Wow. This book knocked the wind out of me on more than one occasion - wow. The writing is gorgeous, the horrible subject is dealt with so lovingly and...moreWow. This book knocked the wind out of me on more than one occasion - wow. The writing is gorgeous, the horrible subject is dealt with so lovingly and tolerably. The characters are, with no other description available, completely unforgettable.
Heartbreaking. HEARTBREAKING. Yet hopeful...never read a book that is able to pull off that balance so well.
Just read it. You'll never think of the Holocaust (or human nature, or "man's inhumanity to man") the same way again.(less)
I love Elizabeth berg for a good, satisfying, and generally well written chicklit experience. I've tried to listen to this book twice, and it just suc...moreI love Elizabeth berg for a good, satisfying, and generally well written chicklit experience. I've tried to listen to this book twice, and it just sucks too bad to finish it. Sucks. So. Bad. And, according to other reviewers, I'm not missing out by skipping the ending. What a horrible attempt at historical fiction, and one of the worst audiobook recordings I've ever heard. Don't waste your time.(less)
This book is a 3.5, but I rounded up because I read it in 3 days which, when you work as much as I do, says a lot! While not nearly as beautifully wri...moreThis book is a 3.5, but I rounded up because I read it in 3 days which, when you work as much as I do, says a lot! While not nearly as beautifully written, and certainly containing characters that made me cringe in their falseness (Elizabeth's nephew and his staged questions), this book was compulsively readable, as Chevalier has proven herself in the past.
A neat story, although in trying to stick to the facts she knew about the Philpots she ended up creating fairly 2 dimensional characters in all of those that people this book except Mary, Molly, and Elizabeth. Margaret and Louise especially get the short end of the "interesting" stick, as they never really stray from their original interests in plants or fashion/men.
The insider's view of English society (esp as it applies to women) in the early 19th century was striking, and felt much more stark than Austen's descriptions. What a frustrating time to be a woman, and to think at my age I'd already be a used up spinster!!!
The lightning imagery was just weird and didn't really work for her. All in all, while I was obsessed with this book for a few days, it feels a little like an amateur novel. Again, 3.5 stars!
Cute book spanning from the Civil War to well into the Great Depression - a cool look at the experience of moving west during the gold rush and living...moreCute book spanning from the Civil War to well into the Great Depression - a cool look at the experience of moving west during the gold rush and living in a high mountain mining town. Cute relationship between Nit and Hennie, cute use of names that reflect their personalities/physical characteristics, and a happy tone despite much hardship throughout all the characters' lives.(less)
This book was excellent! I have some favorite quotes:
"Why? Love has so many different faces that our imagination is not prepared to see them all." "Why...moreThis book was excellent! I have some favorite quotes:
"Why? Love has so many different faces that our imagination is not prepared to see them all." "Why does it have to be so difficult?" "Because we see only what we already know. We project our own capacities - for good as well as evil- onto the other person. Then we acknowledge as love primarily those things that correspond to our own image thereof. We wish to be loved as we ourselves would love. Any other way makes us uncomfortable. We respond with doubt and suspicion. We misinterpret the signs. We do not understand the language. We accuse. We assert that the other person does not love us."
It was interesting to come across this quote while reading this gem of a novel on our annual girls' beach week. We had all recently been talking about the 5 love languages (which I have not read), and that may be why this really caught my eye.
Overall, the novel has a lyrical, fairy tale feeling to it that I really enjoyed. The main female character was not very likable, nor was she very relatable - perhaps this was intentional? So as not to distract the reader's attention from the flashback story? I don't know.
It was an emotional enough book that I had a lot of emotion when I finished reading it, and had to wait a few days to start another book. But, it was a good enough book that I did INDEED unplug from the internet and start another book..which I've been pretty lousy at lately. Only didn't get 5 starts because of the really poor characterization of the "modern" character.
There is actually very little that I can say about this book - you just have to read it! It's one of those books that swoops you up after the first fe...moreThere is actually very little that I can say about this book - you just have to read it! It's one of those books that swoops you up after the first few chapters and won't put you back down into your life until you find out what happens.
It is reminiscent for me of the great classics like La Casa de Los Espiritus or Eva Luna - magical realism is what I've seen some of you classify it as, and I think that's a great description. I remember being equally passionate about those novels in both English and Spanish when I was younger..
