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Witty Little Knitter

I read fantasy, crime, true crime, lgbt-romance and books written by my favourite comedians. List not necessarily complete.
Sometimes I write for Bibliodaze

Currently reading

Stephen and Matilda
Jim Bradbury
Progress: 52/262 pages
Krieg und Frieden
Michael Grusemann, Leo Tolstoy
Progress: 579/1024 pages
Irish Winter - John Simpson This book annoys me in so many ways let me tell you about all of them. First there is a terrible black and white morality. All English are murdering, psychopathic bastards who eat children and all IRA-men are noble freedom-fighters. I don't expect a complex scale of greyness in a historical romance but would it have hurt to have one British soldier with some doubts on what they are doing or an IRA-member who seems to enjoy killing a bit too much? There's more moral ambiguity in a Wolfe Tones-album...The writing-style is just...weirdly inconsistent. It starts with a few chapters of deep-purple prose, like really really purple, some really strange phrases (“Ian was never a supporter of violence. He tended to see the beauty in all living things and war was the antithesis of that outlook.”) and people talking in completely unnatural sounding ways, then jumps to a more neutral writing-style and everybody says “Aye me wee lad” A LOT and it keeps going back and forth between those two extremes, giving us such beautiful sentences like “The gift of your virginity should be as pure and as beautiful as the heather in our Irish hills and not sullied by British blood.”I might have broken down laughing after reading that.The way the both MCs treat their homosexuality also shows a definite lack of imagination on the author's part. Devlin (oh what a beautiful Irish name) has no problem accepting it at all and Ian (another beautiful totally-not-anglicised name) just mentions that he had noticed some feelings for boys, but at school the pupils bullied others for 'seeming gay' so he just ignored these feelings.We did mention that this book is set in Ireland in 1920, right? Because you know, 'OMG people at school will hate me if I come out' is very much the reaction I expect from a teenager living in this day and age. From somebody who lives in a time where homosexuality is illegal and in a country where the church, who preaches that it's a sin and you will burn in hell for it, is still a massive influence I expect more a reaction along the lines of 'AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!'Generally they never seem to care about what could happen if other people find out about them, there's just one point where they actually joke about what the local priest might say about that (now that's a very liberal education in rural Ireland: the priest is just a figure of ridicule) and who the others might react if they learned about it. Their comment is something along the lines of “Well then we'd see how much of a brotherhood the IRA really is.' The IRA. Known for their incomparable sense of humour and open-mindedness.(Because sometimes one facepalm isn't enough to convey the stupidity)We also get a healthy dose of misogyny. There are only two female characters in the book: the mothers of the two main characters. Devlin's mother prostitutes herself and so does he. But when he does it it's OK, when his mother does it it's disgusting. No, really, that are his thoughts at one point in the book. Why? Oh well, for reasons.Ian's mother is admittedly just really badly written. Nobody could actually be that stupid. At the beginning Ian tells her that he has joined the IRA, something she disapproves of, so she tells him that it's wrong. And he tells her he did it anyway, and then she tells him that it was wrong and he tells her that it's done now and storms out...and overall this conversation has all the excitement of a parent-child conflict in a soap-opera about staying out late.Then, during the book, Ian takes part in several IRA-operations, for which he sneaks out late at night. A couple of times he get caught by his mother when he comes back home and makes up some ridiculous excuse. Every time we get something along the lines of 'He saw that his mother knew he was lying but she had no idea what he had actually done and she didn't ask.'She bloody knows that he's in the IRA. What does she think do they do there? Knitting for Irish freedom?Now, I know that this isn't some high-brow historical novel but just a cheese little romance and perhaps just the romance-part is good? see, that would require that I could feel something for any of the characters involved...or just feel anything at any point of the novel, apart from boredom and annoyance. That would require that I learned about the character's feelings on more than just a superficial level but we never do that.In the opening chapter Ian witnesses how a young man and his mother are shoot by British soldiers just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now how can that NOT be turned in a moving scene? Right, by just describing what's happening and throw in something along the lines of 'And Ian was really shocked by that.' No description of the actual horror you would feel if something like this actually happened in front of your eyes. No terror that they might continue shooting and hit you. Just a neutral account of the event. It was so bad that in the next chapter when Ian says that this is what made him want to join the IRA, my first reaction was 'Duh. Just that? That's a lame excuse.' before I realized that it really wasn't but it was simply written in a way that it had zero emotional impact on me, so I was surprised when it had some on the character.It continues this way. Ian and Devlin take part in more IRA-operations and they all get described just in a straightforward 'And they waited for the soldiers to arrive and they shot them and left'-way, there's almost no description of the impatience while waiting, the chaos during the shooting...anything.The absolute high-point of this is when they are in the football-stadium during Bloody Sunday (the other one, where soldiers shot at the crow during a Gaelic Football-match). They arrive in the stadium...and then the narrative tells us 'Little did they know that right now Black and Tans were surrounding the stadium' and continues with a description of it taken out from a history-textbook...and then Ian, Devlin and Shaun (cardboard-cutout IRA-leader) are at the train-station and agree that this was horrible and that they need to kill more British soldiers.………That all takes about one page. Other authors could probably have written a whole book just centring on that...or at least have a chapter full of chaos and confusion and 'Oh my God where are the others and what is happening here?'The developing relationship between the two is described with the same emotional depth. They meet. They like each other. Devlin moves in with Ian because of an argument with his mother. They have sex. They still like each other. They have more sex...Halfway through the book Devlin jokes 'We should really stay together, I mean we're both gay, I quite like you and the sex is really great.' Now that is meant as a joke...but as reader I couldn't really give any other reasons because we weren't shown more. Towards the end Ian (or was it Devlin? Honestly it was hard to tell them apart) gives a long 'Oh I love you and everytime you leave the house I worry about you'-speech...why not show that to us? Why not have Ian, impatiently pacing around at home, trying to ignore all the dark thoughts about everything that could happen to Devlin out there?I could still go on...about the fact that both main characters are only-childs, which would have been highly unlikely, about the fact that Ian and Sean cycle from Cork to Limerick (over 100 km) and back in an afternoon, about all the stupid things they say and do and that should really have gotten them killed...but I still have other things to do for the rest of this day, so I'll just stop here.