This book had the potential to be a good story had it, perhaps, been written by a better author. As it was, I was fairly unimpressed. It began with my...moreThis book had the potential to be a good story had it, perhaps, been written by a better author. As it was, I was fairly unimpressed. It began with my incredulity at the unapologetic salaciousness of Miss Winter’s “story.” Because such a big deal was made over how no reporter had ever been given the truth about Vida Winter’s real background, it felt like once this story was actually revealed, Setterfield had to make it as shocking as possible to the reader. It was just too much, though. It was so over the top, that it wasn’t believable: incestuous brother-sister relationships, death from a hair wrapped around the finger, self-mutilation, crazy twins who literally can’t live without each other, all sorts of abuse and violence and murder. I mean, seriously? It all felt so forced and unrealistic. I found myself rolling my eyes at every new soap-opera detail.
And then there were the characters that I just could not bring myself to feel any sympathy for. Certainly Miss Winter’s character was more interesting, but I grew tired of her by the end as well. Maybe it was having to read the sections from Hester’s diary that were all just repetitions of what had already been told that made me start to get impatient with her story. It became repetitive and predictable.
It was most painful to read any section involving the narrator, Margaret. I had nothing but apathy for her character. Her whole obsession with her dead twin started to feel like nails on a chalkboard for me. I mean, she didn’t even realize she had a twin until she was nine years old, but upon discovering this information, suddenly her whole life is changed. Of course, she always “knew” she had a sister. Of course she did! She “misses” her sister to the point of practically swooning every time she sees herself in the mirror and thinks she sees her sister. Huh? Other than that, Margaret’s character had absolutely no personality at all. She’s blah, plain, loves books more than people, seems to have no relationships with anyone, and . . . uh, that’s about it. She spends most of the book trying to get her dead sister (remember, the one she never actually knew?) to come to her because she just misses her so much. I kind of wanted to smack her.
I think the ending was the most disappointing of all. After the whole build-up to the revealing of the “Thirteenth Tale” (which, by the way, I just assumed was going to be the story Miss Winter was telling Margaret the whole time . . . wouldn’t that have made more sense?), it ended up being a couple of poorly written paragraphs that basically said nothing. I guess the problem was that although Vida Winter was supposed to be the greatest living English author (that point was certainly crammed down our throats enough), Diane Setterfield is anything but the greatest English author, so she was unable to write a great story that could pass for the fabled “Thirteenth Tale.”
I give this book two stars only because the sections about Miss Winter kept my interest for the most part. I’d probably give it one and a half stars if I could. (less)
I'm starting to have mixed feelings about Jodi Picoult's novels. On the one hand, I think she is such a talented writer. Her books always draw me in i...moreI'm starting to have mixed feelings about Jodi Picoult's novels. On the one hand, I think she is such a talented writer. Her books always draw me in immediately, and I can hardly put them down once I start reading. But the last couple of her books have left me feeling rather disappointed at the conclusion. It's like I'm waiting for a really fantastic and/or satisfying ending after such a good read, but it's just not there. Overall, though, the whole plot behind this book was a really interesting one, and I think I'll go ahead and give this author another try.(less)
While there were some very disturbing images in this book, the whole plot was interesting, and I finally felt satisfied with the ending of one of Pico...moreWhile there were some very disturbing images in this book, the whole plot was interesting, and I finally felt satisfied with the ending of one of Picoult's books! Well, I take that back. I thought My Sister's Keeper had an amazing ending.(less)
This book was pretty entertaining, but I was disappointed in the ending. Nanny took so much crap from those people throughout the whole book, that you...moreThis book was pretty entertaining, but I was disappointed in the ending. Nanny took so much crap from those people throughout the whole book, that you really thought she would FINALLY say something at the end (like she almost did). But what she did end up saying hardly satisfied my own frustration at what she put up with every day.(less)
I loved this book! The first section is based on Frankl's experiences in concentration camps during WWII. At first, I had a hard time getting into the...moreI loved this book! The first section is based on Frankl's experiences in concentration camps during WWII. At first, I had a hard time getting into the book because I was expecting this first section to be the author's "story." Instead, he uses examples of different experiences in concentration camps to show points he is making about his theory, called logotherapy. He doesn't give you a complete story of his time as a concentration camp prisoner, though. Once I realized this, it made a lot easier to read and understand.
