I picked up Stay With Me knowing very little about the plot, only that infertility was supposedly a key theme. That was enough to peak my interest, asI picked up Stay With Me knowing very little about the plot, only that infertility was supposedly a key theme. That was enough to peak my interest, as I feel infertility isn't portrayed nearly enough in fiction. Having now read the book, I can confirm that yes, infertility is a major plot point, but that's not exactly what the book is about.
Stay With Me is a tragic love story; the story of a marriage and the heartaches and burdens that eventually destroy it. It's a story about longing and grief; about poor choices and the consequences that follow. It's a story about a couple's desire to have a baby - but more so about the overwhelming desperation that grows out of that desire.
This book was such a good read. There were a couple of plot twists that definitely caught me off guard, so that was a pleasant surprise. The book has a fable-esque tone to it and the writing is very convincing ... There were scenes that would have felt completely unrealistic and over the top in any other book, but they worked so well with this story and these characters. A solid 3.5 star read....more
Okay, so ... I had some major issues with this story. If the glowing 4 and 5 star reviews here on GoodReads are anything to go by, I'm obviously in thOkay, so ... I had some major issues with this story. If the glowing 4 and 5 star reviews here on GoodReads are anything to go by, I'm obviously in the minority but I really didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would.
The story is told from the perspective of 3 different characters - Caroline (a NYC socialite and philanthropist who works at the French consulate), Herta (a German doctor who works at the Ravensbrück concentration camp) and Kasia (a young teenager who gets involved with the Polish resistance). I found both Caroline and Herta extremely unlikeable; I really couldn't get behind either character. I suppose this makes sense with Herta given that she's a Nazi with no compassion whatsoever, but Caroline is supposed to be the heroine of the story and I couldn't stand her. I can't go into detail about this without giving spoilers, so suffice to say I thought both characters were poorly crafted and the decisions they made throughout the novel irked me, despite the author's obvious attempts to justify/explain them. I'm not sure why Herta's narrative was even included as it added nothing to the overall story and her character development was by far the weakest. It was gutsy to try write from her perspective, but unfortunately it wasn't well done. Kasia's narrative was the most compelling and I think I would've preferred this book if it had omitted the other two altogether and focused on Kasia exclusively.
The way each chapter ended with a super dramatic cliffhanger got to be annoying, but it did its job and kept me reading all the way to the end. I think the author did a good job of pacing the story and I did learn quite a bit about the Polish experience during and after the war, so that was interesting. The overall plot was good, but the writing was pretty mediocre.
Bottom line? There are *SO* many fabulous Holocaust/WWII historical fiction books out there that I'd consider "must-reads" for fans of the genre. This isn't one of them....more
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