This is a weird book. It took me a long time to get into it because it has so many characters (it must be at least around 20?) and in the first part oThis is a weird book. It took me a long time to get into it because it has so many characters (it must be at least around 20?) and in the first part of the book they're quite hard to differentiate between each other because they're so similar. Each chapter / section is told from the perspective of a different character but some characters only get one or two sections then drop out of the novel completely alongside their whole plotline and it's just confusing and disappointing. Despite the fact that the book is narrated from inside the heads of most of the characters in it, it's hard to tell what emotions those characters are going through? There's no that much character development. I expected the book to be more about the 3 crashes but I actually feel like they fit into the rest of the book quite awkwardly and by the last 1/4 they're only a quite minor part of the plot which now focuses on Miri's family moving away. The ending is kinda sickly sweet, everyone is wealthy now and married with three kids. I enjoyed the little historical details, but otherwise it felt a little bit pointless? I wouldn't read again. ...more
I loved this essay a lot and I really want to read the other two parts of the Family Tooth but I do wish they were available as a bundle / single bookI loved this essay a lot and I really want to read the other two parts of the Family Tooth but I do wish they were available as a bundle / single book rather than as Kindle Singles worth £1.30 each since they're actually only 20 pages long. ...more
Since I didn't grow up in an Anglophone country, I didn't read Oliver Twist as a child or see any of the numerous adaptations. When I became interesteSince I didn't grow up in an Anglophone country, I didn't read Oliver Twist as a child or see any of the numerous adaptations. When I became interested in Victorian literature around the time of when I was finishing university, Oliver Twist seemed too childish in plot and too rough in technique (given that its Dickens' first serious novel) so I avoided reading it thinking that I'd find it boring. Eventually I got curious and wanted to give it a try partly because its serialization started in 1837, at the same time when the Victorian period itself was starting and I was curious how this compared to older texts.
Thus I was vaguely aware of the fact that Oliver Twist was a pickpocketing orphan who lived in London but knew nothing else about the plot of this. I was pretty taken aback both by how racist Dickens' writing is and by how emotionally invested I became in the fate of a bunch of fictional Victorian orphans. It's only fair to say that these things are mostly true only for the first part of the book. After the halfway point Oliver is no longer in immediate danger and the narrative voice shifts away from him so I continued reading mostly to satisfy my curiosity about denouement, not because I wanted Oliver to finally stop being tortured by the narrative. I was worried about the dog in the last chapters, though, and rightly, since it ends up dying violently.
What else can I say about this book? In true 19th century fashion, the baddies are either Jewish, have epilepsy or work for the local government. The descriptions of various seedy neighborhoods in London are very vivid and it's kinda pleasant to read about intensely dark foggy nights while you're rugged up inside. ...more
I really loved this book and I'm surprised it doesn't have more glowing reviews. I think this is partly, at least, because it's hard for readers to liI really loved this book and I'm surprised it doesn't have more glowing reviews. I think this is partly, at least, because it's hard for readers to like bad / truly flawed female main characters. Although there's increasingly many books in which the baddies are women, in nearly all of these books which end up successful the main female character is some version of a femme fatale whose thought process and emotions you never really get to understand. These women are mysterious, sophisticated and sexy, not nerdy awkward teenagers with "virgin hair" who mostly stumble unto bad choices rather than have evil masterplans like Grace / Julie. But I loved the book because the characters are so real. They're unusual and expected in many ways, which makes you get "hooked" on the book, eager to find the ending, but they're also ordinary in many ways. I've met people like Riley, Alls, Greg and Grace, reading this I feel like I have met these very characters as well because Scherm nails relationships between teenagers and how they can be weighed down by the subtle class dynamics so well.
It's a little bit hard to get into the book at first, the parts about Grace / Julie's life in Europe are a bit tedious and anticlimatic but it's really worth it to give the book a chance and keep reading. ...more
So. In theory I like thrillers but it turns out that in practice I don't really want to read hundreds of pages about serial killers who got away withSo. In theory I like thrillers but it turns out that in practice I don't really want to read hundreds of pages about serial killers who got away with it for decades. Maybe I would've given this more stars if the ending wasn't "everything was OK eventually because Claire started dating this random man he had no chemistry with". ...more
This is one of the minor Hardys, it's ok but nothing special. Descriptions of the scenery are enjoyable and interesting, but the characters are caricaThis is one of the minor Hardys, it's ok but nothing special. Descriptions of the scenery are enjoyable and interesting, but the characters are caricatures and the plot is pretty boring. The split up of the narrative into seasons was a nice touch, I suppose....more
This was pretty disappointing... I guess by this point I should know that anything advertised as "just like Gone Girl" is actually not going to be atThis was pretty disappointing... I guess by this point I should know that anything advertised as "just like Gone Girl" is actually not going to be at all like Gone Girl.
