KILLING LINCOLN by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard | Review

10587120The anchor of The O’Reilly Factor recounts one of the most dramatic stories in American history—how one gunshot changed the country forever. In the spring of 1865, the bloody saga of America’s Civil War finally comes to an end after a series of increasingly harrowing battles. President Abraham Lincoln’s generous terms for Robert E. Lee’s surrender are devised to fulfill Lincoln’s dream of healing a divided nation, with the former Confederates allowed to reintegrate into American society. But one man and his band of murderous accomplices, perhaps reaching into the highest ranks of the U.S. government, are not appeased.”

{Goodreads.com}

Where/when did I read this book?: I listened to this audio book in the car on my hour commute to work this past winter break.

Why did I read this book?: My friend recently listened to this audio book and wanted to know my thoughts on it.

+ Writing style. I’m actually a bit conflicted about the writing style, but I figured I would highlight the positive aspects of it before explaining why it didn’t 100 percent work for me. Before the actual meat of this book begins, Bill O’Reilly explains that it is written like a thriller. What does a non-fiction book written in the style of a thriller look like? Present tense. Detailed imagery. Short chapters. Intense suspense. In this way, Killing Lincoln is unlike any non-fiction history book I’ve read before. The advantage of such an interesting writing style for this blended genre is that it makes for an incredibly engaging, gripping read. This is definitely a great book to pick up if you want to get more into history or non-fiction in general.

+ Details. I thought I was fairly familiar with the events surrounding the assassination of Lincoln before reading this book, but afterwards I realized that I had only known the basic details of what actually happened. I really enjoyed learning about all the details leading up to the assassination as well as the chaos of the aftermath. I also appreciate the attention given to the women involved in this event (although some of the descriptions of women were slightly problematic…). It’s interesting to read about the simultaneous timelines of Lincoln, Grant, Booth, and other people involved rather than just focusing on one perspective the entire time.

– Writing style. Unfortunately the writing style was a bit of a double-edged sword for me. While writing this book as if it were a novel certainly makes it more engaging and entertaining, I feel as though it also makes the information less credible. How can O’Reilly possibly know all of these tiny details about time, the weather, and people’s innermost thoughts? Reality isn’t a thriller novel, but O’Reilly certainly makes it appear otherwise. At times the sheer amount of rather irrelevant details was almost distracting. I don’t need to know that someone was “backlit by the sun” as they rode into battle–just tell me how Lincoln was assassinated!

– Pacing. Another frustrating aspect of this book was its rather slow pace. While providing several different perspectives on events makes the book more suspenseful, after a while it also makes the pacing feel incredibly slow. It doesn’t help that the first hour and a half or so of this audio book was just about Civil War battles with very little mention of Lincoln. Although this is useful background information to have, it definitely could have been summarized more briefly so that the actual plot of the book–the events leading up to Lincoln’s assassination–could finally start.

Killing Lincoln is certainly an interesting reading experience: I don’t think I’ve ever been so intrigued by the writing style of a nonfiction history book before. With that said, I have to say that I do prefer the more traditional ways of writing about these events. However, I would be interested in reading another of Bill O’Reilly’s books to see if this “thriller” style of writing history works better in the context of a different historical event.

What are your thoughts on Killing Lincoln? Which Bill O’Reilly book would you recommend that I read next? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Top Ten Tuesday: New to My TBR List

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s topic asks us to share books that we’ve recently added to our TBR lists. Lately I’ve been trying to listen to more audio books, which has introduced me to a whole new gackle of texts. Here are a few that I’m really looking forward to reading:

What books have you recently added to your TBR list? What do you think of the ones on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Why I Love Harry Potter and the Sacred Text | Podcast

Today I would like to highlight one of my new favorite podcasts: Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. I first learned about this podcast when two its creators spoke at the Yule Ball (a wizard-rock concert put on by Harry and the Potters–yes, it was amazing). As soon as I realized what the premise of this podcast was I knew that I would have to check it out. Each week hosts Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile discuss a chapter of Harry Potter (starting from the beginning of the first book and working chronologically from there) as though it were a sacred text.

