Mr. Wroe is the Prophet of the Christian Israelites and one day he gets a message that he’s supposed to take seven virgins into his household. And his...moreMr. Wroe is the Prophet of the Christian Israelites and one day he gets a message that he’s supposed to take seven virgins into his household. And his congregants are eager to offer up their daughters - the young ones, the ones to crippled or mentally deficient to marry otherwise, the unwanted niece. Some want to be chosen - the pious old maid and the beautiful egotist with a secret that needs to be hidden.
What I first assumed seemed to be incorrect. After all, what else would a man want with seven virgins but to take advantage of them? But then it seemed that something else was going on - a large newly built home just needs servants to take care of it, and no one thinks anything of Mr. Wroe’s friend sleeping in his antechamber behind locked doors, right?
But that’s all turned on it’s head eventually and it’s a wonder of did he? Did she? Who’s telling the truth?
The story is told from the point of view of four of the seven women. One is pious and believes in the Prophet wholeheartedly and will do whatever he says that God says is right. Another is vain and egocentric and has more lies in her than truths. The third and fourth are not even Christian Israelites and they do not always understand what their Sisters do. One of them is a socialist looking to reform the world and the other comes to the household more animal than human. And it’s interesting to see her evolve into a thinking, dreaming, human being.
The most fascinating aspect of the story is that it is based from fact. Unfortunately, although it is known that this Mr. Wroe did indeed take seven women into his household, nothing is known about the woman themselves. Or maybe that’s fortunate, because it allows Jane Rogers to weave this intriguing tale. (less)
The book is narrated by Nikki, a woman who decides that the blame for all the horrid things that have happened in her life can be laid completely at t...moreThe book is narrated by Nikki, a woman who decides that the blame for all the horrid things that have happened in her life can be laid completely at the feet of the birth mother who abandoned her as an infant. She decides the best way to lead a normal life is to kill her mother. Obviously, this is not a stable woman, which is what makes this such a fascinating read. (In fact, with all her talk of “soaring” and “falling” I’d say she’s bipolar, but it’s not really clear if that is the case or not.) Nikki finds her mother on a little Scottish island - and she then discovers that she has a younger brother. He's unfortunate looking, slow and has a violent streak, but ultimately he's a sweet man who's whole life is led preserving the detritus that washes ashore and the history and myths about the island. In the end, sometimes things aren't what they seem. Sometimes they are. Sometimes there's a spark of truth behind a fairytale. And sometimes fairytales can be made to come true. The greatest compliment that I can pay to this book is that about one hundred pages from the end I literally couldn't put it down. It was like coming upon on accident on the highway. You want everyone to be okay, but the closer you get the more mangled the wreckage is and you just can't see how anyone is going to walk away from it.(less)
A uniquely written book that captured me from the beginning and kept me interested and invested to the end. And it punched me in the gut several times...moreA uniquely written book that captured me from the beginning and kept me interested and invested to the end. And it punched me in the gut several times in that life-is-not-fair way. And this should be prescribed reading for all kids, especially those kids with parents or grandparents - on either side of the political spectrum - who like to throw the word "Nazi" around like it's confetti. The only Nazis were the Nazis, and they are incomparable to any political in the U.S. today. I do have to add, though, that as I read I felt like the ADD generation was being catered to. It didn't bother me overly much - and, as I said above - I did find it to be uniquely written, but there is nothing wrong with a section of a chapter lasting longer than two pages. (less)
This was a strange little novel. It explores what can happen to a person’s life at the crossroads of fate. If they’d stayed at school later, ran a lit...moreThis was a strange little novel. It explores what can happen to a person’s life at the crossroads of fate. If they’d stayed at school later, ran a little faster or slower on the way home, looked both ways before crossing the street. What happens if the life you imagine while your laying in your hospital bed - where you didn’t do any or all of the above - what happens if that life actually begins being lived? I should mention that this is also a confusing novel, if you try to think about it too deeply. The main character - Carolyn in the imaginary world and Caro in the life actually lived - isn’t really redeemable in