Bray isn't quite yet on my "can do no wrong" list, but damn this is another incredible book! I adored Beauty Queens but The Diviners is the best bookBray isn't quite yet on my "can do no wrong" list, but damn this is another incredible book! I adored Beauty Queens but The Diviners is the best book I've read in ages. I devoured it in three days or so, and this should say *a lot* since it's massive and I have a toddler. ;-)
Bray writes again with feminist conviction, humor, and wryness that I adore beyond words. She's created more real heroines that are just that, but without the incessant and worshipful fawning over a hot guy business- I'm looking at you Cassie Clare. ...more
The Victorian historical-fiction aspect is, as always, delightful, but the "twist" of this book was painfully evident with 200 pages left. I wish Ms.The Victorian historical-fiction aspect is, as always, delightful, but the "twist" of this book was painfully evident with 200 pages left. I wish Ms. Bray would hire an extremely judicious editor- these books are lovely, just drag like crazy at times. ...more
A Great and Terrible Beauty is a delightful read- perfect for three days of snow and blustery winds. Bray constructs a world of adolescent angst (albeA Great and Terrible Beauty is a delightful read- perfect for three days of snow and blustery winds. Bray constructs a world of adolescent angst (albeit not too ponderous- a fiesty narrator keeps it from being too whiny), swirled with Victorian boarding school etiquette and repression. Throw in some gargoyles, a bit of magic, and you're set for a snowstorm. Or three.
I especially enjoyed the interview with Bray at the back of the book. She writes with a refreshing sense of humor (also evidenced in the book itself). To wit: "...I hate the term chick lit because it feels demeaning. Nobody calls the work of John Updike or Philip Roth old white guy lit...Now that said, can we please, please move away from this recent spate of navel-gazing, whining, shopping-obsessed superficial novels in which guys are just accessories like the right shoes, and the deepest feelings encountered are a sort of self-absorbed sulkiness on the part of the heroine?" (COUGH. I'm looking at you, Sophie Kinsella, et al.)...more
After the first few chapters: I'm initially iffy about the stereotypical portrayal of the black women in the book (I seem to have the same issues thatAfter the first few chapters: I'm initially iffy about the stereotypical portrayal of the black women in the book (I seem to have the same issues that the NYT and a few other published reviews have), but they also said ultimately it's a great book. I'm hanging in there in the hopes it will be more an interesting historical fiction capture of the South in the 1960's and can get past the whole "white woman writing black women" thing.
I only have a chapters pages left: ...and the book has definitely hooked me. It's compulsively readable, but not one of the best I've read, contrary to the fawning reviews on Amazon.com. For the most part, I'm okay with Stockett's writing women of color- at one point one of the women acknowledges and is exceptionally critical of the "Mammy" stereotype from Gone With the Wind and Stockett is savvy enough to avoid too many problematic cliches and definitely isn't condescending. As to her accuracy of the Black experience in Mississippi in the 60's, I can't say, but she certainly communicates tension and a (justified) sense of paranoia.
FINAL REVIEW: I finished the book and wish more reviews mentioned the author's notes after the last chapter. I'm happy she mentions the tricky nature of writing about the black experience in the 60's and acknowledges coming from a background of white privilege. Overall, I enjoyed the book and found it to be highly-engaging and an impressive first novel....more
I found the four different narratives (with separate characters) REALLY confusing for the first 2/3 of the book, but once the characters ended up on tI found the four different narratives (with separate characters) REALLY confusing for the first 2/3 of the book, but once the characters ended up on the same continent (well, at various times), things started to make sense and pick up the pace. The last third of the book moved really quickly and was back to form for Gabaldon....but holy crap, woman, make the books a little shorter, will you?!
Blum's talent for vivid and haunting descriptions pushes me to the side of being impressed by the book, yet her writing slips and misses make mine anBlum's talent for vivid and haunting descriptions pushes me to the side of being impressed by the book, yet her writing slips and misses make mine an overall mixed reaction. Above all, I think her descriptions of the nightmarish scenes during the war are served by not focusing on what happened in the camps, for there was plenty of horror in the countryside and towns. She doesn't omit the horrors of Buchenwald, though, and I find her most skillful work in bringing to horrifying life the aforementioned nightmares in ways that genuinely stay with you long after you put the book down. She somehow creates a vivid image of what's taking place in Buchenwald without explicitly taking you inside its walls.
As mentioned in many reviews, I found courage in her approach to writing about the Holocaust from an alternative perspective. She does, in fact, deal skillfully with the resentment and hatred many have in their reactions to the addressing of the perspective of the German citizens' roles as bystander.
As a teacher myself, I am especially fond Blum's accounting Trudy's scenes as a professor to be among the most truthful, real, and accurate accounts of what it's like to look out among a class of a combination of students regarding (or not regarding) you with disdain, boredom, sleepiness, disinterest, etc. Having said this, I fiund the character of Trudy and of her mother, Anna, to be somewhat frustrating. They are women who, understandably function in a world of emotional repression, denial and stoicism, and while I don't begrudge them this, it does start to feel a bit one-dimensional and lapses into predictability quite frequently.
This is not a book to be missed, however minor it's flaws may be.
**spoiler alert** I loved many of Gabaldon's Outlander books, but this, while an enjoyable read, falls SO far short. It seems as if she has tossed Jam**spoiler alert** I loved many of Gabaldon's Outlander books, but this, while an enjoyable read, falls SO far short. It seems as if she has tossed Jamie Fraser in without much thought and his scenes are brief and rushed...and I never quite could figure out just when in the timeline of Outlander, etc this took place. I suppose I could have gone back and figured it out, but *shrug* not really worth it. It's an enjoyable read, but by no means a page turner with any significant weight. Oh, and this cover is SO CREEPY. ...more