Thursday, 3 December 2009

Wild Release - Losing My BookCrossing Virginity

Whilst avidly reading the latest Good Reading magazine I stumbled across an article about culling your bookshelves. Initially I wasn’t going to read the article, after all the owner of a second hand book shop could only be comfortable with donating unwanted books to said book shop. Or could she? Lured by the heading ‘’If you love something, set it free”, I read on.

The article mentioned all the usual suspects including donating to charity, selling on e-bay, at markets and to second hand book dealers, and sharing with friends. But it also recommended the idea of BookCrossing, defined as ‘’the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others”. My interest peaked.

The concept itself is not new to me, but I am a BookCrossing virgin having neither taken part as a releaser or a catcher, and to be frank the fact that a dedicated online community to this practise existed was definitely a surprise. The BookCrossing website ( plays host to almost 1 million people and is currently tracking over 6 million books generating a hotbed of delightfully positive book karma. Excited by the prospect of one of my books travelling the known universe I decided to take the plunge.

Getting started is easy and, more importantly, it’s free. I began by setting up a basic personal profile. The website has many functions but I went straight to what is termed releasing a book. Here I got stuck. What book to choose? I couldn’t bring myself to let go of a treasured favourite, but was it good book karma to release a book that I didn’t enjoy? I wrestled with this decision for all of ..... three seconds, before rationalising that just because I loathed the book another person might indeed love it. Thus, The Jane Austen Book Club (by Karen Joy Fowler) was nominated for the chopping block. I loaded the book details, wrote a brief review, and got my BookCrossing Identification Number (BCID number). Then I chose my method of distribution. You can select from Wild Release or Controlled Release. Controlled Release is where you leave the book for a specific person whereas Wild Release is totally random. Trusting in fate I selected Wild Release then proceeded to enter the details of the drop point. This function is quite specific and can be narrowed down to precise shop fronts, longitude and latitude, and even an exact time. I chose Coffee Affair, a small independently owned coffee shop, in the busy shopping district of Erina, NSW, Australia at 12pm – just in time for lunch. I then printed off a label highlighting the website and my BCID number and stuck it inside the front cover of the book. So far the process had taken me all of 10 minutes, but the best part was to come.

As I walked out of my office door to despatch the book, I was overcome with a rush of excitement and couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. There was a spring in my step. I quite honestly felt like an actress in a movie on my way to some clandestine rendezvous. As I made my way to the cafe my mind planned ahead. I surveyed the area for watching eyes, figured out the safest approach route, and spied my target table. Then as inconspicuously as possible casually placed the book at the drop point. It defies explanation, but for some unqualifiable reason the simple act of leaving a book in a public place felt completely liberating and mysterious.

Walking away from the coffee shop I envisaged a fellow book lover like me settling down for a lazy lunch and discovering my gift. Fleetingly, I also wondered whether the waitress who next cleaned the table simply threw it in the trash. Brushing my cynicism aside, I chose to believe that serendipity would prevail placing the book into the hands of a worthy someone who would not only appreciate the book, but also the value in the act itself. Now the waiting game begins. Cross your fingers for me and hope that whoever picks the book up will log on to the website, start their own profile and record their thoughts, before continuing the cycle of life and letting the book roam free in the wild once again. I’ll keep you informed of my book’s progress, but in the meantime I am back on the BookCrossing website setting up my hunting profile so that I can catch myself a wild book.

Visit my profile at by searching under the screen name AmberX.

Monday, 16 November 2009

The Kellerman Dynasty

This month our current feature authors are the modern day crime writing dynasty of the family Kellerman – Jonathan, Faye and Jesse. Husband and wife, Jonathan and Faye, are the only married couple ever to appear on the New York Times bestseller list simultaneously. Jesse is one of their four children and is an internationally renowned novelist and playwright in his own right.

Jonathan Kellerman - Born in 1949, Jonathan Kellerman is an American psychologist turned author of suspense novels and is arguably the most well-known of the trio. His most famous fictional character is Alex Delaware, a child psychologist whose adventures are no doubt inspired by Jonathan’s own experience in the world of psychology.

