A touching insight into the wilderness of a deteriorating mind, Samantha Harvey's debut novel is both brave and beautiful in its depiction of AlzheimeA touching insight into the wilderness of a deteriorating mind, Samantha Harvey's debut novel is both brave and beautiful in its depiction of Alzheimer's disease. The theme of memory is weaved with a subtle complexity into Jake's fragmented narrative, reappearing as evolving motifs which bear greater meaning and significance as the incongruent pieces of an infinite and never ending puzzle are forced together. A cherry tree, varying shades of yellow, battenberg cake; events, people and objects blur, slide and melt through the degenerating memories of the protagonist. Indeed, the novel itself may be regarded as a confused puzzle: are we desperately trying to untangle Jake's life through the distortion of reality and memory or does Harvey intend the reader to dwell in the wilderness with Jake, as Jake?
The deft qualities of the story lie in its ability to see past, present and future through Jake's eyes. The delineation of events, their persistent presence waxes and wanes amid a timeless backdrop. Yet we do not pity or weep for Jake despite the tragic disease that plagues his mind, the minds of his family and even the reader's own mind.
Who is Jake? Who are we?
Questions questions, ubiquitous questions. For Jake. For everyone.
An intelligent and intricate read. Highly recommended. ...more
Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment is an indisputable classic. Despite the connotations of its title which allude to clandestine activity, ruthless vilDostoevsky's Crime and Punishment is an indisputable classic. Despite the connotations of its title which allude to clandestine activity, ruthless villains and a plot driven battle for justice, the novel comprises a complex character study and a stifling exploration of psychological depth and boundaries.
Raskolnikov might well be the most complex protagonist of all time; the paradoxical qualities of his actions and reasoning expound the concept of moral nihilism while the delirious turmoil of his emotions propels the reader into a dizzying tornado of suspense, tension, insecurity and anxiety. Compelling to say the least.
Ultimately, Raskolnikov's gravest punishment is administered through the guilt of his own conscience which, ironically, is unburdened during his time in prison. One may deduce, then, that the relationship between crime and punishment is not simply a matter of societal law and justice, but rather a profoundly individual and psychological balance.
The redemptive power of love which flowers at the novel's conclusion, borne from the relationship between Raskolnikov and Sonya, adds a glowing touch to the otherwise dark pages of the novel's core. In fact, it leaves a sweet aftertaste which comes as a real surprise.
I don't think I will ever be able to steal sweets from the pick and mix counter in the same way again. Thanks FD. ...more
Lionel Shriver tackles the age old 'nature versus nurture' debate head on in this intensely intricate and intelligent read.
The retrospective relationLionel Shriver tackles the age old 'nature versus nurture' debate head on in this intensely intricate and intelligent read.
The retrospective relation of events surrounding 'Thursday' are made increasingly raw by the manner in which they are told. Eva's incessant ruminations over Kevin's upbringing oscillate between the present and the past to the tune of the letter Y; primarily, "Why did he do it?". This need of Eva's to filter events, conversations, feelings and thoughts through the refracted sieve of hindsight forces us to question her reliability as narrator which, in exposing the complex nature of subjectivity inspires deep thought provocation.
That Eva dares to express feelings commonly buried and repudiated by society, such as the absence of the maternal bond and the precocious dynamic of parental roles, consolidates the refreshing rawness that the novel encapsulates. It's audacious exploration of 'close to the bone' themes coupled with Shriver's commendably extensive vocabulary and syntax deserves the critical acclaim it received.
A charming little allegory about the human condition. Simple and sweet, The Little Prince invites us to walk hand in hand with the child within and reA charming little allegory about the human condition. Simple and sweet, The Little Prince invites us to walk hand in hand with the child within and reveals the true beauty of life. You will smile when you see the stars and little bells will tinkle soft whispers and echoed laughter in your ear. Just lovely. ...more
There is much esteem around this novel and it wasn't until past 100 pages that I finally got it. Having read quite a number of books narrated by hardThere is much esteem around this novel and it wasn't until past 100 pages that I finally got it. Having read quite a number of books narrated by hard done black women from the deep south, I began to think that The Color Purple was same content, same message, same characters wrapped up in a different package. I sighed a lot. However, once I hit upon the dialogue between Shug and Celie about the essence of God, I immediately warmed to it. The sentiments echoed by Shug Avery, one of the most amazingly inspirational and wonderful characters I've come across, aligned so much with my own beliefs, spirituality and love of nature that I truly admired Walker's work.
