I read this in a couple of days, but it wasn't because it was such a great book--it had more to do with the flight delays I had between Colorado and tI read this in a couple of days, but it wasn't because it was such a great book--it had more to do with the flight delays I had between Colorado and the East Coast.
I didn't really find the structure of this book that appealing. I thought maybe there would be a lesson and then a more narrative chapter, but the ridiculous number of lessons got boring. I didn't feel that anyone was developed much in terms of characterization.
While we're supposed to get a good look at the secret self of the main character, the snippets didn't seem to fit together well at all. I understand that people in life are self contradicting--I'm this way, too--but it seemed like this was all supposed to resolve itself or at least be acceptable by the end of the book. It didn't, and it wasn't, especially when the disappearance is taken into consideration.
It seems weird, reading the post script, that the son was never mentioned at the start of the book, too. I really doubt the author's mother would be that literary as to exclude that fact for suspense of the reader in a letter to a publishing house.
I will admit, too, that I just don't understand the text to which this book is meant to be a response. Even with the edition including the author interview, I didn't clearly understand what was so incredibly fascinating about the old anonymously authored book. It never seemed that interesting, funny, or worthy of jokes with between a husband and wife--honestly, I didn't get any great idea of the husband and wife relationship in this book. That could be another reason I don't fully understand how much love could be there or how great of a wife she could really be.
Overall, nothing seems to fit in this book. (Maybe that's the point? If so, I obviously don't really get it.)...more
I wouldn't say this was a great book. It's another one that I managed to read on planes and in airports but wouldn't make time for reading it when I wI wouldn't say this was a great book. It's another one that I managed to read on planes and in airports but wouldn't make time for reading it when I wouldn't otherwise be bored to tears.
I agree with other reviews here that the characters are not developed. In many cases, as with Jack, Lisa, and even Ashling, the characters change, even sometimes drastically, but we never really get to understand why. We are told the actions of characters in the past and given some glimpses into what upbringing and past relationships they've had, but it doesn't easily flow into present character actions. The relationships amongst the characters aren't well developed either.
It's not difficult to read such superficial stories, but it's also not as enjoyable to not better get to know the participants in the novel....more
I hadn't seen the "Sex and the City" comparisons, but I wouldn't compare the two myself. While I like Sex and the City, even including the cheesy, harI hadn't seen the "Sex and the City" comparisons, but I wouldn't compare the two myself. While I like Sex and the City, even including the cheesy, hard to believe movies, I felt that Jane, the main character in this book, was much more relatable to me. I've not been in the exact scenarios in which Jane finds herself, but I have the same rememberances of events with family members, similar crushes and relationships, hurts from romantic partners, and definitely the issue with alcoholism and intimacy, both physical and emotional. That's really why I love this book.
There is the one story of the neighbor family below Jane's aunt's apartment, and yes, it does somewhat throw the reader from seeing the book on the whole as a novel. I, too, am not sure what was intended by that placement. I didn't get the significance beyond that every family is messed up in some way and actually Jane's family is more expectedly normal and loving than others.
I am not sure about the ending. Though Jane seems to find that she can be herself and be successful in maintaining a romantic partnership, with the similarities to my own life, I have difficulty believing Jane has just found her happy ever after. I would welcome a sequel to see where she is in the future!...more
I didn't like this book. I finished it, but more out of boredom on planes than actually ever caring about the characters. I agree with another revieweI didn't like this book. I finished it, but more out of boredom on planes than actually ever caring about the characters. I agree with another reviewer that Magnolia Gold is self contradictory, and to me, she seems to lack any real feeling at all. She treats every aspect of her life flippantly, but then again, all of the characters in this story were fairly flat.
I was more disgusted with Magnolia than anything. Growing up in Nebraska, I didn't appreciate the picture that was painted of the hicks in North Dakota, and it grossed me out that Magnolia went as far as she did to participate in the attempted affair with her married high school sweetheart. She could have easily rebuffed him while she was back trying to show off to her other former classmates, but instead, she actually came too close to jumping into the hot tub with him and then proceeded to lead him on via emails and online messages just to spark her own ego. Magnolia isn't some heroine who had a set of her own values and direction; nor is she even a lead character who really grappled with moral decisions. She really just follows attention she can garner and uses the other characters, including Cam, even if it is ridiculous to think he was in love with her at any point.
