Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman's got to hold on to. ~Dolores Claiborne
Meet Dolores Claiborne -- island woman, mother of three, murderess and
Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman's got to hold on to. ~Dolores Claiborne
Meet Dolores Claiborne -- island woman, mother of three, murderess and overall high-riding bitch. And I love her! She is strength and smarts and dignity personified and in my opinion, one of the most vivid and memorable literary creations ever to walk the pages of any book. I don't say that lightly. Yes I'm a fan, yes I'm gushing, but this is also a more tempered, critical evaluation after living with her existence these many years. She has stood the test of time and I have no doubt she will continue to do so long after her creator has passed.
Arguably one of Stephen King's most underrated and dismissed works, Dolores Claiborne remains for me one of his best and most literary novels. The first-person narrative voice is brilliantly executed, the island dialect ringing true, the rhythm of the language making the sense of place so vibrant and tangible. The reading experience is only enhanced by the audio version (which I highly recommend).
Bringing nothing but his A-game, King delves into the life of a poor, uneducated, island woman, who marries young and gets to repent in leisure. I love this story so much because not only does it capture small town life and a woman's place in it, but also the unshakeable bonds of friendship that can be forged like steel between women, and the ferocious love a mother feels for her children.
This book is a powerful and naked look at mother-love, at how desperate, intense, and all-consuming it really is....But mainly this is the story of an unlikely alliance between two hard talkin’, high riding bitches; two women from very different walks of life who find that they have a similar core of bitter strength.
At its heart, this is a book about a desperate woman who is driven to a very desperate act. It is a crime novel built around a detailed confession that's so urgent, so immediate, the story sucks you in like quicksand and does not want to let go. This is not a horror novel, but there are a few moments of unadulterated suspense and terror that had my heart jack-rabbiting in my chest. (view spoiler)[When Dolores returns to the well and Joe has nearly succeeded in climbing out and grabs her ankle, I just about screamed and threw the book across the room! When you have to do such a dirty deed, you want it to happen as fast and clean as possible. It could not have turned out more ugly and terrifying for Dolores and is it any wonder she imagines Joe's face grinning out at her from behind the wheels of Vera's wheelchair on the day of Vera's death? (hide spoiler)]
Dolores Claiborne is not the only high-riding bitch in this story, there is also Ms. Vera Donovan, her contrary, vitriolic employer who explains the facts of life thusly: "Husbands die every day Dolores. Why, one is probably dying right now while you're sitting here weeping....An accident can be an unhappy woman's best friend." Dolores and Vera make an unlikely pair, but over the years they cleave to one another in an unexpected, unforgettable friendship that runs dark and deep.
This review can also be found at Busty Book Bimbo["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Camille Preaker is haunted by childhood memories of a cold, hysterical mother and the devastating loss of her sister, Marian, who died when Camille waCamille Preaker is haunted by childhood memories of a cold, hysterical mother and the devastating loss of her sister, Marian, who died when Camille was only 13. Literally carrying her war wounds upon her flesh, Camille is a recovering "cutter" who has carved a myriad of words into her skin as a visible record of the pain and trauma she's experienced. Having escaped from the clutches of a cloying family environment, Camille is being sent back into the cauldron, this time as a reporter for a second-rate newspaper to cover the gruesome murders of two local pre-teens. The more involved she becomes in the mystery, the more she uncovers about her town, her family, and herself. The discoveries are anything but pleasant.
Part thriller, part mystery, part Southern Gothic, Gillian Flynn's debut novel is simply outstanding. Camille Preaker is a heroine worth cheering for, as Flynn expertly delves into the female psyche and the delicate, often damaging ties between mothers and daughters. In the tradition of Flannery O'Connor, the writing here is so effective and evocative, this one will stay with you long after the reading is done....more
I come to any novel set in the American south hoping it will deliver on the following criteria: 1) a family encumbered by secrets and betrayal 2) a prI come to any novel set in the American south hoping it will deliver on the following criteria: 1) a family encumbered by secrets and betrayal 2) a prickly if not downright toxic relationship between a mother and a daughter, or between sisters, or both 3) prose that sings and 4) a smidge of the supernatural. In The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, Joshilyn Jackson is firing on all four cylinders.
Yes, the book flirts with formulaic and is a bit contrived in places, the ending is almost a little too much with all loose ends tying up a little too neatly, BUT in spite of these shortcomings, the book remains a great yarn. Just don’t go at it with a scalpel. Where the novel really shines is the rocky, abrasive – sometimes abusive – relationship shared between Laurel and her sister Thalia. Their dynamic reminded me a lot of Margot (Nicole Kidman) and Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in the movie Margot at the Wedding. Great film by the way.
