I don't even know where to begin. The narrative skill of the author is amazing. I feel like anything I attempt to write as a description can't possibl...moreI don't even know where to begin. The narrative skill of the author is amazing. I feel like anything I attempt to write as a description can't possibly do it justice. I'm speechless. Compelling and addictive, it sucked me in and wouldn't let go until I read the entire thing in one sitting. He effortlessly brings you back to the helplessness of being a child trying to make sense of the adult world, escaping the confusion of that world by hiding and reading books and wandering through woods. Somehow he mixes wisdom and normal childhood with wild, unexplainable things, magic, fear, adventure and monsters that lurk at the edge of reality. He is so skillful a writer that he made me remember feelings that I had forgotten, being a child with a wild imagination who was happiest daydreaming and living in worlds of my own making. Reading this reawakened some lost part of my spirit. I would post some of my favorite quotes here, but as another reviewer noted, If I start doing that, where would I stop? This is my first Gaiman. I am anxious now to read everything else he has written.(less)
This is a man who is a master in the art of storytelling. Another reviewer stated that the words wrap around you like a blanket. I can't say it any be...moreThis is a man who is a master in the art of storytelling. Another reviewer stated that the words wrap around you like a blanket. I can't say it any better than that. The setting is in a country that is unfamiliar to me(though more familiar than before I read his other two books), but the themes of love, family, duty, disappointment, longing, etc are universal. I like that things did not tie up neatly at the end, since they do not in real life either. Still, I was sad enough about the pain and loss of so many of the characters I had come to know that I finished the last few pages with tears streaming down my face. And I'm not one of those weepy chicks. The feathers really got to me. Spoiler Alert! Don't read further if you have not finished. I wish Pari would have remembered when she got the box. After all of the love and meaning and what her brother went through to collect them, especially the peacock feather...but she was too young when it happened, and now she has forgotten. (less)
This is an example of a book you read as a child that stays with you forever. I don't even remember how old I was when I read it, but recall clearly t...moreThis is an example of a book you read as a child that stays with you forever. I don't even remember how old I was when I read it, but recall clearly the flights of fancy my mind took as a result. I was young enough to be able to dream about being locked in a tower by an evil uncle and flying to freedom. I remember becoming so caught up in the story that I read it on a folded blanket on the floor that I could pretend was my own traveling cloak. I am delighted that it is still in print!(less)
There is no review I could write that would do this book justice. Full of wisdom, profound insight and gently offered advice. Beautifully and lyricall...moreThere is no review I could write that would do this book justice. Full of wisdom, profound insight and gently offered advice. Beautifully and lyrically written. I hope to carry it with me when I travel and read the letters in the places Rilke wrote them--Paris, Rome, Viareggio, Sweden. For now it is on my nightstand, and the pages will become dog-eared with rereading. I have copied below one of my favorite passages...it feels like he wrote this directly to me, despite calling me "Sir." :-)
"Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away... and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast.... be happy about your growth, in which of course you can't take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don't torment them with your doubts and don't frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn't be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn't necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust.... and don't expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it." (less)
Where to begin. I have read some of the reviews of others who did not care for or get this book. I admit that the plot/storyline, though unique, is no...moreWhere to begin. I have read some of the reviews of others who did not care for or get this book. I admit that the plot/storyline, though unique, is not what makes this story great--it's the prose. The writing is luminous and reads more like poetry than a novel. We don't even know exactly who the narrators are--it is narrated in first person plural and the name and even number of narrators is left vague. Eugenides uses metaphor to describe the deaths of the sisters as the disintegration of a suburban neighborhood--the trees are being cut down because of the threat of Dutch Elm disease; there are dying flies everywhere that are described by the first sister to commit suicide as not even having time to eat before their lives are over. There are so many themes in the story--going through the layers is akin to peeling an onion. The writing is so lovely that it induces a dreamlike state in the reader. Everything is described so perfectly that you can not only see clearly what is being described, but smell the various smells and recall with clarity everything from that time period. Eugenides did not throw this book together; in my mind's eye I see him sitting at his desk turning each phrase over and over in his hands until he gets it exactly right. Yet, the writing is not strained at all--in fact, it seems to have flowed effortlessly from his pen. This is a gifted writer whose work will be read for generations to come, long after Eat, Pray, Gag is in the remainder pile. Elizabeth Gilbert, Chris Bohjalian, Jodi Picoult, Robert James Waller, John Grisham, read this and weep. To this list I add myself, since I would give anything to be able to write half as well as Eugenides. As for those who look for a conventional plot line like all of the other books out there and do not find it (why EXACTLY did the girls kill themselves?) In the real world, not everything in life can be explained.
I loved the book so much that I immediately rented the movie. It was awful, with the exception of James Wood who nailed the part of the father beautifully.(less)
**spoiler alert** This is one of those books that you just wish would never end. I read it at a time when I was on vacation at my brother's house, whi...more**spoiler alert** This is one of those books that you just wish would never end. I read it at a time when I was on vacation at my brother's house, which is the same house I lived in when my sons were small. The combination of standing in my former kitchen caring for my young nephews, who are the same age my own sons were when I lived there; the fact that one of the boys looks so much like my brother did when he was three and I was eight, that reading this book was almost an ethereal experience. I was my present age, I was a young mother in her late 20's/early 30's, and I was 8 and with my toddler brother, all at once.
Think about the dreams that we all have, of being back in our old high school, of traumatic events from the past, etc. Now imagine that instead of imagining, you are actually THERE when you dream it--naked and having to locate some clothes! Imagine going back in time and spending time with your future spouse while he/she is growing up.
I think I'll go back and read this book again.(less)
Heartbreaking, beautiful, poignant...I actually put off writing my review of this book for awhile because on the rare occasion a story is so well-writ...moreHeartbreaking, beautiful, poignant...I actually put off writing my review of this book for awhile because on the rare occasion a story is so well-written and engaging, it is nearly impossible for me not to gush about it. After finishing, I immediately turned back to the first page and read the entire book again, because I simply could not bear to move on to another book. I thought of the characters for a long time after.
The following is one of my favorite quotes from the book:
WHENEVER I WENT OUT TO PLAY, MY MOTHER WANTED TO KNOW EXACTLY WHERE I WAS GOING TO BE
When I'd come in, she'd call me into her bedroom,take me in her arms and cover me with kisses. She'd stroke my hair and say "I love you so much" and when I sneezed she'd say, "Bless you, you know how much I love you, don't you?" and when I got up for a tissue she'd say, "Let me get it for you, I love you so much," and when I looked for a pen to do my homework she'd say, "Use mine, anything for you," and when I had an itch on my leg she'd say "Is this the spot, let me hug you," and when I said I was going up to my room she'd call after me, "What can I do for you, I love you so much" and I always wanted to say, but never said: Love me less.
A MUST READ...I could not put it down once I started. This book is perfect for book clubs because there is so much that can be discussed. The storylin...moreA MUST READ...I could not put it down once I started. This book is perfect for book clubs because there is so much that can be discussed. The storyline is completely unique and draws you in from the first sentence to the end. I don't want to say anything about what the book is about because I want you to approach it with an open mind and without preconceived ideas.(less)