okay, so wow. this book did not work for me at all. i feel that i get what koch was trying to do with this novel...but it really fell flat. i am a hugokay, so wow. this book did not work for me at all. i feel that i get what koch was trying to do with this novel...but it really fell flat. i am a huge fan of unreliable narrators, and paul is definitely that...i am also a huge fan of interesting characters, and i really don't care whether or not a character is likeable. to me, unlikeable characters have more character, they are more interesting and, when done well, are more nuanced and layered. the dinner is populated almost entirely by unlikeable characters. unfortunately, i did not find them interesting. the highlight of the novel, for me, was the opening sentence of anna karenina being quoted: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way"
the dinner can be boiled down to a very simple premise but sometimes a simple premise is just not enough upon which to hang an entire novel. and if the threads you are using to tie it all together are frayed...then you likely won't be left with much, will you - something that had potential but now is only full of holes.
what a fun book! i had a great time with this read and loved sloane's humour and style. i am a bit waver-y between 3- and 4-stars because of some plotwhat a fun book! i had a great time with this read and loved sloane's humour and style. i am a bit waver-y between 3- and 4-stars because of some plot wobbles and the use of convenience. (i am just not a fan of convenience as a plot device), but the total meta-bookishness of the novel, it's quirk-factor and charm won me over.
it's not a book i would recommend for everyone but it was the exact right book i needed to read right now....more
In his debut novel, Aravind Adiga takes on some very big issues: the division of social classes into haves and have-nots, thI rate this novel 4 Stars.
In his debut novel, Aravind Adiga takes on some very big issues: the division of social classes into haves and have-nots, the cultural imperialism of the First World, the powder-kegged anger that seethes among the world's dispossessed, and entrapment. Adiga has crafted an excellent novel that is entertaining but the story also causes you to pause and think about these big issues and the impossibility faced by those caught in a corrupt and impoverished life.
***Potential spoilers follow***
From The New Yorker ~ In this darkly comic début novel set in India, Balram, a chauffeur, murders his employer, justifying his crime as the act of a "social entrepreneur." In a series of letters to the Premier of China, in anticipation of the leader’s upcoming visit to Balram’s homeland, the chauffeur recounts his transformation from an honest, hardworking boy growing up in "the Darkness"—those areas of rural India where education and electricity are equally scarce, and where villagers banter about local elections "like eunuchs discussing the Kama Sutra"—to a determined killer. He places the blame for his rage squarely on the avarice of the Indian élite, among whom bribes are commonplace, and who perpetuate a system in which many are sacrificed to the whims of a few. Adiga’s message isn’t subtle or novel, but Balram’s appealingly sardonic voice and acute observations of the social order are both winning and unsettling.
I liked this novel a lot and would highly recommend it. I think it would make for a great book group (F2F) read as there is so much to discuss....more
I re-read this book for the book group I belong to. I read this novel when it first came out, in 2005, and the last words of this haunting story stillI re-read this book for the book group I belong to. I read this novel when it first came out, in 2005, and the last words of this haunting story still resonate so wonderfully: “He fell in love. It was his life.” This is an amazing work of fiction and I enjoyed it very much. I am very pleased it held up so strongly on second reading, and feel it is a novel I will return to again.
I was mostly annoyed with the main character in this book. The concept is something I am sure many people consider - just taking off - but this novelI was mostly annoyed with the main character in this book. The concept is something I am sure many people consider - just taking off - but this novel just wasn't that strong to hold my attention and make me like it....more
Sadly, I loathed this book. I found it predictable and formulaic. We did the novel at the book group I belong to and I was looking forward to the storSadly, I loathed this book. I found it predictable and formulaic. We did the novel at the book group I belong to and I was looking forward to the story but I was quite disappointed....more
I give this novel 4.5 stars. (International Title Someone Knows My Name)
Hill has created an incredible story and an incredible character in Aminata DiI give this novel 4.5 stars. (International Title Someone Knows My Name)
Hill has created an incredible story and an incredible character in Aminata Diallo. The strength, endurance and perseverance she possesses are remarkable and I was engrossed from the very beginning of the book. I read this book two years ago and it has stayed with me ever since.
The book description reads as follows: "Abducted as an 11-year-old child from her village in West Africa and forced to walk for months to the sea in a coffle - a string of slaves - Aminata Diallo is sent to live as a slave in South Carolina. But years later, she forges her way to freedom, serving the British in the Revolutionary War and registering her name in the historic "Book of Negroes". This book, an actual document, provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own. Aminata's eventual return to Sierra Leone - passing ships carrying thousands of slaves bound for America - is an engrossing account of an obscure but important chapter in history that saw 1,200 former slaves embark on a harrowing back-to-Africa odyssey. Lawrence Hill is a master at transforming the neglected corners of history into brilliant imaginings, as engaging and revealing as only the best historical fiction can be. A sweeping story that transports the reader from a tribal African village to a plantation in the southern United States, from the teeming Halifax docks to the manor houses of London, The Book of Negroes introduces one of the strongest female characters in recent Canadian fiction, one who cuts a swath through a world hostile to her colour and her sex."
Hill did enormous research and based much of the novel on extracts from diaries, letters and memoirs he uncovered. The story is so well woven and cause one who thinks their eyes are already open to open them even wider. I highly recommend it to everyone....more
**spoiler alert** Oh my word...this book was too much (in a bad way). Too many metaphors, too many similes, too many examples spelling things out for**spoiler alert** Oh my word...this book was too much (in a bad way). Too many metaphors, too many similes, too many examples spelling things out for us. As a character, the narrator was detached. Therefore I was detached. I really didn't care about him. I found Marianne much more interesting and thought the secondary characters were done well.There are a couple of characters and sections I feel could make for interesting books in their own right.I found the 'back-in-time' sequences dealing with examples of eternal love to be repetitive. The fact the author felt the need to explain his book - rather, his main character's 'redemption' - to us on pages 370 & 371 (the hardcover edition I read) irked me; did he think the readers were not thoughtful enough to know that for themselves? I didn't feel the book or Davidson's writing style to be spectacular - as has been hyped for so long. Perhaps the hype is/was the problem? Overall, I feel Davidson had an interesting idea and then tried to cram everything he learned into the book. I know I am in the minority when I say I did not like this book....more
The book group I belong to did this book 2 years and I could not get into it at all. I thought, since everyone loved it and I have heard many people rThe book group I belong to did this book 2 years and I could not get into it at all. I thought, since everyone loved it and I have heard many people rave about it since, I would try again. Well try again I did with the same result - I was left wondering what the big deal was about this book. I found it monotonous and a chore.
edited to add:
i have now tried this book 3 times. i have read about ¾ of this novel, but it just had done nothing for me. i gave the book away, so doubt i will try it again....more
3rd read: beginning 03 september 13, for GR group read @ CBC Books - 5* rating (YAY!!)
man, this is a great book and i am so thrilled it held up during3rd read: beginning 03 september 13, for GR group read @ CBC Books - 5* rating (YAY!!)
man, this is a great book and i am so thrilled it held up during this third read for me. gibb is a fantastic storyteller and through her prose i could truly see, hear, smell and touch the places she created in this book - lilly's life in harare, her life in london were both so vivid.
this subject - ethiopia in the 70s, the government and it's abuses and deaths caused, the truth behind the famines - is something not truly well understood. through this novel. gibb brings us into a world we may not otherwise have been able to know or experience.
2nd read: for in-person book group, 2007 - 5* rating
1st read: @ time of publication, 2005 - 5* rating...more