"How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to"How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves."
Tony Webster is 60-something and finds himself, first reminiscing, then analyzing his life, his friends, his relationships for the first time having to face what should be "philosophically evident."
This is a book written with emotion, chock full of quotable passages, a page turner with a twist (which I had to have spelled out to me before I figured it out) and the kind of book that resonates long after the last page has been turned. ...more
I can't say I liked the subject matter of this book - I'm not much for war stories - but the writing and the plot were superb. I had never read GreeneI can't say I liked the subject matter of this book - I'm not much for war stories - but the writing and the plot were superb. I had never read Greene but knew something of him; now I'm a fan and will be seeking out more of his work.
One of the startling things about this book is that while it was written in 1955, well before the US entered into the "conflict" with Vietnam, Greene writes of US involvement and about the naivete of the Americans there. From what I understand, the book was not well received by the critics here in the US, however it turned out to be prophetic.
Green's characters are not necessarily likeable - one a curmudgeony old geezer and the other a geeky, too good for his own pants. But as unappealing as they are, he makes them real, not all bad, not all good; just real. ...more
What a gem of a book! I had no idea how good it would be, didn't know it was based on the unedited letters mailed between Helene (the author) and a smWhat a gem of a book! I had no idea how good it would be, didn't know it was based on the unedited letters mailed between Helene (the author) and a small used book shop in England, from 1949 to 1969. The letters carry no commentary but illustrate the passion for books that two very different people shared, the kindness of Helene in sending care packages over the pond to people whose food was severely rationed, and the sad finite aspect of time. As the letters progress, they evolve from the very formal requests for books to a much more informal, chummy style -- with requests to please visit the shop and promises to do so in the next year.
I shall now have to go do a google search on Helene Hanff and add the movie to my netflix queue. And this book is going into my permanent collection for the time being. ...more
I really wanted to love this book and in the end, I just couldn't give a rat's ass as to plot or characters. I think my biggest issue with the book isI really wanted to love this book and in the end, I just couldn't give a rat's ass as to plot or characters. I think my biggest issue with the book is the dialog, which has been hyped as excellent by many reviewers, but just wasn't to my liking. The dialog is written almost as the script of a play with plenty of interrupted sentences and unfinished ideas, as occurs in normal speech. I just didn't like it for this book.
The characters didn't seem to me to be all that believable. I had great hopes for a book about a mixed family to rise above cliches and I just found that it fell short.
All in all, I was disappointed. That's not to say it won't be a great read for someone else. ...more
I had never read this book in high school and an online book group chose it for this month which inspired me to read it. I was quite surprised at the I had never read this book in high school and an online book group chose it for this month which inspired me to read it. I was quite surprised at the depth and layers of the premise of the book, however, I the only idea I had of the book was the movie - which terrified me. The book was not of a horror genre, but more of a sad drama.
Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay To mould me Man, did I solicit thee From darkness to promote me?
Victor Frankenstein spends months creating a "creature" out of used body parts. His focus is 100% on the creation of this creature, with little thought to what would happen as a breath of life inhabited its body. He is a one track mind and when the creature comes to life, Frankenstein has a Kodak moment, almost as though he has come out of a stupor to realize what the ramifications of his experiment will be. On the other hand, his creation - a monstrously ugly, deformed and enormous human is left to fend for himself. He is left to fend for himself and learn about the good and bad of life, while Victor flees and reflects on the consequences of what he has done. Things go terribly wrong and of course, the consequences play out in the book.
Shelley explores so many different themes which are as relevant today as they were when this book was first published in 1818. Preconceptions, judgment, revenge, a runaway desire to further scientific knowledge at any cost - all infuse the book with food for thought. ...more
I'd give this one a 10 for prose, a 4 for content.
This book is beautifully written and follows the tragic life of a protestant-Irish family from the 1I'd give this one a 10 for prose, a 4 for content.
This book is beautifully written and follows the tragic life of a protestant-Irish family from the 1920s until modern times. It's a short book, more than a novella, but well shorter than the usual family saga. The writing is spectacular, the character development is excellent and the beginning of the book gripping. My issue with the book is the plot.
A very well-to-do husband and wife find themselves being attacked by a group of Irish hoodlums. The issue is that these hoodlums are capable of burning down their house with them in it. The couple decide to emigrate before things get ugly, however, their daughter Lucy, a 10 year old girl who loves her home, panics and runs off. Her parents take her for dead, and a few days later abandon their home and go to grieve in Europe. Up to this point (most of which is on the back cover) the book is tragic, elegantly written and totally believable.
