Saturday, December 7, 2013

Book Review: Cinders and Sapphires

So, I just realized that my last manga review for November never actually posted (what the heck blogger) so that's up now right below this post, talking about a manga called Qualia the Purple which, odd as it sounds, might fit in well with Verical's line. Since I already needed two reviews tonight I'm going to call that my first review and get on with writing this one, all these late nights for work (getting home just a bit before 10pm and with a headache most nights) is just not helping my blogging schedule, even if I start writing the posts earlier in the day.

There's no special reason why I picked up this book at the library, I believe I had heard of it before (and I do make a point to try and grab as many books as I can that have come out in the past year) but the setting interested me more than anything else. I'm only half joking when I say that since I didn't watch this year's season of Downton Abbey (looked at the summaries of it and decided that I didn't want to deal with those plot twists) that I needed something set in Edwardian England to tide me over and this seemed like the next best thing!

Cinders and Sapphires by Lelia Rasheed

Summary: The Somerton estate in England is in a tizzy not only because the lord of the manor is coming back with his family after spending years as an administrator in India but because they've just learned he's to remarry immediately after he returns. And that's not the only love in the air, it seems like nearly every other character has a secret tryst going on and if any of them were revealed it could damage the reputation of the entire household.

The Good: I will first admit that it's been a little while since I read this, had I realized how long it would be (and how many books I would read in-between) I would have written a rough draft of this review earlier. I didn't however and I must say this, I'm having a hard time recalling any parts of the book I truly liked. This isn't to say the story was written poorly, the characters were consistent, the problems they encountered made sense for the setting and I liked how the growing movement for India's independence became a subplot in the story (the world can't truly be called global in the pre-WWI era but that doesn't mean characters in stories have to be ignorant). But despite all of this bits of solid writing it just never connected for me and I'm having a hard time recalling any specific details that I did enjoy. 

The Bad: The story is comparable to Downton Abbey not just in terms of setting but also in the number of characters, all with their own subplots, that it tries to balance yet I feel like ultimately fails. It tries too hard to make everyone sympathetic and I just couldn't care about the main relationship since it was one where the characters had an immediate attraction and then started to get to know each other, this means that by extension the readers were being told to care about these two characters before we were ever given a reason why. In the end I never ended up sympathizing with any of the characters and, since this is a story about these specific characters and their lives more than anything else, ultimately that means the story failed for me.

Overall I was rather disappointed with the story and am giving this book 2.5 out of 5 stars. I don't plan on reading the next book in the series, guess I'll have to look elsewhere for my Edwardian England fix!