Historical fiction

The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung

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I was apprehensive about picking up a book that leaned heavily into mathematics (or so I supposed with the blurb), but my fears were unfounded. If mathematics or mathematicians were mentioned, it was to further the narrative’s emotion or convey a fascet of the lead protagonist Katherine.
The book is written in the form of a memoir, and I had to check a couple of times that I was reading fiction because the child’s emotions in the story and the confusion in her mind were very vivid. That said, I would have rated it higher given the quality of the writing and the imagery, but for a few issues. I felt like the story lost its way in between and went to places where my emotional investment was called for but was not followed up appropriately. The first half drew me in, and I almost read it in one sitting. I empathized with this woman who was yet to find her circle, a place where she could be herself and enjoy the company of like-minded people. It had multiple ups and downs, and secrets were hinted at.
The second half involved Katherine delving into these secrets and unearthing completely unexpected facts. Here is where I felt like I was a different book. If this was written as a two-part or three-part series, I would have appreciated it more. That said, this was a very personal reaction. The author’s narrative style, as well as the descriptions, are very intricate, and this helps bring the story to life.
Fans of historical fiction would enjoy the variety of places and people who appear in the narrative.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

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