Saturday 23 November 2019

Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar

Finished November 16
Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas

I have to say that this book was a disappointing read. It was chosen for a book club kit on a whim as the main character's name was similar to mine and she was a librarian. Blurbs compared it to the works of Jasper Fforde, which I've enjoyed.
My book club read it, and we were universally disappointed. The main character, Shona was not likeable, and her backstory was missing. So we didn't understand how she came to time travel, nor why, nor what her role back in modern-day Scotland was. There was a lot of reference to the book The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie as a book that was anathema to Shona and Miss Blaine, but no real details of why.
Shona is on a mission in 19th-century Russia, but she doesn't know the details of the mission, nor does she know exactly what year it is. She may have been able to learn by listening more closely to the people she meets, but instead tries to use clues from various practices and inventions to narrow down the time period. There is a note at the end that says there are clues in the book that one can follow to find out the year, but frankly none of us in my book club could be bothered.
We didn't find the purported humour that was supposed to be present in the book either. Most of us were annoyed by the superior attitude that Shona showed, particularly as she didn't measure up in her actions. She seemed rather full of herself.
The book seems to indicate that it is the first of a series, but I'm not interested in reading more in this line.
On the positive side, it was a quick and easy read and we all finished the whole book. One of our members commented on the translation issues that Shona had when speaking Russian and using various phrases that didn't translate to mean what she wanted, and felt this was an insight into the nature of language and idioms.

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