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24 March 2013 @ 05:09 pm
a random complaint  
Sometimes I feel like the summaries for every literary novel I read run like this: potentially interesting setting - quirky damaged characters - but then the moment of searing tragedy that changes everything and threatens to tear their precarious existence apart. Which, you know, I don't particularly have any interest in reading. I get partway through these summaries, every time, and hit the tragedy and abruptly lose interest.

Where are all the stories about quirky damaged characters in interesting settings who manage to achieve some hard-won happiness? I know they're out there - but I don't think the world of literary fiction is where I'll find them.
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litlover12: Bookslitlover12 on March 24th, 2013 09:02 pm (UTC)
That's a very good question!

Maybe Marilynne Robinson's "Gilead" would qualify? But it's been a while since I read it, so I'm a little hazy on the details.
tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on March 25th, 2013 12:09 am (UTC)
I'll look into it - thanks!
Neaneadods on March 24th, 2013 09:38 pm (UTC)
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore has plenty of quirk and zero searing tragedy.
tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on March 25th, 2013 12:14 am (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestion!
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litlover12: Bookslitlover12 on March 24th, 2013 10:31 pm (UTC)
I love the idea of a story that's fundamentally kind. I know just what you mean. Some stories have a real mean streak -- we could use a few more of the other kind!
tempestsarekind: don't get clever in latin! [donna]tempestsarekind on March 25th, 2013 12:19 am (UTC)
Ha - Gillian Bradshaw is one of my favorites! I haven't read her last few (which is kind of shocking, as they're set in the Interregnum, I think), but I love The Beacon at Alexandria, and Island of Ghosts, and Cleopatra's Heir... (I actually just reread the latter in February! It is fully responsible for my wanting to cry whenever I hear about the deaths of Cleopatra's children.)

Thank you for the other recommendations; I'll have to look into them!

Edited at 2013-03-25 12:26 am (UTC)
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tempestsarekind: very few dates in this historytempestsarekind on March 25th, 2013 10:18 pm (UTC)
Well, I am always up for talking about books I love. :) And I do love The Bearkeeper's Daughter, too. I actually got to see the mosaics of Theodora and Justinian in Ravenna once, and I really could not make myself separate the experience from the book! (I would be such a bad historian...)

And yes, it *is* sad! That's part of why I love Cleopatra's Heir as much as I do: the idea that somehow one of the boys survived. (It occurs to me now that this is pretty much *exactly* the same as my high-school obsession with the Romanovs. Sometimes I am very, very slow on the uptake. It's not that I believed in Anna Anderson, but I understand why people would.)
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tempestsarekind: don't get clever in latin! [donna]tempestsarekind on March 28th, 2013 04:50 am (UTC)
It was back before I started grad school: a friend had relatives in Italy, so we went on a "we still qualify for youth tickets" trip in Italy and London. The mosaics in Ravenna were stunning, but the town...well, for one thing, we stayed at a hostel called the Ostello Dante, and they wouldn't open the gate to let us leave in the morning. Many jokes were made. :)

Yes, that's true. The first time I went to the Globe, I kept remembering all the novels I'd read that took place there!
La Reine Noire: Victorian Fanlareinenoire on March 25th, 2013 12:09 am (UTC)
Have you ever read Eva Ibbotson? She writes YA historical fiction and her books were both incredibly well-written and had perfectly believable happy endings--the kind where it all actually turns out to be a silly misunderstanding. A Company of Swans is my favourite, but I am a ballet fangirl and therefore not impartial.
tempestsarekind: regency house party [s&s]tempestsarekind on March 25th, 2013 12:22 am (UTC)
Oddly enough, I haven't - I keep meaning to, though! I never know where I ought to start with new (to me) authors, and I wind up putting an absurd amount of pressure on the choice.
La Reine Noire: Austen - Venting Spleenlareinenoire on March 25th, 2013 01:00 am (UTC)
If my books weren't all packed, I'd offer to give you my copy when I see you later this week, but I have no clue which box it's in. It really is a wonderfully comforting book, though. I first read it when I was in a pretty bad place two years ago and it just calmed me down.
tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on March 25th, 2013 01:25 am (UTC)
Hee, no worries! I know the public library has a lot of her books. And I am in a sort of escapist mood...