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)
First: Ignore the reviews that compare this to the movie "Groundhog Day." Other than a vague similarity in plot (a man repeating a portion of his life...moreFirst: Ignore the reviews that compare this to the movie "Groundhog Day." Other than a vague similarity in plot (a man repeating a portion of his life) there is nothing alike about this book and that movie. Most notably different is the tone; whereas "Groundhog Day" was rather corny, "Replay" is profoundly existential.
Second: Why isn't this book more well known?!? It's simply amazing! It's wildly creative, very well written, and thoroughly engaging. Grimwood draws the reader into the repeating lives of Jeff Winston (and eventually Pamela Phillips, another "replayer") with intricately detailed stories of possibilities and journeys and hope and disappointment. Ultimately it becomes an exploration of the very meaning of life: Why are we here and what is the point of it all? Grimwood messes with your head and stirs your heart, and challenges you to think about what is really important about our existence.
Third: Read this book. I recommend it without reservation. (less)
WHY I READ THIS BOOK Fowler is best known as the author of "The Jane Austen Book Club." Based on that book, I had dismissed the author as a chick lit w...moreWHY I READ THIS BOOK Fowler is best known as the author of "The Jane Austen Book Club." Based on that book, I had dismissed the author as a chick lit writer and never so much as glanced at her other work.
Several months ago, there was an ongoing online discussion about why female authors were rarely nominated for a certain sci-fi book award. (Unfortunately, I didn't bookmark any of the articles, and now I can't find them.) As a result of that discussion, some well-known authors posted lists of what they considered underappreciated sci-fi books by female authors, and "Sarah Canary" was on one of those lists.
Fowler wrote sci-fi? Really? Yup. In fact, she began her writing career publishing sci-fi short stories. (Artificial Things, 1986) My understanding, though, is that she doesn't write hard sci-fi with spaceships and robots and such. Wikipedia defines her style as "eccentric tales of implausible history." I guess it's more like science fantasy.
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT "SARAH CANARY" Oh. my. goodness. Wow.
And to think I might have missed this book based on a false assumption about the author.
"Sarah Canary" completely captivated me. It is very well-written in every way, from grammatical styling to story structure. And it has so many different angles - a fantastical journey that is a metaphor or a fable; examination of cultural differences and feminism; legends and history.
As soon as I finished it, I wanted to read it again. There is so much going on in this book that I could read it over and over to analyze it and dissect it.
I wish I could say something incredible to convince you to read this, but I really can't find the words except to say this: "Sarah Canary" is a treasure and I highly recommend it.(less)
Toby Warring is a magician. Not a "pull a rabbit from the hat" magician, but one who has the ability to reach into other dimensions and produce real magic. He and Mel Snow meet and marry quickly, and their life journey follows the consequences of Toby's magic. It is a story about losing things, and the price one is willing to pay to find what has been lost.
The storyline is utterly original. There are echoes of Alice Hoffman, but the story is completely the author's own. This is no formulaic plot, but one that kept me in a constant state of fascination.
The writing is gorgeous. I am in awe of the author's ability to use words. The author paints word pictures using every dazzling colour in the universe. Each sentence is a masterpiece of art. I feel that it is this use of words, even more so than the plot, that leads the reader from the first sentence to the last.
A theme of lostness runs through the story like a river, sometimes a gentle babbling brook and other times a raging creek that threatens to burst its banks. And in the end the river empties into the sea, a vast expanse that both hides and exposes the essential meaning of "lost."
"The Art of Disappearing" is Pochoda's first novel. She can't write a second one soon enough for me. (less)