I survived the reading of this book only because I needed to know what the narrator felt at the end of his journey to his past. Only 224 pages long, cI survived the reading of this book only because I needed to know what the narrator felt at the end of his journey to his past. Only 224 pages long, constant attention was essential to capture the nuances of the Sri Lankan culture, remember the times frames, and yet at times, lay the book to rest, exhausted by its words. The interrelated stories offer vivid, though somewhat streaming descriptions of landscapes interlaced with family, friends, enemies, and begin with his dog Tony. As his family descends from the stature that wealth in this culture brings, the narrator experiences his first bitter taste of loss: his dog Tony. It was difficult to read of his extreme efforts to regain his dog, only to realize, memories attached to Tony would no longer grow pleasantly in his new environment, so he releases the dog to his own destiny.
Each story offers a glimpse not only of his memories, but also his reaction to the differences that have transpired since he last travelled from the present to the past.
Beautifully written and embellished with personal ambiance, this author has demonstrated a highly emotional level of style in his remembrance of one man’s journey to revisit his childhood. ...more
Flavia de Luce, an eleven-year-old prodigy whose incredible interests include chemistry (poison is her specialty), eavesdropping through closed doorsFlavia de Luce, an eleven-year-old prodigy whose incredible interests include chemistry (poison is her specialty), eavesdropping through closed doors and criminal detection turns out to be our latest highly improbable British heroine.
Set in the serene 1950’s in the lovely English Village of Bishop’s Lacey, a young girl whose remarkable ability to be bored despite her countless interests discovers a dying red-haired man in the bushes adjacent to her home. Coincidentally, the previous evening this rapidly fading man was vigorous in his distressing squabble with Father.
So begins an adventurous albeit perilous criminal investigation, not only by Inspector Hewitt, but also by the fearless sleuth Flavia de Luce. Tucked among the many captivating pages, we meet Feely (Ophelia), Daffy (Daphne), and the remaining household inhabitants, permanent (Dogger) and temporary (Mrs. Mullet).
Alan Bradley has created a wondrous mix of individuals, family, and villagers who occupy this extremely likeable Bishop’s Lacey. I truly enjoyed digesting every morsel of this enchanting book, and I look forward to his next installment in this delightful series.
"Unless some sweetness at the bottom lie Who cares for all the crinkling of the pie..."
I received this delightful book from goodreads' first reads. Thank you!
Spanning seven decades, six countries, and four families, Burnt Shadows depicts a brilliant narrative that originates in Nagasaki in 1945. The poignan
Spanning seven decades, six countries, and four families, Burnt Shadows depicts a brilliant narrative that originates in Nagasaki in 1945. The poignant catastrophic apocalypse culminates in post 9/11 New York City.
Hiroko Tanaka, a proficient translator and schoolteacher is teaching Japanese to Konrad Weiss, her German fiancé. Leaving, he turns, and waves good-bye. Within a heartbeat and an atomic bomb, their world no longer exists. The crane pattern embedded in her back from her kimono is Hiroko’s only memento.
Eventually, Hiroko travels to Delhi to meet Konrad’s half-sister Elizabeth, and her pompous British husband, James Burton. Not her initial intent, nor James’ desire, Elizabeth insists Hiroko stay until she may find a suitable place to utilize her linguistic skills. There, she meets Satjad Ashraf, James Burton’s local Muslim employee. Burton manifests his superficial attestation of his munificence in their daily chess games. Sadly, Satjad believes that his employment will result in procuring a position as a lawyer.
An unexpected rapport develops between Hiroko and Satjad, and she asks him to teach her the Urdu language. Much to the dismay of Elizabeth, ignoring the social proprieties of class, their relationship deepens. As she discovers more about Konrad from Hiroko, Elizabeth also develops a close friendship with her.
