I've been an enormous fan of Waldherr for years, thanks to her tarot decks, and I'd been so intrigued by this novel. Unbelievably, it's been ten yearsI've been an enormous fan of Waldherr for years, thanks to her tarot decks, and I'd been so intrigued by this novel. Unbelievably, it's been ten years since this was originally released, and Waldherr is releasing this as an enhanced e-book.
This novel is a 16th century memoir, framed by notes from museum curators. The pages are richly illustrated, decorated with portraits, ephemera, illuminated caps, and other small notions that make the experience magical. (And had/has me wishing still that this manuscript, and the associated museum, were real!)
Filamena Ziani, singer and aspiring composer, is kept tightly hidden by her older sister Tullia, a reknown Venetian courtesan. But a chance encounter introduces Filamena to love, and her amour gifts her with a plum and his mother's journal, which details the lover's path -- lovers from history and mythology who act as guardians, guides, and icons for the young couple.
In addition to being an immensely gifted illustrator, Waldherr's narrative is wonderfully evocative. The set up of this novel immediately made me think of other medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, as Filomena addresses her patroness. Her story is a classic coming-of-age tale, sympathetically told, in a lyrical manner that is rich with detail without feeling bloated or overly ornate. The historical details and setting provide flavor and a strong sense of moody romance (how can it not -- it's Renaissance Venice!).
I read this on my Kobo Glo HD and it was a thing of beauty, even in black and white (iPad and Kindle Fire editions are in color and yowza!). The first few chapters are available as a PDF preview in sumptuous full color.
I've got nothing but swoony, swoony love for this one -- get it and indulge in some lush escapist reading! With the playful and charming illustrated elements, this book drew out that sense of wonderment I get from reading, the visceral joy of being plunged into a story. These days, being so frazzled and overtired (and impatient and dopey and etc etc etc) it was really a gift to feel so immersed in another world. ...more
It is 1934 in Cascade, Massachusetts, a small town in the western part of the state. Picturesque, bucolic, it was once a thriving summer vacation spotIt is 1934 in Cascade, Massachusetts, a small town in the western part of the state. Picturesque, bucolic, it was once a thriving summer vacation spot, with a gorgeous Shakespearean theater managed by the big-hearted, passionate William Hart. Then the crash happened, the Depression hit, and like everywhere in the U.S., Cascade started going through hard times.
For Desdemona Hart Spaulding, talented daughter of William, her sacrifice to survive came in exchange for her happiness. An artist who trained in Boston and New York City, she married Cascade-native Asa Spaulding, a mild pharmacist who wanted nothing more than to settle down and have many babies. Dez, afraid for her ailing father and his now-shuttered theater, married in hopes of saving what she could -- her remaining family -- only to lose that two months later. Against that bitter loss came additional heartbreak: that Cascade was in competition with another small town to be leveled for a reservoir. Just when things couldn't possibly make Dez's life more agonizing, she meets Jacob Solomon, a Jewish artist who evokes in her deep passion and reminds her of the life she once thought she'd live.
This is the novel's opening -- we learn all this in the first few chapters. This gutting, beautiful, emotional setting spills into a story far more complicated and rich than I initially thought. I anticipated a historical novel with a love triangle; and there is that, the history, and the triangle, but there's more, too. There's the conflict of obligation to one's self, one's family, one's reputation, one's hometown; the very real march of progress and of war. In small town Cascade, one's reputation is a major currency, and Dez, Asa, and Jacob all feel the brunt of their town's changing and shifting opinion of them.
There's tragedy and betrayal and romance on a Shakespearean scale, and Dez is a complicated, maddening, honorable, childish, and beautiful heroine. I liked her and felt angry with her in equal part, but O'Hara wrote Dez so well that even when I wanted to shake her, I still wanted to hug her. I appreciated where her choices came from; I felt like I really knew her.
This is a historical novel of place -- a small-town during the Depression, a beloved landmark in danger of destruction -- and a romance -- star-crossed lovers -- as well as a snapshot of wartime America in the '30s and '40s -- national prejudices, fears, patriotism, the New Deal. O'Hara's writing is beautiful -- simple and sparse, but not thin -- and I lingered over this novel because I was so unwilling for it to end. This is O'Hara's first novel and it has ensured I am going to be a slavish fangirl of hers....more
This is a memoir that reads like a novel, and that's both a good and bad thing. Torregrosa has a sinuous, vague, slippery style of writing that I loveThis is a memoir that reads like a novel, and that's both a good and bad thing. Torregrosa has a sinuous, vague, slippery style of writing that I love in a good novel (I was reminded a bit of early '90s Jeannette Winterson) but feels a bit incomplete in a memoir. This story of 'love and revolution' had plenty of revolution -- on an international and interpersonal scale -- but I felt a real lack of love in Torregrosa's narrative.