This project is more than a book club or a fan-podcast. By treating Harry Potter as sacred, we mean three things:

Trusting the textWe practice the belief that the text is not “just entertainment”, but if taken seriously, can give us generous rewards. Trusting the text doesn’t mean we understand the text to be perfect – either in construction on moral teaching – but that it is worthy of our attention and contemplation. A guiding principle is that the more time we give to the text the more blessings it has to give us.

Rigor and ritual: By reading the text slowly, repeatedly and with concentrated attention, our effort becomes a key part of what makes the book sacred. The text in and of itself is not sacred, but is made so through our rigorous engagement. Particularly by rigorously engaging in ritual reading, we believe we can glean wisdom from its pages.

Reading it in communityScholars of religion explain that what makes a text sacred is not the text itself, but the community of readers that proclaim it as such. The same applies for us. We started reading Harry Potter in community in Cambridge, Massachusetts in September 2015 and are excited to be expanding that community through this podcast!

For more information about the format of the podcast itself, visit their website at harrypotterandthesacredtext.com. 

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

As someone who has never been very religious, I greatly appreciate the philosophy behind this podcast. I have always felt a greater, deeper, more meaningful connection to books than I have to any form of religion, and this podcast has helped me to realize and articulate that connection much more effectively. So many of the same values that are sought after with religion–a deeper understanding of the self and one’s place in the world, words of wisdom, life lessons, etc.–can be found in literature as well. The fantastic thing about this podcast is that it also provides readers with something not often associated with books: a community.

Something I love about this podcast is the constant flow of ideas between Vanessa, Casper, and the listeners who send in voice messages with their own thoughts from week to week. Not only does this make for more interesting discussions, but it also creates a sort of safe space in which ideas don’t have to be fully fleshed out or agreed with–they can simply be voiced as a new perspective, as another way to think about the text. Casper and Vanessa are not afraid to disagree with each or poke holes in each other’s arguments, but it’s never in a way that is demeaning of harsh; rather, these disagreements actually deepen the discussion, challenging both of them to think in more nuanced ways. This openness is the sort of environment that creativity and thought flourishes in, and I think it’s so wonderful that this podcast has created such a great platform for this kind of discussion.

Perhaps my favorite thing about this podcast is how it almost feels like a form of rereading Harry Potter without actually opening up the books. While they do encourage you to read the chapters along with them each week so the details are fresh in your mind, I kind of like having my memory jogged by their discussions. It’s like experiencing the series all over again through someone else’s eyes, which is something we rarely get to do with such beloved stories as Harry Potter. When I eventually do reread the series myself, I can only imagine the new details and connections that this podcast will allow me to see in the pages.

If you’ve never listened to Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, I highly, highly recommend that you do! If you have, let me know what you think of it in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

FIRST FAMILY by Joseph J. Ellis | Review

“The Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling author of “Founding Brothers” and “His Excellency “brings America’s preeminent first couple to life in a moving and illuminating narrative that sweeps through the American Revolution and the republic’s tenuous early years. John and Abigail Adams left an indelible and remarkably preserved portrait of their lives together in their personal correspondence: both Adamses were prolific letter writers (although John conceded that Abigail was clearly the more gifted of the two), and over the years they exchanged more than twelve hundred letters. Joseph J. Ellis distills this unprecedented and unsurpassed record to give us an account both intimate and panoramic; part biography, part political history, and part love story.”

{Goodreads.com} 

When/where did I read this book? I listened to the audio book version of this book while commuting to work an hour each way. Since the audiobook is about eleven hours long, it took me about a week.

Why did I read this book? I’ve always been interested in Abigail Adams, but it can be tricky to find whole books written about women in history like that. When I saw that Ellis–one of my favorite historians–had written a book about the Adams marriage, I knew that I had to read it!

+ Focuses on Abigail. This book almost feels as though it focuses more on Abigail than on John, perhaps because she tended to write longer, more emotional letters whereas his were often just quick notes. Whatever the reason, I really liked the focus on Abigail!

+ Presents a Founding Father as a flawed person. I completely would have guessed that this book was written by a woman if I hadn’t known who the author was ahead before reading. It seems quiet biased against John, pointing out all the ways he prioritized fame, status, and political prestige over his duties as a husband and father. For instance, he went on and on about politics in a series of letters at one point, completely neglecting to ask how Abigail was doing as she gave birth to a dead child while he was away. I love how this book helps deconstruct our vision of the Founding Fathers as these heroic, flawless, moral gods that could do no wrong.

