I'm a fan of Mary Stewart's books, but i honestly picked this one up more for my love of the Disney adaptation of the same title starring Haley Mills.I'm a fan of Mary Stewart's books, but i honestly picked this one up more for my love of the Disney adaptation of the same title starring Haley Mills. Still, delightful....more
Just what I needed to read on a rainy Easter Sunday afternoon! I love these moody character sketches of the 50s set against some exotic (at least foreJust what I needed to read on a rainy Easter Sunday afternoon! I love these moody character sketches of the 50s set against some exotic (at least foreign) locale as murder and mystery collude to rob the heroine of her much anticipated holiday. The narrative voice is strong, humming along with the reliability of Charity's Riley, and the dialogue sings (apart from a ridiculous bit in chapter 15 when Richard announces without ceremony or apparent connection to anything that he loves Charity then calls her "sweet"). Reading Madam, Will You Talk? seemed rather like reading an Alfred Hitchcock, all swirling moody atmosphere, mists clearing to reveal sheer cliff faces, the glare of speeding headlights, and a beautiful plucky heroine who may faint from exhaustion and fear but keeps sufficient wits about her to escape her nemesis and disable his vehicle in a manner not easy to find.
Mary Stewart excels in these atmospheric mystery romps. Mary Stewart and M. M. Kaye are two of my favorite authors in this genre. Good writing, engaging characters, marvelous settings, and not too much to make a reader cringe (the aforementioned romantic nonsense notwithstanding). The perfect antidote, in short, to that reading malaise that sometimes grips me on the edge of plunging into something more "literary." Something I know I want to read but can't quite bring myself to begin. Thank you, Mrs. Stewart; I can begin. ...more
These stories took me back to the world of Divergent and Insurgent, to that first world Roth built, the oneSomewhere in the realm of 3 to 3.5 stars.
These stories took me back to the world of Divergent and Insurgent, to that first world Roth built, the one that I loved. She took me back to that eerie post–something Chicago landscape and her imagined world of factions, choices, and extreme loyalty, of manifestos and do–or–die attitudes, and I loved it again.
The first three stories, "The Transfer," "The Initiate," and "The Son" tell Four's back story from his point of view. It's pure Four; he doesn't know Tris, doesn't remember her or think of her. We even get a hint of something with another girl. Possibly? It's fun. Not quite the thrill ride of Tris's story, but tensions in Dauntless are building at this point, and Roth shows us how and why. We meet Eric, learn more about his twisted origins in Dauntless. We meet Zeke, Shauna, Lynn, and Marlene. Uriah, too. It's all great fun.
The fourth and final story, "The Traitor," seems less centered. Written chronologically last and after Tris has also transferred into Dauntless, the last story cobbles together moments from her narrative retold from Tobias's point of view and sets itself apart from the set in this manner: it doesn't offer original storyline but narrates scenes and snippets we've already read, occasionally layering details to Tris's narrative not added by the simple change of narrator. Overall, "The Traitor" exposes the mounting tensions within Dauntless that drove Tobias first to his father, then to the Factionless, ultimately to Tris.
I see what Roth is about here, but the connections are "rangey," and I think I mean by this that the final story felt less like a story and more like a series of episodes strung together on a wire. I found myself wondering what they would have looked like on a real page. Disclosure: I read these stories online (cymbals crash, thunder claps, general cacophony ensues...). For many readers, this is no big deal; however, I'm old–school. A purist. Reading is a tactile exercise to me, usually, so marking this "book" on my read shelf actually feels a bit like cheating.
The experience has sparked a familiar argument in my head for the last twenty–four hours: what is a book? Do the stories I read yesterday qualify as a book? They could just as easily have fit the category of blog post by some standards. They are lengthy, true; much longer than most blog posts, I think. Is length the measure of what makes "a book"? It would be difficult to imagine someone's mistaking War and Peace, for example, as a blog post. Unless, of course, someone read it's chapters (perhaps smaller sections) as discrete posts published in a series. If I went to Project Gutenberg right now, I imagine I could download a free copy of Tolstoy's novel to this computer. It's still a novel, but is it still a book?
This is not an essential argument, of course. Not one foundational to law or government, finance or medicine or human rights. Still, it's one dear to my heart. I remember many frustrated moments with students spent pressing the case that the books they held in their hands weren't actually books but plays, i.e. Shakespeare's Macbeth, the frustration shared on both sides. Perhaps what I was really feeling but not thinking clearly enough to express was that, yes, this thing we hold in our hands, this wonderful tactile object with pages and two covers and the scent of printed ink on paper, this thing is a book; however, the thing inside the book is something else. It could be a novel, a play, a poem, a series of short stories: whatever the imagination of the author has produced. A book is a sort of keeper of mysteries in this way.
