In 1950, Katherine Proctor leaves Ireland and her family for Barcelona, determined to become a painter. There she meets Miguel, an anarchist veteran oIn 1950, Katherine Proctor leaves Ireland and her family for Barcelona, determined to become a painter. There she meets Miguel, an anarchist veteran of the Spanish Civil War, and proceeds to build a life with him. But Katherine cannot escape her past, as Michael Graves, a fellow Irish emigre to Spain, forces her to re-examine all her relationships: to her lover, her art and the homeland she only thought she knew.
I first read this book in 2004, although when it was selected for my book club I couldn't remember any of it. I had vague recollections that I had read it, but had the plot and characters confused with Songdogs by Colum McCann ((it is also about memories and Ireland and Spain, so I suppose there is somewhat of a commonality there)). Once I started reading it, again, I remembered aspects of it, but very little in terms of the details.
It is a very interesting book, and I think it is a book that the reader will bring a lot into, I have a feeling that every reader might see something different in the story and the characters. Katherine is the main point of view character, on occasion we get her first person perspective, but for the most part it is third person story-telling. At the beginning of the book she has just left her husband and child back home in Ireland and escaped to Spain. And I get the feeling that some people at the book club may judge her very harshly for that. Much more harshly than they would judge a man for the same act...
I don't think it is a book that I could say I loved. Interesting and thought provoking would be the terms I would use instead. And I don't mean interesting as code for bad. It is a story all about how life is affected by the events of the past. How history isn't gone, it lives on in in memory and changes people's behaviour for years to come. It isn't in the past, it is still happening.
Below is my review from 2004
Colm Tóibín has recently been in the news for his new book, The Master which tells the story of Henry James, and is supposedly very good. I haven't read it, so I don't know :) But the publicity did encourage me to pick this book up when I spotted it in the library
His first novel, it tells the story of Katherine Procter who leaves her life in Ireland for Spain, leaving behind her husband and son as well as Enniscorthy. In Spain she finds romance, and a new life as an artist, but is constantly haunted by the past. Both her own history and that of Miguel's experiences during the Spanish Civil War. The book starts off in 1950, a fact I really should have paid a little bit more attention to, otherwise I wouldn't have been so surprised by certain things. But once I checked the date I was sorted.
It is a wonderful read, a great exploration of memory and the impact of the past. Nothing is really resolved, or changed. There is no happy ever after, but it isn't a depressing book. The language is great, especially many of the descriptions of the light. There are no real explanations offered, it is up to the reader to discover the links between the characters
Mary Doria Russell, the bestselling, award-winning author of The Sparrow, returns with Epitaph. An American Iliad, this richly detailed and meticulous
Mary Doria Russell, the bestselling, award-winning author of The Sparrow, returns with Epitaph. An American Iliad, this richly detailed and meticulously researched historical novel continues the story she began in Doc, following Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday to Tombstone, Arizona, and to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Many years ago, I'm not sure exactly how many, but it was before 2007 I read The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, it was chosen as a group read by FantasyFavourites Yahoo Group. And I love it. So much. I bought and read the sequel The Children of God. Loved it too, although not quite so much as The Sparrow. And ever since those books I've taken it for granted that if Russell has a book out I should give it a go. But for some reason after I bought Doc it sat on my shelves waiting to be read. And waiting. But then I rewatched Open Range and all of a sudden I was in the mood for westerns ((I'm also tempted to reread Molly Gloss' wonderful The hearts of horses and Falling from horses but I don't reread books as often as I used to. Too many new ones calling me away )). So I picked up Doc, and really loved it, and then had to buy the sequel, Epitaph, which follows the Earps, Wyatt in particular, as he becomes the legend of Tombstone.
I just love the way Russell tells the story. She knows that her reader is probably familiar with some version of the history. So there is no need to avoid spoilers, instead she uses the readers own knowlesde to build up this horrible, wonderful, tension and expectation as the Earps' head towards that fateful, fatal day and the shootout at the O.K. Corral. The inexorable march towards doom.
It is awfully sad.
