This edition of the book combines so many aspects of my interests, I feel it may have been written just for me:) It is collaboration between a cuneifoThis edition of the book combines so many aspects of my interests, I feel it may have been written just for me:) It is collaboration between a cuneiformist expert/specialist and an amazing folklorist. The story and the cycle of Inanna has been pieced together painstaking over decades from ‘fragments’ of clay tablets dating back to 2000BC. Anyone who knows me will know how I delight in these connections, continuations and interpretations of times past. So early language, storytelling, anthropology all come together, magic.
Sumer is situated in the southern half of modern day Iraq between present day Baghdad and the Persian Gulf – probably the birthplace of modern civilization. With new discoveries every decade how can we tell? The tablets as they are found are divided between international museums.
Diane Wolkstein, although at first trying to tell the story in prose, her natural way in storytelling, found she had to relate it in verse, as far as possible keeping to the Sumerian verse line. The result? A small masterpiece of mystery, power and extravagance.
It is more than a story of Inanna; just 106 pages of the 206 page book detail her story. The rest is given up to a fascinating account of the history of the peoples of the area and their culture. There are photos of the tablets and fragments which have been scattered around the museums of the world, and explanations of the symbolism and rich imagery of the mythology. Something for every part of me.
I found the rhythm of the verse picked me up, carrying me effortlessly in its hypnotic and slightly addictive way. The language was superb and beautiful; the story of Inannas life cycle fascinating. From young, inexperienced maiden through her fertile years to her aging this is a goddess seen in a whole. Familiar characters appear, such as Gilgamesh and Lilith, fleetingly, and then are left behind. Real persons people Inannas life, the ancient Sumerian heroes, a wonderful mesh of reality and spiritual which is so captivating in mythology.
Diane Wolstein calls this the worlds first love story (well, written one anyway!) she describes the story, and I have to agree, ‘tender, erotic, shocking and compassionate.’ It is all of those, the language is in places raw and blunt, this after all is a goddess concerned with life and fertility. Her worshippers depended on her, in their barren surroundings, for life itself. The language is stark in the trials, tribulations, tortures and death, of the participants. It is extravagantly jubilant in the love, triumphs and successes won. A splendid, wonderful read.
I felt a sadness when I came to the end, because I had come to an end. And because although the work on these tablets continues, and there may well be more to come of Inanna, I probably will not be around to experience them....more
Ruby’s Spoon is set in the Black Country, England, in the 1930s. To you from other climes do not let its English locale put youWhat a treat this was.
Ruby’s Spoon is set in the Black Country, England, in the 1930s. To you from other climes do not let its English locale put you off. This is a story that could be placed in many divers’ places. The use of dialect has added to the atmosphere helping to paint a graphic picture of life in a particular location and a particular time. Pietroni has taken great pains to make it easy to decipher.
As a writer myself I found the fact that this was Pietroni’s debut novel a trifle depressing - it is so good, so complex and the language hauntingly beautiful. Anna Lawrence Pietroni has conjured up a claustrophobia and bleakness that is atmospheric enough to swirl fog like off the page.
With detailed care she has created a collection of strangely beguiling characters, all complete with secrets, habits, histories and prejudices which will be stirred into a cauldron of mischief.
Although an apparently simple tale of a young girl dreaming of escape from a drear and claustrophobic situation, Pietroni has managed to fold the story into so many layers it’s a treat to settle down and begin carefully unfolding and smoothing each subtle wrap.
Into hard grim lives, still traumatised by losses in the First World War and going down under the Depression that lies heavily across the fishing and the button factory, the two mainstays of the community, this is a community poised halfway between the old and new.
Rose feels trapped between the murky waters that wend through the landscapes and such is the writing the odour from those waters can make you gag. She plans her escape route from dysfunctional family and neighbours, and the chance meeting of a stranger Isa Fly opens up a new possibility. Be-friending Isa Fly Rose believes she has an accomplice whom she hopes will help her to achieve her aim.
