I am constantly reminded of Willa Cather & Daphne Du Maurier as I listen to this book. The desolate setting and story itself is so reminiscent ofI am constantly reminded of Willa Cather & Daphne Du Maurier as I listen to this book. The desolate setting and story itself is so reminiscent of the setting of Cather's books, and the feeling of isolation keeps evoking comparisons of both Cather & du Maurier.
Robinson's grasp of the English language is marvelous, and I love the breadth of her vocabulary, especially the use of little used or archaic words. It gives the story a sense of being older than it is, such that when she then references cars, telephones or electricity, I am surprised that I've forgotten it.
More when I've finished...
In the end, the book ended exactly as it should have.
Marilynne Robinson stayed true to how Sylvie would have naturally reacted in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. There was always tension in Sylvie being in one placed, settled, "housekeeping" the way she did. To have crushed her spirit (and by extension, Ruthie's) would have been an egregious mistake, and Robinson clearly understood that. She demonstrated, even in her first book, that she intimately understood the need of a story to develop organically. She did not manufacture a neat ending, but let her story go to its natural end, and in doing so, she created a beautiful, authentic story, despite a theological hiccup toward the end that I chalk up to Robinson's personal misunderstanding.
What impressed me the most, and continually, was her use of language. She not only has an impressive vocabulary, she threads together beautiful sentences and paragraphs. This was actually one of the few times when listening to the book is insufficient. I deeply appreciated hearing the language, but I really want to have a hard copy of the book to go back and reread some of the passages. ...more
It was an interesting enough book, but I honestly could not stand any of the characters. Every single one had some trait that made me want to punch thIt was an interesting enough book, but I honestly could not stand any of the characters. Every single one had some trait that made me want to punch them between the eyes, including the main character. Elizabeth/Eliza was so ridiculously bland, so easily manipulated by others, and ultimately so infuriatingly weak that I could not stand her, and she was the one that was supposed to be likable. I am sure that Laura Lippman meant to create a story where the truth and the right thing were not always straightforward, where the reasons & motivations behind Walter Bowman's actions would somehow mitigate how evil they were, and where Elizabeth/Eliza's actions were understandable and sympathetic. Unfortunately, what she did instead was to create a bunch of characters too flawed to like. I wanted someone to root for, and even in the end when Elizabeth/Eliza actually did do the right thing, I was relieved not because of my investment in the story, but rather because I was thankful I didn't feel like throwing the book against the wall and screaming.
I don't know if this means I will read something else by Lippman or not, but I can say without reservation that this one was not for me, and I hope it is not representative of her work, because that would just make me sad for her....more
This was a simply written book - a novel based on a story, as the author explains on the back cover. The title, of course, is what grabbed me initiallThis was a simply written book - a novel based on a story, as the author explains on the back cover. The title, of course, is what grabbed me initially, especially since this was a novel and not nonfiction.
What I found, in the end, was a sweet story - a fable really - about faith vs. unbelief, about lust vs. love, about misery vs. joy, about greed vs. contentment, and about seeing vs. SEEING. Because it is written in such simple language, the debth of the story kind of sneaks up on you. At the surface it is hilarious & awkward, seemingly trite, predictable, perhaps even childish. But there is certainly a message of redemption, even if it seems far-fetched and takes a circuitous route.
It's worth reading, for all of the above reasons. But if all you're looking for is a story full of the post-adolescent angst of an awkwardly naive, socially inept, and embarrassingly innocent (like a 12yo boy), hilarious (without meaning to be) 20-year-old wannabe (but-can't-quite-be) atheist, then this book is for you. If nothing else, it will pass the afternoon with a few giggles. But if, on the grander scale, you can relate to repeated incidents of God's redemptive grace, then that is the icing on the cake....more
There are so many things about this book to love - the setting (China, in particular); the vast scope of the story; the deft way that the author tiesThere are so many things about this book to love - the setting (China, in particular); the vast scope of the story; the deft way that the author ties together the present and the past; the commitment and love between LuLing and Ruth, LuLing and GaoLing, LuLing and Precious Auntie; how Tan's writing style and word choices seem to exude the culture she is writing about, including a subtle but still noticeable shift in tone in section two (LuLing's story).
I connected with the story immediately, and particularly with Ruth. I related to her inability to feel confident, to believe that she actually had something to say, to think that anyone would be interested in her words. I got how she allowed herself to "disappear" in her relationship, never seeming to require anything concrete or real from Art, not even sure he really loves her, yet continuing on in a sort of hazy mediocrity. I understood her choice to do the work she did - behind the scenes, anonymous or very nearly so (even if, in the end, she tended to resent the lack of credit), and risk free, meaning any criticism of the work would be directed to the author of record, not her (a "ghostwriter," but in reality the actual author of all the books she worked on).
Perhaps more than any of the above, I had a visceral and immediate connection to her relationship with her mother. Their conflicted, competitive, critical and volatile relationship was as familiar to me as the back of my hand. I was transported time and again back to my own experiences as a child, an adolescent, and a young woman as I read the arguments & struggles between Ruth & LuLing. I found LuLing controlling, irrational, hypercritical, and impervious to reason. I felt the frustration that Ruth felt right along with her, and when time & again she allowed herself and her own desires to be eclipsed by her mother, I wanted to shake her out of her lethargy.
And then came Section 2.
Once again, I felt like shaking someone and screaming "Wake UP!" But this time, it was LuLing herself. As I progressed through this middle section, I began to understand LuLing in a completely different way, and while I still didn't (and don't) understand the necessity of incessantly criticizing and insulting one's daughter, I did ultimately comprehend the enormous suffering that LuLing endured & overcame. I understood how it shaped her and hurt her, how it gutted her and made her strong. She was so much more than Ruth's experiences, GaoLing's interactions or Precious Auntie's recollections. It was clear that Ruth needed to know her mother's history and understand where she came from in order to appreciate her strengths, weaknesses & eccentricities. She needed to know those things to also heal herself, to recognize that despite herself she had a good partner, and to allow herself the luxury of committing fully to the relationship, loving without reserve, and being likewise loved in return.
Amy Tan weaves this exotic, timultuous, and ultimately cathartic story in such a way that it leaves you wanting more...to continue on with the story, to find out what happens next with the characters you've come to love. That's good writing...really good writing, and it's worthy of a place on everyone's bookshelf.
My kiddo loves animals and books about animals. This book has been in our possession for a couple of years, and he returns to it again & again. ItMy kiddo loves animals and books about animals. This book has been in our possession for a couple of years, and he returns to it again & again. It is a large board book, which is terrific for a book that gets heavy use, as it's not falling apart like some of his others. The artwork is very realistic, and because it is a search & find book, he finds it endlessly entertaining....more
It's definitely a nice introduction to the Marvel superheroes, but the interactive sounds were very distracting to the story. We both liked it betterIt's definitely a nice introduction to the Marvel superheroes, but the interactive sounds were very distracting to the story. We both liked it better with without the sounds after the first couple of pages....more