I haven't rated this book because I've abandoned it three hours in to a thirty hour book.
The writing is excellent. The characterisation is subtle and clear. The sense of doom is all pervasive. I just couldn't cope with the subject matter.
Three hours of contemplating the rationale for, mechanics of and damage inflicted by child abuse was as much as I could stomach. Another twenty-seven hours of it was inconceivable.
If you have a stronger stomach than I do, I'm sure you'll find this to be a compelling read with three strong but flawed woman as the main characters.
I finally got around to reading this heart-warming and heart-wrenching document. I attempted it as a much younger person and didn’t get very far, perhaps because I was a teenager myself with my own angst to deal with.
There’s no doubt that Anne was right about her own writing abilities. If she had lived, I think she definitely had a chance to become a significant author. She could have edited her own diaries to begin with and perhaps written more about the Jewish experience during WWII.
I think her father (the only surviving member of those concealed in the Annex) was a brave man to allow her journals to be published. He and his wife do not always come out of them looking good. However, we, as readers, are continually reminded that the people confined in this small space are bound to clash with one another repeatedly. Imagine having no space to truly call your own, having to share cooking & food supplies, not having easy access to a toilet and not being able to flush during certain hours, and having to be quiet during the workday so as not to alert the employees working below them! Prisoners in jails have better living conditions!
I am also impressed by the courageous Dutch folk who hid their Jewish friends and kept them supplied with the necessities of life for so long. That’s a big commitment and they fulfilled it for two years with very few glitches (health problems for all of them sometimes made for erratic food delivery). How many of us would have the fortitude and the bravery to attempt such a feat?
The saddest part of the book was definitely the afterword—Anne’s last entry is absolutely ordinary (in an extraordinary circumstance) and then they are betrayed and sent to concentration camps. They had lasted so long and the end of the war was just a year away (although they had no way to know that). I was left with the melancholy question of what might have been.
I really enjoyed the first book in this series and was very excited to start right into this one as I read them back to back. Unfortunately, the excitement waned pretty early in this book. Gone were the laugh out loud moments and there were a lot fewer smiles this time around.
Also, I felt Tessa was a very strong personality in the first book. Throughout this one, however, she seemed a lot weaker. She did come around in the end, but by that time it was a little too late for me.
And personally, the heir inhibitor bit was not funny at all. I had that happen with the "sponge" years ago and no one was laughing. It was actually downright scary. Although I did like the name used for a condom.
In conclusion, decent read just not as good as the first.
Thanks to Gretz Corp, Indigo Group and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
Concordia Wells is back for another year of teaching and trying to keep mischievous students’ pranks to a minimum. Hartford Women’s College has a new lady principal, Olivia Grant, who already has a reputation for being overly strict and who seems to hate Concordia in particular. Then there’s Madame Durand, a spirit medium who has started a “Spirit Club” on campus and who Concordia worries is taking advantage of her mother’s grief over the death of Concordia’s sister.
Everything takes a turn for the worse when an Egyptian amulet donated to the college is stolen and the man who donated it, Colonel Adams, is murdered. His daughter and Concordia’s best friend, Sophia Adams, confesses to the murder, but Concordia is convinced she didn’t do it. Finding the real killer will involve finding the amulet and learning more about her own father’s unexpected past as an Egyptologist.
I read the first book in this series almost 3 years ago. Although I didn’t love it and generally thought its mysteries were too obvious, it was a smooth and appealing read that made me want to continue on with the series. I feel much the same about this second book. Concordia was still an enjoyable character, and I liked the historical details, although I wondered whether Lady Principal Grant would really have had the power to confine Concordia, an adult and professor, to the campus the way she did. The women’s college setting continued to be fun and interesting, even though I found myself wishing that it went beyond the occasional mention of student pranks and grading papers. It would have been nice if Concordia had had more on-page conversations with individual students.
After finishing the first book, I was interested in seeing how Concordia’s familial and romantic relationships turned out. This book gave me a lot of the former and not much of the latter. A large portion of Unseemly Pursuits was focused on Concordia’s rocky relationship with her mother, who didn’t approve of her decision to become a professor, and her relationship with her late father. I loved Concordia’s gradual realization that she’d possibly put her father too much on a pedestal. I was less thrilled with the easy way Concordia’s years worth of issues with her mother seemed to resolve themselves in the end. Hopefully the next book makes it clear that it isn’t quite as simple as Concordia and her mother having a few heart-to-hearts.
I’m somewhat wary of Concordia’s romantic subplot, due to my worry that any sort of more serious relationship might lead to Concordia having to quit her job. However, even I was taken aback by the complete lack of mention of David, Concordia’s most likely love interest, for much of the beginning of the book. Him not being around campus was one thing, but she didn’t even idly think about him from time to time. His appearances in this book were few and mostly unmemorable, although there were a couple developments that make me think the romantic subplot might become more prominent (and awkward?) in the next book.
One character who was around more than David: Lieutenant Capshaw. I honestly can’t remember what he was like in the first book, but I really liked him in this one, and David’s general absence made me wonder if the author was planning on shifting Concordia to a new love interest. David seemed like a nice enough guy, but Capshaw could spend the series scowling at Concordia’s amateur sleuthing, doing his best to keep her out of harm’s way, and falling in love with her over the course of several books’ worth of encounters. Sadly, his interest lay elsewhere.
As in the first book, Unseemly Pursuits’ mysteries were a bit too obvious at times. Thankfully, Concordia seemed to catch onto things a little more quickly this time around - I usually only had to wait a page or two for her to realize things I’d already figured out myself. The biggest exception involved a character whose sudden change in behavior somehow didn't clue Concordia into that character's likely involvement in the overall mystery.
While I did enjoy seeing how all of the book’s seemingly unrelated mysteries fit together, there was so much going on that the story tended to feel a bit cluttered. That said, I liked it overall and will probably be continuing on with the series.
I noticed one or two continuity errors. The one I’m most sure about involved Dean Pierce. At one point he brushed his hair out of his eyes. However, earlier on he was described as being bald. I don’t think there was enough time between those two parts for him to grow hair long enough to get into his eyes.
The one I’m less sure about: Madame Durand was initially described by one character as having an odd accent, somewhat like that of a Romance language speaker but with occasional Slavic language speaker aspects. Concordia thought of her accent as “exotic.” However, later on Madame Durand’s dialogue was peppered with French words and seemed more specifically French. I thought it might be a sign Madame Durand was slipping up, but Concordia never noted a shift in her accent.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)