A tragic page turning story that has madness, and themes of water and fire at its core3.5 stars actually. Original review posted at Layers of Thought.
A tragic page turning story that has madness, and themes of water and fire at its core.
About: This is the second version of Vincent Zandri’s award nominated story first published in 1995. It’s a heartbreaking thriller with a broken main character named Mary Kismet. She has a family history of mental illness, her first baby drowned accidently in the household bathtub and her husband has subsequently left her. As she struggles to keep herself together, her only solace is her weekly visit to her psychiatrist, who has overstepped his professional boundaries. But he too has his secrets, which he is unable to share. The question is: will it take Mary over the edge?
Thoughts: The above is the first part of a heart-stopping story which although interspersed with some happier moments spirals down, becoming more convoluted until its heartbreaking ending. Told in an unusual writing style, Zandri is both down to earth and unique in his word usage. He also does a fine job of taking the perspective of a woman on the edge or sanity.
With its theme of water running through the novel, there is a drowning and a trip to Venice as key events. So be prepared to be taken on a trip to Italy and more, where you have to keep reading to find out what’s going to happen next. I enjoyed this novella, give it a 3.5 stars, and recommend it for those who enjoy tragic thrillers....more
A wonderful women’s historical fiction story set in Renaissance Italy and France, layered with the fairytaOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
A wonderful women’s historical fiction story set in Renaissance Italy and France, layered with the fairytale of Rapunzel and a slight touch of dark magic.
Description: It’s France, June of 1666 (note all the 6’s) and Charlotte-Rose de la Force, an actual person and writer, has been banished from the court of King Louis XIV due to scandalous behavior. The king has forced her to live in a secluded convent where she serendipitously hears the story of Rapunzel from an old nun.
But it’s more complicated than that, with it’s layered and convoluted storylines. There are a bunch of things which add to its complexity - in front of each section are poems about Rapunzel written by other writers; the author has included operatic titles for each section of the book and the way the story builds has an operatic feel to it; and each of the key characters’ stories are told within the story of the others. Charlotte-Rose tells her story in first person, while Soeur Seraphina tells the fairytale to Charlotte-Rose, Margherita is the child that has been banished to a secluded tower, and Selena Leonelli (La Strega Bella) is the gorgeous witch. We get an involved tale about each of these key characters, all mixed up and blended together nicely.
Thoughts:Bitter Greens is well written and drew me in, with just enough historical details to give it depth and cultural context. And despite the complexity of the format for the story it is mostly easy to read and follow. I believe I was only confused once or twice when reading the trials of one of the many characters. I liked that the author takes the reader into 17th century France and 16th century Italy and that the character Charlotte-Rose was a real person. It was interesting to find out more about the court of King Louis XIV and the role that women played in society at the time. Also intriguing were the histories around the religious strife that occurred during his reign, as well as the complexities of Italian life and living in the time of the Black Death in Venice during the 1500’s.
Since I love to read and like the feel of real books, I want to mention that the lovely hardbound version of the book is easy to handle and well organized. It contains its operatic storyline sections listed in the first part of the book, there are also chapter titles and dates included for each of the sections, and poems are listed in front of the chapters. I liked that the chapters are typically short and that there are sometimes shorter sections broken down within the chapters, so that it is easy to dip in and out of the book.
All in all a terrific book that will appeal to women readers who like fairytale retellings, enjoy a touch of the magical in their reads, like strong and dark female characters, and love historical fiction. It is definitely a woman’s book. I also loved how the story ended which, importantly for me, is not one of those fantastical happily-ever-after conclusions. 4.5 stars for this page turning historical fiction with a touch of fantasy. It was a complete pleasure to read....more
A translated Italian crime fiction novel, that’s another thrilling read for the fans of this popular and eOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
A translated Italian crime fiction novel, that’s another thrilling read for the fans of this popular and emerging genre. A very dark psychological read, with a paranormal element, which is not for the faint of heart, or stomach.
About: Six children’s arms are found in a desolate wooded area and the police are distraught, wondering where are the rest of the girls’ bodies? Half assuming they are all dead, it turns out that one may still be alive. The local police team is in a panic to find the living girl (or her body) and to capture the perpetrator who has done this horrific crime, before another child goes missing.
Mila Vasquez, the main protagonist and profiler, has a gift. She has the ability to locate and save live abductees. Naturally, she is brought in to help find this missing girl. And this is only the beginning of a convoluted chase, which includes insights into the darker elements of human nature and inside the lives of the damaged professionals, who are dealing with a child-preying, twisted, yet intelligent killer.
Thoughts: This is dark, very dark. If you do not like reading about pedophiles then don’t read this book. Conversely, If you love translated crime novels and can stomach some gore then this is a book for you. You will get loads of entertainment here in this intelligent page-turning book while at the edge of your seat.
I have not read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but I imagine fans of that novel will also enjoy The Whisperers. The book is definitely literary with writing that is involved, and it’s also a fabulous translation. The psychological insight is enlightening and the story line is convoluted enough to keep one guessing, which is so very important in a book like this. I also liked that the story line contains a slight paranormal element giving it even more of an eerie feel.
The characters are complex and will surprise. Mila’s past and future are linked inextricably with the story line and she is deeply emotionally scarred. So is her impromptu partner, and readers will not realize how lost some of the characters are until close to the very end.
An amazing début, it’s an intriguing, involved, intelligent crime novel that I enjoyed quite a lot, so I think it deserves 4 stars. I was particularly pleased with the ending since it was surprising and gut wrenching - and the reader will finally find out who and what a “whisperer” is. Scary stuff! ...more
This story is from the perspective of “the other” - a marginalized female character in the myth. It is tolOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
This story is from the perspective of “the other” - a marginalized female character in the myth. It is told in the first person by Penelope, wife of Odysseus and cousin to Helen of Troy.
Interestingly Atwood tells this in an unusual and layered way. Penelope is in Hades as she tell the story and pieces are conveyed in poem format at the beginning of each chapter, from the perspective of Penelope's 12 maids. These maids are sacrificed by Odysseus on his return after his 20 year of travels in the Mediterranean after the Trojan war. Needing a “scape goat” to keep his honor in tact, all twelve are hanged for mingling with Penelope’s suitors - who were hoping that Odysseus would not return so that they could take over his household and wealth. Through this story we see the perspective of a woman’s life via Penelope’s modern voice re-telling.
Highly creative, Atwood has crammed an amazing amount of information in this story which is only three hours long. It has some interesting scholarly theories around a goddess cult which was believed to have included the 12 maids. Her perspective is light with a humorous thread, but nevertheless is understandably dark, as are most myths. This was my first Margaret Atwood book and I truly enjoyed it and am now a big fan. Highly recommended at 4 stars.
The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (in audio) ~ by Margaret Atwood; Laural Merlington (Reader); Canongate Myths series # 2....more