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text 2017-12-13 15:17
Reading progress update: I've read 224 out of 224 pages.
A Christmas Carol: And Other Christmas Stories - Charles Dickens,Frederick Busch

Listing this as a "read" book feels a little like cheating, as of the four stories contained between its covers I only read the title one. I had read "A Good Humoured Christmas" as a chapter of The Pickwick Papers, though; as for the other two, they just didn't appeal to my mood at the moment.

 

As for "A Christmas Carol," I'm disappointed in myself for not having read it sooner. What a great story!

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review 2017-12-13 06:11
I gave myself a nice surprise
The Seventh Bride - T. Kingfisher

I'm a total mess when it comes to curating my ereader. I check things out of the library and compulsively download books both profligately and promiscuously. I follow one link after another in search of books that might appeal, and almost never make note of how I ended up with that one thing on the queue. And saying I have a queue is an insult to an organized and methodical list of readerly desire, because I pretty much read at whim (when I'm not reading for work) and my whims are scattered far and wide.

 

So when I picked up The Seventh Bride, I more or less assumed previous me had downloaded some crap that might be fun at bedtime, one of those first person jobs with a Strong Female Protagonist and some sexytimes, the kind where the Strong Female Protagonist spends all her time slut shaming everyone around her and sucking. Hey don't judge! I like getting pissed at my reading so I can get some godamn sleep once in a while. Alas, The Seventh Bride turned out to be well written and interesting. So much for sleeping! Sleeping is for suckers anyway. 

 

Turns out, The Seventh Bride is a retelling of Bluebeard, the folktale probably best known from its telling by Charles Perrault (who also wrote Puss in Boots). In the tale, a young bride marries an older lord of some kind, and is admonished by him never to look in one specific room. (Just fyi, a forbidden thing in a story is called by folklorists a narrative lack, and you can bet your bottom dollar that this lack will be fulfilled in the text.) So too, in Bluebeard: the young wife finds the key, and upon opening the forbidden door, finds the heads of all the previous wives, usually seven in number. Thus, the name of the novel. 

 

The Seventh Bride dispenses with the young wife's naivete. She knows the lord is bad news, but is more or less sold to him because of deeply unfair social architecture. Instead, the novel focuses on the relationships between the wives, some of whom are still living, and some of whom are, well, maybe not dead, but not altogether alive either. Kingfisher does a lovely job of detailing the strange connections between the women. One woman in particular is devoted to her evil husband, and a couple others are so twisted by their circumstance that they are fragile and dangerous in their fragility. This is no rosy sisterhood, but it isn't some bitch-fest either, where our protagonist gets to be Queen B because all women but her are the worst.

 

Nuanced relationships between women in a fucked up system? Who even does that? Kingfisher does; amen sister. 

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text 2017-12-13 01:10
Reading progress update: I've read 200 out of 336 pages.
A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings - Charles Dickens,Michael Slater

Never make bargains with phantoms.

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text 2017-12-13 00:55
Reading progress update: I've read 78 out of 224 pages.
A Christmas Carol: And Other Christmas Stories - Charles Dickens,Frederick Busch

I’m reading the title story now, and I’m appreciating how sympathetic his portrayal of Scrooge is — certainly more so than in any of the adaptations that I can recall watching.

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text 2017-12-12 17:28
Reading progress update: I've read 176 out of 336 pages.
A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings - Charles Dickens,Michael Slater

Poverty-stricken urbanites and mysterious connections between characters.

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