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review 2019-10-12 11:44
A lyrical and romantic story set in a magical Ireland
Seven Letters - J.P. Monninger

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Griffin for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review. Because I read an early copy of the story, some of the details mentioned might not fully correspond to the final published version of the book.

I had never read any of the author’s work before, but the description of the setting, the protagonist and her reasons for visiting Ireland drew me in. I had read about the Blasket Islands in a previous book and become fascinated by what I came across, and, personally, I would love to have the opportunity to be a scholar researching the topic, in Ireland. The novel offered me the chance to vicariously live that experience through the main character, and I did enjoy it enormously. The beautiful writing, interspersed with Irish sayings, stories, and references to books were pure delight.

I am not a big reader of romance, and perhaps for that reason, the aspects of the novel that I most enjoyed were not the truly romantic ones, that I found a bit over the top. Kate, the protagonist, has a strong Irish (and Blasket Islands) connection, and she seems more than ready to fall in love —and under the spell— of Ireland, and the islands in particular. I did love the setting of the story, the description of her life at the university, her research, the people she meets there, and I would have loved to know more about some of the secondary characters (the Bicycle  Society members, for example, Gran, Seamus, Daijeet, Dr Kaufman, and even Milly although we learn more about her later). Also, and I suspect I might be in the minority here, I would have loved to have had more details of Kate’s research, for example, samples of the stories she reads and of the book she writes (she is studying women’s accounts of the life in the Blasket Islands before they were abandoned and the few inhabitants left there had to move out), although I know there are accounts published and available, but her work process, and her description of how she felt as she engaged in it resonated with me (yes, I have a PhD and re-experiencing that period was a huge bonus for me).

Of course, Kate’s experience in Ireland would not be complete without a romance, and we meet the man in question very early on, and no, readers don’t need to be avid romance consumers to spot him and know where things are headed. As I said, not being a habitual romance reader, I wasn’t too convinced by that side of things. I never felt we got to know Ozzie well, but that is reasonable in the context of the story, as Kate seems to falls in love/lust with an idea or an image in her head, more than with the real man, and neither one of them give each other much chance to know what they are getting into and who with. Because we see the story from Kate’s perspective, we are expected to see him through rose-tinted glasses, at least initially, although things (and him) don’t fit neatly into the romanticized image she has in her head. (Oh, there are sex scenes as well, but they are not explicit and are overly romantic and totally unrealistic, but hey, as I don’t like sex scenes, I was pleased they were not many and didn’t mind they were unrealistic). Theirs is the perfect embodiment of a whirlwind romance. As we all know, the course of true love never did run smooth, and there are separations, trials, and many obstacles in the way, some that go well beyond what most people would expect from a typical novel in this genre, and deal in some very serious issues (like the Mediterranean refugee crisis), so although this is a romantic novel, it is not a light and cheery read (although yes, there is the mandatory happy ending that I won’t spoil for you).

The structure and the way the story is told is quite original, as it revolves around letters, the seven letters of the title, some formal and official, some personal, and they help create the backbone of the novel, written in the first person, from Kate’s perspective. In fact, although the novel is classed as a romance (and I’ve mentioned some of the more conventional romantic aspects of the story), for me it seemed to fit better into the Bildungsroman or coming-of-age story (although the character is perhaps a bit older than most of these kinds of characters tend to be), and it is written as if it were a memoir, where the letters serve as anchors, points around which the protagonist organizes her memories of the events, because although the story is told chronologically, it is not linear and there are jumps in time, during which life has gone on and settled, but the narration is only retrieved when something of some significance to Kate’s journey and to her relationship with Ozzie takes place. (There are scenes that showed potential, for example, an archeological trip Kate gets involved in, but it ends up becoming only a setting for an encounter with Ozzie, and we are given no details as to what else might have happened during the trip). Although she is not the typical innocent-abroad of many XIX and early XX century novels, she does not know herself, her trip abroad changes things and she goes back to the USA a changed woman, although there are many more things that she must learn, not only about herself but also about others, before the end of the book. Her process of discovery felt realistic, and I empathized with her struggle between her idea of what her life should be like, what her heart wants, and her attempts to reconcile the two, if possible.  Oh, there is also a prologue including a lovely Irish story about a man falling in love with a fairy woman, although, to me, in this case Kate plays the part of the man —who cannot settle in the magical land and misses home— and Ozzie that of the fairy woman.

I agree with comments that say perhaps the story would have gained in depth and become more realistic if some part of it had been told from Ozzie’s point of view, but, considering Ozzie’s backstory, that would have been a completely different book, and one that would have taken the focus away from the romantic angle.

In sum, this is a story I enjoyed, and I don’t hesitate in recommending it to romance readers, in particular to lovers of Ireland and anything Irish. There are many elements that make the story worthy of reading even for those who are not big on romance, especially the setting, the beautiful language, and the protagonist, who although flawed and contradictory, loves books, scholarship, her friends, Ireland and has a wonderful zest for life. The descriptions, not only of Ireland, but also of New Hampshire, Italy, and other settings, take readers on a lyrical journey, and I was sorry it came to an end. Oh, and there’s a wonderful dog too.

