POVone: The First Person Perspective

Rants and Reviews on Novels Written in the First Person Point of View

Tag Archives: Romance

Book Review: At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

Author: Sara Gruen
Title: At the Water’s Edge
Genre: Literary; Historical
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (Random House)
Number of Pages: 368
Narrator: Maddie Hyde (Pennypacker)
Quality Rating: 76.94

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

What’s It About?

As the second World War wages in the world around her, Maddie spends much of her time hanging around with her husband Ellis and his best friend Hank–who have avoided service for medical reasons. When they get a little carried away and make a scene at a high society New Year’s Eve party, Ellis’s father cuts him off from the family fortune. To get back at his dad, he and Hank drag Maddie to Ireland in search of the fabled Lochness Monster. Years ago, Ellis’s father achieved infamy by faking a siting of the beast, and Ellis intends to show him up by capturing footage of the real thing.

Once thy arrive at their destination, a small hotel in a rural area near the Loch, Ellis and Hank begin searching for Nessie and visiting people who have seen the beast–often leaving Maddie by herself at the hotel. As Maddie spends more and more time with the hotel staff, she grows increasingly fond of them–to the disappointment of Ellis, who insists that they are beneath her class.

When he returns from his expeditions, Ellis is always drunk and proceeds to cruelly insult Maddie in a variety of ways. His mistreatment of Maddie leads to many confrontations with the hotel staff, including disagreements with a man who has become specially interested in Maddie. As the story unfolds, secrets come to light about Ellis’s true character, why he isn’t serving in the war, and what he really thinks of his wife. All of this latent tension leads to a dramatic to conclusion in which the monster is revealed–although perhaps not the one they were looking for.

Should You Read It?

If you like the sort of story that centers around a woman’s struggle to escape a bad marriage, this will be right up your alley. Also central to the story is the theme of social expectations and the class divisions they create. Although the novel is set in Europe at the height of World War 2, the war is a minor theme. The rich depictions of Ireland and its people are emphasized more than the time period. Also, be advised that this isn’t really about a search for the Lochness monster–that point is merely a vehicle for the development of the deep relationship conflict that fills the pages.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, NPR Interview

Book Reviews: Boston Globe, Kirkus Reviews, Chicago Tribune, That’s What She Read

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Sara Gruen: Ape House (2010), Water for Elephants (2006), Flying Changes (2005)

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Book Review: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

Author: Toni Morrison
Title: God Help the Child
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Random House
Number of Pages: 192
Narrator: Sweetness, Bride, Etc.
Quality Rating: 80.52

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

What’s It About?

Sweetness is a light-skinned black woman married to a light-skinned black man. They’re so light-skinned that they can pass as whites, and they live in such a time that it is beneficial to do so. Everything is going perfectly in their relationship until Sweetness gives birth to a baby girl who has extremely dark skin. Embarrassed, her husband leaves her to raise the girl on her own.

As the little girl grows, she feels the constant contempt of her mother. When she is six years old, she falsely accuses a woman of child molestation and sends her to prison for fifteen years–simply because she wants to gain her mother’s approval. The moment she reaches adulthood, Bride–as she comes to call herself–abruptly leaves the mother by whom she’s always felt scorned.

As an adult, Bride has become incredibly successful as an entrepreneur in the beauty industry. She is in a serious relationship with a man whose past demons make it difficult for him to commit. When the man suddenly leaves her, Bride begins to investigate how her mother’s abuse has shaped her own disposition in life. As the story unfolds, child abuse is explored in a myriad of ways through the lens of several characters.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy the prior work of Toni Morrison, this book–though set in the modern day–carries her signature style. The story is about racism–but not really about racism. It’s really about child abuse, and Sweetness’s contempt for the color of her daughter’s skin is just one of many examples in the novel of how children are exploited, abused, and ruined by the adults they trust. If this topic is important to you, you would probably find this book very helpful in understanding the impact abuse has on children as they claw their way into adulthood.

Links and References

Author Information: Wikipedia, The Toni Morrison Society

Book Reviews: New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, LA Times

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Toni Morrison: Paradise (1997), Beloved (1987), The Bluest Eye (1970)

Book Review: Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova

Author: Krassi Zourkova
Title: Wildalone
Genre: Fantasy; Paranormal; Romance
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)
Number of Pages: 384
Narrator: Thea Slavin
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B, Very Good; of the first 43 reviews, the average reader rating was 83.26%.

Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova

What’s It About?

Thea Slavin is a musical prodigy who has come from her home in Bulgaria to study at Princeton University in America. Soon after she arrives, she develops a relationship with a man who seems helplessly attracted to her. She is drawn to him as well, but she knows that he is harboring a secret that could tear them apart.

Years ago, Thea’s older sister had been a student at Princeton. She had mysteriously died, and her body had been stolen–and never recovered. As Thea researches the circumstances of her sister’s death and disappearance, she discovers that her sister may have been involved in the secret practices of a Dionysian cult.

Within the family history of the Slavins is a legend about wildalones–mythological women who imprison men to their wills. As Thea finds out more about her sister and this strange yet irresistible new man to whom she is drawn, she begins to believe the myths may hold more truth than superstition. The question is–will she be able to handle the truth about her lost sister and her new lover when it is finally revealed to her?

Should You Read It?

