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The Romantic Armchair Traveller
Danielle C. travels the globe through romance novels and romantic fiction.
Interests: Romance novels, romantic fiction, novels with foreign settings, travel.
Recent Activity
Thank you for the additional information, Ms Gauthier. The handling of setting can make or break a book for me, and what you did in Whispers In The Sand, making Senegal a plot-crucial character in itself, remains a rare treat in the romance genre. I wish you the best of luck with your new book!
Naida, your blog is one of my daily reads, in part because many of the books you review are ones that don't cross my radar elsewhere. I should comment much more often, not least because the poems you post often speak deeply to me. I think Chancing Faith will be enjoyed most by those who enjoy the quiet, day-to-day romantic interaction of really sweet characters and don't place demands on plot. The author has talent, no doubt about it, but as I note above, her technique would benefit from working out how action and tension flow from sustained, front-and-centre conflict.
Hello ilana :-) Like Water For Chocolate has been on my reading list of classic "food fiction" forever. I really must get to it, so thank you for the recommendation. Of Amado's books I have Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon but did not realise that Dona Flor And Her Two Husbands also prominently features food. Must look it up, now!
Ah,I see what you meant, and yes, based on that, definitely read the original book by R. A. Dick/Josephine Leslie instead! Thank you very much for taking the pains to search out the information for me! I never heard of the Alice Denham retelling before and I am glad you posted the information here :-)
Hello christxina! You know, I had completely forgotten that a television series was made. I will have to look it up to satisfy my curiosity. As for Rex Harrison, he does define the role as Captain Gregg, doesn't he! And I, too, adore Arsenic And Old Lace (I watch it every Hallowe'en), Blithe Spirit, and vintage films in general :-) Perhaps I misunderstand you, but as far as I know, Josephine Leslie and R. A. Dick are the same person, who penned only one version of this story. In any case, I hope you enjoy the book! It differed from my expectations but on the whole the surprise turned out to be positive.
Dear Ms Baryeh, thank you for your kind comment, which made me smile just like your book did. I wish you the very best luck with your writing career.
You are a darling for always visiting and commenting anyway :-)
Thank you for commenting, Ruby, and welcome to my blog! obey the spirit of the language of the time period, if not the letter Beautifully put. I assume the BBC series to which you are referring is the one with Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne (can't recall the name of the actor who played Robin)? I didn't watch it, fearing the interpretation of the Middle Ages would grate too much. Artistic license isn't necessarily a problem since creative liberties can make me look at classics in new, thought-provoking ways, but quite often they are, as you point out, merely a shorthand for laziness. "OK"/"Okay" is one of my pet peeves in historical fiction/films... The book sounds like fan fiction. I assume - hope - it is self-published? As for Scoundrel's Kiss, it is truly one of the most memorable romances I have read in the last year or two.
Chancing Faith, a contemporary romance by Empi Baryeh, is set in a Ghanaian advertising milieu (Black Opal Books paperback, 2012). The last time I enjoyed reading an office romance was in 2005: Jane Porter’s The Secretary’s Seduction, a light-hearted and winsome, old-fashioned Cinderella fairytale (easily the least moody Harlequin Presents I have ever read). Ghanaian author Empi Baryeh’s romance is rooted in a more recognisable world1. including a realistically depicted corporate environment and a hero and heroine with concrete career abilities and visions, but it possesses that same, unexpected quality of tenderness that arises from caring and good-natured protagonists who sincerely like each other. In order to complete the requirements of her Chartered Marketing Certification course Naaki Faith Tabika applies for an internship at MIA, a leading but corruption-tarnished Accra advertising agency. Unknown to the employees, MIA is facing a disadvantageous merger with an international marketing company in which Thane... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2012 at The Romantic Armchair Traveller
Only in a romance, I suspect, does long distance pose no particular hurdle in a bi-continental relationship. Fortunately for the hero and heroine of Midnight Skies, a contemporary romance by Crystal Barouche, the logistical challenges of their incipient romance are neutralised by opportunities and coincidences created by work, fame, and wealth. The ease with which they are thrown into contact resembles that of people who live in the same town and share acquaintances. Luckily for my ability to suspend disbelief, that is where the fantasy ended and the reality of international couplehood took over. Risen from the ashes of civil war, Zimbabwean Jonathan Mokane operates an internationally recognised safari business. An engagement with the Smithsonian Institute in the USA lands him as a stand-in guest on The Natural World, a television programme hosted by Sela Clay. Their on-screen sparring raises the interest of Sela’s family, whose ancestors hailed from the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2012 at The Romantic Armchair Traveller
Thank you for your inquiry, Ros. I have sent you a private reply.
