Showing posts with label Jasper Fforde. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jasper Fforde. Show all posts

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

Title: The Last Dragonslayer
Author: Jasper Fforde
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Rating: WARTY!

The Last Dragonslayer is ably read by Elizabeth Jasicki. I have to add a word in here (nothing to do with the reader) about the gratuitous use of music in audio books. If I want a music CD, I'll get one. If I get a novel on CD, I want the novel and no background music which is distracting at best and really annoying at worst. I can see the point of having something - musical or otherwise, to indicate the start and the end of each disk as long (as we don't get carried away with it). That's particularly useful when driving, but to have random sounds playing at random points throughout the audio sucks. Big time.

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Jasper Fforde novels. I read Shades of Grey and loved that one, and I listened to One of Our Thursdays is Missing and loved that, but I didn't like the next two of the Thursday Next series (volumes 1 & 2) that I listened to subsequently. The narrator on One of Our Thursdays is Missing (Emily Gray) was completely captivating. I fell in love with her!

This novel is very much like the Thursday next series - written in the same way with the same off-kilter take on life (I loved the newspaper, The Daily Eyestrain!), but the problem he's going to run into here, I think, is the problem which Fforde had with the Thursday Next novels: it's really hard to sustain truly goofy writing without running into boring at one end of the scale from tiresome repetitiveness, and into incomprehensibility at the other end of the scale as you try to stretch the wacky humor ever further and into new realms. I've encountered this self-same problem in two volumes I've been working on (and off!).

The basic premise is that in contemporary Britain (in a parallel universe), the United Kingdom is actually the Un-united Kingdoms. This story is set in the Kingdom of Hereford, where magic is a fading power, reduced to fixing plumbing and delivering pizza, whereas once, long ago, it used to be truly magical. Jennifer Strange is a fifteen year old who is nominally in charge of Kazam, a magic supply agency which supplies magicians of various stripes to help people out. Their current job is rewiring a house.

Jennifer is in charge because The Great Zambini, the owner, has literally disappeared. It comes as no surprise that Strange is the last dragonslayer, handed the mantle by the previous and very aged dragonslayer. But apart from the Quark beast which was truly hilarious (to me anyway!) and a brilliant invention, the rest of the novel was so-so at best and gone to weeds at worst. When I went to library today to pick up a book, I decided I'd had enough of this audio CD, and switched it out for Around the World in 80 Days which proved itself to be much more entertaining in only the first four tracks of the first disk, so I'm happy with that - but not with this novel. It had great potential, but it turned out to be warty!

To be continued!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde

Title: The Well of Lost Plots
Author: Jasper Fforde
Publisher: High Bridge
Rating: WARTY!

I was thrilled to see that this audio novel was read by Elizabeth Sastre, as was the previous volume, but after the first disk, even Sastre's charming voice and thoroughly British inflection couldn't save this. Pretty much the entire first disk was boring!

Thursday has been moved into an unpublished work of fiction titled Caversham Heights wherein she lives on an old Sunderland Flying Boat. Jurisfiction's plan is to hide her away until she has her baby. Landon still hasn't been actualized, so she's on her own, working in the novel as an assistant to detective Jack Sprat. She shares the houseboat with two generic characters which she names Ib and Ob, and with her grandmother who comes to stay with her during her quite literal confinement. There are some mildly entertaining parts where she tries to teach Ib and Ob - bland characters being stockpiled for when they're needed in a new novel, - the rudiments of writing (irony, subtext, sarcasm, etc.) but other than that it's not interesting at all.

I had really hoped that disk two would pick things up, but it didn't. Disk two was as bad as disk one: some titters here and there, but nothing overtly funny and certainly nothing interesting. It's like Fforde is simply parading every rough idea he had for an amusing chapter in this volume, without actually making it amusing, and with no regard to tying any of this into an over-arching plot. Fforde now has the space of one more disk in which to impress me! yes, it's ultimatum time! Life is far too short to waste even on the average, let alone on the poor, so if disk three fails, then the series does, because this is the last of Fforde's novels I plan on following until and unless he brings out a sequel to Shades of Grey.

