I finished this book last night and my eyes and nose still hurt from crying so much. Usually, a book so skilled in wrenching tears out of my eyes warrI finished this book last night and my eyes and nose still hurt from crying so much. Usually, a book so skilled in wrenching tears out of my eyes warrant 4-5 stars on goodreads but the end of the book left me so overwhelmingly dissatisfied that the sting in my eyes from crying only made the book more annoying.
(It started off annoying because Niffenegger insisted on mentioning at least one pleasant [but ridiculously trite:] detail about each person of color she introduced into the story. Sure, it's great to finally have a book where not every character is assumed to be white; indeed, Niffenegger made a point to describe almost each white person as blonde, redhaired, or Polish, thereby straying away from American Lit's assumption that every character is white unless otherwise stated. Extra points for that, but not every black lady needs to have a nice voice, nice skin, or beautiful hair. Besides, Niffenegger's brownie points for her inclusion of beautiful women of color is completely counterbalanced by how the significant others (Ingrid and Gomez) of those beautiful women of color (Celia and Charisse) are obsessively and inexplicably in love with white folk (Henry and Claire). That's annoying.)
Also, Claire could have been much more interesting. In her Acknowledgements section, Niffenegger thanked the staff at the Newberry library; she said, otherwise Henry would have worked at Starbucks instead of being an interesting librarian. I think it was GREAT that Henry was a librarian, that he likes to read, that he's the son of an alcoholic father whose drinking problems were triggered by the death of the love of his life. That's all interesting and character-building. And sure, it's OK for Henry to be white because giving another ethnicity the problem of a genetic defect seems unfair for an author to do.
But Claire... she most definitely did not have to be a white and wealthy artist. Niffenegger maybe should have explored other careers other than the careers of librarians to make Claire more interesting too. Or if "artist" was so necessary, then Claire could have at least been more like Charisse: a Pilipino, middle class, artistic anarchist. Niffenegger's attributing good 80's music taste, the French language, and skill for sculpture on Claire wasn't enough to make her worthy of Henry.
Also, as someone who was studying for a Family Law final while reading this book in between for breaks, it made me want to puke that Claire held her dead chrono-impaired fetus in her hand and STILL persisted on having babies (even before future Henry told her to keep on persisting). Adopt folks. Adopt.
Henry's matter of death could have been more interesting.
WIth all those criticisms said, Niffenegger definitely used the theme of time travel satisfactorily and most definitely excelled in the theme of death. That's how the tears start pouring. =)...more
page 16: "...unhappy people on their way to jobs they loathed, meetings with people they'd never agree with, to prices thTypos in English Translation:
page 16: "...unhappy people on their way to jobs they loathed, meetings with people they'd never agree with, to prices they couldn't beat, offers they couldn't match, business that had be put on hold..." page 142: "Disappear out the door, walk down the sea, just keep walking until I'm under the water, just keep going as far as I can manage, until I'm sleeping with the fishes." page 338: "He didn't try to make things more complicated they were." page 383: "As we swung down towards Gjogv, I could barely sit still in my seat, I was the first and last but one to get off the bus..." ...more
If I lived in 18th century Saint-Domingue and New Orleans, I would have been best friends with Island Beneath the Sea's side characters.
I would haveIf I lived in 18th century Saint-Domingue and New Orleans, I would have been best friends with Island Beneath the Sea's side characters.
I would have danced and danced and danced with old Honore and smuggle runaway slaves into freedom on Captain Toledano's pirate ship! I would've joined the Maroons in poisoning the food and burning the homes of white plantation owners. I would've prayed with (and then to) Tante Rose, recruited Adele into a feminist stitch-and-bitch group, and joined allegiance with Gambo in his righteous quest for freedom, revenge, sex, and justice.
Spotted typos in English translation:
"...and to his left, on another wall, was pinned an fanciful unfolded map of the Antilles..." (page 153)
"There are hundreds of thousand of rebel blacks scattered around the island, and I have a way to get them to join with us."
Tear-jerker warning: I cried at page 442 when a beggar sang Gambo's song....more