AAR
Click here for full forums index
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 
 
Freedom & Necessity
Goto page 1, 2  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    AAR Forum Index -> Let's Talk Romance Novels Forum
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
MrsFairfax



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 1069

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 9:00 am    Post subject: Freedom & Necessity Reply with quote

Jean Wan did a great job on the review of Freedom & Necessity. I first heard of it on these boards years ago from Tracy Grant, I believe. As you can tell from my sig line, it's a favorite, so I'm glad to see it come up for discussion again.
_________________
Binocular vision, no need to hop, and an ever-so-much easier time of it climbing ladders.
- James Cobham in Freedom & Necessity
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Tinabelle



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 875
Location: SE Wisconsin

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a fan of historical fiction, I was intrigued by the review. Since the book is not available in a digital edition, I would be forced to buy the print version which is a rarity for me these days.

I would definitely be interested to hear comments from others who have read the book before I take the plunge. Although this is often billed as fantasy, many reviewers say this is not really so. Is this true?
_________________
So many books; so little time!
www.shelfari.com/tinabelle
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Wan AAR



Joined: 13 Apr 2009
Posts: 405
Location: Toronto, Canada

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks MrsFairfax! I really enjoyed the book. I think I heard about this one on the boards as well, as an example of an epistolary novel (with a kickass romance).

@Tinabelle, I don't know how it works at your bookstore nearby, but I actually got mine in the Bargain section at Chapters. For $5. And for what it's worth, I love my Nook, but I don't know if I could handle reading this digitally. I was flipping back and forth a lot.

(Just checked: It's $19 at B&N and $6 at Chapters. Come to Canada.)

(ETA: And it's $7, used, with free shipping, from Better World Books. That's the mass market edition, however. I don't know - some books deserve the size of TBP. Yes, I know - shameful peddling.)

And regarding the fantasy bit, I only realize now that I didn't address it in my review. But no, under no circumstances would I call this fantasy. It has extremely mild magical elements - like, on a scale of 0 to 20, I'd say this is a 0.5.
_________________
Jean AAR
Reviews Editor
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1665

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm another who read and loved Freedom and Necessity. It's hard to describe without making it sound dry as dust, yet it's anything but. An epistolary novel in this day and age? Quotes from Hegel? Discussions of political philosophy and Chartism? Check, check, and triple check, yet while reading I didn't want to put the book down and barely came up for food and sleep. I found myself completely engaged in watching the mystery unravel and the relationships develop. Although not a romance novel it has not one but two love stories, and there is some beautiful language throughout (I love Susan's description of James' naked back). I think I found it at my library's used book sale so it can be found for not much money, and it's worth every penny.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Sharon



Joined: 24 Jun 2007
Posts: 10
Location: British Columbia

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did give this book a try but I don't think I tried hard enough. Jean's review makes me want to give it another go.

Some of my other favorite books are in the Lymond Chronicles, particularly the ones where Lymond meets his match. In fact, finding out who, how, and when was one of the biggest surprises of the series and unfortunately, Jean's exuberant review of this book gives one of Dorothy Dunnett's secrets away. Perhaps that might be edited out for those who haven't read it but might be interested after this review?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Tinabelle



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 875
Location: SE Wisconsin

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the additional feedback, everyone. Considering the back-and-forth reading and the family tree, it makes sense to read this in paper format. I am defintely going to give it a go!
_________________
So many books; so little time!
www.shelfari.com/tinabelle
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
MMcA



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 669

PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I did give this book a try but I don't think I tried hard enough. Jean's review makes me want to give it another go.



I do think it's worth another go. I loved it (though I pretty much let the Hegel and political philosophy pass me by, despite having a philosophy degree...) so I lent it to my mum, who wasn't very keen. But because I was so enthusiastic, she gave it another go, and second time round she really enjoyed it.

Dunnett's the author that I don't think I tried hard enough with - I did manage to read the first Lymond book, so I understand that she's good - but even though I then bought the second and third of the series, I stalled when a couple of chapters into the second. Perhaps it's the literary equivalent of standing at the bottom of a mountain: the view from the top may be spectacular, but I'm not sure I can been bothered with the climb.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Lynda X



Joined: 05 Apr 2007
Posts: 1446

PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, started this book before bed, and wow, it's NOT easy going, is it? I expected light, breezy letters, but boy, nobody would call them that, would they?