Well I made it to disk 4 and found that I was bored out of my gourd. I skipped track after track because it was uninteresting and decided that was it for this warty novel.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

Title: Lost in a Good Book
Author: Jasper Fforde
Publisher: High Bridge
Rating: worthy

This audio novel is read by Elizabeth Sastre.

After a sad disappointment in the first novel in this series, The Eyre Affair, I'm hoping for a lot better in volume 2. Failing that, I'll ditch this series and move on to something else. I have to say I was surprised by High Bridge, the audio publishers of the copy I got from the library. When I went to their website to reference this novel, I could find neither the title nor the author anywhere on their site! That's why Barnes & Noble gets the book link.

I was really slow in getting up to speed on this one because of Thanksgiving, but I picked up the pace today and didn't regret it. This one is much better than The Eyre Affair, at least through the first half-dozen chapters. It's much more interesting and a lot funnier, particularly the Hispano-Suiza episode. Of course it doesn't hurt at all that Elizabeth Sastre (not to be confused with Doctor Elizabeth Sastre of the Vanderbilt university medical school) is intelligent, playful, sly, sexy, and a little bit giggly. I love this representation of Thursday.

There's apparently a plot afoot in this novel to assassinate Thursday which, if true, cannot be allowed to succeed under any circumstances! Even if I quit reading the series I would feel saddened if she were not out there somewhere, even if it's just fictionally! The plot comes to a head when the Goliath corporation removes her husband Landon from time, leaving her pregnant in a time when the father of her child died at the age of two! Their plan is to have her free Jack Schitt from Poe's The Raven where she evidently imprisoned him at the end of the last novel, but she has no means to travel into fiction any more, so what's a girl to do?

Fforde continues to exhibit the occasional problem with the English language. For example, at several points, he writes of the Goliath corporation starting his sentence with "Goliath are..." whereas it should be "Goliath is…" At one point (I think in chapter eight) he writes that some people "...leaned forward imperceptibly..." - and this in a novel which is narrated in first person PoV. If the movement was imperceptible, how did the narrator detect it?!

Fforde also seems not to quite grasp a crucial principle of the geometric theory of gravitation, published by Albert Einstein in 1916. People who are undergoing acceleration perceive the effect as gravity. An acceleration of 1G will be indistinguishable from Earth's gravity to those experiencing it. Therefore passengers availing themselves of Fforde's gravity drop transportation system - even if it could be built through Earth's core without melting, and without killing travelers from radiation - would not experience free-fall because of the acceleration!

Finally it looks like I'm getting to the very reason I decided to start this series in the first place! Thursday gets an "in" to the magic library! I was not at all impressed by the disaster of the Cheshite Cat, but I did like Mrs Haversham and the Red Queen - particularly the enigmatic Red Queen, and the whole episode with Spike on the Zombie hunt, which Thursday volunteers for so she can pay her rent with the overtime-rate cash was hilarious.

And this was too much! I went to open the file for this review and this is what I found in the folder listing:

Thursday on Thursday! How sweet is that? Must be a good omen!

This one managed to hold my attention and amuse me. It's still not as good as One of Our Thursdays is Missing but it is a worthy read.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Title: The Eyre Affair
Author: Jasper Fforde
Publisher: Audible
Rating: WARTY!

This audio novel was very ably narrated by Susan Duerden.

I've already reviewed Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey and One of Our Thursdays is Missing, both of which I found hilarious.

Unfortunately, this novel fell far short of those two; after I'd listened to the first disk I was not impressed at all. By the end of the first disk in One of Our Thursdays is Missing I was already searching the car for my ass, which I'd laughed off. I couldn't find it, so I had to laugh that off, too. Did I make a big mistake in starting the Thursday next series not at the beginning? Is disappointment and regret going to haunt me over this? Only Time Will Tell, and the next edition of that magazine isn't due for a while....

Disk 2 was better, but it still wasn't funny; it reads (listens?) just like a regular thriller. I can now understand why people who read the series from the start suddenly took a dislike to One of Our Thursdays is Missing, because it was really quite a departure from the format of this, the first novel in the series. I think If I'd started this series where it ought to be started, with this volume, I might not have even ventured far enough to read that latter novel, having seen what the earlier ones were like, so I'm glad I read that one out of order! By the time I reached disk 6 (60% in, in ebook terms, around page 210 in real book terms) I was really beginning to tire of this. Yes, it had some lol moments, but in general it was a bit tedious, with nothing very funny happening in general, and nothing really engrossing going on at all. Thursday Next is merely going through the motions, and it was neither a thriller nor a mystery at that point.