Jonathan’s first novel, ‘When the Bough Breaks’, was published in 1985 and received much critical acclaim including the Edgar Allan Poe and Anthony Boucher Awards for Best First Novel. Since then, Jonathan has published at least one best-selling crime novel every year. In addition to his fiction novels, Kellerman has also written several non-fiction titles specific to child psychology, and in the mid-nineties he also published two children’s books that he was also the illustrator for. Jonathan is no longer a practicing psychotherapist, but still lectures as a Professor at the University of Southern California. Listed below is Jonathan Kellerman’s bibliography of crime fiction titles only. To check our whether we have the title your after in stock just search our inventory -
  1. When The Bough Breaks (1985)
  2. Blood Test (1986)
  3. Over The Edge (1987)
  4. The Butcher's Theater (1988)
  5. Silent Partner (1989)
  6. Time Bomb (1990)
  7. Private Eyes (1992)
  8. Devil's Waltz (1993)
  9. Bad Love (1994)
  10. Self-Defense (1995)
  11. The Web (1996)
  12. The Clinic (1997)
  13. Survival Of The Fittest (1997)
  14. Billy Straight (1998)
  15. Monster (1999)
  16. Dr. Death (2000)
  17. Flesh and Blood (2001)
  18. The Murder Book (2002)
  19. A Cold Heart (2003)
  20. The Conspiracy Club (2003)
  21. Therapy (2004)
  22. Twisted (2004)
  23. Rage (2005)
  24. Double Homicide (2005) (with Faye Kellerman) 
  25. Gone (2006)
  26. Obsession (2007)
  27. Capital Crimes (2007) (with Faye Kellerman)
  28. Compulsion (March 2008)
  29. Bones (October 2008)
  30. True Detectives (2009)
Faye Kellerman - Born in St.Louis in 1952, Faye studied Dental Surgery at UCLA before becoming a full-time mother and novelist. Her groundbreaking first novel, ‘The Ritual Bath’, was published in 1986 and received much commercial success. This novel introduced readers to her fictional crime fighting couple, Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus. Like her husband Jonathan, Faye has incorporated many of her life experiences in her work. Faye and her husband are both practising Orthodox Jews and we see many Jewish themes in her novels.

Faye now has over 20 million copies of her novels in print, but she is also a highly praised writer of short stories whose work has been anthologised in many different collections.Listed below is Faye Kellerman’s bibliography of full-length crime fiction titles only. To check our whether we have the title your after in stock just search our inventory -  
  1. The Ritual Bath (1986)
  2. Sacred and Profane (1987)
  3. The Quality of Mercy (1989)
  4. Milk and Honey (1990)
  5. Day of Atonement (1991)
  6. False Prophet (1992)
  7. Grievous Sin (1993)
  8. Sanctuary (1994)
  9. Justice (1995)
  10. Prayers for the Dead (1996)
  11. A Serpent's Tooth (1997)
  12. Moon Music (1998)
  13. Jupiter's Bones (1999)
  14. Stalker (2000)
  15. The Forgotten (2001)
  16. Stone Kiss (2002)
  17. Street Dreams (2003)
  18. Double Homicide (2004) (with Jonathan Kellerman)
  19. Straight Into Darkness (2005)
  20. The Garden of Eden and Other Criminal Delights (2006)
  21. Capital Crimes (2006) (with Jonathan Kellerman)
  22. The Burnt House (2007)
  23. The Mercedes Coffin aka Cold Case (2008)
Jesse Kellerman - Born in Los Angeles in 1978, Jesse took a year off before college to study at a religious seminary in Israel, before he attended Harvard University to study psychology like his father. But his real interest was theatre and after graduating from Harvard, he attended Brandeis University and became an MFA playwright. Since then, Jesse has written many award-winning plays that have been produced throughout the United States and abroad. His first novel, ‘Sunstroke’, was published in 2006 and he has since written two more. Listed below is Jesse Kellerman’s bibliography of novels only. To check our whether we have the title your after in stock just search our inventory -
  1. Sunstroke (2006)
  2. Trouble (2007)
  3. The Brutal Art aka Genius (2008)

Friday, 13 November 2009

Book Collecting 101 - Part 1 - Choosing What to Collect

Book collecting is genuinely one of the most interesting and rewarding hobbies a person can enjoy. Not only is there the challenge of the search and the adrenaline rush of the find, but there’s also the pure exhilaration of the read and the satisfaction in a completed collection at your fingertips for ever more. More importantly, book collecting is something anyone can do because you are only restricted by your imagination. So, how does one take the plunge into the book collecting world?

This new series of blogs will introduce you to the art of book collecting. It’s aimed at the beginner and is full of practical hints and tips on how to get started. Let’s start at the very beginning with choosing what to collect. This may seem like an easy task, but there is much to consider and without careful research you could find yourself trying to collect the uncollectible.

