I have now read all three David Nicholls' novels, in reverse order from that in which they were written. The one constant which has been present fromI have now read all three David Nicholls' novels, in reverse order from that in which they were written. The one constant which has been present from the start is an underlying sweetness to his characters, even when they're behaving badly.
Brian Jackson is the goofy kid we all knew (or were) trying to make his way through his first year of college. Despite all his good intentions, and his ill-conceived attempts to become cool (or perhaps because of them), he still manages to offend and anger everyone who cares about him.
Mr. Nicholls makes us alternately laugh and wince as we watch Brian try to overcome his social awkwardness and woo the pretty girl who everyone knows is out of his league. Everyone, that is, except Brian. As painful as it is to watch, you find you just have to know what happens next. And just when you think poor, hapless Brian's situation couldn't possibly get any worse, it does. But he comes through it, hopefully having learned some valuable life lessons along the way.
There isn't anything deep or earth-shattering about this book. It's just a pleasant way to spend a few hours and reminisce about the follies of our own youth. Plus there's the fact that Mr. Nicholls has wonderful taste in music! For nearly every song he mentioned, I mentally cried out, "I love that song!"...more
This is probably the saddest book I have ever read. I was so disappointed not only with the sad ending, but with the utter lack of hope. I don't mindThis is probably the saddest book I have ever read. I was so disappointed not only with the sad ending, but with the utter lack of hope. I don't mind books with sad endings, but at least offer me some gleam of hope at the end! I was going to give it a 3-star rating for being such a downer, but it is too beautifully written to warrant 3 stars. So 4 stars for beautiful prose....more
**spoiler alert** I don't know what to say about this book. It's been a week since I finished it, and I can't stop stewing about it. It started off in**spoiler alert** I don't know what to say about this book. It's been a week since I finished it, and I can't stop stewing about it. It started off interesting enough, but I was initially afraid that as Lucy's circumstances changed, the most interesting part and characters of the story were left behind in Bretton, leaving me with the hope that the frequently used device of coincidence would bring them back into Lucy's life. The book got exceedingly slow once Lucy settled into her life in Villette, and the pace did not really pick up until about 2/3 of the way through. There were a few moments before then where I found the book unputdownable, but I could tell the story would not unfold the way I wanted it to, so these bits of the story always felt anti-climactic. Specifically, I refer to how Lucy seemed to hope more than friendship from Dr. John.
It wasn't until M. Emmanuel's odd behavior toward Lucy became more frequent that I felt the story really got going. Oh, the sparks that would have ignited between the two if Lucy had had any of Jane Eyre's fire! I admire the skill with which Ms. Bronte introduced us to repulsive men, and leaving the readers (the female ones at least) head over heels in love with them at the end.
I just don't know what to make of the ending, though. I am a sappy, romantic optimist by nature, so when Ms. Bronte said "to leave sunny imaginations hope . . . . conceive . . . the fruition of return . . . . picture union and a happy succeeding life," that's exactly what I did. It wasn't until I started reading other reviews that I realized I might have misread it. After overcoming the machinations of the "secret junta" and waiting three years, to know Lucy would never get her happily ever after with Paul is just to cruel to fathom!
It was like reading Tess of the D'Urbervilles all over again: being brought on this beautiful journey only to have all hope wrenched away.
I've seen many comment that Ms. Bronte's constant censure of Catholicism detracts from the story. I'm Catholic, and this did not bother me nearly as much as the constant use of French. Entire conversations were conducted in French, and if there hadn't been notes in the back of the book providing translations, it would have severely impacted my ability to enjoy the book. My copy of The Professor did not have translations for the French contained therein, and my reading of that short tome was slowed considerably by having to Google the translations. It's quite challenging trying to hold a book open with one hand while trying to type text in a foreign language with the other....more
I've read other stories told in vignettes, and it is not my favorite type of narrative. However, I don't think there is another way this particular stI've read other stories told in vignettes, and it is not my favorite type of narrative. However, I don't think there is another way this particular story could have been told. The detachment we feel toward Abbott gives us a better sense of what he's feeling than a straightforward narrative would. And even while he seems to wander through his days, not always feeling like he's part of it, there were still moments of exceptional tenderness and incredible sweetness, which give us the sense that perhaps Abbott is not in the grips of as severe a funk as he would have us believe.
The segment entitled Abbott Hogs the Mood made me laugh, while Abbott's Folk Remedy and Abbott's Inadvertent Research on Prepositions were among the more tender illustrations.
Each segment is short, making it an even quicker read than one would expect at 180 pages, but it does not need to be read all at once. The structure of the book sets it up so you can read one section or several, and then set the book aside for a while until you want to pick it up again. I don't think a reader will lose the thread if it takes a month or two to read....more
I had to take my time in deciding how to rate this book, because by the time I was halfway through the book I was reasonably certain I would give it 3I had to take my time in deciding how to rate this book, because by the time I was halfway through the book I was reasonably certain I would give it 3 stars, but at the time I finished it, I was inclined to give it 4. In the end, I settled on the higher rating because of how this story lingered in my mind and because of all the emotions I felt during and after reading. After all, isn't the point of a good book that it affect you in some way? Preferably in a positive way, but not necessarily. Even though the narrator, Frank was such an unsympathetic character (he was a cowardly, weaselly, lying, whiny little turd, and his wife deserved everything she got for putting up with him), I couldn't help feeling sorry for him in the end. It's impossible to grow up in the type of family environment he grew up in without becoming scarred. So he reached out and clung to something that made him feel normal, and when that didn't work out, well, it's impossible to suffer a loss like that without suffering after effects. It was the glimpses into his past made me want to keep reading to find out how his predicament would resolve. Also on the plus side, I suppose is the fact ending took me by complete surprise. It was not at all what I was expecting. (view spoiler)[ Given the dark tone to the book, and the event that set off the chain of events that unfolded, I fully expected Frank would end up taking his own life. That's the ending I was prepared for; it would have given a clean ending to the story. Instead, I was left with the feeling that despair never ends. (hide spoiler)]...more
I'm torn. This was such an engaging and ultimately uplifting story, but at the same time there were some truly jarring errors: the phrase "per say" raI'm torn. This was such an engaging and ultimately uplifting story, but at the same time there were some truly jarring errors: the phrase "per say" rather than "per se" and the use of the word prospective when the correct word would have been respective. I know there are those out there who would call me nit-picky, but I can't help it. Nothing pulls me out of an engaging narrative faster than improper language usage (unless it's intentional/necessary for plot/character development). Had this story been professionally published (I believe CreateSpace is an outlet for self-publishing), these errors would have been quickly found and corrected. Hopefully, this story is strong enough that it will bring Mr. Malone to the attention of a proper publisher, and any future works will not suffer from this.