I think Frankl is amazing, and I loved reading about his theories. He believes that everything can be taken from you, but you still have the freedom to choose how you will react or respond in any situation. He says, "I became acquainted with those martyrs whose behavior in camp, whose suffering and death, bore witness to the fact that the last inner freedom cannot be lost. . . It is this spiritual freedom--which cannot be taken away--that makes life meaningful and purposeful.
Frankl also discusses quite a bit the responsibility we have as human beings and how important it is that we look outside ourselves to help others. It is only in this way that we find meaning and purpose, and thus find happiness. (less)
Maybe I'm just too much of an Amy Tan fan because this book was just too much of a copy of Joy Luck Club for me to really enjoy. It seems strange to m...moreMaybe I'm just too much of an Amy Tan fan because this book was just too much of a copy of Joy Luck Club for me to really enjoy. It seems strange to me that the author chose the exact same format as Amy Tan (alternating chapters of the mothers, who are Indian immigrants, and their American-raised daughters), and even titled the book so similarly! That said, the writing is nowhere as good. The voices of the three daughters sounded exactly the same; I had to keep reminding myself which daughter was talking. The storyline was only so-so and highly predictable.
What was also frustrating was the fact that the book seemed to be geared toward readers who have little or no prior knowledge of Indian culture, clearly defining certain terms or cultural practices part of the time, but leaving many of the Hindi terms undefined or unclear to the reader.
I did really enjoy learning some things about Indian history that I was completely unaware . . . like the whole Partition holocaust! Wow, if nothing else, it certainly made me want to read some books on Indian history now.
One more thing I had to add that made me crazy about this book was the use of smiley faces. Each chapter had several "email" exchanges between the characters, and every single character used every variation of the "smiley face" that you could possibly think of in their emails. It made me insane. I could see if one or two of them liked to use them occasionally, but ALL of them, EVERY time? Then, to top it off, when Meenal starts writing her daughter these very "meaningful" hand-written letters from India, she seems compelled to add a smiley face to the end of every paragraph! Maybe it's just because I'm not a smiley face kind of gal, but it really got on my nerves. (less)
This was an easy read and an interesting take on the "Cinderella" story, but it wasn't amazing. It felt like it gave a very long build-up to a climax...moreThis was an easy read and an interesting take on the "Cinderella" story, but it wasn't amazing. It felt like it gave a very long build-up to a climax that was vague and unexciting and a denouement that was pretty disappointing. Only as an epilogue do we discover what happened to Iris, the main character of the book, and even then, it is brief and without many details.
Many of the ideas introduced into the storyline also felt as though they were left hanging at the end of the book. Clara, the Cinderella character, seemed a very flat character to me, although she could have been interesting if the author had developed her more.
Mostly it was disappointing to not get the completion of Caspar and Iris's relationship after the entire book leads up to it. You would think that if the story was written down by Caspar, as the epilogue explains, then we would have gotten it more from his point of view, rather than Iris's.
Overall, it was an okay read, but I'm not sure I want to read Wicked now after reading this one.(less)
I first read this book in college, and it had such a huge influence on me. I don't know if I just read it at a time in my life when I needed it, or wh...moreI first read this book in college, and it had such a huge influence on me. I don't know if I just read it at a time in my life when I needed it, or what, but I really loved it. I even took his New Testament class at BYU -- an absolutely amazing teacher!
I particularly loved the parables and analogies he uses, especially the section where he talks about his wife having a huge meltdown because she just can't do it all. I have felt that SO many times in my life. This book really helped me keep things in perspective.
In fact, I let someone borrow this book years ago who never returned it, and I can't remember who. The book has a lot of sentimental value to me because a good friend had given it to me and written a really great inscription on the inside cover. So, whoever you are, if you have my book, please return it! You can leave it in an unmarked, brown paper bag on my doorstep . . .(less)