So, I attempted to read this last year and this is what happened. I said last time I would try again in a year and...here I am. I had actually forgotten how little I cared for it.
And then I started reading it.
I'm going to try to get at least to where we see some actually plot but I'm not holding my breath.
Err. I don't really know what to say about this book. Really.
Because the audiobook went in one ear and out the other. I remember bits and pieces but it resembled nothing so much as a continuous noise you slowly cease to be able to hear.
Part of it was that I never could quite catch the flow of the text. The idea...I think...was to come at the rise in interest of murder during the Victorian times (and slightly before) from a romantic, almost poetic view. The author framed the cases, many of them the exact same ones covered by Lucy Worsley in The Art of the English Murder, around Thomas de Quincy. It was an interesting take...but I never seemed to reach the point of it all.
Now, I was listening to this at the same time (not reading and listening at once but going back and forth) as The Science of Sherlock Holmes, so it could be I kept confusing the two and simply remember the one I took notes on. But while they shared some similarities, none of it really overlapped at any one time. And wouldn't one be more likely to enforce the other if they covered similar information?
I'm tempted to say this simply isn't a book to be listened to. And while I think there's truth to that, I don't believe it was the only reason. Certainly the narrator was not by any means the worst I've found. I've gotten through truly monotone narrators and still remembered the information.
No, I think some of the fault lies with the writing itself but how much, I don't know. I do plan to attempt this again but read it the next time. But that won't be anytime soon. I may be interested in what the author has to say, but I need to forget how I first encountered it.
Meh. That's about the best I can come up with. This book did nothing I hoped for when I
wanted it to. When I wanted more Bess...nothing. More nursing...Elspath gets kicked
out. (I'm sorry, that's not a spoiler. It was practically in neon lights from the moment she joined!)
Lady Elspath Douglas is in Paris keeping an old school friend company before the birth of her first child. Elspath's long had a crush on her friend's older brother, Alain, and he finally notices her...just as WWI starts. Our..."intrepid" hero's journey leads her across France in the early days, giving her the desire to become a nursing sister. But she's the ward of a very conservative uncle who'd never let her join - so she doesn't tell him and basically lies to get in. A love triangle develops...blah, blah, blah.
I wanted to like Elspath (though it could have been Bess!! Why wasn't it Bess?) but I never could quite connect with her. I think she's suppose to be independent and strong; I found her selfish and TSTL at times. She's suppose to be a great nurse; she lets worries and personal concerns take precedence. (I could talk here about the fact we've seen other nurses handle the same instances better...but that would make me sound like I'm blaming this character for not being the other one.) Elspath is suppose to be a character from an elevated position seeing the world change around her forever. She's shown to be okay with this; yet she flaunts rules, drops names and calls in favors, and seems to want the best of both worlds.
While I never thought Alain and her were a good match, I'm frankly left thinking Peter's too good for her. I think she's clearly on a path of growth but the problems is we see little of it. And she basically does one of the worse rebounds I've ever seen.
So...why am I giving this three stars? (I keep asking myself that very question.) In the end, the parts that worked...really worked. The historical aspects were well done and integral to the plot. They felt real and you could understand and feel them in a way it's difficult to in non-fiction. Some of the scenes where Elspath is growing and changing as her world changes around her are good and I absolutely loved the final part (where the story gets its name from).
Am I glad I read it? Yes and I will probably even buy an ebook copy of my own. Will I read it often?
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