It is also so very beautiful. It tells as balanced a story as may be possible after all this time, and after so much has been written about those events. Even at the time the facts were in dispute. Aren't they always? And nothing is ever black and white when you are dealing with human interactions. If you are looking for a "bad guys wear black hats" sort of a western then this is not the book for you. Instead it is a book all about how broken people can be, how they can try so very hard to do the right thing and yet still come out doing the exact opposite of that.
Epitaph is also a book that deals with the women of the story, how they dealt with that society, with their lack of power and agency. And then of course with the aftermath, and how people's lives don't just end after some big historical event ((sometimes they die, and then of course their stories do end)) but instead have to continue living, earning money, paying their way and dealing with whatever fall-out may result from their actions.
Many years ago, I’m not sure exactly how many, but it was before 2007 I read The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, it was chosen as a group read by FantaMany years ago, I’m not sure exactly how many, but it was before 2007 I read The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, it was chosen as a group read by FantasyFavourites Yahoo Group. And I love it. So much. I bought and read the sequel The Children of God. Loved it too, although not quite so much as The Sparrow. And ever since those books I’ve taken it for granted that if Russell has a book out I should give it a go. But for some reason after I bought Doc it sat on my shelves waiting to be read. And waiting. But then I rewatched Open Range and all of a sudden I was in the mood for westerns1. So I picked up Doc, and really loved it, and then had to buy the sequel, Epitaph, which follows the Earps, Wyatt in particular, as he becomes the legend of Tombstone.
I just love the way Russell tells the story. She knows that her reader is probably familiar with some version of the history. So there is no need to avoid spoilers, instead she uses the readers own knowlesde to build up this horrible, wonderful, tension and expectation as the Earps’ head towards that fateful, fatal day and the shootout at the O.K. Corral. The inexorable march towards doom.
It is awfully sad.
It is also so very beautiful. It tells as balanced a story as may be possible after all this time, and after so much has been written about those events. Even at the time the facts were in dispute. Aren’t they always? And nothing is ever black and white when you are dealing with human interactions. If you are looking for a “bad guys wear black hats” sort of a western then this is not the book for you. Instead it is a book all about how broken people can be, how they can try so very hard to do the right thing and yet still come out doing the exact opposite of that.
Epitaph is also a book that deals with the women of the story, how they dealt with that society, with their lack of power and agency. And then of course with the aftermath, and how people’s lives don’t just end after some big historical event2 but instead have to continue living, earning money, paying their way and dealing with whatever fall-out may result from their actions.
Short, totally spoiler-free review is "aahhhhh, read it!" but three words may not be enough to persuade everyone. So to that I'll add that this is a book by Kate Elliott and so it has great female characters, epic fantasy action, magic, treachery, love, and examines power structures all in a great story.
This is the final book in the trilogy, but I'm going to try and avoid all mention of plot, because spoilers are just horrible when you aren't looking for them. The story began in Cold Magic when Cat (our narrator) and her cousin Bee were forced to confront some of the realities of their world. And throughout the three books one of the primary focuses of the book has been the power structures in society. The roles of women, the roles of the peasants and the working class, the power wielded by the feudal lords, and how recognising the inequalities in the world you live in is just the first small step into true adulthood.
The world of Cat and Bee is a sort of alternate Europe in the time of the Napoleonic wars, and it has a sortof version of the French Emperor, and in a way the French revolution, as the two girls get entangled in the fight for the freedom of the working classes, and of women's rights.
And all woven into a great entertaining story.
By the end of this book I was in love with this series, the first book was good, as was the second, but they hadn't hit that sweet spot with me that previous Elliott books have [ref]Jaran I loved from the very start. It's so great, and I'm not just pushing it because the series isn't finished and needs reader love to bring it back from its hiatus. Honest.[/ref]. But the final two thirds of this book pushed it from really enjoyed this series to "loved it".
On the 31st March 2016 Imre Kertész died. I hadn't heard of him before I saw the post on Metafilter marking his passing, but in the thread his first b
On the 31st March 2016 Imre Kertész died. I hadn't heard of him before I saw the post on Metafilter marking his passing, but in the thread his first book, Fatelessness was mentioned. It is a fictionalised account of Kertész's own experiences as a teenager in Hungary and then Auschwitz and Buchenwald. He was fourteen when he was sent to the concentration camps.
