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review 2019-06-23 22:12
The Heads of Cerberus by Francis Stevens
The Heads of Cerberus - Francis Stevens

Originally serialized in 1919, 'The Heads of Cerberus' is an early novel of a dystopian future. For sale at a Philadelphia estate auction is a strange artifact. A Renaissance crafted rock crystal vial with the titular silver heads containing dust rumored to have been collected from the gates of purgatory....

 

Robert Drayton is a lawyer down on his luck after being framed by unscrupulous businessmen, but an accident brings him back n contact with a formerly close friend, Terrence Trenmore. Trenmore collects curiosities and his purchase of the vial at an estate auction has drawn threatening letters from a mysterious collector and even an attempted break in.

 

Knowing there must be something more to attract this attention then mere dust the men investigate and accidentally breathe in the substance, unwittingly so does Trenmore's sister Viola. The three are transported to a mysterious land and when they are returned to Philadelphia they find it drastically altered.

 

The streets, buildings, and fashions of 2118 are strangely unchanged, but the mass of society are known only by their number, is cut off from its regions, ignorant of history and subject to the rule of Penn Service. In the former city hall, now a temple to 'Lord Penn', are the Servants of Penn named for virtues, and the Superlatives, named for the areas of government for which they are responsible.

 

The stranded refugees of the 20th century must face death or compete in the Civil Service Examinations. Forces in the city appeal to them to compete for the titles of Strongest, Loveliest, or Cleverest, but do they want to be a part of this society?

 

This was a lot of fun to read. Reprinted as a part of Modern Library's Torchbearers series, it novel about a dark, authoritarian future by a female author I'd never heard of before (and there's more, but I won't tell). In some ways its an artifact, but there were elements of this that elevate it above a historic milestone on the way to better things. In tone its more of a forebear to Philip K. Dick than the back-cover referenced 'The Hunger Games'. I especially loved the description of the transformation of Philadelphia's City Hall . Very cool, I'll be checking out other titles.

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review 2015-07-08 06:23
Go Away Home/Carol Bodensteiner
Go Away Home - Carol Bodensteiner

This novel was a gorgeous insight into life in the 1910s and into what home truly means.

 

Liddie was a spunky star who broke norms by working two jobs at one point, in sewing and in photography, both fields that she felt very passionate about. I absolutely adored her enthusiasm and willingness to break boundaries.

 

Letters inserted occasionally showed how she felt and how she communicated with her peers at the time. These details were intriguing as they showed how people a century ago shared information in such a different fashion through what she chose to put in and leave out.

 

Other characters did feel a little two-dimensional at points, but I think this was a result of the time period and how relationships operated in such a different fashion.

 

My favourite part about this book was in how parts just felt like reading about an absolutely ordinary lady living an ordinary life in the 10s, with fears about work, about love, about marriage and children, and all kinds of really simple things. In some ways, I could really relate to her feelings and emotions, but her circumstances and perspectives were at the same time entirely different.

 

I thought initially that the book could have ended about three-fourths of the way through after a major wedding. Events that followed showed why Bodensteiner chose to continue it, but the main adventure was over.

 

Liddie's perspective on home and what it meant to her changed gradually throughout the book and I feel like I really saw her grow up and grow into herself.

 

This book was slow at points and I wish it could have been paced a little more rapidly. However, it did what it did, creating a very accurate portrayal of 1910s life, very accurately and I'd definitely read more by Bodensteiner. I was very impressed with how real everything felt and how much detail was put in. I definitely recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction or exploring other time periods.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2014-04-27 19:24
On Forsyte 'Change by John Galsworthy
On Forsyte 'Change - John Galsworthy

A collection of short stories about the Forsytes, taking place at various points before and during the first three books of the Chronicles.  Some were definitely stronger than others, but it was nice to see more of these characters during these earlier times.

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review 2014-03-15 00:36
The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett
The Old Wives' Tale - Arnold Bennett

I'm not sure why I kept reading through to the end (or very near it).  It was slightly interesting at first, but then it just dragged on...and on... and on.  I hoped it would pick up or do something to redeem itself later on, but it never really did.  I only wish I'd stopped reading earlier on...

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review 2013-11-25 23:18
The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf
The Voyage Out - Michael Cunningham

I think this was the first I've read of Virginia Woolf, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  It wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped though.  It didn't feel like a great deal happened for awhile, at least earlier on in the book, and some of the descriptive or philosophical passages got rather wordy and took a bit to wade through.  I didn't really like any of the characters either, so I didn't really care what happened to them throughout the book.  It was just ok.

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