I loved this delightful novel. Janie Chang's fine writing and her ability to take us inside a world ostensibly so different from our own (but is it reI loved this delightful novel. Janie Chang's fine writing and her ability to take us inside a world ostensibly so different from our own (but is it really?) is part of what makes her work special. The other part is her love and respect for and careful rendering of the cultural myths (I use the word in the most positive sense - a story explaining frequently profound and complex truths) that illumine the world of her characters, and helps us to see it as they do.
Jialing and her experience of otherness, desertion, and frequently powerlessness, is bound to resonate with women everywhere and in every society - but so too her resistance and courage.
Highly recommended - the kind of satisfying book that invites a long and leisurely afternoon curl-up. And when you're done, if you haven't already read Three Souls, there's still more to enjoy. ...more
Okay, late to the party as usual - everyone else in the whole world has already read this. But I loved it and I have to say so. (Incidentally, my excuOkay, late to the party as usual - everyone else in the whole world has already read this. But I loved it and I have to say so. (Incidentally, my excuse for being so tardy with an author I always enjoy is that I'm writing and don't read a lot of other folks' fiction when I'm deep in a new book of my own - end of self-serving teaser.)
Quindlen's quirky and unique voice is absolutely on point in this story of how a 60 year old woman deals with a crisis - both emotional and financial - in the career that has pretty much defined her. The observations of Manhattan life are spot-on and the non-cliched depiction of the country town was for me equally vivid and valid. Loved the way she handled the romantic relationship and the unfolding of the plot (AQ always has one and it always hangs together, which a lot of people writing in her genre don't achieve). Again, she so deftly avoids the cliches. The kind of novel you can't wait to get back to if you have to put it down, and hate to see end. For me her best since One True Thing. ...more
JJ is a 20-something Londoner with a job in advertising where she's in line for a major promotion, a delightful boyfriend, and a famous mother who hasJJ is a 20-something Londoner with a job in advertising where she's in line for a major promotion, a delightful boyfriend, and a famous mother who has won repeated awards as -- what else? -- the mother of the year. So what's her problem?
For starters her boyfriend has given up his lucrative job to take an entrepreneurial flyer, the result of which is that he's not ready to move on with, i.e. move in with, JJ. And despite the fact that her journalist/TV personality mother has built her career on bringing up JJ, Beth can't even manage to fit her daughter in for a Mother's Day brunch. Then her best friend and roommate kicks JJ out of the flat they share while she is making a sand sculpture... and JJ winds up having to move back in with mum and dad.
If all of this sounds like a fun romp,it is, but Ross has written a lacy valentine of a book that has not a creamy overly sweet center, but one more like a luscious salted carmel, deeply satisfying with chew and tang. And yes, Ross is wonderfully funny and delivers a laugh a page, but she also has something to say. If you'd like to give your mother a very big hug, give her this book. But read it first. I loved it. (And full disclosure, I worked with Karen Ross while she was writing this novel.) ...more
Absolutely loved this book... I haven't read the Pink Carnation series that so many others have referenced, but I shall now. This is a wonderful storyAbsolutely loved this book... I haven't read the Pink Carnation series that so many others have referenced, but I shall now. This is a wonderful story beautifully written and peopled with characters I felt I got to know intimately, and to understand. The novel moves back and forth between present day Manhattan and Britain and Kenya before and after WWI. There's a lovely Out of Africa feel, and I reveled in Willig's depiction of life among the colonials. I could hear the bird song in the bush and feel the heat and the dust and the otherness of it all. Then, as she slipped back to present day Manhattan Willig proved she's also strong on the changing lives of women, and doesn't hesitate to explore their jealousies and pettiness, as well as their sometimes surprising constance and loyalty. To add to the fun, there's clever plotting that delights by turning out to be not exactly what you expect. Short summing-up: I couldn't wait to get back to it when I had to put it down, and I was really sorry when it ended. What more can any reader want?...more
I'm not writing a review since I wrote this! Seems like I had to get to this point to show this new E-book on Goodreads. It's the second in my EncoreI'm not writing a review since I wrote this! Seems like I had to get to this point to show this new E-book on Goodreads. It's the second in my Encore Collection and available now. So hope you like it. ...more
It pains me to give this only three stars. I love Donna Leon. I love the shape of her sentences. I love her city of Venice (not Florence as I originalIt pains me to give this only three stars. I love Donna Leon. I love the shape of her sentences. I love her city of Venice (not Florence as I originally typed! Thanks, Sharon.) I inevitably love her characters. But a mystery novel to be worthy of the name, must have a plot, and more and more frequently these days Leon's impulse not to over-write (at least that's what I think it is) causes her to flat-line.
In Jewels she builds an interesting premise: two thoroughly dislikable cousins are left a pair of trunks that are believed to contain something of great value. The trunks belonged to an important 18th century composer of opera, and since neither cousin knows enough to judge the possible value of the contents, nor is able to agree on the disposition of the inheritance, they hire a musicologist to open the trunks and examine what's inside.