I definitely did not see any true comparison to The Devil Wears Prada in this book by Sally Koslow. Save your money and time and reread The Devil Wears Prada or even just an issue of a women's magazine--both are highly more entertaining options than this book....more
This book was relatively predictable. While I got to know Jane fairly well, I thought even she could have undergone more detailing. The other characteThis book was relatively predictable. While I got to know Jane fairly well, I thought even she could have undergone more detailing. The other characters weren't very well-known to the reader at all. For the most part, characterization was just flat and somewhat unbelievable....more
I read the whole book, but honestly, I don't really see this as much of a story. It's definitely lacking intrigue, and the questions I developed as aI read the whole book, but honestly, I don't really see this as much of a story. It's definitely lacking intrigue, and the questions I developed as a reader were never answered anyway. I'm not sure if some parts, like Isabel taking photos and noticing them at a stall in the flea market, were supposed to be foreshadowing or not because while there seems to have been a burglary ring, no one really is ever sure who's been involved. I can't even ruin the ending becuase I feel there isn't an ending by the last page of the book.
While I didn't really care too much about the characters, I have no idea where they are headed. Will Roxy remain in France? Who knows?! Will Isabel return to California? She doesn't even know. We're told the rest of the family goes back to the United States, but we don't even get a picture of that.
This book doesn't seem to be about relationships because there's no real insight into anyone and even less into any bonds they might have with one another.
It ends up being frustrating instead of entertaining, whether comically or through suspense or action....more
I expected to love this book as it was one of Oprah's book club selections, and I know that those have been best sellers, largely due to her discriminI expected to love this book as it was one of Oprah's book club selections, and I know that those have been best sellers, largely due to her discriminating tastes; however, I, like other reviewers, couldn't really relate to the main character, Sophie, and found the story choppy as well.
In the beginning, which is a relatively brief description of Sophie's life with her aunt in Haiti before leaving to meet her mother in New York, I thought I would be embarking on a story covering the youth, but much of that story was skipped. Sophie gets to New York, and in a flssh, she's in high school and sneaking around with an older male musician who lives next door.
In all of the relationships, I really didn't see much love. Sophie's aunt refuses the card from Sophie in the beginning, and Sophie never really seems to love her mother. I took the relationship or draw toward the musician as more of an infatuation and opportunity than actual love, and as Sophie returns to Haiti, fleeing her husband with her infant daughter, I still didn't get a feeling of closeness among the generations of Caco women. Maybe the difficulties and cultural pressures, both in Haiti and in New York, built walls that the women couldn't overcome, but that did add to the lack of relatability for me.
I also thought the ending was horrific. I understand that Sophie's mother had mental anguish, and it's reasonable after the rape and other invasions she endured as a child; however, I have a difficult time understanding the feelings she presented and the way she communicated. I also thought her partner might actually have been responsible for her demise--it was odd that he stated that he'd been found innocent of any part of the death when he called Sophie to tell her of her mother's death, along with the death of the unborn child.
In any case, there were several strange scenarios throughout the story, and the skips of years in the telling didn't help to weave a cohesive tale. Unfortunately, it wasn't a book I felt really portrayed those from Haiti strongly or well....more
I can't remember why or where I picked up this book, and I know I tried to sell it at a garage sale without reading it first; so, I can't say I was reI can't remember why or where I picked up this book, and I know I tried to sell it at a garage sale without reading it first; so, I can't say I was really looking forward to reading it when I started. That feeling might have carried through and tainted my overall feeling about the book.
I didn't like it that much. I didn't feel that I really related to any of the characters. Sure, I thought the aunt who gives the ending champagne toast is considerate enough and cares about her niece despite not being prepared prior to the wedding reception with the toast in mind, but while she was probably the most admirable woman in the story, the reader doesn't really get to know the aunt well. That lack of knowledge might actually contribute to the admiration I could feel for her because when I did get to know more about all other women, just as Caleb loses a little respect for April, I did lose respect for each of the other more revealed characters.
As another reviewer mentioned, the interweaving of characters' actions is interesting throughout the book, and the ghosts involved add a different aspect, too. In totality, though, I didn't think this was at the height of literature....more
At the start of the story, I was excited and wanted to keep reading, but even as Rose's storytelling came to a close, my interest waned. Even with herAt the start of the story, I was excited and wanted to keep reading, but even as Rose's storytelling came to a close, my interest waned. Even with her narration, I started to realize I wasn't understanding Rose's motivation for the choices she made. I got that she asked God for a sign, that she realized that her first sign wasn't really a sign after all, and that she asked for another sign when Son found her in the snow. At the end of her part of the book, though, I was left questioning if this was really the sign she would consider to be a clear and true sign from God or if she'd still be searching for that.
I enjoyed Son's part of the book the most. He was the most understandable character, even if that means that his simplicity was relatable. He talked about his loves, his family, and his feelings. He was so honest in the cast of liars. This is really the only takeaway from the book for which I'm grateful. Even through the tragic loss of Cecilia in the swimming hole, Son kept more integrity than I even saw in Sissy.
