My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

ARC Review: The Maze at Windermere by Gregory Blake Smith

Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the content of my review in any way.  Also, I participate in the Amazon Affiliate program.  If you buy this book through the links on this page I will get a small fee.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):

A richly layered novel of love, ambition, and duplicity, set against the storied seascape of Newport, Rhode Island

A reckless wager between a tennis pro with a fading career and a drunken party guest--the stakes are an antique motorcycle and an heiress's diamond necklace--launches a narrative odyssey that braids together three centuries of aspiration and adversity. A witty and urbane bachelor of the Gilded Age embarks on a high-risk scheme to marry into a fortune; a young writer soon to make his mark turns himself to his craft with harrowing social consequences; an aristocratic British officer during the American Revolution carries on a courtship that leads to murder; and, in Newport's earliest days, a tragically orphaned Quaker girl imagines a way forward for herself and the slave girl she has inherited.

In The Maze at Windermere Gregory Blake Smith weaves these intersecting worlds into a brilliant tapestry, charting a voyage across the ages into the maze of the human heart.

It took me a long time to get into reading this book.  At first I just didn't understand what was happening.  The format of this book is a challenge, with changing timelines and five different stories happening at once.  Like a maze, I was often lost at first.  But as I ventured further in, I became immersed in these stories and loved it!

What I Liked:
As I said, the format is very challenging.  Often, the reader is plopped right into the middle of a scene with no reference as to what is happening.  But I later found this to be exciting, and fun.  As the book progresses, the boundaries of the different stories blur, and jump around paragraph by paragraph.  This heightens the tension as each story comes to it's dramatic conclusion.

There are so many characters to love in this book.  I particularly enjoyed the modern character of Alice, the crippled heiress who can never know if anyone will love her for herself, or for her money.  Her raw emotions are filled with passion, longing, and desperation as she pursues Sandy, a handsome tennis pro.  

Sandy is repulsed by her, at first.  I liked how complicated is character was.  He is both an opportunist, and sincerely interested in Alice.  He sees that he is used by the rich people of Newport, but still seeks the access to the good life they can provide.  How much is he willing to compromise to get what he wants?

Not all the characters are people I could root for.  In the revolutionary war story, a British soldier schemes to bed the beautiful Jewish daughter of the richest merchant in town.  What starts out as a simple grudge against the merchant turns into an obsession with the girl.  He becomes the epitome of the entitled male.  It was infuriating, but I also followed this story with great interest.  I did not want him to succeed.

I have never been to Newport, Rhode Island but now I would love to visit.  All the stories take place there.  Through the ages it transforms from small, prosperous village into a playground for the ultra rich.  I loved how each of the stories added a new layer to the town itself.  One character even walks the streets and points out all many of the events that take place over hundreds of years.  It was eerie and beautiful.

What I was mixed about:
I have mixed feelings about the ending of the various stories.  On the one hand, it was frustrating as a reader to not get firm resolutions to each story.  However, I think the point of it all is that the stories never truly end.  I could have followed several of the characters much further on in their stories, as they were really fascinating.  But I have to respect the author for ending it as he did.



Release Date:  January 9th, 2018

Genre:  General Fiction/Historical Fiction

Publisher: Viking

Page Length:  352 pages

Source:  Edelweiss

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  This is a haunting story of how similar our struggles are throughout the ages.  Challenging, but satisfying.  This would be an interesting choice for a book club to tackle.

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2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 10 books toward her goal of 120 books.


80% 80% 100 Book Reviews 2016 NetGalley Challenge
clean sweep 2017

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