It is a fascinating book. It deals with the horrifying events and details of the Holocaust in an almost dispassionate way. Georg, our narrator, starts out as almost any other, slightly awkward teenager. His parents have divorced, he is learning to live between them, as well as discovering girls. And at the same time he is in a special class at school, he has to wear a yellow star, he expects to be cheated and hated simply because he is a Jew. But all this is almost normal for him.
I think that it is precisely that everyday, normal feeling that makes the events so real to the reader. The true horror comes across all the more because Georg does not know any different, but also, he doesn't know what is to come. He, and many others, almost volunteer to go to Auschwitz. They believe they will be forced in any case, so they may as well go along and maybe they'll be treated slightly better. And when they arrive and the "criminals" warn them to never be sick. To say they are sixteen... it is just heartbreaking. Georg believes the other Jews are criminals because their heads are shaved, and they are wearing criminals' uniforms. Even when he is one of them there is a sort of disbelief, but also a weird acceptance of the fact.
Georg is so naive, so innocent that you almost look at the Holocaust with fresh eyes. I think that we are almost used to it today. We know all about the millions murdered, and the horror, that I think maybe we gloss over what it actually was. That is impossible in this book. The very ordinariness of Georg's narration emphasises the true horror of it all. He never really protests or rails at the injustice of his life; it simply is how it is.
And one of the truly gut-wrenching things is that on his return to his hometown one of the first people Georg comes across is a Holocaust denier. Words fail, they really do.
The Iron Ghost is an entertaining mixture of dragon's daughters, demons, mages, and evil, and not forgetting the action-pack
The Copper Cat trilogy # 2
The Iron Ghost is an entertaining mixture of dragon's daughters, demons, mages, and evil, and not forgetting the action-packed adventure either.
Story-wise, it takes place after events in The Copper Promise so I really would recommend reading that book first. I probably should have reread the first book, I forgot plenty of details, although as I read I was reminded and I think most of it came back to me. Some of it, of course, couldn't be forgotten, like Ephemeral and her sisters. I enjoyed them in book 1 and they are given much more to do here, looking forward to seeing where they end up.
Personally, I would like a little bit more character introspection, more thoughts from their point of views. This is much more action and deeds based. There are hints of what lurks below, and you can extrapolate so maybe I'm being fussy, because this is very much a fantasy adventure sort of a book. It never slows down at all, and keeps you turning the page constantly.
The chapters themselves are short, only a few pages. This is great because it means you can safely read a little before work sure that you'll have a place to stop soon. But it is also terrible, because it means you keep saying "just one more chapter, its only short" and then being late clocking back in after lunch... maybe that's just me?
Williams has some great ideas, the werkens are a fascinating idea, and she has her own take on the creation of zombies that I liked. It did remind me of the Forged ones from Robin Hobb, more in the way they were created than in the way they acted though.
All in all it is a really fun, read, albeit one full of darkness and death. But in a fun way, honest. And I would have no problem recommending this for any fantasy fans. I'll certainly be reading the next (final?) book in the series.
In 1893 Henry James encounters Sherlock Holmes in Paris. But Holmes is reported to be dead, killed in a battle with Moriarty, and that's without getti
In 1893 Henry James encounters Sherlock Holmes in Paris. But Holmes is reported to be dead, killed in a battle with Moriarty, and that's without getting into the debate over whether or not he is a fictional character. Real or not, alive or dead, Holmes persuades James, somehow, to return to the US and help investigate the suicide or possible murder of Cover Adams, one of James' old friends.
I think this will be my final Dan Simmons book. I really enjoyed Drood and Black Hills, and some of older books are entertaining, but I hated Flashback and thought that The Abominable really was abominable. I may try The Terror at some point because I have heard a lot of good reports about it. But this book just wasn't very good.
