"I remember a few weeks before she died, eating a late supper with her in an Italian restaurant down in the Village, and how she grasped my sleeve at...more"I remember a few weeks before she died, eating a late supper with her in an Italian restaurant down in the Village, and how she grasped my sleeve at the sudden, almost painful loveliness of a birthday cake with lit candles being carried in procession from the kitchen, faint circle of light wavering across the dark ceiling and then the cake set down to blaze amidst the family, beatifying an old lady's face, smiles all round, waiters stepping away with their hands behind their backs--just an ordinary birthday dinner you might see anywhere in an inexpensive downtown restaurant, and I'm sure I wouldn't even remember it had she not died so soon after, but I thought about it again and again after her death and indeed I'll probably think about it all my life; that candlelit circle, a tableau vivant of the daily, commonplace happiness that was lost when I lost her."
People get ready. A truly beautiful story.
Things you need to know if you are thinking about reading the Goldfinch.
1. It's long. It's 771 pages of writing. Donna Tartt hasn't published a novel in 11 years, and if someone told me that she spent the last 11 years working solely on this novel, night and day, I would not be surprised. It is that dense.
2. It is never boring. Throughout this book, the plot reels you in. It moves quickly, it is engaging, it stays interesting and compelling throughout. I set out to read this book in 7 days, and I did exactly that. I was never bored. I was never tired of it.
3. This is truly great writing. Donna Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi and attended the University of Mississippi. After reviewing her writing, Willie Morris was influential in having Tartt transfer to Bennington College where she studied alongside Bret Easton Ellis and Jonathan Lethem, among others. She is a truly gifted, touched-by-God writer who can convey a whole scene, a whole era, a whole city, a whole lifetime, in a few descriptive sentences. I have actually never read descriptions like these.
4. This is not Southern fiction. The book is a love letter to New York City and is set in New York, Las Vegas, and Amsterdam. This is not "The Help." If you look at Tartt's picture, she really doesn't even seem Southern. She looks a bit like a grown-up Wednesday Addams, in a truly fantastic way.
5. This book is said to be a *Bildungsroman*, so if you're into coming-of-age stories like Great Expectations and Jane Eyre, buckle your seatbelt, because you are going to truly love this modern-day-version of the same type of story.
6. It's pretty gritty. Not like Wolf-of-Wall Street gritty, but kind of sad and nihilistic pretty much throughout (and beautifully so, I must say). However, it is not without hope so hang in there. (That life--whatever else--is short. That fate is cruel but maybe not random.) Probably the most talked about sadness comes from the drug use throughout. As to this I just kept reminding myself how emotionally disturbed and deeply sad our morally-complicated protagonist really was. I felt the drug use was meant to remind us of that.
What else to say without giving anything away? Maybe it's because it's the first book I read this year, or maybe because Donna Tartt is like me, from Mississippi, and a woman, and I really wanted to love this. Or maybe because it's really, really just that good (it is!). But I really loved The Goldfinch. And to everyone who reads it, I will see you out there in the museums, in the gardens, having brunch somewhere in our favorite brunch spots, in the local used bookstores, or wherever you are newly inspired to become one with your things of beauty. And we will nod, and smile, and we will get it.
Only--if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn't it? And isn't the whole point of things--beautiful things--that they connect you to some larger beauty?
I'm not sure why it took me two months or more to get through this one. It reads very quickly. At its close, I ca...moreFinally.
I finally finished this book.
I'm not sure why it took me two months or more to get through this one. It reads very quickly. At its close, I can say that I liked it, and I am committed to the series, but this one really confused the heck out of me. Thankfully my 13 year old daughter was there to explain the ending to me.
This books seemed to wash over me without ever fully sinking in. I think it's because action scenes (written, or filmed on camera even) tend to lose me. I tend to drift off when I should be paying attention to who punched who, who's got the gun now...whether or not somebody's got a knife in their shoe. For whatever reason, I just cannot fully engage.
Also there is a looong list of characters in these books. For example, something dramatic happens with say, Lynn. Everyone in the book stands frozen and amazed. And I'm just like, "Wait, who's Lynn?" It's not you, book, it's me. I promise.