+ Spotlight on a marriage. At its core, this book revolves around the marriage between John and Abigail. Not many books focus on historical marriages, especially in the balanced, nuanced, thoughtful way that Ellis does in First Family. Before reading this book I had no idea that John and Abigail spent so much time apart–it’s remarkable that they were able to hold their marriage together throughout their entire lives.

+ Quotes. I’m a sucker for a good meaningful quote, and this book is brimming with them. In particular, I love Abigail’s words: “When he is wounded, I bleed” and “A woman may forgive the man she loves an indiscretion, but never a neglect.” Nothing better than a good quote!

Questions of subjectivity and credibility. It’s no secret that the reach of historians only extends so far. While dates and names can often be surmised from old belongings, newspapers, and letters, there’s one aspect of the past that historians will never be able to fully uncover: people’s innermost thoughts and emotions. One may point to a diary entry or personal letter written to a loved one as evidence of this inner dialogue, yet even those kinds of documents cannot always be trusted as being completely accurate. Ellis even describes this problem in First Family, pointing out the performance aspect of the letters Abigail and John wrote back and forth to each other while John was overseas on diplomatic duties. Apparently John insisted that Abigail make a copy of all of the letters she sent him in order to keep a record for posterity. John did the same–he was acutely aware that they were part of an important moment in American history that would be looked back on for years to come.

With this in mind, I found it a bit hypocritical that Ellis clearly relied on such subjective, posing documents in order to create such a detailed account of this marriage. I suppose that an aspect of history is making educated guesses, and so long as they are recognized as such up front I’m okay with it. However, at times it was difficult to distinguish hard fact from Ellis’ subjective best guesses. A clearer distinction between the two would have made this an even more powerful, striking read.

Joseph J. Ellis has a way of making frequently idealized historical figures feel so human, and his portrayal of John and Abigail Adams here is no exception. I would highly recommend this book (and the audio book version!) to anyone looking to learn more about Abigail Adams and her marriage with John. Without her, I would argue that John would never have become the successful man he was.

What are your thoughts on First Family? Have any recommendations for other books about Abigail Adams? Let me know in the comments section below!34

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read in 2018 (But Didn’t) | Bookstagram Edition!

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic asks us to share ten books that we meant to read in 2018 but didn’t get around to. I decided to add a little twist to it and only use books from photos that I’ve taken for my bookstagram. (Believe me, there are SO MANY more besides this!)

1. As You Like It by William Shakespeare

2. Food by Gertrude Stein

3. The Tempest by William Shakespeare

4. Todos deberíamos ser feministas by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

5. The Novel Cure by Ella Berthoud & Susan Elderkin

6. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 

7. Sweet Dreams by Nadette Rae Rodgers

8. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

9. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

10. Till September Petronella by Jean Rhys

What books did you hope to get around to in 2018? What do you think of the ones on my list? Which one should I start first in 2019? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Thoughts on a Semester of Reading Roth

Everyone at my college is required to take a senior seminar in their major in order to graduate, and mine happened to be a class solely dedicated to reading the texts of Philip Roth. My professor decided to focus on Roth in light of the author unfortunately passing away in May of 2018. We were uniquely positioned, my professor impressed upon us, with the opportunity to look at the whole of an author’s bibliography before the publication of a definitive biography on Roth’s entire life. This sort of limbo period of waiting would allow us to come to our own conclusions about Roth’s bibliography before many critics of other writers did. Of course, there was no way we could possibly get around to reading and discussing all of Roth’s texts in a single semester; rather, my professor selected about a dozen for us to focus on.

It became clear from the very first class that our professor was incredibly enthusiastic and excited about the prospect of such a seminar. The rest of us, however, were not entirely convinced. We were supposed to spend an entire semester reading Roth’s thoughts on Jewish American identity in the latter half of the twentieth century, adultery, breasts, and penises?! (if you’ve read his infamous novel Portnoy’s Complaint, then you surely know what I mean by those last two points.) My classmates and I made a not-so-silent conclusion all on our own: we were going to wholeheartedly dislike this senior seminar.

