May 21, 2019

Short & Sweet: The Fever and Alias Grace

The Fever by Megan Abbott

About halfway through this book became pretty hard to put down! As the mysterious events unfold, the writing becomes more and more unsettling, with the style being sort of reminiscent of magical realism at times, making you question what is real and what isn't. I do wish that the ending had explored more of the purported cause of the events (spoiler, highlight to read: I feel like it would have been helpful for there to have been more details about the theory that the symptoms were due to mass psychogenic illness). Things feel like they get wrapped up awfully fast, and not as satisfyingly as they could have been. Nevertheless, Abbott adeptly conveys the mood of panic and paranoia that the community is swept up in as more and more young girls start showing alarming symptoms.                                                                                                                                                                   4 shooting stars. 

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

A fascinating re-imagining of the real-life Kinnear-Montgomery murders. It's a bit slow-moving as Grace begins relating her tale to Dr. Jordan, but soon picks up, and I easily became sucked into the story that Atwood weaves.

4 shooting stars.  

Beatrice and Benedick: A Rambling Review

Beatrice and Benedick by Marina Fiorato

As a story I found it quite rich and immersive; as a retelling/expansion of Much Ado I found it less satisfying. Benedick’s voice was believable as the original character, but this version of Beatrice did not capture the wit and energy of Shakespeare’s heroine. I also did not get the same sort of humour from it as the original play; there is far more tragedy than comedy here, and although both protagonists kept mentioning their “witty banter” I didn’t feel like we actually saw it. Their relationship starts and proceeds rather oddly, with an initial attraction on both sides which quickly becomes somewhat antagonistic for no clear reason. The misunderstandings that serve to separate the couple are truly Shakespearean in style, though.

That said, I liked how elements of Othello and Romeo & Juliet were woven into the story, enriching it with characters and plot points from these other Shakespearean works, which lent this expansion some authenticity. The writing allows the reader to easily visualize the settings, from the dunes of Messina to the despair-filled days on the open ocean. The hints in Shakespeare’s original play about Beatrice and Benedick’s history make this a storyline just waiting to be explored; however, this realization of that mystery is not what I had expected (or probably would have chosen, to be honest.) 

The afterword sheds some light on one of the side characters and informs the reader of an intriguing theory about Shakespeare that I had never heard of! This also helps to clarify some of the choices made in this retelling.

4 shooting stars.

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