While I do think The Toss of a Lemon has its lulls (what else would one expect from a 616-page novel?), I feel I gained a lot through reading it. I alWhile I do think The Toss of a Lemon has its lulls (what else would one expect from a 616-page novel?), I feel I gained a lot through reading it. I also understand its length; a tale of generations is no easy feat, and I don't think it could have been much shorter.
Viswanathan does a beautiful job of joining the small with the large, the global, historical sense of India's caste system and its slow, partial demise with the micro-story of this one family within that context, which is, in reality, a story that carries much weight and value. All historical roles are represented -- the traditional in Sivakami, the variation in Muchami, the radical in Vairum, and the traditional within a new world in Jakami. While all these roles are represented, they never seem to stagnate and instead are brought to life through unexpected relationships and intriguing character depth.
The slow and lingering depiction of change within Indian tradition is a delight to witness, as it unfolds in what seemed to me a very natural and gradual way. An example of this is Viswanathan's choice not to call too much attention to Sivakami's ultimate sacrifice of bearing the duties of a widow until near the end of the book, whereas before, when it was common, it was treated as something one simply does out of tradition. Small surprises like this one make this book a delight to read, as every occurrence within the novel seems to be handled with utmost care, always taking into account the time in which scenes are taking place.
I would highly recommend this book to a patient reader, one who can push through parts of the book that may seem irrelevant when reading them, but that play a crucial role in the overall portrait this novel so beautifully creates. ...more
If I wasn't so obsessed with keeping my books in such pristine condition, I would have read this book with a highlighter in hand, ready to set apart tIf I wasn't so obsessed with keeping my books in such pristine condition, I would have read this book with a highlighter in hand, ready to set apart those passages that demonstrate the written word as a true art form. There were many, some that moved me to tears, which hasn't happened since I read The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, one of my favourite books of all time.
Thien clearly has enormous talent; as stated on the back of the book, Thien has a flair for imagery, and I wholeheartedly agree. This book is incredibly sad but meaningfully so, and I believe it's a testament to how people can somehow find a way to move on after the most tragic events. At the same time Thien manages to describe the most mundane events to the point where they become extraordinary and beautiful in their regularity.
I can definitely understand why this book won the Amazon/Books for Everybody First Novel Award. Thien is a talent that should be recognized for years to come, and I'm proud this book has been added to the Can Lit roster....more
Only two books have ever moved me to tears: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and The Cellist of Sarajevo.
I'm a little speechless regarding how thiOnly two books have ever moved me to tears: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and The Cellist of Sarajevo.
I'm a little speechless regarding how this book made me feel. While I fully acknowledge that I could never in a million years know what it's like to live through such a brutal time in history, I think reading this book is (hopefully) the closest I will ever come. Via each of the three main characters, we are offered a heartbreaking yet strangely triumphant view of the Siege of Sarajevo that is just as large and important as it is reflective of the meticulous details of surviving such unfair and needless conflict. Each character is struggling to maintain the core of their being, each in their own way refusing to succumb to the baser elements of being human in a survivalist society. Whether it's walking rather than running across an intersection, refusing to shoot an unarmed enemy, or fetching water for an elderly neighbour, every character is still very much a human being, and not an animal among thousands of others just scrounging for enough scraps to survive.
This book is only partially about the brutality of war; it's about the humanity that can still exist within it. All I can say is, "Bravo."...more
I won't add to the mass amount of detailed reviews for this book, but rather just say that I was deeply moved by Aminata's story. Lawrence Hill did anI won't add to the mass amount of detailed reviews for this book, but rather just say that I was deeply moved by Aminata's story. Lawrence Hill did an amazing job of captivating one story of slavery among the many true accounts of the atrocities of such a trade. Story aside, what I enjoyed most of all was reading Hill's afterword regarding the many texts he consulted to shape Aminata's story. He consulted a number of types of books during his research: memoirs, diaries, historical documents, historical narratives, etc. He researched even the smallest aspects of the story, straight down to how slave women wore their hair when making the long journey to the coast of Africa where slave vessels were waiting to take them away to the United States. It overwhelms me to think about how Hill used all those bits of information to shape the story of one woman, one slave, one person who reclaimed her freedom....more
Keep in mind that this book had a tough act to follow; I just finished Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald, which I loved, before starting thisKeep in mind that this book had a tough act to follow; I just finished Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald, which I loved, before starting this novel. Perhaps if this wasn't the case my review would be a little more positive.