Step 1: Refine your book collecting idea. Trust someone who has been at this point before and put some real thought into what type of books you want to collect. Most people think too broadly and end up endlessly collecting. The most fun in book collecting is achieved when you manage to collect a full-set of something. So make sure you have an end game. After all, you can always move onto another set once you’ve completed the first.

Let’s look at an example. Deciding to collect books on travelling through Australia might seem like a good idea, but there are thousands of them and it’s unlikely that you’ll ever collect them all. So be more specific. For instance, narrow your search to one prolific author, like Ion L. Idriess. You can even narrow your search further to first edition, hard covers with dust jackets.

Another popular collectible genre is military history books. There is a plethora of books written on this topic and no one collector could even hope to own them all. So, once again, be more specific. Where does your particular interest lay? Is it World War I or World War II? Is it Australian military history or European military history? If you decide it’s World War I and Australian military history then you might want to collect all the hardcover first edition volumes of C.E.W. Bean’s Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918.

Whatever your interest there is something for everyone to collect and if you need help refining your target collection then give your friendly second hand bookstore owner a call. They generally have a wealth of information to share and you will need their help to source books in the future, so it’s good to start a relationship early on.

Tip: Resale value is also important when deciding on what to collect. A full-set of something will always hold more value than an incomplete set. Whilst most people collect to keep, there may come a day when you must part with your collection – so make sure it’s worth it!!

Step 2: Research the Cost Involved. It’s all fine and well to want to collect a full set of first edition, signed Jane Austen novels, but can you actually afford them? Before you rush into collecting make sure you spend some time finding out how much the books you want to collect are likely to cost you. This is not a difficult task. There are a number of global second hand book sites that will allow you to search on current prices for nearly any second hand book. We particularly recommend Abe Books (, Alibris (, and Biblio ( It’s good to familiarise yourself with these sites early on as you will more than likely source some or all of your books through such search facilities later on.

Tip: Be ruthless on the cost involved. If there is even a doubt in your mind about whether you can afford to complete a collection then don’t even start collecting them. Choose something else to collect because you will only be disappointed and frustrated collecting something you can’t afford.

Part 2 of this post is coming soon and will focus on Starting Your Search!!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Trixe Belden vs Nancy Drew: Who Was Your Favourite - VOTE NOW!!

On Wednesday a kind lady donated 7 boxes of books to my secondhand bookshop. Often when this happens there is a lot of crap and not much worth selling, but I was very excited to find almost a complete collection of hard and soft covered Nancy Drew books, plus a few Trixie Belden titles as well. Whilst these books aren’t worth a fortune they are still collected the world over, and for a brief moment I was transported back to my childhood when I was completely obsessed with the Trixie Belden mysteries. I read Nancy Drew also, but for some reason which escapes me at the moment, Trixie was my favourite. I told one of my friends about my find last night and was surprised to find that she was a hard core Nancy Drew fan and thought Trixie was pretty lame. This whole situation prompted the question – growing up were you either a Trixie lover or Nancy lover, or could you actually be both? I thought I’d put this history making question out there today and see what the masses thought. So cast your very important vote now on our blog sidebar!!

And, of course, if you want to take a walk down memory lane or complete your collection, you can find all the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden titles we currently have in stock on our website.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Why the book will not go quietly into the night? (a.k.a. 5 Common Book Uses That An E-reader Simply Can’t Replace) (Part 1)

