I don't know if I had high expectations going into this novel, or not, but I felt underwhelmed. It wasn't as awesome as I expected it to be, and whileI don't know if I had high expectations going into this novel, or not, but I felt underwhelmed. It wasn't as awesome as I expected it to be, and while I expect the movie is vastly different than the book, I have a feeling that I will probably like the movie better. A rare feat for a book with me....more
**spoiler alert** The Mathematics of Love by Emma Darwin is a story of the lives of two people connected over time by a house. The story jumps back an**spoiler alert** The Mathematics of Love by Emma Darwin is a story of the lives of two people connected over time by a house. The story jumps back and forth between Major Stephen Fairhurst, an injured British soldier in 1819 and Anna Jocelyn Ware, a teenage girl sent to live with her uncle in 1976. Major Fairhurst's story is about his travels from England, Belgium, and Spain. He develops a strong friendship with an independent woman named Lucy Durwood, and much of the novel are his letters to Miss Durwood. Anna's story is about her upheaval from life in London with her mother, and being sent to live with her uncle in the country. She becomes friends with a child named Cecil, and an artistic foreign couple, Eva and Theo. The connection between Stephen and Anna is in the house, Kersey Hall. In Stephen's time, it's a great estate, and in Anna's time, it has become a bankrupt private school.
I found this novel particularly difficult to score. Despite the connections of history, the two stories are virtually two separate novels. But I will do my best ...
** Long chapters ... ugh ... unhappy bus reading. But, to be honest, I was riding planes to and from Portland when I was reading this, so the long chapters weren't as much of an issue - Neutral
** Each chapter ended with a slightly confusing italicized handful of paragraphs. I hated them and had no idea what they hell they were about until the last 5 or 6 chapters- Minus 2
** I loved Lucy's character. I loved that she constantly sketched, and was a true independent woman in Victorian times. Yay strong female characters - Plus 4
** While I disliked Theo intensely, he does have the best line in the book. And in turn the title of the book ... "I would say that the mathematics of love defy arithmetic." - Plus 2 (would be higher if I didn't hate Theo)
** They go to Spain. I have a fascination with Spain as of late - Plus 2
** Just when I was really getting into Stephen's story line, it'd swap to Anna's storyline. It kept the suspense up, but got annoying - Minus 3
** I hate how historical fiction has a tendency to put a lot of the action in the form of letters between characters. I think I'd rather have an extra hundred pages of novel than a brief summary of something - Minus 4
** Despite my dislike of letters in historical fiction, at least the letters were all about things that happened before the beginning of the novel. It helped in telling the backstory of Stephen's character - Plus 3
** I adored Cecil. But I don't understand the nickname Ciss - Plus 2
** There is a random section in the first chapter that takes place in 2006. It makes no sense why it's there, until the last two pages of the novel. And even then, it still does not need to be there. It's almost there as an afterthought, because the author wanted to tie the end into the beginning. I didn't like it - Minus 3
** I liked all the photography stuff during Anna's story. It felt like I was in high school photography class again with the enlargers and fixers. It was cool - Plus 2
** I was quite satisfied with the conclusion of Stephen's story. It felt like a Jane Austen novel. Not that I've ever read Jane Austen. But it'll come this year sometime, I promise. - Plus 3
** I wasn't so satisfied with the conclusion of Anna's story. I needed more than what I got. - Minus 3
Total ... 3 Points. Sounds about right, I didn't really love it or hate it...more
**spoiler alert** I decided to read Atonement by Ian McEwan mostly because I wanted to see the movie. I go through that a lot. A movie comes out that**spoiler alert** I decided to read Atonement by Ian McEwan mostly because I wanted to see the movie. I go through that a lot. A movie comes out that I desperately want to see, but I want to read the novel beforehand. I put it off for a while cause, I didn't have a copy, but thanks to my good friend Elaine, a copy was acquired, and now it has been read. Atonement is a story of a lie, and how it radically impacts the lives of the individuals involved. You'd have to be under a rock to really know what it's about since the Oscar race, and really I just want to rush to the scoring, so I can get to the movie theater :D
** It was difficult to read the first half of the novel. I wanted to throw the book across the room in irritation and anger that I couldn't reach into the book and slap a character around. I felt the same way reading Harry Potter 5 - I desperately wanted to beat the crap out of Dolores Umbridge, in the same way I wanted to beat up Briony. - Minus 3
** The story of the war being fought in France was quite compelling. I'm not someone who readily enjoys war stories, but I found the story to be gripping, and I was quite interested in how it turned out. It kind of reminded me of Band of Brothers. - Plus 5
** Despite my irritation with Briony, I really enjoyed the different view points during part one. The story was told through all of the characters and not just one. I appreciated that point of view. - Plus 4
** I wanted more of the story told through the eyes of Cecilia. - Minus 2
** Now I can go see the movie ... I hope it holds up to the book. - Plus 2
** The chapters were just right. They were just long enough to last a bus trip, and not too long to read one