Our hypothesis seemed to hold strong for a solid few weeks. We criticized how the few women characters were portrayed as mere one-dimensional lovers or mothers in Goodbye Columbus (1959), denounced his blatant, outrageous sexism in Portnoy’s Complaint (1969), and balked at his near sexual fantasy about a fictionalized version of Anne Frank in The Ghost Writer (1979). For a second I thought about simply not finishing The Counterlife (1986) because it saddened me to read about so much flagrant adultery with absolutely no regard for how it impacted wives or families–until we were introduced to the character of Maria. Maria is a wife and mother who chooses to have an affair with the narrator of The Counterlife, a woman who is unexpectedly portrayed as intelligent, independent, and capable of railing against an uneven power dynamic in their affair. She is calm, composed, and the complete opposite of Portnoy’s “Monkey.”

My fellow classmates and I didn’t know what to do with this sudden, uncharacteristically non-sexist portrayal of women from Roth. Was it intentional, a sign of Roth’s own personal growth and maturity? Or was it an outlier, one that we would never see again as we continued on our Rothian journey? Perplexed, we felt ourselves shift gears a bit as we read more and more of Roth’s work.

To my great astonishment, I found that I actually enjoyed myself. While the women characters in Roth’s novels were not always justly portrayed–and we were sure to bring these instances up at every open opportunity–he also wrote several women who we couldn’t help but applaud. There was Drenka in Sabbath’s Theater (1995), Faunia in The Human Stain (2000), Philip’s mother in The Plot Against America (2004)… it was almost as though Roth had just come to the realization that women characters could be written about with just as much complexity and depth as men. Although I would never go so far as to laud Roth for his impeccable portrayal of fictional women. I did become much more willing to engage in dialogue about these characters that did not solely involve my classmates and I frustratedly ranting about how it’s all just breasts and penises in Roth’s eyes.

Roth’s sexist struggles aside, I also found myself enjoying his work from the perspective of narrative structure. Reading so many Roth novels in chronological order helped me see the remarkable strides he made in terms of experimenting with how stories can be told. The conflicting, layered levels of The Counterlife and the alternative version of history depicted in The Plot Against America are far, far departures from the straightforward monologue that is Portnoy’s Complaint. I couldn’t help but admire his impressive attention to detail. One of my classmates researched the specific stamps mentioned in The Plot Against America and lo and behold, Roth’s descriptions perfectly align with the images found. There’s something to be said for a writer that pours this much thought, energy, time, research, and attention into his work, and I was captivated by Roth’s seemingly never-ending ability to do just that.

So where does this leave Roth and I? I must admit that I stand corrected, at least to an extent: I handed in my final senior seminar paper with a greater appreciation for Roth’s works than I ever thought possible months ago. Does he have significant faults as a writer? Absolutely. Yet when read chronologically, one can see that he tried to remedy these flaws over time. And isn’t that the most any of us can ask?

What are your thoughts on Philip Roth and his writing? Have you ever read an author’s works chronologically? Has a class ever changed your perception of a writer? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

MEN WITHOUT WOMEN by Haruki Murakami | Review

Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles, woven together to tell stories that speak to us all.

Marked by the same wry humor that has defined his entire body of work, in this collection Murakami has crafted another contemporary classic.

{Goodreads.com} 

When did I read this book?: In one sitting on New Year’s Eve! So nice to end the reading year on such a high note.

Where did I read this book?: In a cozy bed–the most comfy reading location there is!

Why did I read this book?: A few of my friends and I always choose a book to read during breaks between semesters and this was our choice for our winter weeks off.

The main strengths of this short story collection can be summed up in three parts: the subject matter, Murakami’s writing style, and how he writes about the subject matter.

+ Subject matter. The title of the story collection implies a very intriguing topic in itself: What about men without women? Is this an advantage? A disadvantage? What struck me as ingenious about these stories is that none of the men are truly without women, for there are a plethora of women characters; rather, these men must go without the woman they truly desire to be with. Some are widowers, some were recently divorced, some cheat on their wives, and some discover that their wives have been cheating on them. These stories do not exude the feeling of celebration; instead, they read as a lament.

