Since C.S. Lewis served as such a touchstone for me throughout my childhood with his Narnia books, I thought I would try reading some of his "adult" wSince C.S. Lewis served as such a touchstone for me throughout my childhood with his Narnia books, I thought I would try reading some of his "adult" works. Despite not normally reading about philosophy or religion, I really enjoyed Surprised by Joy. Much of it feels as if it was written more for the author himself to clarify his feelings than for his readers. By the end of the book what Lewis calls his "fussy attentiveness" to his evolving beliefs can seem exhausting. At the same time, many of the questions he grapples with are questions I grapple with in my own life and I appreciate that he wasn't really trying to offer a pat answer or clever argument, but actually explore his own feelings and experiences. I am not particularly interested in Christianity but there is very little in here on Christianity, as he only converts in the last chapter and says almost nothing about it. Also, he is often very funny and a beautiful writer - I found myself wishing I owned a copy of the book so I could underline passages (my copy was from the library). I am interested in reading more of his writings....more
**spoiler alert** This book wasn't bad, exactly. I certainly enjoyed reading it. But I found the plot to be almost shockingly predictable. I am used t**spoiler alert** This book wasn't bad, exactly. I certainly enjoyed reading it. But I found the plot to be almost shockingly predictable. I am used to mystery novels where the detective is frightfully clever (ha ha ha! Hercule Poirot!) and figures everything our using their superior grey matter while I am still straining my wee brain. The House on the Cliff was so completely the opposite of this that it was almost funny. It seemed painfully obvious that Jessica was being manipulated by everyone (Gwydion, Ar-however-you-spell-it, Evan, Nella, Ewyn Griffiths) but not only does she not realize this, she has long, ponderous thought conversations with herself to show just how completely everything is going over her head. Particularly ironic is the fact that Jessica is a psychotherapist, a profession that seems like it should require some modicum of insight into the minds of others. I feel like psychotherapist will have mixed feelings about this book as Jessica's job seems to consist entirely of listening to her patients, nodding encouragingly, and then sitting alone in her office ponderously (yes, I used that word again!) reading academic journals and having banal insights about Freud.
I was somewhat curious about the author's intentionality. Were we supposed to be shocked and surprised by the "twists" at the end? Also, I was a little unsatisfied with the resolution. Ariand-what's-it murdered the girl, yes, but how did she know that Elsa was going to randomly dive off the boat and swim to shore on her own, and that Ar-whatever should be there at the pier (a long walk/climb from their house) to drown her? It didn't really make sense.
I love plots like this (British seaside, fancy house, mysterious romantic family) and am always hopeful about finding a new mystery author. Unfortunately, no luck this time!...more
Might have been good if the author had written her own book instead of following some sort of wannabe-hunger-games marketing profile. Also, needed ediMight have been good if the author had written her own book instead of following some sort of wannabe-hunger-games marketing profile. Also, needed editing. And character development, especially for the side characters. And some semblance of logic behind the worldbuilding. Sigh....more
Since I imagined from the title that this book would be full of fun, witty telephone conversations, I decided to listen to**spoiler alert** Spoilers!
Since I imagined from the title that this book would be full of fun, witty telephone conversations, I decided to listen to the audio version. Having finally (finally!) finished it, I think it is pretty safe to say that was a huge mistake, though I guess I will never know if I would have liked it better in print. As it was, a number of things bothered me about this book, the biggest one being . . .
Neal. My first thought on finishing the book was joy that I would never have to hear about Neal's lips again. Georgie's endless descriptions of Neal and how much she loved him were just so boring, not to mention all their deadly phone conversations. I actually turned my audio book to 1.25 time and I think that otherwise I might not have made it through. Neal just wasn't romantic, despite the million times that Georgie claimed that he was, but that actually wasn't my biggest problem with him. It seemed like he was dragging Georgie down, making her feel guilty for his own unhappiness and then using his close relationship with their daughters to make her feel even worse. The scene at the beginning when they leave for the airport seemed incredibly passive aggressive, later compounded by him not calling her. I hated that she never called him out on that - she just took the blame for everything that was wrong with the relationship onto herself.
Another thing that bothered me was this seemed like it would be a grown-up novel about marriage, but instead it just relied on hokey romantic gestures instead of actual work to fix a relationship. Neal's marriage proposal was particularly lame considering he'd already proposed impulsively to another girl in an attempt to fix a floundering relationship. And though I agree that Georgie's last minute cross country journey, despite being completely idiotic, was probably the right thing to do if she wanted to save her marriage, I hated that it substituted for an actual conversation about their problems.
I hated that Seth, who actually seemed to care about Georgie and bring out the best in her, got cast in the role of philandering jerk and then sidelined.
The whole subplot with writing the sit-com was pretty half-baked - really just an excuse to separate them on Christmas.
Also, why aren't they texting? This novel is clearly set in the age of texting, but Georgie never even thinks to text Neal.
And . . . there were other things. Too many things. On the positive side I did think there were two very funny lines - the one about the mudroom and how the house plans for you to get muddy, and the one about how you shouldn't live in a place where you had to take steps just to not die whenever you left the house (though really, you should do that all the time, all year long, wherever you live).
I am a little sad since I was looking forward to this book a lot, but I think it was just a misfire and will continue to look forward to Rowell's next book....more
I suppose it is not surprising that, as the mother of two young children, I spent this whole novel worrying about Eleanor's younger siblings and had tI suppose it is not surprising that, as the mother of two young children, I spent this whole novel worrying about Eleanor's younger siblings and had trouble caring about the mushy-gushy love stuff. Also, am not so much into the mushy-gushy love stuff in general. Still a good book though. I'm going to go back and read her others....more