Which leads me back to my original complaint. Were this a novel -- with some exploration into the motivations of our two heroines -- I would be all over this. But as a memoir, I wanted more from Torregrosa: I wanted her to go deeper in her recounting and analysis of her relationship and that juxtaposition with the tumultuous world of 1980s Philippines and international journalists.
There's an enormous distance between Torregrosa and the reader due to her writing style. A little dreamy, very much removed, Torregrosa sums up weeks at a time with a small paragraph. She recounts other people's words but never offers her own direct statements. The moment when (I think) she and her married lover consummated their relationship felt obfuscated, as if Torregrosa didn't want to write about it but felt like she had to.
In many ways, this felt like an homage to a relationship rather than a memoir of a life, as Torregrosa's obvious affection and gratitude toward her lover, Elizabeth, spills out from every page. She writes very poetically about Elizabeth but I never got to 'know' the woman -- which would be fine if I got to know Torregrosa. Instead, I felt at arm's length from both women, watching their squabbles uncomfortably, and drinking in the gorgeous landscapes around them. (Torregrosa can evoke place like a song; its wonderful.)
This book reminded me of those 'gay classics' one gobbles up when first coming out, desperate for someone to relate to and, let's be honest, some sex. And like those classics -- like Rubyfruit Jungle and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit -- they're lovely, moody books that aren't nearly as gay as one wants them to be.
All this and I still liked the book in many ways; I just wanted more. Shelf Awareness loved this one and found it passionate, so it may be that I focused on the wrong themes with this reading. In another moment, I might see it as deeply passionate. Still, I enjoyed very real look at international journalism Torregrosa offered; this is armchair escape of the first order. ...more
Despite my boredom with the Tudors, I still have a thing for royals, and I just couldn't pass up a novel about Eleanor of Provence (not to be confusedDespite my boredom with the Tudors, I still have a thing for royals, and I just couldn't pass up a novel about Eleanor of Provence (not to be confused with Eleanor of Aquitaine). At nearly 500 pages, I started salivating when I began the novel: if I liked Perinot's articulation of Eleanor of Provence and her sister Marguerite, I wanted to be able to hang with them -- and happily, Perinot doesn't disappoint.
Beginning in 1234, the novel follows Marguerite and Eleanor as they enter in to royal marriages -- Marguerite to Louis IX of France and Eleanor to Henry III of England -- and the novel alternates chapters between the two sisters. Unusually, Perinot uses present tense, which normally aggravates me, but for whatever reason, worked in this novel. I felt present in the activity and never confused about the dual story lines, despite the piles of intrigue, drama, marital sexiness and familial angst. Perinot's writing style is casual and modern, but not anachronistic, and I raced through the book. Her characters felt real, especially those problematic kings, and I appreciated the way she tried to keep everyone human (save for, perhaps, Marguerite's vile mother-in-law).
In her Author's Note, Perinot explains what changes she made to the historical timeline but interestingly enough, I don't think she aged up the heroines. Eleanor is married at 13 -- to a 28 year old -- and Marguerite marries at 14, and both women are sexual with their husbands rather immediately. It was discomforting for me but handled well by Perinot, and the sex in the book felt sexy and plotty in equal part. (I wouldn't describe this as a YA novel despite the teenaged heroines.)
What I also liked about this book was the focus on the more mundane aspects of these two royal sisters. While they were competitive, in a way, they were also outsiders at their respective courts, viewed suspiciously, and I enjoyed Perinot's articulation of their relationship.
A winning debut -- I can't wait for Perinot's next offering!...more
I can't review this book without first commenting on the physical design. Accordion-style, printed on both sides, the book doesn't have a spine. ThatI can't review this book without first commenting on the physical design. Accordion-style, printed on both sides, the book doesn't have a spine. That forces you to hold the book carefully, almost cradling it, which (for me) enhanced the sort of magical-artifact-found-in-my-grandmother's-attic artifact nature that I ate up. I suppose others will find it gimmick-y, but I was immediately charmed.
The book tells the same story from two different viewpoints, that of Evelyn, an American medievalist who spends a week in Cornwall before returning to the States to pursue, she hopes, her academic career; and Brendan, a British medievalist who meets Evelyn during her week in Cornwall.