Ana Isabel, hace ya mucho tiempo que me compré The Food Of Life pero la información debe estar disponible en Book Depository, por ejemplo.¡Buena suerte!
Although I have more or less enjoyed three of Perez-Reverte's novels I have not had the inclination to pick up the Alatriste series yet. I don't know how interdependent they are or how many loose threads are left dangling from book to book, but in addition to a general dislike about series novels I have a vaguely uneasy impression about the inclusion and portrayal of female characters. I cannot recall why but I should find out. Alatriste seems to have been influenced by Dumas's adventure historicals so that is a mark in the books' favour. Regarding making things up - isn't that what the ordeal has always been known to make the sufferers do? But thanks for the wry laugh ;-)
Thank you, Foxessa! I placed an order of the book the moment I saw your reply. Your description of his approach to history reminded me that whether the actual manuscript was unfinished or not and whatever the subject, it is still Dumas (duh). Now I am weighing whether I dare read Shellabarger's apparenty top-selling novel, Captain from Castile. It is another swashbuckler, dealing with the Spaniards under Cortes in Mexico. In view of the humanity and compassion but also the bias (in the male/female territory between evil and immorality) Shellabarger shows in Prince of Foxes, I simply cannot make up my mind whether it is a good idea or not - despite the glowing reviews (4.08 on Goodreads, for example). Wishing you a good weekend!
I haven't read the The Last Cavalier yet, which considering how much I love Dumas can only be explained by my uninspired relationship with Napoleonic-era history. Only the recognition that it is key to understanding any number of developments and attitudes down to our time reminds me to ingest a bit now and then. I feel an inexplicable disconnectedness from many of the popular subjects and the perspectives of the major powers involved in the conflicts of the time, with the possible exception of the Russian, and even there the emphasis on Russo-French history is of only peripheral interest. That said, if I understand you correctly, that getting the book will allow me the opportunity to read an account of Dumas's thoughts on writing historical fiction, then get it I will, asap.
Samuel Shellabarger’s 1947 bestseller, Prince of Foxes, is a swashbuckling adventure novel in the tradition of Alexandre Dumas (père). Set against the vibrant panorama of the Italian Renaissance it chronicles the fortunes of a young and ambitious artist-soldier in the midst of conquest and resistance as the Borgias are plotting to subject central Italy to their rule. Like Shellabarger’s previous historical novel, The Captain Of Castile, Prince of Foxes, too, was swiftly adapted for the silver screen, once again with Tyrone Power1 in the lead role, and with Cesare Borgia portrayed by Orson Welles. Sumptuous though the cinematography looks, the production having been shot on location in Italy (though regrettably not in colour), the film does not rival the verve of Samuel Shellabarger’s novel. Sixty-five years after its original publication Prince Of Foxes remains top-notch historical escapism, bursting with romance, adventure, wit, and one brilliantly entertaining twist after another. 1500.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2012 at The Romantic Armchair Traveller
Definitely having E-mail problems. Will try to fix it tonight. Agree about the loathing for Disqus. It has caused me to reduce my commenting on blogs that use it. Oh, Regency romance and Rosemary Edghill - that sounded vaguely familiar so I went to check. Turkish Delight!
