Upon the first reading of this book I was struck by how unsympathetic and unlikable the main characters were. However I read this book twice and havinUpon the first reading of this book I was struck by how unsympathetic and unlikable the main characters were. However I read this book twice and having gained more distance towards the characters on the second reading I was more accepting of their faults and transgressions. I enjoyed this in depth study of the newspaper world and its protagonists - the journalists. I cringed at the methods used by contemporary tabloid producers whose main goal is to find a scandal and implicate their victim by all means and measures. However the iconic Honor Tait, the intrepid woman reporter whose credits included interviewing Franco and reporting from the trenches of many different wars, turned out to be utterly human and consequently full of faults. The contrasting of the two women reporters, old hand Honor Tait (character that could be loosely based on life of Martha Gellhorn given the many similarities) and young and flaky Tamara Sim who gets the assignment to interview the famous Honor, worked really well. When we meet them they appear as if belonging to two different universes but In the end we find out that both women harbor dark secrets and are not exactly as dissimilar as they appear on the surface. I enjoyed the dark humor in the book and the beautiful prose. I found the portrayal of the decline and old age as represented in embittered Honor Tait quite devastating.
At my library book club we argued about this book. Some of us couldn't understand why it was called a novel. But one lady finally said: What does it mAt my library book club we argued about this book. Some of us couldn't understand why it was called a novel. But one lady finally said: What does it matter what it's called? And I agree. I don't care what you call it. It might not be a novel in a traditional sense. You may as well call it a lyrical poem as one critic did. I want to call it if anything, a SURPRISE. This small book did take me by surprise. It did mess with my head. It actually put me in a trans-like, meditative state and I literally heard a dozen voices speaking in my head. Some members of the book club said that because it does not have a traditional plot, they fastforwarded it and skipped some pages. Don't do it. This book needs to be read slowly, methodically. You need to meditate on it to experience the power of it. And it is powerful. It did make me experience oneness of human consciousness to which we are all somehow linked....more
This book sets the stage for the next book, a clever idea. In The Winter Palace we read about what went on before the relatively obscure German princeThis book sets the stage for the next book, a clever idea. In The Winter Palace we read about what went on before the relatively obscure German princess Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg transformed herself into the empress Catherine the Great.
I found it quite an intense story about what, we would call today, an abusive and toxic environment and women who found themselves living inside it. Sophie and everybody else is placed under the tyranny of empress Elizabeth, who is a cruel self centered ruler. Everybody is forced to live a double life, one in public and quite another one clandestinely. This type of living under constant terror is shared by the main protagonist of the story, fictional Barbara (in Polish) or Varvara (in Russian), who finds herself an orphan, a foreigner at the Russian court at the mercy of the empress Elizabeth. Both Sophie and Barbara become friends, or so it seems. Both have to deny or cover up their true feelings, have to make alliances and rid themselves of any scruples in order to survive.
The fictional main character is very skillfully placed within the historical context making the story interesting as well as educational. It's the best way to learn history, through the eyes of a very credible and very sympathetic character. I love reading about the minuscule details, descriptions of everyday life, food, fashion, occupations, behaviour of the protagonists, coming into close contact with the reality of Russia of the eighteen century.
