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In the Land of the Long White Cloud (In the Land of the Long White Cloud saga Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 666 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top customer reviews
This is a long book (815 pages), and the pages are bigger than the normal size paperbacks you usually see. So this was not my usual 1 or 2 evening book! I alternately enjoyed and suffered through this book for about five days.
The story centers around the lives of two young women who travel to New Zealand to meet their respective future husbands. The circumstances surrounding their marriage arrangements are, a lost poker game on the part of the wealthy young woman's father, and a personals ad answered by the other young woman (a respectable school teacher). The two women meet and become good friends during the boat voyage to New Zealand.
Each woman has hopes and dreams, but of course the happy, comfortable lives they envision do not come to pass. There are animosities between their new families, but the women still manage to see each other often and remain friends. This is one of the few blessings in the story, as there are hardships, tragedies, and one difficulty after another. I didn't know whether to applaud their endurance, or become frustrated at their inability to escape their situations.
The ending was somewhat satisfying, but of course it was also interlaced with tragedy. But by this time you pretty much expect that. So I guess it really wouldn't have been believable any other way.
The reason I was leaning toward fewer stars, is mainly because I felt a little dark cloud around me during the days I was reading this book. Like most everyone, I have lived through my own difficulties and tragedies. So why on earth would I want to relive the fictional hardships of others? I guess I just kept hoping that things would get better. I know, good novels need a variety of elements. But this was just page after page, and chapter after chapter of bad crap going down. There is probably a 20-plus year span, as far as the timing of the story goes. I actually liked it when they jumped ahead a couple of years here and there. I almost felt relief, like at least there was nothing bad to report there!
But there I was, every chance I got, reading about the lives of these two women who had captured my heart. For that reason, I chose five stars. Also, I truly believe that this is a book most will like.
That being said, I would now think twice about enduring another story of this type. Been there, done that!
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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