It is told in four parts, with the point of view switching between James and Holmes, and sometimes an omniscient narrator/author addressing us directly, and irritatingly. But it started out on the wrong foot with me, the opening talks about Henry James about to attempt suicide, and mentions his depression, and then talks about reasons why he might possibly be depressed. As though depression is a rational result from not selling books, or something one can be reasoned out of! Sure, it can sometimes be triggered by what is going on in someone's life, but often it just strikes and there is no logic to it, just as there is no way you can argue your way out of cancer.
So yeah, opening couple of paragraphs really didn't welcome me to the book.
That wasn't my only reservation with the book. I recall not enjoying the way Simmons' likes to play with real people and real events in The Abominable and this issue also came to the fore in The fifth heart as Holmes is involved in investigating the Haymarket affair, and also is supposedly keeping the world safe from an international socialist anarchist group of German-Americans intent on killing off heads of states and... well, what they intend to do then is never really looked at. Of course they are described as anarchists, so maybe we are supposed to believe that they just want anarchy!? (view spoiler)[this whole plot point left me even further confused when it is revealed that Holmes has being playing the role of Moriarty in an attempt to organise the criminals and anarchists and so discover who they all are and bring about their downfall. But if that's the case, then who was responsible for the assassination attempt on the US President? And who was going to murder all those heads of states? Just Lucan? but he never really seemed to have much motivation apart from "to be evil". Le sigh. (hide spoiler)]
I'd never heard of the Haymarket affair before this book, but I googled, and discovered that yes, there was a socialist protest. And yes there was violence, and a bomb killed policemen, but contrary to Holmes; deductions in the book, most of the policemen who were shot were actually hit by the bullets of other officers An anonymous police official told the Chicago Tribune, "A very large number of the police were wounded by each other's revolvers. ... It was every man for himself, and while some got two or three squares away, the rest emptied their revolvers, mainly into each other. (for more see the Wikipedia entry. It actually sounds like a really interesting historical event that actually had a huge impact on workers rights, here reduced to a "socialists are evil" scare tactic. )
Apart from my political issues with this use of real historical events and people I also didn't find the book all that interesting. I didn't enjoy the way the narrator addressed the reader every now and then, it just felt like a device that Simmons wanted to use, it added nothing to the experience of the book. It could have helped with the whole who is real and who is a fictional character, but they are all fictional, its a book, aspect of the storyline. But to be honest, apart from using the device to waffle on a bit more and bring in a character from a different Simmons book, nothing is ever really done with that thread of the story. And the story is long enough. Too long. At one point Simmons has his character of Henry James read Doyle's books about Sherlock Holmes, and then he proceeds to spend a chapter or thereabouts giving out about the plot-holes and logical inconsistencies in the "adventures". Simmons also has Holmes recall some advice that Doyle once gave on writing, that too much detail bores a reader, this being the reason that Watson on refers to his gun as my "trusty service revolver" or some such. This prompts Simmons to spend an age describing the make, model and all sorts of other unnecessary details about Holmes' weapon. The whole book is weighed down with far to much detail that the reader doesn't need. Well, this reader certainly didn't need half of it.
Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp are names that are linked together with gunfights and dust and the US West. In Doc Russell takes a look at their lives awa
Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp are names that are linked together with gunfights and dust and the US West. In Doc Russell takes a look at their lives away from the O.K. Corral. How they came to know one another and their histories, together and apart. It is a story of violence, gambling, prostitution, dentistry, and tuberculosis, among many other things. And I loved it.
I bought this book back in 2012, when it was released in paperback, because I have loved all Russell's other books. But for some reason it sat on my shelf. And sat on my shelf, and I never even looked at it. But I spotted it while browsing and decided now was the time. So I picked it up.
And I loved it. So much.
I'm a quasi-fan of the western story. I think it can be a great setting, but it is also such a made-up time and place. Full of stories of hero cowboys and settlers who were responsible for murdering and displacing so many Native Americans. The whole Manifest Destiny thing was just such a horrendous belief that a lot of stories ignore. And too often the stories revolve around the white man, ignoring the women who faced the same, if not more hardships, and using all other races as either supporting cast or the villains of the piece. And this is the story of one of those white men, Doc Holliday, so it could very easily have been one of those stories.