With daily news reports of the Partition of India, the Burtons arrange their leave with the intention of inviting Hiroko (without Satjad), to join them. Despite protestations from his family, Satjad plans to leave with Hiroko. Aware of the dangers of a Muslim remaining in India, they travel to Pakistan. When he finally realizes he will not be able to return to India, his Dilli, this move creates a life-long sorrow for Satjad.
Sporadic relationships among these families endure, and the plot scenarios shift from country to country: Pakistan, Afghanistan, the United States, and Canada. Increasingly ominous events suggest disaster in the Middle East. Hiroko moves to New York City to live with Elizabeth. However, no safe place exists after 9/11. Trust and faith in fellow man no longer propel actions. Confusion and fear dominate decisions. These unforeseen variances affect relationships.
The conclusion, though shocking, was preordained. Kamila Shamsie has created a provocative and memorable novel overflowing with richly endowed characters who struggle to live and to love amidst the compelling history this book encompasses.
When I finished, I re-read the prologue and the poetry at the beginning of the book. I then realized I had come full circle.
Extraordinary book; one of the best, I have read this year.
Originally enthusiastic about reading a fictional rendering of the life of a Chinese princess turned spy against China, I quickly lost interest in theOriginally enthusiastic about reading a fictional rendering of the life of a Chinese princess turned spy against China, I quickly lost interest in the myriad accounts of sexual escapades of almost all of the characters. Such superficially narrated and emotionally devoid encounters dominate the writing. While most of the characters lack adequate dimension to be credible, the larger portion of the embellished narrative focuses on precisely described possessions.
Eastern Jewel (Aisin Gioro Xianyu, Chinese name at birth), a Manchu princess of the Qing Dynasty which also claims Pu Yi (the exiled Emperor on which the book, Empire of The Sun is based), is cast from her imperial household after spying on her father (Shanqi), during a sexual escapade with one of his concubines. The catastrophic consequence of such abominable behavior by a nine-year-old precocious princess foreshadows her eventual and ultimate fate.
Initially distraught by her seemingly unjustifiable plight, sent to Japan and adopted by her uncle (Naniwa Kawashima), Eastern Jewel, now known as Yoshiko Kawashima tolerates her uncle’s meager household and adopted homeland. Ambivalent in her isolated surroundings, Eastern Jewel struggles to gain acceptance and unconditional love in a social order that exploits women as vessels of pleasure, discarded when no longer young and beautiful. When acceptance and unconditional love emerge from an unlikely source, she rejects it, and Eastern Jewel’s enigmatic life spirals out of control.
The chronological epilogue was the most fascinating portion of the book.
Eastern Jewel was born in Beijing, China in 1907. Yoshiko lived in Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan from 1916 until 1927. Arranged marriage (for political alliances), to Ganjuurjab of Mongolia in 1927. Lived there until her divorce two years later. (This portion of the book is unbelievable; it is a hoot. ) She lived in and loved Shanghai, and began her spy missions while there. Captured in Peking in 1945. ( )
Ellen Feldman seamlessly weaves historical perspective into a myriad tapestry of the mores of a small Southern town that not only provided insight intEllen Feldman seamlessly weaves historical perspective into a myriad tapestry of the mores of a small Southern town that not only provided insight into black and white lives, but also how poverty alters truth as easily as racism.
As nine black youths travelled in the Alabama Great Southern Railroad freight cars on an early spring day in 1931, a historical event of reprehensible proportions was about to alter their lives forever. What began as a simple misunderstanding quickly exacerbated into an avoidable altercation with white men aboard. The train approaches Scottsboro, and already word has reached men ready with rifles waiting for its arrival. In an attempt to save their dignity, two young white women on the same freight car, fabricate a vicious tale of violence, torture, and rape by those nine black youths.