before I went to bed. - Plus 2
** I figured out the truth of the lie before it was told. It was kind of transparent that way. - Minus 3
** It was interesting to read an account of the British during World War II. I'm used to reading American or German accounts, so it was nice to read an alternate perspective of the events. - Plus 3
** It was hard to imagine a sweltering summer in England. - Minus 2
** There is a scene when Cecilia changes her dress 3 times, simply because it looks different when she walks out of her room than it did in her room. I have so done that. - Plus 2
** It's a story that brings to light how one event can transform your life. I've always liked that idea. Probably why I love the movie Sliding Doors. - Plus 3
** It seems the movie might have been perfectly cast. Either that or I found it impossible to read it without picturing the cast. I prefer the first option. - Plus 1
** The story was completely and totally heartbreakingly beautiful. - Plus 3
Final Tally ... 15. I really loved it. Maybe it should have breached 20....more
**spoiler alert** I decided, both in an effort to alleviate boredom at work and to keep me on task with the whole reading thing, to write reviews of a**spoiler alert** I decided, both in an effort to alleviate boredom at work and to keep me on task with the whole reading thing, to write reviews of all of the books that I finish. People tend to think that I read all these great books, so this is either an opportunity for people to realize that I read too much chick lit or to pass along some great titles.
The first book, cause it was the last one I finished, is The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo.
I read this book for one reason only. I'm going to Spain, in exactly one week (!!), and every message board I looked at regarding what to do in southern Spain and northern Morocco, mentioned that one should definitely read this book before going. That was enough for me. So, when I made my yearly venture to Portland for the cross country races, I picked up a used copy at Powells ... aka heaven on earth. When my sister saw my book, her response was that she was so happy I'd bought it, and that she'd read it and loved it. She also said she'd told everyone she knew to read it as well. Apparently, she does not know me, cause I have zero recollection of her ever telling me to read it.
The story is a simple fable about a shephard pursing his dream and listening to his heart. It starts in the south of Spain, with the shephard day dreaming about marrying a girl from a local village, and progresses to the shephard meeting an ancient king, and deciding to pursue a treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. Readers follow the shephard from Spain to Morocco, and from Morocco through the desert in a caravan and to an oasis, where he meets the alchemist.
I've decided, after a day of reading a Gossip Girl blog recommended to me by Nicole, that I'm going to steal their method of awarding random points to each book, with a final total at the end of each review. Each point will be totally arbitrary really, but it'll be better than me saying it's an awesome book - go pick up a copy, or don't waste your time.
So .. here it goes ...
** The book is broken up into a shorter part one, and a longer part two. However, there are frequent breaks in the text, allowing it an easy book to read on the bus, as there are frequent stopping places. - Plus 3
** The book is a bit too philosophical for my tastes. And can be boring in parts where it's all philosophical mumbo jumbo, thus making me tired, and likely to fall asleep on the bus, which leads to awkwardness - Minus 2
** When I was in high school I read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (but only after finding out that River Phoenix is named after the river in the book). This book reminded me entirely too much of Siddhartha and despite that I've just finished re-reading the entire Harry Potter series, and frequently re-read a certain romance novel involving lucky charms cereal, I don't really like re-reading books I've already read. - Minus 4
** Much of the book takes place in the desert, and involves riding camels. - Plus 7
** My sister read it in the 8th grade. It reads like a book for an 8th grader. - Minus 3
** While the first part of the book takes place in Tarifa and Tangier (two places I plan to visit), I didn't really walk away feeling like it was necessary to read the book prior to going. It's not like there are any famous landmarks mentioned in the text that I simply must see now. - Minus 2
** It has a happy ending. - Plus 3
** Despite the happy ending, I was left feeling moderately unsatisfied, and needed more. - Minus 3
** The ending is rushed. All of this getting there stuff, but when he does, its two pages to fulfullment. I don't buy it. - Minus 4
** It's less than 200 pages, which makes it a quick read. - Plus 4
** While there is a lot of philosophical stuff, the point of the story to listen and to follow your heart is a good underlying message. - Plus 5
** They only mention the name of the main character on page one. Which is a tad cheesy. - Minus 2
** Despite it being a quick read, despite being overly philosophical in places, and despite feeling like it was at an 8th grade reading level, it was still a book to make you think. Of course, the conversation with friends about the book will really improve with some alcohol or other mind altering substance. - Plus 3
**spoiler alert** Once again, I've fallen into the line of classics, what right do I have to criticize?? But I press on, given that this book was a he**spoiler alert** Once again, I've fallen into the line of classics, what right do I have to criticize?? But I press on, given that this book was a hell of a lot longer than Of Mice and Men, so I should probably say something.