Wait! This is not your typical post addressing the e-reader versus book arguments exhausted by book bloggers everywhere. This is a serious expose on the hidden applications of books that manufacturers of e-readers don’t want you to know. It proves that an e-reader is just an e-reader. Yes, you can conveniently read stories on it, but what else of practical import is an e-reader good for? Can you use it to sound-proof your recording studio? Does it prove helpful when trying to reach a higher shelf? Is it likely to serve you well in an all-out throwing argument with your spouse? The answer is a resounding NO!! Listed below are five uses of the tome that affirm the book will not go quietly into the night.
1. Assault Weapon: Because of its’ versatility and relative indestructibility the book wins hands down over the e-reader as a throwing and maiming implement. Unlike the e-reader, the book comes in various sizes and materials. A small paperback is ideal for long-range assaults where stunning the enemy, rather than injuring them, is the goal. Large hard covers are more suited for short-range offensives where acute pain is the object. Now, e-readers are good missiles, fitting easily into the palm and inflicting sharp pain, but they are normally destroyed on impact. The book, on the other hand, can still be read after hitting its’ target. Terrain is another important factor in warfare and once again the book is superior. Small paperbacks are great for internal battles, causing minimal damage to furniture and civilians. The collateral damage caused by e-readers during internal battles outweighs its significance as a weapon. Sheer weight of numbers also makes the book a winner. In the grand scheme of war, the book is an army of hundreds or thousands, depending on the size of your library, whilst the e-reader is a lone soldier and hardly a nuclear bomb.
2. Drink Coaster: In terms of quality drink coasters, you can’t go past the humble book. The variation in size is an obvious advantage over the e-reader, but the books’ ability to carry off a coffee stain is the deciding factor. For starters, a coffee stain on an e-reader squeals neglect. But somehow, on a book, it adds personality and paradoxically suggests that the book has been loved, adored and discussed over tea and conversation. On a pure mechanical note, the book has been designed to absorb small amounts of liquid and can still be read under water distress. However, the e-reader’s capacity to take on aqueous solutions is limited and will normally result in total dysfunction.
3. Protest Tool: Book burning has a long and dark history as a tool for revolution, propaganda, censorship and culture control. I can’t deny that the e-reader is a flammable object, but as a symbolic spectacle it certainly doesn’t measure up to the book. A good book burning pleasures all the senses. We feel the heat on our skin, we breathe in the earthy smell of paper aflame, we see the orange fingers caressing the night sky, we hear the long, low sizzle, and we taste the sacrifice. The e-reader disappoints on all these fronts. Let’s face it, the e-reader doesn’t burn, it melts – and there’s a big difference between the two. Burning is passionate, courageous, warrior-like. Melting is weak, cowardly, vermin-like. What message would you prefer to send to the masses? Can you really imagine Joseph Goebbels heralding a Nazi e-reader melting. It just doesn’t roll off the tongue. From a promotional perspective, a book burning is a marketeer’s dream, complete with alliteration. A book burning is all pomp and ceremony with entire libraries wiped out one book at a time creating a literary inferno. Throwing an e-reader here and there into a fire is more like a fizzle.
4. Chew Toy: I understand that the primary reason for buying kids books is for the educational enrichment of children. However, what parent could claim their child has never used a book for the secondary purpose of helping them through the curse of the terrible twos – teething. I could be wrong, but wasn’t this why board books were invented? Kids the world over enjoy books as much for their ability to transport them into an imaginary world, as they do for their chew toy status. And, as the owner of a second-hand bookshop, I can testify to the distinct lack of kids books that come through my store without the tell-tale teeth marks. One could argue that an e-reader would be just as effective for a child as a book, after all mobile phones are certainly a hit. But the e-reader can’t match the pliability of the book, nor can it compete in terms of spittle absorption. Variety is also a factor. Who wants to chew the same old e-reader every time? Books allow the child unlimited textures – thick, thin, chewy, laminated, plastic, furry. Speaking of furry, let’s not forget the loveable household puppy fresh from the pet shop and dying for something to chew on and rip apart. Throw Lassie a book and she’ll be satisfied for hours. Throw Lassie an e-reader and she’ll have a sore head.
5. Weight/Fitness Trainer: Do I have to elaborate? Advocates of the e-reader cite the size and weight of the book as its’ major disadvantage, but fitness experts across the globe disagree. Sure, the book can be a bit weighty but think of the effect on your biceps and triceps. A small paperback in each hand whilst power walking is a toning miracle for the average woman. Readers who require a bit more bulk can work their way from small paperbacks, to hard covers, to medical textbooks and finally a lexicon. You can thank me for your cupboard arms later, because there is more. Books can be used instead of basic fitness equipment. Use a dictionary instead of a medicine ball, jump over a few piled-high Bryce Courtney epics instead of a hurdle, save money and glue a couple of hundred penny dreadful's together to make an aerobics step, balance a book on your head to correct your posture.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Book Review - Too Close to Home (by Linwood Barclay)