In this novel, Thursday (the real world Thursday, that is) is up against Acheron Hades, an arch villain who seems to be able to change his physical appearance at will and at whim, and who is evidently immune to bullets - unlike Thursday who ends up in hospital, shot twice by Hades. Her life was saved by a copy of Jane Eyre which was in her "breast pocket" and which stopped the bullet. This is particularly meaningful to Thursday, because she recalls, as a child, visiting the British Library where the original handwritten copy of Jane Eyre resides, and she ends up in the novel briefly. It was her very presence which caused Rochester's horse to shy when he first meets Eyre! It's also an important point because later, Thursday ventures into Eyre (which in her world does not end like it does in ours) and changes things around a bit so it has the familiar ending. It was that which was championed in the blurb and it was for that reason that I wanted to read it. Unfortunately, the blurb once again lied! More anon.

After Thursday leaves hospital, having recovered somewhat from her, er, shooting pains, two bizarre incidents occur. In the first, she sees her older self in a car, and that other self warns her that Hades is still alive (contrary to police reports that he died in a car accident) and that she should take a job in Swindon, even though it's something of a demotion for her. She resolves to take this advice. She also learns that a man helped save her life after she was shot, and she has reason to believe that this man was Rochester from Eyre. No, not from Eire, from Eyre.... So yes, not at all funny, but really interesting!

As I continued to listen in on Next's adventures, I did grow very fond of Susan Duerden's reading, but even that endearing and warming voice wasn't enough to keep my interest in this novel. While there were some very good bits, those were few and far between, and that far between was filled with tedious run-of-the-mill story-telling which seemed to be going nowhere, and which held no interest for me. As I mentioned, I was looking for the trip to Eyre (not Eire! I've already been to Eire), which refused to turn up!

The most LoL moment, I have to say, was on page 82 where Thursday is accosted at Swindon airport(!) by two students who are handing out anti-Crimea war propaganda. Thursday speaks first:

"I'm not here with the colonel. It was a coincidence."
"I don't believe in coincidences"
"Neither do I. That's a coincidence, isn't it?"

But you have to hear it from Duerden, I think, to really feel it in your funny bone like I did! Contrastingly, there is some really bad writing cropping up, such as, in the chapter header quotation for chapter 20. I routinely skip those things in novels having no interest whatsoever in chapter header quotations, but Duerden reads them, so I was forced to listen. In the real book, Fforde writes, "There are a superabundance of these in the English language." and this is what Duerden read, and I have to say that it's a shameful display of poor grammar from a professional writer.

So as I mentioned, at about 60% in I was tiring of it, and at 70% in, with no hint of Next's supposed visit to Eyre precipitating any time soon, I called it. The novel quite simply was not good enough for me to continue to wait for something to which I'd been looking forward since chapter one, and which the book blurb had quite puffed-up into a major part of the novel. It evidently was not. Would it happen in the next paragraph, or would it not come until the last chapter? The suspense was boring the pants off me (not a good thing to happen whilst driving, let me tell you.... I just lost interest in waiting. And waiting. And waiting. I'd understood that Next would go into Eyre and hilarity would ensue. It hasn't. Not by that point, and I was tired of sitting around wasting my time until it did. Life's too short to waste on un-engaging novels when there are so many out there (in my to-read list at right) begging to be enjoyed!

Like I said, I loved the first two Fforde novels I read, but this one just wasn't in the same league as the others. I plan on reading one more in this series - the next one in line - but this one is a WARTY!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde

Title: One of Our Thursdays is Missing
Author: Jasper Fforde
Publisher: Recorded Books
Rating: WORTHY!

I've also reviewed Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair and Shades of Grey

This audio book is narrated by Emily Gray (not to be confused with the remarkable paralympic athlete of the same name), and I have to say she is now my favorite narrator, beating out even Neil Gaiman, because her performance of this novel was masterful (mistressful?). I'm serious, she completely nailed it, and the way she entered into it so whole-heartedly made it a joy to listen to.

