First off, this book has THE most awesome cover EVER (or, the most awesome of the ones I can recollect off the top of my head right this minu...more3.5 stars
First off, this book has THE most awesome cover EVER (or, the most awesome of the ones I can recollect off the top of my head right this minute, in any case). The absence of a prettily dressed lady traipsing through wilderness is particularly encouraging.
This read very much like one of those Guy Richie/Tarantino/Coen Brothers tales of morally reprehensible but still somehow lovable thugs on a rollercoaster ride of mindless violence, quirky characters, absurd happenings which are taken in stride and abrupt twists all set in the midst of the 19th century California gold rush.
Our narrator, Eli Sisters, is one half of the infamous duo of vicious killers, the Sisters Brothers, who are sent off to California by their employer, the Commodore, to eliminate one Hermann Kermit Warm for, allegedly, thieving something from the Commodore. But all Eli really wants is some love and kindness and a peaceful life tending a store somewhere. Whereas his brother Charlie… Well, Charlie likes the things that give spice to life – violence, money, whiskey and sex (not necessarily in that order).
Like the cover, the book is bold and fun but it is also very readable and full of outstanding characters, each with their own story to add to the overall picture. Like I said, it seemed very cinematic in vision, so I am certain it will be coming to a theatre near you very soon. Oh, and I still can't stand westerns. (less)
This is a story of Sethe, a former slave at Sweet Home in Kentucky. Sethe lives at 124 Bluestone Road in Cincinnati with her daughter Denver. Having e...moreThis is a story of Sethe, a former slave at Sweet Home in Kentucky. Sethe lives at 124 Bluestone Road in Cincinnati with her daughter Denver. Having escaped from Sweet Home while heavily pregnant with Denver, Sethe knows nothing about the fate of her husband, Halle. Halle's mother, Baby Suggs, holy, who was Sethe's destination during the escape, is dead, having, effectively, given up on life. Sethe's two sons have run away and 124 is haunted by the ghost of Sethe's baby daughter. Unnamed. Whose gravestone merely reads "Beloved".
I can see why this won the Pulitzer prize. I really do. This book was horrific in so many different ways. And beautiful. Heartbreakingly so at several points, though it is certainly not pretty. Based on real events, there was not even a hint of a sob story or emotional manipulation. As horrific as the events in the book are, I don't feel like this was written to elicit horrified gasps.
There is an underlying sadness, almost numbness, to the narrative. It is vague and unclear and confusing with its erratic spotlight approach to plot development, dizzyingly abrupt changes in narrative perspective (to the point that at times you are not sure who is talking or that the perspective has changed) and magical realism elements. All of these distance the reader from the characters and their reality. At least, for me, this wasn't quite the visceral experience I was expecting. After all, Morrison is writing about one of the most heinous crimes human beings have ever committed against other human beings. So, perhaps, it should be visceral and raw and devastating. Intellectually, this was there. It asked all the right questions and said all the right things. I had a number of little lightbulb moments of thinking this is it, this is exactly it. But on the emotional level I found it very hard to connect to.
I also wish we found out what happened to Amy. (less)
This book is fantastic. It has that rare combination of gorgeously rich language and a complex engaging plot full to the brim of diabolical schemes, v...moreThis book is fantastic. It has that rare combination of gorgeously rich language and a complex engaging plot full to the brim of diabolical schemes, villains, thieves, madhouses, violence, lesbians, murder, love, betrayal and the kind of twists that will make your head spin.
It is a story of two girls, Sue and Maud, whose destinies are indelibly linked, though layer upon layer upon layer of deceit will need to be stripped away before it is revealed exactly what that link is.
Sue has been brought up among thieves, though she has been largely sheltered from the harsh realities of life in the poor part of Victorian London by the kind care of Mrs Sucksby, who earns her living by "farming" infants. Sue's life changes when she is drawn into a plot by Gentleman, Richard Rivers, to help him convice Maud Lilly, a rich but simple-minded heiress living in a gloomy country manor with her "scholar" uncle, to run away with him to marry, whereupon Maud would be stripped of her inheritance and deposited in a madhouse for safekeeping.
So the story begins but before too long you find out that practically nothing that you see in the first part is what it seems and there are lots of layers to peel away before we get to the root of it all.
The characters, including the secondary ones like John Vroom and Dainty, the servants at Briar, the nurses and other inhabitants of the madhouse and so on are vividly drawn and fascinating. Really, I do not have enough words to praise this book highly enough, suffice to say that all the glowing reviews (on this site and elsewhere) and accolades that this book has received are richly deserved and if you have not yet read this, you are in for a treat. (less)