Not only this, but also the various relationships between the characters were profoundly heartwarming and heartbreaking in their own way, particularly as 'Dear God' changes into 'Dear Celie/Nettie'. The ending as well is so feel good that you want to recommend the book to everyone. The use of dialect, although I've come across it before now, was clever and provoked three dimensional characterisation.
I also have to point people to the author's preface and end note which epitomises the meaningful and thought-provoking nature of The Color Purple. Well deserved praise for Alice Walker. ...more
Having crawled to the end of a painfully contrived dystopian novel, One Day was a breath of sweet fresh air. So sweet and fresh in fact that I practicHaving crawled to the end of a painfully contrived dystopian novel, One Day was a breath of sweet fresh air. So sweet and fresh in fact that I practically inhaled this book.
Set over a period of twenty years, Nicholls manages to evade the 'chick lit' label by ignoring the generic 'happily ever after' convention through allowing the reader yearly one day glimpses into the lives of Emma and Dexter.
Dex and Em (Em and Dex) are wonderfully characterised and increasingly engaging to the point where you simply cannot tear yourself away.
Wow. This book was not in the least how I expected it to be. Enduring love encapsulates so many varying and conflicting elements: love through grief aWow. This book was not in the least how I expected it to be. Enduring love encapsulates so many varying and conflicting elements: love through grief and death, the innocent love of children, strong, intense and seemingly unbreakable love, love and belief in opposing notions. God and science. Rationality and irrationality.
This aspect of madness and sanity drove me into the plot as the lines began to blur and I began to question my own rationality in Joe's shoes.
McEwen's writing runs like water off the page, eloquent, meaningful, profound, intellectual. Nail biting and informative. What an intense beginning.
I swallowed this book in one gulp. The food entwined with the passionate love was perfect harmony. It reminded me of Lorca's te house of bernarda albaI swallowed this book in one gulp. The food entwined with the passionate love was perfect harmony. It reminded me of Lorca's te house of bernarda alba with magical realist twists. Purely magical and one which will grow fonder as time elapses. ...more
Some compelling characters and a mystical pretext to string together the three narratives but it wasn't quite strong enough. I really wanted it to pulSome compelling characters and a mystical pretext to string together the three narratives but it wasn't quite strong enough. I really wanted it to pull off and have some deeper resonance but it didn't. There are definitely some poetic and beautifully written elements, particularly from the book 'the history of love' itself but it just wasn't fulfilling enough. I love stylistic innovation but have to say I'm more team Foer. ...more
The thing that freaked me out most about reading this book was the unshockable nature with which my eyes glassed over the most intensely violent passaThe thing that freaked me out most about reading this book was the unshockable nature with which my eyes glassed over the most intensely violent passages.
It felt like passing a car crash on the side of the road surrounded by police and ambulance - you slow down to take a clearer look then are almost disappointed not to have seen anything sensational. Then you go back to humming along with the song playing on the radio.
Have we become so numb to the incessant violence that fills newspapers, television screen, video games and films on a daily basis that these occurrences are now commonplace?
I know this book achieves a lot more than this with it's satirical mastery of the American yuppy but the above is mostly what I took away from reading this book. A fantastic read. ...more
''the ability to say yes or no is the essence of all ownership. It's your ownership of your own ego. Your soul, if you wish. Your soul has a basic fun''the ability to say yes or no is the essence of all ownership. It's your ownership of your own ego. Your soul, if you wish. Your soul has a basic function - the act of valuing.'
I will say yes. I liked this book. Yes, the characters are archetypes; unyielding mouthpieces; wooden receptacles filled with words to elucidate a philosophy. Yes, the monologues are often dense, overwrought and overbearing. Especially towards the end. Altruismselfishness, the collectiveindividual, creative integrity and ego- these themes eyeball you fiercely from every audacious page. Maybe less is more. Maybe not.
Yes, it is black and white with no consideration for the grey that makes everything so colourful. But this book doesn't need grey. We are the grey. We can take the limited palette and philosophical scope of the novel and add it to our own collection in various and, dare I say it, individual strengths, tones and textures.
There was never meant to be a collective reaction. Well done us.