For some reason, I didn't really like Sissy either. I didn't understand her tone, especially toward Lorraine. I understand that at the start of her narration Sissy is a teenager with feelings of being unloved by her mother, and I can understand her being bored with her pen pal's letters from Spain in odd English. I didn't understand her interactions with Lorraine, though. Sissy seemed unnecessarily cold toward Lorraine, like she, Sissy, had to maintain some power over Lorraine. It was especially strange to me at the end when Sissy feels she's somehow the sign that Lorraine has been seeking through prayer, too.
Really, I didn't see many healthy relationships throughout the book, even between Rose and her mother and between Rose and Sister Evangeline. Further, I felt that the author introduced bits of topics that I really wanted her to explore more, like the stigmata displayed through Sister Evangeline. The ending of the book was disappointing as well....more
I really liked the way Elizabeth Berg writes in this book. I agree with another reviewer that I wasn't happy to see the main character seemingly abandI really liked the way Elizabeth Berg writes in this book. I agree with another reviewer that I wasn't happy to see the main character seemingly abandon her husband, but after getting past that or suspending that disappointment, I really enjoyed Nan's thoughts, both in her letters and in her journal. It got easier to accept her solo departure as she described other women's "departures" around the time of menopause, too.
I found her first night sleeping in the woods to be interesting, but I could have done without the description of the later night spent outdoors, especially after she takes off her clothes. I can understand why Ms. Berg felt it to be an important part of the book, but maybe because I'm only in my 30s, I'm still not comfortable enough with my own body to relate to Nan's exploration.
The writing, turns of phrases, and beautiful character descriptions are what elevate this book to a five star rating from me. ...more
"I thought this story was good about the two couples - one Mexican couple struggling for food and clotI tend to agree with another reviewer who wrote:
"I thought this story was good about the two couples - one Mexican couple struggling for food and clothing and one American couple enjoying wealth brought about by hard work. They weren't perfect at all but Boyle gave them no respect for the values they were trying to live. At the same time, he glorified the Mexican couple. Real life is not as simple as Boyle portrayed in his book. Definitely worth a read. I felt sorry for the Mexican couple but it's not America's fault that Mexico has turned against it's own citizens and it's not America's problem to take care of all Mexican citizens."
I didn't actually think that Mexicans were portrayed as glorified exactly; I did think throughout that they often were dispicable themselves. Even those in Tepoztlan weren't very good people to be cheating on significant others who went abroad to earn and send money back, and another Mexican is responsible for the rape and transmittal of the STD to America which then cripples her child. (How crazy of an allegory is that scene?!)
I also kept thinking that if the couple would have just stayed or would just return to Mexico that they'd be better off. They actually thought that themselves, especially toward the end of the book. The descriptions of Tepoztlan in terms of housing and food didn't sound that bad, and certainly were better than camping in the California canyon.
I'm hoping that Boyle was really trying to impart this idea, that staying in Mexico would be better for all of the illegal immigrants, but I really can't be sure that Boyle meant that. I do wish that his point to the book would be more apparent, and I would hope that at least as many people would still find the book interesting and worthy of conversation then....more
I tend to agree with another reviewer who felt used, like the author had a deadline to meet for her editor and didn't give the ending the time necessaI tend to agree with another reviewer who felt used, like the author had a deadline to meet for her editor and didn't give the ending the time necessary to make it decent. I also agree with another reviewer that I found Joyce to be dull--I guess maybe she was more petulant than dull, but still not appealing. I would definitely not have been able to maintain a friendship with her. I also thought that Joyce's affair was ridiculously pathetic, and while it was a way to get Kathleen to reveal her own details about her past and guilt she carried, much of the prose seemed to only scratch the surface of any of the relationships in the book; so, the story overall was less interesting because of its lack of depth and development.
I've heard great things about The Red Tent, but Good Harbor is amateurish at best. It's another book that I only finished because I was too bored on several flights for work travel....more
This book is an easy read as many other reviewers have stated. I didn't really love the book--at first I thought there were too many characters, but bThis book is an easy read as many other reviewers have stated. I didn't really love the book--at first I thought there were too many characters, but by the end there is a core group that are important. A lot of the plot twists were really unbelievable for me; I didn't think the story was predictable, but rather so unpredictable that it was ridiculous, especially when it came to the lies that the wives were hiding. (Honestly, I don't really understand any excuse for hiding a diagnosis of cancer from loved ones.)
The ending wasn't at all what I expected either, because I expect better endings. Not that I expect them to all be happy, but again, I do have standards for plot resolution that this story didn't meet. As another reviewer mentioned, more of a description of the aftermath of murders would have been appreciated....more