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Asunder

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  228 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Marie's job as a guard at the National Gallery in London offers her the life she always wanted, one of invisibility and quiet contemplation. But amid the hushed corridors of the Gallery surge currents of history and violence, paintings whose power belies their own fragility. There also lingers the legacy of her great-grandfather Ted, the museum guard who slipped and fell m ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 17th 2013 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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(showing 1-30 of 965)
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Samadrita
A vague sense of foreboding persistently stalks the reader on every page of this narrative, as if something potentially dangerous and forbidding awaits one at the turn of the next page. But then the pages fly by, nothing truly nefarious ever materializes and the feeling finally settles in that the substance of this narrative lies not in a likely event of cosmic importance or even in the anticipation of its occurrence but in the minutiae a reader usually glosses over. Like the everyday happenings ...more
Kinga
Review compliant with the new Goodreads TOS (I think, we're still not sure what they are)

"This book is about Marie who works in the National Gallery and her friend Daniel who works for Tate Britain. Marie's great grandfather also worked for the National Gallery. I liked this book very much. It's a very good book. You can buy it on Amazon."

Now, if you would like to read my actual review of this book (which I really did like very much), please go to http://kinga-thebooksnob.blogspot.co.... or http
...more
Rebecca Foster
This is one of those very beautiful novels where very little seems to happen. Marie is a museum guard at London’s National Gallery, following in the footsteps of her great-grandfather, who was on duty in 1914 when a suffragette vandalized a painting. Aridjis ponders art, decay and the traces ordinary people leave behind.

Like the protagonist of Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station, Marie is an almost anonymous wanderer. She curates other people’s stories, but barely seems to have her own. Inst
...more
Tim
I have already posted a quick note on this book when I read it a few months ago--by far the best literary novel I've read in ages and by far the best novel full stop I've read this year. I hope it gets some traction in America (it has gotten good notices in the United Kingdom), and if you like anything you read about Asunder I urge you to read the book.

As I said when I wrote something about this book elsewhere: It is brilliant.

It is a slight book in terms of plot. Marie, the narrator, works at
...more
Lorri Steinbacher
I felt like the book had promise that it didn't fulfill. The writing was lovely, but I felt that it was a trifle dull. I just didn't engage with Marie at all, felt that the Jane and Lucian storyline could have been more developed. Didn't see how they were relevant to the story except as foils to highlight Marie's character (Jane) or to shed (a very little) light on her past (Lucian). The whole thing felt stalled to me.
Duncan
This is one of those books where I’m not sure if I’m being incredibly harsh with my rating, or whether it really is a case of style over substance. It just didn’t manage to fully grab me as I read it, my interest kept drifting in and out But then again at the same time I find myself still thinking about it now and wondering whether or not I’ve been unfair with my judgement.

There is no doubt that Asunder is a beautifully written book. Some of the description and imagery conjured up is seriously i
...more
Nancy
A Solitary, Constrained Life

Marie works as a guard in the National Gallery in London. Although most guards are older, often retirees, Marie is young. She's been working as a guard in galleries since she dropped out of university. It's all she wants to do. She comes by the desire through her great-grandfather, who was also a guard in the gallery and narrowly missed stopping a suffragette from taking a knife to Venus, one of the gallery's masterpieces.

On a trip to Paris with her best friend, Dani
...more
Rebecca
Beautifully written, atmospheric and evocative. However, I felt it suffered from the absence of a clear narrative thread. But I also think that feeling that proves that I'm the kind of person that likes my novels ham-fisted, with a PLOT and BACK STORY and A CLEAR CONCLUSION. Perhaps this novel was too smart for me; I kept feeling like I was trying to put my arms around fog. The writing is wonderful, did I mention that? But--what the...?
Kyle Muntz
A very good book. Subdued but not detached, subtly unreal and always hinting at something just off the edge of the page. It's more a mood than a novel, but a compelling one, and sometimes deeply philosophical. Aridjis reminds me of a more accessible John Banville or Amelia Gray, though there are shades of a (very European) Murakami in her focus on daily life.