Instead Russell uses Doc to explore the whole society of Dodge City. It is, still, the story of Doc himself, so yes, it does revolve around a white man. But at least here we really get to see a lot of what the women had to go through. And, to a lesser extent, how a black man or a Chinese man, or anyone not a white man, had no value to many.
I really loved the way Holliday points out to Wyatt what he should have realised, that the women of Dodge City, prostitutes or wives, all have stories of their own. Their own past and history, and often those pasts weren't very pleasant.
It is just such a wonderfully written book that reading Doc felt like being enveloped in the pages. And in such beautifully told, moving story. Yes, there is violence and death, illness and more death, but somehow it was just such an enjoyable read. I am really tempted to begin it all over again, but my Mount TBR will not let me. Not yet. It is a book that I think will seriously reward a reread. And a reread after that.
It will, however, disperse and romantic notions you may have about "the consumption". In some novels tuberculosis is depicted as almost a romantic death, that is not how it appears here. It is a horrible, painful, miserable death, that follows a painful, distressing illness. And one for which, back then, there was no cure.
As to whether the book is true? Well, that I don't know, but Russell has done a lot of research and it is certainly true to the spirit of the story. Maybe the facts aren't always correct, but when are they ever?
Grieving the loss of his mother Peter discovered an orphaned fox cub and took him in. Ever since then he and Pax have become almost inseparable. But n
Grieving the loss of his mother Peter discovered an orphaned fox cub and took him in. Ever since then he and Pax have become almost inseparable. But now war is coming. And Peter's father says he can't keep the fox any more, that his grandfather won't tolerate the animal and as Peter's father is joining the army that is where Peter will be. So Pax is abandoned at the side of the road, left to fend for himself.
But at his grandfather's house Peter realises just what it is that he has done, and he can't live with it. He has to go back and find Pax. Even if it is hundreds of miles away.
Pretty cover. Book about a fox I couldn't resist picking this one up.
It lives up to the wonderful Jon Klassen cover [ref]if you haven't heard of him check out his picture books. They're awesome[/ref] in so many ways. Told in alternating chapters, one from Peter's point of view, the next from Pax's we get to learn all about their life before the threats of war. The setting itself feels very American but it is an unnamed, imaginary version of America if that is the case. War isn't something far away here. It is near, and getting closer all the time.
Both Pax and Peter have to learn about that in their own ways.
And both have to learn about independence and come to terms with the realities of the world. Sometimes those are very unpleasant realities, sometimes they show that there is still goodness and kindness out there. It is a beautiful book, but also a heart-wrenching book.
James Fielding was not at all happy when his parents decided to spend the summer in “the wilderness”, his plans had included girls and learning to talJames Fielding was not at all happy when his parents decided to spend the summer in “the wilderness”, his plans had included girls and learning to talk to them, not nature. But once he got over his stubbornness he discovered that he enjoyed the wild. The landscape, the animals. And especially one deer, a magnificent stag that he comes across in a hidden valley, and over time, as he brings it food, grows accustomed to James’ presence. Not only does it tolerate him, it comes to greet him.
And then he meets Diane, a vision in a pink bikini, and suddenly he learns that maybe his summer plans to talk to girls might come to fruition after all.
Zilpha Keatley Snyder wrote over 40 books in her lifetime, 3 of which were named as Newberry Honor books, so I’m guessing that quite a few Americans might have heard of her, or read her books? I’d never come across her before this book, but I can certainly see why she was an award winning author.
It is, in many ways, a very typical “coming of age” story; boy meets girl and all that goes along with that. But it is also very well written, and it is very affecting.
James thinks of himself as very smart, smarter than he really is. And although the book is told from his POV, we can still see how much he is missing out, all the clues he isn’t picking up on, or maybe he is just choosing to ignore them.
At times it is a tad on the cliched side, and James certainly has some unflattering opinions of girls at times. But he is a teenage boy, and I think that Snyder does enough to show the reader that this is James’ opinion, and that he is often very wrong about the world.