Negativity aside, I really, really liked the story. And since the obvious errors were few and far between, I'll forgive them because I did enjoy it so much. Aidan Keane is such a likeable tragic character. From what I gather, the story is based in fact, and I'm curious as to how much is true and how much is artistic license. ...more
I have to agree with many other reviewers: this was not one of Hardy's best. One of Hardy's favorite themes was exploring the social roles of women. WI have to agree with many other reviewers: this was not one of Hardy's best. One of Hardy's favorite themes was exploring the social roles of women. While he succeeded in Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Far From the Madding Crowd, I feel he quite missed the mark in Two on a Tower,
It is the story of Viviette and Swithin. I continuously vacillated between being annoyed with Viviette and sympathizing with her. She seemed to be in love, but her extreme caution made her come across as indecisive. The little experience she had with men had taught her to be cautious: her husband was a brute and she did not want to end up a victim again. And poor Swithin, so clueless about love and women, just allowed himself to be led.
Hardy also made ample use of another device seen in his other novels: the near miss. There were so many times where they were moments away from living happily ever after, but fate always intervened. And in the end, the greatest obstacle seemed to be that Viviette was SOOOO much older than Swithin: a whopping 8 years. Note extreme sarcasm :P (view spoiler)[Swithin himself was taken aback by the change in her when they finally reunited at the end. At 33, she was middle-aged and haggard. How times have changed! A woman of 33 today is just as appealing to a man of 25 as a woman his own age. (hide spoiler)]
I think I would have forgiven most of these things, or at least looked less unfavorably on them if it hadn't been for the ending. I found it to be too abrupt and implausible. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
What a flair for words Ms. Thomas has. Ruby, the narrator, was so beautifully crafted as the rebellious outcast misfit, that despite the fact that sheWhat a flair for words Ms. Thomas has. Ruby, the narrator, was so beautifully crafted as the rebellious outcast misfit, that despite the fact that she is nothing like me, I was able to completely empathize with her. The author was able to take a squalid and dingy setting, and without sugar-coating it (the descriptions of the filth and stench were quite vivid), managed to romanticize it.
Ruby goes about pretending to live a normal life, and one day when she decides to blow off work, she is accosted by Den, a resident of a hidden underground community. The two strike up a friendship, and while Den is unwilling to let Ruby show her the world above, it is just as well because Ruby is full of curiosity about Den's hidden world. When the two stumble upon secret government tunnels, they embark on what will be a life altering adventure for both of them.
The entire story was captivating, and the ending was particularly surprising. I thought I had a pretty good idea where she was going with her story, and although I was not entirely wrong, I was still caught by surprise. ...more
I really, really liked this book. It was a quick read, and part of that is probably due to the fact that I had a hard time putting it down because it I really, really liked this book. It was a quick read, and part of that is probably due to the fact that I had a hard time putting it down because it was so compelling. There are several characters in the book, but it focuses on Annie, who is trying to get over a devastating break-up when she learns her estranged brother has been arrested for murder. I couldn't wait to see how everything would come together in the end. And interestingly enough, it was the ending which kept me from giving it 5 stars. (view spoiler)[ Coming right on the heels of my review for Charlotte Bronte's Villette, I'm going to sound like a crazy person. I like happy endings. However, the ending to this particular story was just too over the top. I think I would have preferred if Ms. Reed had just hinted at happier times to come, or perhaps given us a glimpse of the life empty life Owen created for himself. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>...more
This was so much more than a romance novel, and I feel that categorizing it as such really does this story a huge disservice. There's adventure, surviThis was so much more than a romance novel, and I feel that categorizing it as such really does this story a huge disservice. There's adventure, survival, and real drama.
TJ is a 16 year-old survivor of Hodgkins now in full remission, and Anna is the 30 year old tutor hired by TJ's parents to get him caught up in his studies so he can start his sophomore year in high school. TJ's family is spending the summer in the Maldives, but an accident occurs en route and the chartered plane TJ and Anna are riding in crashes into the ocean. TJ and Anna make it to a small deserted island where they wait to be rescued. Over 50% of the story takes place on the island, and you really get a feel for how difficult survival was for them. As the time wears on, we see how their reliance on each other causes their relationship to evolve. They faced dangers on land, in the sea, and from mother nature.
After their rescue, I expected a hurried, over the top, sappy/happy romantic ending, which would have been unrealistic and would have detracted from the authenticity the story had up to that point. Thankfully, this is absolutely not what happened. If anything, the drama picked up, and Anna and TJ faced very realistic challenges to their relationship, to the point where the expected happy ending began to seem more and more doubtful. Did it have the romance novel happy ending? Well, I did say it shouldn't be classified as a romance novel. Read it and find out....more