The expert, Caterina Pellegrini, is Leon's heroine and the story is told entirely from her point of view. She is potentially wonderful. Complex, interesting, wants things (all good characters want something, probably more than one thing), etc. Then there's the attorney who is acting for the dislikable cousins. Another interesting character. At least potentially so. Possibly a man for Caterina, who wants one. And of course, there are the trunks and what may be inside them...
I shan't tell what the trunks ultimately prove to contain, only to say there is no foreshadowing of that revelation. It has no meaning in the context of the story Leon tells. The tale contained in the papers she reads and interprets is only tangentially connected to the "pay-dirt," and it's so confusing and irrelevant that we never really care about its outcome. Moreover, it is unrelated to another interesting revelation about the composer which was simply announced and left dangling, not made to play any genuine role in the denouement.
As for the potentially interesting attorney - he becomes someone else in the end of the book. Why? Who knows? It has no bearing on the non-existent plot and was not in any way foreshadowed so it might become interesting.
This is the second time I have said more or less the same thing about a novel by Donna Leon. (The last Brunetti book had for me the same flat-line flaw.) All the elements of a good story are put place. And Leon, I say again, is a truly talented writer. But I fear it's not that she won't plot, but that she can't. I wonder if this is a failure not of intent but talent. Such a pity. ...more
This is a very scary short story about an ex-journalist - bitter, cynical - who comes across a plot to use a computer program to hijack the next electThis is a very scary short story about an ex-journalist - bitter, cynical - who comes across a plot to use a computer program to hijack the next election. Richtel calls it Watergate on steroids, and it made me remember why I think he's such a great thriller writer, and am anticipating the release of his next novel. Which, we're told, is previewed in the 100 page Kindle shortie he wrote as a teaser. Bears mentioning that Richtel is a Pulitzer-prize winning NYTimes reporter on technology. Floodgate is ninety-nine cents worth of entertainment for sure. And for those of us with lots of electronic gizmos in our lives, pretty unnerving. ...more
I loved this book. First one in ages I have literally read in one go (stayed up half the night to finish). Tatiana de Rosnay is a fluid, fluent writerI loved this book. First one in ages I have literally read in one go (stayed up half the night to finish). Tatiana de Rosnay is a fluid, fluent writer whose prose never gets in the way of her storytelling and in this, the only one of her books I have read, she is a superb storyteller. There are no pyrotechnics here, no imposition of authorly cleverness. That seems particularly appropriate since she is writing a tale of the Holocaust.
Given that fact this is, of course, a book filled with sadness and even horror, but I would tell anyone that they will nonetheless be very glad they have read it; indeed, that it supplies enormous reading pleasure. The secret to that is, I think, the fact that de Rosnay does not leave us in the depths of those terrible days of WWII. She simultaneously tells us the story of Sarah, a ten-year-old Parisienne Jew whom the French police arrest in a horrific act of collaboration with their Nazi occupiers,and of Julia, an American forty-something woman living in modern Paris with her adored French husband and their ten-year-old daughter.
The novel opens in 1942 with the French police coming to arrest Sarah and her family in a great round-up of the Jews of Paris. To keep him safe Sarah locks her four-year-old brother in a secret place in their apartment where the two children often retreat. Thinking she will be back shortly, Sarah brings with her the key to that hiding place. By the time her parents discover what she has done (they know about the cupboard and keep it supplied with a flashlight and water)it is too late. Sarah and her parents along with thousands of others have been incarcerated in a stadium known as the Vel d'Hiver. (Think everything you know about the misery of that sports arena in New Orleans during Katrina, then multiply it by a factor of about a hundred.) After days of indescribable deprivation, they are sent to French concentration camps from which the vast majority will be deported to Auschwitz and summarily gassed. (Sarah escapes that fate, though hers is to be no less cruel, and she is no less a victim of the paroxysm of hate that was the Shoa.)
In chapter two we are in the Paris of our own day and Julia and her husband Bertrand and their daughter Zoe are in an apartment in the Marais, a Paris neighborhood once known as the Jewish quarter. Though Bertrand's family is not Jewish, this apartment belonged to his grandmother; it is to be his and Julia's, after being remodeled by Bertrand's architectural firm. At the same time Julia, who works for an English language magazine published in Paris for American expats, is assigned to write an article about the now all but forgotten "incident" involving the Vel d'Hiv.
The apartment is the link between Julia and Sarah and their two very different lives, and for the first two thirds of the book both women tell their stories in the first person in strict chapter by chapter alternation. We hear Sarah's story while it is at the same time being discovered anew by Julia, who while she researches her article learns truths about her marriage and her family, and indeed herself, that will change her life.
In the final third of the book Sarah's voice is silenced. We do learn how her story ended, and what happened to her brother, but from Julia's point of view. This is a magnificent metaphor for the silence of the six million, whose tales can only be told by we who come after them. De Rosnay has used her novelist's skills to add one more coda to this ongoing journal of remembrance. Brava!
PS - added a few days later. I have just realized I said both segments of the book were written in the first person. Sarah's voice comes to us entirely from her point of view, but in the third person. That's a classic novelist's technique and very well handled by de Rosnay, but what an odd mistake for me to make so soon after finishing the novel. I think it indicates how intensely I experienced Sarah...