I do plan to read Allegient, and I plan to see the movie adaptation of Divergent. I'm just going to put a little time between me and this series. I will get to Allegient later, after I've had time to read a few synopses online and put these pieces together.(less)
Sweet story about an 8th grade boy named Doug who moves to a small town in New York when a job prospect for his father forces the family to relocate....moreSweet story about an 8th grade boy named Doug who moves to a small town in New York when a job prospect for his father forces the family to relocate. His family life which includes a bullyish older brother, a meek mother, and an abusive, drinking father is less than optimal. However, Doug has a keen eye for seeing past people and their behavior. He possesses the rare ability to look within to try to understand what people need, and to figure out how he can give it to them. Through key characters, the local library, and pictures of birds (stay with me), Doug is able to discover himself and his talents, and find an outlet for his sadness and frustration with his environment, as well as find hope for a brighter destiny.
The author utilizes a unique style that makes for interesting reading. Okay for Now starts slow, but gains momentum. Hang in there and you will be hooked.(less)
I enjoyed every moment of this book about the three daughters of a Shakespeare-expert/professor who grew up in a college town in the Midwest.
The story...moreI enjoyed every moment of this book about the three daughters of a Shakespeare-expert/professor who grew up in a college town in the Midwest.
The story was compelling, and the intertwined lines from Shakespeare's plays gave it a special quality, linking the reader to the family and the Bard.
What held me back from truly loving this was the neat and tidiness of the plot and its easy resolution. Life's not always so easily sorted out, especially once you've made some of the bad decisions some of these ladies have made. Bad decisions bring consequences...no matter how cute or quirky our protagonists may be.
But it was fun. And there's nothing wrong with fun. Would also make a fun movie that would be interesting to cast, and entertaining for a nice "escape" night out.(less)
Awesome first novel by the Chinese-American Bill Cheng, a Gothic odyssey set in the Deep South (the Mississippi Delta) in the 1920's-30's. This is wha...moreAwesome first novel by the Chinese-American Bill Cheng, a Gothic odyssey set in the Deep South (the Mississippi Delta) in the 1920's-30's. This is what I would want to write like if I could write. Bill Cheng, who lives with his wife in Brooklyn, is also a graduate of Baruch College in Manhattan, where my husband went to graduate school. I had many reasons to love this book!
Beware of GoodReads reviews that tell the entire story! The story is presented in a non-linear fashion, and the bulk of the plot we don't find out until the end. Beware of spoilers!
Good stuff, reminiscent of Toni Morrison's Beloved to me. (less)
The Fault in Our Stars is the non-mushy account of two super cool kids with cancer.
Most people are put off my...moreThe world is not a wish-granting factory.
The Fault in Our Stars is the non-mushy account of two super cool kids with cancer.
Most people are put off my books about cancer. We get enough bad news from real life. Death, dying, crime, financial ruin. Why would we want to spend free time propping up our feet in front of the fireplace getting cozy with a narrative of two children with a terminal disease?
I forgot TFIOS was about cancer. I was too wrapped up in two uniquely human, real, honest, funny and romantic people. And how they came together to have one adorable romance. And caught up in one man's creative love note to life, love, and the inevitable.
So many times young people get it and as we get older, we get so muddled in the mire, that we lose it. It was fun to see it like Hazel and Gus saw it. Fun and refreshing.
My twelve-year-old daughter that possibly shouldn't have been reading this book but did anyway has something to add here. After she read TFIOS on her Kindle she went to Amazon and posted her review. Two people found it to be helpful.
Five Stars: BEST BOOK EVER by Claire Herrington
Very good book. Every character is just perfect. In most books, the boy of whom the main character loves is usually....perfect. smart, popular, attractive, funny, nice...healthy. Downright perfect. But Augustus is not perfect. I liked this, because in reality, no one is perfect.
I love the literature references and allusions, mainly because I love reading and writing and I hope to be like Hazel Lancaster, who can quote books and recite poetry.
This book was truly touching. I am a movie/book cryer, but this one made me bawl. It captures the perfect image of cancer survivors, and those who don't survive. Hazel Grace' s thoughts made so much sense, as if they were coming from someone who truly did fight lung cancer.
In conclusion, this book is definitely a 5-star must-read. Of all the books I've read, this one has left me at a loss for words the most. There are no words in my vocabulary , almost, that could describe this book. I hope this review turns you into the right direction.
I remember when I first became fascinated with books and reading. I was on the school bus (I was around 8 or 9), and I looked over and saw a boy from...moreI remember when I first became fascinated with books and reading. I was on the school bus (I was around 8 or 9), and I looked over and saw a boy from my class reading The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. I remember thinking to myself, "What's that book? How does he know about it, and I don't? And, if it's good enough for him to be reading right here on the bus amidst all this chaos, certainly it's good enough for me to be reading too."
