The Gustav Sonata is a quiet, tender story set in post-WWII Switzerland. The book begins in 1947 with two young boys meeting and becoming friends. TheThe Gustav Sonata is a quiet, tender story set in post-WWII Switzerland. The book begins in 1947 with two young boys meeting and becoming friends. The story follows these characters & their families through several decades, occasionally "flashing back" to the 1930s to provide context and deeper perspective, before finally ending in 2002 when the boys are in their 60s.
It reminded me quite a bit of Robert Seethaler's A Whole Life, solidifying my love for novels set in quaint Alpine villages. I loved the setting and landscape; I loved how convincing and well-developed the characters were; I loved the way the story explored relationships and the way lives are intricately linked together. Based on the synopsis on the back of the book, I was expecting Swiss neutrality to be a major theme throughout the story and was a little disappointed that it wasn't.
The book is divided into three parts, and I loved the first two. The third and final part fell short for me, and I really disliked the ending (too abrupt; didn't feel believable) ... hence, 3 stars overall. ...more
I thoroughly enjoyed this story about two crotchety women in their 80s who, after years of living as adversaries, are forced into a complicated allianI thoroughly enjoyed this story about two crotchety women in their 80s who, after years of living as adversaries, are forced into a complicated alliance that eventually begins to blossom into something sort of, somewhat, *perhaps* resembling friendship.
At first glance, The Woman Next Door comes across as a light, fluffy, wholesome read ... but it's actually a complex, richly layered exploration of racism, prejudice, marriage, bitterness and regret. There's something special about reading the thoughts and reflections of women nearing the end of their lives, even if those women are fictional. Yes, there were parts of this book that felt a bit rushed and underdeveloped, but I loved it all the same and am so glad I read it.
"Marriage was a disappointment. Colder than [she] had imagined, it was the sad end to her Sunday-school belief in the lore of Noah – that life was best lived in pairs."...more
"... he understood, at some level, that to love is to enter into the inevitability of one day not being able to protect what is most valuable to you. "... he understood, at some level, that to love is to enter into the inevitability of one day not being able to protect what is most valuable to you." page 165
Mohsin Hamid's Exit West is only 230 pages - but boy, does it pack a punch! This is a beautiful, timely story about war, refugees, migration and community. It reminded me a little of Lawrence Hill's The Illegal in the way it explored these themes and provided social commentary, while maintaining a purely fictional premise. Exit West is also an exploration of what it means to be in relationship and the way hardships shape and change us, for better or worse. I found Nadia and Saeed's love story to be authentic and honest, and I loved reading about them.
My only complaint about this novel was the use of magical realism. It plays a major part in the first half of the plot but then sort of fizzles out and is no longer discussed. It was a brilliant concept, and I would have liked to have seen it developed a little better. Still .. such a thought-provoking read, and one I highly recommend everyone pick up. ...more
The Lonely Hearts Hotel is kind of like a really horrific car crash you pass on the highway. You know you shouldn't slow down and take in the gruesomeThe Lonely Hearts Hotel is kind of like a really horrific car crash you pass on the highway. You know you shouldn't slow down and take in the gruesome scene, but the closer you get to the wreckage the more you seem unable to look away. That's how I felt reading this book. There were so many moments where I found myself thinking "this is completely insane. This is just wrong" ... but something compelled me to keep reading. I couldn't put it down, even though I wanted to.
This novel is typical Heather O'Neill in that it is gritty, heartbreaking and, at times, downright vulgar. That said, I found The Lonely Hearts Hotel darker and more explicit than her other works - and if you've read anything else by O'Neill, you know that takes some doing. The book opens with a child being raped and from that point on there are graphic depictions of child abuse, incest, sexual assault, physical abuse, a grisly dog fight ... the list goes on. To say that this book isn't for everyone would be an understatement. In all honesty, it wasn't really a book for me as far as content and plot go, but the beautiful writing made it worthwhile. Heather O'Neill has such an eerie, eccentric way of telling a story ... if anyone can pull off a book like The Lonely Hearts Hotel, it's her. I'm glad I read this, but I'm not sure I'd be quick to recommend it to others.
PS: The publisher's comparison to The Night Circus? Yeah, no....more