Houses of Stone

by Barbara Michaels | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0671689495 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 9/15/2017
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Friday, September 15, 2017
I got this fair-condition hardcover from a local Salvation Army thrift shop. It's about a young professor of English who's discovered a previously-unknown author via a single set of poems - and who is now on the track of more information about the mysterious "Ismene". When Karen's sophisticated friend Simon shows her a tattered manuscript of what seems to be a novel by Ismene, Karen can't contain herself - and her attempts to acquire the manuscript while preventing rival scholars from beating her to the punch kick off a sequence of events that seem to be leading into tragic-Gothic-style-murder territory. But Michaels is playing with the tropes, in-story as well as out, a refreshing twist - and one that still leaves plenty of room for suspense. (There are hints of the supernatural, too, which I appreciated, though I can see how that might pull some readers out of the narrative.)

For the most part the book's an ode to scholarship and to women who challenged the barriers against "women authors". Indeed the chapter-heading quotes all have to do with this, whether it's Nathaniel Hawthorne waxing wroth about those "feeble and tiresome" women or Anne Bradstreet's plaintive verse from 1650:

“I am obnoxious to each carping tongue
Who says my hand a needle better fits...
If what I do prove well, it won't advance,
They'll say it's stolen, or else, it was by chance.”

There are romantic subplots - including one that surprised me very much, though I was pleased that that couple did NOT turn out to be the villains, which I'd originally suspected on the grounds that "most trusted friend/mentor is most likely suspect" in certain genres. And there's an actual "house of stone" and a long-hidden skeleton, and documents that eventually clear up at least part of the ongoing mystery about Ismene's identity and fate. So, yes, lots of Gothic tropes, but spun in an academic-research way. Much homage to authors, to books, and to those who love them...

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Little Free Library, Benson Park in Hudson, New Hampshire USA on Sunday, March 18, 2018

Released 1 yr ago (3/18/2018 UTC) at Little Free Library, Benson Park in Hudson, New Hampshire USA

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

I left this book in the Little Free Library on this bright, chilly day; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in NH here.]

*** Released for the 2018 Four Elements Release Challenge. ***

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