Even though I'm a big historical fiction reader, the '60s have just never interested me all that much. Add to that the subject of race and the repress...moreEven though I'm a big historical fiction reader, the '60s have just never interested me all that much. Add to that the subject of race and the repressed guilt of a Southerner, and this book just did not make my to read list. However, after having several people (with quite varied reading tastes) tell me how wonderful this book was, I had to read it. And I do not regret it one bit.
It really was nearly indescribable. Stockett captures the time and the people as if she was a fly on the wall with a video camera in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962. There is clearly autobiographical writing at work in the characters of Miss Skeeter (an aspiring writer who doesn't quite fit in with her fellow white society ladies) and Mae Mobley (a toddler whose mother doesn't seem to love her but whose maid does). However, my favorite chapters were the ones told from the point of view of Aibilee and Milly. Stockett captured the rhythm and flavor of the black maids' voices in a way that seemed realistic but not racist. (I would love to hear a black woman's opinion of the narration in particular and the novel in general.) My favorite line was when Milly said that if she'd played Mammy (in Gone with the Wind), she would have told Miss Scarlett that she could stick those green curtains up her little white pooper. Priceless.
You would think that the characters would come out 2-dimensional and stereotyped, but that wasn't the case at all. Most of them had facets that surprise the reader. The primary exception was Hilly, who really was just a self-centered, hateful, racist society cow. Her close-mindedness wasn't limited just to blacks, however.
As I said before, it's hard to put my feelings about this book into words. I'm shocked that a white woman who was raised by black domestic help in the South would have the courage to write a book like this, much as it is shocking that the help in her novel would have the courage to write the book that they do. When I finished (a little too easy of an ending, when Medgar Evers was murdered down the street from Aibilee), I found myself contemplating this. And then I read the author's note at the end, which I think you absolutely must read if you read the novel. Setting a perfect tone, she briefly relates her childhood, her concerns about writing the book, and why she wrote it. Her note quickly put an end to that fruitless contemplation, and now I can return to thinking about the lives of her characters and how distant and yet frighteningly close 1962 Jackson seems.
This one was difficult. To be honest, I probably would have given up after about 100 pages, but I'd heard so many great things about it. My frustratio...moreThis one was difficult. To be honest, I probably would have given up after about 100 pages, but I'd heard so many great things about it. My frustration in the early pages was mostly due to the fact that I just wanted the kids to be born already, plus I had had quite enough graphic blood and guts, thank you.
After the first 100 pages or so, it was all ups and downs. I really loved some parts, but some parts I found to be less than engaging. I loved it, I was tired of it. I loved it, I was tired of it. Once Marion got to New York, I loved the rest of the book, so it ended on a good note. I just think that Verghese had such a great concept and great themes but his focus on the human body and its frailties took a lot away from the focus on the brothers' relationship. He could have done so much more there, which I found frustrating. He did have some great characters, as many reviewers have mentioned. I especially liked Ghosh and Genet. (Genet more as a character than as a person, if that makes sense.) But I felt like I didn't know Marion as well as I should have considering that he was the narrator. I mean, I knew him well, but I wanted to know him more. And Shiva felt equally distant. I don't know, it's hard to explain my frustration.
This is a hopelessly vague and useless review, I know. I rarely have such mixed feelings about a book, especially with such a difficult time quantifying them! Anyway, it was good. I think that this might have been a case of expectations sabotaging reality.(less)
I was getting pretty worn out by the Outlander series, and I'm not entirely sure why I keep reading it. I barely made it through A Breath of Snow and...moreI was getting pretty worn out by the Outlander series, and I'm not entirely sure why I keep reading it. I barely made it through A Breath of Snow and Ashes. However, I really enjoyed An Echo in the Bone. Perhaps the story was more interesting because they moved from the nowhere of Fraser's Ridge (where absolutely nothing ever happened) to Quebec/Saratoga/Philadelphia (while the Revolutionary War was going on). There was much more in the way of suspense and strangely interlocking plots, which made it a compelling read. And like most Outlander novels, the last 100 pages took the book from moderately engaging to an absolute page-turner.
