Mai Yamani

Wednesday reading — young adults

What I've been reading

I read Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother, which was really good, especially for Abba May's pre-marriage life. Also, man, Bronson Alcott was really a piece of work. I really wonder what she wrote that he and Louisa censored from their recopied versions of certain of her journals, because her extant writings are pretty scathing. It's really interesting how Louisa openly and repeatedly read her mother's journals, both for the intimacy and the literary influence.

I read Autumn Bones and Poison Fruit, the second and third books in Jacqueline Carey's Agent of Hel series. I didn't actually realize until I picked up that third book that it was also the last; I thought it was intended to keep going indefinitely, the way I am under the impression that other paranormal romance series often do, and was happier that certain things were getting wrapped up instead of strung along. Paranormal romance isn't really my thing, so I only have a loose, secondhand idea of the genre conventions anyway. So it was blindingly obvious even to me that Wolfy was going to be the endgame pairing, but it would have been so much more interesting if she'd hooked up with Lurine instead! There are lots of books about getting it on with werewolves and not enough books about getting it on with much, much older ladies with tentacles. I guess that's more of a niche thing. But I want.

I reread A Long Fatal Love Chase, which was not published even pseudonymously or anonymously in Alcott's lifetime and didn't much strike my interest the first time around, either. In spite of the none-too-subtle Mephistopheles references, what I kept thinking of was Jane Eyre—it plays out the same central drama, except that Tempest is hopelessly wicked and his concealed wife is kind and virtuous, and Rosamund has to make Jane's refusal repeatedly until she finally meets the end that is prefigured by the title.

I read Undivided, the fourth and final book in what was meant to be the Unwind trilogy. I was sort of grumpy about the third book, which I thought was overly long especially considering that it did not contain an actual ending, but I was pretty satisfied with this one. It's decently ambitious with how it tries to show many elements coming together to make an amelioration of a dystopia through the political system possible.

I read Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance, which was deeply interesting even though in a way it's also quite dull. It starts out with this fascinating question: what did these Renaissance readers made of this newly-rediscovered text with all these potentially radical and modern elements? And it turns out that mostly, they jotted down some new Latin vocabulary words, noted the bits that Virgil had referenced like the giant Virgil fanboys that they were, and definitely all loved the list of pet names for girlfriends, and no one really engaged with the potentially dangerous bits at all, besides Machiavelli, noted outlier. But a negative result can also be interesting.

I read The Key, the final book in the Engelsfors trilogy, which finally appeared in English. I feel like a curmudgeonly broken record saying this, but this book could definitely have been significantly shorter. Is editing a lost art these days? Still, there are a lot of things I enjoyed about these books, and this one is a satisfying conclusion, especially Linnéa and Vanessa finally getting together! And then breaking up, for even more pining! But then, most importantly, getting together again!

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