I knew when I picked this up that it would be a disturbing read, and it certainly was. It's hard to describe what I feel about it; while I can't say t...moreI knew when I picked this up that it would be a disturbing read, and it certainly was. It's hard to describe what I feel about it; while I can't say that I enjoyed it, due to the subject matter, I do thing it's a book worth reading and it's important that it was written. It's written in a fictionalised style, although it is a memoir, with no detail spared. I think this makes it all the more unbearable. Reviews have criticised it for embellishing conversations that Fragoso could not possibly remember in such detail, for being too graphic, and for seeming to empathise with or even exonerate a paedophile. However, I think the truth of her life is not lost despite the writing style, and her complex feelings about her abuser are honest and therapeutic. She leaves us with thoughts about the way that society views child abusers, with perhaps some helpful lessons about better prevention. Her thoughts may be controversial, but born out of bitter experience and understanding.(less)
You know that feeling you get just after finishing a book when you can't really put into words what you think? I've sort of got that now, but I'm goin...moreYou know that feeling you get just after finishing a book when you can't really put into words what you think? I've sort of got that now, but I'm going to try to give my first reflections.
For the first couple of chapters, I wasn't really sure what it was supposed to be about. It seemed very narrative driven without much depth. And the main character kept banging on about how pretty she was, which was a bit annoying (envy maybe?) And I couldn't understand why such a mediocrity would be the subject of a book. But a few chapters in, I got on the book's wavelength and all the subtext suddenly was plain to see. Although I had guessed the ending quite a lot earlier (as another reviewer noted, it is very similar to 'Atonement') that didn't detract from the effect. This is very much a novelist's novel - very introspective (some might say navel-gazing) and lots of name-dropping of people that Ian McEwan probably knows very well. There's an appearance of a very recognisable Martin Amis, for example. It isn't really a book about spying at all, it's about writing a novel in those early days of the Booker Prize. Is the novelist a version of Ian McEwan himself? Quite possibly, but to say more may give the story away.
When I've settled down a bit, I might try and re-write this review with a bit more light of hindsight. But for now suffice to say that 'Sweet Tooth' could stand next to 'Atonement' any day. (less)
**spoiler alert** I have heard a lot of people draw comparisons between North and South and Pride and Prejudice. There are certainly similarities - in...more**spoiler alert** I have heard a lot of people draw comparisons between North and South and Pride and Prejudice. There are certainly similarities - initial mutual dislike between hero and heroine born out of misunderstanding and social inequality, the hero making a marriage proposal which is at first rejected by the heroine, the hero doing something altruistic to make the heroine change her mind about him. And, as the strong silent type, Mr Thornton is a bit like Mr Darcy. However, I think in character it is Margaret who is more like Mr Darcy. She is the social superior, and throughout the book is described with certain masculine attributes, unlike her father who is very much a 'feminine' character. (Though, as a feminist myself, I do object to feminine values being seen as necessarily weaker and less reliable than their masculine counterparts. On a similar note, I'm not sure why the publisher of the edition I read felt that the best front cover illustration for this book was a portrait of a dewy-eyed, blushing maiden in a state of half undress. I have no problem with this in itself, but I'm not sure it gives the best indication of what the novel is about.) The main story is not really the romance between Margaret Hale and Mr Thornton. That is only really a device to illustrate the main message - that idea of North and South coming together, learning of each others virtues and blunting each others faults. Also, unlike P&P, we get here the voices of real working people, not just the middle-class gentry.(less)
‘The Woman Reader’ by Barbara Jack traces the history of women’s literacy, both reading and writing, from the earliest records to the present day. It’...more‘The Woman Reader’ by Barbara Jack traces the history of women’s literacy, both reading and writing, from the earliest records to the present day. It’s a truly gripping story which encompasses all of gender history; because the way that women have been able to express themselves in reading and writing has had profound echoes on everything they were able to accomplish. Jack presents countless examples of women who re-wrote the rules on what women were allowed to say in public – amazing women who stood up against people who tried to define them in one particular way.
There was one woman in particular who stood out for me. She was Christine de Pizan, whom Jack describes as 'an important type of woman reader who emerges across time and space. She read and was shocked by her reading, and wrote to encourage other women to read, and through their reading to counter sexual prejudice.' Christine is only one example of inspirational women who used literacy to create progress, and learning to engender understanding.
Very emotional, even though it was pretty easy to predict who lived/died. I also predicted the dramatic climax quite early on. Some of the sections in...moreVery emotional, even though it was pretty easy to predict who lived/died. I also predicted the dramatic climax quite early on. Some of the sections involving Picasso were a bit annoying as I felt it sort of stalled the narrative a bit, but I can understand why the author included them. However, this book is redeemed by the build-up and treatment of the bombing of Guernica. It was heart-rending without being distasteful. Because I cared about the characters, it was particularly harrowing.
All in all, a very good holiday read. Not one I would read again, but one I would recommend, and one I am glad that I have read.(less)