The book is essentially dedicated to the seventeen years during which Sophie waited and learnt all she could in order to prepare herself for taking the throne. She also endured tremendous hardship in her personal life, having everybody who she loved taken away from her. She knew that her fortune depended completely on her strenght and proceeded with the iron will to will what she wanted. ...more
I changed my mind about this book several times. It seemed so imperfect while I was reading it. And then midway through I have completely accepted itI changed my mind about this book several times. It seemed so imperfect while I was reading it. And then midway through I have completely accepted it and loved it. I am very glad I read it. In the end I would say it is a beautiful book and an important one. I would say it is a book about being alone in the world, about being brave, about persevering, about not giving up on your dreams, about keeping this part that is only yours and independent while living in the world that is not exactly our dream world. It is about breaking horrible, horrible generational patterns of fake, angry lives and about love too. It's a different book about farming too, it paints a somber picture where we are now in terms of being on the path of destruction when it comes to agriculture and the food production in the United States. It is about the diseased world of the diseased industry. Theresa Weir doesn't condemn or preach, she is just a quiet witness that persevered and did what she needed to do. And I can't help but love The Orchard....more
This profound and beautifully written novel needs to be savoured slowly. It is not a fast read by any means, but if you are prepared to read and pauseThis profound and beautifully written novel needs to be savoured slowly. It is not a fast read by any means, but if you are prepared to read and pause frequently,this is a book for you. Of the two main protagonists telling their story in alternating voices, I found Rosanne's story more compelling. She is one of the most interesting characters I have encountered in a little while. At our book club meeting someone described her as otherworldly, perhaps an angel. This is because in spite of horrific events, Roseanne remains oddly happy with a great deal of humour, no hatred toward her tormentors, somewhat detached from the immediate, troubled world. In spite of being a historical novel of Ireland describing its most troubled times, it is also a deeply philosophical, spiritual, and a very quotable novel....more
I love Susan Juby's Alice books and it is the main reason why I picked up this book. And of course this one is different. It is so much more personal.I love Susan Juby's Alice books and it is the main reason why I picked up this book. And of course this one is different. It is so much more personal. I am not sure why I love books like that, but I do. About, essentially, not fitting in and having a hard time finding one's place in the world. Nice Recovery is a great book, it's a very straight forward account of downward and upward journey from addiction to recovery. I think she wrote it hoping to reach young people in need of this kind of open and no nonsense yet empathetic talk. It can be read as a sort of self help manual and a kind of defense against hopelessness. Nothing will replace support from another human, but a book can be a first step....more
I love books about farming, gardening, growing food and creating lasting bonds so no wonder I was drawn to this book.
Having recently enjoyed Susan JubI love books about farming, gardening, growing food and creating lasting bonds so no wonder I was drawn to this book.
Having recently enjoyed Susan Juby’s latest: The Woefield Poultry Collective I was hungry for more farming lore. Juby’s book is delightful and funny, a great entertaining read, but it is just playing farm. Now Kristin Kimball is the real thing. This wonderful writer is also a very serious farmer who together with her husband established and runs the Essex Farm.
Kristin Kimball's book came to me via Your Food Your Choice conference so I am lucky to have heard her speak about her life and her book. Once I got back home from this incredibly inspiring event, I have moved all my other books to the side and started reading. It's not for the faint of heart, full of graphic details of farm life in its entire glory, and it is an amazing and engaging read. It's a story of going back to land in times of economic upheaval, it is about going back to the roots literally and figuratively, it's about unhinged New Yorker becoming deeply committed to the ethics of hard work and growing good food as well as building community.
There are many many beautiful mindful moments in the course of the story such as milking the cows, making syrup from the sugar bush, working the land with the horses, weeding, harvesting food, cooking it, Kristin and Mark's wedding on the farm, and many more.
The chapter on milking and milk is not to be missed. It transported me directly to my childhood years in the sixties and seventies when I, a big city girl, had access to farms, cows, chicken and such during my summers spent mostly in the countryside. When Kristin talks about the taste of sour milk straight from the cow, I know exactly what she means, I can close my eyes and just like Proust reminiscencing about the taste of madeleines I can go back in time and savour the taste of cool sour milk drunk directly from clay bowls that stood on the shady parapets of the farmhouse window.
I remember being warned when I left Poland in the eighties: "watch out for their food in the West, it's all artificial and has no taste."
Growing good food, delivering it "two steps away from dirt", cooking it and eating with other people, we seemed to have forgotten that it is so essential to life and happiness, especially here in the North America but we are slowly forgetting it everywhere else as well. No wonder UNESCO declared French cuisine 'world intangible heritage’. Now we all need to rediscover this heritage because it's not exclusively French possession they just had been wisely holding on to it on every corner of their streets.
I read The Pioneer Woman a long while back, before it was published in the book format. I read it on Ree Drummond's website when it was still only a bI read The Pioneer Woman a long while back, before it was published in the book format. I read it on Ree Drummond's website when it was still only a blog. I found it very funny. It's a very different take on farming life and a whole different story than, for example, Kristin Kimball's The Dirty Life. I must say as hilarious, amusing and lighthearted blog, it worked better for me in that format than a big glossy hard cover, that lucky me, I could borrow from the library....more
I thoroughly enjoyed this contemporary American novel. As it is set in the nineties among the creators of the new then computer/internet companies, II thoroughly enjoyed this contemporary American novel. As it is set in the nineties among the creators of the new then computer/internet companies, I learnt a great deal about those early days od dot coms.
This book has the most beautiful seduction scene evolving over a few days, involving a great big house, exquisite collection of antique cookbooks and a peach.