Foxessa, you are the most well-read person I know! Has Edghill written in other genres than historical fiction under a different name? The only writer I mention above that I have reservations about is Freya Stark. Lots of good things to say about her but then there is the (debated) "but" (the same one that made me lose my never very strong appetite for Heyer). Apologies for the delayed reply, by the way. Either my E-mail program is having problems or I have messed something up because I did not see a notification for your comment. I only logged in to Typepad because a blog I visited just now uses Disqus and commenting requires OpenID credentials. Sorry about that!
A drama about love, friendship, and obsession, Denyse Woods’s romantic contemporary novel, Like Nowhere Else, examines belonging and boundaries through the lens of a woman who has lost her course. Set in Yemen and Ireland and drawing subtle parallels between them, Like Nowhere Else delivers an alternative take on a country long subjected to overwhelmingly negative media attention. The destination of the heroine’s lifelong dreams, Yemen exerts a pull on her that further complicates an impulsive love affair, pushing her into choices she isn’t ready to make. Crisp, slightly quirky, and sincere, the novel got off to an enjoyable start for me with an airport transit hall encounter that demonstrates the author’s facility for dynamic dialogue. Although the heroine’s clueless shilly-shallying tested my patience and the rest of the story never quite maintained the wit and bounce of its beginning, the character dilemmas engaged my sympathy and kept me interested... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2012 at The Romantic Armchair Traveller
Thank you :-) It feels good to be back! Now if only I could sustain the drive long enough to revise the blog post drafts that have been accumulating... I hope you and your students have had a good semester and can enjoy your much-deserved break!
Marg, I actually think it was your review at Historical Tapestry that brought my attention to the book. Once I saw the setting I could not resist, but now, having read the book I agree with your very considered assessment. Perhaps I was not as disappointed as you partly because I was forewarned. Since the new novel is her third I am allowing myself to feel cautiously optimistic, but I fully understand your hesitation. Even for me, a brilliant setting does not make up for a story that does not captivate.
Thank you for not forgetting my blog! It has been a long time since I posted here. My holiday really gave me a much needed boost. (Did you receive the postcard?) Memoirs Of A Geisha is a book I have avoided, although I can no longer recall why. Then again, I am contrary that way when it comes to immense bestsellers and easily suspicious of novels with concepts and titles that play on certain kinds of preconceptions. Words like "mistress" and "courtesan", so ubiquitous in the romance genre, are negative triggers for me, and yes, even, perhaps unfairly, "concubine" and "geisha" (at least in the hands of Western authors). I am glad I took a chance on Downer's novel, though. It is not exploitative and her investment in the culture and history is inspiring. Fingers crossed she has been polishing her technique.
After finishing The Last Concubine I came across a (spoiler-filled) video in which Lesley Downer, the author, likens her novel to “a Gone With The Wind set in Japan”. The parallel is awkward, not to say unfortunate. Beyond the surface similarities – a 19th-century civil war, destruction of a way of life, and a heroine-centric narrative – any real comparison is disadvantageous for The Last Concubine. Gone With The Wind is epic – big and complex and ambitious, a Pulitzer-prize-winning, love/hate classic, all things The Last Concubine, with its thin plot, skimpy characterisations, and tentatively developed themes is definitely not. The unflattering contrast draws away attention from the latter’s unique appeal for lovers of romantic historical fiction: a rare, carefully researched historical setting, likeable characters including a halberd-wielding samurai heroine, and a love story with a HEA. And while Downer’s historical non-fiction roots show, frequently overwhelming story in this, her... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2012 at The Romantic Armchair Traveller
The setting and dash of old-style adventure do give the inspirational subject a fresh twist :-)
Thank you very much for your kind words, Stephanie. As I am a great admirer of your exquisite reviews, your comment means a lot :-) Marketing as well as the physical qualities of a book do have consequences for the buyer, but one rarely sees this discussed. It is good to learn other readers agree.