Hmmmmm.....I think I should preface this review by stating that crime/thrillers are not my "go to" genre for books. Even when confronted with a stuck-in-the-airport-with-no-reading-material-situation, I am unlikely to purchase such a garden-variety example from the glut already drowning us. But as the September selection for my book club, my fate was fixed. Whilst I will concede that the crime/thriller choices of my book club have occasionally surprised me with a gem like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, they have more often than not bored me with ho-hum attempts of which Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay is a tragic example.
Sporting a generic cover aspiring to be a B-grade horror movie poster, the book looked as bland as I was about to discover its innards tasted. There was a slight chance that reading the blurb might bolster my appetite, but a quick scan confirmed my suspicions that here was yet another formulaic thriller novel designed to spoon feed the masses. And the contents, you ask? Well they left me feeling nauseous.
Too Close to Home is essentially a murder mystery centred around the cold-blooded execution of an entire family. Young Derek Cutter witnesses the murder and his family soon become embroiled in the quest to find the killers. The back cover blurb attempts to trick you into believing the book has more depth than my brief synopsis indicates, but the storyline and character development are as shallow as they come. The bumbling plot stumbles along through a hodge-podge of convenient coincidences, irrational character decisions and clumsily designed sub-plots designed to throw you off the scent but fail to do exactly that. Not to mention the ever-predictable last-minute twist that we all saw coming.
Let’s take a look at some specific examples. The book is set in an average town, full of average people and focuses on an average family. The key word here is average. But we are asked to believe that an average person would decide not to co-operate with police, but instead investigate the crime themselves. Who are these people? The central character hires a new employee, who he later learns is a bank robber, but still keeps him on leaving him alone with his recently traumatised son without really questioning his character. Again, who are these people? And let’s not forget the average town mayor who gets publicly drunk and vomits at the front door of a halfway house for women, has sex with an under-age hooker, and punches his employee in the eye, but always seems to win the people over and elude any questions about his leadership. Do I need to say it again? I could go on and on, but the basic point is that the characters and the storyline are totally unrealistic and we are asked to be gullible beyond all reason. As far as I’m concerned, this is a mortal wound for the book. You’ve lost me. Case closed!
I am but a small fish and history proves that my opinion is no true reflection of "what’s hot" on the bestseller list. Keeping with tradition Too Close to Home has enjoyed a superfluity of praise in the reading world. Not only did it win the Best Novel category at the Arthur Ellis awards (the top prize in Canada for crime fiction), but it was also a UK bestseller, at one stage selling over 45,000 copies in just one week. So it begs the question - am I missing something? Please enlighten me.
I apologise in advance to Linwood Barclay as I am sure he doesn’t deserve this treatment. His book is merely the catalyst for my rant and he is most certainly not the only offender. My quibble is with the whole damn crime/thriller leviathan. I don’t mean to sound pretentious, but when did it become OK to underestimate the average reader? And when did we, as the readers, stop fighting against it? When did we submit?

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Book Review - The World from Islam (by George Negus)

I’m ashamed to say it, but other than a brief study of the Arab-Israeli conflict in High School, my knowledge of Islam is extremely limited. Like most of us, I rely entirely on the television and tabloid media to provide a frame of reference for this complex part of the world. And like all media, it’s difficult to separate the sensationalism from the actual facts. So when I came across a copy of this book I was keen to give it a go and find out what one of Australia’s most respected journalists, and one that I have great admiration for, had to say about the issue.
The book is not a history of the Muslim world – actually it’s far from it. The tag line on the back cover reads – “Not everything, but a hell of a lot of what you always wanted to know about Muslims, but no one got around to telling you.” And that’s exactly what the book delivers. Negus presents his information through a series of colourful anecdotes that he has written over 25 years of travel and reporting from this region. Along the way we meet some interesting characters who make up Negus’ extended Islamic family and we share in the ups and downs of their lives.
Somehow Negus manages to demystify many things that seem foreign to residents of the Western world – the burka, Ramadan, insh’allah (god willing) and the Qur’an (or Koran). And surprisingly, what becomes most clear in this book is that despite the obvious differences in religion and culture, the Muslim world also shares many similarities with the West. We are not as different as we may think!
During one period of his travels throughout Islam, Negus was accompanied by his young son. It was Negus’ numerous accounts of his son’s reactions to some of the more terrifying and violent events that have occurred in the area that I found most interesting. Seeing these events through the eyes of an innocent child who is unaffected by political scare tactics really puts everything into a simplified perspective. We learn that Muslims are human - just like us - and that they want the same things out of life – a happy family and a safe home.
The real beauty of this book is that Negus manages to provide a rational and balanced account of the Islamic world. In the September 11 aftermath, governments are hell-bent on instilling a fear of Muslims and terrorism amongst their constituents. It is refreshing to listen to a voice of reason. Negus declares with unabashed certainty that “more than 99.99% of Muslims are not, repeat not, terrorists”, and after reading this book I agree wholeheartedly. Negus has certainly managed to illuminate this young mind with his human insight.(3.5 Stars)

