Reading Laura Kinsale’s “Lessons In French” Again

13 Jun

Trevelyan and Callie are childhood sweethearts with a taste for adventure, until the fateful day her father discovers them embracing in the carriage house and, in a furious frenzy, drives Trevelyan away in disgrace. Nine long, lonely years later, Trevelyan returns. Callie discovers that he can still make her blood race and fill her life with excitement, but he can’t give her the one thing she wants more than anything–himself.

For Trevelyan, Callie is a spark of light in a world of darkness and deceit. Before he can bear to say his last goodbyes, he’s determined to sweep her into one last, fateful adventure, just for the two of them.

About one month ago, I read Laura Kinsale’s Lessons in French. A few days ago, someone talked about this novel and all I could come up with to say about it was something like “I liked it” but nothing more specific… So this morning, I sat down to read this novel again.

I’m just a few chapters in, but here are a few things I liked in the first chapter (I guess they all come down to Kinsale showing not telling):

  • Callie fantasizing about a different life for herself and adventures. It’s a habit of her, and her fantasies throughout the novel are quite telling, IMO.
  • Callie’s reaction to Trev : she admires his “handsomely clad” shoulder!
  • Trev’s reaction to being told that Callie was jilted three times: First he seems slow to comprehend what Callie is telling him. Callie explains some more and then changes the subject. He stares at her for a moment before he responds. After he answered her, there’s a pause and then he comes back to what made him seem so slow: Callie being jilted.
  • I like these kind of exchanges between Trev and his mother:

    She smiled and spoke to him in English. “You enjoyed the assemble?”
    “Of course! I engaged myself to two beautiful young ladies and had to leave by the back window. I’ve fled to you for aid. Will you conceal me in your wardrobe?”
    She gave a faint husky laugh. “Let the girls meet…on the field of honor,” she said in a weak voice. “Nothing to trouble about.”
    “But their mothers might pursue me!”
    “Alors, I’ll dispatch their mothers myself, by poison.”
    He squeezed her hand. “I see now where I come by my unsteady nature.” (16)

    They turn more serious at a bit later they talk about Callie and his mother says

    “Ah, she is too good.”
    “Indeed she is an angel. If she can produce a supper, I shall marry her out of hand.”
    “I’m certain that she can.” His mother breathed deeply. “But…three engagements in one evening, my love?” (17)

    To me, these kind of exchanges show there is a strong connection between Trev and his mother. They get each other. Trev also shares these kind of exchanges with Callie.

So the story might seem a bit slow in the beginning perhaps (= not all that much happens) but for the above reasons I like the writing a lot and I’m in.

Oh, and in chapter two I learned something new: arrowroot custard. I didn’t know there existed something like that (neither in English nor German, I might add), so I googled it. Found a recipe and now I know more.

It’s quite astonishing what I can learn when I pay a bit of attention while reading, it seems.

*cough*

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4 Responses to “Reading Laura Kinsale’s “Lessons In French” Again”

  1. nath Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 3:51 am #

    I’m glad you enjoyed the book. Me, I have difficulty with Laura Kinsale’s writing style… it’s so unfortunate, because the stories sound so good 😦

  2. Taja Friday, June 18, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

    nath – I don’t like when that happens. You think, “Oh, this story sounds interesting” and then there’s just something about the writing that keeps you from enjoying the story. Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series comes to mind in my case.

  3. Christine Sunday, July 4, 2010 at 2:31 am #

    Did you finish the book? I picked it up maybe back in April but put it down. It wasn’t bad or anything, and I liked what I read so far, but it just didn’t pull me in. I do want to try it again sometime, and hopefully fall into it.

  4. Taja Monday, July 5, 2010 at 9:35 am #

    Christine – it was a re-read and no, I didn’t finish it this time. I just wanted to get a feel for the book again and an idea why I’d liked it the first time. *g*

    I understand what you mean. Well, not with this book 😀 , but there are books you like and see nothing “wrong” with and despite that, they fail to pull you in. 😦 Nothing wrong with that and sometimes trying it later works.

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