SBD--an actual book??

I just listened to the Alchemist's Daughter and it's grown on me.

Too bad I'm in a whiney mood so I'll probably end up going on and on about what I didn't like. Yeah, well.

It's in first person, and as Linda I always says that can be like being stuck in a car with someone talking on and on about herself. This was definitely a clueless narrator. Emily was supposed to be naive, though, and that helps the integrity of the book.

We get other, more balanced people talking at her, like her nurse, so, duh, it's not like we're supposed to believe our unreliable narrator. But because Emily sees people through a lens that's sort of flat, the people end up being ....not very complicated. Yo, stick-ish figures are okay if there's an emotional pull, but I didn't get it. Oh, except for her dad. I grew very fond of him and felt that emotional awwwww that romance is supposed to give the reader.

Her charming, horrible husband just turns horrible (at least he gets to keep his energy). The man she truly loves is pure good. That's fine if it was regular romance---escapism deluxe doesn't have to plumb depths, that's not always its job. But this was supposed to be more, maybe?

This is supposed to be more literary than formulaic, I think? Naw, it's one of those books that promises entertainment for the masses and yet offer more for the people who want to Something Worthwhile from their reading. A book-club book. In the end, it sort of fails, but only slightly, to fit the ticket for All of The Above. Hey, that's a big-ass ticket to fill and I can't think of anything I've read lately that fits those requirements. Lately being in the last year or so. (okay, so I think Terry Pratchett is stealth literature. But I don't see his stuff being discussed in book clubs.)

The character is passive through most of the book, but at last she grows. I think actually I was most annoyed by her emotional breakthrough which, as per usual, was all about Her. (Her past connects with her current situation and she suddenly gains the gift of empathy.)

But I'm glad I read it. The descriptions were lovely, the laboratory stuff, a hoot. Not the word I want, but I loved all the flogiston stuff. My first exposure to that theory. (I'm sure I'd be PO'd if I knew or cared anything about it and went looking for it because it ends up being window dressing.)

And despite my whining, I liked the main character's peculiar viewpoint and was glad to spend time with her. And here's a big-deal point: sometimes I had that oh my lordy lord she's good about the writer. That envy's important--it's always worth reading a book in which the writer puts words together better than I do. These days, I'm more of a reader though, so I can see past the words and want more, more, more all the time. Us picky-pants readers are like that.

UPDATED: And if I want depth and complex love and words put together almost too beautifully, I can read Beth's Easter reminiscences. I went over to brag about my finally doing a real (if half-hearted) SBD, and she blew me away. Never Mind.


  1. And you're recommending this?

    Okay, here's a question for you. Answer me this and then I'll count your comment back at my place as a contest entry :)

    Who should I read in order to become a better romance writer? Who's at the top of her craft, in other words?


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