Perhaps it's because it's dated or because the characters are hateful or because Hollinghurst is an indifferent writer, but I really...moreUmmm....
Perhaps it's because it's dated or because the characters are hateful or because Hollinghurst is an indifferent writer, but I really didn't get on at all with this book.
The bit at the end with the Argentinian and his leather mask was just appalling and totally at odds with the tone of the rest of the thing. Not sure how or why this received so much acclaim except that it has a lot of bonking in it. (less)
Enjoyable, but flawed. I enjoyed this book – the format was well done, the characters engaging and the writing style simple enough that it made a good...moreEnjoyable, but flawed. I enjoyed this book – the format was well done, the characters engaging and the writing style simple enough that it made a good in-flight read. However, I did feel it was one of those novels which is written with the primary aim of upsetting those who are easily upset, shocking a few readers and generating column inches. And for a book which sets itself up to challenge popular morality, there was a surprising amount of black-and-white judgement. I also felt some of the points were hammered rather too much and that the sexual content became…tedious? Predictable? Lazy?
One of the things I did like was that although it could quite easily have been a humorous book, it was in fact quite tragic and the plight of some of the characters is fairly heartbreaking. This element was quite well done. Interestingly, Frey works much better writing in female voices than male ones.
Anyway, read it, enjoy it, but don’t expect fireworks to go off in your head. (less)
A truly excellent read! Funny, fascinating, fast-paced and brilliantly written throughout.
At almost 1,500 pages, Vikram Seth's great big tome may see...moreA truly excellent read! Funny, fascinating, fast-paced and brilliantly written throughout.
At almost 1,500 pages, Vikram Seth's great big tome may seem off-putting to most, but this is one Great Long Book where the actions never stops. Something is always happening and the humour and humanity keep one reading - at many points it is simply impossible to put it down. The book covers an array of locations, castes, professions, political viewpoints and religious groups.
Though the title refers to Mrs Rupa Mehra's quest for a suitable "boy" for her youngest daughter Lata, the book also explores who is suitable in other areas: for government, for various jobs, for friendship, for life, for privilege, for respect - and of course for marriage, which is (superficially) the central matter of the whole plot (or plots, as there are several fascinating threads woven through this tale).
One of the absolute strengths of this novel is its great cast of characters who are all so superbly written that they seem – feel – like real people. The reader can see them and hear them and love or hate them as he or she sees fit. I greatly enjoyed the way some characters, such as Savita, who seem entirely incidental at the start of the novel, come into their own later on.
I particularly loved Mrs Rupa Mehra - similar to, but a definite improvement on, Austen's Mrs Bennett. Obsessed with getting her children happily married, given to sulks and weeping, diabetic but fond of sweets, she is one of the book's most comic characters, but she is also human enough for the reader to love her. And in fact, it is the women in general who stand out the most, who seem the most real. A friend told me that V.S. was particularly fond of his aunts, and this seems to have influenced the way he writes about older women in the novel - they are always painted with affection and fun.
The only flaw I could find was that one of the characters was rather hastily discarded towards the end, but given the vast size of the cast of characters, I do think we can forgive Seth for this.
For those who have also read the book, am I the only one who felt the “suitable boy” was highly unsuitable? I found him quite repellent!
This is a well-written, interesting book which really holds you – it is entirely devoid of boring or unnecessary passages. The style reminds me in tur...moreThis is a well-written, interesting book which really holds you – it is entirely devoid of boring or unnecessary passages. The style reminds me in turns of Graham Greene (especially the character of Latimer), Christopher Isherwood (the atmosphere of 1930s Europe) as it wends its way from whodunit to spy thriller to exploration of the nature of “good” and “evil” – interesting concepts to ponder in a book set in 1938. The book’s title may be about Dimitrios, but Latimer is the fascinating character in this book. What is his motivation, really? Does it change? Is he really an example of “moral rectitude”? Is he tarnished by the end? Is he as bad as the characters he judges and despises? I found him repugnant in a peculiarly British way – some of his attitudes are still evident in British society and politics in the 21st Century.
Overall, a very enjoyable book, though I must say I preferred the Savannah characters to the John Williams trial. Found all the hoodoo a bit annoying...moreOverall, a very enjoyable book, though I must say I preferred the Savannah characters to the John Williams trial. Found all the hoodoo a bit annoying and was never sure where the line between fact and fiction was drawn. (less)
Sometimes I think I should write a book about the Holocaust, as it seems to be an automatic route to publication, regardless of ability. At least, thi...moreSometimes I think I should write a book about the Holocaust, as it seems to be an automatic route to publication, regardless of ability. At least, this is the only reason I can muster to explain why this book was published, given that it is so poorly written.
