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REVIEW: Marike’s World by Catherine Rae

Dear Ms Rae,

031226199301mzzzzzzz.jpgYour book, “Marike’s World” sounded so interesting. Set during the turbulent years of the American Revolution, I had hoped to see it through the eyes of this young Dutch-American woman. Instead what I got was literally only Marike’s world and not much else.

The story reads more like a soap opera about Marike’s life. We see her as a young woman scrubbing the house, falling in love, getting in trouble, having a child, finally getting married then living with her awful mother-in-law, then the troubles with her sister-in-law. Okaaaaay.

Yes it’s a historical and we see how cold the winters were and how hard Dutch women worked but it could almost have been set in any time before the mid 19th century. Very little of the momentous events going on, the Revolution and the early setting up of a new nation, seem to affect these people and precious little mention is made beyond “we heard later that…” or “it was said that…” It was like watching someone skip stones – random mention was made of these events and with about that much depth. Philip fought for a year but all we hear is that he stood guard duty and hated it and that he was cold and hungry. They lived in NYC while it was controlled by the British and the most we get is that they didn’t bother Philip because they needed the supplies from his chandler’s shop to outfit their ships. I mean….come on. These people hardly seemed to notice what was going on around them. Most of what we get is Marike dealing with her in-laws and the awful man her sister-in-law took up with.

Marike’s a nice person but rather bland so …why did you choose to tell this story? What I gained from it is no real sense of the history, a little about the place and weather, some about the interaction of the native Indians with the Colonists but not much more. It was a fast read, it wasn’t a hardship to read it, but I don’t really feel a great impetus to recommend it to anyone. C

~Jayne

This book is out of print but still can be purchased either in e-form or on the secondary market.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

7 Comments

  1. Charlene
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 05:41:31

    I hate to say it…but for the average person at the time, Marike’s reactions to the war would be not just plausible but perhaps even the norm. John Sutherland called it “bicycle pumps and mattresses” history: the history of the common man who doesn’t know or care about what’s going on around him. (The name comes from the books Nineteen Eighty-Four and Moll Flanders, where common people don’t remember wars and great disasters but remember when their own mattress caught fire or when they broke a bicycle pump.)

    This is especially true with respect to the Revolutionary War. Americans have been spoon-fed the idea that every single solitary Colonial American was a 100% patriot except for a tiny minority of evil Tories standing in the way of freedom. In reality, each side had about the same number of supporters, but a plurality of people living in the colonies didn’t really care one way or the other as long as they weren’t too personally inconvenienced.

    It sounds as if the writer didn’t succeed in her attempt to convey this, though.

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  2. Jayne
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 06:45:56

    ‘but a plurality of people living in the colonies didn't really care one way or the other as long as they weren't too personally inconvenienced.’

    Oh absolutely Charlene. No question about that. In Marike’s little world, her husband had fought though and (I didn’t mention this in the review) her two brothers had been killed at the Battle of Saratoga. So she had a little stake in how this war turned out.

    My beef is why set a story in this period of history and this particular place and make so little use of what was going on? If all we’re really going to get is household drama, why not choose 1763 or 1807. I don’t have to have each and every one of these characters interacting with the famous/great people of the time, being secret spies or somehow influencing the outcome of these events but I would like a little more than what I got.

    Perhaps my complaints should be directed towards whoever wrote the blurb I read at Fictionwise which lead me to believe I’d be getting something different from what I did.

    ‘Just as Marike takes her first adult steps toward love and independence, her lover is called away to take up arms against the British. Soon she finds the blissful life she had envisioned for herself dashed. Circumstance demands not only that she be separated from the man she loves, but from her family as well. Yet in spite of the adversity she faces, Marike succeeds in using her wits and inner strength to find her way. Set against the backdrop of revolution era New York, Rae’s ninth novel is filled with the suspense, romance, and historical detail that bring Marike’s story and her world to vivid and thrilling life.’

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  3. jmc
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 09:50:43

    I love the cover art — was there any information about the designer on the copyright page?

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  4. Jayne
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 10:00:02

    No, sorry. Nothing is listed for the cover artist.

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  5. jmc
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 10:14:17

    Thanks for checking!

    ReplyReply

  6. vanessa jaye
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 10:21:09

    I see Charlene’s point, but I also understand Jane’s beef. Fiction is not real life. Perhaps if the story had been more of a character study or coming of age thing through hardships, etc, Jane might have been a bit less dissatisfied with the book. A series of mundane happenings against a bigger, but blurred & muted, backdrop of major events would be frustrating.

    But what I really meant to comment on was the beautiful artwork. It’s quite lovely.

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  7. heather (errantdreams)
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 12:09:56

    Sounds rather like someone wanted to write a historical without necessarily doing the truly in-depth research that can make historicals so fascinating.

    ReplyReply

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