Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

Anthony

The Living Force
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I've read the 3 first books of the Survivors series of Mrs Balogh (The proposal, The arrangement, Only enchanting). I liked the Mackenzie series and will come back to it, but to me the Survivors series is superior in quality.

I would agree and also add that different authors brings different things to the table. Taking the above mentioned series, Ashley is better when it comes to communicating about passions, despair and other strong emotions in her characters, she makes those things more vivid, while in Balogh's writing it's more subdued and intellectualized. But then, Balogh is so much better when it comes to psychological and philosophical insights. Among other things, I also appreciate the fact that the Survivors' series doesn't follow the usual denouement of someone getting nearly killed by the end of the novel, which seems to be characteristic of most of the recommended series.
 

genero81

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Ashley is better when it comes to communicating about passions, despair and other strong emotions in her characters, she makes those things more vivid, while in Balogh's writing it's more subdued and intellectualized. But then, Balogh is so much better when it comes to psychological and philosophical insights.

I've only read one Ashley book and she's a fantastic story teller, but Balogh is the master of weaving stories that navigate the human psyche in ways that can't help but touch on our own unresolved issues from this and other lives. The C's once said that all would play their role according to their frequency. Who knows, maybe pre-birth Balogh's mission was tied to ours.
 

Thebull

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
We'll just finished Unforgiven book 2 of the horseman Trilogy.
I loved the book and parts of the story were extremely emotional for me. Despite all that happened their love for each other and finally being honest about their lives they managed to overcome all that had conspired against them.
I was deeply moved by the loss of Moira's child from what was then an unwanted pregnancy. When they finally had the courage to discuss their feelings of those said events. How both Kenneth and Moira felt and grieved for that loss and what Kenneth would of given to save his child. I suffered in my early 20's from that same loss. It is something I haven't thought about for many years though it destroyed me at the tine. Very surprising how reading can set free those hidden memories. I wonder if this is the reason I was drawn to the horseman Trilogy on an unconscious level.
I would recommend the series and already have book 3, Irresistible ready to read.
Mary Balogh explains in the notes at the end of the book that The survivors club series concentrate on both the psychical and psychic effects of the Napoleonic wars on the main characters.
The horseman trilogy she chose to concentrate on four officers who return from the war and are keen to enjoy life to the full. Of course then life intervenes and gives us these wonderful stories.
 

Chu

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I've read all the Huxtable Quintet books and am now on the last of the Survivors Club and I've got to say I feel drained. Maybe it's because I read them in quick succession or maybe not. I lived their trials, traumas insecurities, their battles with tight social restrictions and so much more that was hidden under the surface which left me feeling kinda raw.

I knew that the happy ever after was coming but that didn't seem to help. It hurt me to see how I was not as aware as most of them were with regards their inner feelings when I was as young as them and how I really did hurt people unknowingly at the time.. These books showed me I saw selfish as a young person.

I shall now finish the last book and spend some time coming to grips with the unpleasant learning.

Yes, keep reading! Some are indeed tough in that sense, but some others allow you to ALSO understand a bit better why you acted the way you did, and how much you have probably changed since. Maybe alternate authors a bit? And if you can, maybe try to also notice the more "positive" aspects. Like you, I tend to see the "bad" I can relate to, but then I stop for a bit, and also see at least a few good traits that I share with some of the characters. In other words, it's not black&white. OSIT.

We'll just finished Unforgiven book 2 of the horseman Trilogy.
I loved the book and parts of the story were extremely emotional for me. Despite all that happened their love for each other and finally being honest about their lives they managed to overcome all that had conspired against them.

I'm so sorry, Thebull (For what you wrote on the Spoiler part). Hopefully not you will feel a bit more "free" from the past hurt. :hug2:

I found your comment interesting, because out of the three books in that trilogy, Unforgiven was my least favorite. I really liked Indiscreet and Irresistible though, and could relate much more to the characters. In Unforgiven, some things just didn't make sense to me:

"Like when she doesn't question that the "only" way to keep her warm is by being intimate with her, while he just told her he learned that surviving the cold during the war, with his comrades. And he isn't gay, so... Sometimes it was just too far-fetched, I thought. Or the fact that they hated each other for such a simple thing/misunderstanding in the end. I found Moira so shallow and annoying at times..."

But it goes to show that we are all different, and that there are "pearls" in many of the books if we care to look. Even when I can't relate to one character or another, it still makes me think, or remember things, or feel things I haven't felt in a while, or new things, etc.
 

seek10

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I´ve finished Mary Balogh´s "The Temporary Wife/A Promise of Spring".

