The No Nonsense Group No Nonsense Group từ Balad, I-rắc
Lãng mạn du hành thời gian - có gì vui! Và đó là một bộ ba, vì vậy niềm vui sẽ tiếp tục trong 2 cuốn sách nữa. Gwen mười sáu tuổi được cho là người "hữu ích", không có gì bất thường. Anh họ của cô ấy là người đặc biệt mang gen du hành thời gian - phải không? Charlotte đã được đào tạo trong nhiều năm nên cô ấy sẽ chuẩn bị khi thời gian đến, nhưng Gwen vẫn không chuẩn bị sẵn sàng khi điều đó xảy ra với cô ấy. Cô ấy có rất nhiều điều để học hỏi, và điều đó không giúp ích gì cho người bạn đời của cô ấy trong một chuyến du hành thời gian là một chàng trai trẻ kiêu ngạo, tuyệt đẹp, cô ấy nghĩ rằng cô ấy quá ngu ngốc để hiểu sứ mệnh mà họ đã được giao. Công thức cho sự lãng mạn nóng bỏng? Bạn đặt cược.
I decided to give this book a try, my first ever Courtney Milan, having seen the praise lavished on both author and book gathering the momentum of an avalanche. Obviously, previous crushing disappointment has not yet taught me to mistrust this kind of 'enthusiasm' and see through all this thoroughly undeserved praise. Everything in this book is so smugly mature, so insufferably idealised, so wishfully civilised, that you could both smell and feel the starch. The reader is assaulted by a narrative that reads like an endless relationship-guideline (wholly contemporary of course...why bother set your book in the 19th c.? Since the past plays no part in anything, why don't you bloody set it in the present and be done with it?)and the story itself is never allowed to breathe the fresh air of unruly desire, capture some of the pathos of the baseness of human need, or explore the interior of long nurtured dreams of revenge and the depth of injury that fed them. The manufactured maturity of this book drowned everything that could have been interesting in this story, and it was so oppressive that finishing it felt like fleeing a small musty smelling basement. The very concept of maturity (of the book's characters and their love) ends up as a clunky caricature of the real thing, sabotaged by the writer's ever so precious, ever so prissy treatment of passion and of gender, social and sexual relations. This reader felt constantly hammered by etiquette. One of the failures of this book is that it harks back to the bad old days, when passion was conveniently and prudishly divided into two steps: first, one achieves the kind of intimacy the committee of co-conspirators (publishers and comfort-zone readers) has approved, and second, hero and heroine have sex. This kind of false dichotomy passes for 'development' in the couple's relationship. In Milan's book the sex is even more of a task to read than all the other elements in her not-remotely-historical romance (the past, in which it is supposedly set, counts for shit). For sex here is oddly de-sexualised and reads more like a pedantic discourse on what should happen between bodies in the dark. That said, it would not be fair to say that Milan's writing is bad (although it can be that too, for example, a good writer would have never allowed the scenes between the Turner brothers to run and run into four and five pages. Nothing of what was said or accomplished by such prolixity could not have been done in three paragraphs), but it definitely is, and in a way that makes it worse than bad, insufferable, as it is lead by a desire for hagiographic, wholly affirmative romance, where even the having of a cup of tea is analysed to death (for the purpose of trivially asserting that the female character is 'in control' - and the writer never misses a chance to assert the heroine's being 'in control'. In Milan's mind the 19th c. was the best time for women!), and where even the minutest ripple of a motive is so loquaciously explained away that it loses both its significance and its purpose. Milan's characters are not characters at all, they are mouthpieces for the writer's indifferent, random and forced rationalisations. This kind of writing tends to turn its back to what is (should be?) the raison d'etre of romance writing: the representation of the unruly elements of desire as the medium through which liberating claims travel, express themselves and become effective (i.e., formative of life), claims that lead to a redemptive exit from some awful and entangled web of social, familial and other relationships, in which characters are caught. In historical romance there's the additional demand for an ear sensitive to the requirements of one's historical setting, and I don't mean merely frocks, carriages and 'prithees', but mores, social structures and norms, gender and sexual relations, which the romance should recall to some powerful effect. If you want to write historical romance then you should take the effort to show how society would bite back, will not allow you to fulfil those desires that exceed what it symbolically shapes. In short, there is no way that the authorities would have passed over all those males and given the prize to the heroine (but Milan is so idiotically obsessed with forcing totally foreign to the 19th c. ideas of 'woman in control' that she thinks we won't notice that the heroine is really just like a CEO living across the road from Milan's house). In the end, the whole reads and feels like an arid exercise in sanitised contemporary relationships, a homily on the proper etiquette for 'dating' (I deign to call the story we got here 'love') without any exploration of eros, of conflict, of the claims of desire. Worse still, all the so-called negative elements in 'Unveiled' that were supposedly to drive the drama and create some conflict are so woefully trivial and so clumsily contrived that the reader feels oppressed by the writer's manipulations and calls upon some benevolent deity to let her out. All the hurdles (which are presented here, utterly unconvincingly, as insuperable conflicts) ring hollow and they are nothing more than clumsy plot fiddling to further the cause of the characters' promotion to sanitary heights. All the 'titanic' obstacles the writer tells us are insuperable (both constantly stating them and refusing to reveal their nature thus achieving the double feat of being at once turgid, annoying and vague) are quickly overcome and forgotten with a little bit of good will, friendly banter and, the oh so boring, age old cliche of fisticuffs-achieved male camaraderie. If you like your lovers written by a neat and ponderously moralising hand (where the heroine's 'being in control' has to be asserted, celebrated, shouted from the roof tops and advertised in gigantic billboards -making a mockery of and contradicting her circumstances); if you want everything to sound like a relationships advice column in Cosmo; if you like your books pompously trying to disguise their trivial and innocuous view of love (especially of a 19th c. one), of conflict, of genuine obstacles; if you like the representation of passions (for revenge, for a woman, for a man, for social recognition) to be as safe as possible, and the characters reeking of contemporaneity then this is the book for you, and Courtney Milan your HR high priestess du jour. Me, I found the pompous triviality of her prose and her shrill contemporary voice so unbearable that I've resolved never to go anywhere near a book that bears her name again.
A little hard to get into, but a very good book about the Plantagenet reign in England