, her dialogue's snappy and purposeful. The plot, although simple and predictable, is still fresh. Despite the fact that Tere's a senior, this is a sweet, dare I say innocent, book that will appeal to late middle school and early high school readers.

If someone hasn't snapped this up for a screenplay, they're idiots. But don't discount the printed page - Shrinking Violet would be a nice "break" read for high school students who are being faced with Romeo & Juliet or Lord of the Flies. It's fun, quick, and definitely worth getting.


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