This is a beautifully written and enthralling story about love, friendship and family; it is about what lengths people will go to in order to take carThis is a beautifully written and enthralling story about love, friendship and family; it is about what lengths people will go to in order to take care of those they love.
Shiva and Marion are conjoined twins separated at birth in a missionary hospital in Addis Ababa; they are born on the day their mother dies and their father disappears. The narrator is Marion, who tells the story of their lives in Ethiopia from the days of Haile Selassie until the present. The book is filled with the sights, scents and smells of a country most of us know very little about. It is a compelling tale of how two brothers and two lonely doctors become a family.
The story of Shiva and Marion is the focus of the book but the heart and soul of the tale is the love story of Gosh and Hema, the twins surrogate parents, and their abiding love for their sons. It is a story of how love can bring people together and tear a family apart, it is a reminder of how we are all responsible for those around us and how the love of two brothers and a parent for a child trumps all else.
Beautifully written, with vivid and memorable characters this is a family saga to be savored. The narrative made me laugh and brought me to tears more than once. It is a book that I will long remember, I dreaded turning the last page and I felt a little bereft when I closed the cover, sad to be without these people who were so real to me. Mr. Verghese is a brilliant writer and I hope to read more by him soon.
About half-way through I had pretty much decided this would be a three star book and I would probably neI had a like/hate relationship with this book.
About half-way through I had pretty much decided this would be a three star book and I would probably never finish it. But I pushed through and in the end, while I didn’t exactly love it, I liked it more than I thought I would..
This the story of a murder - not a spoiler it’s the opening scene; we know who is murdered and who committed the crime. But we don’t know why. The narrator of the story is Richard Papen, a new student at Hamden College in Vermont. Escaping a dead-end life in California he is accepted into an exclusive class in Ancient Greek where he is eventually befriended by the 5 other students. Within a few months Richard will be an accomplice to murder and the covering up of the crime. The events leading up to the crime and the aftermath form the basic plot of the book.
This book is long, almost 600 pages. And it is filled with truly unlikeable characters. While the core 5, Henry, Bunny, Charles, Camilla and Francis have lived a fairly privileged life; Richard spends most of his time living in poverty. They form a very tight group that keep themselves apart from the other students and are seen as elitist snobs. And then there is Julian, the professor who teaches this group of students - and only this group of students and is the only teacher they have, which I found unbelievable. Nevertheless he is the one who plants a seed with Henry, the undisputed leader of the group, that begins a series of unfortunate events that lead to Bunny’s death.
Richard is the narrator of the book, the one we readers are expected to relate to - an everyman who tells the tale of that fateful year. Because we only hear Richard’s memory of the story it does raise the question of the truth of the history he tells us. If we only have one viewpoint how can we be sure he is being honest?
I think one of my issues with this book was the writing. Tartt certainly knows how to turn a phrase but I often found her writing pretentious. There were times I was reading the book and the author would start throwing in Greek and Latin phrases and go off on tangents regarding philosophy that didn’t add to the story; I felt like she was trying to impress the reader - look at me I am so much smarter than you. The book is definitely bloated, it could have been much shorter if the long paragraphs of every detail of clothing, drinking, doing drugs, having sex etc. were cut in half or eliminated. In addition I didn’t feel as if there was a time frame to use as a reference to some of the action. At times I thought it was the ’60’s with all the talk of hippies, and then I thought it was the 70’s but at some point I realized it was probably the ’80’s and that was because of a Jane Fonda exercise tape reference. I found that a little disconcerting. Aside from the characters being unlikeable they weren’t realistic. What student walks around a campus wearing pince nez? They seem to be written as if they should have been hanging out with Edgar Allen Poe.
The second half of the book was better than the first. It took too long to get to the reason behind the murder in the first part of the book. It moved much faster after that, except for a very strange interaction with Bunny’s family prior to the funeral, it seemed pretty pointless except as a way to introduce the acquisition of a lot of drugs. First half 2 stars, second half 4. Meet in the middle, its a 3 star read.
I think if I had read this when I was much younger I would have thought it was a brilliant and deep book. At this point in my life I was not blown away by it. ...more