Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Finished: "A Fatal Waltz" by Tasha Alexander

Finished: A Fatal Waltz by Tasha Alexander, 2008, 9780061174223.

Chick book. Not really my style. I bought Fatal for the Library after hearing Alexander speak last year. She had some neat things to say about her stories and main character. I ordered her fourth book, Tears of Pearl, after this one checked out well. I read this because 1- I figured I should try out a different type of book. 2 - Alexander is speaking in Muskego this year too so I figured I'd ask her to talk on camera.

1891, England. Emily is engaged to Colin. Colin is a spy/intelligence officer for the British. While they are at a weekend party in the country their host, Lord Fortescue, is murdered. Emily's friend Robert is arrested as the suspect. Fortescue and Robert were both in government and Emily finds out possible a connection between the murder and Austrian intrigue.

Emily travels to Austria to try and clear Robert. Colin turns up there. Emily is nervous and worried about Robert's (EDIT: dang it, Colin's) former lover Kristiana von Lange. Kristiana is a spy for the Austrian crown. Emily verbally spars with Kristiana. Emily worries about Colin. Emily meets the Empress. Emily meets local artists. Emily is threatened by British spy. Emily meets anarchists. "Anarchists do not frolic." Latin and Greek. Emily and Colin lip wrestle. Infidelity among the rich. Matchmaking. Emily discovers the true murderer.

I had trouble keeping the characters straight but that is not uncommon. The romance angles were not for me.

I have not heard back from Alexander so I assume she is uninterested in an interview. But, I was thinking about interview questions while reading and I wrote down some observations. Here they are:

1 - You learn right off the bat - first two pages - that Emily is very disliked by several of her society peers and the some of the aristocracy in Limey Land.
2 - The importance of money, estates and image among the upper class.
3 - One character seems to be whoring his wife to a powerful politician so he can increase his own career.
4 - Starts out with a popular setting in romances - the weekend party at a manor house but then moves to Vienna.
5 - No pre-marital sex between Emily and Colin. Why? Infidelity, whore houses, mistresses and other things are all around. Emily and Colin are both older and experienced - why not have them hook-up? Not doing so as a way to keep the romance aspects going?
6 - The devastating effects of scandal on the upper class. Especially sexual misadventure.
7 - Use of historical figures as characters. Alexander uses the Empress of Austria and Gustav Klimt. Are these people of personal interest that you wanted to write about or did they fit into the time and place with Emily? Any worries over historical accuracy?
8 - I don't recall any physical description of Emily.
9 - Clothes descriptions and fabric details.
10 - Bad Guy Harrison's threats felt hollow. Why would he not just shoot her or strangle her in an alley? Why would Colin not just kill him off or undermine him in some way (turn him in to the Austrians for something)?

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