I think I would have rated this lower if it was by anyone other than Rainbow Rowell. I think I wouldn't have stayed up till 2 AM to finish it if it waI think I would have rated this lower if it was by anyone other than Rainbow Rowell. I think I wouldn't have stayed up till 2 AM to finish it if it was by anyone other than Rainbow Rowell.
There's just something really special about her writing style. Meaning that even if I'm not digging it because I find the plot to be completely over-the-top, yet the story completely underwhelming ... I will still keep reading. That's real power.
But I didn't enjoy this. Some of the events seemed completely dumb, and there were so many throwaway moments. I felt this was a bloated story that would have been better suited as a short story. I would have LOVED this as a short story. The plot would have been tighter, and all of that silly extraneous detail would have been cut - as well as the excruciatingly annoying telephone conversations with her kids. Not to mention the element of magical realism, the phone that can call the past, would have been more forgivable in a short story. There is just no reason this story needed to be 300 pages.
But I really appreciated with Rowell set up here. She explores a marriage that needs resuscitation, and I really did not know how it would play out. Unfortunately, I also wasn't emotionally invested in the outcome either. Rowell chronicles the couple's back story, their initial meeting and courtship, and while it is nothing special, it is precious for being mundane. (I really do mean that in a good way.)
I didn't appreciate that some of the supporting characters seemed to be written just to be quirky, or thrown in to tick off a box on the diversity checklist. I didn't like how Georgie's job seemed entirely unrealistic. Shouldn't a novel that centers around a comedy writer be, I dunno, funny? At least once?
I think the best thing about this book is that it has inspired me to reorganize my bra drawer. ...more
So. I've had a lot of people recommend this book to me since it was released (and one person vehemently UNRECOMMEND it to me), but to me the most poweSo. I've had a lot of people recommend this book to me since it was released (and one person vehemently UNRECOMMEND it to me), but to me the most powerful recommendation was from someone who was actual a fan of Gillian Flynn's books prior to the release of "Gone Girl." This book was over-hyped right out of the gate, and having spent nearly a decade working in a bookstore, I automatically get suspicious and wary of books that are insta-best-sellers. Not that some of those books don't deserve the praise - a lot of them DO. But sometimes there's crap on the bestseller lists, admit it, and it's hard to sift through that crap, and discern which readers are only reading from the small range of pop titles and think it's the best crap ever written based on the comparison of other crap and then trying to get you to read that crap too, and which readers read widely and love a pop title based on its actual merits. Does that make sense? Am I total snob? Whatever.
Okay. So. I had one person recommend the audiobook to me, and to whoever that was, I THANK YOU, because this was a truly amazing experience. The two actors were both completely fantastic, and I was impressed with how they handled having to portray opposite gender - including each other's characters. I also really appreciated that even the minor characters had very distinct voices. I was put off by the length of this audio for a while, as I typically don't like to listen to audiobooks longer than 8-10 discs. Also, this is a genre of fiction that is outside of my usual reading zone. I honestly don't know how that affected my reading experience. Anyway, after a year or so of avoiding the longest title in my audiobook library, I decided to just go for it as the movie release date approacheth. It's not that I care about reading a book before seeing the movie anymore (I gave that up a long time ago), but that I knew that it would be impossible to avoid spoilers once the movie came out.
I haven't actually said anything about the book itself yet. But is there really anything else I can possibly add that someone else didn't already say? I know this book gets a lot of flack for having "unlikable" characters, which, to me, is a ridiculous declaration. Of COURSE they are unlikable. Isn't that the entire damn point? But I relished these characters. They were so full-blooded and completely real to me. I had a very intense reading experience, thanks, I am sure, to the audiobook. I felt so involved with these characters, and I did not care that they they were not likable. No one is likable when you get that up close and personal with them, embroiled within their unfiltered thoughts. And that, for me, was the overarching thesis of the novel, if a novel can have a thesis, that is. That, of course, anyone can seem cool and awesome and sexy at a distance. But once you get really involved with someone, you both go through a transformation. I felt that this book really was a meditation on marriage, and how marriage changes you, for better or for worse. The ideas and expectations and everything you made up about a person falls away and you are left with the reality of having united yourself with this person. You know how to push each other's buttons and to say what they want to hear. You are essentially going through a course of study on a person, a course in which there are constant tests and no vacations, but one in which you will eventually become an expert -- whether you like it or not. This is all neatly summed up in the line: “There's a difference between really loving someone and loving the idea of her.”