As much as I´ve enjoyed "The Temporary Wife"´s Charity and Duke´s dance around the feelings they both share, I liked better "A Promise of Spring" - because of Perry and Gareth characters´ dynamic.

I saw Perry as a real Adamic man with his pure and real feelings of love towards Grace, while Gareth was a pure narcissist person and I found this novel as a textbook on how to recognize a narcissist person.

To Perry, love was freedom, openness and a choice freely done by both sides, respect, care and devotion.
To Gareth, love was possession, personal victory, something to win and conquer, without respect for the other side and self-centered "I want/think/need" mindset.
I agree with you regarding A promise of spring, thought I felt Grace took too long to process her feeling towards Gareth( with the danger of loosing every thing forever), though she knows the narcissism of the Gareth. Last scene
of challenge in child Birth looks like a her payback to Perry's extraordinary patience
. I liked Balogh saying Love needs periodic maintenance to sustain.

I've read all the Huxtable Quintet books and am now on the last of the Survivors Club and I've got to say I feel drained. Maybe it's because I read them in quick succession or maybe not. I lived their trials, traumas insecurities, their battles with tight social restrictions and so much more that was hidden under the surface which left me feeling kinda raw.
I had same problem after reading more than 15 books and took a break to read the non-fiction history books. I will come back to them soon.
The Suitor was listed as book 1.5 by Goodreads, but the public library did not have it listed. They carry all of her books, so I guess there's a glitch somewhere. Just started on the Arrangement. IMO, seems to have consistent continuity from The Proposal.
I would say, this is a minor problem with some series. Amazon has some order, diff. libraries some other order, author's website has and that is only for few books here and there. As a whole, by looking at the story in which minor characters are mentioned with positive impressions( some time rakishness), I felt that one can imagine they may be part of the other books in the series. When this impression comes, I tend to go and read the previews of the other books for clarification.
 

Redrock12

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Whoops, hit the reply button. The Arrangement also shows the high moral character of Sophie when she saved Vincent from being forced into a marriage with Henrietta, and subsequently turned out into the street for her actions. But then came redemption. I'll leave it there. Don't know how the spoiler alert works.
 

Jones

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Don't know how the spoiler alert works.

If you want to use a spoiler, it has changed a bit since the new software upgrade:

Screen Shot 2020-10-23 at 12.53.05 pm.png


Example 1 gives an 'inline spoiler'. That's the kind that leaves the text in place but blurs it so it can't be read without clicking on it like this - Hello . Example 2 gives the kind of spoiler that is hidden behind a blue text box like this -
Hello
 

Cassandane

Padawan Learner
What a delight this thread is to read! I have so enjoyed hearing about the novels everyone loves.

Aah, Maeve Binchy. Her novels are so soothing. Nothing terrible ever happens in them. They're full of likeable people overcoming life's hiccups.

Another novel I've found pleasure in many times is Margery Sharp's "The Gypsy in the Parlour". It's set in Victorian England and has wonderfully rich characters. Told from the wide-eyed point of view of a 12-year-old cousin, the story is about a young man who is tricked into bringing home a girl who thinks he should marry her, but who is completely unsuitable both for him and for how unlikely it is that she would fit into his family. The young man disappears almost immediately after he brings her home and before they can marry. She goes into a decline and spends a year lying on the sofa and just about bringing the family to its knees. It has a happy ending and a strong be-who-you-are message.

Has anyone read the Poldark novels by Winston Graham? I started watching the television series after I couldn't bear to hear one more thing about Covid-19, and found a world of people I love visiting. The novels follow the story of a family named Poldark and in particular Ross Poldark, who would be considered a reckless adventurer if it wasn't for his genuine concern for other people and the strength he always finds to do the right thing, even if it doesn't look that way to everyone. The love story of Ross and Demelza at the center of the books gives a wonderful roadmap for how to build, repair, and grow a rock-solid marriage.

The television series ends after the seventh book, so I've ordered all 12 books to find out what happens in the end. When they arrive, I'm going to do what my high school roommate used to do every Saturday morning: put my hair up and get into the bathtub with a stack of romance novels (she loved "bodice rippers" by Mills and Boon) and read all day.
 

Mari

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
My friend was visiting me the other day and she likes romance novels, so I suggested some of the books from Cass reading material; I hope it´s ok...
So* we went online to find which books have Croatian translation.

We found "7 Nights..." book and later I started to read to see how the book is translated and how it feels to read in my mother tongue.
I´ve read 1+ page and I didn´t like it at all.
Like someone put the book in some online translator and fixed the grammatic. Like the spirit of the book was cut out, I don´t know how to put it, but it was dry.
It felt like the person who was translating it was doing it like a school project, translated every word exactly and not quite in the spirit of the language.