This is a romance with academics, sort of A.S. Byatt-lite (in a good way!): Oxford scholars turned medieval professors, a kiss, a misunderstanding, some magic...Their brief romance echoes that of a local myth -- a variation on Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight -- and has a mix of realism and mythic grandness that I found compelling. Goss' writing style is simple, but pretty, and she slightly alters her narrative style to fit the voice of Evelyn and Brendan. I read Evelyn's story first, and let out a serious sigh upon finishing, then quickly flipped the book to gobble up Brendan's story. (Who, by the way, needs to be my boyfriend. Hello, Mr. Dreamy.)
In conclusion: read Theodora Goss no matter what; and if you can get your hands on this book, do it, because it's very neat....more
I love writers on writers. O'Brien's biography of James Joyce is as boisterous and playful as Joyce's own prose. This is a reader's biography, full o I love writers on writers. O'Brien's biography of James Joyce is as boisterous and playful as Joyce's own prose. This is a reader's biography, full of fantastic vocabulary and mischievous, serpentine phrasing. Those familiar with Joyce's life will likely learn nothing new, but the passion and joy O'Brien has for Joyce makes revisiting his life exciting; for those new to James Joyce, this biography is a bit like baptism-by-fire. The reader is plunged in to Joyce's life with little explication of the who's and the where's. Like reading one of Joyce's own novels, it is up to the reader to keep up.
Joyce inspired O'Brien to be a novelist, so it seems a perfect fit for her to write a biography on him, but disappointingly, I found little of O'Brien in the narrative. Certainly, a passion for Ireland, a deep appreciation for the way the place kills and inspires, but very few 'I' statements that make clear her opinions. (I've gotten spoiled by biographies that allow the biographer to be present.) In some ways, this reads as a very long essay on Joyce and his works, but the style is very personable, very rambunctious, envisioning Joyce's thoughts and feelings with certitude.
What made me appreciate this book was O'Brien's taken on Nora Barnacle, Joyce's lover and eventual wife. It's always the women -- the wives, the daughters, the sisters, the lovers -- who intrigue me, and in this, Nora, and later, Lucia, were of greater interest to me than the man himself. O'Brien is sympathetic toward Nora, which I appreciated since I'm sympathetic toward her; even better, O'Brien recognizes and honors the dynamic between Joyce and Nora, the genius and the 'peasant'. (In fact, O'Brien had me when she wished, on page 56: "If only she had kept a diary." If only!)
A quick read at 178 pages, this biography invites lingering and reflection, and of course, a look at Joyce's works. For fans of delicious language, this book is a must, whether one is familiar with Joyce or not!...more
Like everyone else who has touched this book, the first thing I'm going to gush about is just how ridiculously gorgeous it is. It's a treat to hold, aLike everyone else who has touched this book, the first thing I'm going to gush about is just how ridiculously gorgeous it is. It's a treat to hold, a very visceral reminder to any reader of the magic contained in books. Sís' first book for adults brought out in me that feel of anticipation upon opening a book, breathless at the wonders contained, hopeful and excited. I was acutely aware of reading a book because I literally stroked the pages (the paper is textured); I poured over every image, captivated by Sís' art. (In fact, I read this in bed with my wife, and we both oooh-ed and aahhh-ed until breathless.)
When I recovered from the pretty, I went back to reread, which was hardly a difficulty since the book is so flippin' attractive. The poem itself is lovely, a clean and modern rendition of a Persian poem by the same name. The original was written by Sufi poet and mystic Farīd al-Dīn ʻAṭṭār, meant to convey the tenets of Sufism (as he saw them). Reading Sís' version -- clearly not meant to be overtly religious, even if it is meditative -- is a little emotionless, as I found myself not entirely connecting with the purpose of the birds' journey. The bird-king Simorgh is a figure that would be familiar to Persian readers, a mythical creature that resembles a gryphon; in the Sufi tradition, Simorgh is used as a metaphor for God. In searching for Simorgh, the birds are searching for God. Through trials and tribulations, they learn what-who-where God is (or in this case, who the king is.) This is a very non-denominational book that would be good for children and adults of any spiritual stripe, and I think the book provides a unique opportunity to meditate on one's personal relationship with a higher power or greater being. The story is less about the birds and more about the journey.