Not to say I hated the book; in fact, I'd more like to give it 2.5 stars rather than just two. I enjoyed bits and pieces of the story, but I found myself constantly distracted by the convoluted nature of the plot, and especially the voice. The narrator's voice was oddly inconsistent throughout, which is usually OK when dealing with a complex character, but all the pieces just didn't seem to match up. Instead it left a blurry picture of a dying man, which I felt I should have cared more about.
I think this book was trying to be too many things at once: a war story, a forbidden love story, the story of a dying man, a historical novel, a metaphor for food as life. In the hands of a more experienced writer, this may have been handled more effectively -- but I think in this case Singh bit off more than he could chew.
That said, I did enjoy learning about a piece of the world I've never read anything about, and it inspired me to do further research on the Kashmir region. Also, Singh's descriptions of Indian cuisine were mouth-watering! I don't even like Indian food, but this book left me wanting an Indian feast....more
When I visited my local independent bookstore to buy this book, I wasn't aware it would be in the Young Adult section. But when I couldn't find it inWhen I visited my local independent bookstore to buy this book, I wasn't aware it would be in the Young Adult section. But when I couldn't find it in the Literature & Fiction section, there it was, a mere three shelves above the atrocious Twilight.
I know, I know. When kids read Twilight, "at least they're reading." But why can't more of them read The Book Thief? It might, you know, teach them something, enlighten them on the ugliness and beauty in the world, cause them to understand some of the miraculous ways life can operate....
There's so much beauty in this novel, beauty during a time when the world was at its most grotesque. I love the way this novel highlights the way in which the seemingly small decisions and occurrences in life can determine the larger ones. I'm always interested in this sort of thing, little microcosm observations of life when The Big Stuff is happening all around. These stories always fascinate me the most, and The Book Thief didn't disappoint.
Yes, sometimes it felt like Death was talking down to me, feeling the need to explain every nuance, every inkling of foreshadowing. But then I remembered the intended audience, and I put it aside. I felt this was small potatoes compared to the fascinating experience of watching "The Other," ie. the regular citizens of Germany during Nazi reign. People who still knew what was right despite the propaganda, people who were strong enough not to sacrifice their moral code during a time when another code was well on its way to being created.
SUCH a beautiful book. Wish it would replace Twilight on the Young Adult Bestseller list....more
This book was so much fun, just reinforced my love for Sophie Kinsella books outside of the Shopaholic series (can't stand that damned Rebecca BloomwoThis book was so much fun, just reinforced my love for Sophie Kinsella books outside of the Shopaholic series (can't stand that damned Rebecca Bloomwood). It was your typical story of girl who gets amnesia, can't remember the last three years of her life, so she wakes up to find that she's married a multimillionaire and lives in a sweet loft and drives a brand-new Mercedes. You know, whatevs. Only then she finds out that her life isn't as awesome as she thought, and she's forced to rediscover herself and rearrange the pieces, in the right order.
This made me miss the unfortunately cancelled TV show Samantha Who? They should have given it a better go, there's clearly a market for amnesia. :)...more
The Witches was the first "real" book I ever read, when I was eight. It scared me so much I had nightmares about it, but it inspired within me an obseThe Witches was the first "real" book I ever read, when I was eight. It scared me so much I had nightmares about it, but it inspired within me an obsession with reading and books that I'll carry with me until the day I die.
While the book itself may or may not be worthy of five stars, I gave it five stars simply because of the amazing influence it has had over my life. ...more
So I totally thought this would be a light, fun read -- chicklit, after all, is a guilty pleasure of mine, and in between heavy literature I like to rSo I totally thought this would be a light, fun read -- chicklit, after all, is a guilty pleasure of mine, and in between heavy literature I like to read about fun stuff like Hollywood assistants, club hopping and bed hopping, jet-setting, etc. Instead this book turned out to be really sad, which would have been OK if it had been better written. It was way long for nothing, with asides that were neither entertaining nor relevant to the story. I'm kind of disappointed to have wasted a "light read" on this. I hope her other books are a little more fun and a little less tedious to read; otherwise, I think I'll stick with the Jennifer Weiners, Sophie Kinsellas (NOT Shopaholic, though), and Lauren Weisbergers of the world....more