There were moments of this that were brilliant. Moments...because this was a book of moments but it felt like they were beads in a box left to bumbleThere were moments of this that were brilliant. Moments...because this was a book of moments but it felt like they were beads in a box left to bumble around instead of being strung together with real cohesion. So much of it felt incomplete. The dialogue style was largely maddening to me and felt mis-punctuated (And that is one of my biggest pet peeves about reading/writing...messing with punctuation conventions [ex: no quotations marks; no paragraphs; periods for commas or ellipses;]. You're being pretentious, obfuscating for no purpose other than to create an in-crowd of people who 'get it'.) This was work to read. When you have to struggle through a paragraph, confused by word choice and style, it puts up barriers to immersion that is necessary (for me anyway) to enjoy a book.
Then there's a part of me that feels badly for rating this so lowly. I shouldn't dislike something purely because I didn't understand it. After much thought, I'm 98% sure that even his writing/my reading produced crystal clear comprehension, I just didn't like the story....more
still processing...I'll edit this later. (edit) 5/26/2015
I first read Shapiro's Still Writing. Then I read Devotion. So I went into this having becomestill processing...I'll edit this later. (edit) 5/26/2015
I first read Shapiro's Still Writing. Then I read Devotion. So I went into this having become a fan of her style. It was interesting to read this after reading Devotion because of the overlap in contentious mother/daughter relationships. When I was reading the beginning of Family History I had the thought that this reminded me of some other character who had problems with her mother...only to realize it was Devotion (which is a memoir) that I was remembering. Also the similarity with an incident regarding a young child in Family History and Shapiro's own son. I can't really accuse Shapiro of being derivative or repetitive...Family History was published first and Devotion was non-fiction, so. It just is. As a dabbling writer, I often fictionalize events from my life as a way to cope, to investigate.
Putting that plot similarity aside (which isn't the whole book in either case) I liked this...I didn't love it (as I did my previous reads of her books). It felt like an early work (in comparison to her other books...not to things I've read in general). But the style that I have come to appreciate- slow but rhythmic like breathing, introspective without being neurotic or obsessive- is definitely there though a touch unrefined. Also, there is a turning point in the history of these characters...but nothing is ever made of it, nothing is ever settled or found out. Focus is switched to a another point...but I kept thinking something would happen with an earlier moment (the story is told non-sequentially). I kept hoping until the end, but there was no resolution. I try to be okay with a lack of resolution...but such a big deal was made of the change in this character that to delve into something else...why?
Actually rating would be 3.5 if I could rate on the half-star. ...more
Actual rating is 3.5 but I'll give it the half-star up. This fell off for me as it neared the end and shifted from historical recounting to (for storyActual rating is 3.5 but I'll give it the half-star up. This fell off for me as it neared the end and shifted from historical recounting to (for story purposes) present-day. Maybe it was because, by that point, much of the story had been about getting us to this point so I didn't know the character's voices. Aside from the conversation between the sisters, Liz and Shelby, (and the heartwrenching conversation with Clark and Shelby) the dialogue threw me off.
These were a bunch of tortured characters. You can probably easily find their counterparts today (this was set in the '50s). There is very little joy here. But it manages to do without feeling dour. They are duty-bound, many of the previous generations here. Duty is a cold, cruel master....more
I'd rather give this 2.5 but since I can't rate on the half-star...upped the rating because...well, because this book inspired the movie that I've watI'd rather give this 2.5 but since I can't rate on the half-star...upped the rating because...well, because this book inspired the movie that I've watched (insert stupid number here) times on Netflix and PBS. And because Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite books/movies (Firth and Ehle). But as for the actual book?
It was long. And repetitive. And long. And...anyway. It could be a little too hat-tippy to the other Austen books and the Pride and Prejudice. It think it's fine line in fan-/derivative writing: how much to bring in from original canon and how much to invent. Too much invention can anger dedicated fans, too much 'inside canon' can confuse/annoy new readers. The decision on how much (of either) is too much is extremely subjective. It's a struggle, I don't envy.
When the book becomes a courtroom drama of style, Elizabeth all but disappears, which saddened me. She was the main character of P&P. It felt wrong to abandon her to the Pemberley sitting room or the front parlor of her aunt's house and leave us with Darcy listening to testimony given 3 different times. The middle of the book feels slow. Too much is told after the fact instead of being shown/experienced. Big reveals are not surprising. Or maybe I wasn't intrigued because I already knew the story.
Oh, and the epilogue was largely unneeded. I had a hard time believing that for 8 years the Darcys never talked to each other about how they got together no matter the societal ideals on propriety. The Darcys didn't follow those rules or they never would have been together.
I rarely say this, but I liked the movie better. At the beginning of the book, when I started noticing changes between it and the movie and as usual, I wondered why. I see now. The screenwriters worked magic, gave the story life, dimension.