Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Book Review - By Love or by Sea by Rachel Rager

My e-mail friend, Rachel Rager has led an intriguing life for one so young.  I have not asked, nor read, nor heard her actual age, but she must be young, with three small daughters, a great husband, and a performance degree in operatic singing.  That ought to be enough to keep anybody busy, yet her creative instincts prompted her into writing romance novels.  Moreover, it seems she just wrote.  No classes, no assignments, just writing for the joy of it.

I made a list of questions to interview Rachel, but the push of living, of going to Salt Lake with my youngest son for a book-signing (or do you call it a DVD-signing) for the opening day of sales in LDS bookstores of his documentary, "Baby Boomerang." Although it's a whole lot about Mark, it's a great tribute to my husband, and it's really fun to see yourself on a full theater screen.  Well, it would be had I only lost those pounds I was hoping to shed.

But, I digress.  It's one of my habits.  One that increases in intensity as time, that subtle thief of youth, seems to steal my concentration, as well.

Back to Rachel.  I enjoyed the way she jumped right in with an introduction to sweet Alice and a cantankerous, old crone, Betsy Winters.  I settled down for a good read.  Yet a few things that would never have bothered me years ago kept nagging.  The writing classes I've played around with keep stressing active verbs and demonstrating emotions and character traits rather than telling about them, like I'm doing right now.  Most bothersome to me was my lost feeling for time or place.  I couldn't tell if this were in some new fantasy world, or if on earth, which century of sailing ships.  At times it had the flavor of early New England seacoast, but with a castellated palace and a real live prince and princess it had to be somewhere else. I longed to discover where. 

Don't get me wrong.  I followed the plot and the characters involved with real interest.  I could hardly put the book down, took it to bed with me and read way past my sleeping time, determined to finish before I slept.  And I did.  

How to write a good review of a book that bothered me posed a real problem to me.  So I read it again.  Yes, I still noticed much the same things, but somehow it no longer bothered me.  Then, when I read on her blog or email how little training she had, I marveled that she could spin such a delightful tale.  Maybe some of the action came as a surprise, but so what?  I found a child-like "what if?" quality that delighted me.  

And I still hope to interview Rachel Rager one of these days.

But not today.  I'm too busy getting ready to fly to Seattle tomorrow to join with the northwestern ANWA members for a delightful retreat.  Half the day, today, I spent trying to be sure I understood my son's careful explanation of how I could use a flash drive to convert files from the Dell laptop my husband used to join my WIP on my iMac.  At least I hope to be able to compose on the laptop this week and still have it when I get back home.  I lost a couple a thousand words the first time I tried to use the Dell in St. Johns.

Again, sorry for the disjointed blog.  I can usually edit to credible continuity. Actually, in the middle of writing it, I pushed the keyboard back, lay my head on my folded arms atop my desk and napped for an hour or two.  The joy of being elderly is that I can do what comes naturally.  Second childhood is more delightful than the first.

Oh, and for any who are reading here for the first time, keep coming back. I'm still planning to, one of these times, doll this site up with some kind of decoration or other.  When I learn how to do it.  Meantime, enjoy the new-born baby look that I feel.

And don't forget.  Posting a comment still gets you another chance in the drawing for an autographed copy of "By Love or By Sea."

Happy reading.


  1. I think is sounds like as an amazing book. That just leaps of the page to the reader.

  2. I enjoyed your review, Anna. If you want to find out where By Love or By Sea takes place, visit my JDP NEWS blog on Friday. Rachel reveals its location in my interview with her. :-)

  3. I am even more intrigued after reading this review. I really think this is a book that I would love. Thanks!
    tbkress1 at msn dot com

  4. Ana,
    Good review. I also wondered what century and what location the novel was set. Other than that, I also enjoyed her book.