Thursday, August 20, 2009

2 in 1: Morrigan's Cross and The Age of Innocence

Because I am slightly lazy nowadays and my brain refuses to do more than is absolutely necessary, I decided to just write two quick reviews in one post instead of separate posts with elaborate opinions of each book. The two books were both very different but almost equally enjoyable.

Morrigan’s Cross by Nora Roberts is a first book in the Circle trilogy. It was my first experience with Nora’s writing and from what I understand the fantasy genre this book was written in is also her first foray into paranormal. The gist of the book is that six people with different skills (a magician, a witch, a vampire among them) get together to train and prepare for the battle against Lilith, the queen of vampires. Whether they win or lose will decide the fate of the whole world. It’s pretty much in everybody’s interest that they win. Otherwise, humanity will be taken over by evil, bloodthirsty vampires.

I actually found myself weirdly interested in the story and the fates of main characters, especially Cian and Hoyt. Twin brothers whose lives were brutally changed when Lilith turned Cian into a vampire. Now, centuries later they are part of the Circle fighting the evil forces. Considering that the writing isn’t very profound and the whole premise is in truth rather simplistic, the longer I stuck with it the more I liked it. I could tell that fantasy was probably not the strongest forte of Roberts’ but reading was quick and entertaining. If you are looking for something easy to read during these lazy summer evenings and don’t really want to get emotionally invested in the book, you’ll probably like Morrigan’s Cross. I would especially if you’re like me and from time to time need to relax your brain and delve into a pleasurable fantasy with a hint of history and a nice romance plot without the over the top sex scenes.

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton is obviously completely different. It is a classic in American literature and yet I have just recently gotten to read it. And what a shame that I waited so long. I think that partly to blame is the movie made in the ‘90s that against my better judgment I watched before reading the book. I didn’t like the movie and therefore when I finally decided to read Ms. Wharton’s book I was very surprised at how good it was. The book is a satirical portrayal of the New York’s upper society of the late 19th century. At the forefront is Newland Archer, a product of the society who considers himself well versed and in favor of all that his family and all others around him hold dear. That is until his cousin, Ellen Olenska, comes back from Europe after a failed marriage and with a baggage of experiences that all welcoming her back would rather not know about. All of a sudden, Newland finds himself dealing with feelings towards Ellen that should have been directed instead towards his fiancée May Welland.

The Age of Innocence is a real treat. It’s very funny if one happens to like the sarcastic humor which always has a deeper purpose than simply providing entertainment. The book’s timelessness is the fact that the shallow values and superficiality of 1870 New York still is alive and well today. In reality, Ms. Wharton had probably no idea that what she criticized over a hundred years ago would be thriving in upper social classes so many generations later. The people then preferred to live in blissful ignorance of others’ emotions and feelings. Opinions mattered only if they were one and the same and in accordance with what was acceptable. The word ‘individuality’ probably did not have a spot in their dictionary and denial was at the top of the game. Only the right clothes mattered, the right dinner invitations, the right occupations and the right entertainment. Anything outside of the generally accepted cannon was scorned upon and if one didn’t follow the rules, they were shunned from the society. It actually reminded me greatly of The Real Housewives of New York and NY Prep kids. Granted, the times and the generally accepted mores are different but the core of it remains the same.