I fin myself looking forward to the next one again, rather than resigning myself to it. Although it hasn't been announced, it's clear there will be another--there is a giant cliffhanger that I know Gabaldon won't leave unfinished.(less)
Well I am sad that I've now finished reading every single book by Michelle Moran. She makes me remember why I love historical fiction so much. I learn...moreWell I am sad that I've now finished reading every single book by Michelle Moran. She makes me remember why I love historical fiction so much. I learned so much from this book, and I continue to appreciate her detailed historical notes at the end. Of the four books, this was probably my least favorite, and still I thought it was great. Her characters really leap off the page, and she brings their world alive with dialogue, detailed descriptions, and interesting side plots. Ancient Rome was a pretty ugly place, and she makes that clear here. Still, there were good parts too and things worth living and fighting for, and those are just as clear. Wonderfully done, as usual. I can't wait for her next book. She's definitely one of my new favorites.
*edit: Okay, I lied. Maybe it's not my least favorite of the four, because I just can't stop thinking about it hours after I finished it. I just love them all! She's just so good. I need to find an author as good as she is to tide me over until her next book!*(less)
Lightyears better than The Other Queen, more in the vein of the Tudor series. However, lot of the characters and their relationships are weakly drawn....moreLightyears better than The Other Queen, more in the vein of the Tudor series. However, lot of the characters and their relationships are weakly drawn. It's promising to start out with, but quickly fizzles as she transitions from writing an interesting version of what could be history to a drawn out description of who's plotting against who and why.
The story of Elizabeth Woodville, however, is quite fascinating and relatively unknown, and it's worth reading for Gregory's uniquely feminist interpretation of a minor historical figure -- who was really quite major.(less)
It is amazing to me how Philippa Gregory's work can vary from absolute rubbish to bordering on brilliance. Her Tudor series in itself does this. Her n...moreIt is amazing to me how Philippa Gregory's work can vary from absolute rubbish to bordering on brilliance. Her Tudor series in itself does this. Her newest book, The Other Queen, was shoddily written, redundant, and dull. But Fallen Skies, which she wrote 15 years ago, was the complete opposite. It started off very slowly, as many character-driven books can. All of the characters are superbly and realistically drawn. Sometimes they are loathsome, sometimes pitiable. A lot of the book's "action" takes place within the hearts and minds of the characters and doesn't manifest itself in "real" action until the last 100 pages. Gregory paints a haunting portrait of 1920s England, the horrible lasting effects of the Great War, and the realities of domestic warfare and the subjugation of women. If you don't like slow-paced, character-centered books then this isn't the Gregory for you, but I thought it was a great read.(less)
I really rather liked this book. It was quite obvious that Raybourn has experience with literature and history. Her writing style was quite like Victo...moreI really rather liked this book. It was quite obvious that Raybourn has experience with literature and history. Her writing style was quite like Victorian novels, and her historical detail was intense. A compelling read with adequately drawn characters. I was especially excited that I guessed the criminal correctly, despite the vague, hazy clues. I just had a feeling... I look forward to the next title in this series!(less)
Incredible, incredible book. Definitely deserved the 2008 Caldecott Medal. A must-read for anyone who likes juvenile historical fiction, film history...moreIncredible, incredible book. Definitely deserved the 2008 Caldecott Medal. A must-read for anyone who likes juvenile historical fiction, film history (especially French), or charcoal drawings. So amazing!(less)
This book was dedicated "To all the women who thought Christine should have stayed with the Phantom," which is a large part of why I decided to read i...moreThis book was dedicated "To all the women who thought Christine should have stayed with the Phantom," which is a large part of why I decided to read it. When you're passionate about a story (as I have been with the Phantom since I was 14), you want those characters to have a chance at happily-ever-after that they don't get in the original. Mostly you imagine the alternate ending in your head. Sometimes you get a chance to see another ending. (Think Scarlett and Gone with the Wind.) In that sense, I was happy to read it.
It was also my first erotic novel. I know that the subtitle said it was erotic, but I didn't really realize that it was going to be practically nothing but erotica. I'm not saying it was bad, just not exactly what I expected. Having never read anything like it before, it's somewhat hard to compare to say how good it was, but I think it was pretty well written. Parts of it were incredibly sexy, while other parts were a bit too sadistic. But again, well written.
I would recommend this if you like erotica, I think. Also if you want Christine and Erik to have a happily-ever-after--and lots of sex in the meantime.(less)