either version of her life. In one she’s a repressed housewife who lets her husband walk all over her and who keeps getting pregnant not so much because she wants children, but because she’s afraid to be a person on her own as her kids age. In the other, while she’s a much stronger person, she lacks the moral values to see what’s wrong with being a mistress to a married man. I read this from my personal worldview though, of course, so maybe Caro is supposed to be the idealized character in this story. But the only major male character in the novel Alan - is definitely irredeemable. An inattentive - and sometimes borderline abusive - husband, a never-there father, a drunkard and a cheat. The confusion comes in when Alan - Carolyn’s husband - meets and has an affair with Caro. Something that obviously shouldn’t happen. But despite the converging of true and fake realities, despite the confusion and the irredeemable traits of the characters - I couldn’t help but like this novel. In the end I could see hope in both Carolyn and Caro - and possibly even a future as a non-asshole for Alan. While not truly redeemed in the book, maybe they would have been in the future. I also happen to like a little oddity in the books I read, so the impossibility of it all was something I could get beyond. And the language of the book itself is just gorgeous. At some points the writing is more poetry than prose, and those moments are worth reading the book for themselves.(less)
Heretofore I had never forayed into Discworld. Probably not a good idea, considering how many Discworld books are out there! I knew that, going in, an...moreHeretofore I had never forayed into Discworld. Probably not a good idea, considering how many Discworld books are out there! I knew that, going in, and I was constantly cognizant of the fact that I was a visitor in a world that has been around for a long time and that I had no idea of it's past, present or future. But I'm not going make a fuss about it. Alright. I'm done punning. In all honesty - I really did like this book. It was quirky, and it's very obvious that Terry Pratchett was an extremely intelligent and witty man. (And hopefully he still is - hopefully the Alzheimer's hasn't progressed too far.) I think I'll have to be in a certain mood to read his books, though.(less)
This book fascinated me. The details of the practice of reading people's fortunes through lace were so precise and made so much sense that I had to re...moreThis book fascinated me. The details of the practice of reading people's fortunes through lace were so precise and made so much sense that I had to remember that it was all made up! The genius of this book wasn't revealed to me though until I got towards the end. I sat there stunned for a moment, and then I finally remembered how the book started. Only then did I begin to piece together how careful Barry is with the wording in this book. It deserves a re-read sometime in the future, now that I know one of the secrets that was kept.(less)
So many wonderful stories to read! I might find the characters unbelievable... if I didn't know for a fact that such people really and truly exist in...moreSo many wonderful stories to read! I might find the characters unbelievable... if I didn't know for a fact that such people really and truly exist in this world.(less)
I read this book months ago, but the image of the hanging tree has stayed in my mind ever since. It was a brilliant piece of imagery to base a book of...moreI read this book months ago, but the image of the hanging tree has stayed in my mind ever since. It was a brilliant piece of imagery to base a book off of! I was struck by the retold relationship between Gus and his second cousin Gracie. We learn of their relationship from Gus, so we don't know what it really was all about, so all I could think as I read was that Gus was too harsh on his family. He saw things the way they weren't really. Maybe it was intentional - and maybe I was reading into things, but don't we all make assumptions about what the people in our lives think about us? About why they act the way they do? This really is a good book. The only reason I'm giving it three stars instead of four is because the details of the plot of the story haven't stuck with me as much as the plot of "Starvation Lake" has. But maybe that's just a problem with my memory!(less)
This was the first book in a long time that I had to actually force myself to put down so I could go to bed or go to work. From beginning to end it ke...moreThis was the first book in a long time that I had to actually force myself to put down so I could go to bed or go to work. From beginning to end it kept me riveted.(less)
A novel which actually managed to surprise me. I love the parts where Gus has his "reporter's cap" on, but I wasn't enthralled with all the lengthy ho...moreA novel which actually managed to surprise me. I love the parts where Gus has his "reporter's cap" on, but I wasn't enthralled with all the lengthy hockey segments. They weren't bad... hockey just isn't my favorite.(less)