Maybe I'm a little bit biased because I hate it when books have a lot of random non-novel fragments in them and there's endless playscript portions in the first half of the book. To be honest they add little to the plot and are not especially well written. Then again I don't think the first half of the book as a whole is especially well written. I guess Groff had to lay out the main plot points from Lotto's perspective somehow but there's little conflict and the huge cast of semi-anonymous pointless secondary characters who show up at all of Lotto and Mathilde's parties is hard to keep track of. Yes the second part redeems the book somewhat but Mathilde's backstory is overly melodramatic and a little bit hard to believe, it ultimately doesn't add very much to the overall plot. The only "revelation" is that she couldn't share painful experiences she had as a child / young person with her husband who supposedly adored her and whom she supposedly loved very much because she was scared that if she didn't appear saintly pure he would stop loving her. Which is probably true. Of course she writes Lotto's plays, that was really obvious from the first part...
Idk, I just felt like there's little payoff for putting up with so many weirdly written sex scenes....more
I liked this a lot! I enjoy stories about different generations of women and switching perspective between Satomi and her daughter kept the story inteI liked this a lot! I enjoy stories about different generations of women and switching perspective between Satomi and her daughter kept the story interesting. I also felt like the descriptions of the places the characters visited and people they encountered there were very specific and this made them seem very real. It did feel like the last 1/4 of the book was a little bit rushed and I didn't entirely buy Satomi's character transformation / development but overall v enjoyable, will look for the author's books again. ...more
This was so repetitive and depressing... Minor / episodic characters pass in and out of the narrative seemingly for no reason and it's hard to keep trThis was so repetitive and depressing... Minor / episodic characters pass in and out of the narrative seemingly for no reason and it's hard to keep track of them or get invested in them when you know they will vanish by the beginning of the next chapter. Really interesting characters like Darrell are written out of the main plotline. Nothing really happens? The main character is pretty stereotypical and bland, she is a self-described "broken" woman so of course that means she actively & deliberately chooses to date abusive men. Kinda a waste of time. ...more
I've read a couple of American editions of this kind of collection and I have to say that in comparison with those, this is pretty disappointing. I enI've read a couple of American editions of this kind of collection and I have to say that in comparison with those, this is pretty disappointing. I enjoyed the personal essays that make up the first ~1/3 as well as a couple of the later ones on politics but the whole section of literary reviews was very boring. A lot of the essays are about very current events and don't say much besides the obvious (e.g. current govt are bastards). The American Best Essays aren't always great, there's usually at least 4-5 that are pretty boring, but they're a lot more diverse than this and almost none of the essays require you to read something else (e.g. the book that's being reviewed) in order to get it....more
This book was a little bit weird in that I think it's really difficult to describe exactly what it's about. Based on the description on GR ("sweepingThis book was a little bit weird in that I think it's really difficult to describe exactly what it's about. Based on the description on GR ("sweeping exploration of the secrets and desires of one California family over the course of five decades" or something like that), I expected a much longer and more detailed book. I don't know whether it's because I read it on my Kindle rather than a physical copy, but it felt quite short and I managed to finish it on a 7 hour bus trip from Budapest to Cluj. There's a lot of good scenes and well-written subplots in it, but a lot of key background information is missing from all major characters (for example, Bill Blair's experiences in Korea is meant to be motivation behind his choice to become a pediatrician and have big family but we don't know anything about those experiences, he never talks about them and there are no flashbacks).
It was also a bit difficult for the central conflict (selling the house after Bill's death) to really drive the book onwards? None of the characters seem particularly invested in it and it was hard for their investment to be believable. Imo there needed to be another subplot to make the book more purposeful. I enjoyed the characters, though, and I think they are mostly complex and well written so they're what kept me reading. ...more