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review 2019-10-09 23:43
Seven Letters
Seven Letters - J.P. Monninger

Seven Letters is beautifully written, and Monninger certainly knows how to paint a scene. It actually felt like more time was spent on the setting than on the love story, or maybe it was that those were some of my favorite parts. The romance was good, not great, but good, but that could be due to a lack of connection with Kate. I just never quite warmed up to her. I've seen that this one is headed for the silver screen, so I'm anxious to see how it all translates to film. I'm hoping to find Kate a little easier to like, and I can't wait for the terrific scenery described. In the end, Seven Letters fell just short of a really good story and landed somewhere in the mid-range for me.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-09-11 19:49
Liebe findet uns
Liebe findet uns: Roman - J. P. Monninger,Andrea Fischer
  • Frauenunterhaltung Liebesroman Große Gefühle 
  • Taschenbuch
  • Klappenbroschur
  • 416 Seiten
  • The Map That Leads to You
  • Aus dem Amerikanischen übersetzt von Andrea Fischer.
  • ISBN-13 9783548289557
  • Erschienen: 14.07.2017

 

Es ist der eine letzte Sommer nach der Uni, bevor das echte Leben beginnt. Heather reist mit ihren zwei besten Freundinnen durch Europa. Sie liest Hemingway, lässt sich durch die Gassen der Altstädte treiben. Dass sie Jack begegnet, hätte sie nicht erwartet. Und schon gar nicht, dass sie sich unsterblich in ihn verliebt. Er folgt Stationen aus dem alten Reisetagebuch seines Großvaters. Es ist sein Ein und Alles, und Jack beginnt die Schätze daraus mit Heather zu teilen. Die beiden besuchen die unglaublichsten Orte und verbringen die schönste Zeit ihres Lebens. Bis Jack völlig unerwartet verschwindet. Heather ist verzweifelt, wütend. Was ist sein Geheimnis? Sie weiß: Sie muss ihn wiederfinden.

 

Meine Meinung:

 

Ich bin durch das tolle Cover auf das Buch aufmerksam geworden. Da mich der Klappentext auch angesprochen hat, habe ich mich für dieses Buch entschieden. Freundlicherweise hat mir der Verlag das Buch zu Rezensionszwecken zur Verfügung gestellt. 

 

Der Einstieg in das Buch ist mir sehr gut gelungen. Der Schreibstil war total flüssig und auch die Geschichte konnte mich anfangs sehr packen. Jack konnte mich sofort für sich einnehmen. 

 

Es fängt an mit dem Kennenlernen von Heather und Jack im Zug, dieses Zusammentreffen wurde sehr schön und sehr romantisch beschrieben. Ich habe Jack sofort in mein Herz geschlossen und war gespannt, wie es mit den beiden weiter geht. Ich muss aber sagen, dass mich das Buch nach einiger Zeit nicht mehr fesseln konnte und teilweise leider sogar gelangweilt hat.  

 

Nach dem ersten Teil der Liebesgeschichte konnte die Autorin das Leid von der Hauptprotagonistin sehr gut beschreiben. Das hat mir gut gefallen. 

 

Zum Schluss hin hat mich die Geschichte auch wieder mehr packen können, aber ich fand das Verhalten von Jack am Schluss widersprüchlich, also nicht wirklich realistisch. Ohne zuviel zu verraten, passte sein Verhalten zum Ende der Geschichte meiner Meinung nach nicht zum Rest des Buches. 

 

Alles in allem war dies in Teilen eine schöne Liebesgeschichte, die mich im Ganzen aber nicht so ganz begeistern und überzeugen konnte. Meine Erwartungen wurden leider nicht wirklich erfüllt. Von mir bekommt das Buch 3,5 Sterne. 

 
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review 2017-09-05 12:26
Wish by Joseph Monninger
Wish - Joseph Monninger

I would like to point out that I got this book on a whim because it cost .79 cents used. I am so glad I got it.

 

This book was fast paced. I did like it, though the mother annoyed me. I get why she is that way, but still!

They are on vacation for their son's wish (similar to the make a wish foundation for cancer patients. He has cystic fibrosis) and the mother is flirting around and leaving them alone to go on dates. That just seemed unusual and cruel to the kids.

I know she is craving attention from men, but the book made it sound like she was always doing things like that. A vacation should be family time, but that is my personal opinion. Making friends are fine and dandy, but don't go off leaving your kids alone all night, leaving them to wonder where they heck you are and if you're coming back.

I can understand why the kids did what they did; the mom had every right to be worried..etc, but to me it seemed like they were copying something she often did. They had no idea when she would be back and a limited time to do things. I probably would have left, too and had a mini adventure.

I do think the sister should have put her foot down about letting her brother surf. I know it was a once in a lifetime thing for him, but he really could have died. I might have let my heart win too and let him surf as well, but if I am ever faced with a similar situation, I hope I am thinking rationally. However, I can understand the brothers feelings of wanting something so bad, but your body not able to do or enjoy it.

(spoiler show)


There are some moments that made me tear up. I love when books can give me strong emotional feelings and this one delivered.

 

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review 2017-08-07 00:00
The Map That Leads to You
The Map That Leads to You - J.P. Monning... The Map That Leads to You - J.P. Monninger (3.4)Some great moments, totally addictive to read. Still puzzling out how it falls flat. There was a lot of good passages and dialogue but something felt off...

Review to be continued maybe.
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