Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Mirror - Book Beginnings on Friday and The Friday 56

Have you ever read a book where you weren't sure if you liked the main character? That's what I felt about the protagonist (Agnes La Grange) in The Mirror by Lynn Freed. Agnes was hired as a housekeeper, but after the father of the family where she worked installed a full-length mirror in her bedroom and she became aware of her beauty, she took full advantage of her assets. I admired Agnes's honesty with herself, her determination, and her ambition, but she was selfish and just not likable. Of course, that also made her story very interesting! I will say that the book kept me entertained and fascinated. Part of that was due to the setting: South Africa in the 1920s-1940s. I also enjoyed the way the story was presented - as a memoir, complete with photographs. It seemed real although it was fiction.  

Here's the Book Beginning:
     I came into that house of sickness just after the Great War, as a girl of seventeen. They were there waiting for me, father and daughter, like a pair of birds, with their long noses and their great black eyes. The girl was a slip of a thing, no more than twelve, but she spoke up for the father in a loud, deep voice. Can you do this, Agnes? Have you ever done that? And the old man sat in his armchair with his watch chain and his penny spectacles, his pipe in his mouth and the little black moustache. Sometimes he said something to the girl in their own language, and then she would start up again. Agnes, do you know how to-

The Friday 56 (from Page 56 in my paperback):
     In the books I read, there was nothing but joy in the hearts of the mothers, except when they weren't real mothers at all, but only stepmothers. And then it was all rage and fury, and the girls cowering under the rod or eating poisoned apples. But here was I, the real mother, and I thought, She'll not always be a child, and I'll not always be young and beautiful. And who will I have then but her?

Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Length: 219 Pages (plus a reader's guide)
Amazon Link: The Mirror
Author's Website: Lynn Freed

Synopsis (from Amazon):
This is the story of Agnes La Grange, a beautiful young woman who emigrates as a housekeeper to South Africa in 1920. With a determination to make a future of her own and a love of men that does not leave her in desperate need of them, Agnes constructs a life beyond the conventions of colonial society. Written in her own fresh and unguarded voice, The Mirror is a fictional memoir, telling the story of the essential female, what she must do to survive, and how little the cost has changed over time.

FYI: A friend recently cleared out some books from her collection and gave a lot of them to me. This book was among them. It was copyrighted in 1997, and there were no grammatical or other errors in the book to distract me.


Anyone can participate in Book Beginnings on Friday and The Friday 56.
Click HERE to connect to other Book Beginnings posts (sponsored by Rose City Reads) 
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Twitter: @SandyNachlinger
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  1. I'm glad you enjoyed it - it sounds like a good one! It's always nice to get books from a friend. :)

    Check out my Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings).

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed this book, but I don't know if it would be my kind of thing.

  3. I always end up feeling a bit guilty when I find myself enjoying a character I would likely despise in real life! Sounds like an interesting read!

  4. Glad you enjoyed it, don't think it would be one for me though. :)

    Friday Memes

  5. What an intriguing book...I want to know why Agnes is the way she is, so I'm hoping her back story will be revealed. Thanks for sharing!

    Here's mine: “THE BLACK WIDOW”

    Congrats on the re-release of Bluebonnets for Elly! Gorgeous new cover, too.

  6. Sometimes, not loving the protagonist allows you to concentrate on others and enriches the read. I'm reading one that feels like non fiction but is a fiction and it's filled with photographs too. Called Young Man With Camera. Had to set it aside but will be getting back to it this weekend.

    Here's my 56 -

  7. I usually have trouble reading a book if I don't like the main character. I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I have a fairy tale this week - The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry. Happy reading!

  8. Love the description of the old man.

    Sounds like a good read.

    ENJOY, and have a good weekend.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Book Beginnings

  9. Hi,
    Sounds interesting. Have a great day!

  10. This sounds interesting and is a new to me book and author - thanks for sharing it. Here's My Friday Post

  11. Not identifying with the main character can make me put the book down. Glad you were able to complete it. After all, we're all imperfect beings. Writing about complex, fractured characters can make them very compelling.
    Kelly Narshall

  12. I do tend to like the unlikable protagonists, this sounds interesting!

  13. I have read books where I disliked the lead character for one reason or another, but honestly, that usually made the story better somehow. Especially if my mind was changed by the end of it.
    Happy weekend!

  14. This sounds pretty interesting! I'm not sure that I always need to love the protagonist! If the story is good and the character is well rounded and three dimensional, I'm happy.

  15. I love the 56... not likable, but honest...


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