Selma Lagerlof was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature so I have always been curious about her work but had never given it the timeSelma Lagerlof was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature so I have always been curious about her work but had never given it the time it deserved. The Saga of Gosta Berling one of her most well known works is an unexpected surprise-a series of morality tales with a heavy dose of magic realism.
The reader follows Gosta Berling a defrocked Minister-he leaves due to his requiring alcohol to avoid the poverty and starkness of his position to being saved by the Majoress and becoming one of 12 Cavaliers at a wealthy country estate-Ekeby. Most of the cavaliers had been soldiers during the Napoleonic wars and provide various interludes interspersed in the narrative of Gosta’s life and loves.
Evil makes its presence known early on when the cavaliers believe that their Savior the Majoress is actually in league with the devil and gives up the soul of her 13th cavalier each year. The cavaliers sign a blood oath against the Majoress requiring her removal from Ekeby and placing them and Gosta in charge for a year.
Lagerlof interweaves tales such as Wolves snapping at the heels, sinister woodlands, sloth and avarice to guide Gosta and the cavaliers through their year of being in charge. What I liked most about the book was that her use of magic realism adds rather than detracts from the narrative giving the reader a clear picture of a complex scenario much like a fairy tale....more
Anne Enright’s most recent novel The Green Road is an engaging and punishing narrative. You meet the Madigans an Irish family from County Clare at a cAnne Enright’s most recent novel The Green Road is an engaging and punishing narrative. You meet the Madigans an Irish family from County Clare at a critical moment-an announcement is made at a Sunday dinner. You then are given a glimpse into their lives and meet them all together again as they grudgingly reconvene at a Christmas dinner some 25 years later. What was particularly interesting to me was that when you meet the Madigan children-Dan (the ex- Priest ?), Constance(the home maker), Emmet(the missionary) and Hanna(the would be actress) you are introduced to only the potentially pivotal moments in their lives - they have reached the point of change, a decision must be made or potentially tragic moment overcome. I thought this would be disconcerting since it wasn’t a straight narrative but just a captured moment albeit one that included depth but I realized I had a very clear picture of who they were, the choices they made and the approval sought. The Christmas get together is relatable on so many levels-the childhood alliances, the festering resentments, the miscommunications, the manipulations and the glue that binds them all together as the Madigans. Here the narrative thread is continued and even though many of the scenarios are unresolved they felt complete. To me Enright is one of those writers that makes you wince and laugh at the same time. She is clear and concise and always seem to hit it out of the park each time she publishes. ...more
Immediately from the title you know that your heroine will be an exceptional and controversial character. "The Blazing World" was the title of a workImmediately from the title you know that your heroine will be an exceptional and controversial character. "The Blazing World" was the title of a work by Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle. While Margaret Cavendish published under her own name a rarity in the 17th century for a woman- Siri Hustvedt's heroine Harriet Burden decides to utilize 3 male artists as her "masks" to expose the art world’s dismissiveness towards female artists through an equation of her work-their name. The novel reads like an exhibition catalog with varying viewpoints, interviews, personal remembrances and fabricated criticisms. You follow Harriet through her marriage to Felix Lord the philandering Uber Art Dealer, lukewarm reception to her exhibitions, motherhood, marginalization, widowhood and her decision to morph her art into a quasi-collaborative process taking on a certain amount of persona from her male mask. Harriet is quoted in the book as utilizing the "masculine enhancement effect". Philosophical references play a crucial part in the narrative. Rune's work The Banality of Glamour is a direct reference to Hannah Arendt's attributed statement of the Banality of Evil when discussing Eichmann. Rune is Hannah's "Third Man" and by far the most successful and destructive of her collaborations. The book is much more complex than a simple straight art narrative exposé in the style of the Guerilla Girls. Harriet has a lot of rage towards the men in her life-a distant father, secretive husband and duplicitous collaborator. I liked Harriet. Yes she is deeply flawed, but she is also loving and creative and interesting and I look forward to exploring more of Hustvedt’s work ...more
Lorrie Moore does an excellent job of exhibiting our flaws in a very painful yet acceptable narrative. Themes of loss, betrayal, infidelity and angerLorrie Moore does an excellent job of exhibiting our flaws in a very painful yet acceptable narrative. Themes of loss, betrayal, infidelity and anger are handled deftly and each vignette feels complete-although I did occasionally have to put the stories down and take a deep breath. She has the talent to cut a little to close to the heart of the matter and as the reader I found I at times wanted to push back and ask for the traditional Happily Ever After. Like Bark I appreciated the use of birds as a narrative link in the stories whether it was actual birds, associated sounds or symbolic elements. As in her previous works that I have read-she stays with you and causes you to evaluate motivations and responses. ...more
I thoroughly enjoyed this installment of the Isabel Dalhousie series. Isabel is approached about a case of reincarnation-a young boy has memories/fantI thoroughly enjoyed this installment of the Isabel Dalhousie series. Isabel is approached about a case of reincarnation-a young boy has memories/fantasies and Isabel decides to investigate whether it really is a case of reincarnation and can reincarnation really exist. I especially loved the segment on "thinking negative thoughts about someone." Throughout the series Isabel continues to maintain her integrity which is something I especially appreciate. The only negative for me continues to be Cat-as a character I have some very strong negative thoughts on her!! All in all a delightful read-not your traditional murder mystery but as always a lovely thoughtful journey....more
This is a quirky book in the vein of Nancy Mitford. The premise is that a Unity Mitford type character had Hitler's child. It is part humor and part hThis is a quirky book in the vein of Nancy Mitford. The premise is that a Unity Mitford type character had Hitler's child. It is part humor and part horror with a dash of social commentary....more
I knew absolutely nothing about Joanna I having focused my "royal" reading on the big three English, French and Russian dynasties. Nancy Goldstone didI knew absolutely nothing about Joanna I having focused my "royal" reading on the big three English, French and Russian dynasties. Nancy Goldstone did a very good job of bringing her to life and the royal court-the treachery and the incestuous nature of marriage and alliances. The fact that she was able to be crowned given she was a women and her relationship with the church I found very interesting....more