The comparisons on the cover jacket to The Secret History, Jane Eyre, and Twilight are fitting. The story is like The Secret History in that it’s heavily couched in Greek mythology–particularly that involving sex and debauchery. It’s like Jane Eyre in that Thea’s lover does have a “secret wife” of sorts “hidden in the attic.” Finally, it’s like the Twilight saga not only in that it involves a supernatural love triangle but also in that it consists of the erotically tense interplay between a dominant male and a submissive, albeit stubborn, female. Although the plot would certainly fall under the umbrella of a paranormal romance, the poetic nature of the writing style could qualify the book as a literary work. References to the supernatural are subtle–laced with mystery and ambiguity. The erotic intensity, however, fills the pages from start to finish. So, if you enjoy paranormal romance but also are drawn to something a little more high brow, I’d definitely recommend Wildalone.

Links and References

Author Information: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, Dark Matter Zine, Urban Fantasy Magazine

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Krassi Zourkova: Wildalone is Krassi Zourkova’s debut novel.

Book Review: Silence by Deborah Lytton

Author: Deborah Lytton
Title: Silence
Genre: Romance; Young Adult
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Shadow Mountain (Deseret Book)
Number of Pages: 320
Narrators: Stella Layne and Hayden Rivers
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B, Very Good; of the first 29 reviews, the average reader rating was 83.45%.

Silence by Deborah Lytton

What’s It About?

Stella is a shy, fifteen year old girl who is having trouble adjusting to her new school–following the divorce of her parents and the relocation of her, her mother, and her sister to a new town. She feels out of place, even as her only friend tries to pull her into the popular crowd. The only thing she has going for her, she believes, is her voice. When she sings, she doesn’t feel invisible. And, when her voice lands her the lead in the high school musical, she feels like she actually has a shot at being normal.

Hayden is an awkward and quiet boy with a speech impediment who is new to the same school as Stella. While he tries to keep his distance, he can’t help but be drawn to Stella–there’s just something about her that makes him want to reach out. But he is emotionally scarred by an abusive past and prefers to keep everyone at an arm’s length. Besides, he is embarrassed by his slow speech and prefers to stay quiet. How could he start a relationship with Stella if he can’t even speak to her?

When Stella is accidentally knocked unconscious and falls into a swimming pool at a party, fate intervenes and Hayden is there to save her from drowning. But when she wakes up, she has lost her hearing–and the only dream she ever cared about. Temporarily deaf, she loses her spot in the musical and falls into a depression. While waiting for an operation that can restore her hearing, Hayden begins to show her all that she can do without it. As the two spend more and more time together, they begin to fall in love. But, can Hayden really give his heart away when his past has already broken it? Is he good enough for Stella? And, is Stella willing to abandon her former dream when she discovers things about herself she never realized until Hayden showed up?

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy young adult love stories, like John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, you will love this book. The alternating first person narration between Stella and Hayden gives insight into how each character feels about the blossoming relationship. The tone, despite the characters’ damaged childhoods, is light and laced with hope. With an uplifting conclusion, this tale is a love story–not a tragedy. The chapters are short and language easily digestible. There are also many references to various arts–music, poetry, painting, etc. So, if you’re nostalgic about the role that the arts played in your high school years, you may also enjoy this story for that reason.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Reading Bifrost, Mel’s Shelves, Bookworm Lisa

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Deborah Lytton: Jane in Bloom (2009)

Book Review: Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O’Neill

Author: Ellie O’Neill
Title: Reluctantly Charmed
Genre: Literary, Fantasy
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Touchstone (Simon & Schuster)
Number of Pages: 416
Narrator: Kate McDaid
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: I, Insufficient data; there are not enough ratings to accurately gauge the average reader rating.

Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O'Neill

What’s It About?

Kate McDaid, a 26 year old copywriter located in Dublin, Ireland, tells the story of how her world is turned upside down when she is called in to read the will of her deceased distant relative (who is also named Kate McDaid). Kate isn’t told how much the estate is worth but, in order to receive it, she must agree to publishing a series of poems each week under her own name. The mystery intrigues her, and she agrees to do it.

To publish her poems, Kate uses an old website of a musician with whom she is somewhat romantically involved. The poems are filled with imagery about Irish folklore and imply that fairies may actually exist. Unexpectedly, the poems go viral. Fans of the musician discuss it on online forums, a journalist covers the story in a prestigious paper, and Kate is skyrocketed to the limelight.

As the story proceeds, Kate must juggle her attempts to advance in her career with the development of a potential love interest and her newfound fame (and infamy) as what many begin to perceive as a modern day witch. All the while, Kate digs deeper into her heritage in an attempt to understand herself and her place in a modern world that has lost its touch with magic.

Should You Read It?

If you’re looking for a straight-fantasy novel, this probably isn’t for you. The presence of fairies and the realm of magic are alluded to and yearned for, but they aren’t explicitly there. The work is more literary in nature–a story about a young woman attempting to discover her heritage while at the same time integrating it into modern life. The voice of Kate is very witty and light. The novel draws deeply on Irish folklore, as well as how the country has evolved into modern day. If you’re looking for a book about self-discovery containing a strong sense of place–with a small touch of fantasy and romance–you might enjoy this one.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, Confessions of a Book Addict

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books by Ellie O’Neill: Reluctantly Charmed is Ellie O’Neill’s debut novel.