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review 2020-09-09 17:26
The Captain's Daughter and Other Stories by Alexander Pushkin
The Captain's Daughter: And Other Stories - Alexander Pushkin

There’s a little sense of dissonance when I read a classic and my response is “huh, okay.” This is especially true when I read the classic in translation; in this case, the translation is very smooth, contemporary, and easy to read, which causes its own form of dissonance. These now feel like contemporary stories rather than something written in the early 19th century, and compared to contemporary stories they don’t particularly stand out to me, but then I neither read them in their original language nor am familiar with the history of Russian literature so as to appreciate the ways in which Pushkin was blazing a new trail.

The stories:

“The Captain’s Daughter”: This novella occupies almost half of the book. It involves a romance between a young officer and the angelic daughter of the captain, set during the time of Pugachev’s rebellion, and Pugachev himself is the most vibrant character in it. The story moves along briskly and is fairly satisfying, though the characters are not particularly complex. This edition also includes an omitted chapter, which is interesting in that Pushkin ditched a bunch of melodrama and overt paternalism.

“The Tales of Ivan Petrovich Belkin”: These five stories, mostly around 15 pages each, are given a framing device in that they were all collected by a fictional young dead man, but they aren’t actually linked, so I’ll discuss them separately.

“The Shot”: The narrator pieces together the story of a multi-episode duel from others. It’s a bleak world in which men are expected to kill and die in duels over the most mundane insults, and those who refuse lose all respect from their fellows. (Pushkin, sadly, died himself in a duel at age 37.)

“The Snowstorm”: A prank disrupts a love affair. This is a cleverly structured story, in which after reading the end you go back and read over the earlier parts with fresh eyes, something I love in a short story. It made me uncomfortable in that I didn’t find Burmin’s behavior deserving of a happy ending.

“The Undertaker”: A man has ungenerous thoughts and is punished with a nightmare. Um, okay.

“The Postmaster”: Another narrator piecing together someone else’s story, this time of a postmaster and his prodigal daughter. This didn’t do much for me.

“Mistress Into Maid”: A sweet little story about a forbidden romance, also involving some pranking, but this time harmless. I enjoyed this one.

“The Queen of Spades”: This is a somewhat longer story about gambling and obsession, in which a calculating young man will go to almost any length for a guaranteed win at cards. I found this one pretty good and with a satisfying ending.

“Kirdjali”: Eight pages about the legend of an Eastern European bandit. Okay.

“The Negro of Peter the Great”: This is an unfinished fragment, around 40 pages long, of what was perhaps intended to be a novel. The title isn’t politically correct these days but the “Negro” in question is a (lightly fictionalized?) version of Pushkin’s own maternal great-grandfather, Abram or Ibrahim Gannibal, who was brought to Russia as a boy, adopted by Peter the Great as his godson, sent to France to study military engineering, and later returned to Russia to be an important figure in the military and the court. The fragment deals largely with Ibrahim’s love troubles, as well as his relationship with Peter the Great, who’s presented in a very positive light. This is interesting from a historical perspective though a fragment is unlikely to satisfy in a storytelling sense.

Overall, I’m glad to have read some work by a classic author I hadn’t been exposed to before, and appreciated the window into 18th and early 19th century Russia. But while the writing is perfectly fine, I can’t say any of it blew me away. I also have the sense that this collection doesn’t represent Pushkin’s best work, much of which was poetry and plays.

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review 2020-04-04 14:51
Captain Heartbreaker (Havenbrook, #4) by: Brighton Walsh
Captain Heartbreaker (Havenbrook, #4) - Brighton Walsh



Brighton Walsh is a favorite author mine. Her characters imagineer their way into the emotional compass. She takes hearts on an adventure by daring to different. Captain Heartbreaker is real enough to make you feel and fantasy enough to make you dream. Hudson and MacKenna are the best of both worlds. The greatest of friends that leave us longing for something more.

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review 2020-01-16 00:32
The Captain's Bluestocking Mistress, Erica Ridley
The Captain's Bluestocking Mistress - Erica Ridley
I enjoyed this Regency romance.While I received this free as part of the Exclusive Jewels Vol 3, I voluntarily chose to review this. I've given this a 4.5* rating. This is not for the under 18 readers.The hero is a war bitter man and a heroine with a longtime crush on him. After much foolishness on the heroine's part, which were very brazen of her, and the antics of the demon cat, there was lots to keep turning the pages for.


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review 2019-12-31 12:03
Shadow Captain, Alastair Reynolds
Shadow Captain - Alastair Reynolds

Reynolds makes the interesting choice to switch view points from Arufura Ness to her sister in this sequel to Revenger, the story of space pirates, space tomb raiders and historical mysteries. It's quintessential Reynolds in many  ways - grim characters, deep mysteries, slow start. It's also a better sequel than any I can remember from this author - hopefully Reynolds can stick the landing with the obviously necessary third volume and give a satisfying conclusion.

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text 2019-12-31 00:21
Reading progress update: I've read 388 out of 423 pages.
Shadow Captain - Alastair Reynolds

Probably the last book I'll finish this year!

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