Stella Krakus is a curator at Manhattan’s renowned Central Museum of Art and is having the roughest week. Her soon-to-be ex-husband is stalking her and a workplace romance with “a fascinating, hyper-rational narcissist” is in free fall. But then a beloved colleague, Paul, goes missing and it seems strange things are afoot.
The appearance of a mysterious map, depicting a 19th-century utopian settlement, sends Stella hunting to discover the truth. What links a haunting poem, several unusual novels, a counterfeiting scheme, and one of the museum’s colorful early benefactors? Can she discover the unbearable secret that Paul’s been keeping? It won’t be easy with all the distractions around her – she unwittingly stars in a viral video that’s making the rounds and the museums current exhibit is sponsored by a Belgian multinational that wants to take over the world’s water supply.
It is almost unbearably hipster New York. Almost. Luckily there’s enough salty humour in here and enough old money New York to save it and I ended up liking Stella quite a lot and wanted to know what would happen.
Unfortunately the ending left me feeling a little ‘what was the point’ and I do think this book missed a couple of great opportunities. Still a pleasant enough way to spend a few hours and I’ll look out for her next book.
NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews.
Della Dobbs is the dull and plain one in the family, her oldest sister has successfully married and the middle sister is an actress, her younger brother is the apple of her father’s eye. She isn’t pretty or talented and the only thing she really enjoys is racing and fixing her bicycle. Then her Great Auntie Betty comes home to Cleethorpe’s from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina full of tales of the Wright Brothers and their incredible flying machines. Della is fascinated and develops a burning ambition to fly. Betty is determined to help her.
Can she overcome the Edwardian attitudes to women and learn to fly? And if she does will she be any good at it?
I really wanted to love this book. Full disclosure I’m working on a similar book and so I have a genuine passion for the amazing women that just did not take no for an answer. And let’s be clear, aeroplanes were little more than balsa wood, canvas and wire so anybody flying them was incredible.
But I couldn’t love it, I wanted to connect with the characters but the writing, though not terrible, was not good enough. The characterisations were ok but not absorbing, the plot and storyline were ok, the research was well done and the descriptions of flight were good. But in the end there were too many information dumps and I almost gave up on it because of that.
NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews
Red-haired, young Dutch clerk Jacob de Zoet journeys to Dejima to make a fortune worthy of the girl he loves. This tiny, man-made island in the bay of Nagasaki, has been the sole gateway between Japan and the West for two hundred years. Now, in the dying days of the 18th-century, the streets of Dejima are thick with scheming traders, spies, interpreters, servants and concubines as the two cultures converge. Jacob is bedazzled – then he meets a beautiful, intelligent girl with a burned face and is intrigued by her to the point of confusion.
David Mitchell doesn’t write short books, an this becomes an epic tale diving deep into the back stories of its large and varied cast. It also examines the socio-economic climate of the island along with superstitions and new inventions.
In some ways this is wonderful, it’s impossible not to get a great sense of the Dejima of the Dutch, so much so that you can easily imagine yourself there.
But this book is too long. You know I usually read a book within 3 -7 days but this one I genuinely thought would take me a thousand Autumns to get through! Because of that it also did get a little dull and confusing in places, it has more than 125 characters! How’s anyone supposed to keep that straight?
I did get to the end though and I did enjoy a lot of it so I’m going to give it 3.5 bites and live with my indigestion!