And what a beautiful journey. Splurge on yourself or someone you know, if only to glance your fingers over the paper and grow excited with each turn of the page. Delight in a book, really wallow in it -- this is worth diving in to!...more
This is the kind of historical fiction that educates, effortlessly. Set in Singapore, spanning 1927 through 1946, this novel was a unique read for meThis is the kind of historical fiction that educates, effortlessly. Set in Singapore, spanning 1927 through 1946, this novel was a unique read for me in that it covered an era I love in a setting wholly unfamiliar to me. Chand's characters aren't royalty or society elite but every day people caught up in a changing landscape; real historical moments meet the every day.
Chand's focus in this novel is on three primary groups in Singapore: the Eurasians -- Howard Burns, his mother, and his sister, local citizens of indigenous and European descent, viewed by the white Europeans as only a step above 'natives'; the transplanted Indians -- Raj Sherma, who migrated to Singapore for economic independence and ends up embroiled with the Japanese by a twist of fate; and the Chinese -- Mei Lan, a smart young woman whose family straddles modern European ideas and traditional Chinese culture and is caught, herself, between accepting her family's wishes and starting off on her own.
In almost any novel, the lives of women interest me most, so I was unsurprised to find that Mei Lan's story grabbed me immediately. However, Chand's detailed plotting, character development, and nuanced study of race, class, and education sucked me and I ended up caring deeply for both Raj and Howard as well. Even though I think the jacket blurb tries to imply a love triangle, this isn't just a historical romance set up in an exotic locale. This is really a novel about Singapore and the occupation of the land, first by the British and then by the Japanese. Identity and alliance is intrinsic to the story. Howard's mother, Rose, perceives the European disdain for Eurasions to be right and appropriate while Howard chafes at the implication. Raj struggles to rectify his experiences with the Japanese -- every one he's met has mentored and educated him -- with the virulent anti-Japanese sentiment in Singapore. Both Howard and Raj are captivated by Gandhi's anti-colonial revolutionary actions in India, but are split as to whether Singapore should take up the movement. Mei Lan is desirous of the university education her brother is given, but feels committed to her Chinese identity especially when news of Japanese brutalities in China reach Singapore.
Like Nevil Shute's A Town Like Alice, this book covers the before, during, and after of occupation, and I appreciated Chand's ability to offer the spectrum of emotional responses. My only complaint is that despite the novel's length (483 pages), some moments felt thin and underdeveloped. Enormous events are skipped over, casually alluded to, and years pass with only a vague comment. The dips in and out of the lives of the secondary characters was both enjoyable and maddening: I loved the additional facets through which the story was told but I was frustrated by the lack of development and resolution with them, as they were as compelling as the leads.
This was my first Meira Chand novel but I'm absolutely going to look for the rest of her books: this was a meaty, engrossing, sink-your-teeth-into historical novel that will stay with me. I'm haunted by the characters and I wish I could follow them another twenty years....more
Loosely inspired by the life of British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, The Luminist tells the story of Catherine Colebrook, a British woman statLoosely inspired by the life of British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, The Luminist tells the story of Catherine Colebrook, a British woman stationed in Ceylon with her aging diplomat husband. Mourning the death of her son's twin, she becomes obsessed with the science of photography. Rocklin captures the breathless zeal of the 19th century hobbyists, who had the luxury of time, money, and help to pursue -- or in Catherine's case -- perfect a craft. Photography was in its nascent stages, in which every step was a series of variables, barely understood. For Catherine, it is an opportunity to capture life in a way portraiture can't.
Assisting in her endeavors is a young Tamil man named Eligius. Much like Karen Blixen and her beloved Farah, Eligius becomes a crucial companion and assistant to Catherine's work. The relationship between the white colonialist and native is heavily romanticized in literature and even if it reflects a historical reality, I'm still often uncomfortable with frequently unacknowledged power and privilege at play in such a relationship. What saved this book from having a kind of White Man's Burden-ness was that Eligius' story was told alongside Catherine's. After his father was killed by British soldiers, Eligius grows up in a village simmering with anger and resentment. He's encouraged to steal from the British to fund insurrectionists but he's impatient with anyone commanding him, Tamil or British. Captivated by photography himself, he struggles with his family's wishes, his own desires, and the weight of the watchful eye of the British who both need and fear the Tamil.
The mood of the story is mute anger and simmering sadness; the characters brusque and unlikeable. But I found something in them, the story, and Rocklin's writing that moved me. Despite the raw, vulnerable hostility (or maybe because of), I wanted to follow Catherine and Eligius' story. I felt some sympathy, some bewilderment, some frustration, and even impatience, but I also found flashes of real beauty in the unapologetic, bald honesty of the characters. This was an era of unspoken feelings, sublimated desires, willful ignorance, and naive arrogance -- but the story dips beneath that controlled veneer to reveal the unvarnished grace of growing up, finding one's passion, or learning to hold one's self in full regard.