However this is an isolated and closed community with strong links still to more ancient beliefs. The outsider, Isa, the stranger, becomes a scapegoat for all the ills that beset the community. Talk of witchcraft and spells soon creep through the watery mists. There is a fairy tale element, but not of the Disney ilk. This is fairy work, old style, deadly and untrustworthy. Many of the old themes weave their way through this narrative; mermaids, curses, myths and mysteries.
Ruby struggles through dark secrets and traditions. Through the superstitions of the older generations, as she finds herself drawn down dangerous paths. Ruby falls into danger as she struggles to save herself and her dreams, while attempting to save Isa and to reconcile the past and present.
What lifts this story from its ‘grim up north’ genre is the misty and dreamlike quality of the writing.
Anna Lawrence Pietroni has written an original novel in Ruby’s Spoon and I am looking forward very much to reading more from her.
I am this year renewing my acquaintance with ‘fantasy’ after years away and I have joined a challenge to read new authors. There was 'Spellwright' sh I am this year renewing my acquaintance with ‘fantasy’ after years away and I have joined a challenge to read new authors. There was 'Spellwright' shouting at me from the shelves of the village library. The title alone would have drawn me – the blurb hooked me instantly.
Nicodemus Weal cannot spell! In a world where magic spells are written in your muscles. In a world where words have a concrete form, where they can literally choke you, can form tumours, shred your insides where they can form ropes and strangle and trip you. Nicodemus wants to be a magician but his bad spelling can twist a spell into something else. Ah please, it was my book, mine(As one who has never been able to control spelling because of dyspraxia)
I had that book home so fast you couldn’t see me for churned up snow:) Nothing got done as I read. Blake Charlton has invented an amazingly inventive magic system, based on DNA and linguistics then spun it into an exciting page turning novel.
A book for all fantasy fans but also a book for all who have trouble with the written word in a time when the written word holds power. I have ordered the second in the series and look forward to reading more of this world with pleasure.
What a treat this offering turned out to be. I was drawn instantly into 18th century Japan. Swept through the clash of cultures, through a fascinatingWhat a treat this offering turned out to be. I was drawn instantly into 18th century Japan. Swept through the clash of cultures, through a fascinating picture of a Japan and a Dutch nation so different from todays.
Dutch traders perched precariously on the edge of Japan, their Nations domination over the world’s trade routes already at an end. Japan, secretive, insular, ruled by rigid and prescribed rituals, manners and behaviour. Two cultures who despise, mistrust and misunderstand each other.
This is an ambitious and imaginative work. Within the pages, are traders, spies, interpreters, servants, naval men, slaves and high ranking officials. We follow them, through the main and many subplots in a wonderful weaving of suspense, intrigue, betrayal, conflict, love and loss. A richly drawn tapestry of emotions to satisfy the reader.
Into this mix comes Jacob de Zoet a moral young man of integrity and honesty. Trusting in his faith and his belief in promises made, naïve in the ‘wicked ways’ of the world he is no match for the combined cunning of both the Dutch and the Japanese. It is the story of the fates and fortunes of this young man and the woman he dared to love that we follow. Two coloured threads in the densely woven cloth of the story.
David Mitchell has the happy knack of enabling one’s imagination so we can clearly view the sights, smell the mix of scents and odours, listen to the clamour and the silences. This story is set in the closing years of the 1700s and violence is rapid and many times casual, as it was throughout the world. These are no worse, no better, than found at any time.
David Mitchell offers us a snippet of history invites us in to become part of it. There is a lot to get one’s head around, from the names, ranks, the foreignness of the two cultures and their respective histories – the histories are such an integral part of what happens it is worth getting to grips with these:)
It is not for the faint hearted, not a book for casual reading on the beach or park bench, not one to be glanced at. Every one of the 546 pages exude knowledge from their fibres.