Taking a quick look through the goodreads reviews I have to say I was amused by all the people commenting about the sexual aspects of the book. James is a 15 year old boy, and this is about his summer falling in love, so yeah, its going to come up. But nothing is ever described, and I think that even if younger children read it they won’t pick up on certain aspects that some adults might object to. Also, do none of these people remember being young themselves? Honestly, there is nothing wrong with anything in this book, stop being so prudish! ...more
Tyler Caskey is a minister in a small New England town. His wife, Lauren, passed away just over a year ago. Since then his youngest daughter lives witTyler Caskey is a minister in a small New England town. His wife, Lauren, passed away just over a year ago. Since then his youngest daughter lives with Tyler’s mother, coming up to visit at weekends. His eldest daughter, Katherine, has been almost speechless since her mother died. Only five years old she doesn’t really understand what is going on around her.
Only recently I read Strout’s Olive Kitteredge, after watching the tv adaptation, and seeing as I really enjoyed it though it would be a good idea to read more of her books. i Abide with me is her second book, and in many ways it has a similar feel to Olive, it is all about every day people and every day events.
The death of Lauren is not an important event to the world at large, but to her husband and children it is a tragedy, and of course it has ripples in the community in which she lived. Tyler is a respected, well-liked minister. But the people of West Annett weren’t too sure about Lauren herself. She was different from them, with her “fashionable” clothes. They didn’t understand her, and she didn’t understand them, nor did she try all that hard in fairness.
It is a lovely book, although one that deals with grief and death. It also deals a lot with faith and religion, but more so with the nature of people. They are all flawed, of course as we all are, but Strout never seems to judge them for that. And characters that I, as a reader, took a dislike to initially were later, not rehabilitated, but shown in a more favourable light. And of course the reverse also happens.
It is a lovely slow revealing of Tyler’s life, his meeting Lauren and her rich family. The hints of abuse in her past. ii Tyler’s grief at her death, but also his guilt and avoidance of actually grieving. He tried to continue on, not exactly as it was before, but almost, and this book tells how that grief comes out.
I do think that maybe the ending is a little rushed, and maybe a little “happily ever after”. Nevertheless it was a book really worth reading, despite my lack of religion and belief....more
I found this quite a difficult book to get to grips with. I could understand all the words and the sentences. But I couldn’t really make sense of whatI found this quite a difficult book to get to grips with. I could understand all the words and the sentences. But I couldn’t really make sense of what was going on with Wang Miao and all that physics and then a virtual reality game… However I was still enjoying the read. Which, yes, sounds strange, but its true. Even mid way through the book, although I understood more of what was going on, there was such a lot of actual physics being discussed that I’d say I had a frown on my face while reading. But the final third just explodes and everything fits into place in a wonderful way. I have to say that this is a great book.
The patrolship Bhattya is looking for a new member of staff, and Rafe appears to be the man for the job. But then rumour reaches them that he has beenThe patrolship Bhattya is looking for a new member of staff, and Rafe appears to be the man for the job. But then rumour reaches them that he has been mind-wiped for Oath-breaking. A terrible crime, because the Oaths between the Emperors and the Guild are all that holds some measure of peace and stability in place.
But Commander Rallya is persuaded to take him on after he demonstrates his extraordinary skill at “webbing”, which is a sort of virtual reality way of running a spaceship. And once he is crew she is determined to keep him as such, despite a myriad of enemies that seem to appear.
I picked this one up because I had literally just finished reading a book when Sandstone tweeted out some SFF recommendations on twitter. The first one being for this book and as I was on the ‘puter at the time I figured I’d give it a try.
It is a great fun read, fast paced and with some great characters. It also a gay couple, and a racially diverse team of characters. All of whom are characters, not just box-ticking in an attempt to be politically correct. And this from a book first published in the ’80s! Something we are still looking for in many many books published today.
So yes, I really enjoyed it, however it does have its flaws. I found it a bit confusing at start, with the Oaths and the Emperors and the Guild, as Wright doesn’t do any info-dumps you have to figure everything out as you read. I think I got it all straight in the end, although I’d still like to know why the Emperors are emperors, is it just that they are immortal? And why are they immortal?
But the flaws aren’t enough to prevent me from also recommending this book to anyone who likes more personal stories in their space opera....more