Apparently de Rosnay has published numerous novels in French and claims English as her mother tongue, but I am sceptical on both points. The writing in this, her first English-language novel is stilted and laughable at least once per page. At least some of this must be in evidence in her French books.
I quite enjoyed reading the book, and once half way through found it hard to put down. I admit it kept me up very late one night. Overall, the idea behind the book is sound, and the plot is compelling. The bits about Julia wanting a second child didn’t cause me to fling the book down in rage and disgust (my reaction to much of The Time-Traveller’s Wife). She wanted a kid, fair enough, and it wasn’t handled in the annoying, cloying “every woman needs a baby to feel loved/feel complete/be fulfilled” way this issue is usually addressed. However, the execution makes one cringe, as does the repetition (unforgivable in such a short book). Every cliché you can imagine is nurtured, and the characters say things that made me embarrassed for the imagination that couldn’t stretch to anything better.
It would have been so much more satisfying if this book had been penned by someone who can actually write.
This book was given to me as a gift, and for the most part I really enjoyed it. Egan does borrow considerably from David Mitchell (I think) in terms o...moreThis book was given to me as a gift, and for the most part I really enjoyed it. Egan does borrow considerably from David Mitchell (I think) in terms of structure, but overall I think she improves on his formula to create a better book. Her characters are engaging, and I like the effect of viewing one character's story "trough the tall grass" of another's.
There is some repetition, but it is sufficiently consisten to get away with being the writer's "style" rather than sheer laziness (although I think Egan treads a fine line on this issue).
Two things really irked me:
1. The penultimate chapter, which is basically a series of slides. This is clearly the author's attempt to be "clever" and pander to the ereader market. However, reading the book in print it annoyed me intensely. Format aside, it was also one of the weakest chapters.
2. Egan goes a step too far in her "borrowing" from Mitchell. Her leap into the future is altogether ineffective, and I felt the final two chapters were a disappointment, a tying up of plot areas that either didn't need resolution, or else had been sufficiently winked at earlier in the plot.
I really enjoyed this book, but I would have held back on giving Egan a Pullitzer until she learns how to end a novel properly!(less)
**This review has spoilers** Overall, I thought the book was ok. It’s not one I would have chosen to buy: it was a book club book. On the positive side,...more**This review has spoilers** Overall, I thought the book was ok. It’s not one I would have chosen to buy: it was a book club book. On the positive side, I thought the characterisation was strong. I liked Sid and Scottie, particularly. On the bad side, the book isn’t particularly well-written, and the plotting is lazy. The writing style reminded me, overwhelmingly, of books by Judy Blume and Paula Danziger and at times it was hard to really believe I was meant to be reading the thoughts and feelings of a middle-aged man rather than a teenage girl. In terms of plotting, I could live with the cliché of Brian Speer turning out to be married but not with being asked to believe that Matt would take his young daughter along to the hospital and then expect her to duck out of the room while he had a chat with the doctor about Joanie’s survival prospects. If this is what KHH calls creating suspense, she needs to take another writing class to complete her skills. That said, the film (which I enjoyed) made me appreciate the novel more – there were parts that I missed. (less)
Radclyffe Hall is one of my guilty pleasures. I just can't resist those honest, intense, miserable lesbians.
The Unlit Lamp is the usual early 20th-Ce...moreRadclyffe Hall is one of my guilty pleasures. I just can't resist those honest, intense, miserable lesbians.
The Unlit Lamp is the usual early 20th-Century tale of gay women who sacrifice their happiness to satisfy the wants and expectations of others, resulting in unhappiness all round and painful martyrdom for the central characters, who turn down every happiness offered them.
I did not expect to like this book, and I came to read it in a roundabout fashion. I was at a company away-day dinner, chatting with a col...moreI am…a snob.
I did not expect to like this book, and I came to read it in a roundabout fashion. I was at a company away-day dinner, chatting with a colleague. I asked what she was reading and she replied “Oh, it wouldn’t be intellectual enough for you,” and I pooh-poohed this, and when she had finished the book, she lent it to me.
I would never otherwise have read anything by Cecilia Ahern, and while I can’t really praise her writing, which is entirely bog-standard, I must say I relished the concept of the book. It is the concept which lifts this out of the commonplace, and turns all its flaws into minor niggles. I enjoyed this book, well enough to still remember it after five or six years and recommend it on occasion. (less)