I really enjoyed this novel and can understand why everyone was raving about it. The Help was compulsively readable-I spent most of a Saturday readingI really enjoyed this novel and can understand why everyone was raving about it. The Help was compulsively readable-I spent most of a Saturday reading it. The 3 narrators were each given individual distinctive voices although some events and characters were melodramatic. The themes of developing your own voice and the importance of community were expertly foregrounded in a fascinating, emotional story....more
Spanning from 1969 to the early part of the 21st century, Stiltsville is the story of a quiet life filled with a deep abiding love. Frances Ellerby trSpanning from 1969 to the early part of the 21st century, Stiltsville is the story of a quiet life filled with a deep abiding love. Frances Ellerby travels to Miami in 1969 for a friend’s wedding. She finds herself spending a day in Stiltsville, a collection of houses built on pilings in Biscayne Bay. Frances falls in love with Dennis, a law student whose family owns one of the houses. She soon moves to Miami and marries Dennis. They raise a daughter, Margo, and deal with problems that face most couples: money, child rearing, and wandering affections. When Dennis and Frances are facing the prospect of an empty nest after the marriage of their daughter, Dennis develops ALS and Frances and their friends and family gather to care for Dennis until his early death.
Narrated in the first person by Frances, this is a simple story of ordinary people. Unfortunately, Frances’ average life does not make for an interesting story. For a main character she is incredibly passive and never seems to feel passionately about anything–her husband, a career (she has a series of jobs but never one that gives her a sense of fulfillment or enjoyment), politics, etc. Frances seems to go along easily through life and is defined by the people in her life–her husband, her daughter, her sister-in-law, and more dynamic best friend.
The strength of this book lies not in the characters or story but in the author’s ability to vividly capture the lush subtropical landscape of South Florida. Daniel does an excellent job of describing the stilt house in Biscayne Bay, the Florida weather (“In July in South Florida, the sunlight fusses and adjusts a hundred times over the course of the day. By mid-afternoon, hours from sunset, the blue of the sky was rich and dense, as if a dusting of powder had been wiped from its surface.” p. 12), the characters’ hobbies (fishing, boating, tennis) and daily life in Miami in the 70s through the 90s. Sadly the dull characters and slice of life narrative drag the novel down. I enjoyed reading about South Florida but found this novel meandering and boring. ...more
Summary: Bloodroot is the story of a family from East Tennessee told over several generations. Told in alternating first person voices and with a sligSummary: Bloodroot is the story of a family from East Tennessee told over several generations. Told in alternating first person voices and with a slightly out of order chronology, most of the action centers around Myra Lamb and the remote Bloodroot mountain which her family calls home. In the first section, Myra’s granny, Byrdie Lamb, and her childhood friend, Doug Cutter, narrate life on Bloodroot mountain and Myra’s wild untamed nature. The second section is told by Myra’s twins, Johnny and Laura, and describes their early childhood on the mountain and growing up without a mother after Myra is taken away from them. Myra narrates the third section about her unhappy marriage to John Odom and the epilogue is told in John’s voice about his experiences after the end of his marriage.
Reaction: The device of using different narrators presents an engaging portrait of poverty and the bounds of family in the Appalachia. The characters are doomed to repeat the mistakes of earlier generations and it isn’t until the end of the novel that things finally appear to change for the better. Greene’s finely chosen prose creates a truly vivid world of harsh beaten down people but also of a beautiful restorative natural world. There is a wealth of symbolism that could be analyzed in depth but also a deeply compelling story of a family. I found myself invested in the fates of characters, particularly Johnny and Laura. This book is a gritty Southern gothic that can be challenging but fans of literary fiction will find much to enjoy....more
I think I would have appreciated this more if I had read the book rather than listening to the audio version. Literary fiction doesn't work for me onI think I would have appreciated this more if I had read the book rather than listening to the audio version. Literary fiction doesn't work for me on audio--my mind will drift and I can't give it the concentration I need to.
I originally thought the book would be more about the story of the mother searching for her missing daughter instead it is a family saga with magic realism elements set in Northeastern Georgia from the 1830s to 1941. The story begins in 1941 then in subsequent chapters tell the stories of the characters in earlier time periods and the stories of their ancestors. Racism (against both African American and Cherokees) is a prominent theme.
I enjoyed the story of Willie Mae, who is born into slavery, the most. I found my mind wandering during Amelia's (Mia) childhood sections set in 1920 and didn't find Ella (or E.F.) different enough from her mother.
Part of my problem was that the reader of the audio didn't distinguish all of the separate characters enough for me.
**spoiler alert** Coming of age novel that was flat and uninspired. Sisters Liz and Bean Halladay are raised by a single mother who appears to suffer**spoiler alert** Coming of age novel that was flat and uninspired. Sisters Liz and Bean Halladay are raised by a single mother who appears to suffer from bipolar disorder. After their mother leaves them on their own in their California home while she goes off to work on her musical career; the sisters travel by bus across the country to their uncle's home in Byler, Virginia (where their mother grew up and the girls were born). Bean, the younger sister at 12, meets her dead father's family for the first time and develops an instant relationship with them. Since their uncle has little money left after selling the family's mill, the girls get jobs doing odd work for the mill foreman (and the one of the meanest men in town). They also start attending the newly integrated town high school.
I stopped reading after about 100 pages and skimmed the rest of the story. My problem with the book was that there was too much telling (lots of exposition about things that happened in the town before the girls were born to explain divisions about the mill workers and non mill workers, blacks and whites, the history of the Halladay family, etc.) and not enough showing. Bean did not have much of a personality--I think the author wanted her to be like Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird but didn't succeed. The plotting was slack and the events predictable (Liz's attack by the evil boss). I have enjoyed Walls' previous books, especially her sense of place, and was disappointed by lack of description and unique sense of place in this book.