Monday, May 10, 2010

Summit Avenue by Mary Sharratt

I loved Daughter's of the Witching Hill so much that I had to read another book by Mary Sharratt.  Kathrin Albrecht's childhood in Germany at the turn of the century was so relentlessly grim that she endures the hardships of her new life in America--sewing flour bags for pennies, sharing a bed at a boarding house--without complaint. Eventually, she takes night classes in English. She begins to haunt second-hand book shops, and here catches the eye of a professor's widow, Violet Waverly, who turns out to be both the fairy godmother and the prince of this complex and subtle Cinderella tale. Mary Sharratt's debut has almost none of the typical faults of first novels. Her language is lush but controlled, her narrative carefully paced. Nothing is rushed or condensed. Recognizing the young woman's intelligence, and intrigued by her thirst for knowledge, Violet hires Kathrin for a few months' work translating and typing the German fairy tales that her dead husband had collected. She also offers her a room in her mansion on Summit Avenue. Kathrin enters the magical world of the fairy tales and of her beautiful new surroundings with the same breathless sense of surrender. As she works, the tales become part of her:   Well, even though this book started off promising, it lost me.  I found I was forcing myself to go back to this book rather than wanting to pick it up.  A sure sign for me of when it is time to move on to a book that captures me.

Rating: 1 Do not recommend