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The theme for this round is:
PLACES THAT DON'T EXIST

Sign-up period: February 15-28
Reading and discussion period: March 1-April 4

(Giving two weeks for sign-ups and five weeks for reading, at least for now.)

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Yes, we're keeping up the proud tradition of procrastination in this community! Sorry for the delay in closing this round. I think we've managed to get more reviews this round than usual though, so perhaps the delay was worth it.

Since we didn't quite manage to put up a theme discussion post, here are some questions to consider (appropriately enough on Valentine's Day, at least in my time zone):

1. What makes a good love story? Is it more interesting to read about internal or external obstacles in a relationship? A combination of both?

2. What are your favorite romantic tropes or clichés? (Conversely, which ones do you wish you never had to read about again?) Any good examples of overturning or subverting tropes?

3. Borrowing from worldserpent's question in this post, is it a happy ending if the couple stays together even if their relationship is unhealthy? Is it a happy ending if they split up because they're bad for each other, even if they're in love? Which do you prefer to read about?

Sign-ups for the next round, "Places That Don't Exist", will begin tomorrow!

Possession by A.S. Byatt

So much for closing out the round last Friday. ^^; Sorry for being such a laggard -- and for dragging things out for the rest of the community! Will try to do better next time.

I had qem_chibati's list but either couldn't find the books in time (Forest of Dreams, Nice) or had already read them (The Lady and the Tiger, the two Discworld novels). Instead I read Possession by A. S. Byatt, recommended by tarigwaemir. This is a very good book. It opens with a diligent, methodical, self-contained postgrad (Roland) who is doing work on R. H. Ash, a fictitious Victorian poet who is kind of like Borghes - fascinated by all kinds of things, prolific, well-read, more interested in asking questions than in pronouncing judgments, respected by contemporaries, etc. Roland toils in obscurity and poverty, supported by his girlfriend, who also did her dissertation on Ash; but where he got high marks, she was suspected of sponging off Roland's ideas and discouraged from continuing in academia. So now she (resentfully) supports the household through low-level filing and secretarial work.

Roland was drawn to his dissertation subject because as far as anyone knew, the poet R. H. Ash lived a long, happy, domestic, contemplative, stable, unexciting home life and yet produced TONS of very exciting poetry - indicating an intellectual adventurism that didn't seem to require any "real life" adventurism. All that is turned upside down when Roland discovers what appears to be the draft of a passionate love letter, pressed between the pages of one of Ash's books at the London Library, written to a woman who is not the poet's wife. This mystery woman later turns out to be Christabel LaMotte, a less-well-known female poet whose star is on the rise among feminists. LaMotte's works range from pious domestic poems thought to be appropriate to her gender, to a long epic poem based on the mythological fairy Melusine with forceful wording, powerful metaphor, and (Ash gushes) "striking originality".

At the same time as we learn about the relationship between Ash and LaMotte, we also watch the developing relationship between Roland and Maud Bailey, a Christabel scholar who is so afraid of losing herself that she maintains a rigid separation from all people -- espeially men -- and never lets down her hair - literally! Maud is more brilliant than Roland, and also mentally tougher, but at the same time more brittle.

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Although what I've written so far makes Possession sound like a totally abstract and academic book (it has very strong academic themes and is about academics), I also want to point out that Roland and Maud have discovered a set of highly-charged love letters between two very good poets that completely changes the scholarship on both, and they follow in the footsteps of Ash and LaMotte by running away together to France, where they discover dark secrets and are pursued by other scholars equally eager to solve the mystery. So you know, it's more like a vision of what academic research can be like on a really, really exciting day.

Notice

Responses to books read for the Love Overcoming Obstacles (Or Not) theme have been great so far, thanks so much to everyone who's participated!

This is a notice that our next theme will be Places that Don't Exist, and the sign-up for it will begin next Friday, January 30 (and end Friday, February 6). Which means that anyone who hasn't yet posted a Love Overcoming Obstacles review has until January 30 to do so. The (additional) extension has nothing at all to do with one-half of the moderation team being a total flake, oh no. -_-;

We're going to try to get some discussion going before then, too. Stay tuned!

Cotillion, by Georgette Heyer

I received tarigwaemir's list and decided to read Georgette Heyer's Cotillion. It is set during the Regency era.

The premise is simple. Kitty Charing is the ward of Uncle Matthew. She is not related to him by blood and has no money of her own, but he has always provided for her. One day, Uncle Matthew decides that Kitty will be his sole benafactor, provided she marries one of his nephews. To faciliate this, he invites all of his nephews to his home to give all of them an equal chance at obtaining her hand.

After the bombshell is dropped, Lord Dolphinton (Dolph), proposes to Kitty, but admits that he is forced to by his mother. Reverend Hugh then proposes, saying that he pities her. Horrified and embarassed, Kitty explodes in anger at all of them and retires to her room.

Not all of Uncle Matthew's nephews came. Jack, the nephew whom Kitty has openly liked since young, did not appear, and this worsens Kitty's mood, although she pretends not to care.

Kitty tries to run away from home. However, along the way, she meets 'Freddy', another nephew, who was unaware of Uncle Matthew's intentions. She persuades him take part in a sham engagement for a month and to take her to London, which she has wanted to visit for a long time. Freddy acquises but wonders what Kitty's real intention is. Actually, Kitty wants to make Jack jealous when he sees her in London with Freddy.

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Still, with a steady and brisk pace, by turns comic and serious, the book was interesting and enjoyable. It's the first book that I just bought without even bothering to read the summary - Tari's rec had interested me enough, and I don't regret it. (I even managed to persuade my mother to read it!)

==

P.S. Thanks for organising this round! And I'm sorry that this is so late - procrastination got the better of me.

The Scar, by China Miéville

(Admin announcement: The discussion was originally supposed to have finished last week, but as usual, we are extending the deadline to Sunday, January 18, before we close this round and start the new one. So you still have a few more days to write up your post if you've signed up to read a book for this round! Also, our poll is tied again. If you haven't voted yet, please go and let us know what you would like next round's theme to be. Tie-breaker votes will be especially appreciated.)

I had lacewood's list and decided to read The Scar, mostly because Miéville has been sweeping the SF/F awards since his debut and I've been intending to read him for quite some time now. (In fact, I've had a copy of Iron Council for over a year now, still unread.) I've been dragging my feet though because from previous skims at the library and bookstore, it's obvious that Miéville's writing is dense and baroque, the sort of style that I love to read but also require the right state of mind to properly appreciate. (It's a sort of compulsion to read every word and savor it because it seems like such a waste to just gulp the book down. I'm sure wine fanciers have similar hang-ups about guzzling an expensive vintage.)

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Shadows of the Wind

Oops, didn't notice that discussion started until I saw lacewood's post. Sorry!

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

It's a bit difficult to summarize without spoiling both the plot and the reading of the book, so let me just tell you here how much I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It's great for gothic horromance enthusiasts of course, but even if you don't normally enjoy (or has gotten a bit bored of) the shivery thrill of deeply evil mansions, terrible family secrets, consumptive shut-ins, and masked persons trailing you in the misty rain, this book absolutely goes beyond the average "consumptive noises from the crypt" stereotype. Zafon knows exactly how over-the-top some of his language/descriptions are. They're more a purposeful tribute to the genre and the past. His other descriptions of the changing post-Spanish Civil War Barcelona are lush but more "realistic" (for the most part), and the characters are an interesting mix, with the adorable Fermin providing the balance of light humor against the dusty cobwebs and lacy gothic dolls like Carla.
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My reviews are ridiculously late (orz) but uh... in return I bring 2? (Admittedly one of them was actually read for a PREVIOUS THEME... yes, I am made of fail and a terrible book reviewer D:)

A Room With a View
by E. M. Forster

I originally read this for the Travel theme, but obviously... never got around to reviewing/posting it at the time. orz Anyway, it seems to fit Love Overcoming Obstacles pretty well, so I thought I'd take this chance. XD;; If the mods would rather I didn't post reviews that weren't specifically recced for the theme, I'll take this down.

A Room With a View is the story of Lucy Honeychurch. When the story begins, Lucy is just another ordinary, middle class British girl in the midst of a grand tour of Europe. Her spinster cousin, Charlotte Bartlett, is her chaperone and they have just arrived in the Pension Bertolini in Florence. There, circumstances and people proceed to unintentionally change the entire course of her life - among them, George Emerson, an awkward young man, and his unorthodox father.

The rest of the story takes place almost a year later, when Lucy has returned to England - and more circumstances intervene to finish what began in Florence.

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A Fine and Private Place
by Peter S. Beagle

A Fine and Private Place is a story of a graveyard and its various inhabitants - Michael and Laura, the two "newest" ghosts, Mr Rebeck, a homeless man who hasn't left in 19 years, Mrs Klapper, a widow visiting her husband's grave and even a raven. Through the course of the story, they meet, argue, fight with each other and themselves, and unexpectedly find love.

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Review Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Full disclosure, Jane Eyre was not my first choice to read and the fact that intra library loans weren't able to get Havemercy by Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett for me in time made me a little sad when I started reading it and I'm quite sure this affected how I interpreted particular actions as I was reading.

The basic summary is that Jane is a poor girl brought up as a charity relation in her aunts house, before being sent away to a Christian girls schools for orphans or at least partial orphans. She learns well at school eventually becoming a teacher - and then a governess for a little rich girl. As a governess she finds love, only there's a catch in the way and has to be resolved within the story.

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All in all I found it a surprising book, in both good ways and bad. It's not a favourite of mine, but I don't regret reading it, as it was definitely thought provoking and Jane is an interesting character character that I both respect and would avoid if I came across in real life.

BOOK CLUB: Poll

While we're finishing up reading love stories for this round, please take a moment to vote for the theme you would like to see for the next round.

Suggestions for future themes can be entered in the poll or left in the comments; these will be added to the choices in the next poll.

Poll #1323925 Theme for round 7

Which theme should we choose for the next round?

Places that don't exist
5(45.5%)
Rebellion against society
0(0.0%)
Horror
0(0.0%)
Animals
0(0.0%)
Parents and children
0(0.0%)
Immigrants
0(0.0%)
Dystopias and utopias
0(0.0%)
Science
3(27.3%)
Artists
0(0.0%)
India
1(9.1%)
Memoirs
0(0.0%)
Poetry
0(0.0%)
China
2(18.2%)

Any other suggestions?

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