Anyway, how long did you have to read before you were hooked?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
Eliza



Joined: 21 Aug 2011
Posts: 1128

PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks so much, MrsFairfax and Jean Wan. It's definitely on my search-to-find-and-buy list now! Smile
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1665

PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lynda X wrote:
Okay, started this book before bed, and wow, it's NOT easy going, is it? I expected light, breezy letters, but boy, nobody would call them that, would they?

Anyway, how long did you have to read before you were hooked?


I wish I could answer this question other than by saying I don't remember. I know it was a bit confusing at first because the letters assume the reader knows the people and events described, and there's no 3rd party narrator to explain it all. Eventually I found my footing, and it wasn't too far into the book, but I couldn't tell you whether it was 50 pages or 75.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
MaryLamb



Joined: 09 May 2012
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 9:57 am    Post subject: Freedom and Nessescity Reply with quote

Big Spoilers in my commentary here.....
THere is something about this book...I skipped over entire swaths and I found the politics particularly annoying...communism and socialism and Hegel are just not my thing. I really did think the book failed in making me care about that aspect of it. It shouldn't matter if I don't care about the politcs (obscure and difficult for the modern reader to understand) ....they should matter to James who is involved in the Socialist uprisings of the period. And as a reader I should see why James would be willing to act in a treasonous manner and against the better interests of himself and his class. The best answer I could come up with was he had massive Daddy issues. The other thing that I found annoying was that I quickly got the impression early on that all the politics were just a feint to obscure what was really going on what with the secret pagan sect and the hunt and the hints of the occult...and I found THAT aspect of the book inetresting. Why oh why was there so much stuff about Hegel and workers' revolts and blah blah blah..I mean like dozens and dozens of pages?

(The whole part where they met Hegel....as my daughter would say was just "BORING!")

HOWEVER. The romance between Susan and James and the relationship between Richard and Kitty rocked. Great stuff here. And the book in spite of its dryness and digresssions is oddly compulsively readable. I loved Susan and JAmes was just fascinating.

My advice to anyone jumping in..skim where you need to and anytime anyone mentions Hegel just flip past it...concentrate on the interactions between the main characters. (The visit to Hegel, you can ignore the whole conversations with him, but don't skip the entire visit....see my first bit of advice.)

All in all, a flawed but worthy reading experience. I am not sorry I spent time on ths book...but for me, this book was far from an A...more of a C+ or B- grade.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
MaryLamb



Joined: 09 May 2012
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 9:57 am    Post subject: Freedom and Nessescity Reply with quote

Big Spoilers in my commentary here.....
THere is something about this book...I skipped over entire swaths and I found the politics particularly annoying...communism and socialism and Hegel are just not my thing. I really did think the book failed in making me care about that aspect of it. It shouldn't matter if I don't care about the politcs (obscure and difficult for the modern reader to understand) ....they should matter to James who is involved in the Socialist uprisings of the period. And as a reader I should see why James would be willing to act in a treasonous manner and against the better interests of himself and his class. The best answer I could come up with was he had massive Daddy issues. The other thing that I found annoying was that I quickly got the impression early on that all the politics were just a feint to obscure what was really going on what with the secret pagan sect and the hunt and the hints of the occult...and I found THAT aspect of the book inetresting. Why oh why was there so much stuff about Hegel and workers' revolts and blah blah blah..I mean like dozens and dozens of pages?

(The whole part where they met Hegel....as my daughter would say was just "BORING!")

HOWEVER. The romance between Susan and James and the relationship between Richard and Kitty rocked. Great stuff here. And the book in spite of its dryness and digresssions is oddly compulsively readable. I loved Susan and JAmes was just fascinating.

My advice to anyone jumping in..skim where you need to and anytime anyone mentions Hegel just flip past it...concentrate on the interactions between the main characters. (The visit to Hegel, you can ignore the whole conversations with him, but don't skip the entire visit....see my first bit of advice.)

