A page-turner. The story happened in 1962-1963, and the author managed to incorporate lots of historical events into the storyline. For example: The CA page-turner. The story happened in 1962-1963, and the author managed to incorporate lots of historical events into the storyline. For example: The Cuban missile crisis, the Kennedy's, Giants playing in the World Series, Gone with the Wind, and many books that I've never heard of (after all, she's a bookseller, no?) The reading experience (I couldn't put down the book in the beginning) and the setting are a solid 4, but the plot planning and technique are a 3 - by the middle of the book, everything was a bit forced and predictable. The author carefully used the chapter before to plan what's going to happen in the next. I will still recommend this book to my book-loving friends. Who wouldn't love to read a story about what could have been; would have been? There would always be some regrets and sorrow in whatever life we choose, no?...more
What not to love about a book that begins with an arranged wedding between a 12 year-old boy and a 4 year-old bride in an Indian village? I'm so happyWhat not to love about a book that begins with an arranged wedding between a 12 year-old boy and a 4 year-old bride in an Indian village? I'm so happy to have found a fresh voice in Indian fiction....more
Some reviewers called Anna Quindlen's Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake a nonfiction work of finding peace with getting old, and this book her fiction vSome reviewers called Anna Quindlen's Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake a nonfiction work of finding peace with getting old, and this book her fiction version of the same theme. I totally agree. However, somehow I still enjoy reading her nonfictions a bit more. Her nonfiction writings are much less restrained, the jokes funnier, while her fictions can only go as far as the characters be able to reach, and her characters are not as likable as she is....more
As a lover for fiction from faraway lands, I noticed and kept track of this title way before publication date. I love to read about how war and historAs a lover for fiction from faraway lands, I noticed and kept track of this title way before publication date. I love to read about how war and history could affect all of us, no matter where we are, where we were from. This is the debut novel of Sahar Delijani. She drew examples for this story from her parents and other family members, who were actually imprisoned in the Evin Prison in the 1980s. Ms. Delijani was born there. One could safely say that this book is part memoir, part fiction.
The book opened with a heart-gripping chapter. A pregnant woman prisoner, Azar, was being taking to a local hospital fanned by “sisters” and “brothers,” or male and female prison guards from Evin. She was blindfolded and suffering from humility, harsh treatment and contraction pain. When she finally was allowed to sit down somewhere, she thought a doctor was going to see her. Yet an interrogator came in, with paper and pen, hoping to break her during her time of weakness and pain, with her baby about to slip out… This was the best chapter of the book.
Not much is known about the Evin Prison, since most prisoners were blindfolded while being transported within; it has the most efficient interrogative methods that could break any human, and it was crowded. It was built to fit 350 prisoners but holds up to 15,000 all the time. It’s also called Evin University, due to the number of intellectuals who were imprisoned, tortured or killed there. It’s the prison not only for actual criminals, but also intellectuals, students, activists, Christians, journalists… In other words, any one who’s believed to oppose the Iranian government. The prison is right at the border of the city of Tehran, and its cold tall walls could be visible from many homes.
The stories in the book took place during 1980’s in Tehran, where there was a mass arrest of political activists, to the present, around 2011 in Europe, American and Iran. The chapters went back and forth between the two periods. There were many characters, which were all somewhat related to one to one another and somehow looked, talked and act similar to each other due to the lack or development or similar descriptions: dark hair, dark eyes, and stocky for men. They were the prisoners of Evin and their children who grew up with the effect of war and their emotionally broken parents. Among these kids were Omid, Sara, Neda and Forough who were cousins. The kids carry their parents pain, so they are also broken, suffering and in no way happy or normal, although their love for the country remain strong, even after fleeing to the west with their parents.
I really wanted to give the book 5 stars. It has, as predicted, opened my eyes to the history of Iran, which I only had just a vague idea about. I loved the intended plot; I loved the concept; I loved the way the author narrates, with such lyrical prose and well-used metaphors and symbolism. However, the book is a bit disjointed, the characters were all very similar to each other (except for one or two), the plot did not flow smoothly enough so the book was read like a collection of vignettes. The descriptions were not only weak for characters, but also for the most important place, the prison. The cousins’ home and relationship were just barely scanned over. There’s so much potential to elaborate, to embellish… Unfortunately some sentiments and descriptions were used once too many, like the author was trying too hard to come up with more and new descriptive words or poetic terms. I ended up flipping through pages just to get the book going.
However, I still think this book is worth reading as a debut novel and as an introduction to the sad history and present situation of Iran, since I could feel the author’s love for her country in every single page. A hardback might be better and easier to read than the ebook version due to the various characters that have similar names, descriptions and feelings.
This is a 3.5 star book, the 0.5 extra is for the poetic words and the great opening.
This book came just in time for Mother’s Day 2013. It’s a collection of short stories/essays written by 31 different female authors. Some of them areThis book came just in time for Mother’s Day 2013. It’s a collection of short stories/essays written by 31 different female authors. Some of them are well known, others, not as much. The theme? They wrote about the one thing that their Mom had given them with the most meaning or long-lasting impression.
As a reader, I truly believe that investing a little time to understand the background, education, life experiences, and childhood of an author would greatly improve my reading experience. When I saw the names of several authors I know, I thought this book would be a great supplement for my books. I also predicted that this would be an inspirational and uplifting easy read. After all, who else could influence us as much, or as positively as our Mother does?
I was quite wrong.
It was a shock to discover that not all stories were positive or easy to read. Some authors downright hate their Moms, or lack mothering there of. The “gift” their talked about were not all tangible as well, although most were. They varied from tangible: a nail polish, a photograph, a part of their home, an outfit; to intangible ones: memories, pain, love of words, a day’s experience. The essays also varied from pleasant to down right painful to read, from eloquent to mediocre. Some realized their Mothers loved them right there and then, others, years later. The essays definitely covered all sort of Mothers and daughters, some good, some not so good….just like in real life. A few stories I definitely had fond memories of even a few weeks after reading the book: A Thousand Words a Day and One Charming Note by Lisa See; The Missing Photograph by Caroline Leavitt. The introduction by Elizabeth Benedict was quite emotional to read as well.
Since the chapters are divided by authors and their piece. One can read this book all in one sitting, or divide them up and read one or a few at a time. I highly recommend this book to all who want to study the complex mother/daughter relationship, or just as a simple gift for a Mom or a daughter.
I received the ARC from NetGalley…and later purchased a copy as a Mother’s Day gift for my best friend, who has a “it’s complicated” relationship with her Mom.