Cut to years later--pre-Internet, pre-GoodReads, I was around 23 and I had a friend who was obsessed with reading. You never saw him without a book in his hand. He stayed up all hours consuming books and coffee. And again, I thought, "If it's interesting enough for him, it's interesting enough for me, too!" So I approached him and asked that he would make me a book recommendation. And later, after I had finished the book.... maybe we could talk about it. (For the curious, the book was Things Fall Apart and it opened the door to a whole new kind of book for me.)
The thing with readers, and book lovers...not only do we love books and do we want to read them. We want to share them. We are intrigued by what other people see in books, and we know that if they appreciate them, then we would most likely appreciate them too. Then imagine how wonderful appreciating them together would be. No one wants to travel to the Eiffel Tower alone.
It's a loving tribute from a son to his mother, chronicling all of the many reasons he found her a wonder and an inspiration.
It's a book club--they choose the books that they would both appreciate, and we get to sit in as well. The ones that resonate with us, then we, too can then read and share.
It's a love letter to books and reading, and how they shape lives, spread joy, enlighten us, unite us, and empower us. (Much in the same spirit of other books about books, such as Reading Lolita in Tehran.
The End of Your Life Book club is the personal account of a journey through illness--how it affected one family, and particularly one relationship. How one woman faced it with courage and grace (although she wouldn't allow you to call her courageous), and her death comes like the ending to a beautiful story--a life not wasted, but packed full of love, faith, good works, and good books.
Alot of people may veer from this book in thinking that it's sad, but I personally did not feel that it was. I felt that it was a celebration of a life well lived, and anyone who loves books, or aspires to live a life worth living will take something from this, hopefully without too many tissues.
"Harold could no longer pass a stranger without acknowledging the truth that everyone was the same, and also unique; and that this was the dilemma of...more"Harold could no longer pass a stranger without acknowledging the truth that everyone was the same, and also unique; and that this was the dilemma of being human."
I just finished this book on New Year's Eve, and I'm so happy I did, because this is a book about new beginnings, even the ones begun in the twilight of our lives.
I have to begin by being perfectly honest which is, I feel, not only in keeping with the spirit of this book, but also the way that Harold would have wanted it. I feel like after what he's been through and having proved himself to be more than ordinarily resilient, that Harold can take the truth.
For a while this book really irritated me. It wasn't that I found the characters unbelievable--I actually found them all to be very real and human. It wasn't the setting, the writing, or the pacing of the story-telling. It was the actual walking, or, as the title calls it--the pilgrimage.
For the longest time I just didn't understand why Harold didn't hitch a ride, take a bus, hop a train or even get on a horse. The walk to me seemed impractible, unfeasible, and completely unrealistic. It seemed like a mere plot gimmick--hey! I'll write a book about a guy who decides to walk.
Another image I couldn't get out of my head as much as I wanted to (once I had thought of it it was just THERE--like a gnawing little itch) was that of another walking (running, actually) literary/film character...Forest Gump. I just kept thinking...this story has been told before...we've seen this. He just starts walking and he doesn't stop. People join in along the way. He becomes famous. He runs, and it isn't about the destination, it's about the journey. Been there, seen that.
But somewhere toward the end, this author really pulled this story together for me. There is an effective twist, that was the most heartbreaking part of the story for me, that made me realize Harold had been through circumstances that might render a man quite mad...mad enough to start walking and not stop, and all of a sudden his walk became a lot more understandable and a lot more feasible.
I also came to better terms with the metaphorical ramifications of Harold's walk and I quit being so dang literal and worrying about Harold sleeping out on the highway with the foxes without bathing, and I started looking more inward to Harold and his tortured soul.
Harold's interaction with Queenie, near the end, is one of the most chilling encounters I have read in fiction. But it was so real, and so true, and so meaningful, I fell for the book all at once, right there at its very close.
So if someone asked me what I liked about Harold Frye doing all that walking or what I got from reading about Harold and the circumstances that shaped him until he finally was able to throw them all off there on the side of England's highways...I would first say that I think the author meant for us to realize how we all carry our own particular burdens. That is rather obvious in the characters that Harold encounters and how they had their own unique crosses to bear.
"It must be the same all over England. People were buying milk or filling their cars with petrol, or even posting letters. And what no one else knew was the appalling weight of the thing they were carrying inside."
But I would also say that I was reminded that it's never too late to start over. That we all have to come face to face with our ghosts, and that doesn't happen on our own time. It happens on it's on natural course undetermined by us (much like all aspects of our lives). I am reminded of the courage it takes to face our demons, and how we cannot begin to live fully, openly, or honestly until we have looked them dead in the eyes, no matter how difficult or implausible the journey is that takes us to meet them. (less)