An unusual story which looks at the kind of automatic and rather thoughtless racism and class-ism that exists in many prI enjoyed this book very much.
An unusual story which looks at the kind of automatic and rather thoughtless racism and class-ism that exists in many predominantly white parts of England - the book is set in a (rather stereotypical) English village.
The two main characters are retired Major Pettigrew and local shopkeeper Mrs Ali, both in late mid-life.
I was fully prepared to dislike Major P himself because he's the kind of privileged upper-middle-class white ex-military male to whom I usually bring all my own prejudices. And that's one of the beauties of the book: it looks at prejudice of all kinds and invites us to examine our own.
In fact, Major P's interior journey from crusty, stiff-upper-lip grief into new ideas, self-knowledge and emotional bravery really endeared me to him. I found him very real.
And how great to read a book in which older people can still fall in love.
This is the first book of Piercy's that I read, when I was in my 20s, and it led me into a long-term love affair with her books. She remains one of myThis is the first book of Piercy's that I read, when I was in my 20s, and it led me into a long-term love affair with her books. She remains one of my all-time favourite authors and poets. I love the passion and abandon with which she writes.
Some people class this book as feminist sci-fi. I suppose it is, but it's much more. It examines interlocking issues of gender, socialisation, poverty, violence and ecology. That makes it sound rather earnest, and it isn't at all. The framework in which these things are examined stands alone as a compelling piece of story-telling.
Piercy paints a picture of a utopian future world, the very existence of which is dependent upon what we do now in our time.
For me, one of the most interesting things about future world is the revision of language. No-one is referred to by male or female pronouns. Because of the power of language in our lives, it's really interesting to imagine the ways in which we would change as people if we were not known as he or she or referred to as her or him. I find this intriguing.
This is the first book by Iris Murdoch that I've read and I was hugely disappointed, given her stellar reputation.
The setting, a lay community attachThis is the first book by Iris Murdoch that I've read and I was hugely disappointed, given her stellar reputation.
The setting, a lay community attached to a monastery, has huge potential and is of personal interest to me, but I found the characters self-indulgent and dreary. The book seems to perpetuate stereotypes of religious people as mentally ill and/or melodramatic. It also feels very dated, existing in some dusty half-way house between classic and contemporary literature. ...more
I struggled a little to get going with this book but for me it really took off about a third of the way through and by the end I found it really interI struggled a little to get going with this book but for me it really took off about a third of the way through and by the end I found it really interesting and exciting. It was historically interesting with its descriptions of the Blitz in London in WWII, and the Bethnal Green disaster when nearly 200 Londoners were crushed to death - I'd never heard about that. (If anyone's interested, there's a memorial fund here: http://www.stairwaytoheavenmemorial.org/). And the late '50s early '60s West End London nightclub world with its gangland overtones was very well described - quite similar to my own memories of similar clubs in the early '70s. I loved Queenie, the main character. I thought she was very realistically drawn and I admired her verve, humour and daring. And her honesty about herself. I suspect it isn't easy to write a first person character, but Jill Dawson does it very well. The timeline of the book is 1933 to 1963. I liked the small touches that told us where we'd got up to - for example a reference to bunting strung in the streets for the new queen told us we were in 1952 or 53. No need to resort to heavy devices like chapter headings "1953". And without giving away too much of the plot, the way Dawson has Queenie, a fictional character, involved with real-life people and events gives the book a lot of its pace. In the end, the book isn't great literature, but it's a cracking story, and its exploration of the relationships between women, and especially of motherhood, is very interesting. Addendum: since writing this review, I've downgraded my star rating from 4 to 3. I ended the book in a glow of excitement at the story, but it simply hasn't stayed with me afterwards.
Well this is the most recent Booker prize winner and was a reading group choice. I wasn't looking forward to reading it. I've never read anything by JWell this is the most recent Booker prize winner and was a reading group choice. I wasn't looking forward to reading it. I've never read anything by Julian Barnes before and when I discovered it was rooted in the meeting and friendship of four adolescent male British schoolboys who are "Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they navigated the girl drought of gawky adolescence together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit" I thought it was going to be seriously pretentious and tedious. Not so. I bought the book on my Kindle last night, read half of it before midnight, and the other half this morning. (It's a short book.) It works on many levels: language, observation, characterisation, exploration, story. For me, the story was mildly disappointing. I worked out the main plot twist (if one can apply a lowly detective-story phrase to a lofty Booker winner) about two-thirds of the way through and thought I must be wrong, as it seemed a little prosaic. But the story isn't really the point. I loved the style of writing, the words and language. And there's something both challenging and beautiful in the characterisations, in the questions the narrator asks himself from the perspective of late middle age. Even the adolescent boys growing to young adult males, with all their fumbling towards "full sex" and success with girls was an interesting counterpoint from the other side of the battle lines I remember so well from my own adolescence....more