I started with Julie Klassen's most recent book, The Painter's Daughter. I like Julie Klassen's plots and so I'm always game to read her new books. But, every time I read one, I wonder if I will read another. I'm really not sure. The characters of Sophie and Captain Stephen are interesting and likeable. The book begins with Captain Stephen picking up the pieces again and chasing after his negligent brother. There isn't really a way to explain any of the plot without giving away important details (and I hate when book jackets do that!). Sophie is obviously, the painter's daughter. She had fallen in love with the Captain's brother and he literally absconded with her heart. The captain arrives as she realizes that she has to put the pieces back together. They enter into an arrangement to her benefit that is agreed to by the captain out of compassion and a sense of responsibility. It's really a typical historical romance. I just like the twists and turns.
But, the reason I question every time whether I will read another of Ms. Klassen's books is how graphic she gets about the physical side of the romantic relationships that she portrays. I've never been comfortable with the amount of detail she includes and I skip multiple pages in every book I've read by her. The question I'm faced with is--is it really wise to read these books?
I'm gravitating more and more to no. The alternative is to read even cheesier books like one of the other books I read. I wish this wasn't the alternative, but it is dependable. The second book I read was Beyond the Silence by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse. The back cover of this book gives away way too much of the plot, in my opinion, and it was very frustrating! The book is formulaic, but it flows. You know what's going to happen if you read the back of the book. The main characters are very likeable, though far too predictable. Ms. Peterson's writing does tend to be very predictable, but I think that's what most readers expect of her books and what they look for. There is a happy ending tied up with a neat bow.
The next book I recently read was A Long Walk to Water. This book is a completely different sort of book and actually needs its own post, so I'm going to keep moving and talk about the next book I'm still in the process of reading.
On my table sits Death at Pemberly, the sequel to Pride and Prejudice by PD James. I loved the Masterpiece theater production of this book and PD James happens to be one of my husband's favorite authors, so I have been meaning to read this book for quite some time. The language is wonderful and the plot is interesting. I once read a weak novel conclusion to the unfinished book, Wives and Daughters, a few years ago. It was quite troubling because of the direction the author went. Then, I tried to read Lark Rise to Candleford and never could get into the book. Subsequently, I tried North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell and was greatly distressed by how the author truly portrayed the main two characters. I didn't like them at all! Yet, I loved the BBC movie and have watched it many times. As a result of these previous reading adventures, I have felt very skittish about reading Death at Pemberly. But, I decided to make myself start reading it a week ago. Thankfully, I do enjoy it. There are differences between the book and movie, of course, but not as great as between the other books and movies I have just mentioned. The biggest difference that gets bothers me is PD James repeated portrayal of Elizabeth as being focused on money and being unwilling to marry a man without money. I don't remember this at all about Elizabeth and in my mind it makes her look very petty. There are other minor changes like Alveston not representing Wickham in court and the absence of the mother at the house when it all occurs. I am still reading it and haven't finished it, but it has been a refreshing bit of reading amidst the other books.
The other two books I've read this month are The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah Ladd and Susan May Warren's book, My Foolish Heart. The Curiosity Keeper was much more interesting than Peterson and Klassen's book. The story focused on the daughter of a shopkeeper. She is thrust into the middle of a conflict and must find a way out. There are twists and turns in the story. There is good vs. evil and the ending is not perfectly tied up in a bow, although it is a happy ending. It is easy to read Christian fiction that doesn't contain the details that Ms. Klassen includes that I don't want to know.
My Foolish Heart is the only book of the bunch that is a contemporary Christian romance. I checked it out via my library as an ebook because I was bored during the blizzard we were experiencing yesterday. I had just watched a romantic comedy/made for tv movie recently called Dear Viola and it sounded strangely similar. I was hoping it would have a better plot, though, and it did. My Foolish Heart is about several imperfect people with struggles that they have to deal with. Issy lives with severe agoraphobia and PTSD because of a car accident, Caleb had his leg amputed in Iraq during his service, Lucy holds it together although her heart is crushed inside, and Seb is trying to figure out how to get his life together. These four characters' lives weave together in a small town and a story of high school football, donuts, and a love advice show. The writing is easy to read and follow. The book dealt with some things that people really deal with today. The good and bad sides of people come out over the course of the story. I have to admit that I did like reading it. It did have a much better plot than Dear Viola!
So, that's what I've been reading. Mostly easy reading stuff. Sometimes my brain just needs to check out for a little bit. I had dental surgery and I can't eat normally for 6 more weeks. It's crummy. This morning I accidentally ate a bite on the wrong side of my mouth and I had to work hard to quell the fear that arose in my heart. I continually have to work on quelling that fear actually. It's been 2 weeks so far, but it's hard to focus on eating small bites when I have 3 children who want and need things from me most of the time. I am thankful that at least I can drink my coffee easily and that that doesn't have to change!