TGWSS is not without its flaws, but still a great summer read. A similar book in many ways, but a far superior novel is Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. Flynn’s book is phenomenal and in comparison makes Jackson’s book seem a little too soap opera-ish. ...more
A classic for many reasons, not the least of which is that Metalious is a talented writer with keen insight into the human condition. She knows the woA classic for many reasons, not the least of which is that Metalious is a talented writer with keen insight into the human condition. She knows the world she writes about, and all of the people in it. Salacious for its time, Peyton Place is tame by today's standards, but still stands as an outstanding example of storytelling.
First line fever: Indian summer is like a woman. Ripe, hotly passionate, but fickle, she comes and goes as she pleases so that one is never sure whether she will come at all, nor for how long she will stay....more
In a word ... outstanding. I can't believe I almost missed reading (or rather listening) to this book. Unfortunately, I have this thing where books thIn a word ... outstanding. I can't believe I almost missed reading (or rather listening) to this book. Unfortunately, I have this thing where books that are SUPER POPULAR alienate me off the bat. And when this book first came out, it blasted off into the SUPER POPULAR stratosphere and any enthusiasm I might have had waned to a lukewarm indifference, and the book went on my "maybe someday I'll get to it" pile.
No matter how much I tried to ignore its existence however, the book and I kept crossing paths. Friends were reviewing it so favorably I started to feel like I was missing out on something big and awesome -- and life is too short on the big and the awesome to walk blithely past an easy opportunity for both.
The Help is about race relations in the American South during the 1960s, how even though black women were entrusted to raise white children and prepare the family's daily meals they were still considered "other" and "less than". I cannot speak to whether the author does this aspect of the story justice. I'm a white girl who grew up on a very white island off the coast of Canada, which means I can't say if Stockett's handling of the details is misinformed and/or offensive. I realize there is always a distinct possibility that any story about race can itself descend unwittingly into racism. Such criticism has been launched at this book. For example, this reviewer here.
For me, the story won me over and completely sucked me in because it was a book about women friendships -- how they endure, how they can poison, how they can save. It looks at how mothers grieve the loss of a child, it looks at the complicated, thorny relationship shared between mothers and daughters. It looks at the cold hard face of domestic violence and despair. It looks at loneliness and desperation. In other words, The Help is a historical representation of the lives of women in a particular time and place and to reduce it to an offensive piece on race and race relations is to do it a grave injustice.
I. LOVE. THESE. WOMEN. They are inspiring, strong, funny, daring. I love how they bring out the best in each other. I love their fierceness, their loyalty, their instinct to protect each other. I also love how Stockett shows the "other" side of womanhood, the side that's not so attractive but just as real -- the envy, the bitterness, the vitriol, the peevishness, the manipulation, the bullying. That sometimes we are our own worst enemy. Forget the mens; I can't remember a villain so well-written as Hilly Holbrook. That bitch be cold. I love this observation made by Minny:
Womens, they ain't like men. A woman ain't gone beat you with a stick. Miss Hilly wouldn't pull no pistol on me. Miss Leefolt wouldn't come burn my house down. No, white womens like to keep they hands clean. They got a shiny little set of tools they use, sharp as witches' fingernails, tidy and laid out neat, like the picks on a dentist tray. They gone take they time with em.
I don't know how this book reads textually, but as an audiobook it is truly a marvel. The voices are fantastic, the ebb and flow of the prose and dialect like an angel singing in your ear.
I love books set in the American South; I've never been but the lushness of the landscape calls to me for all the reasons Becky captures here:
"The slower pace, the afternoon thunderstorms, the heat and humidity that makes it hard to breathe, the crickets, crepe myrtles and spanish moss, the old feel and the history... all of it." See Becky's review
More than the landscape, there’s the food. The descriptions of Southern cooking in this book can make a grown woman weep. I sighed, I drooled, I yearned.
Despite its serious and tragic subject matter, The Help is also EXTREMELY FUNNY. I was seriously laughing my ass off in parts – the whole “pecker pie” incident involving Minny and Celia got me to giggling so hard tears were rolling down my face.
Once I popped in the first CD I could not stop listening. I gorged. But unlike eating an entire box of chocolates in one gluttonous sitting, I wasn’t left with a big bellyache of regret. This book will make you cheer. It will uplift you. It will entertain you. If I could marry it, I would. ...more
While I was not completely satisfied with the ending, this book's overall disarming weirdness kept me enthralled. Rose's complicated relationships witWhile I was not completely satisfied with the ending, this book's overall disarming weirdness kept me enthralled. Rose's complicated relationships with her world, her family, and above all with food, makes for compelling stuff. Hugely original concept that turned out to be more than a gimmick. Bender takes her time developing her cast of eccentric and flawed characters. I just LOVED George, and I would definitely recommend this book for anyone looking for something that's not like anything else....more
I find writing reviews for books I love quite intimidating really. I feel overwhelmed with the task of ever doing a book justice that I want everyoneI find writing reviews for books I love quite intimidating really. I feel overwhelmed with the task of ever doing a book justice that I want everyone to read. And then there’s always the risk that if you gush too much, it’s going to turn people off, or build their expectations so high that when they do pick the book up they can’t help but be a little disappointed. But perhaps I’m over thinking it too much.
