An interesting premise for a novel. A middle-age copper having a mid life crisis finds himself guarding the body of a notorious child killer. His twel...moreAn interesting premise for a novel. A middle-age copper having a mid life crisis finds himself guarding the body of a notorious child killer. His twelve hour night-shift gives him too much time on his hands and he finds himself examining his whole life. I was amused by the references to local areas such as Widnes and Runcorn Bridge, as the piles of scrap metal descriptions were very accurate.
I don't think it is a novel that I will remember in detail in years to come, but it will provide some interesting points for discussion at our book group.(less)
This book was the reading group choice for July. I had taken it on holiday, and felt I had a duty to read for the group rather than a desire to, from...moreThis book was the reading group choice for July. I had taken it on holiday, and felt I had a duty to read for the group rather than a desire to, from reading the blurb.
How true is it never to judge a book by it's cover?
I loved this book. It was centred around a very modern house built in the 1920's in Czechoslovakia. How the house was commissioned, the part it played in the lives of the owners, and how they subsequently had to abandon it due to the onset of German occupation of Czechoslovakia and the persecution of the jews.
The story follows the lives of the owners, but also the role of the house, without them. It is occupied by a Nazi division who use it as a laboratory in the early phase of WWII. It then becomes a haven for Russian liberation troops. After the war it is used as an annexe to the local hospital for rehabilitation of children.
The lives of the people linked to the house is very well portrayed, there are many affairs and near affairs. It documents the struggles and hardships families had to endure to survive being displaced.
The house is based on a real building Villa Tugendhat, Brno in The Czech Republic, and after reading the book I spent a good hour looking through the site at photographs of the house. The author had used a lot of factual details about the house in the novel. There were obvious parallels between the historical facts and his fiction too. It was fascinating comparing the two. The house is now undergoing a huge restoration programme and will once again be open to the public on completion.(less)
I found this book fascinating. It isn't easy to read about such an unjust & savage system as slavery and this story spans the abolition of slavery...moreI found this book fascinating. It isn't easy to read about such an unjust & savage system as slavery and this story spans the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, and therefore Jamaica the main setting of the novel.
I felt a great deal of warmth & empathy towards the character of Kitty, a slave who at the opening of the book is described giving birth to her daughter July. It is through July's eyes that the story is narrated. From a young girl, through to her twilight years, where she resides with her son, who is a very successful businessman.
With a dark humour throughout and a mockery of the Massa & the Missus, you get a real feeling of what everyday life was like for both the slaves and their masters. Even after the abolition of slavery, their lives didn't change, they were still living in the same huts and working for the same owners. The main benefit being that they had a small plot of land from which they could become a little more self sufficient. This in turn became something which they were blackmailed with.
I was left wanting to find out more about some of the periphery characters, in particular July's daughter. I found the end left a little too much unsaid. Maybe there is a sequel on the cards. (less)
I was a little bit wary of this book, as my previous attempt at a Kingsolver novel (Poisonwood Bible) ended in me discarding it. If this hadn't been a...moreI was a little bit wary of this book, as my previous attempt at a Kingsolver novel (Poisonwood Bible) ended in me discarding it. If this hadn't been a book group choice, I probably wouldn't have revisited another Kingsolver. One of the other members was so excited about reading this after reviews she had read, I felt inspired by her enthusiasm to get stuck in to a 670 page tome, if only to hear her take on it.
As you can see from the star rating, I haven't read this out of duty, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was like four novels in one almost. Following the young Harrison Shepherd from his native America to Mexico, and back and forth throughout his life. He appears to be quite an unremarkable character at first glance, he is often in the shadow of much more colourful characters, namely his mother, the artists he resides with in his teens, Trotsky (yes that Trotsky). Even in his 30's he is overshadowed by his own novels.
The Lacuna, certainly takes you on a journey. A journey through one mans life. Mexico in the 20's & 30's is the backdrop for much political unrest, not only of it's own country but taking in the exiled communist Trotsky. It also takes you through America's travels through the Second World War and into the very disturbing era of the Cold War. I found this part of the book so disturbing as they set out at all costs to prove a persons allegiance to Communism and therefore their anti-Americanism.
The characters in the book are lively, colourful and perhaps because of their flaws, believable. It is quite an epic novel, spanning a number of decades, but as each part of the Shepherd's life is quite distinct, this is what makes me describe it as four for the price of one. I think I enjoyed the first part the most, the descriptions of him as a young boy, swimming into The Lacuna carefree, contrasted so much with how tight his mother held onto him & his daily grind working alongside the wise Leandro, from whom he learnt so much. This is not to say that the later parts of Shepherd''s life are not interesting, they are probably more so, but also lead us through some uncomfortable circumstances and terrifying political times.
As quite a bit of the book is based on real people and places, Frida Kahlo, Diego Riviera and Leon Trotsky, it is easy to forget that the main character is pure invention and fictional. This sense of a memoir is enhanced as most of the book is recounting diaries that Harrison Shepherd kept, interweaved with newspaper clippings and reports from the time. This backed up the story for me, and in a way made it difficult to forget it was fiction.
