Monday, September 17, 2007

Sorcery and Cecilia

I started Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South this weekend. I have been dying to read this book for months. However, the book is 600 pages and has the tiniest print . . . ever. Although I am enjoying the story, it is going to take me forever to finish the book.

Since I will not be able to write about anything new (unless a miracle happens and I become a speed reader), I will spotlight a few books I read before starting the blog.

Sorcery and Cecilia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

I can’t remember why I picked up this book by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. I must have seen it at the library and been intrigued by its regency-style cover (I have been a closeted regency romance reader in the past).

I found the premise of this book fascinating. It is a regency romance/fantasy. The format is epistolary as two cousins communicate via post. One, Kate, has gone to London for the season. The other, Cecilia, is stuck at home.

Kate meets famous regency characters like Lady Jersey and Prinny. Yet, witches, wizards, and magic also inhabit this world. Magic is completely normal and accepted in society. I find it jarring to juxtapose these fantasy elements with actual historical figures.

Kate and Cecilia are likable characters. I care about them and am particularly interested in their love lives. The plot, though, has several problems. The climatic moments are weak and, well, anticlimactic.

Part of this deficiency is explained, though, by the note at the end of the book (which I wish I had read at the beginning). Wrede and Stevermer alternated writing the book. One would write a letter from Kate and the other would respond in a letter from Cecilia. Neither knew where the other was going. It is not surprising, then, that the plotting seems jerky and unmethodical.

To be honest, I like the book more after finding out this bit of information. Ultimately, I am more interested in and attracted to how they wrote the book than to the book itself.

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