So I just returned from a two week long road trip. We went from Seattle to Lexington, KY to Smithville TN, to Elmhurst, IL and back to Seattle. Via Yellowstone, Nebraska, and Mt Rushmore of course. Anyway ... in preparation for the trip, I took FOUR books. I only got through one, and I didn't even finish it. Obviously, the lone book was The Grapes of Wrath. I've always wanted to read this book not for the story, but so I could bring it up in conversation. It's a lot more impressive to tell people you just finished The Grapes of Wrath than it is to say you've just finished the latest Oprah's Book Club selection. So, admittedly it was purely for selfish reasons that I picked up this book. I knew it was about a family named the Joads crossing the country from Oklahoma to California, and I knew that my mom always complained that the mom was too heavy set in the movie starring Henry Fonda. That's about all I knew. Oh, and that my dad loved it when he read it five years ago.
I must admit I was disappointed ...
** It reminded me of the first 150 pages of Moby Dick and only because that's all I've gotten through of Moby Dick. One chapter about the story, followed by one chapter about the life style and the culture. I think I remember Steinbeck admiring Melville from 11th grade American Literature, and I was kind of happy it was so blatantly obvious. - Plus 3
** Still, why can't you make your own mark. - Minus 3
** Rose of Sharon ... seriously ... who would ever name their kid that?? And people think Pilot Inspektor and Audio Science are weird names. - Minus 2
** Not only was her name annoying, but she was annoying too. Get over Connie, he left you and your family and it was because you were so blasted annoying. - Minus 3
** I really really liked Casey. I liked that he questioned his faith, and found a new path. I liked that they all kept insisting he was still a preacher despite his insistence to the contrary. I really liked that he was just on the edge of communist, but really just for the people. - Plus 4
** I liked the Mom too. Nice to see a feminist in early 20th century literature. And on a side note, she's totally heavy set in the book, so that shut my mom up ;) - Plus 3
** Long chapter followed by ridiculously short chapter. Spread it out. - Minus 2
** It was a little wordy. I guess it's a classic for a reason and I'm sure part of it is a prose thing, but I kept losing my spot and found myself re-reading the same paragraph repeatedly. - Minus 3
** The grandparents were fun. I enjoyed their bickering with each other and the family and their personalities. Pity they died so early on in the story. - Plus 3
** While we're on the death thing ... why did so many characters have to die?? It kind of makes me happy that I didn't finish the last 100 pages of East of Eden because everyone probably died. That is if it's anything like The Grapes of Wrath or Of Mice and Men. - Minus 4
** Depressed much?? - Minus 2
** It was depressing. REALLY REALLY DEPRESSING. But I guess that's why they called it The Great Depression. - Plus 3
** Okay ... here's what I don't get - There's a chapter all about the food spoiling and the Californians pouring toxins over it because they didn't like the Okies. But there's also a large section of the novel when the Joads are near water and no mention of whether or not provisions were made to keep them from fishing. They're starving and living on fried dough ... do none of them know how to fish?? Give a man a fish, he eats for a day, teach him how to fish, he eats for a lifetime. - Minus 3
** Uncle John ... a little too obsessed with sin. Did he do anything besides ignore his dying wife?? Considering he had no way of knowing that she was dying and not merely queasy, he shouldn't be so guilt ridden. I was hoping maybe he molested a child or something, cause his sin was pretty boring if you ask me. - Minus 2
** No definitive spoiler ... but seriously, a great American classic ending the way it did is kind of disturbing, and it's probably years of reading Dan Savage's column that's making me think about it in such a way. - Minus 3
Final Tally ... Minus 11
I'd love to end this with a positive ... really I would ... but it wouldn't be true to the story. It was really one of the most depressing books I've ever read in my entire life ... so if you're suicidal, stay FAR AWAY from this novel ... and read the Oprah's Book Club book....more