I rated this novel as a worthy read as soon as I'd finished listening to the first audio disk because I laughed my ass off listening to it. Fforde rambles on about novels and literature and stories, and grammatical errors, and syntax, and it sounds boring to put it like that, but the way he words everything, and the sly references and snarks he slips in about books in general and about certain classics in particular is freaking hilarious. I adored this novel, and Fforde is now on my list of favorite writers and must-reads. I reviewed Fforde's Shades of Grey not long ago

Here's something which should give heart to all you self-publishers: according to wikipedia, Jasper Fforde had received 76 publisher rejections prior to The Eyre Affair making it into print. He had been forcibly kept out of our lives by clueless, blinkered, self-appointed establishment censors of what’s readable and what isn't, what’s publishable and what should be banned. No more shall they rule. Self-publishing does!

The story is number six in a series, not one of which I'd read prior to this one, but they are all on my radar now, and Xmas is just around the corner! The previous volumes evidently consisted of his main character, Thursday Next, solving literary puzzles in the classics, keeping the books in the order which readers expect to find them when they open them. In this one, Fforde fords the river of change and decides to reorganize his literary world. Worse than this, Thursday Next is apparently missing, and it's up to her written version who is also, of course, named Thursday Next to solve a mystery which no one else seems to think exists. Oh, her butler does - he's an automaton which she rescued from being stoned (no, not that kind, the Biblical kind - the kind which true believers ought to be out doing to adulteresses and gays if they honestly believe the source of morality comes from their Bible! I for one am glad they reject the Bible as the source of moral authority even as they lie they don't.)

So (written) Thursday and Sprocket, wisely ignoring input from Pickwick, the pet Dodo, and Mrs Malaprop, the horse-creeper, start wandering around Book World, visiting the poetry neighborhood, and Vanity (publishing) Island to try and figure out who dropped The Bed Sitting Room on an unsuspecting neighborhood. And damned if she doesn't solve it. This novel was hilarious, inventive in the extreme (and I mean that literally) and magnificent. I can recommend it highly enough! It's the perfect thing to have handy if you ever find yourself trapped in a mime-field....

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Title: Shades of Grey
Author: Jasper Fforde
Publisher: Penguin
Rating: WORTHY!

I've also reviewed Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair and One of Our Thursdays is Missing

This is about a place called Chromatacia, a society which is left after the collapse of our own, evidently. There is a class system in place defined and controlled a person's ability to perceive colour! Most people can see only one hue, some, two. Those who cannot see colour are referred to as 'Greys', and they occupy the lowest perch in the tree. Color plays a larger part than this, however. People's names and the names of locations also derive from names of various colors, and some colors have beneficial or deleterious health effects; Lincoln Green is a powerful illegal drug, for example. People in the lower ranks are treated in some regards as servants of those who are higher.

I saw this novel on the library shelf, and smirked because of the title. I will never read 50 Shades of Gray or any of its derivatives, but this title made me want to at least read the blurb, wondering how this poor guy Jasper Fforde is coping with a novel which came out the year after his did, and has a title so similar to his. Is his novel garnering greater interest because of that or has it been lost in the shuffle? Once I'd read the blurb, however, I just could not put it back on the shelf, so here we are! If you like Douglas Adams, you will more than likely enjoy this.

Wikipedia has an article on the EM spectrum. The visible light spectrum is a tiny, tiny fraction of this. How we see light is a fascinating story in itself, and the development of receptors in the eyes of various organisms is an entrancing example of the modern synthesis of Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

The story is narrated by Eddie Russett from his unfortunate position head down inside a carnivorous tree, the Yateveo, but at least it's not a carnivorous swan..... From his unenviable position, he relates events of the last four days when he travels with his father, a swatchman (a color doctor) on their way to a distant town called East Carmine - a journey upon which Eddie befriends an aging Yellow fellow. Eddie has better than average red perception, and has a good chance of an upwardly mobile marriage to Constance Oxblood, but on a visit to a town nearby while waiting for the train for East Carmine, and visiting the sights (the Badly Drawn Map, the Last Rabbit, etc - you know, the usual!), Eddie and his father come across an injured Purple (who is really a Grey masquerading as a Purple), and save his life. Indirectly because of this, Eddie meets a Grey girl named Jane who apparently has no problem treating Eddie (who with his slight color perception merits a much higher class rating than she) with no respect whatsoever. He's quite captivated by her, but has to catch his train and so is prevented from pursuing her.