The first couple of chapters were just so-so, and I wasn't convinced I was going to finish it. Then...something happened...and I could think of little else than the plight of these people hacking out a living in the Alaskan wilderness. While standing on hot bricks waiting for my bus home on a sunny 90+ degree day, I could smell snow, icy waterfalls, birch and aspen bark, wet stones, fresh cut firewood, and the smoke from wood fires. Just the descriptions of the place brought me some of the peace that is so palpable after a heavy snowfall, and which I have experienced only rarely since leaving behind my childhood as a New Englander for the southeast.
A few years ago I met a really neat lady who lived in Juneau, and had offered to let me come out and stay with her. I regret, now, losing touch with her - in fact, I can't even remember how or where I met her, which is disappointing to say the least. I think it was some meditation retreat or other, but who knows? Ah well, for now I feel somewhat appeased after reading this book, and I know Alaska adventures will be out there waiting. There's also British Columbia (Vancouver!) and the parks and shorelines north of Seattle that I didn't get to see on any of my PNW trips, that are there, hanging out on my bucket list, waiting for a time when I'll have a chance to take some epic road trips.
It's hard to write this, but really, NOT MUCH HAPPENS in this book. It's not an action-adventure flick, so all you murder and mayhem junkies, look elsewhere for your fix. This book is quiet, insidious (is there a word that means the same but has a more positive connotation?), and will get under your skin. The descriptions are amazing, yet not at all overwrought.
Case in point, page 99: "The girl's hair was white-blond, but when Mabel studied it, she saw that woven and twisted among the strands were gray-green lichens, wild yellow grasses, and curled bits of birch bark. It was strange and lovely, like a wild bird's nest." Beautiful description, right?
Imagery is such an integral part of the story, and later, even brushing of hair becomes so incredibly symbolic that it can make you tear up a little. So pay attention.
A favorite quote, from page 258: "Dear, sweet Mabel," she said. "We never know what is going to happen, do we? Life is always throwing us this way and that. That's where the adventure is. Not knowing where you'll end up or how you'll fare. It's all a mystery, and when we say any different, we're just lying to ourselves. Tell me, when have you felt most alive?" - epic chapter ending, IMO.
Page 204: You did not have to understand miracles to believe in them, and in fact Mabel had come to suspect the opposite. To believe, perhaps you had to cease looking for explanations and instead hold the little thing in your hands as long as you were able before it slipped like water between your fingers.
I can say in all honesty that this book at once broke my heart and mended it back, and that's a very rare gift indeed. Read. This. Book. Then tell me what you thought of it.
Other quotes (so many beauts!): “To believe, perhaps you had to cease looking for explanations and instead hold the little thing in your hands as long as your were able before it slipped like water between your fingers.” ― Eowyn Ivey, The Snow Child
“She had watched other women with infants and eventually understood what she craved: the boundless permission-no, the absolute necessity- to hold and kiss and stroke this tiny person. Cradling a swaddled infant in their arms, mothers would distractedly touch their lips to their babies' foreheads. Passing their toddlers in a hall, mothers would tousle their hair even sweep them up in their arms and kiss them hard along their chins and necks until the children squealed with glee. Where else in life, Mabel wondered, could a woman love so openly and with such abandon?” ― Eowyn Ivey, The Snow Child
“We are allowed to do that, are we not Mabel? To invent our own endings and choose joy over sorrow?” ― Eowyn Ivey, The Snow Child
“It was beautiful, Mabel knew, but it was a beauty that ripped you open and scored you clean so that you were left helpless and exposed, if you lived at all.” ― Eowyn Ivey, The Snow Child
“She could not fathom the hexagonal miracle of snowflakes formed from clouds, crystallized fern and feather that tumble down to light on a coat sleeve, white stars melting even as they strike. How did such force and beauty come to be in something so small and fleeting and unknowable? You did not have to understand miracles to believe in them, and in fact Mabel had come to suspect the opposite. To believe, perhaps you had to cease looking for explanations and instead hold the little thing in your hands as long as you were able before it slipped like water between your fingers."
“All her life she had believed in something more, in the mystery that shape-shifted at the edge of her senses. It was the flutter of moth wings on glass and the promise of river nymphs in the dappled creek beds. It was the smell of oak trees on the summer evening she fell in love, and the way dawn threw itself across the cow pond and turned the water to light.” ― Eowyn Ivey, The Snow Child(less)