Official Review: Rene' Bernard by John T. Mac Dougall

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: Rene' Bernard by John T. Mac Dougall

Post by kdstrack » 08 May 2018, 16:07

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Rene' Bernard" by John T. Mac Dougall.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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René Bernard, by John MacDougall, is a work of historical fiction. The author has woven an intricate tale about the life of a talented artist. In addition to the fictional story, the book features several of the author’s paintings.

This story takes place in 1864, in the small town of Etang de Thau, France. René was the third child of an oyster-cultivating family. Sons guaranteed that the family business would continue to prosper into the future. Sadly, after a debilitating sickness, the young René developed heart problems. As a result, he could not fulfill his father’s wishes of perpetuating the family tradition of oyster cultivation. His older sister, Marie, assumed responsibility for René and encouraged him to draw and paint. Under her tutelage, René began to paint. He attended the Academy of Roland Guertau where he developed his particular painting style. Upon completion of his studies, he moved to Paris where he continued his life’s work.

The book is told from the third person omniscient point of view. Readers learn about the thoughts and emotions of all the characters, including a lion. This helps to create a mood of lighthearted fantasy.

The writing style is interesting but unfocused. The author devotes more time to peripheral details than to developing the story line around René. We hear about Marie’s courtship and marriage to Philippe. Readers can peruse a complete register of the wedding gifts. Later, we savor the buffet served at the reception. Following this, we encounter a report of the architectural features of the newlywed’s new home. All these lengthy descriptions affect the pacing of the story.

This book needs more editing. Grammar and spelling errors appear frequently and slow down the reading of the text. The name of one of the characters changes, and ‘René’ is occasionally misspelled. The secondary characters are more developed than the story about René. I was hoping for more information about René’s development as an artist.

I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. The slow pacing and frequent errors impeded the reading flow. The author has a unique talent for writing in-depth descriptions. Had there been more descriptions about René, I would gladly raise the rating.

Readers who want to learn about the life and customs of France in the 19th century would enjoy this book. They would find the descriptions of oyster cultivation, family life, food, clothing, and weddings and other celebrations intriguing and informative.

******
Rene' Bernard
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Post by melissy370 » 10 May 2018, 06:45

What caught me in your review was how the author even have the lion's thoughts. How quirky! But, overly describing mundane items is annoying to me and it does slow down the pace. I would pass on it because if that. Thanks for your review.

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Post by kandscreeley » 10 May 2018, 07:24

I appreciate that the author wanted to make the story authentic by including specific details, but I think this goes a bit far. Including exactly what was on the wedding registry? I just think that would interrupt the story too much. Thanks for taking us through this one, but I think I'm going to pass.
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Post by kdstrack » 10 May 2018, 08:05

melissy370 wrote:
10 May 2018, 06:45
What caught me in your review was how the author even have the lion's thoughts. How quirky! But, overly describing mundane items is annoying to me and it does slow down the pace. I would pass on it because if that. Thanks for your review.
I was conflicted about this book. The descriptions are very well done. Unfortunately, many of them meander into territory that does not advance the story. And yes - the lion's thoughts are revealed!!

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Post by kdstrack » 10 May 2018, 08:06

kandscreeley wrote:
10 May 2018, 07:24
I appreciate that the author wanted to make the story authentic by including specific details, but I think this goes a bit far. Including exactly what was on the wedding registry? I just think that would interrupt the story too much. Thanks for taking us through this one, but I think I'm going to pass.
The wedding gifts got to me, too. The buffet was more fun!!

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Post by kfwilson6 » 10 May 2018, 08:28

The descriptions sound quite excessive. I really don't think any reader needs to know what a character has on her wedding registry. This sounded like it had great potential. I was quite interested by the description and the inclusion of the lion as a unique perspective. Too bad though. I don't want to have to wade through all of that mundane information. Nice review.

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Post by kdstrack » 10 May 2018, 09:08

kfwilson6 wrote:
10 May 2018, 08:28
The descriptions sound quite excessive. I really don't think any reader needs to know what a character has on her wedding registry. This sounded like it had great potential. I was quite interested by the description and the inclusion of the lion as a unique perspective. Too bad though. I don't want to have to wade through all of that mundane information. Nice review.
The lion was a high point of the book!

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Post by AmySmiles » 10 May 2018, 09:09

Wow that's a bit much. Plus I know they say to never judge a book by it's cover but this one doesn't appeal to me all around. Thanks for the review!
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Post by kdstrack » 10 May 2018, 09:13

AmySmiles wrote:
10 May 2018, 09:09
Wow that's a bit much. Plus I know they say to never judge a book by it's cover but this one doesn't appeal to me all around. Thanks for the review!
Thanks for reading.

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Post by Bianka Walter » 10 May 2018, 10:29

There is nothing that frustrates me more in a book than the characters names being misspelled. Especially when it's the main character. Grammatical errors I can get past, but that is just too sloppy.
Thanks for the great review!
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Post by kdstrack » 10 May 2018, 10:57

Bianka Walter wrote:
10 May 2018, 10:29
There is nothing that frustrates me more in a book than the characters names being misspelled. Especially when it's the main character. Grammatical errors I can get past, but that is just too sloppy.
Thanks for the great review!
Agreed!

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Post by SABRADLEY » 10 May 2018, 13:38

Slow stories are hard for me to enjoy as well, plus that many errors are frustrating! The concept is intriguing but unfortunately, not executed properly. Thanks for a great review!

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Post by kdstrack » 10 May 2018, 13:52

SABRADLEY wrote:
10 May 2018, 13:38
Slow stories are hard for me to enjoy as well, plus that many errors are frustrating! The concept is intriguing but unfortunately, not executed properly. Thanks for a great review!
Yes. The errors really take away from the story. When they start to pile up, interest starts to go down.

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Post by cpru68 » 10 May 2018, 15:00

This book sounds like it has so much potential, so it's too bad it lacks a powerful storyline and good grammar and punctuation. I like the setting and the time period you described here as well. I think I will pass on it for now as it seems that the author needs to do some work in making this a little more readable.
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Post by kdstrack » 10 May 2018, 15:52

cpru68 wrote:
10 May 2018, 15:00
This book sounds like it has so much potential, so it's too bad it lacks a powerful storyline and good grammar and punctuation. I like the setting and the time period you described here as well. I think I will pass on it for now as it seems that the author needs to do some work in making this a little more readable.
The potential is there and I was hopeful when I began the book. Hopefully, the author can fix it.

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