Ah, yes, THIS is why I adore the Orange Prize. I probably would not have even heard of this book if it had not been nominated for the prize.
The plot...moreAh, yes, THIS is why I adore the Orange Prize. I probably would not have even heard of this book if it had not been nominated for the prize.
The plot is simple: a newly married English couple moves to Trinidad in the late 1950s when the husband accepts a job there, and their lives are altered by the politics of the country as it declares independence from British rule.
The execution of this simple story is utterly brilliant and totally captivating. Richly atmospheric with vivid descriptions of the Trinidadian landscape and culture and peoples. Complex and mesmerizing characters. Profound, yet subtle, probings into race and class and colonization.
Intertwined with this story of a country in tumult is George and Sabine's marriage which is filled with misunderstandings and complicated passion and opposing opinions of Trinidad. And at the very heart of it all is Sabine, who struggles to understand herself as a woman, as a British citizen, as a wife. She grows and evolves, becoming bitter and resigned yet also more completely her whole true self. Sabine learns how to define "power" and "compassion" and "revolution," and it is this that is the theme of "The White Woman on the Green Bicycle."(less)
This is definitely a situation in which I wish Goodreads allowed half stars, because "I Am Half-Sick of Shadows" was solidly 2.5 stars, falling direct...moreThis is definitely a situation in which I wish Goodreads allowed half stars, because "I Am Half-Sick of Shadows" was solidly 2.5 stars, falling directly between "ok" and "good." The characterization is well done (Especially Flavia. (I adored Flavia!) and the writing is solid. However, the pacing is slow and the plot formulaic. I have not read the earlier books in the series, but I didn't feel that this would have been a better read if I had. I enjoyed "I Am Half-Sick of Shadows" well enough that I do plan to try the first book in the series, if only for the pleasure of spending more time with Flavia.(less)
I was not overly impressed with any of the stories in "Artificial Things." The stories are not particularly creative or ingenious, and the writing sty...moreI was not overly impressed with any of the stories in "Artificial Things." The stories are not particularly creative or ingenious, and the writing style is only mediocre. It's not really a bad collection, it's just unremarkable.(less)
The thing I most disliked about "The Manikin" was the third-person omniscient narrative. While it is understandably necessary for the way the novel is constructed, it made the characters feel one-dimensional. I did not like being told what the characters were doing and thinking and feeling...I wanted to experience those things through them. There was also something about the writing style that detracted from the creepy/gothic element, like the difference between going to a haunted house and being told about someone else's trip to a haunted house.
"The Manikin" is just an okay book. I would not enthusiastically recommend it to anyone. (less)
Just a few quick thoughts: "The Woman in Black" is a typical ghost story - a sad tale, a vengeful ghost, a creepy haunting. What impressed me most was...moreJust a few quick thoughts: "The Woman in Black" is a typical ghost story - a sad tale, a vengeful ghost, a creepy haunting. What impressed me most was the quality of writing. It could easily have been written in 1883 rather than 1983, so perfectly does Hill capture the gothic tone and style. Richly atmospheric and perfectly paced, "The Woman in Black" was a darkly enjoyable read. (less)
WHY I READ THIS BOOK When I first heard about this book, which was just published last month, I got a bad case of "I want." The author's "The Lost Gard...moreWHY I READ THIS BOOK When I first heard about this book, which was just published last month, I got a bad case of "I want." The author's "The Lost Garden" is one of my favorite books, and "The Reinvention of Love" is about Victor Hugo, the author of another favorite book, "Les Misérables."
ABOUT THE BOOK "The Reinvention of Love" is set in France in the 1800s, and is based on real people and historical facts. Charles Sainte-Beuve is a book critic, and after reviewing the work of Victor Hugo, he is invited to the author's home. Charles and Victor become friends...and Charles begins an affair with Victor's wife, Adèle. The book explores the lives and complicated relationships of these three characters.
MY THOUGHTS "The Reinvention of Love" is much more a character study than a plot-driven novel.
It is told almost exclusively from the viewpoint of Charles, who is not a very likable character. He's arrogant, pompous, selfish, vain, and critical. He's also irrationally jealous of Victor, who has all that Charles wants - a successful writing career and a beautiful wife.
A few chapters are told in Adèle's voice. She seems like such a lonely sad woman who is a victim of the time period, when women could do little more than live in the shadow of a man. Victor is a background character, and is portrayed as having many of the same character defects as Charles - arrogant and selfish. Is this accurate, or is Charles projecting his own faults?
Jealously, identity, and sexuality are all themes in "The Reinvention of Love" and the author explores each of these in intriguing and thought-provoking ways. Motives and actions are not explained but are left open for interpretation.
The book is well-crafted, and the author employs various writing styles as fits the situation. Sometimes it is beautiful and philosophical; at others times, it is terse and spare.
"The Reinvention of Love" is a unique book that was a complete enjoyment to read. It is a book I would like to re-read to more fully explore the character development and the technique used by the author to present the story.