Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bewitching Season

Did I mention that I read several books while on vacation?

As a big fan of Patrica Wrede and Caroline Stevermer's Sorcery and Cecilia, I was very much looking forward to Marissa Doyle's Bewitching Season. Instead of cousins, however, Doyle's book features two twin sisters, Persephone (Persy) and Penelope (Pen) Leland who both study magic from their tutor Miss Allardyce (Ally). And, even better, Bewitching Season includes Princess Victoria as a character. I've always had a fondness for her, as we are the same height (4'10"), which means that the steps of Parliament match my tread just as much as they matched Queen Victoria's!

But, back to the book. Of course, nothing is as it seems in this tale of magic, mischief, and the question of who will control the county when Princess Victoria ascends to the throne. Persy and Pen are thrown into the middle of the intrigue when Ally is kidnapped by a mysterious magician who is being blackmailed by someone close to the throne. Attempting to locate where Ally is being held only draws them closer to danger.

Intermixed with the mystery and magic of the tale is Persy's desire to have nothing to do with the London season and getting married. All she wants to do is learn magic. Her sister, Pen, however, wants nothing more than to attend balls and be presented to the Queen, something which utterly terrifies Persy. But with the return of her neighbor, Lochinvar Seton, a boy that she hated growing up until one day when they realized they both shared a love of books, she is confused about her feelings towards marriage and love and how Lochinvar fits into everything. Pensy does makes mistakes with her relationships, both with her sister Pen and with Lochinvar, before finally figuring everything out.

For the most part, I was not disappointed. I did have a few slight quibbles with the (what I thought) shabby treatment Pen received from Doyle. She was reputed, granted from Persy's persepective, to be the beauty of the family, and yet seemed to pick up no suitors while Persy had multitudes. I'm hoping that Pen's story will be expanded if there is going to be a sequel. And there is, right? Also, the conclusion of their magical exploits seemed a bit too similar to a scene from Sorcery and Cecilia for my tastes.

And there is going to be a sequel coming out next fall! Betraying Season. And it will be Pen's story. So, yay!

And, if you want some fun historical tidbits, check out Marissa Doyle's blog.

My Most Excellent Year

Musical theatre, baseball, Boston, and Julie Andrews? This sounds like a book for me!

My friend and I stumbled across My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger in a bookstore back when it was first released. After reading the cover and perusing the first few pages, I knew that it was going to be a book I had to read. So I wrote it down, and hoped for the day that ILL would send it my way. Thankfully, that day happened a few weeks ago, so I had the book in hand when I went on vacation to my grandmother's. And, I was supposed to visit with her, right? But, instead, I was instantly drawn into the world of T.C., Augie, and Alejandra. Luckily for her, it only took me a few hours to read it!

The book takes place during their freshman year, although it is done as a writing assignment when they are in eleventh grade. T.C. and Augie are brothers, not by birth, but by their definition of how brothers should act. Alejandra is new to the community, and an ambassador's daughter in the bargain. T.C. instantly sets his sights on her, while his manner of proposing his intentions to her leaves her very much indignant and for much of the book goes out of her way to annoy him. Augie, on the other hand, is determined to succeed as musical theatre actor and talent show director, looking all the while to famous musical theatre actresses for guidance.

I really did enjoy the development of the relationship between T.C. and Hucky, the six-year-old who gives T.C. signals about when to swing on a pitch during his baseball games. That is, if Hucky is liking T.C. at the moment! In Hucky, T.C. sees something of himself, as her lost his mother at a young age while Hucky is an orphan. Hucky has adopted Mary Poppins as his perfect mother figure, thus Julie Andrews plays a very important role in this plot of this book. But Augie and Alejandra face their own struggles in this book. Augie comes out as being gay, and Alejandra must stand up to her parents if she is ever to fulfill her dream of being an actress.

All in all, a delightful read. Well worth the effort to hunt it down!

And for some extra fun, you can visit Augie's website.

Incidently, while I was at grad school in Boston, I went to see the Julie Andrews directed show, The Boyfriend (which also happened to be her first Broadway show way back when). I also got to meet her, which was amazing. I wish I could have somehow brought baseball into this, but I really can't. Unless you can imagine that I went to see the show with a Red Sox baseball player as a date? That's the best I can do!