Official Review: The Grace Emancipation

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
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Official Review: The Grace Emancipation

Post by kandscreeley » 06 Jan 2018, 16:16

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Grace Emancipation" by Charlotte Hawkins.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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The Grace Emancipation by Charlotte Hawkins is a book in the historical fiction genre. The author’s inspiration was Jane Eyre, and it is, in fact, the protagonist’s favorite book. Unlike Jane Eyre, though, this novel takes place in 1927.

Grace Langdon lives with her parents in Virginia Their biggest goal is to marry her off; then, she would be someone else's problem. Her desires are much more lofty. She wants independence; she wants more for herself than women at the time are supposed to want. Women are not meant to defy their parents. What will she do, then, when her aspirations are in direct conflict with her parents?

The first thing that struck me about this book was the historicity therein. It is clear that Ms. Hawkins has done her research about this time period. Several of the characters are based on historical figures. The technology is also on point. The refrigerator is just coming into widespread use, and cars have finally become affordable to the common man. These new technologies lead to one of my favorite scenes - Grace taking a bath for the first time. Just seeing the bathtub makes her wonder if she'll drown. The author's language is so picturesque that I was able to vividly imagine the scene. It brought a smile to my face.

As most books in this genre, this story is highly character driven. Grace starts out as an innocent rose who has seen her fair share of hardship. It was a pleasure to follow her transformation into a mature young lady. The secondary characters are just as realistic. Her brother tries to be forward thinking, but he doesn't always succeed. Alice, her brother's wife, is quick to point out his flaws which leads to some fun and feisty fights.

As in Jane Eyre, this novel is complete with its own Mr. Rochester. Henry can be a bit crotchety due to all that he has suffered in his life. Yet, the fun is in finding his redeeming qualities. The other pleasure is seeing if anyone else will see in him what the reader is allowed to see.

Romance is one of the main themes here. This is no purely physical liaison as found in so many books today, however. This is the difficult, heart wrenching, self-possessing partnership found in many gothic novels. It is sensual yet still suitable for younger audiences or those who do not like explicit content.

As for the pacing, it is a slow, leisurely journey leaving plenty of time for the author to develop relationships and settings. Make no mistake, though, that doesn't mean there aren't mysteries that keep the reader's interest. I found myself getting irritable when I was forced to set this book aside for a time to attend to those small necessities of life that tend to come up.

Sadly, there were a few errors that kept this book from being perfect. The most noteworthy was a message from the author in the middle of the book. This was obviously leftover from a point in time when Ms. Hawkins was posting chapters on a blog. However, it came up unexpectedly and the story continued just as quickly. There was nothing setting it apart from the rest of the story as it wasn't even at the end of a chapter. Luckily, this would be easy enough for the author to correct.

Overall, I give The Grace Emancipation a 3 out of 4 stars. I would love to give this a perfect score, but I can't, in good faith, with the errors mentioned above. Still, I highly recommend this novel for lovers of Brontë or Austen. The clean yet difficult romance found in the novels of that era marries perfectly with women's suffrage that was gaining momentum in the 20s.

******
The Grace Emancipation
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Post by Roggyrus » 07 Jan 2018, 09:25

I am in awe of the thoroughness of your review. There are even sidebars to parallel events happening within the timetable of the various episodes. I wonder if I can call the main lady character's plight as one of the sorts of a damsel-in-distress syndrome. I understand it was also during this period of the book when women are just about to emerge from their lesser status, that being married off is the best option open to them in the opinion of their parents. Thanks for this informative review.

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Post by kandscreeley » 07 Jan 2018, 09:53

Roggyrus wrote:
07 Jan 2018, 09:25
I am in awe of the thoroughness of your review. There are even sidebars to parallel events happening within the timetable of the various episodes. I wonder if I can call the main lady character's plight as one of the sorts of a damsel-in-distress syndrome. I understand it was also during this period of the book when women are just about to emerge from their lesser status, that being married off is the best option open to them in the opinion of their parents. Thanks for this informative review.
You are right. Grace is trying to move from a lesser status to asserting herself. Thanks for your comment.
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Post by Kekegi » 07 Jan 2018, 20:54

I think she wants more because she gets excited when she see's the water tab,it was her first time but she was ready to experiment and know more about it.l also think she is a brave person who is not affected by other people's opinion and expectations.

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Post by Lincolnshirelass » 08 Jan 2018, 04:29

An excellent review and I would like to read the book. I'm sometimes a bit wary of books so blatantly influenced by others, but this one sounds fine. The 20s are also a decade I am very interested in. I wonder if the writer was also paying homage to fiction of that era, eg Fitzgerald.
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Post by Mercy Bolo » 08 Jan 2018, 11:51

I'm a sicker for strong female protagonists. This is exactly the kind of book that I would like to read. I might learn a few things from Grace.
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Post by readerwhowrites » 08 Jan 2018, 12:12

Thank you for your review. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite novels, which can make me wary of retellings.

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Post by CommMayo » 08 Jan 2018, 13:26

I love your depiction of how the characters interact with new inventions of the time that we take for granted. Sounds like an interesting book for someone looking for a slow burn.

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Post by kislany » 09 Jan 2018, 09:15

I've recently realized that I love character-driven stories, and it seems this historical novel is such one as well. Great, thorough review.

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Post by inaramid » 10 Jan 2018, 09:20

Thanks for this review! I like that the book is character-driven, historically-accurate, and free of explicit scenes. However, your mention of errors puts a damper on everything. *sigh* I hope the errors get fixed in a reprint.

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Post by Kat Berg » 11 Jan 2018, 00:37

Great review! It makes me want to read this book and, in spite of the errors, it is one that I am reasonably sure I will enjoy. The downside is my TBR list is so long, I am not sure I will ever finish it!

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Post by bookowlie » 11 Jan 2018, 11:07

Another great review, plus I learned a new word - historicity. :) It's always frustrating when errors mar an otherwise wonderful book. I don't usually like slow-pacing books, although your description of the pacing as a "slow, leisurely journey" may make me rethink my preferences.
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Post by eBookreviewer » 13 Jan 2018, 13:27

Good review. Thank you. I was interested in reading this book.

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Post by kandscreeley » 14 Jan 2018, 16:28

Kekegi wrote:
07 Jan 2018, 20:54
I think she wants more because she gets excited when she see's the water tab,it was her first time but she was ready to experiment and know more about it.l also think she is a brave person who is not affected by other people's opinion and expectations.
She's very brave. I admire her character.
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Post by kandscreeley » 14 Jan 2018, 16:29

Lincolnshirelass wrote:
08 Jan 2018, 04:29
An excellent review and I would like to read the book. I'm sometimes a bit wary of books so blatantly influenced by others, but this one sounds fine. The 20s are also a decade I am very interested in. I wonder if the writer was also paying homage to fiction of that era, eg Fitzgerald.
I understand your skepticism. However, this one is influenced yet still all its own. It's a worthy read.
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