Mini-reviews: The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons; Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt; Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery; and The Replacement Wife by Eileen Goudge

Title: The House at Tyneford
Author: Natasha Solomons
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Plume
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: When I close my eyes I see Tyneford House.

I’ve already blogged a TON about this book, since it was our April read-along title, but I thought I should do a short, spoiler-free review. The House at Tyneford is about a young Jewish woman from Austria who flees to England to work as a housemaid in order to avoid the Nazis. This book is just about as close to perfect as you can get – and it is one of the best works of historical fiction I’ve ever read. I know it will turn up on my “best-of” list for the year.

Title: Tuck Everlasting
Author: Natalie Babbitt
Genre: Middle grade fiction, fantasy
Publisher: Square Fish
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy borrowed from a friend
First line: The road that led to Treegap had been trod out long before by a herd of cows who were, to say the least, relaxed.

I don’t know how I’ve gone so long without reading this! I picked it up at Michelle’s house one Friday when she had to take a phone call from her dad, who was in the hospital. I read the first thirty pages, took it home, and finished it a couple days later, as it’s only 130 pages or so. This book is so much more than the plot synopsis, which most people probably know a bit about. For a simple story, it has a huge message about what’s important in life. I’m glad I finally read it.

Title: Anne of Green Gables
Author: L.M. Montgomery
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Simon & Brown
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Kate Burton
First line: Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies’ eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde’s Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde’s door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof.

I’ve read the entire Anne of Green Gables series several times over the course of my life, and I decided that I wanted to a do a reread via audio before reading The Blythes Are Quoted, which Michelle got me for Christmas last year. This particular edition was published to celebrate the 100th anniversary, and Margaret Atwood wrote the introduction, which was amazing. I definitely saw different things in the story this time, all because of the years that have gone by and the place I am as a mother. I loved it just as much as always, and can’t wait to dive in to Anne of Avonlea.

Title: The Replacement Wife
Author: Eileen Goudge
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Open Road
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Susan Boyce
First line: “We had a nice time,” Kat said.

While it has been a fantastic reading year for me when it comes to historical fiction, it has been a disappointing year in the contemporary fiction area. (Joshilyn Jackson aside, of course. I need a The Weird Sisters type of book that simply awes me with its brilliance.) I’ve never read Goudge before, and am not sure I will again. This book had such potential from the synopsis (professional matchmaker and happily married woman is dying of cancer, and wants to pick her husband’s next wife before she goes), but it devolved into a romance-y type novel that had way too many supporting characters and an ending that sucked. It didn’t help that I didn’t like the audiobook narrator. She did fine with dialogue – except when it came to a couple of supporting characters that were foreign, because her accents were pretty bad – but when she read the straight narration, she put tons of pauses in where pauses weren’t called for. Think William Shatner as Captain Kirk. It. happened a. lot. and. drove me. crazy.

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17 Responses to Mini-reviews: The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons; Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt; Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery; and The Replacement Wife by Eileen Goudge

  1. Anna says:

    If you loved The House at Tyneford that much, I know I need to get my hands on it!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Anna – yes, this is a must read for anyone who loves historical fiction as much as you do!

  2. Kailana says:

    The first three books sound good. I really enjoyed Anne of Green Gables and want to read the other two.

  3. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion
    says:

    Wow, you’ve made The House of Tyneford sound magnificent! I love Anne of Green Gables too.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kathy – it’s been a great year for historical fiction so far!

  4. Melissa
    Twitter: myeclecticbooks
    says:

    The Replacement Wife was definitely some book. I got so angry when I read it!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Melissa – me, too – her husband was just infuriating!

  5. irene says:

    You’ve been a busy reader. I enjoyed The House at Tyneford too, and have not read any of the others you reviewed, but thank you. I’ve already passed on my copy of the House. Amazingly my creative writing instructor, is always say that WWI or WWII is not really a big seller, you could have fooled me, it seems to be quite the hot sell these day.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Irene – I think WW I and WW II novels are really hot sellers right now – if they’re done well.

  6. Sheila (Book Journey)
    Twitter: bookjourney
    says:

    Great mix of books/audio here! I really want to try The House at Tyneford and Tuck Everlasting.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Sheila – you should add them to your list, because I definitely know – like mine – it’s not nearly long enough! 😉

  7. Vasilly
    Twitter: Vasilly
    says:

    What did you think of Tuck Everlasting’s ending? Did you think Winnie was going to make the choice she made?

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      V – I actually knew the ending before I read it because my friend and I had discussed the book and the discussions she had with her son when they read it together. So I wasn’t surprised – and I definitely think she made the correct choice!

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