Friday, September 23, 2011

Julie's Review: Forever Amber

Forever Amber Summary: Abandoned pregnant and penniless on the teeming streets of London, 16-year-old Amber St. Clare manages, by using her wits, beauty, and courage, to climb to the highest position a woman could achieve in Restoration England—that of favorite mistress of the Merry Monarch, Charles II. From whores and highwaymen to courtiers and noblemen, from events such as the Great Plague and the Fire of London to the intimate passions of ordinary—and extraordinary—men and women, Amber experiences it all. But throughout her trials and escapades, she remains, in her heart, true to the one man she really loves, the one man she can never have. Frequently compared to Gone with the Wind, Forever Amber is the other great historical romance, outselling every other American novel of the 1940s—despite being banned in Boston for its sheer sexiness. A book to read and reread, this edition brings back to print an unforgettable romance and a timeless masterpiece. ~amazon.com

Review: I have to admit if it wasn't for What's in a Name Challenge 4 and Alice I wouldn't have picked up this book, which would have been a great loss for me. Sure Forever Amberis almost 1,000 pages but it's a wonderful novel. Amber is certainly a character I will never forget. I loved her gumption and yet at times I wanted to shake her and yes, even slap her.

Amber is a young woman with great ambition. From the day she convinces Lord Carlton to take her to London from Marygreen to the last page of the novel, she never stops plotting and conniving. She will go to any lengths to attain wealth and status and boy does she ever.

At almost 1,000 pages long, we get a great amount of detail for 10 years of Amber's life. We see her through various lovers, 4 husbands and of course her tumultuous relationship with Lord Carlton. From the beginning you want to tell Amber that Lord Carlton is trouble and will never love her the way she will love him. Like all teenagers, she wouldn't have listened. Their relationship is toxic and you just know it won't end well.

This book was definitely Amber's story but within are multiple stories that are just as fascinating. King Charles II is an enigmatic character and the way he is described, I can see why women would swoon and throw themselves at him. It's not only his looks but his relaxed personality. He had quite a lot of mistresses but only one wife. The politics of the court are weaved into the story and make for an interesting sub-plot. Especially, given the fantastic ending of the book.

During the course of the book you will love and hate Amber. She reminds me a lot of Scarlett from Gone with the Wind, 75th Anniversary Edition. For most of the novel you do understand her and what drives her make her decisions. At times you feel for the men who are in her path and at other times you feel like they knew what they were in for.

Two of my favorite characters were Nan and Almsbury. They were always loyal and Almsbury never failed to try to wake Amber up when it came to Lord Carlton.

As always with historical fiction, I am fascinated by the fashions of the time period. I can't imagine wearing a corset and having to walk in those heavy dress. Yet, these ladies did it without much of a quiver.

I did have some issues with it: 1) It really was a bit long. I feel that it could have been cut by 100 pages or so and still told the same story. 2) I didn't feel that the rivalry between Lady Castlemaine and Amber came to a satisfactory conclusion.

Compared to Rebecca, I found that this novel wasn't dated. As far as historical fiction goes, it's a winner.

If you haven't thought about reading Forever Amber, I encourage you to read it. If you are put off by the mammoth size of it, don't be. I finished it in less than a week. I definitely think that it's a novel that shouldn't be missed by historical fiction fans.

Final Take: 4.75/5


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2 comments :

Alice September 25, 2011 at 11:22 PM  

I'm glad you enjoyed it. :-) It's a good one.

Michelle October 2, 2011 at 6:30 PM  

Oh, you definitely make me want to read this. And since I need one last book for the What's In a Name challenge, I am definitely tempted. Thanks for bringing this to my attention!

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