Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: First Impressions by Charlie Lovett

If you're a follower of many bloggers, talkers, and reviewers in the bibliosphere, you've probably already heard about Charlie Lovett's new book, First Impressions.   I received a copy of Lovett's latest foray into bibliomysteries from his publisher.

It's good.

Ok, now that's out of the way ... I was a "Decide to read a book, finish it no matter what" reader for much of my life.  If I chose poorly, it was an act of contrition to the bibliogods to finish that crappy book.  But, I was beginning to feel like Life's Too Short for that kind of strict observance.  I started asking around what other readers did.  Some read to page 100, which seemed like a lot.  I was surprised how many were like me -- finish it no matter what.  Those who would drop a stinker didn't follow any guidelines, which should have been obvious with those that lead that kind of bohemian, free-wheeling lifestyle.

I wasn't sure what to think until I heard Nancy Pearl's good advice (like so much of her advice), to subtract your age from 100, and that's the number of pages you should give a book.  As you age, and your reading time on earth shortens, and you become a better judge of literature, you don't have to be quite so full of grace for books that don't quite deserve to take up precious reading time.

So, for me, that means 66 pages.

By page 40, Fred got his answer:

Yes.  Yes it is a kissing book.

And by page 66 (actually well before page 66 ...), I was hooked.  But it was good I had had adopted that guidance to give First Impressions a fair shake -- the opening is cheesier than the pick up lines borne bravely by our protagonist.  (An aside: I had a lot of terrible First Impression puns I've spared you. You're welcome.)  Not that I'm cheesy-opposed -- I'm a big fan of the Aubrey-Mauturin series, but when it comes to romance, I prefer it given a bit more straight. 

Anyway, back to the task at hand, I found myself drawn in by Sophie Collingwood, a bibliophile in modern London who inherits an amazing library and far more trouble than she ever wanted.  A curious bibliophile through and through, I was fascinated to tag along with her for a fun story, intertwined with a story about Jane Austen.  I'm no Jane-ite, so I'm definitely not the best one to tell you how accurate/ fulfilling/ uhhh..... Janey(?) that part of the story was, which I know is why many readers will pick this one up.  To be honest, I found myself frequently wanting to skip ahead to the modern side of the tale.  Not so much because the Jane side of the story was not interesting, but that I identified much more closely with Sophie and her side of the tale.  

In the end, it was a good story I'd recommend especially to anglophile bibliophiles, and I deeply hope it's a dandy for the Jane Austen fans out there.  After all, it's probably been at least a week since the Jane-ites had a new book to read, which can be wayyyyy too long for you people.  Also in the plus column, I'd rank it highly on "bibliofactor".  The book stuff was meaty and not at all the simple McGuffin some authors try to foist off on us, rather the only setting in which this story could be told.  Very good stuff.

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