But would you believe it, when he arrives at East Carmine - a lowlife of a town - the Grey maid who's assigned to work one hour per day at his house is: Jane! (Jane Grey, get it?!) Her attitude towards him hasn't improved. She pretty much threatens to break his jaw no matter what he says to her, but when he fails to turn her in, she does at least warn him not to eat the scones she just prepared - not that we find out what the heck happened to those who ate the scones. This town is even more quirky than the story has been so far. On a guided tour of the town by a lowlife Red called Tommo, who is highly entertaining, Eddie meets the town's top banana - a Yellow who isn't quite at the pinnacle, but will be once his mother is out of the picture. He tries to lure Eddie into 'bending a few rules' for him.

Eddie's father takes over as the town's swatch-meister, treating the sick. The two of them venture into the ghost city of Rusty Hill, where the mildew struck down everyone. Eddie has a list of items to recover, including a Caravaggio painting which makes him somewhat of a hero, although his heroism is somewhat undermined by the fact that Jane lured him into a Yateveo tree trap. How did this happen? He saw her in Rusty Hill - who knows how she got there? and then simpleton that he is, she lured him into the trap with the dishonest promise to tell him the truth. Oh, and he also saw a Pooka - a ghost, which seemed to be able to see him and tried to tell him something but disappeared right when she opened her mouth.

So are Eddie and all the people he knows actually ghosts - and that's why they can't see colors so well? Are they not the survivors of the Something That Happened but the victims? Is the mildew merely their passing on to the after life? Who knows! Eddie gets an offer of 100 merits to visit the newly opened derelict town of High Saffron - where 85 people have disappeared never to be seen again. They desperately need to mine the color from there. Will he go? Let's read on! Oh, in passing, let it be noted that on p111 Fforde doesn’t seem to grasp the difference between ancestor and descendant. Just saying!

Eddie continues to try to befriend Jane and she continues to sarcastically and aggressively rebuff him, although she's becoming progressively less aggressive. She challenges his ingrained dogma at every turn. His friend Tommo (his village guide) is trying to get him to marry his sister while the girl who Tommo himself likes, Lucy Ochre, appears to be a green addict. She, in turn, is convinced that there's a harmony in the Earth in E flat. Since Earth isn't flat, she's likely to be wrong! Lol! But seriously, she's smarter than she lets on. She friends Eddie, and she wants to pay him for her to practice her kissing skills on him, but she doesn’t explain why. He seems to be friending quite a few people, including the adorable Daisy Crimson, and also the Green who lost an eyebrow when he made the deadly mistake of coming-on to Jane.

Eddie makes a bit of a fool of himself trying to chase after Travis Canary - the yellow he befriended on the train - who walks off into the darkness one night to be taken by the night terrors! Although there is a certain amount of heroism involved in his action, too, so this brings him kudos. There seems to be an irrational fear of the dark amongst the citizens, not just in this village, but everywhere. Indeed, the only one who seems to have gone out into the dark and returned whole is Jane Grey.

One morning Eddie goes off with his dad to visit a nearby village of Rusty Hill. They travel along the perpetulite road - a self-repairing, self-cleaning material - in an old Ford Model T. Perpetulite seems not to recognize bronze. This might be important! The village they're visiting was wiped out by the Mildew. Eddie has a shopping list of things people have asked him to bring back for them, including spoons and sugar tongues. Yes, spoons! Even though spoons are banned as eating tools, everyone tries to own at least one during their lifetime, and if it has a post-code engraved on the handle, it’s almost invaluable.

Eddie gets a bit depressed walking among the bones of those who died. He's also startled by encountering a Pooka - a spirit like representation of a human which still appears before him when he closes his eyes. Just as the woman opens her mouth to speak, she disappears. He's even more startled by running into Jane there! This is not only because she's there, but because he has no explanation whatsoever for how she traveled there so quickly in the first place without the use of a motor vehicle. Later, Jane enigmatically explains that she knows how to use the perpetulite road.

