Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tennyson by Lesley M.M. Blume

"Strange things had happened at Innisfree before."

The CIP summary is hidden to prevent possible spoilers. If you'd like to read this brief summary, just highlight it using your cursor and it will magically appear in the following lines.

LC CIP Summary: After their mother abandons them during the Great Depression, eleven-year-old Tennyson Fontaine and her little sister Hattie are sent to live with their eccentric Aunt Henrietta in a decaying plantation house outside of New Orleans.

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; 228 pages (Alternate spellings of this award include: Newberry, Newbury, & Newbary)


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the mood created in this novel. The sadness of the girls, their aunt, and of the plantation mansion itself -- which is almost another living breathing character in the story -- is very believable. I enjoyed the selection of songs and Alfred, Lord Tennyson poems which were used throughout to both anchor and move the story along.

Kris said...

This book was SO haunting, and SO sad. I didn't want to put it down, I was so intrigued by the house and its history. The ending seemed a little abrupt, though.

Clare said...

I agree with Kris in the sense that it did end rather abruptly. I felt like things were wrapped up too quickly! At first I really disliked the personification of the house, but it grew on me as the stories started to roll out of it and things became a little clearer. I did really enjoyed Tennyson's bold personality as she approached such an odd and unfortunate situation.

Jen said...

I wasn't very interested in picking up this book-- I had forgotten what I read about it on this blog when I placed it on hold, and the title and cover did nothing for me. There was no dust jacket to draw me in further. It waited on my nightstand for quite some time. Was it Gothic something-or-other? A ghost story? Meh.

It didn't take too much reading, however, to be thoroughly enveloped by the eerie mood in this novel. I loved the bohemian unschooling feel of Inisfree-- which was almost immediately dashed by tragedy.

Tennyson's dreams and the almost visceral feel of Aigredoux were the real charm of the novel for me, though. The bitter hopelessness of the situation came through in her calmness, her oldness. The sense of history felt totally palpable.

Anonymous said...

I came across this "Reading Zone" blog that wrote something very smart about the author's choice of ending:

"This is a novel that intelligent readers will love, because Blume does not condescend or speak down to her readers. In many ways, Tennyson reminded me of Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting. Both books treat children as intelligent human beings by handling realistic situations and stories. Yet they both embrace the magical realism that is all too often missing in children’s fiction. Both books also end rather abruptly, as life often does. Unlike Babbitt, Blume chose to chop her final two chapters from the original manuscript, which sound as if they would have served the same purpose as Babbitt’s Epilogue in the sense that it would have let the reader know exactly what happened to each character farther in the future. I applaud Blume’s bravery in removing the chapters and letting the reader decide for themselves."

I agree wholeheartedly!! Except for the fact that I got so caught up in Tennyson's world that I wasn't ready to go back to my own just yet.

Miss Marra said...

It was disconcerting for me to hop from the moody deep south to New York with Prentiss' character. Those parts just left me a little flat (at times they seemed like an odd sort of comic-relief). But the story, and the use of place was especially compelling.

Anonymous said...

For me, this was a good read. I liked the view of how the times had changed for the plantation house, and the theme about history repeating itself.

Unlike my respected colleague, Marra, I especially enjoyed the character Prentiss (who, in my brain, looked just like Charles Emerson Wichester III from M*A*S*H)and the contrast developed between his life in NYC and Tennyson's life in the deep south. He's glazed pork chops and velvet lined capes, she's grits & gravy and ill-fitting, worn-out hand-me-downs.

They might even represent the difference between the life Sadie wants, and the life Sadie has.

I was pleased when Mr. Prentiss, after all he had been through to find Tennyson, decided to support the art and not the commercialism of his business.

Miss Marra said...

It was Jacquie's description of Prentiss as Winchester that really sold me on her ideas :) Thinking about it again, maybe I just thought Aigredoux was so cool, that I didn't want to leave!

Anonymous said...

I just sort of got told to learn about Alfred Tennyson, and found your page. Sorry! But as far as i know, apparantly its a good book!