Yasmeen
I feel like this book is trying to be a darker version of Scarlett Thomas, and my mind kept drawing parallels to Our Tragic Universe, or The End of Mr Y, which might have been unfair on my part, but the comparison did not work in Aridjis' favour.

The vibes coming out of this were strange; at times it worked as nicely unsettling but others it just seemed overdone and unrealistic. I'm just left wondering... what was the point? Art, decay, stagnation-- great. But I didn't feel like there was anythin
...more
Geoff
I have been looking forward to reading Chloe Aridjis' second novel, Asunder, ever since I read her Book of Clouds (previously reviewed). The language of both novels is stunning. Aridjis has a fabulous eye for description. Asunder follows a young woman who is a guard at London's National Gallery. At points, I thought she was connecting with Colin Whitehead's The Intuitionist and the warring factions of elevator inspectors. Jane, the museum guard, is displaced, out of step much like Tatiana in the ...more
Shannon
The quality of the prose in this gets an A+. However, without it, this story would have been utterly dull. That being said, Asunder is about a character who has withdrawn -- who doesn't allow herself to want big things -- it's like she lives inside the paintings (and is never the painter) that she guards at the National Gallery. Her gradual awakening is not dramatic. There are small upsets (an old lover reappeared, a face peering in the window, an unromantic trip with an old friend) that gradual ...more
Steve
Chloe Aridjis' first novel, Book of Clouds, featured a lyrical, deeply engaging narrative voice but ultimately left me feeling like it hadn't quite "gone" anywhere (which wasn't dissatisfying). Her second, Asunder, is equally if not more lush in its prose but this time the novel — while hardly plot- or event-driven —does more with the many images, ideas, and tensions set in motion. Narrator Marie works as a museum guard in London's National Gallery, a life she has chosen for the way it allows he ...more
Robert Palmer
Just try to imagine the dullness of a job just standing all day watching people at the art institute of Chicago, that's what Marie does at the national gallery of London. Marie's Great Grand Father , Ted worked at the national gallery in the 1900s. Their are many, very many,strange people popping up in the narrative as the story moves ever so slowly along, somewhat like a "Brookner" novel , but this novel is so much better. Marie has one close friend,Daniel, an unpublished poet,who sends his poe ...more
Angelina

So the Guardian's review said, "Strange, extravagant, darkly absorbing...thrills with energy." Where? What energy? Did I read the same book?
While the writing was well done and there was an undercurrent of something building, absolutely nothing came of it. The only positive I can say for this book was that it was a quick 192 pages. I wanted something to happen! There were moments where I thought,"Aha! Something is about to go down! Finally, the plot is going somewhere!" but I was let down every
...more
Renee Leech
This is a gentle journey of a book that doesn't fail to be emotionally moving. If you have ever wondered about the life of museum guards, this book will provide a soulful speculation. Though she is young, the main character has accepted the static quality of her life, spending time creating eggshell works of art when she is not spending time with her one friend, an eccentric poet and fellow museum guard. A trip to Paris with this friend eventually changes her view of her life.

One of the things
...more
Crystal
It felt like a story that didn't actually have a plot, but it was beautifully written. It's one of those books that leaves you with so many questions, not in unanswered plot line ways, but you want to follow this characters mind and development forever. The descriptive language drew you in and painted the setting so beautifully, which was incredible since most of the settings seemed so drab and morose. You could feel the mood through the writing. The author is amazing with words without being ve ...more
James
What's it about? Being a museum guard? The male gaze? Crazy rich people? It felt like a feminist Camus.
Emily
This book was about nothing, and yet about everything.
Jordan
I can't think of many novels with this little plot that I've enjoyed this much. Not much happens for the first half of the book, and it's still not exactly a page-turner when her routine is interrupted for a trip to Paris in the second half of the book. And, I felt the weakest part was when activity actually picked up a bit in the last ten or so pages. What surprised me was that I never even cared if anything happened. In fact, when she decided to take a trip to Paris, I was a little disappointe ...more
Jessica
I really wanted to love this book. I visited London over the summer and the National Gallery was one of the favorite museums I visited while I was there. So I thought reading a book about a woman who was a guard at that museum would be really cool. While the London aspect of this book was awesome, the rest just fell flat for me.

