This is one of the best books I've ever read. It reminds me strongly of To Kill a Mockingbird and in fact, Doig's characters all have a little of Scou...moreThis is one of the best books I've ever read. It reminds me strongly of To Kill a Mockingbird and in fact, Doig's characters all have a little of Scout, Jem and Atticus Finch in them. Like Harper Lee, this author is an absolute wordsmith. There are laugh-out-loud lines on nearly every page; his descriptions are fresh and unusual without being in the least contrived.
Another interesting comparison to To Kill a Mockingbird is that both books have rather wordy first chapters, before they smooth out into readableness. It took me years before I could read beyond the first chapter of TKaM, although once I did, I was incurably in love with it. Don't be deterred by the convolutions of description in the beginning of this book. It's well worth plowing through to the second chapter!
The twist at the end of this presents a moral dilemma with no right answer. At first, I thought Rose, who is supposed to be such a centerpiece of the story, was sort of...superfluous and underdeveloped. The end proved me wrong, demonstrating once again that things are often not what they seem to be on the surface.
This is a new favorite book, one I'll read over and over again. Meanwhile, I can't wait to try some of Doig's other books!(less)
It took me a month to plow through this book: one of the longest months of my life, literarily speaking. In the end, I finished it because I felt I sh...moreIt took me a month to plow through this book: one of the longest months of my life, literarily speaking. In the end, I finished it because I felt I should, but in truth, it was an uphill read all the way.
Anna Karenina is a wealthy, beautiful, respected woman who doesn't love her husband. She leaves him, and her 8-year-old son, for Vronsky, a man she falls in love with and "steals" from her protege, who hopes to marry him. Anna's life spirals out of control, as she discovers what it means to be shunned by mid-nineteenth century Russian society as a "fallen woman." At first, her love for Vronsky is enough for her, but as time goes on, her position drives her to madness and eventual suicide.
Although in essence, I didn't like either the plot or the writing (I read a translation: I'll grant that reading it in the original language may be a whole different story,) I did think it was an interesting peek into the double standards of that time and place. Vronsky, living with his mistress, is allowed to carry on his life, business as usual. Anna, a married woman living as a mistress, is held in contempt by everyone. Also, one could never accuse Tolstoy of oversimplifying human emotion. If anything, he explores every turn of mind with an exruciating detail that left me wondering, "Doesn't anyone ever know how he feels about anything in this book?"
I suppose my real problem with this book is that it runs counter to my own values. I don't believe, as Russians do, that Anna "had no choice" in the life she led. That her only chance for happiness lay in leaving her family for the man she loved. That she was a victim of the law and of society at that time. I see this as a story of a selfish woman who abandoned her child, then spent the rest of the book whining because she couldn't have him back. Who wanted to have her cake and eat it too. Her particular drama is one that is played out in families around the world every day, and no one writes epic novels about those people. Bad choices, in my opinion, do not a heroine make. (less)
This book had some good potential, and some real momentum going. All you had to do was to ignore the self-evident truth that the heroine had no courag...moreThis book had some good potential, and some real momentum going. All you had to do was to ignore the self-evident truth that the heroine had no courage, or self-respect, or real plan for her life that was rooted in any value other than desperation...and it was an okay read. Unfortunately, the end fell entirely flat. The narrator finally gets up the nerve to stand up to Miranda, and the "big scene" amounts to nothing worse than a little profanity, and a showing of some long-overdue backbone. It's so long overdue, in fact, that it ends up being a case of too little too late. I threw down the book in disgust, unable to believe I'd wasted so much time on it. That's the last time I read chicklit. (less)