This was a madcap treat. I haven't read Fforde since The Eyre Affair, and this second book in the Nursery Crime Division series was a lovely lollipop.This was a madcap treat. I haven't read Fforde since The Eyre Affair, and this second book in the Nursery Crime Division series was a lovely lollipop. Fforde doesn't just pull from nursery rhymes and fairy tales, but even Oscar Wilde. It's a police procedural spun around and around until dizzy. Loads of fun, even the intentionally bad jokes and puns....more
Fun, breezy read - I finished this in an afternoon. It reminded me of those late teen movies where the story begins at graduation and suddenly the oldFun, breezy read - I finished this in an afternoon. It reminded me of those late teen movies where the story begins at graduation and suddenly the old world order of things is over. The young adults, some of them anyway, discover that their peers are more dimensional than they thought, and aren't just defined by the cliques they belonged to in high school. Antics and escapades ensue, all in the course of a single day. I wouldn't be surprised if this became a movie....more
The language is simple, sparse, precise, and formal - it's the language of survival, of life and death. At times I thought of Faulkner - the writing iThe language is simple, sparse, precise, and formal - it's the language of survival, of life and death. At times I thought of Faulkner - the writing in The Road is not nearly as dense, but McCarthy's story of survival in a harsh, unforgiving world that remains in the wake of global disaster reminded me of the haunting topography that Faulkner explores in his characters and settings.
Yet the simplicity of McCarthy's rendering belies the horror of what has become of much of mankind. The man and the boy travel the road - we're never told exactly, but somewhere in what's left of the South - to escape the ever-colder winter in search of food, shelter, and other "good guys" like them.
The journey is a literal nightmare - the dimly-lit land is all char and ash, becoming utterly blinding in the night. The man and the boy must travel and scavenge for whatever they can find and carry. Their encounters with others are fraught with suspicion and danger; there is little room for trust and compassion, not when one is more likely to encounter people who have cast off their humanity. There are brief allusions to what became of the world, how people became little more than animals scavenging in the "commissaries of hell" - and worse. The man and boy must be ever-vigilant as they travel, but even they have moments of weakness in their struggle to survive, at times barely escaping with their lives.
To keep going on, when it seems there is no hope, to do what is right, when all "godspoke men" have vanished from the earth - the man and boy struggle to fulfill their basic needs, but also their spirits. There are plenty of moments of horror and despair, but the love between father and son is the "fire" that sustains them, as well as the book. The Road is a haunting, grueling read - it's not literally difficult to read, but the experience of reading it is one that remains long after you have read the final page....more
Marvelous - six storylines nested within one another - a literary sextet. It was a bit abrupt to get caught up in a story, only to have it end and movMarvelous - six storylines nested within one another - a literary sextet. It was a bit abrupt to get caught up in a story, only to have it end and move on to the next one. But there would be some brief mention of a connection somehow to the previous story. When you reach the final story at the heart of the novel, you start to see the connectedness of the stories and the overall theme of the book. And then you get to find out what happens in the second half of the remaining stories!...more
The book is engaging but slow going at first, but by the end it compels you to stay up until three in the morning on a Sunday night. I love the multipThe book is engaging but slow going at first, but by the end it compels you to stay up until three in the morning on a Sunday night. I love the multiple layers that are part of the novel - the story moves between the modern day and the past as two literature scholars join together to uncover a connection between two Victorian poets. Within the novel we are privy to their discovery of letters, fragments of poems, stories, and journal entries, which all help to continue the narrative. For Roland Michell and Maud Bailey this is more than an academic pursuit - there is a mystery, a hidden story, that they feel driven to learn about these people whom they have studied. As readers we are more fortunate; the novel gives us more of the story from the perspective of the poets, Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte. In that way we learn more of what happens between the poets, that Roland, Maud and the other academics will never know or only glimpse through the literature and material that has survived Ash and LaMotte. It's a bittersweet truth, that whatever we may discover about someone, we can never know everything - there are private thoughts, events, and details that simply are beyond our knowledge.
Going into this book, knowing Byatt calls it a Romance, is important. There are striking coincidences and synchronicities, turns of events that would otherwise be seen as impossible or at least highly improbable. Some of the minor characters strike me as less-dimensional this time around, but nothing happens quite as you think it will, which is one of the qualities I love about Possession. I also love the depiction of academia, the fractiousness, the political stances of literary study, the differences in motivation. (The word "possession" takes on different meanings in the course of the novel.) I'm not well-versed in Victorian literature, but apparently Byatt is; she creates wonderful ventriloquisms with the letters and poetry and fairy tales of Ash and LaMotte.
It was beautifully written, but it's a grueling read. Set in India, it's a novel in which life is bleak, depressing, and then it gets worse, yet whatIt was beautifully written, but it's a grueling read. Set in India, it's a novel in which life is bleak, depressing, and then it gets worse, yet what saves one is the ability to find small joys in life, in spite of the card life has dealt....more
Have you ever felt so moved that it's as if you're possessed? Reading The History of Love was like having my chest cracked open, the words flooding inHave you ever felt so moved that it's as if you're possessed? Reading The History of Love was like having my chest cracked open, the words flooding into me.
Some passages I loved:
The floorboards creaked under my weight. There were books everywhere. There were pens, and a blue glass vase, an ashtray from the Dolder Grand in Zurich, the rusted arrow of a weather vane, a little brass hourglass, sand dollars on the windowsill, a pair of binoculars, an empty wine bottle that served as a candle holder, wax melted down the neck. I touched this thing and that. At the end, all that's left of you are your possessions. Perhaps that's why I've never been able to throw anything away. Perhaps that's why I hoarded the world: with the hope that when I died, the sum total of my things would suggest a life larger than the one I lived.
And this: Every year, the memories I have of my father become more faint, unclear, and distant. Once they were vivid and true, then they became like photographs, and now they are more like photographs of photographs. But sometimes, at rare moments, a memory of him will return to me with such suddenness and clarity that all the feeling I've pushed down for years springs out like a jack-in-the-box....
One more line, one that caused the words to swim on the page for me: "The truth is the thing I invented so I could live."
The novel unfolds through several character viewpoints, through different narrative forms - first person accounts, journal entries, excerpts from a novel within the novel itself called The History of Love, even poetry. There is a literary mystery, at the heart of which is a love story that inspires other love stories, so that the novel itself is a history of love....more