I have gotten really off track. What I am saying here is that I enjoyed the book, that it deserves the praise and the hype, that it has given me a LOT to think about it, and is so much more than a suspense thriller. Oh, and listen to the audio.
I didn't get to talk about how I really felt the Missouri setting come alive, or that Gillian Flynn's prose is magnificent (especially when realizing the precision that went into making the two narrators sound so different from one another, even when it comes down to the slight subtleties of grammar). I didn't get to discuss the is a fascinating thread woven throughout about how infectious the media is and how it makes us conform to an expected ideal, nor did I get to touch on all the provocative insights Amy has on gender. But this isn't some freakin' college essay. So I think I'll just end here. ...more
Amazing, absorbing read. It took embarrassingly longer to read than it should have. So heartbreakingly real. Simplistic and complicated, both, at theAmazing, absorbing read. It took embarrassingly longer to read than it should have. So heartbreakingly real. Simplistic and complicated, both, at the same time. Just like love....more
The thing I love about this book is the detail. The amount of insignificant detail is what makes this book so thick - but it's also what made it so woThe thing I love about this book is the detail. The amount of insignificant detail is what makes this book so thick - but it's also what made it so wonderfully inviting. I felt like a snoop, peering in on Emma and Dexter year after year -- and it was amazing....more
I loved hanging out with the sisterhood again. This was a strange read for me, because I read the first four books as an adult and above the target auI loved hanging out with the sisterhood again. This was a strange read for me, because I read the first four books as an adult and above the target audience for the series. Then I read book five, and suddenly the characters were the same age as I was.
I adore this series, because I love these girls. Every time I think one of them is my favorite, another one steals my allegiance. Brashares has a way about her writing that pulls me in and holds my head under until I'm submerged. This book had me reading late into the night, even though I spent most of the time reading through sobs and squinted eyes.
This book gets a lot of crap because something very sad happens in it. But it just so happens that that Very Sad Thing is the driving force behind the book - there wouldn't have been a book without it. I was shocked about it, too, but I trusted Brashares and where she was taking me in the story. I admit that I'm a little puzzled by the other readers that gave this a low rating just because of that Very Sad Thing. This book was remarkably written, extremely touching, and will stick with me for a long time just as the original four books did....more
This was one of those books where there were two stories going at once and I really only preferred one of them. I loved reading about the orphaned SilThis was one of those books where there were two stories going at once and I really only preferred one of them. I loved reading about the orphaned Silver who found herself thrown into a life of lighthouse apprenticeship .But my eyes sort of glazed over whenever I had to jump back in time to the 19th century to read about Dark/Lux.
I expected a lot more from this because Winterson is a fabulous writer, but when it was good it was REALLY good. The unevenness just made it so-so for me....more
This is a book that I waited way too long to track down and read. I enjoyed the 2001 film "Lost and Delirious," which was the only way I would have evThis is a book that I waited way too long to track down and read. I enjoyed the 2001 film "Lost and Delirious," which was the only way I would have ever even heard of this book. Since it's out of print, I filed it somewhere in the back of my mind to search for eventually. When I recently fell in love with Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales," especially that hilarious wife of Bath, I instantly remembered this book and decided it was time to buy an overpriced used copy online. This book indeed draws upon that Chaucerian bawdiness. The novel is aptly titled, though of course you don't need to know a lick about ol' Geoff to appreciate the naughty bits.