As a guard in London's National Gallery, Marie is used to living a life of invisibility. After nine years, though, Marie's starting to want something more. So when the c
...more
Angela
10 Stars! The best literary stunner I've read this year. Deeply textured and intricately layered, this literary gem is destined to become a classic studied by high school and college students everywhere.

Marie works as a guard for the National Gallery in England. Her great grandfather was also a guard at the same museum. His story of his inability to stop an angry suffragette from vandalizing a painting haunted him forever.

Marie spends most of her life content to be an observer except for the ti
...more
Julie
Asunder was quiet and goofy and a little sad, but then the end was so victorious in its understated way that I'm still soaring over it. I feel like I know a secret.

As a rule, I don't mark my books since it's a sullying I can't abide. But then, I was on page 6, and I was so taken by a sentence of such acuity that I couldn't bear not being able to find it again on command. So I turned down the corner. And I kept turning down corners.

Chloe Aridjis must be some kind of genius for putting voice to t
...more
Daniel
I received this as an electronic advanced reading copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

Barely reaching 200 pages, "Asunder" is a short novel and a quick read, but it will linger in your memory long after completing those pages. Its length is ideal, because it has precious little plot to stand upon, and a character who is largely defined in her commitment to inaction. Instead, Aridjis fills her pages with richness of mood, with a style that ends up conveying themes in place of a plot that would
...more
Ugh
I hadn't intended to ever read anything else by Chloe Aridjis after having not really liked Book of Clouds, but Asunder was suggested for a book club, and when I discovered that it was about someone who works at the National Gallery, my reluctance transformed into enthusiasm.

I did like Asunder more than BoC. Whereas I rounded up from 2.5 stars for BoC, no rounding was necessary here. To me BoC felt very forced in the way it read, and I didn't buy Aridjis' way of putting things. But I thought Asu
...more
Joanne
If looking for action and adventure - this is not your book. Aridjus has written a literary novella which paints a portrait of the life of Marie - a museum guard in London. Beautifully descriptive examining the nuances of Marie's life in the cocoon she has created for herself. Interesting to observe the changes at the end of the story as she starts to break out of that cocoon.
Sharon
Marie is a security guard at the London's National Gallery ... and something of an artist in her own right. She decides to become a guard at the museum after hearing her grandfather, Ted, talk about his time there -- during which a suffragette damaged one of the paintings.

Marie is still a little in love with her ex, Julian. When Julian gets involved with Marie's flatmate, Jane, she decides to take advantage of an opportunity to visit Paris with a friend, Daniel.

The plot is a little confusing and
...more
Susan
Reading this book is like stepping inside a museum and standing before a fine painting. More is seen and understood as we stand and gaze, about the social context of another time and the comparisons to our life and routines. The writing is exquisite.
Lindsay
The writing is magnificent, but...... I felt cheated because the story never went anywhere. There were moments where I thought, here we go, finally we are headed somewhere then, nope the heroine decides to not pursue whatever it is that is occurring and goes back to her little uneventful life.
Ruth Sayre
I'm not sure what is lacking in this book it is well written but I found myself on the outside looking in. Whether it was my mood or the characters I can't be sure.
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book review by Aminah Abdul-Haqq 1 2 Feb 25, 2014 10:39AM  
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Chloe Aridjis was born in New York and grew up in the Netherlands and Mexico City. After receiving a BA from Harvard, she went on to receive a PhD from Oxford University. A collection of essays on Magic and Poetry in Nineteenth-century France was released in 2005. Her first novel, Book of Clouds, followed in 2009, winning the Prix du Premier Roman Etranger in France.
More about Chloe Aridjis...
Book of Clouds Topografia de Lo Insolito: La Magia y Lo Fantastico Literario en la Francia del Siglo XIX Where You Are: A Collection of Maps That Will Leave You Feeling Completely Lost

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