I suppose many people, perhaps many readers, think and feel as I do about books about their computers and e–readers. I just don't think I'll ever get there. Full circle. I'm back to Roth's stories, which I read online and not between the covers of a book, and I think they were good. I enjoyed reading the content. I was not, however, fully transported to her world, and it may be impossible to diagnosis the specific problem. Perhaps because I can't fully trust her with these characters or this world given what I know about Allegiant I wasn't willing to invest in Tobias's narrative, to care too much about his point of view. Perhaps because I wasn't "holding his world in my hands," because I lacked that tactile connection to the content that's so important to me as a reader. Who knows. Why go on? I read them.
Will and his mother live Inside, shut away from the myriad hazards that could end a boy's life Outside. Their lives are calm, stable,Maybe 3.5 stars.
Will and his mother live Inside, shut away from the myriad hazards that could end a boy's life Outside. Their lives are calm, stable, utterly predictable until the day that, responding to a curious sound, Will opens their front door, walks Outside and meets other–Will. This strange boy (actually named Marcus) hits Will with a rock from a sling–shot and claims "Nothing can really hurt you, Will." The adventure begins. It's a common story told from a fresh angle; the coming–of–age tale wrapped in one family's specific, tragic dysfunction. Still, the ageless story of the young pushing away from the safe, loving arms of those who long to protect but stifle in the process.
There's something vaguely Shakespearean in the way Christie exaggerates this universal, mundane journey through the tortured lens of Diane's (Will's mother) breakdown and psychosis. The narrative structure, vacillating between forward–moving plot with Will as protagonist and backward–looking introspective with Diane as focal–point, seems appropriate given Diane's fictive life as art–film director. Christie's characters and their unique story magnify the subtle yet insidious deception that too often roots in the heart of family life where love and fear mingle.
I chose this novel for a book club and found it thoroughly entertaining. It's a first novel for Michael Christie, and his inexperience creeps out at moments; overall, I think a solid freshman effort. The plot and characters are engaging if not always entirely credible or true to characterization. Flaws in grammatical structure and syntax at times went beyond vexing my latent English–teacher actually to interfere with the storyline. Too many "he"s without clear antecedents become problematic when the protagonist of the story and his trusty side–kick are both male. Still, I'd say overall well worth reading. Looking forward to an interesting discussion!
This was a fun, funny read; I finished it in three sittings, I think. Easy, page–turning entertainment; but Hornby offers, too, good stuff for thinkinThis was a fun, funny read; I finished it in three sittings, I think. Easy, page–turning entertainment; but Hornby offers, too, good stuff for thinking and discussion. The setting doesn't overwhelm the characters or situation, but I was aware throughout of that 60s London vibe, and the characters were splendid. I liked them, most of them. Those I didn't actually like interested me and/or made me laugh. Minor characters lived on the page with real dimension: Edith, Marjorie, George and Marie could fuel their own minor sitcoms. Then there's Vernon Whitfield. Vernon Whitfield and the BBC debacle of 1965. Brilliant.
Mostly, I appreciated the layered texture of the plot, commenting on television and its development as Hornby's characters work together to push television into new territory. As they struggle with the bigotry of Vernon Whitfield and his BBC lot, they run up against their own prejudices and limitations. Some advance beyond while others, sadly, shrink. Sophie is a genuine "funny girl," approaching life and career with pragmatism and good humor and a tinge of wistfulness. She weathers the transformation from Barbara to Sophie back to Barbara from Blackpool with characteristic aplomb, and that underscore of irony sets the tone for the novel as each of Hornby's characters face a similar metamorphosis with greater and lesser degrees of success. Sophie is the star; her ability to "play herself" leads to stardom and sets the path of self–discovery in a general way for the others. Bill, Tony, and Dennis each become more themselves through Barbara (and Jim), and Clive's anti–climatic ending seems the result of his own miscalculation more than anything. Sophie muses in the final chapters that he "never quite added up" then adds that "the trouble was... he'd got all his sums wrong" (432).
While it may make no great commentary on human nature or history, Hornby's Funny Girl seems to me a novel about characters and relationships in a memorable setting: a great story! Perhaps because I side with the Dennis Maxwell–Bishops over against the Vernon Whitfields of the world, I'd rather spend a half hour with Sophie Straw than Edith Whatever–her–name–is–now any night. I appreciate, too, that Hornby brings his characters full circle to the "brighter, sharper, funnier, younger" world they'd hoped to create to find themselves old hat and out of pace with a faster, younger crowd (typified by Diane from Crush magazine) and their narrow interest in "the brightness and the youth" (392). I sense here that underscore of irony again and the solid edge of realness. There is a slim margin of gravitas running along that edge of irony and realism, and it resonates with the intent of Bill and Tony to "say things about the world they live in" (392). To write real comedy about real people in the real world. In the real world, that fast–moving current of people and ideas, they changed something; and it changed them, too. ...more