Like many book-to-movies, the book is far superior. But in this case, the movie is so unrecognizable that it's hard to believe that it was the product of this source material. But I'm going to stop right there when it comes to talking about the movie, because this is a book review, after all. And because it's like the two exist in some sort of parallel universes.
It's 1963 and thirteen-year-old Mary Beatrice "Mouse" Bradford is shipped off to an all-female boarding school, Bath Ladies College, in Toronto. This is all very bad news for Mouse, because it means she is now forced to be with her "least favorite gender." It also means she must be separated from her father, whom she idolizes, but does not ever give her the attention or affection she needs.
The narrative voice of Mouse is so strong and endearing and addictive, it just sucks you in because you have no idea what the hell she's going to come out with next. She has the misfortune of having a humpback from polio, which she names "Alice" (after her dead mother), and often has conversations with it (mostly about gender roles, but more often about male genitalia). In addition to her quirky conversations with Alice, the prose is also peppered with letters to Mouse's idol, the American President John F. Kennedy. This girl is a pip.
Mouse eventually becomes lackey to her questionably-sane roommate Paulie, who exhibits pretty bizarre behavior (most of which I can't tell you about -- spoilers). But the two connect over their shared disdain over the female gender. Paulie herself feels that she is actually a man, and is in love with their other roommate, Tory (who seems to be clueless about a lot of the goings-on, but again I can't divulge anymore due to spoilers). No where ever in the text does Paulie ever label herself as a lesbian or transgendered. She is just simply masculine.
Paulie reels Mouse in with bizarre "tests" to prove that Mouse, too, can be a boy. Because Mouse is desperate to have a friend (remember, her hunchback usually keeps people away), she indulges Paulie. What becomes of it all is a fascinating exploration of gender identity and what it takes to assume one.
The story is framed around a crime that Paulie commits that we learn about in the first chapter, but isn't fully revealed until the final chapter. Though we get hints laced throughout the story with randomly inserted courtroom transcripts, this is far from a mystery novel. Amidst a backdrop of the 60's, a paradoxical time of both repression and possibility, this novel helps itself to heaping portions of both. And with a healthy dose of hilarity and pain, which is what adolescence is all about, Swan delivers a meaningful portrait of a young girl fighting passionately to discover herself. Why the hell is this out of print?
I was attracted to this book because it seemed to promise a fairy tale vibe, which is definitely the kind of vibe I like to read. From the synopsis, II was attracted to this book because it seemed to promise a fairy tale vibe, which is definitely the kind of vibe I like to read. From the synopsis, I didn't think it could go wrong: a young girl abandoned on a dock in Australia with only a book of fairy tales as a clue to her true identity.
My expectations were too high, because I just didn't dig it. I wanted more fairy tales (there were only three told in entirety, with the rest referred to by other characters - only making me wish I were reading those fairy tales instead of this book.) "The Forgotten Garden" also suffered from the multiple narratives and time-jumping. There were too many characters in all three timelines: the timeline of the lost girl trying to find the key to her past, the timeline of her granddaughter trying to finish putting together the mystery, and the earliest timeline of the authoress of the book of fairytales. I had trouble keeping track of what side characters went with which storyline (because they were so insignificant that their names and personalities didn't matter to me), not to mention that I felt like I was constantly being ripped out of one setting and plopped into another with flawed integration. Also, I felt that the author spent too much time delving into the psychoses of other characters that just didn't matter to the central plot of the book (which was "WTF is this little girl doing on this dock and where'd she come from anyway?")
It's overlong and it seemed as though the author was just a little too impressed with herself for masterminding this whole thing. That being said, I did knock out the final 300 pages in one sitting on my sick bed one afternoon. But that was only because I couldn't reach another book. Yes, it was engaging enough to keep me reading. But no, it wasn't really worth my time....more