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 has...moreJJ 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.) (less)
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 story...moreAbsolutely 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?(less)
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 Encore...moreI'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. (less)
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 writer...moreI 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...
An all time favorite. (The book, movie was just okay.) Thought of it again as I'm in London at the moment. The booksellers of Charing Cross Road all b...moreAn all time favorite. (The book, movie was just okay.) Thought of it again as I'm in London at the moment. The booksellers of Charing Cross Road all but disappeared now, though like all the world's most special cities, London is always the same despite the changes. Many years ago when I first knew the city well, there was a second floor milliner's shop on Bond Street I think,called somebody Swerling. I was very young, unpublished, and entirely unable to afford anything from any shop on Bond Street. Besides, I'd never bought a hat. They were pretty much out of fashion except for the kinds of English women who wore them to places like Ascot and weddings. I never climbed the stairs to see if the milliners were cousins. No Swerlings on Bond Street now. Too late. As it was for Helene and her bookseller. One of the most wonderful things about books. Never too late to go back and read them. Everything we love should be so constant... (less)
I am loving this, but then, I'm a sucker for anything Bloomsbury. (If I believed in reincarnation I would know for sure that in a past life I was a co...moreI am loving this, but then, I'm a sucker for anything Bloomsbury. (If I believed in reincarnation I would know for sure that in a past life I was a cook/general for Virginia Wolfe - in London before the war, so before they were bombed out and decamped to the country. Definitely for sure. Except I find the idea of reincarnation painfully cruel.)
Just getting to the section on Vita and Violet and that luscious scandal that has inspired so much terrific writing. Will write a proper review when I'm done.
Here's a look at what the Brits might actually do to protect all that glittering fairy-tale pomp of trumpets and golden carriages. This thriller catch...moreHere's a look at what the Brits might actually do to protect all that glittering fairy-tale pomp of trumpets and golden carriages. This thriller catches you on the first page and doesn't let you stop turning them until you're done. It's hard to summarize the plot without spoilers, but there's a young American kid (Jack Hollander) who discovers that he has the power to bring down the monarchy, which makes him the target of a mysterious and sinister group of men who have sworn to protect the throne at any cost. Jack becomes the hunted, until he learns to be the hunter. It's a recipe for lots of action and the kind of reading pleasure you get from people like Ludlum and Baldacci. Including a brilliant sting in the tale ending you won't see coming. (As an author I wanted to stand up and cheer!) Plus if you know London you'll love all the you-are-there details. Guaranteed to make you want to get on a plane as soon as you finish the book. Meanwhile, if you're staying home, this is the summer's best beach read.(less)
Loved it. Wonderful writer. And for a foodie like me, a true pleasure to see her use food and cooking as a prism through which to view the very human...moreLoved it. Wonderful writer. And for a foodie like me, a true pleasure to see her use food and cooking as a prism through which to view the very human concerns of loving and mothering/being mothered. Lodged on my Kindle forever - I'm sure to dip in again.(less)
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 elect...moreThis 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. (less)