I'll pretty much read anything Trollope has written but now that I'm back into his books I can see that this is not one of his best books. It seems im...moreI'll pretty much read anything Trollope has written but now that I'm back into his books I can see that this is not one of his best books. It seems impossible but the entire plot revolves one one main issue, will Lady Anna renounce her personal pledge to the tailor's son to marry (made without her mother's consent and before she knew she was a titled jeiress) and marry the Earl or will she not?
It may just be impossible to meet a more obstinate character in all of English literature than Lady Anna. Her mother wages an all out emotional war against her, lawyers visit, suitors visit, neighbors visit, and courts convene, all on the topic of whether she'll marry as she is expected. An army could not sway her, even though Trollope paints a portrait of the tailor's son that is less than complimentary.
One of the things I enjoy the most in Trollope's novels is that things that seemed untenable or inalterable at one point in the books somehow change and become very amenable to those involved. That doesn't happen here. Lady Anna goes through no growth, staying a static version of herself, and her mother, if she grows at all, only becomes more frightening.
So, while I'm happy I journeyed back into the world of Trollope, where he can take a month in a life and make a book out of it, I don't think this is his best book.(less)
While the premise of this book was interesting enough for me to give it a try and finish it, I found the overall experience a little lackluster. The b...moreWhile the premise of this book was interesting enough for me to give it a try and finish it, I found the overall experience a little lackluster. The book contains the elements I expected - the spoiled Saudi Princesses, the unbelievable wealth - and even some elements I had no idea would be in there, like the near slavery of the Saudi household staff, the classist way the royal family treated the chauffeurs and their inability to recognize the humanity or needs of people taking care of their needs. It was also disconcerting to see the Saudi royal family so accurately portrayed in that women have no power and no rights. This was heartbreaking. The problem with this book was the author's voice, which is a bit egotistical and distracting to the narrative. As other reviewers have said, she's Ivy League educated so she's certainly smart. I wonder that she didn't get the simple amount of instruction in memoir that it would have taken to remove the egotistical voice from her book and allow the readers to enjoy the story.(less)
In this book, author Quinn Cummings writes about her daughter's first year of being homeschooled, which happened not for religious reasons or because...moreIn this book, author Quinn Cummings writes about her daughter's first year of being homeschooled, which happened not for religious reasons or because of a philosophical bent towards homeschooling, but rather because several bad experiences occurred all at once at the end of her daughter's last period in public school and she and her partner decided to try homeschooling for a year.
What I liked the best was the author's humor, her self-deprecating journey through the various pockets of homeschooling aficionadoes. What I didn't like was all the research which I found to be a little dry and out of place since this is a memoir and not literary non-fiction, so to speak, where it would be appropriate to move back and forth between narrative and background info. I don't feel it worked here.
At the end I felt like something was somehow missing from the narrative. Like there was this sense that her daughter was safely at home with this homeschool curriculum but the author was off on this tangent, attending homeschool conferences in service of the book; homeschool conferences that really had nothing to do with her philosophically, religiously or in any way in common with her educational goals for her daughter. So, even though it's a very funny premiseof or the author to go off to fundamentalist homeschool conferences undercover, I still felt like I needed to know more about the flourishing mind of her child and how I could learn from her experiences, even if there's no chance I'd ever do this.(less)
I read this book well after all the media brouhaha that accompanied its release several months ago. I really liked it, with a few caveats, and was fas...moreI read this book well after all the media brouhaha that accompanied its release several months ago. I really liked it, with a few caveats, and was fascinated with this peek inside of Chinese parenting.
My caveats are that I felt Amy Chua's writer's voice to be a little pedantic, most likely the result of allowing her children and husband to have editorial content approval (a big mistake, in my opinion, for a writer of Memoir) and her last chapter was so awful that I couldn't understand how someone with her background could not pull together the threads of her narrative (the successes and pitfalls of Chinese parenting, how Lulu parented herself through tennis at the end, using a mixture of her two selves, the western one and the Chinese one, and something more poignant about the lessons of loss and illness in the book) rather than just this "I don't know how to end the book" narrative which can be excruciating for the reader unless it's wielded by a writer who intends to use that sentence to tell in all the ways in which the story ends.
But, besides that, I found the book highly readable and interesting. I came from an immigrant background with absolutely no expectations, no ambitions for the children, other than to work hard, so I was amazed. I also saw a lot of myself in Ms. Chua - not that I've ever made my kids practice anything for 6 hours straight, but I haven't left their upbringing to American culture, I have known what kind of adults I wanted to raise and have worked hard to put them in situations where they might turn into those people.
Overall, I liked it. And, as a writer, my suggestion: rewrite that final chapter. It's never too late for a second edition because, as she knows, it's not okay to do something with less than your best effort!(less)
I'm rating this book on the storytelling narrative, not on what happened after the book came out and how the author may have "outed" some of these wom...moreI'm rating this book on the storytelling narrative, not on what happened after the book came out and how the author may have "outed" some of these women and apparently put their lives in very real danger for her book. I'm commenting just on the writing and the story.