Alice Whittier, one of the fictional narrators utilizes her faultless skills as a liberal, early feminist New York City newspaper reporter to convey the individual life histories of each of the accused, in an audacious attempt to encourage those outside this provincial circle of life to protest the indecency of fallacious crimes inflicted upon the genuinely innocent victims. As the news reaches the world, the Scottsboro incident becomes a rancorous hornet’s nest of eminent lawyers, unpredictable judges, and an insidious competition between the liberal Communist organization and the conservative NAACP. Languishing in a repulsive jail, constantly assured that freedom is imminent, and lost in this muddled legal battle are the powerless defendants.
Meanwhile, the allegedly vanquished Southern young women, Victoria Price and Ruby Bates bask in the unwarranted limelight as the townspeople bestow new dresses and gifts as a way to soothe their own guilt. Conflicted and fearful of eternal damnation, Ruby Bates, the second fictional narrator recants in a pitiful attempt to aid the true victims.
Ellen Feldman’s considerable research and flawless writing creates a vastly invaluable source of knowledge about nine black men who unwillingly and tragically sacrificed dignity and freedom because poverty, ignorance, sexism, fear, and injustice triumphed.
Undoubtedly, one of the most engrossing and unforgettable books I have read.
Most of Janet Skeslien Charles’ debut, Moonlighting in Odessa is extremely well-written and substantially believable. Daria, the main character defiesMost of Janet Skeslien Charles’ debut, Moonlighting in Odessa is extremely well-written and substantially believable. Daria, the main character defies overwhelming odds in post-perestroika Ukraine, and with disciplined forethought, she not only achieves her goals, but also develops into a successful exception to what most of her peers seek, but never achieve. When her questioning relentless mind jumps into overdrive, her enchanting perception of the “American Dream” casts a meandering pale over her initial pragmatic viewpoint.
Thus, we encounter another Daria, “the mail-order bride” whose previous chutzpah fizzles within the claustrophobic confines of an unfulfilling meaningless marriage where she becomes the “trophy wife” of a non-affluent, delusional American who desires not only to own and disparage the young woman he so ardently pursued, but also lacks the integrity to admit his deceptive misrepresentations.
Should you read this book? The fascinating aspects of Odessa, its courageous people and its historical culture will undoubtedly capture your imagination. Comprehensive details recounting the bogus process which essentially exploits and often devastates the majority of Eastern European “mail order brides” will enlighten you. As a child, I believed in fairy tales, but I regret that I no longer do. So, the “neatly-wrapped-and-tied-with-a-bow” conclusion was an absolute disappointment. ...more
I read this book so long ago, yet it continues to haunt me in untold ways. As it resolutely remains beside my "to-review" bench, I painfully hesitateI read this book so long ago, yet it continues to haunt me in untold ways. As it resolutely remains beside my "to-review" bench, I painfully hesitate to address my tenuous commitment to satisfactorily articulate how profoundly one book is capable of genuinely provocative reflection long after the last page is read. Yet, In the Company of Angels refuses to relieve me of lingering thoughts, so it is best to be rid of its rabid hold upon my dreams, much like Nardo, who has endured the tortuous anguish, much like the reader who weeps and eventually rejoices with him.
Redemption in its most crucial moment demands a noble submission beyond what mere forgiveness portends to offer. As a Chilean teacher who teaches his beloved country's poetic songs during Pinochet's regime, Nardo's unyielding courage amidst unimaginable persecution initially robs him not only of his fundamental dignity, but also shatters the remnants of his invincible spirit. A virtual prisoner, physically within his sparse quarters and emotionally as a patient of the renowned Copenhagen Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims, Nardo's guarded psychological sessions appear doggedly bleak until his fleeting vision of Michela.