I think it is a book which will stay with me for a while to come and i've spent quite a bit of time googling Kahlo, Riviera & Trotsky as I wanted to know more. I had to stop myself from searching for Harrison Shepherd. I certainly would recommend it. It is a book which requires a certain investment of time to get through, but the payback is worth it. A great story. (less)
I really wanted to love this book. Julian Fellowes appears to be the man of the moment after the recent success of Downton Abbey(which was amazing), b...moreI really wanted to love this book. Julian Fellowes appears to be the man of the moment after the recent success of Downton Abbey(which was amazing), but...
For me it was too long a wild goose chase leading up to 'the incident', which wasn't such a big deal in my opinion. Maybe I'm missing the significance of the time & the subtle manners and rules that society was only just breaking free from. It did pick up a pace towards the end, maybe that was in part due to the fact that a man's life was on the verge of ending.
I am relieved that the person the narrator was searching for was revealed in the end. However, I don't understand what the purpose of not revealing the name/identity of the narrator was.
So overall, I liked it, but wasn't gripped by it.(less)
I can count on one hand the number of books I've read more than once. I just don't do it. I've got a TBR pile the height of the house, and so little t...moreI can count on one hand the number of books I've read more than once. I just don't do it. I've got a TBR pile the height of the house, and so little time to get through them all, so why would I want to re-read something?
Well, I've had my eyes wiped with this one. I re-read it as one of the real life reading groups I go to, had it as their choice for June. I loved it the first time I read it, and wanted to participate fully in the discussion, to do it justice.
I didn't race through it the second time I read it, as I suppose my hunger to find out what happened to all the amazing characters wasn't there as in the first read. However, I was really surprised at how much I had forgotten and how enjoyable it was to read it all again, and soak up the beautiful story and detail for a second time.
I think it is a very clever book, which when you first hear is narrated by death, could be a bit off putting. It is remarkable to see the Second World War through the eyes of a young girl, who has had her life torn apart with the loss of her family. She finds much comfort immersing herself in books and with the support of her foster family, who have nothing, she has an amazing outlook on life. The tragedy that pans out in the Book Thief, claws at you, yet it is beautiful, heartfelt and makes you question which side of the fence you would be on if you were put in a similar situation.
I also believe that books, reading and writing could save your sanity if left in confinement, as many of the hidden exiled Jews were.
I've often pondered what book I would have as my Desert Island choice, I think this could be contender, as in all honesty I think I could even read it a third time!
Started reading this before all the riots started, it resonated so m...moreWill do a full review at the end of the month for www.loveabook.co.uk book group.
Started reading this before all the riots started, it resonated so much with how disaffected certain sectors of our young people are. Made for very difficult reading at times, but I think that gives credit to how well it was written.
To be honest, I feel a little broken hearted after reading this.(less)
For such a short book, it has taken me nearly two weeks to finish this. I don't know why I struggled so much with it. It should have been quite compel...moreFor such a short book, it has taken me nearly two weeks to finish this. I don't know why I struggled so much with it. It should have been quite compelling. A very disturbing obsession by one man for another after a chance meeting at a freak ballooning accident. It was just too self indulgent, in my opinion. Too analytical. Perhaps it was because I didn't feel much sympathy for Joe who was being stalked.
However, there were some really beautiful, tender moments. The character of the wife of the man killed in the accident was so well drawn, and the depiction of her grief, turmoil and suspicions of why he was a the scene really redeemed this book for me.
I'm rubbish with best seller, over-hyped books. They have too much to live up to usually.
I think The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fell into this categ...moreI'm rubbish with best seller, over-hyped books. They have too much to live up to usually.
I think The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fell into this category for me. It was good, I liked it, but gosh it took some getting into. It was only because a trusted friend assured me that it would have me hooked that I persevered through the first 100 pages. That and I kept picturing the protagonist Mikael Blomkvist as he has been cast in the recent film aka Daniel Craig.
Daniel, sorry Blomkvist is a journalist, who at the start of the novel has just lost a court case against an industry mogul Wennerstrom. He takes the judgement quietly and prepares for his short stint in jail. Whilst letting all the dust settle, he is contacted by Henrik Vanger, head of a rival industrial corporation to Wennerstrom. In return for helping Vanger solve a family murder nearly 40 years earlier, Blomkvist is promised Wennerstrom's damaging secrets on a plate.
The story is really slow to get going, you have to wade through a huge amount of background narrative on all the history of the industrialists. However, once Blomkvist starts to tackle the murder mystery, it picks up a pace. He enlists the assistance of Lisbeth Salander, and their working and personal relationships are fascinating. The technology she employs is a fine match to his attention to detail, and slowly but surely they make headway into a case which has been shelved for decades. There are no pretty bows to be tied around the final outcome of the murder enquiry, but at least the aged Henrik Vanger has some resolution.
The novel then continues on, covering the Wennerstrom revenge, but I'd quite happily have enjoyed the novel without this saga at the beginning and finale of the story. A lot of it just felt over complicated.
I'm going to duck back down below the parapet now, as I have a feeling I'll be in the minority with regards to not being completely blown away by this. I think I might just like to have a peek at the film though, just to see how closely the script resembles the book, obviously. Not to ogle DC.