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Simon the Coldheart Kindle Edition
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|Kindle, November 20, 2020|| |
Ántonia, who, even as a grown woman somewhat downtrodden by circumstance and hard work, "had not lost the fire of life," lies at the center of almost every human condition that Cather's novel effortlessly untangles. She represents immigrant struggles with a foreign land and tongue, the restraints on women of the time (with which Cather was very much concerned), the more general desires for love, family, and companionship, and the great capacity for forbearance that marked the earliest settlers on the frontier.
As if all this humanity weren't enough, Cather paints her descriptions of the vastness of nature--the high, red grass, the road that "ran about like a wild thing," the endless wind on the plains--with strokes so vivid as to make us feel in our bones that we've just come in from a walk on that very terrain ourselves. As the story progresses, Jim goes off to the University in Lincoln to study Latin (later moving on to Harvard and eventually staying put on the East Coast in another neat encompassing of a stage in America's development) and learns Virgil's phrase "Optima dies ... prima fugit" that Cather uses as the novel's epigraph. "The best days are the first to flee"--this could be said equally of childhood and the earliest hours of this country in which the open land, much like My Ántonia, was nothing short of a rhapsody in prairie sky blue. --Melanie Rehak--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
From School Library Journal
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B08N68TQDM
- Publisher : Wilder Publications (November 20, 2020)
- Publication date : November 20, 2020
- Language : English
- File size : 1206 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 129 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,353,572 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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This is a medieval tale, one of Heyer's earlier works, which she did not wish to see republished, but I am glad her family overrode her wishes.
Simon of Beauvallet, the H, is - well, he is inexorable. This is not a quality that makes one easy to be around, and not the type of personality I would typically be jumping to spend time with, but Heyer's development of his character is the chief strength of the novel and I absolutely loved getting to know him. And he *is* a lovable character - Heyer brilliantly pulled that off.
We know little of Simon's early life, save that he is the illegitimate son of a peer - Malvallet - who does not acknowledge him - and he is raised by his mother. After her death, he remains with a relative until he realizes that what he wants from life he will not achieve without striking out on his own. So, the novel begins at that moment, as we see a somewhat cocky, focused, arrogant teenage boy present himself [by marching through the front door!] to Fulk, the Earl of Montlice.
Fulk is bombastic, the father of a dreamy youth whose personality could not be more at odds with his own. He loves his wife. He is entirely captivated by Simon: by his confidence (which, coupled with his stoicism, spills over to be perceived as arrogance); his intrepid approach to achieving his life's goal; and his stoic acknowledgment of who he is, without self-pity or pessimism.
This early work of Heyer's shows considerable skill. As the novel unfolds, one can read into Simon's actions something of his past, of what makes him tick. We get to enjoy the friendship of a trio of young men: Simon, Fulk's son Alan [the dreamer], and Simon's half-brother, Geoffrey, whom we meet early in the novel.
We see Fulk's love and esteem for Simon grow, but we also see the mellowing of Fulk, which is a delight all its own.
Where I think Heyer's inexperience as a novelist may show through is in the last third of the book. It loses a bit of its snap and crackle, but not enough for me to dock a star or to even feel bothered by it. But it does deteriorate a bit toward the end. Perhaps this is why she was reluctant to see it re-published.
Finally, there is a romance here - well, a couple of romances - and they are delightful, but written in such a way that I would call this Historic Fiction with a touch of romance rather than a full-fledged Historical Romance.
** a couple comments [very marginally spoiler-ish]
I read many reviews, here and elsewhere, and some did not like the old-style language in which this is written. That did not bother me; in fact, it added a lot to the telling.
Some were annoyed at the sexism - well, this depicts life in the 15th C., fully 600 years ago! - I think the portrayal is realistic, and, actually, the h is a woman who has a great deal of responsibility and status.
There is even an intimation from a reviewer that Simon is a pederast. Geez!! That Simon loves and esteems children indicates that his heart is not so cold, after all, and indicates to me a desire to provide to others what was missing in his own early life.
The first half of the book is all about Simon and the relationships he builds with other soldiers and the King. It’s a wonderful portrait of a self-sufficient, self-disciplined and talented man who has raised himself from an early age and learned to depend on nothing and no one but himself and his own abilities. In spite of his aloofness and reserve he acquires many steadfast friends, father figures, hero-worshipping little boys and other companions along the way, who would follow him to hell and always have his back. The male relationships are a joy to follow and quite touching. Because he spends all his time with soldiers, he has little opportunity to meet women and doesn’t like or understand them.
The women don’t show up till about half way, and I was perfectly happy with that, because his adventures were entertaining enough even without the romance. Margaret is a fierce fire-eater, and endearing in her own right.
The romance is lovely, but my favorite thing about the book is the male characters. Which, come to think of it, is how I feel about most Heyer books. She writes such great male characters—even the little boys are heart-stealers, and this book is no exception.
Top reviews from other countries
The story is actually very good, told - as typical for Heyer - in the language of the period - a challenge for the reader, to be sure.
The first half is all about the male hero growing up and turning himself into an important man. Only in the second half does the lady lead appear, and the real story begin.
I do not have a problem with that. The origin story is very interesting, well paced, and has, as all Heyer novels, a very authentic feel to it, with plenty of detail that let the times come alive as more than just a wooden backdrop reminiscent of the props used in Hollywood movies.
However, there is a problem with it which I think shows Mrs Heyer's lack of formation at the time of writing this novel (she was 25), and that is Simon's character. To the reader, he sounds almost like a psychopath, cold, uncaring except for himself, unable to connect with the people around him. Yet, to the people around him, he appears as a great leader whom men follow gladly. This is inconsistent, and really bothered me while reading. I think here the young Mrs Heyer just lacked a certain understanding about how male leadership actually works. An understanding that I think her later novels show.
Another thing that had me cringe a little was that the hero at one point says he fell in love with the heroine when he saw her in boy's clothes. That together with his well established love for small children... Uhm... OK... I'm sure that's not what she meant, at all, but with all the pedo scandals we've seen recently, it just gave me a bad taste in my mouth.
Still, I enjoyed the novel, and Mrs Heyer is, overall, a splendid writer.