271 of 291 people found the following review helpful
Long, boring and full of weird incongruous language
, October 25, 2012
This review is from: In the Land of the Long White Cloud (In the Land of the Long White Cloud saga Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
This book begins in 1852 and ends in 1877 -- and yet the characters all speak as if they were stuck in 2007. I don't know if this is because of the translation -- but this book sets a record for incongruity.
Consider the following: "Lucas inquired about the cultural scene in London."
"Gwyneira was blown away when she heard about Laurie and Mary."
"The wild seemed a cafeteria for him."
"She called it their wilderness survival game."
"It's such a wonderful party." James looked at her probingly ... "Spiced with a good does of schadenfreude," she sighed.
And my favorite: ""No, no that's for crazies who have nothing to lose. And back then, I already had Olivia and the boys - so I wasn't about to slug it out with giant fish that would have just wanted to get me by the throat. It makes me a little sorry for the critters."
Incidentally, the word "schadenfreude," meaning delight in the misfortunes of others, first showed up in English in an obscure publication in 1852: R. C. Trench Study of Words (ed. 3) II. 29. "What a fearful thing it is that any language should have a word expressive of the pleasure which men feel at the calamities of others, for the existence of the word bears testimony to the existence of the thing. And yet in more than one is such a word to be found ... In Greek epichairekakia, in the German, 'Schadenfreude'."
But here we have characters in New Zealand using it in the 1860s. AMAZING.
The word "cafeteria" entered American English (not English English) from the Spanish around 1839.
I don't expect a book set in the 19th century to read as if it were written by Charlotte Bronte or Charles Dickens. But I don't expect the characters to express themselves like high school kids from the 21st century either.
The story concerns English immigrants to New Zealand and all their troubles. The main characters are staid governess Helen who becomes the mail order bride of a drunken farmer and the spirited Gwyneira who married artistic, effete Lucas, a man whose sexual desires, barely acknowledged, run toward the male sex. They and their sheep and dogs and horses mate with various degrees of willingness and produce offspring who continue the story.
There is a whole cast of other totally one-dimensional characters and we live and suffer along with them through many hundreds of pages -- those of us who stick to the task. Its a slog almost as daunting as the 12-mile bridle path the immigrants have to climb when they first set ashore in New Zealand.
My appetite has been whetted about the history of this far-off nation and I'm now on the lookout for a good book, fiction or non-fiction, that brings it to life -- because this book isn't it. Any recommendations would be welcome.
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