Just a little before reading this, I read Gentlemen and Players, and it instantly proved to me the beauty and genius of her writing. She has a true talent of capturing ones mind, twisting ones heart, and using her word-play to prove her skill and delicacy. I just realized how annoying and sappy that sounded...
Simply put, she has made her way into a position as one of my favorite writers, capable of the gothic and the whimsicle, and one of the most talented writers at characterizing that I have ever read. While you may dislike all the characters in this novel, as I did, you're absolutely bonkers if you say she isn't capable of creating them as memorable, shocking, and intriguing individuals. This novel, more than any of her others, messed with my mind...The very subject matter surrounds a controlling and dominant husband, desperate to keep his frail wife young and submissive...leading into more than I could ever fit into words. The depth to this novel is amazing, though a few small details made it a four star rather than five, the details hardly important enough to be mentioned...but one of which being the ending.
I've always been a fan of quick, shocking ends...and Joanne Harris generally has just that; but in this one I found myself lagging on. The first three-hundred pages or so passed in a whirlwind of colorful language and plot, yet as I neared the end, I found myself slowing down, suddenly the whole thing seeming lack-luster. Mind you, there was never a time I was bored or disliking it, I just found she could have ended it much sooner and more memorably rather than carried on...
Anyway, as I said, a very unimportant detail on the whole for a book that was beautifully and tastefully executed, and in no way butchered my love for this woman.(less)
I took a little while reading this book, which is surprising, I know, because this is supposed to be a fast read. Normally, I would completely devour...moreI took a little while reading this book, which is surprising, I know, because this is supposed to be a fast read. Normally, I would completely devour longer and more complex works by Anais Nin in a mere day or so, but somehow, someway, with Ladders To Fire, I found my attention slipping, and after just a page or so, I had already grown bored of reading it. This both surprised and upset me as she's been one of my favorite writers for a while now. At first I thought it was just a slower novel than the rest, and would take some time to get into it, but as it went on, I feared the worst: For once, I have thoroughly disliked something by Anais Nin.
In everything else (which is quite a lot) that I've read by her, she manages to word everything so elequently, so deliciusly, reading her sliding through like a beautiful dance. She has ideas I could never imagine anyone having, and manages to explain the simplest of emotions in the most complex and abstract of ways, much like D.H. Lawrence (favorite writer of all time.) I loved her for this, for her spirit and energy, for the passion she puts into a single sentence, and the genuis of her creativity, and yet in Ladders To Fire, I found none of this. Instead it came off rather bleakly, not truely caring for any of the characters in it, or even for the storyline (if you could call it one.)
It pains me to say all of this about a writer I so dearly love, and yet I'm not going to be like some and go about claiming every single thing from that person is a work of art. Some of D.H. Lawrence's works I don't like either, yet does it make them any the less brilliant? Never. There were some ideas, some chapters in this that struck me as quite beautiful, and that I did ponder over for a little while, yet on the whole I finished it with having taken nothing from it, none of the usual pain and enjoyment, awe and love that I got from the others. I merely felt empty.
I feel squeamish writing this review, since only a day or two ago I would have declared it five stars. It would have gone, without a doubt, on my 'fav...moreI feel squeamish writing this review, since only a day or two ago I would have declared it five stars. It would have gone, without a doubt, on my 'favorites' list, joining all the other beloved works of favorite writers. But it's the ending that changes it all...I'll say the last 50-ish pages or more is where it falls.
This sudden, and enormous annoyance to me was how rushed the book felt. Yes, I do understand the meaning of 'fast-paced', but at the same time, it gave me the odd feeling of reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, with that horrible, horrible epilogue to sour the whole thing. Here, the epilogue was an unwanted disruption, but the ending on a whole annoyed me, overflowing me with strong feelings for the book on a whole. This 319 page book should, in all honesty, be more around 400 or 500 pages. Yes, that's rather long, but in order to develop the relationships she had made, and to make the ending more understandable, and thus, likable, she should have taken her time to work on something a little more. I don't mind reading extra pages and long books if it's needed...but I really hate reading a book where you feel it shouldn't yet be over.
I could continue on and on about the ending, but the other important irritation that I had with the book was the romance. Not many list this as a 'romance', but I don't see what else it could be. The entire novel is centered around everyone's love for their wives, the singer mostly, and eventually the most sudden and random attraction between a terrorist and hostage. The romance, while well written, became slightly upsetting as it went along. While I can understand one of them (I won't give spoilers), and find it developed nicely and finely done, the other filled me with disappointment.