The narrative style is dense at times, but not heavy or overwrought. It's substantial and solid, bracing the story, and I found myself frequently rereading passages to enjoy a phrase or mull on a sentence's meaning. The narrative style is philosophical. Dense -- but not clunky. So much detail is conveyed in a paragraph but I never felt exhausted by it. I'm having a hard time articulating it. The style felt familiar - very literary, a la Byatt and Rushdie - although not quite so deft as those two. But good nonetheless: I was entertained and my brain had something to work at while I read.
A meaty literary historical novel, especially good for those who like fiction that tackles religion, loss, identity, motherhood, the creative urge, colonialism, conflict, love, inspiration ... the list of themes could go on and on, but I'll stop. This is a unique debut and I'm excited for Rocklin's next offering. ...more
Even though this book has elements that I just eat up -- a take-charge heroine, unique foreign setting, weird conspiracy involving a secret society, dEven though this book has elements that I just eat up -- a take-charge heroine, unique foreign setting, weird conspiracy involving a secret society, dramatic artists, and lots of intrigue -- I actually found this to be an unremarkable novel. The book isn't bad -- it's just rather pedestrian. At 295 pages, it ought to be a fast read but weirdly, the story drags despite the non-stop action.
The novel is written in the first person which is normally a voice I rather like -- I enjoy 'being' the heroine -- but in this case, I felt as if it were the 'easy' choice. Lots of telling the reader how the heroine felt rather than demonstrating, and that always bores me. (For example, there are two pages of the heroine looking at herself in the mirror near the start of the novel so we would learn of her appearance -- which is a tried and true trick of first person narrators in YA novels. I don't care how my heroine looks; I care about how she acts.)
It's obvious when reading the Author's Note and the mini-essay about the novel that Rees admires Mozart immensely and was greatly inspired by Vienna. That comes across in this novel but not much else. For a heroine who should be so interesting -- a child prodigy with great musical talents herself, married to a provincial widower and estranged from her brother in his last years -- Nannerl was remarkably flat.
The setting of the novel is a conspiracy around Mozart's sudden death, which is a historical event I've been fascinated with since I was a kid. As such, Mozart's music is a huge part of the novel, and in particular his opera Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute).
It's tricky when a novel features an artistic medium that readers might not be familiar with -- ballet or modern art or classical music -- and it takes real skill to make the experience of that medium, however foreign, something that readers can relate with and appreciate (Evan Fallenberg's When We Danced on Water made the passion of ballet very real for me, for example). Unfortunately, I don't think Rees quite conveyed why Mozart was such a genius or why his music was so moving (other than extolling us to find his music and listen along). I've had the good fortune of seeing Die Zauberflöte twice in the last handful of years with opera nuts who pointed out much of the Masonic influence that Rees mentions in this novel, and as a result, I felt comfortable with that aspect of the story: the characters, the visual clues, the possible political references. But I think those who aren't as familiar with the opera might be lost, especially since Rees continually tells us how greatly Mozart's music impacts everyone but doesn't translate that into an experience the reader can enjoy, too.
The book is loaded with extras: a map of Vienna, cast of characters, a list of music referenced in each chapter, an essay from the author on the inspiration for the story (and the hint that he wrote the novel emulating the form and feel of one of Mozart's darker piano sonatas), and suggested additional reading. Certainly, this novel inspired in me an interest to learn more about Mozart's sister but I can't say I understand more about Mozart or even 18th century Vienna. I think if you go into this with YouTube queued up and the expectation that you're getting a fast historical thriller, the experience will be diverting, a splashy read for the holidays. ...more
Here's my advice: buy this book and then put aside a whole morning or afternoon to dive in because I promise you're not going to want to stop. InterruHere's my advice: buy this book and then put aside a whole morning or afternoon to dive in because I promise you're not going to want to stop. Interruptions will be painful. (Have someone bring tea or wine, though, because the story begs for that.)
At first, I thought this was going to be a literal retelling of Rebecca. The heroine, a younger woman, has a whirlwind romance with a moody older man -- Dom -- who is tight-lipped about his charismatic first wife, Rachel. Like du Maurier's book, the heroine in The Lantern is unnamed (although Lawrenson kindly has Dom give her a nickname for us to use, 'Eve'). The Lantern even has the iconic 'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again' scene, when Eve dreams of Les Genévriers, the rambling hamlet she and Dom reside. Very quickly, though, it came clear that this novel is an homage to du Maurier's classic but still its own creature.