+ Writing. Since this collection was my introduction to Murakami, I had no idea what to expect from his writing style–particularly since I would be reading a translation from the original Japanese. I must admit that I’m a sucker for any writing style that for some reason clicks with me–it can completely alter my thoughts on a text–and this collection is no exception. From the first page I was captivated by the simple elegance of Murakami’s writing: not too flowery, not too choppy, not too languid, not too hurried. Personally, I feel as though writing style becomes even more important in short story collections. Apart from overarching themes or topics, the writing style is often the common thread that ties a collection together into a cohesive unit. Here Murakami strikes the perfect balance between changing his style slightly to fit the tone of each story while still maintaining the simplicity and elegance characteristic of his narrative voice.

How he writes about the subject matter. I was a bit hesitant to read this particular collection due to the nature of the subject matter. It’s fairly easy for discussions of failed or past relationships to get pretty ugly (as a semester of reading novels by Philip Roth has shown me), and reading those kinds of texts is never a good time. Reading about adultery always really bothers me, especially when it’s written about in a nonchalant way, as though the person having an affair has every right to do so. However, Murakami writes about this difficult subject matter with tact and emotion, always making the reader feel the weight and gravity of the situation. As a woman reading these stories I did not feel offended; in a strange, unexpected way, I almost felt understood.

The only major weakness of this collection that stuck out to me was the confusing nature of the story “Samsa in Love.” It seems as though another life form has entered the body of a young man for the first time, but it is unclear as to how or why this occurs. I’m sure this lack of clarity is the entire point of the story; however, it’s quite jarring to read after several stories that are fairly straightforward and clear. A bit more solidity from this story would have made it a more powerful, poignant read.

I honestly enjoyed Men Without Women a lot more than I expected to. This was my first book by Murakami, but it certainly won’t be my last!

What are your thoughts on Men Without Women? have any recommendations for what Murakami book I should read next? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2018

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic asks us to share the top ten authors we read for the first time in 2018. Largely due to all the books I had to read for my coursework, I was lucky enough to have been introduced to a plethora of brilliant writers this past year. As I made this list I was thrilled to see that so many of them are women of color–who also wrote some of my favorite book of 2018. 

What authors did you read for the first time in 2018? What do you think of the ones on my list? Any recommendations of books by them that I should read? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

My Good Reading Habits Tag

Back with another tag! I had never heard of this one before I was tagged in it, so I’m excited to dive in. Thanks so much to Rebecca @ Bookishly Rebecca for tagging me!

What intrigues me about this tag is the way it asks us to define “good” reading habits. Does “good” mean getting through as many books as possible? Treating books as though they’re objects to keep as pristine as possible? Is being a “good” reader sticking to the books you’ve listed as part of your TBR pile and never deviating from that stack? If so, then I must be a terrible reader! Here I’ve explained some of my reading habits that I consider to be “good” in my own personal experience as a reader.

  • Pingback to this post or me!
  • List some of your good reading habits, the things you think you do well
  • Nominate some of your blogging friends

+ I annotate books. I know this is a huge NO for many people, but hear me out! Annotating helps me organize my thoughts about what I’m reading so much more effectively than taking notes in a notebook on the side or just plowing through without writing anything. I also love going back and rereading a book that I previously annotated. It’s so interesting seeing what I thought the first time around, especially when it’s been a while since I first read something. Personally, I feel as though annotating is one of the best ways to get the most out of what you read.

+ I read from a wide variety of genres. This might be my favorite reading habit of all. I’ve always loved reading from a bunch of different genres, and that love seems to expand the more I read. From fantasy and science fiction to classic literature, memoir, young adult, non-fiction, essays, literary criticism, and even children’s literature, there aren’t many genres out there that I would refuse to dabble in. While I have genres that are certainly my favorites (classic literature and memoir, I’m looking at you), it’s nice to dip in and out of a bunch of different writing styles and topics.

+ I read more than one book at a time. Between books I have to read for class, what I’m listening to on audio book, and whatever is on my bedside table at the time, I’m almost always reading at least two or three books. This juggling of books is also where reading multiple genres comes in handy: it’s much easier to keep several books straight in your mind when they’re vastly different from one another. Reading multiple books at once also makes me feel as though I’m getting more reading done (even if it is just a placebo effect!).

+ I almost always carry a book with me. Going to the doctor’s office? Book in bag. Driving to work? Audio book on phone. Taking the train? Book in bag AND audio book on phone. It’s rare that I venture anywhere far without some sort of literature on me. You never know when you’ll have time to crack open a good book!

I’m not sure who has already done this tag, so forgive me if you’ve already been tagged!

