Debbie (Redmond, WA)’s review of Learned by Heart

Trending 2 months ago

Reading a book backward has its perks

Do you cognize erstwhile playing Solitaire is other fun? When you’re escaping from a book!

This novel, specifically. It’s astir 2 girls, Eliza and Lister, who autumn successful emotion successful 1805 astatine an English boarding school. They chatter. And chatter. Nothing happens. Oh, and different girls successful nan schoolhouse chatter. And chatter. I thought I’d astatine slightest hold until Eliza and Lister became lovers—because past thing would beryllium happening—but I sewage excessively impatient and stopped. There was different communicative statement of Eliza penning letters to Lister years aft boarding school, erstwhile they were adults, but that didn’t drawback maine either. Solitaire, ohio Solitaire!

I really had a weird and chaotic reference trajectory. I was astir to ditch nan book astatine nan halfway point—bored and irritated and not attached to nan characters successful nan least. I was finito. Then I felt each this guilt doing nan large DNF (since I’m much aliases little obligated to reappraisal nan book), and my goody-two-shoes were squeezing my tootsies, urging maine to support reading. A lightbulb came on—I needed to alteration my approach! Anyway, who says you person to commencement astatine nan opening and support going consecutive forward? I was hopeless (and emotion rebellious), truthful I decided to cheque retired nan extremity of nan book. Damn if I didn’t get pulled in! Lo and behold, I realized I was reference nan book backward (!), grabbing 20-page chunks astatine a time. A wholly caller benignant of reference ride, I guarantee you. My caput was jumping astir pinch beginnings and endings benignant of jumbled, surprises muted, but hey, I realized I was liking this book aft all. Suddenly, nan characters seemed to person specified depth, and Eliza’s letters from her early days seemed aggravated and poignant. Finally, I could admit nan bully writing.

I had been looking guardant to reference this 1 because I loved Donoghue’s Room and The Pull of nan Stars. I respect nan author’s writing. This book is well-written, too, but damn, that first half is dull.

This communicative is based connected 2 existent group pinch nan aforesaid names. Lister was nan first known lesbian of modern times. The author, who says she became obsessed pinch Lister, did an unthinkable magnitude of research, and she worked connected nan book for decades. It’s cool that she created this story, imagining what Lister’s and Eliza’s lives were like. The caller BBC bid “Gentleman Jack” is besides based connected Lister’s life.

I’m doling retired 3 stars—an average, based connected nan first half being 2 stars and nan past half being 4 stars. Who knew that reference a book backward would work!

Thanks to NetGalley for nan beforehand copy.