All in all, a flawed but worthy reading experience. I am not sorry I spent time on ths book...but for me, this book was far from an A...more of a C+ or B- grade.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
mirole



Joined: 06 Aug 2010
Posts: 278
Location: Toronto, Ontario

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just finished reading this book and I am enchanted with it.

Five shining stars, or an A.

Of course, it's very long and is written in epistolary genre but the writing is amazing. If I had not known, I could have mistaken it for a 19th cent. novel.

Why, oh why present-day historical romance authors cannot write in such historically believable style?

My only tiny complaint is that I did not much care for the hero's politics but I fully understand that you cannot have everything.

I am amazed how the two authors managed to write such a brilliant book and so seamlessly. Does anybody know how they split the work: was it that Emma Bull wrote female letters and Steven Brust male ones?

As others on this thread, I was remimded of The Lymond hronicles by Dorothy Dunnett, mostly because of the hero who reminded me of Lymond a lot.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to everybody who is not afraid of not so light reading and historical fiction. And the romance is amazing. I know that both authors write in fantasy genre but in this book I personally have not found any fantasy elements.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
CD



Joined: 15 Sep 2007
Posts: 665
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MILD SPOILERS...


FREEDOM AND NECESSITY is one of my favourite books of all time. It also has one of the best romances that I've ever read in nearly 15 years of reading romances - the proposal scene in my mind ranks up there with the one in Sayers' GAUDY NIGHTS in terms of being both swooningly romantic and yet so true to the characters.

To defend the more philosophical elements: there are very few novels that I've read that really capture the profound energy and importance of ideas. And one thing that people forget about the 19th century is just how absolutely fundamental ideas were to the enormous social and political changes in that time - intellectual thinkers then were certainly not "academic" in our current understanding of that word. To me, FREEDOM AND NECESSITY captured that essence, or even Geist Wink, of the age.

As for Hegel, I had to study his Philosophy of Right at university and bloody hell, was it difficult. In my edition, the translator had to write a note explaining that Hegel is equally difficult to understand even in the original German (!). However, the ideas are fascinating once you get to grips with it and understand how it has influenced other thinkers - most obviously Marx/Engels. And you can see his influence even now when we talk about class and progress, and how we analyse and think about history and the process of political change.

BUT I agree that you don't need a thorough understanding of Hegel's dialectic to enjoy the novel. It goes into those ideas as the characters are of that age, well-educated and intensely political, with all that implies. But the heart of the novel are the four main characters, their relationships with each other, and their struggle to remain true to themselves and their beliefs. And as it is an epistolary novel, these are only really revealed gradually.

As a post script, I just want to mention that James is probably on my top ten romantic heroes: lethally manipulative and dangerous, but with a steel core of principle underlying all his actions. What is incredible is that Susan is his complete equal, and that's why their love story works so well. On the politics, it's worth mentioning that Marxism in the context of 19th century political reform/industrial relations is very different from how it was interpreted in the 20th century. And let's leave it at that!
_________________
"Socialism to help sick people - bad.
Socialism to help billionaires - good."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
msaggie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 688

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:22 am    Post subject: Freedom and Necessity Reply with quote

After sitting on my TBR pile for 3 years, I finally got round to reading Freedom and Necessity - what a gem of a book! And thanks to Jean Wan for the spot-on review. It is certainly not a light-hearted read, and from the onset, as others have noted, James reminded me very much of Francis Crawford from the Lymond Chronicles.

I would recommend reading the political bits and debates about Hegel, in order to understand James better. There is only one love scene and it was so romantic and beautifully written. Susan is such an admirable, strong and intelligent girl - a kindred spirit indeed for James. Having said that, was she being TSTL at the end? But knowing her, how could she not get involved? The last scene was lovely - and "the Pumpkin" is such a sweet endearment.... (I am not going to spoil it for you folks who haven't read it yet!) Highly recommended, and I regret the amount of years this book spent on my TBR pile unread!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    AAR Forum Index -> Let's Talk Romance Novels Forum All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group