Tuesday, 7 July 2015


As any vintage book lover, I’m always on the lookout for the next title to add to my list.  So this means a lot of searching online or in actual used book stores (yes, some do still exist).  But what’s most rewarding is when you find the one book that you’ve been dying to read; like this reviewed title, CROWN SABLE by Janice Young Brooks (Onyx Books 1987), better known today as mystery writer Jill Churchill.  At first glance CROWN SABLE looks like the perfect summer read.  You know, a gripping tale amidst a lot of fluff and scandals.  Well as it turns out, the book is more a serious period piece than expected, thus less rewarding.  But still an enjoyable read.

The story takes place in America at the turn of the 20th century and revolves around a poor Russian immigrant lost in the Big Apple and who desperately wants to make something of her life.  For this particular storyline, sewing (what else?) is what makes her motor going.  Enter an older fashion king who sees big talent and revenue in her, and under his tutelage she becomes a great seamstress of fur (PeTA loyals beware) but with a faux background to fool the snobs.  In between keeping up with the charade, she gets married, sends for the rest of her Russian family, separates from her hubby; welcomes a lover… Ever since the success of Barbara Taylor Bradford’s A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE, copycat novels like this one have filled the market, and why the heck not.  If it ain’t broken…
The best thing about CROWN SABLE is the same thing that ends up in a way hurting it: its narrative.  Strong and rich, it flows rather breezily without any flaws apparent.  One can even be in awe at its sheer efficacy.  The downside to all of that perfectness, however, is that it reaches even its main character, which comes about being just too clean and proper for my taste.  Even though she suffers immensely like any great heroine should, the overall effect is not as dramatic as it should be had she been more flawed.  Still, I say go for it if you want to try this author, especially if you’re into Danielle Steel.  They have the same vibes.  I just don’t think I’m impressed enough to go on with her backlist. 

Until next post—Martin

UK edition








MBoccardo said...

Thanks for posting about this one. It's on my shelf currently, along with another hard-to-find title by this author: "Seventrees". I'm still interested due to the vintage factor, but knowing that there's less fluff, and something more substantial to the novel, I'll dive in with a particular mindset.

Authorfan said...

Thanks for your comment. Appreciate it. Indeed, SEVENTREES is HTF and has yet to reach my shelf. Since, like you, I dig vintage books, it'll probably get there eventually. I may even end up reading it. Peace.