This is the kind of book that's so masterfully written, it's worth reading twice. The first time, you'll be on the edge of your seat, following the pl...moreThis is the kind of book that's so masterfully written, it's worth reading twice. The first time, you'll be on the edge of your seat, following the plot. The second time around you'll notice how efficiently the author instills a sense of place using spot-on details, and explores character histories and psychologies. Felicia is a run away from Ireland, Mr. Hilditch is a catering manager with questionable motives who finds her wandering the streets of somewhere-near-Birmingham. The narrative alternates between these two points-of-view, plunging readers right into the action, while continuously letting the mystery of both characters' backgrounds unfold. Another one to have on the shelf for anyone interested in exploring plot, and how a literary book can still be a page-turner.
I should mention that I read this with a book group, and one member had to stop reading because she kept worrying it was going to get too graphic. I don't think it's giving too much away to say that it's worth plunging ahead even if you feel that strong sense of forboding - the payoff at the end is immense. (less)
I wouldn't describe this book as a page-turner -- although, even at over 600 pages it is -- it's more like you've been taken hostage and won't be set...moreI wouldn't describe this book as a page-turner -- although, even at over 600 pages it is -- it's more like you've been taken hostage and won't be set free until you've read the last page. After it takes its leisurely Victorian time setting the scene and establishing characters and their relationships, Collins quickly piles mystery upon mystery upon mystery, while establishing and sustaining an astonishing level of foreboding. Any writer interested in studying how to maintain suspense could do worse than read "The Woman in White," ditto for anyone looking for examples of uniquely drawn, distinctive characters. Collins divides his narrative among several different characters, using both confessional/autobiographical and epistolary formats, and is unafraid to let his narrators speak in dialect. I recommend this book highly, but beware... your laundry will suffer, your phone calls will be unanswered, you may even forget where you left your children... (less)
Warning: if you ever wanted to play an instrument, or if you played one as a kid and wonder if you could do it again, this book will make you want to...moreWarning: if you ever wanted to play an instrument, or if you played one as a kid and wonder if you could do it again, this book will make you want to ditch everything else and devote your life to music. Or at least have the happy fantasy of embarking on a musical journey as unexpectedly fulfilling as the author's. Gary Marcus is a pretty well known cognitive psychologist, a dude at the top of his field, who decides at the age of 38 to try to learn to play the guitar. He approaches his subject both like a scientist -- there's plenty of research in here about how the brain responds to music, and how our bodies actually change through learning an instrument -- and like an unabashedly gleeful kid. Along the way he interviews musicians like Pat Metheny and Tom Morello, sits in on a variety of music lessons, from Suzuki to rock camp, and writes his first song. A fun read that satisfies the itch for story with the desire for intellectual inquiry, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning to play (or in helping someone else learn to play) any instrument, but especially the guitar. (less)