Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir are sent to an isolated monastery in the woods of Quebec, accessible only by boat. The...moreChief Inspector Armand Gamache and Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir are sent to an isolated monastery in the woods of Quebec, accessible only by boat. The choirmaster was murdered--and the culprit could only be one of the monks in this walled, locked building. The cloistered monks of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups lived a simple life whose days were devoted to communing with God through Gregorian chants. The monks made a recording of the chants to raise money to repair the monastery, but that divided the monks into two camps with some wanting isolation and others wanting to record more. The unusual setting and discussion of the history of Gregorian chants provided added interest to the book.
Both Gamache and Beauvoir are complicated men, so this mystery has added emotional depth because of their talents and demons. Gamache gives us moments of poetry, and Beauvoir provides some irreverant levity as they follow the monks into what seems like an endless cycle of praying and chanting to Beauvoir. There is also a dark side as they are recovering from some past traumatic events. Gamache's boss seems to be the devil himself in a second plot line. This book held my interest, and I'm looking foreward to reading more in this series.(less)
The narrator of this novel meets Alexei Berg in a train station in the Urals. He is told the story of the last twenty years of Alexei's life as the tw...moreThe narrator of this novel meets Alexei Berg in a train station in the Urals. He is told the story of the last twenty years of Alexei's life as the two men travel by train to Moscow. Alexei Berg's parents, a dramatist and an opera singer, were arrested during Stalin's reign of terror in 1941. Alexei, a classical pianist student, avoided arrest and made his way to the Ukraine, close to the Polish border, where he had relatives hide him. When the Germans invaded the Ukraine, Alexei took on the identity of one of the dead soldiers in the Soviet army. This is the story of how Alexei survived in a hard world, very far from classical music. The book is a beautifully written little gem. The author, who grew up in Russia, emigrated to France and writes his novels in French. (less)
This is a very creative book which is a little challenging to read unless you know what to expect. Jennifer Egan wrote this book as separately publish...moreThis is a very creative book which is a little challenging to read unless you know what to expect. Jennifer Egan wrote this book as separately published short stories, done in different styles, which are interlocking. The chapters move back and forth in time. There are major characters that show up in many of the chapters, and minor ones that are featured in only a couple chapters. I made quick notes about each character as I finished a chapter, in case I needed to refer back to when I had encountered them first.
Jennifer Egan compared this book to "the great storytelling albums that she grew up with in the 1970s: The Who's 'Tommy', Pink Floyd's 'The Wall', David Bowie's 'Ziggy Stardust'. A concept album is a story told in parts that sound completely different from each other...yet also work together."
One character says, "Time is a goon, right? You gonna let that goon push you around?" All the characters are pushed around by time in the book as the chapters take you back and forth through fifty years. People connect and disconnect at different times of their lives, always changing as they move on. Many of the characters are rebelling, have serious problems in their interpersonal relationships, suffer from substance abuse, and are fighting depression. But there are moments when they recover and grow, and the next generation seems to have their lives more together. As they go through time, interpersonal communication changes as we get more into the digital age in the 2020s. Music also changes from the accoustic sound of a band of high schoolers in the 1970s to a sound that is very digitalized and professionally mixed in a studio.
Chapters of the book are written from various points of view in first person, third person, and even second person. One chapter is written from prison, and another is done in Power Point. There is a lot of texting in the most modern chapter.
This book takes some effort on the part of the reader. While I would not want a constant diet of very modern books, I enjoyed reading this book because it was so creative and different.(less)
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall is a group of five short stories that have music and nightfall as common themes. Some of the stories in...moreNocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall is a group of five short stories that have music and nightfall as common themes. Some of the stories involve musicians who are longing for success in their careers or trying to make a comeback. Others involve special songs that figure into the plot. Relationship problems are also present, often with a twist.
The stories will leave the reader thinking about the emotional experiences of the characters and smiling at the bits of humor in some of the situations. I'll look for more by this author.(less)
In 1992, twenty-two people were killed by mortar shells as they stood in a bread line in a town square during the Siege of Sarajevo. In honor of the d...moreIn 1992, twenty-two people were killed by mortar shells as they stood in a bread line in a town square during the Siege of Sarajevo. In honor of the deceased, a local cellist who had witnessed the attack played Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor at the site daily for twenty-two days. It is a bit of beauty at a scene of devastation. This fictional book is inspired by this true event in Sarajevo.
The book also tells the stories of three other characters trying to survive the devastation. Sarajevo is surrounded by hills, and the Serb soldiers shell the homes below, and target the civilians as they move through the city. Every four days, Kenan risks his life trying to cross the bridges to fill containers with spring water for his family and an elderly neighbor. Dragan must travel dangerous roads to get to the bakery to work and bring bread home to feed his sister's family. Both men were witnesses to the deaths of others who got picked off by the soldiers. Arrow, a female expert sniper from Sarajevo, has the task of protecting the cellist from an enemy sniper attack. She is trying to hold on to her human goodness while defending her city.
This moving story shows the senselessness of war, and the effect that violence, fear, and destruction has on each of the characters. "The Cellist of Sarajevo" is the third novel of Steven Galloway, a Canadian author from British Columbia.(less)