Although I don't believe Deborah Rodriguez is a writer (she apparently had a co-author) the story is very compelling. Rodriguez, a hairstylist, heads off to Afghanistan, and, developing an affinity for the land and the women, decides to open a beauty school to help, in a small way, the women become independent. The best thing about the book is the Afghanis - the women's stories are heartbreaking. But it's hard to keep the timeline straight, the names, and hard that once a character is gone from the narrative, she is gone from the book in most cases. There's a whole separate book here that is actually the author's book that is never fully realized and just hinted at. Like about her marriages (especially her Afghani one), her faith (she originally went on a church-related mission to the country), and her children (who exactly was raising them while she was in Afghanistan is a bit glossed over in the book.)(less)
Since I'm currently making my way through all the Trollope books, I have a lot to compare the Claverings too and I think it stands up well in the over...moreSince I'm currently making my way through all the Trollope books, I have a lot to compare the Claverings too and I think it stands up well in the overall scheme of Trollopes world.
Trollope writes a masterly book about small plots - this one is about Harry Clavering and his choice between two loves - and then Trollope proceeds to dissect and dissect (or his characters do) the situations and characteristics of the other characters until the reader is sure that no stone has been left unturned. This certainly occurs here.
But I loved this one, mostly because the plot twist I most wanted to occur did occur (which I won't reveal so as not to spoil it), and in that, even though the novel was written so long ago, its depiction of the marriage of Sir Hugh Clavering and Hermione shows some type of abuse in a world where women weren't allowed to do anything without asking their husband for permission. She is one of the saddest characters I've come across in Trollope.
All in all, highly recommended and, for Trollope, I quick read!(less)
Even though I believe that the cover of this book and the blurb try to make light of a book that is, at times, kind of gloomy and a sad tale, I enjoye...moreEven though I believe that the cover of this book and the blurb try to make light of a book that is, at times, kind of gloomy and a sad tale, I enjoyed reading it and felt the writing was good.
My favorite parts were set in the lingerie store with the march of female humanity and the wisdom of Sima, the shopkeeper, advising them on the importance of a well-fitted bra and good undergarments. I loved the contrast of the Orthodox women and Sima, who had slid away from her Judaism, just as I enjoyed other contrasts in the book.
Like others have said, I disliked the strange obsession Sima has with Timna, the young Israeli seamstress she hires. There are sexual undertones to Sima's interest, so much so that, at one point in the book, I felt that perhaps Sima was going to come out and leave her husband.
But for me, this was ultimately a book of contrasts: the older Sima contrasted with the younger Timna; the infertile Sima with the apparently fecund Timna; Sima's inablility to have a baby in her younger years and Timna's possible abortion hinted at in the narrative. I also felt the book was skillfully written in that the reader comes to realize the truth about the changes Sima needs to enact right ahead of the character realizing them, and this was skillfully done.(less)
I just adored this book. I didn't really know what I was getting into, like I didn't know that the author is one of the best known women in NYC real e...moreI just adored this book. I didn't really know what I was getting into, like I didn't know that the author is one of the best known women in NYC real estate or that she's on TV's Shark Tank, I just thought I was reading a pithy memoir.
The book alternates between childhood anecdotes ending with a lesson from her mother (sometimes unexpected ones) and chapters showing how she used that wisdom in building a billion dollar real estate firm and weathering downturns and disappointments. It can be a little jarring, being in the middle of one of the parts of the books that talks about her real estate career and then suddenly be back in her poor childhood, but I think, overall, it was handled well.
For people building businesses and for entrepreneurs looking for inspiration laced with integrity and loyalty paired with business smarts, this is required reading.(less)
I love Trollope and have a personal goal of reading all of his books. This was the second one i read after returning to reading his work earlier this...moreI love Trollope and have a personal goal of reading all of his books. This was the second one i read after returning to reading his work earlier this fall after a gap of several years. I had forgotten how much I love Trollope till I started reading. What I love the most is how much his work, produced in the time in history of which he writes, tells us exactly what England was like at the time, the class system, the yearly incomes, the marriages that could make or break a family. I love this stuff. It's just so different than the U.S. where your destiny is not tied to that of your ancestors, that I find this all pretty fascinating.
That being said, I'm not interested in Trollope's forays into politics; I love the human side of the stories, most especially the love stories.
Happy to have read it and now I'm on to Ralph The Heir! (less)
I loved this book for its wisdom and the amazing things I learned, even as a parent of teenagers, about how I should have been raising them all along....moreI loved this book for its wisdom and the amazing things I learned, even as a parent of teenagers, about how I should have been raising them all along. There is such wisdom in this book, such amazing insight into human nature and our roles as parents, that I felt I needed to highlight page after page, afraid I would forget it all. The only thing I really disliked about it is that it's essentially a recap of his show's first season and includes too much information about time in the viewing trailer, the producers, getting an episode together and other details that certainly were important to him as the host of Shalom in the Home, but maybe not to a reader of this fine book several years later. The book should stand on its own regardless of the existence of the show, which I, unfortunately, never saw. (less)
I enjoyed this book mainly for the author's narrative voice. I was interested in reading about Bikram Yoga but certainly didn't expect the level of ex...moreI enjoyed this book mainly for the author's narrative voice. I was interested in reading about Bikram Yoga but certainly didn't expect the level of expose that the book contains. To me, this made the book somewhat of niche interest since not everyone is interested in Bikram Choudry and the narcissism the author alleges. I was interested in what the book purported to deliver: a story about how he transformed himself from a slightly pudgy couch potato into a competitive yogi. All the forays into the history of Bikram Yoga, the inner circle that once was and the inner circle that now is, was interesting but not the reason I was reading. Otherwise, I thought the author had some truly fine moments and had a great voice.(less)