She lures Eddie into an embarrassing trap under the carnivorous Yateveo tree, from which he is extricated by his father. Later, he learns that East Carmine has opened up the defunct seaside town of High Saffron for exploration and excavation. There is a 100 merit bonus for those who go, but no one wants to. The 85 people who have previously gone there have never returned; however, the color shortage is becoming so severe that they're willing to go to even to these extremes to mine color.

Eddie eventually speaks to the Apocryphal Man, who evidently thought no one could see him. He didn’t realize that everyone was simply ignoring him. He's a historian and he agrees to answer questions for Eddie in return for loganberry jam.

Eddie has been striking up a relationship with the Colourman whom they met at Rusty hill. He's rather a legendary figure for no other reason than that he works for National Colour. He's ostensibly in the area to conduct the Ishihara test which will determine Eddie's (and others) futures, and checking on the colour supply pipes, but as he grows closer to Eddie, he reveals on the down-low that he's actually trying to track down saboteurs, one of whom is Jane. Eddie knows this, but Matthew, the Colourman, does not. Eddie keeps his secret while trying to figure out if he should tell one or the other about the other, but in the end seems to decide to do nothing. He enters into a somewhat under-the-table relationship with Matthew, and in return gets a shot at joining National Colour, which is the ultimate dream job.

During a weekly meeting of the Colourgentsia, some interesting speculations and revelations come out of the Apocryphal Man (who has now, since he knows he can be seen, has taken to applying personal hygiene and clothes to his body) via an old granny who doesn’t seem to care that she's relating what he says. I was laughing out loud at this part of the novel. The Apocryphal Man lives on the upper floor of the house which Eddie and his dad are occupying, but he seems unaware that there is also someone else living up there with him! Eddie encounters this other person using the bathroom, but the other person secretes themselves behind the shower curtains so Eddie can’t actually see who it is. Neither does this person speak - communicating only through rapping one tap for 'yes', two for 'no'!

On border patrol (the village has signed up Eddie for everything they can get out of him: he's almost become an institution there after only a few days, and he's now teaching in the local school!) Eddie is shown the original Fallen Man (as opposed to the bar of the same name). The Fallen Man quite literally fell out of the sky. There's very little left, but it looks like he was some sort of jet pilot who ejected and landed exactly where he still lies. The village people have surrounded his chair with a cement wall and put guinea pigs inside it to keep the grass trimmed short. Eddie also finds Travis, the guy who walked out into the night. It looks like he was struck by ball lightning, his patrol partner assures Eddie, but when Eddie examines the remains of his head more closely, he finds a metal object the size of a chess piece - some sort of exploding bullet? Who knows! It's a mystery how many mysteries there are in this novel!

Unfortunately, Eddie can't keep the murder information to himself. Courtland, the second top banana or his mom are the guilty party and Courtland reacts immediately by trying to shoot Eddie with the copper spike used to defuse ball lightning. Having failed with that, he and his mum try to bustle Eddie out of the city, but he changes his mind and ends up going to High Saffron after spending the night with Violet deMauve, his new Fiancé who claims she;s pregnant by him because Eddie's own father showed her an ovulating patch guaranteed to make her ovulate and get pregnant. In the end, though, he doesn't go alone.

Violet, Tommo, and Courtland set off with him. When Violet is injured and returns to the waiting car, Tommo and Courtland lock Eddie in a room, but fortunately for him, Jane was sneakily following them, and she rescues him. Tommo is so badly injured in the fight which ensues that he returns to the vehicle where Violet awaits. The remaining three, Eddie, Courtland and Jane continue. They reach High Saffron, but Jane saves Eddie from the mildew which waits every visitor by revealing one of her many secrets. Mildew isn't caused by a fungus but by exposure to a certain color. And Jane can see in the dark. This is why no one returned from High Saffron because the plaza at the entrance to the city is that color. Courtland dies from the rot, and Eddie and Jane return - after Jane has first stuffed him under the Yateveo tree and then rescued him from it to give their cover story for Courtland's death some verisimilitude.

They pledge their selves to each other, but they never do get to marry - why? You'll have to read the ending for yourself. And it's a doozy.

I thoroughly, highly, and heartily recommend this novel.