Nardo's brief encounter with beautiful Michela creates a poignantly crucial fissure in his restrained carapace. "Your name," he said. "Michela. It is the name of an angel. I believe in you." In the company of his angelic Michela, Nardo remembers the promise of the angels who visited him. And it is Michela, fighting her own demons, who in the minute gestures of daily life unwittingly fulfills that promise: "…the possibility of life." "…The true and sweet sadness of two human beings coming this close…" "Nardo realized now that he had…two champions…Thorkild Kristensen…who entered the burning rooms…of souls to drag them out into safety…her, too, Michela, who touched his broken face with love…"
Thomas Kennedy's third book in the Copenhagen Quartet is a quietly disturbing rendering of liberating personal history, melancholic at times, but without despair. ...more
In 1852, as the blistering summer heat descends upon the South, numerous plantation owners abandon their dejected wives and depart with their preferred slave “mistresses” to vacation in the cooler climates across the river in Ohio. Among them is Nathan Drayle of Tennessee, who arrives with his slave horseman, Philip, and his slave “mistress”, Lizzie, the mother of his son and daughter. Despite Nathan’s calculated prepubescent seduction, Lizzie steadfastly believes he loves and respects her. In his cunning deceit to sexually claim her, he taught her to read by steadily luring her with little gifts of beautiful books which she, who owned nothing, treasured and kept secret.
“She was afraid of him, but with each reading lesson she allowed him to take one more step with her….At first, he asked to touch her. Later, he did not. Each touch was like a payment for his kindnesses…” (Page 92)
While the Southern men enjoy the numerous amenities of the grand hotel, Lizzie delightedly mingles with other cottage friends, Sweet, Reenie and Mawu. They are all abuzz about their year apart. With cautious restraint, they adhere to strict schedules and required duties while their masters are away; fully aware of what is expected upon their return.
Female friendship, with all its attendant characteristics, is an unfamiliar indulgence to Lizzie. Alliances first formed out of necessity, are now sought to share secrets, provide resilient support when necessary, and enhance the simple pleasures of laughter and companionship.
Lizzie, still in awe of the free-state resort, is also curious about another one beyond the thicket of trees where prosperous free black men and women vacation. The concept of such extravagance is foreign to all. Gradually, either by self admission or a master’s humiliation, the repugnant facets of each woman’s history is laid bare, and each contemplates the perilous attempt to escape the psychological and physical chains that bind them. Sweet’s tragic departure lies in a mournful direction. Reenie’s shocking disappearance reveals an unknown strength. Mawu’s unrestrained behavior leads to painful, but predictable consequences. Lizzie, finally able to dispel her previously idealistic certainties about Nathan, chooses a singular approach. Nathan assures her that their son will receive an education, but emphatically denies a similar future for their daughter.
“…she thought of Rabbit and what she would teach her…Don’t give in to the white man. And if you have to give in, don’t give your soul over to him. Love yourself first. Fix it so you don’t give him children…Hold fast to your women friends because they are going to be there when ain’t nobody else there…Never forget your name…Don’t be afraid to say how you feel. Learn a craft so you always have something to barter other than your private parts…” (Pages 287-288)
“…All these years, she realized, she had been putting her faith in Drayle to free her children. Now she had to put her faith in herself…Each and every day, she reminded herself of this so that she wouldn’t fall backward. She was more than eyes, ears, lips, and thigh. She was a heart. She was a mind.” (Page 290)
Wench is compellingly distinctive in its candid approach to the mystifying and intimidating manipulation within the theoretically clandestine relationship between Southern masters and their preferred female slaves. Dolen Perkins-Valdez’ ingenious debut paints a fascinating portrait of the delicate balance which shapes their unpredictable lives and, despite their seemingly lofty position, accentuates the constant fear of dire consequences of any errant word or inadvertent action deemed inappropriate or duplicitous. Utilizing flashback sequences without sycophantic sentimentality, she unflinchingly depicts a vividly detailed narrative about four enslaved women’s lives shackled to their masters’ erratic whims.
While reading the book, there is an indefinable fleeting sensation that this author is personally familiar with each life-altering event and, as an observant eyewitness, chronicles a truthful rendering with unwavering scrutiny. Wench immediately captures you, and long after you finish, you will not fail to remember Lizzie, Sweet, Reenie, and Mawu; resilient, steadfast and courageous. ...more