I had never read anything by Jennifer Donnelly before and didn’t know quite what to expect when I picked up Revolution. I thought the cover quite beautiful, and the historical aspect of the story called to me, so I had no qualms about giving it a try. What can I say about a book that totally swept me up in its pages and consumed my every free thought when I wasn’t reading it? The sheer beauty of some of its prose squeezed my heart. Donnelly does such an amazing job writing about music that I swear sometimes I heard the notes wafting up from the page. I’ve never claimed to be a music aficionado of any age or style, I don’t read music, I’ve never taken a music appreciation class – but I listen to music. It has an undeniably important place in my life, as vital as reading, and there is just something so simple and honest about the way Donnelly threads music throughout this novel that left me totally captivated.
Then there’s the story – about a defeated young girl undone by tragedy who has lost her way, and her will to live. Andi is angry at herself, at the world, and the depth of her grief and rage is like a sharp and vicious thing that she carries in her chest. Andi is definitely a young woman spiraling out of control. She’s been essentially abandoned by her parents – her father because he is a Nobel-winning scientist obsessed with his work, and her mother who mourns so deeply for the loss of her child it has unhinged her, leaving her depleted, empty, with nothing to give to her surviving daughter. I thought the relationship between Andi and her mom to be a tender and damaged thing; both women have been so traumatized by loss that a sort of role-reversal has taken place, where Andi has become the fierce protector and the one doing the “looking after”.
I love how this novel unfolds, that it is two stories with two narrators – one contemporary one historical. The detail is so vivid, the sense of place so strong, you walk the streets of Paris and run through the catacombs that haunt the modern city to this day. French Revolutionary history is filled with brutality, intrigue, betrayal, hope and disillusionment. As a novelist, you don’t have to exaggerate any of the historical details, you simply stand out of the way and let the story tell itself. I feel that’s what Donnelly has done here; she’s taken her fictional creation – Alexandrine – and written her into the pages of history. Through Alexandrine’s diary, we get an intimate look at the scale of human barbarity it takes to pull off a Revolution.
Andi becomes consumed with the diary and with Alexandrine’s fate and the fate of the boy King locked in a tower to rot. She can only hope that the diary can give her the peace and understanding she seeks to save her own life. This book is gorgeously textured and layered like an 18th century French painting, or a beautiful piece of composed music. It is also a pulse-pounding page-turning adventure, an enigmatic historical mystery shrouded in intrigue and speculation. It's a love story about the bonds between parent and child, brother and sister, lovers and friends. Read this book. ...more
This book starts out slow with not a whole lot happening. It’s definitely one of those reads that sneaks up on you in an amazing way, and you are so gThis book starts out slow with not a whole lot happening. It’s definitely one of those reads that sneaks up on you in an amazing way, and you are so grateful to have stuck with it by the time you reach the end. Strachan uses a lot of Welsh idioms and dialect which takes a bit of getting used to. The first half is on the lighter fluffier side as the characters that populate Gwenni’s young life and a small 1950s Welsh town are introduced.
Told in the first-person, Gwenni is a precocious and imaginative child, her narrative voice colorful, innocent and sweet. As the town and her family begin to deteriorate around her, it is painful to watch this young girl try and find meaning in the chaos and make her way through it to the other side. When Gwenni becomes an easy target for a cruel, selfish mother who is possibly suffering from a serious mental break, all I wanted to do was protect Gwenni from the hurts and confusion and whatever it is she’s going to uncover.