Thanks again to Rebecca for the tag!

What are some of your “good” reading habits? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

WHEN THE CURTAIN FALLS by Carrie Hope Fletcher | Review

Welcome to my first book review in MONTHS. I’ve decided to switch up the way I write my reviews, to let me know if you like this new format! 

In 1952 two young lovers meet, in secret, at the beautiful Southern C ross theatre in the very heart of London’s West End. Their relationship is made up of clandestine meetings and stolen moments because there is someone who will make them suffer if he discovers she is no longer ‘his’. But life in the theatre doesn’t always go according to plan and tragedy and heartache are waiting in the wings for all the players . . .

Almost seventy years later, a new production of When the Curtain Falls arrives at the theatre, bringing with it Oscar Bright and Olive Green and their budding romance. Very soon, though, strange things begin to happen and they learn about the ghost that’s haunted the theatre since 1952, a ghost who can only be seen on one night of the year. Except the ghost is appearing more often and seems hell bent on sabotaging Oscar and Olive. The young couple realise they need to right that wrong from years gone by, but can they save themselves before history repeats itself and tragedy strikes once more?

{Goodreads.com}

When did I read this book?: All in one day on December 13th. (This seems to be a trend for me with Carrie’s books…)

Where did I read this book?: In the library at Wheaton. It was towards the end of finals week but I was done with work and wasn’t leaving campus until that night. I didn’t want to just sit in my room alone all day, so I went to the library with my friends who were still working on finals and read while they typed away on their essays. Definitely felt strange being in a college library and reading something purely for fun! 

Why did I read this book?: A dear friend gave me this book for my birthday (the same friend with whom I saw Carrie perform live in London while abroad!) and I couldn’t wait to read it. Plus, her books are perfect for reading all in one huge chunk.

Pros: 

  • Although the romance was a little over-the-top for me at times, there were also moments where it felt incredibly real, particularly regarding how muddy and confusing dating can get. There was a nice balance between a classic “star-crossed lovers” type romance in the past plot line and a more nuanced, complicated, bittersweet romance in the present plot line.
  • Speaking of plot lines, I really enjoyed the intertwining stories of the old case and the new cast of the play that the novel revolves around. Discovering the parallels between them was really fun, and learning the details of the full back story made what was happening in the present plot line a lot more meaningful. I think this was a great way to add depth and intrigue to this novel’s main premise.
  • Perhaps my favorite thing about this novel is how real Olive’s emotions feel. I’m not usually one to cry while reading–watching movies is an entirely different story–but I actually found myself tearing up a few times while reading this novel. Carrie captures what it feels like to be let down time and time again by someone you thought cared about you. While it was immensely sad to read during certain scenes, it was also surprisingly reassuring; in a way, it’s nice to know that other people have felt the same way at some point in their lives.
  • Last but not least, I really loved how you could just feel that Carrie was in her element while writing this novel. As a professional actress on the West End, Carrie is no stranger to cast dynamics backstage, what it’s like to live based on a stage schedule, or the pressure of constantly being scrutinized by the public eye. When the Curtain Falls just exudes Carrie to me, and for this among many reasons I’d say that it is her best novel yet.

Cons: 

  • While I adored the story of this novel, the writing style was not quite my cup of tea. Some phrases and sentences sounded a little off, as though they could have benefited from another round of editing.
  • As much as I enjoyed the realistic aspects of the romance, there were nevertheless still parts that were a bit too “insta-love”-ish for me. Yet perhaps this is a problem not so much with Carrie’s novel but more so with the genre itself and what I was in the mood to read at the time. There’s only so much realism that can go into the development of a fictional relationship in a few hundred pages, so I suppose some element of this kind of portrayal may always exist. (Thoughts? I’d love to hear what you think about this topic!)

Overall:

Again, I would absolutely argue that When the Curtain Falls is Carrie Hope Fletcher’s best novel to date. From ghosts and dark theatre lore to modern celebrityhood, romance, and life on stage, this novel encompasses topics and twists that I never saw coming. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick but emotional, exciting read–especially if you’re already a fan of Carrie Hope Fletcher in general!

What are your thoughts on this novel or any of Carrie Hope Fletcher’s other books? Do you think that some degree of “insta-love” is inherent in fictional romance? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY