One thing you may not know about me is my love of bacon. In my early morning drowsy, I actually googled “the history of bacon,” just to see how far back I could live in the past and still eat bacon. It seems there were many words for bacon like “backa” in Old Teutonic, which obviously refers to the back if we’re studying roots.
Lately, I’ve been really conscious of how far back I can go in time and still have my favorite things.
Let’s make a list, shall we?
- Indoor Lighting | I’m going to be safe and go late 1880’s here.
- Jeans | 1873 if you’re a man, it’s hard to say if you’re a woman. And the 1873 stat means that you’re definitely wearing really starched overalls.
- Cupcakes | 1796 when the first mention of a cupcake was in American Cookery by Amelia Simmons. She wrote, “a cake to be baked in small cups.” It says nothing of whether icing was a factor.
- Books | 4,500 years before Gutenburg invented the printing press, books were written by hand.
- Libraries | Estimated at 2600 B.C., so I could really time jump for this one, but it would involve reading clay tablets in my free time. And who’s to say I would even be allowed into the fortress where they were kept. I’d have to wish queenliness on myself before traveling, and pack all my 20th century jewelry to look wealthy.
- Headbands | Possibly 475 B.C., formally known as head wreaths.
- Cats as Pets | We’re going with 12,000 years ago according to The Smithsonian.
I’ve been thinking heavily about this after reading Bee Ridgeway’s The River of No Return this past week. In this story people jump forward and backward in time, but are unable to change anything drastically for the future. For instance, a lot of us would say “Let’s kill Hitler,” if we went back in time, but that wasn’t allowed according to time travel rules. So, the benefits of time travel for women would be significantly less than the benefits for men. I definitely wouldn’t want to go back to a time when women were lower class citizens who were never even able to own their own property. I do not intend to be a “little wife” in any of my lifetimes. (I suppose you don’t get to choose though).
Bee Ridgeway uses the main character’s sister’s Claire and Bella to show us the inconsistencies of women during this time. Claire is finally able to have control over her manor when her brother is found dead in Spain after the war. It isn’t until his return through Guild operations that she loses all the control that she had. Her brother, Nicholas Falcott, travels through time with a group known as the Guild. You’ll have to read the book in order to see all the Guild’s tragedies and cheering throughout. They are enemies with a group known as the Ofan. The Ofan includes a pretty young thing who’s duties are to be seduced by a certain lover and share all her Ofan secrets for the good of the Guild. It’s a complicated story of hate through generations.
The pretty young thing is a courtesan, but is shown living in her own house, doing as she pleases and wearing what she pleases. It’s as if through sex, she has gained freedom. Ridgeway obviously doesn’t delve into the mighty of this idea, but I found it interesting the places women took for wee bits of control. Claire, Nicholas Falcott’s eldest sister, works with displaced soldiers in order to earn her own governance and Bella is freedom-obsessed, but definitely going to be married off. Finally, we reach Julia Percy, the most fabulous character in the whole book. It’s as if she’s a modern girl trapped in the body of an Earl’s daughter. She is thought-provoking, occasionally chilly, monstrously witty and uses her feminine wiles to prove that women do, in fact, rule the world. Thank you, thank you. You can stop applauding now.
I liked this story because it conquered hard subjects without making them hard. We’re all jaded by something by the time we’ve reached teenagehood, maybe sooner if we’re unlucky, but this story really put the story into history. While she touched on the unfairness throughout history, Ridgeway wrote a powerful storyline that was sometimes slow, but almost always kept you reading. The book was long, I think I could go through and chop away at some of the bits a reader wouldn’t need, but in the end I wasn’t upset that there were parts where I wanted to put the book down and make tea. It’s the story of time travel, what it takes to be in two places at once, once you know what the future holds for the world and you as an individual. Nick Falcott is the typical favorite male character who is changed by romance, even though all of us girls know that men cannot be changed and this is their epic downfall.
I loved the love in the story, the historical timeline, and the general plot. I think this is a great summer read for people who liked The Time Traveler’s Wife, but want a little more plot and a little less romance. The romance in The River of No Return is tainted by the times. You can’t be too romantic when you’re expected to meet your future husband at a ball and always wear gloves until you’re married. Plus, what is romance when you’re a spinster by the age of 25. I’d be living alone in someone’s attic during the main century of this book, but at least I’d have bacon.
One last bone I have to pick. I like to read other reviews before and after I write my own just to see what other readers are saying about the books I’ve finished. I like to see what we thought in common and what I may have missed while reading. When doing so, I came across this lovely little diddy. To be fair before I begin, I really enjoyed reading this review. I have to give the reviewer credit because she said “I can’t really judge this book on character development or plot, since I only read the kindle sample which, though much longer than typical, admittedly can’t showcase an author’s strength in these areas.” However, then she went into a diatribe against the language of the book “simplistic sentences larded with descriptions of flashing eyes, flaring nostrils, and dastardly cousins.” I agree that the book has simplistic sentences, however, it’s also meant to be a “fun read” one of those books that’s not marketed as chick-lit, but we all know is dying to be turned into something pink by its next distribution date.
This all aside, YOU CANNOT REVIEW A BOOK BY READING THE KINDLE SAMPLE. You absolutely cannot do that. That is unfair to every author ever published. As reviewers, I know we are criticized for all the ways in which blogs (and probably Goodreads) have ruined the job for “real critics.” There have definitely been times when through writing a blog, I’ve convinced readers not to read a certain book. Other bloggers have also convinced me not to read a book. In fact, in bookstores, I will sometimes sign into Goodreads on my phone and read member reviews in order to choose one book or another. This is not the problem. The problem is that someone read a sample of a book and felt like they could write a review that inevitably turned people off from reading the book.
Comments below the review state things like, “Taking this off my list! Thanks!” I feel, as a reader, that I can absolutely not condone someone reading a sample of a book and writing a review which turns other possible readers off. I’m also the type to ALWAYS finish a book even if it takes me months. Seriously, I’ve been reading Swamplandia since November. I will write a review after I finish Swamplandia, but I will also have read, if not the whole book, a vast majority of it. You can not write a review of a sample of a book. That’s like eating a bite of multilayered cheesecake and only getting the strawberry part and saying it’s a disgusting thing to put in your mouth, how dare someone eat this. OR, walking into a movie in the middle of the movie, watching ten minutes, and walking out, and then writing a review of the movie. It can’t be done. You haven’t invested the quality of time in the book that it deserves (whether you liked it or not) for you to “review” it.
That’s my mini-rant for the day. Does anyone else have things they detest seeing on Goodreads. I know Amanda said on twitter that she hates when people use too many exclamation points. I would have to agree with her. Unless you’re sending me an email that sounds mean, you should be reserved with the exclamation points. In fact, we should have an exclamation point law, only one per writing sample. Where’s the grammar girl when you need her?