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Tag Archives: tw: abuse

I Capture the Castle

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i capture the castle

I loved this book but kind of in the way you love your grandmother, sometimes her ideas and the things she says really aren’t things that people say anymore, you’re a little embarrassed buy this but you can still see the value. This book was originally published in 1948 and reading you’re not the least bit surprised. The book is written as 17 year old Casandra’s journal, I’ve always been a fan for this style of writing. If you want me to love a book just make it sound like I’m reading someone’s journal. I wonder what that says about me? Oh well…

Abuse is handled as a very normal, even expected thing. “Oh father -do you think that’s what has been the matter with you – that you stopped getting violent? Has repressing your temper somehow repressed your talent?” (299) Her father, James Mortmain, wrote one successful novel and then the neighbor caught him brandishing a cake knife at his wife, even though its frequently stated that James wouldn’t have really hurt her. He was just upset, but the cake knife incident landed him three months in jail.  Once he is released from jail, James takes a 40 year lease on a crumbling castle in the country, moves his family there, and never writes again.  I’m not really sure his temper ever really does go away, just the physical abuse. James spends his days in the gatehouse and people are never to disturb him or question him in any way. If they try they are either glared at or spoken to very sharply, even if it’s his wife.

Casandra is an endearing protagonist. Even though their family is dirt poor Casandra never seems bitter about it, unlike her sister. Casandra always’ tries to make the best out of a situation even if she doesn’t completely know what, if anything, she should do.

A lot of reviews I read for this book all said it was written for 15 year old girls, which quite frankly kind of pissed me off. This is a coming of age story written from the perspective of a 17 year old girl, many coming of age stories with male protagonist are viewed as books everyone should read. The male reviewers frequently stated that they now had to do something to “prove” their masculinity, because of course reading a book with by a woman about a young woman is so completely threatening to your (from what I could tell) cis, heterosexual, masculinity. These reviews just reinforced that we have a society that views males as the default.

I really wasn’t in the mood to read a coming of age story, I read the first few pages and then decided that I would read it later. Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t get the characters out of my head, I still can’t. I ended up needing to finish the book, not wanting to. There were times when I kept wondering what kept drawing me back in and the best answer I can come up with is Dodie Smith is a brilliant writer. All of the characters were fleshed out and had a distinct voice. If you’re comfortable with your sexuality and want to read an incredibly well written and timeless book, grab this one.

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

Yes

Trigger Warning:

Abuse

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

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Kindness Goes Unpunished

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Kindness-Goes-Unpunished

 

 

Kindness Goes Unpunished by Craig Johnson is the third book in his Longmire series.  Walt accompanies Henry to Philadelphia, where Henry is giving a lecture Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  Walt’s reason’s for going aren’t entirely to support Henry and keep him company, Walt’s daughter Cady lives there.  The first few pages will make anyone who has ever had to deal with children laugh out loud. Walt is trying to read a fairy tale to a room of children and it’s not going well, “My daddy hides his medicine whenever anybody knocks on our door…He says he doesn’t have a prescription…He smokes his medicine.” (p. 3) Shortly after Walt and Henry arrive in Philadelphia Cady is attacked and barely survives.

A good portion of this book is spent on Walt and Henry’s love for Cady. You can feel their raw pain and confusion about what to do. And though this is a vital part of the story and could have easily be dragged out to the point of losing its potency, Johnson doesn’t do that.

The setting of this series is as important as the people, Wyoming almost feels like another character. This book doesn’t take place in Wyoming though, it takes place in Philadelphia. I wasn’t sure if Johnson would be able to hold onto the magic if he moved Walt to a city. I don’t know why I was worried. Walt’s not some country bumpkin, he’s traveled the world but I still didn’t expect him to do as well as he did. Walt being in city doesn’t change him, he still wears his cowboy hat and boots, so he stands out a bit more than back home.

We also are introduced to Moretti’s family. It’s easy to see where she gets her no nonsense attitude.

Spoiler time: It comes out in the book that Cady is in an abusive relationship and while I hate that she is in one, I love the way Johnson wrote it. Cady is described as a strong, independent, intelligent, and well-loved woman.  Normally when we are introduced to a woman in an abusive relationship these women are the exact opposite of Cady, and are so desperate for love that they’ll take whatever they can get even if it leaves bruises. Those women are only one part of victims of domestic violence and women like Cady are often seen as too smart to “get themselves” into a situation like that but that’s not reality. All women from all walks of life are venerable to an abusive relationship. Johnson doesn’t condemn Cady for this though we and by default, Walt, are directed to take our anger for this out on her abuser (which is where it belongs.)

 

Trigger Warnings:

Animal Death

Abuse

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

No

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

Death Without Company

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death without company

 

Death Without Company by Craig Johnson is the second book in the Longmire series.  This mystery starts when a local woman, Mari Baroja, dies at Durant Home for Assisted Living. This is also where Lucian, Walt’s mentor and former sheriff, lives. Lucian insists that Baroja’s death wasn’t the caused by old age and demands an investigation be opened. Walt, being the current sherif, is forced to figure out if Lucian is right or if Baroja died of natural causes. Walt is forced to unravel his mentor’s old secrets and those of Baroja, but don’t worry he still does it with his dry wit.

A nice addition to this story is Walt’s new dog, Dog. It’s a perfectly fitting name for Walt to give an animal; it fits better than Fido ever would. We were introduced to Dog in the first book, The Cold Dish¸ but Dog belonged to Vonnie Hayes. In the end of the last book after Vonnie committed suicide, Dog just shows up at Walt’s door and won’t leave.  They grieve for Vonnie together, in a way that no one else can.

The interplay between Walt and the other characters is what makes this series work.  A lone cop trying to solve a crime wouldn’t work in this world and thank god for that. Walt doesn’t get to pull stupid stunts and then we’re told how brave and wonderful he is.  When Walt does something stupid everyone that sees him tells how they feel about his recent antics. Henry, his best friend, and Moretti, one of his deputy’s, are fleshed out more but they keep their distinct voices.

If you have any problems with graphic abuse and sexual assault do not read this book. I repeat do not read this book. These acts are horrific and Johnson describes them in a way that makes you fully feel their weight.

I was nervous that the second book wouldn’t pull me in as strongly as the first one but I shouldn’t have.

Trigger Warnings:

Abuse

Sexual assault (graphic)

Rape (graphic)

Domestic Violence

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

No

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)