This epic spans generations but centers around the life of the fascinating Father Damien. Every aspect of his story is compelling, as are the journeys...moreThis epic spans generations but centers around the life of the fascinating Father Damien. Every aspect of his story is compelling, as are the journeys into the lives of other characters on the reservation. Erdrich deftly balances depth and breadth to create a vast yet intricately detailed and rich web of personalities, relationships, and histories. The tension between Catholicism and traditional Ojibwe spirituality is explored poignantly without demonizing either side.
Erdrich writes with a powerful, vivid clarity and characterizes her subjects with such depth and truth that I cannot wait to read the rest of her novels. I enjoyed Love Medicine a few months ago and was thrilled to see many of the same characters in this novel.
In the end notes, she thanks Paybomibiness (Dennis Jones), who taught at the University of Minnesota while I was a student there and spoke to my American Indian philosophies class about Ojibwe spirituality. He was fascinating and funny.(less)
Brilliant. Charles Arrowby is the perfect sympathetic a--hole. The setting is enchanting, the supporting cast members are interesting and real. I enjo...moreBrilliant. Charles Arrowby is the perfect sympathetic a--hole. The setting is enchanting, the supporting cast members are interesting and real. I enjoyed Charles' searching for literary form in the early part of the novel.
The Hartley plot seems central but somehow isn't. It holds things together, but much more interesting things happen between Charles and James, Charles and Titus, Charles and Peregrine, Charles and Lizzie. This feels intentional. The whole book manages to feel at once spontaneous (even sloppy) and meticulously intentional.
It's about ego (as any fictional memoir is like to be), love, connections, relationships, mystery, aging, change, time, and (of course) the sea.
I liked the way the narrative was building during the first half, but - silly me - I expected things to come together a bit more. It felt more like a...moreI liked the way the narrative was building during the first half, but - silly me - I expected things to come together a bit more. It felt more like a series of really short stories taking place around the same school.
I may have connected more with the book if I had ANY shared experience with any of the characters, but it just felt like a completely different world. Not in a good way, but in a way that makes me depressed that people live like that and reinforces my distaste for wealth.
I'm willing to give Schutt another chance, as there seems to be some potential there for a strong novel. She spits out some powerful introspective sentences, but her writing in this novel lacks a visual impact.
An absolutely beautiful novel about family, home, predestination, the possibility or impossibility of redemption, and so much more. I suspected after...moreAn absolutely beautiful novel about family, home, predestination, the possibility or impossibility of redemption, and so much more. I suspected after reading Housekeeping and now know for sure that Marilynne Robinson is my favorite author. There are many moments when her prose seems to reach into me and pull out something I didn't know was there.
While most of the story centers around Jack and Glory's reactions to him, I was drawn to Glory herself. A quiet, sad woman who seems remorsefully obligated to carry the weight of her family. A woman who loves deeply and whose kindness knows no bounds. Her tenderness to her brother was heartbreaking, especially because of her sense of its eternal inefficacy.
I wish Marilynne Robinson wrote more, but if this is the pace she has to work at to produce this kind of brilliance, so be it. My words can't even come close to doing it justice. (less)
One of Trollope's very best. Felix is an excellent reprobate. Marie Melmotte turns out to be far more spirited and interesting than expected. Roger se...moreOne of Trollope's very best. Felix is an excellent reprobate. Marie Melmotte turns out to be far more spirited and interesting than expected. Roger seems to be Trollope's favorite, and it's the first time (in the dozen or so Trollope novels I've read so far) that he's given a man the unrelenting tenacity of love that he usually attributes to and greatly admires in women.
The sparks of male violence are excellent. The awkward tension of the out-of-favor duel feels especially appropriate in this novel about a time characterized by rapid moral change and confusion. How is a jilted fiance to deal with the scoundrel who takes his lover out dancing all hours of the night? Clearly Trollope - through Roger's approval - applauds John Crumb's method of dealing with Felix. And so do I.
Mrs. Hurtle's two letters to Paul Montague were fabulous. As was, of course, the fact that she showed him both of them. Georgiana Longestaffe got what was coming to her in the best possible way when her aspersion of her sister's suitor was turned onto herself for getting engaged to - gasp! - a Jew. I loved the way Sophy delighted in the payback.
Other interesting topics and characters include the complete lack of understanding landed gentlemen have for matters of business and finance, marrying for love/money/position/a house in town/a handsome face/a means of escape, Dolly Longestaffe's brilliant little bits of business (like when he whistles and turns a pirouette on his heel), Miles Grendall's entire attitude (particularly during Felix's demands for payment of his IOUs), Lady Carbury's diligent but unskilled literary attempts, and Melmotte's inability to comprehend of a life not founded on dishonesty. (less)
I love the way Trollope refuses sensationalism. He throws in a murder and immediately lets us know who really did it. It's NEVER about the plot with h...moreI love the way Trollope refuses sensationalism. He throws in a murder and immediately lets us know who really did it. It's NEVER about the plot with him--always character.
And usually the public character. We have no idea what jail was really like for Phineas, other than that it sucked and that he had a lot of company. I suppose this refusal to provide tantalizing details is just another example of Trollope's refusal of sensationalism.
I LOVE Lady Laura. Trollope sure gives her a hard time for marrying a man she didn't love. But he still treats her delicately and expects our hearts to hurt for her (see the uncharacteristic care he took in describing the scene of her last conversation with Phineas). And they do.
Altogether too much hunting in this one, but I can't fault Trollope for dedicating chapters to his favorite pastime.
It was rather surreal and hilarious when a writer's testimony about the premeditation always found in novels' murder plots was allowed during Phineas' trial!
Phineas is an infinitely likable character. But then, I'm a woman, so of course I'm going to love him. (less)
I certainly prefer Dancing After Hours, but this isn't bad. The first two stories are so... sad. I definitely don't want to see the movie if it's base...moreI certainly prefer Dancing After Hours, but this isn't bad. The first two stories are so... sad. I definitely don't want to see the movie if it's based only on those.
The timing of the stories and the way each character changes made me think about how hopelessly we're all at the whim of other people's changes of heart. If only Hank had gone through what he goes through in "Finding a Girl in America" before he had met Edith. While I find his reaction to what Monica did rather appalling, if a radically pro-life crisis is what it takes for a man like Hank to stop being a horrible asshole, I guess I'm for it.
Reading so much Dubus in a row probably isn't a great idea. I'm getting sick of his obsession with the Eucharist, with referring to bodies as "meat," and with the omnipresent bourbon/gin and cigarettes. But I will return to him later - his writing is excellent.(less)