This is a book about loss – of innocence, of love, of one’s mind. It is a coming-of-age story beautifully told, wrapped in mystery and shot through with tragedy. I fell in love with Gwenni’s Tada and Nain who cherish her and are there for her in ways that Gwenni’s mother is unable to be – some of it out of pure selfishness, most of it due to a tragedy in her own past that haunts her and has crippled her mind. ...more
This is an important book for any woman who has lost her mother at any age, but especially before she turns twenty. I was lucky enough to have my momThis is an important book for any woman who has lost her mother at any age, but especially before she turns twenty. I was lucky enough to have my mom until I was 36. She was only 57 when she died, still way too young, but I can’t imagine having lost her when I was still a child or a teenager. I can’t even bear thinking of it. This book was a very cathartic experience for me in many ways. It taught me that this profound loss isn’t something I get over or around, or something I let go of; rather, it is something I must learn to accommodate into my life, gradually making peace with it. It’s a part of me now, who I am, who I will become. Hope Edelman ends her book with this beautiful passage:
I am fooling myself when I say my mother exists now only in the photographs on my bulletin board or in the outline of my hand or in the armful of memories I still hold tight. She lives beneath everything I do. Her presence influenced who I was, and her absence influences who I am. Our lives are shaped as much by those who leave us as they are by those who stay. Loss is our legacy. Insight is our gift. Memory is our guide.
I was browsing in my library’s fiction stacks one day when I came across Nancy Pickard’s The Scent of Rain and Lightning. Let me just say I was smitteI was browsing in my library’s fiction stacks one day when I came across Nancy Pickard’s The Scent of Rain and Lightning. Let me just say I was smitten from the start as you’ll never meet a bigger sucker for a great cover or even better title. I’ve been cruelly disappointed using this method to ferret out books in the past, but I’ve also stumbled upon some real gems.
I grew up in the Maritimes of Canada – Newfoundland to be precise – a craggy, fogged in island rock that’s bathed in the sun’s rays about 15 minutes every year. I’ve since transplanted myself to the Canadian Prairies and oh how I’ve fallen in love with the never-ending blue sky that stretches uninterrupted as far as any ocean, and the rolling flat prairie lying out as far as the eye can see. This is where land and sky come together with dazzling results. A common joke from these parts is you can watch your dog run away for three days.
The cover of this book grabbed my eye because it immediately reminded me of any grid road in southern Saskatchewan on a sunny day (of which there are plenty). The title charmed me – calling up my favorite things. You live through enough prairie storms and it doesn’t take long to realize that rain and lightning do indeed have a scent. At this point, I didn’t even care what the book was about I just knew I wanted to read it. Once I started reading it I was drawn into the landscape (small town Kansas) and to the characters that populated it – strong, rough, country people, hewn from the soil and forged through hard work.
At the heart of this story is a murder that happens on a dark and stormy night, with the rain lashing the earth and lightning sundering the sky. A father is shot in cold blood, his wife is also presumed dead even though her body is never recovered. Their little girl – three year old Jody Linder – is left parentless, though not an orphan since her loving grandparents swoop in to raise and protect her, as well as three uncles who would do anything for her – Meryl, Chase and Bobby.
When the book starts, twenty-three years have passed since that horrible night and Jody is a grown woman about to embark on a career as a high school English teacher. She is looking towards the future until her past shows up on her doorstop one morning; it’s her three uncles with the news that the man convicted of killing her parents has been released from prison and is on his way back to Rose. The news is devastating and causes a ripple effect throughout the town’s inhabitants and shakes the Linder family to its very core. Because not everyone believes Billy Crosby is guilty of the crime he was sent to prison for – and now Jody’s life is shattered and everything she ever believed thrown into chaos, for if Crosby didn’t kill her parents, who did?
Once I started this story I couldn’t put it down. Not only did I have to know what the hell really happened that awful night, I became submersed in the lives of the people involved. Pickard has a way of writing that puts you into the story – I could see everything unfold as if it were a movie playing in my mind’s eye, and I love when a book can do that. Let’s just say more than once I could smell the scent of rain and lightning. ...more
This is a bittersweet novella that succinctly, but with great emotion, captures the mother-daughter relationship and its many complexions, a relationsThis is a bittersweet novella that succinctly, but with great emotion, captures the mother-daughter relationship and its many complexions, a relationship often fraught with misunderstanding, confusion, frustration and fear – sometimes it’s the fear that we will become our mother, other times it’s the fear that we won’t. There is a push and pull amongst mothers and daughters, punctuated by rejection and acceptance. And love, always love, no matter how jagged the edges.
After a horrible argument that ends in a slap, Laura sits down and begins to write a letter to her daughter as she waits with trepidation for her return. Laura doesn’t know where her daughter has gone or when she’ll be back, all she can do is pray for her safety. Laura reaches out to her estranged daughter in a heart-wrenching confession of her own tumultuous teen years, in a coming-of-age narrative filled with tears, trauma and ultimately of triumph. Rather than a lecture, Laura digs deep to offer her daughter a secret part of herself, so that her daughter may learn to see the part of her mother that is a woman who has made mistakes, a woman who was once young and confused and scared too.
The sheer wonder of the story is that the author isn’t a woman but a man and kudos to George Bishop for exploring this feminine terrain with such sensitivity and insight. ...more