When writing romance, you need not change the characters once they are in love. If they're painfully shy, don't make them suddenly mushy-gushy and all over the place once they have a guy. And Gen, just have to put this in there, was always my favorite character...until he fell in love. I get that this is supposed to be, in some ways, a dark-comedy, unrealistic and ironic, but if you're going to make a romance novel...make it well, please. There's nothing better than a good romance; there's nothing worse than a bad romance.
I could rant on and on all day, and I notice I just did for several paragraphs, so now for a happier note to end this thing. I did like this book while reading. As mentioned until around the last part I would have given it easily five stars. Not only is the writing readable and enjoyable, but it's the kind of book you don't want to put down...and if you have to, you're immediately excited to pick it back up again. Ignoring the entire last part, the characters were believable in some ways, and most of them...dare I say...all of them were likable. (less)
This book took me (what?) three months to finish? Maybe more? It all muddled together in one mess of hot emotions...moreHoly. Crap. For lack of better words.
This book took me (what?) three months to finish? Maybe more? It all muddled together in one mess of hot emotions...and after having finished it just a moment ago, the only time between being me turning on the computer in a flustered rush and logging in. And I'm shocked I finished it even that quickly. I felt possessed in reading this, dominated and entirely taken over in Anaïs Nin and her life...a life which is certainly unlike others, to say the least.
Throughout this diary Anaïs Nin had three lovers and one husband (four lovers if you'd like to include June.) Yes, all at the same time. And while it mainly focuses on her violent and all-consuming relationship with Henry Miller, it also revolves around her fleeting love with her own husband, her experimental one with her psychologist, angry and often passionless escape of Eduardo, and her deep, connecting feelings to Henry's very own June. It reaches levels of intensity in her honesty of feelings and her own quickly shaping moods that I felt almost sickened while reading it...sick, hungry, desirous, and very much turning into a little Nin myself.
I had first become interested in this diary after becoming an ardent D.H. Lawrence fan and reading a bit of Henry Miller as well, admiring and marveling at his crude genius. When I learned of Anaïs Nin, I was at once excited at the thought of it. D.H. Lawrence greatly affected her as well as Henry Miller, and I could picture in my head the three of them, sitting in a close circle, enveloped in intimacy, speaking in hushed whispers of things us mortal minds could never fathom, but they so easily and brilliantly took on. They are sexual creatures like none other, each so different, and yet so similar that I feel one can only truly respect this diary if you have read, experienced, and loved all three of their writings.
Throughout reading this, I would often fling it away, pressing my hands to my temples, and cry out to whoever was near me to hear it: "I can't take this anymore...I'm quitting, I'm putting the book down. Yes, forever this time. She's crazy, she's mad. They all are--I can't do it..."
And moments later, I would be seen away, painfully reading through this, as though I wanted nothing more than to be at peace, relieved and finished. Though once I did finish, I wanted nothing more than to be in her world once more...to let her poetry sink into me like a nightmare and sweet dream all at once. She is not for everyone--I find that very, very few could appreciate her. And I'll say the same for Henry Miller and D.H. Lawrence, but I personally feel a certain liberation, an excitement and oozing feeling bordering on insanity upon reading from them. And that's what you're supposed to get from them--you're supposed to melt, drown with their own feeling, and thus creating your own. It's not enjoyable, it's not easy, and if you're willing to let yourself run wild into their world, then by all means...I beg of you, for from now and forever, I shall answer the question of "Whose your favorite writer?" with the certain answer of, "Lawrence, Nin, and Miller." (less)
I was drawn to this book by the dark, hauntingly sad, and beautiful cover; reading the back, however, I knew not to except too much other than the ave...moreI was drawn to this book by the dark, hauntingly sad, and beautiful cover; reading the back, however, I knew not to except too much other than the average teenage love story. Well, it was merely the average teenage love story, though still fun and fast and enjoyable while it lasted. Lauren Kate wrote one of those swoony books that a young girl pores over, gasps over, and gets a good giggle out of. The characters, however, I found to be lacking, as well as the plot. I found that the reader got a certain ignorance along with the book, a slow trickle of knowledge. I'm not one of those people that only likes dense, full-to-bursting showers of information poured down on them, but I do like a story to come at an even pace of intrigue, instead of suddenly jumping right in 3/4 of the way through. Oh, and the main character, Luce! Awful, yes? She seemed kind of interesting in the beginning: edgy, mysterious. But then she became over-obsessive, annoying, and utterly stalker-ish as it went along. You would expect my rating to be lower, with these faults in mind, yet again: I wasn't expecting much, and it gave me a bit of fun for a while. I will read the next books, and I won't regret reading them, so I'll settle for 3 stars. (less)