Alternating Eve's story is Bénédicte's, a woman who grew up at Les Genévriers during World War II and worked in the lavender fields and faced her own dark mystery. At first, I was impatient with the switching stories -- I just wanted to know what was going on with Dom -- but within two or three chapters, Bénédicte's story grabbed me as well. Her twisted, dangerous brother Pierre and her talented sister Marthe were as much a part of Les Genévriers and the story as the swimming pool and gorgeous countryside.
Eve had the right mix of naivete and obliviousness to make the story work realistically, without making me want to shake her for being a mouse (something I occasionally wanted to do to du Maurier's heroine). I greatly appreciated that Lawrenson didn't just wave away technology -- Eve does internet research, like an reasonably curious person would do -- and she gives Eve modern attitudes and behaviors. Eve confronts Dom in a way that du Maurier's heroine never could.
Lawrenson's writing style is lovely: evocative enough to give a strong sense of place but without too much ornamentation. The story races with impending danger even in the pensive places (although perhaps that was just me, unwilling to slow down!) and has the same sort of romantic gloominess of du Maurier's novel. Wisely, Lawrenson's novel is more than just what-happened-to-Dom's-wife -- du Maurier's novel set the bar so high I'm not sure any other book could do it well without seeming contrived -- and her mixing of historical mystery with a modern day Bluebeard is delightful.
Bottom line: get this book now (and thank me later!)....more
I understand now why Koen has such a devoted following. This deliciously huge novel has a fantastic cast, a fabulous setting, delicious intrigue, romaI understand now why Koen has such a devoted following. This deliciously huge novel has a fantastic cast, a fabulous setting, delicious intrigue, romance, and drama. Set during 1661, after Louis' prime minister Cardinal Mazarin died, the novel follows Louise, a lady-in-waiting for the stunning, energetic, and inspiring Madame Henriette -- the king's sister-in-law.
Those who've read Dumas' The Man in the Iron Mask (or seen one of the films) will immediately notice one of the stories plot lines, but it is one of a few threads woven through the novel. Koen blends historical fact and historical legend to create an engrossing and bittersweet story about privilege, love, loyalty, and excess.
I found I loved all the characters, heroes and villains alike, especially as the heroes and villains shifted and changed as the story went on. No one felt stock or cardboard flat which made the shimmering changes in loyalties feel realistic. I can't imagine what it would be like to live as a courtier at Fontainebleau but Koen's storytelling made it real for me -- and so, at moments, I wanted to be one of the ladies there and at other moments, I was so grateful I wasn't.
I really enjoyed Koen's writing style; I would almost describe it as literary hist fic. She has her solid frame of historical detail that make up the bulk of her narrative -- but she punctuates a scene or moment with a lovely line or two that mixes presentiment and fact, poetry and prose. For me, it enhanced the general bittersweet tone to the story; we know what the characters don't: how Louis will change as he grows, how his court will change, the courtiers, the country.
For anyone who wants a royal armchair escape, I recommend this one!...more
A passionate, endearing, and engrossing autobiography. Who doesn't recall food from their childhood with pain and affection? Stories are interspersedA passionate, endearing, and engrossing autobiography. Who doesn't recall food from their childhood with pain and affection? Stories are interspersed with recipes (delicious ones, too, having made a few myself!) and it feels like you're sitting down with Ms Abu-Jaber at her dining table, listening to her chat as she cooks....more
This beautiful book explores the science behind our five senses in lush, sensual narrative. Ackerman is a poet and her lyrical abilities are seen in hThis beautiful book explores the science behind our five senses in lush, sensual narrative. Ackerman is a poet and her lyrical abilities are seen in her writing: the reader experiences each sense with her. Apparently this is a companion book to a PBS series but it can be read without having seen the show. Highly recommended!...more
Ultimately unsatisfying, Phillips' inventive collection of short stories sucks the reader into mysterious, dark worlds where natural laws are bent, twUltimately unsatisfying, Phillips' inventive collection of short stories sucks the reader into mysterious, dark worlds where natural laws are bent, twisted, and at times, outright ignored. Unfortunately, too often, her stories are high on mood and light on substance, abandoning the reader to imagine what could be and wish for what wasn't. There are stand-out stories in this collection, however, that are worth the book alone. In particular, I found the title story evocative as well as 'A New Ecology'. Otherwise, I found the rest of the stories to be incredibly moody; but I reached the end of each puzzled and feeling empty....more