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Book Review - The Da Vinci Code (by Dan Brown)

It was with grave trepidation that I picked up The Da Vinci Code. As a general rule, and excluding the classics, I normally refuse to read any books that are so universally praised – there’s bound to be an anti-climax. But after much pressure from my market customers I caved to the persistent “You have to read The Da Vinci Code” comments. As most of the literate world has read the book, I’m not going to bore you with the storyline, but I will give you my reasons for thinking it fairly overrated.
For me the book started off well. I was lured into its’ intrigue and enjoyed the ambience that was created by the books’ setting and artistic backdrop. But after the first couple of chapters my concentration wavered as I became increasingly disappointed by the predictable plot. For a book that is described as a brain-teaser and a page-turner with endless twists and turns, I felt incredibly let down. Let’s be honest – do we really need a world-class cryptographer to recognise a Fibonacci sequence? Last time I checked it was part of the NSW High School Maths Curriculum. Nor does it take a Harvard symbologist to recognise Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. Add all this to the fact that I knew what was going to happen 10 pages before it actually happened and in my eyes you have a bit of a fizzer that, quite frankly, was a little insulting to the intelligence.
The mundane plot aside, I also found the lead characters lacking any real personality. Dan Brown focuses so much on the plot that he fails to develop either Robert Langdon or Sophie Neveu – they are merely transporters of the story – a way to move the plot along. The real characters of the story are Da Vinci, Opus Dei, The Priory of Sion and religion itself - which is all well and good but hardly groundbreaking. You only have to turn the clock back to the early 1980s and a controversial book called Holy Blood, Holy Grail (by Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln) to see that stories about this very subject matter have been circulating for centuries.
Some might think I’ve been too harsh. So to calm the masses I will acknowledge that the book was competently written and that it’s a much better read than some of the other “crap” out there. But in my view the only thing that makes the book so captivating for readers is the subject matter. People go wild over anything that questions the basis of religion. I guess we have to thank Dan Brown for at least encouraging many people who haven’t read a book for years to pick one up again. (2 Stars)

Monday, 14 September 2009

Book Review - Middlemarch (by George Eliot)

First thing’s first – I’m a Jane Austen girl. Her timeless novels form the backbone of my reading experiences. Those of you who are familiar with Austen and Eliot’s work will understand that being an Austen girl, it took me a little while to crave the taste for Eliot’s writing. Actually it took me about 5 false starts, but on the 6th attempt to read this classic novel, I was well and truly hooked.
The book is set in the provincial English town of Middlemarch in the early 1800s and it is here that we meet the two central characters, the first being Dorothea Brooke. Dorothea is a beautiful, virtuous young lady whose seeming purity of soul is admired by all those who know her. Dorothea dreams of leading a heroic life and feels she will best attain this by marrying Mr Casaubon - an elderly, stodgy scholar who Dorothea believes is destined for greatness. Dorothea does indeed marry Mr Casaubon, but she soon becomes stifled by his constant study and lack of use for her.
I have to say that I initially disliked Dorothea. I found her almost manic desire to marry Casaubon quite irritating. However, the book soon shows us that despite Dorothea's best laid plans, she is just as misguided and flawed as the rest of us. As a consequence, by the end of the book Dorothea had found her way under my skin and I found myself cheering her on and championing her transformation.
The second dominant character of the book is Tertius Lydgate, a young and ambitious doctor whose affliction for the heroic matches Dorothea's in strength. Lydgate comes to Middlemarch with big plans to change the way medicine is practiced in the region, and early on is very successful. But like Dorothea, Tertius' hasty marriage begins to backfire and his vision soon begins to crumble, as does his life, around him.
Though the book centres around these two characters, it is the support cast that makes this novel so addictive - it has a true sense of community. Whereas Jane Austen is primarily focused on a small number of central characters, Eliot manages to interest us in a whole community of people. We see how the lives of seemingly unimportant characters impact upon the lives of the ones we love, and we see how a community has the uncanny ability to shape people. The narrative is rich, filled with both suspense and drama. It's so delicious, it's almost edible. This is trully one of the best books I have ever read and deserves its' place among the classics. (5 Stars)