Lucy is found by the caretakers and brought back to the family farm. The solicitor attempts to contact the parents to no avail. Years pass and Lucy lives a quiet isolated life, while her parents continue to grieve in Europe incommunicado FOR THIRTY YEARS!!!! It smacked of improbability. Did they never need to contact the caretakers or the attorney? They never wrote back to find out if the body of their daughter had been found, buried, something? Were there never any estate taxes to be paid? Friends to contact, a doctor, money in a bank? While mom and dad are grieving for those 30 years, Lucy lives in total isolation doing absolutely nothing. One summer she meets a guy but she doesn't allow the relationship to go anywhere because she feels like before she can advance in her life she needs her parents' forgiveness for her running away. In the meantime, there's no mention of maybe volunteering during WWII, getting a degree, planting a victory garden, traveling, having A friend - nothing. A life wasted on nothing.
I kept waiting for a redeeming factor to be written in to The Story of Lucy Gault and I came away sorry that it didn't. Nothing improved. Nobody seemed to have learned much of anything over a course of several lives.
Having said all this, I would read this author again. The prose was excellent! ...more
Part of 1000 books to read before you die list, this book deals with Italian Jews right around WWII. It's a slim book, very literate, but frankly I haPart of 1000 books to read before you die list, this book deals with Italian Jews right around WWII. It's a slim book, very literate, but frankly I had a hard time keeping focused. Bassani's sentences - often 10-15 lines long, were complex, going off on tangents, which made them hard to follow. I enjoyed the characters somewhat, but often wondered when the author was going to make some sort of a point.
Maybe it was just me, but all in all not my cup of tea. ...more
This book is beautifully written and extremely thought-provoking in the same vein as many of the current Indian authors. Not quite as good as "A FineThis book is beautifully written and extremely thought-provoking in the same vein as many of the current Indian authors. Not quite as good as "A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Minstry, I found it still to be a 9 - memorable. The author takes rural India and the streets of Manhattan and with amazing perception tells us what it's like to be the son of a cook who tries to make it on the streets of Manhattan. How many times have I eaten in an Indian restaurant in Greenwich village and wondered about the lives of the waiters? Now I know. It sucks. They are overworked, underpaid, humiliated by customers and owners alike. Sleeping on tables, wrapped in tablecloths, in rat-infested basements of spanish Harlem, are they really better off than those they leave behind? Back in India, others think everyone in the USA is getting fat and living a life of luxury, while they struggle with the idiosyncrasies of the Indian culture. One of the characters, a young orphaned girl, educated in a Catholic boarding school, speaks only English and has very little in common with the rest of her country. This author does an awesome job of letting us into their lives and thoughts in a brilliant English that is made to savor. My one problem is that Indians are portrayed terribly and the whole book was rather depressing. If it weren't for the worst luck, there would be no luck in this book. ...more
I put off reading this because right after I received it there was a thread of "worst reads of the year" and this one came up several times. It got stI put off reading this because right after I received it there was a thread of "worst reads of the year" and this one came up several times. It got stuck at the bottom of my tbr. Having totally forgotten that thread over time, I just recently picked it up again and I am now very happy that I did forget because I actually enjoyed this book. For starters, I read it on a long plane flight, so I got 100 pages into it before putting it down. That made a difference. Other than that, the storyline was very interesting. Kath, the narrator is a carer and has been for 11 years which is a long time. This is sort of how the book starts out. But then we find ourselves in a British boarding school with a bunch of kids, seemingly normal but just slightly off. While it doesn''t take long to figure out what is going on, I won''t spoil it by letting on the rest of the details.
Here''s the thing though with this novel. The emotions the kids go through in this book, the emotional rollercoaster of growing up, figuring out who you can confide in, who will betray you, looking back on your weak moments and forming long-lasting relationships - those are all universal and span the generations. In that sense I thought the book was brilliant. In his seeming simplicity, the book was powerful. However, I did feel the characters lacked depth, they were a bit unidimensional when the whole idea was that they too, indeed, had dimension. They were a bit flat. The plot itself seemed to also have a few loose ends, bits that truly should have been explained and not just glanced over, in order for the book, on the whole, to be more plausible.
In any case, this is a book that resonated with me, whose themes will pop into my head cause me to think for a long time to come. ...more