Forever Amber Part 2

When I left you with the first installment of Forever Amber, I was about half way through. I had just gotten to the part where London is struck by plague and Amber is confronted with her own mortality.

True to form Amber rises above the wreckage of post-Plague London. She manages to get married to a series of men, each rising her further up socially, with boatloads of money of her own.

One of her husbands is a total Puritan whose household is completely horrified that their father should marry someone so obviously below them in station. The family does their best to tar and feather her in the eyes of their father but he is blinded by passion and Amber can basically do as she likes. When he dies he leaves her a lot of his money and she takes this and parlays it into her next marriage.

One of her marriages is to the cruelest of men with no fortune but a title. At this point, she’s all about the title. Eventually there is more time with the King, which she really makes the most of.

I don’t want to give very much more away. The end was very surprising. Even more surprising was when I was telling my mom about this addictive book I was reading and when I mentioned the title she was all “you’re reading Forever Amber?! Isn’t it great?!”

I’m not sure how to feel about my mom having read such a smutty book but she assures me she was very young when she read it so I guess that’s OK.

My book club recently decreed that we would be reading Fifty Shades of Grey so I’m thinking this will not be the smuttiest book I read. But I definitely won’t be mentioning Fifty Shades of Grey to my mom.

No offense Mom.

Anyway – Forever Amber. Look into it because it’s terrific.


Forever Amber Part 1

I’m a little more than halfway through Kathleen Winsor’s Forever Amber. And I can see why, in 1944, it might have been banned.

Amber is a whore.

Even by today’s standards she is kind of a slut. Not that I’m judging. I’m loving. It’s been a while since I’ve read such a delicious book. I’m enjoying every dirty, whorish second of it.

So Amber St. Clare (by the way, we can thank Ms Winsor for all the Ambers running around these days – this book first popularized the name) runs away to London with a handsome Lord. She leaves her charming English village and family, he gets her knocked up and then he leaves (some things evidently do not change). What’s a 16 year old hottie to do in Restoration England?

After some seriously poor choices land her in Newgate, Amber vows to get away from dirty poverty and make something of herself. But come on guys. Not a whole lot of options for a woman in 1666. Lucky for her she’s hot and women are finally allowed on the stage.

Yes, in the fine tradition of Ambers since, she becomes an actress.

I’m halfway through and we’ve been treated to a dalliance with the king, at least 3 illegitimate pregnancies, a liberal sprinkling of casual abortions and plague. Just finished some plague chapters. Fairly descriptive. Lots of puss.

And the exclamation marks! Are used to denote excitement! Anger! Joy! Frustration! Despair! Ennui!

If this book wasn’t so addictive, the exclamation marks may have been a mark against it. But I can’t put it down. And that’s saying something – it weighs a ton. No seriously. This book may singlehandedly have convinced me on the e-reader front.

No, that’s never going to happen. But this book is seriously heavy. I’m such a committed physical-book-reader (can we put our heads together and come up with a snappier name for that?) that I may have given myself some sort of book carpal tunnel. Or whiplash. Can you get whiplash from not moving?

Basically, if you are looking for a slutty book, a completely escapist read, you need to get your hands on Forever Amber. Go on, do it. You know you want to. And you will totally look like you are reading something respectable (you’re not) because the cover is a beautiful painting.

Win. Win.

Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to find out what happens to Amber and Lord Carleton…


Shelf Log

I think we have established that I am a book hoarder. I cannot help myself. But looking at my bookshelf, seeing all the lovely titles that I had yet to crack, I imposed a book ban on myself. I was not allowed to buy any more books until I had read the ones I already had.

(Notice how we’re using the past tense?)

But then I went to Costco and these 3 books were already on my list and they were cheap so I bought those. And since then, I may have bought a couple more. But most of them have been on my list so it’s like I already had them anyway, but now I actually have them.

You know?

In an effort to curb my insanity, I thought that if I was honest about what is actually on my shelf right now and could see it in black and white it might help to curb my bookish appetite.

Actually it will probably fill me with pride – look at all the excellent books I have chosen! But we’re going to try anyway. In no particular order:

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran. Have you ever been to Madame Tussauds? Any one of them – they have them in London, New York, Vegas and Amsterdam. I’ve been to the one in Amsterdam (and I’m dying to go to the one in Vegas when I go next month) and I’ve never had so much fun in a museum before. The pictures are hilarious. Turns out that Madame Tussaud was a real person. I don’t think that I knew this. But whatevs. I saw this book and I had to have it. And now I do. And one day I’ll read it too.

In this, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens, I clearly felt like I needed to flesh out my Dickens’ section a little. I already had Great ExpectationsA Christmas Carol and Hard Times (I think I must have at least another one from my time at school but I cannot think of it at the moment) but this is not enough. I still want to get my hands on the biography that was released last year (good thing it’s my birthday soon) but I recently picked up Nicholas Nickleby and then! A Tale of Two Cities without the Oprah’s Book Club thing on it! Success! (I try really hard never to collect books that have anything to do with Oprah. Ever)Once I actually read them I will feel even more superior to you.

The Kennedy Women by Laurence Leamer is languishing on my shelf for reasons unknown. I love biographies about women, The Kennedy Women should be at the top of my list. The same day I picked up this gem, I grabbed the companion: The Kennedy Men. And I actually read that one. Every time I gravitate towards it, I get distracted by something shiny. But I know once I actually crack this one, I’m going to love it.

Catch-22 has been on my list for a long long time. And I had it in my hand to buy it when I came across Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor and bought it instead. What would convince me to put down such an important work in favour of something with such an unimaginative title? Um, apparently this book was so slutty that it had to be banned in some places when it was published in 1944. Basically, Amber has to prostitute herself to stay alive in 17th century England. And Barbara Taylor Bradford did the introduction and she’s all I loved this book when I was a teenager. If Barbara Taylor Bradford says that it’s a “genuine page turner” and a “smashing read” who are we to argue? It’s heavy though – nearly 1000 pages. I think that’s going to be next.

I was on my way to my book club and had some time to kill so naturally I wandered into a bookstore unsupervised. And I was on my way to book club so I was feeling pretty smug and brilliant. And what do the smug literati buy when they are in a bookstore? War and Peace, naturally. So more than a year later, it’s still sitting on my shelf. I really really really do want to read it. So badly. But every time I get there, something else, easier, shorter, something that will help me get to my book reading goal, gets in the way. One day though, me and Tolstoy? We’re going to make this happen.

That might be it. I fear it isn’t. But these are the ones that I can come up with off the top of my head. What would you read next?