I do appreciate the beauty of Hemingway's writing, as always. In fact, his writing alone will push my rating up one star, for what would otherwise be...moreI do appreciate the beauty of Hemingway's writing, as always. In fact, his writing alone will push my rating up one star, for what would otherwise be a 2-star book in my opinion. I just detest every single character...I find nothing redeeming in any of them, and while the entire story is beautifully written...just UGH! Perhaps if the entire manuscript had been published, that would have made a difference, but for some reason I don't think so. I'm disappointed in how much I dislike this book, and by extension, dislike the person Hemingway was. He was a stellar writer, I'll give him that.(less)
I had really high hopes for this book, and I really want to love it. In the end, though, there were too many little details that unsettled me. This bo...moreI had really high hopes for this book, and I really want to love it. In the end, though, there were too many little details that unsettled me. This book had huge potential, but in my opinion, it missed the mark.
From the beginning, I found Barbara Duguid's personal story compelling. I really appreciated that she was so willing to be open and transparent with her own struggles with temptation and sin. That is a huge connector between people, to know that we are not the only ones struggling...and failing. In fact, in terms of what was excellent about her book, chapter 5 is the standout. She discusses in wrenching language her struggles with weight and anger...and I could relate, not simply because I share those particular struggles, but also because the way she struggled was something so understandable to so many of us. The lack of desire to change. Feeling overwhelmed by the problem...the sin. Lashing out at others for their failings toward us, when what we are really struggling with is the enormity of our own failings, our own depravity.
In the end, she really should have stuck with her personal story, rather than trying to write a theological commentary on John Newton writings. Her personal story is strong, and full of redemption and grace. On the other hand, her attempt at theological exegesis is inconsistent and weak. Duguid misinterprets or contradicts solid theology, and I had many instances of wondering what on earth she was thinking. In some cases she contradicted her own words in later pages, getting a theological point wrong the first time and right the second time. This was extremely distracting to me, and I believe detracted from the impact her book could have had. Further, I do not know if the points she makes are Newton's points, or if she has conflated her own opinions with Newton's, and given us a confusing (or confused) understanding of his theology.
What was perhaps the most unsettling aspect of this book, however, was the nagging feeling that she seemed to sanction a sort of wallowing in our sin. She kept making the point about how we are, as Christians, are meant to try and fail. That sometimes we are not going to grow, and that it is ok. That we need to learn to find contentment despite our inability to overcome certain sinful behaviors. This kind of language is ubiquitous in the book, and in my mind, this is a monumental misunderstanding (and misrepresentation) of sanctification. Recall in John 8:3-11, when the Pharisees brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus, and Jesus responds in love and kindness, without condemning her, but he also calls on her to "go and sin no more." He doesn't give her an out. He doesn't sanction her sinfulness. He doesn't tell her to find contentment in her inability to conquer her sin. He tells her to go and sin no more. This is our commandment too.
I have read a lot of commentary and reviews on this book, more & more as I found myself more unsettled. I am linking to Amazon.com reviews by Jason Webb (http://smile.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member...), and his review of Extravagant Grace should be his first review. He rated the book 1 star, which I believe is harsh, given than Duguid's story is a compelling one for anyone. However, I concur on his analysis of the theology. (less)
This is my favorite of the Great Plains Trilogy. In fact, My Antonia is my least favorite of the three, though it is the most famous (and most read)....moreThis is my favorite of the Great Plains Trilogy. In fact, My Antonia is my least favorite of the three, though it is the most famous (and most read). I loved everything about this book, and I loved that it was longer than the others, because it allowed for rich & complex character development. Ir is a beautifully written book.(less)
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 of...moreI 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. (less)
This book actually deserves 3.5 stars. I enjoyed it for what it was - a fun summer read, which I liked more than 3 stars suggests, but the writing was...moreThis book actually deserves 3.5 stars. I enjoyed it for what it was - a fun summer read, which I liked more than 3 stars suggests, but the writing wasn't up to snuff enough for four stars. It is a sweet story, with the right, if predictable, ending. That's what I was looking for and that's what I got. Love the title, and the story that goes with it, which I will not spoil.(less)
This is a beautifully written and extraordinary book. I got to the end and just felt battered and bruised by the profound, soul-shattering loneliness...moreThis is a beautifully written and extraordinary book. I got to the end and just felt battered and bruised by the profound, soul-shattering loneliness that McCullers was able to show so deftly. I felt indescribably sad for the characters, perhaps mostly for how trapped they felt, and how they could not see a way out of their loneliness. But at the same time I am a bit in awe of McCullers' ability to affect me so personally. She was writing with her heart in this book, it is so obvious, and my heart responded equivalently.(less)
A cautionary tale indeed. Not only was Orwell a student of history, he was prophetic in his writing, and likely much more so than he ever would have w...moreA cautionary tale indeed. Not only was Orwell a student of history, he was prophetic in his writing, and likely much more so than he ever would have wanted.(less)
I gave up after three disks (of 10). It took about 5 starts to even get a clear picture of what was going on, and frankly, that is just too much effor...moreI gave up after three disks (of 10). It took about 5 starts to even get a clear picture of what was going on, and frankly, that is just too much effort for me right now. I listen to books for enjoyment, not for work, and with all the other distractions in my life right now, I just had to table this one. Maybe another time, but I doubt it.(less)