So just as a comparison for some who are struggling with the books; maybe it´s due to a translation. If I were to read i.e. "7 nights" in my language it would bore me to death.


I had same problem after reading more than 15 books and took a break to read the non-fiction history books. I will come back to them soon.
Well, the reading workshop gives me a break and I really enjoy that part of the project too.
So a bit of romance and a bit of The Wave turned to be a nice balance through the week. :-)

Anyway, I´ve continued with Balog´s "Web of Gold". I already know how it will end (because of "A promise of Spring" book) but I´m eager to see what plots will follow and characters´ development.
:read:


*Edited: Sp-->So
 

Konstantin

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I finished the second book ( Dancing with Clara ) in the Balogh trilogy Courting Julia.
I like the style of Balogh. A lot of internal dialogs of the main characters. Sometimes I found myself rethinking old events, situations in my own life. Reading books like this helps you to develop your emotional intelligence, your inner dialog, helps to expand your own inner landscape, so I found a lot of stupid things, mistakes, that I made in my own life while reading the novels.

Particularly in this book, I noticed how the inner belief system of a person can influence its physical body, and later in the book, the process is in opposite direction. Understanding and accepting your own emotions is a big part of the work itself, it is one of those simple 3D lessons that we must learn while we are here. The whole book is about that. Love, devotion, and care to other person and understanding and accepting your own emotions.

Continuing with the last book in this trilogy.
 

drazen

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I’ve finished with the Mackenzies series (16 books), from The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie to A Mackenzie Yuletide, and I’ve enjoyed them all. It’s the last one that just felt a bit rushed toward the end of the book, somehow unfinished, the author Jennifer Ashley could have been more creative with the story, extend it a bit more, provide more info on the new character that showed up in the story. But, all in all, all those stories provided great depiction of how the main characters untangled/transformed/resolved their traumas or hard upbringing through the power of love and understanding that they’ve found in their loved ones.

It is something special when you know and understand so many main characters (11 families in 19th century I think, and separately those ancestors in 18th century), all what they went through in their lives, and when they get together in weddings or other gatherings, all finally looking so happy and in peace with their lives, dancing to the sounds of bagpipes and drums. It just gives me so much on emotional side.

Next on my reading list is Balogh’s Dell Historical Romance. Actually I’ve already started with The Gilded Web last night, and I can say that Balogh is much different from Ashley, and the story took me in so fast that I couldn’t leave it until late in the night. I chose these series, my first of Mary Balogh, because I want to explore the overbearing father theme that was suggested earlier in this thread (the 4th book in the series - The Temporary Wife).
 

Rabelais

Dagobah Resident
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Regarding the conversation that Redrock12 and I had, above, regarding the book sequence of The Survivor's Club, I just finished book #4, The Escape, and Balogh's afterword suggests The Suitor be read next. It is the short novella that if not read second will leave many clueless to the significance of the brief references to Phillipa (the Dean family of Bath) and Julian in books 3 and 4.

Redrock12 noted:
"The Suitor was listed as book 1.5 by Goodreads, but the public library did not have it listed. They carry all of her books, so I guess there's a glitch somewhere."

Amazon even lists the Suitor as Book #2, if somewhat cryptically. I wonder why Balogh suggests it be read after book 4, The Escape?

ryu's comments on The Survivors Club are on point, IMO.
 

Rabelais

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Next on my reading list is Balogh’s Dell Historical Romance. Actually I’ve already started with The Gilded Web last night, and I can say that Balogh is much different from Ashley, and the story took me in so fast that I couldn’t leave it until late in the night. I chose these series, my first of Mary Balogh, because I want to explore the overbearing father theme that was suggested earlier in this thread (the 4th book in the series - The Temporary Wife).
To judge from the writers of these novels, there seemed to be no shortage of "overbearing fathers" in Victorian England. Many a young spirit stifled by them.
 

Anthony

The Living Force
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I’ve finished with the Mackenzies series (16 books), from The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie to A Mackenzie Yuletide, and I’ve enjoyed them all. It’s the last one that just felt a bit rushed toward the end of the book, somehow unfinished, the author Jennifer Ashley could have been more creative with the story, extend it a bit more, provide more info on the new character that showed up in the story. But, all in all, all those stories provided great depiction of how the main characters untangled/transformed/resolved their traumas or hard upbringing through the power of love and understanding that they’ve found in their loved ones.
Oh, that's probably because the series is still ongoing, she has more books coming out. She published another novella this month, and two more books were supposed to be published in June or July of this year, but haven't been so far.
 
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