Informative, adorable, and inspiring, but a bit too bogged down in the "folksy tales" for my tastes. This was a short book, so I was a little surpriseInformative, adorable, and inspiring, but a bit too bogged down in the "folksy tales" for my tastes. This was a short book, so I was a little surprised at some of the rambling. I listened to this audiobook, and every half hour or so I'd say out loud, "Okay, was that really necessary to share?" (view spoiler)[Like, when he had a heart attack, do we really need to know that he asked "the little lady dressed in white" where the doctor was, only to learn she was the doctor?" What was the point of that? (hide spoiler)]
But ultimately, Archie's story was very informative and I teared up more than once. He's humble, but recognizes, and is more than willing to take advantage of, his many gifts (i.e., excellent memory). I found his journey through and among the policy makers to be the most interesting part of this book, and his speaking engagements that took him to prisons, schools, and even Russia. This guy did a lot of great work, and I applaud him for that. ...more
Movies and TV are passive. Someone experiencing them doesn't have to fill in any of the details. Novels, far less so. The readers has to do some workMovies and TV are passive. Someone experiencing them doesn't have to fill in any of the details. Novels, far less so. The readers has to do some work to see what is going on. But when you read a written play, you have to do the most work of all. You get the sparest of details and direction, and pure dialogue with the merest hints of inflection. The actual audiences of a written play are the directors, performers, set designers, wardrobe, lighting and sound designers, etc. If you don't want to execute all these roles in your head, you won't like reading plays.
But if you want to give it a shot, this story is an easy lift because it builds off a rich, intricate world built by JK Rowling. It's not difficult to do.
I enjoyed this story. I read it in a day, and then immediately gave it to my husband to read so we could talk about it. It was satisfying, but didn't offer much new in terms of world-building, characterization, settings, or plot. I was surprised it retread as much material as it did. That's why I dinged it a star.
But then again, Rowling didn't write this. It's fitting that it is a play, and not a novel. If someone else wrote a HP novel, we'd all be very disappointed. But it's an entirely different experience - one focused on the spectacle and imagination involved in putting something in the theatre.
I hope to see it someday. So many scenes I spent thinking to myself, "Now, how did they pull that off in a live theatre?" It's fun to think about.
Specifically: (view spoiler)[ I hope the actor who plays Ron is excellent, because he has a lot to fill in. His dialogue felt overly... empty to me. But a good actor can fix that.
Hermione was everything I hoped she would be. And Rose = awesome.
Harry was overworked, which is the only reason he acted the way he did. Again, I hope the actor plays that up, because I kept forgetting and then wondered when Harry got so stupid.
Ginny is as irrelevant as she always has been. That made me sad.
I LOVED seeing Snape again. That was probably my favorite part.
Albus was quite well done. But I wonder about Albus's siblings. Was he really that isolated? It seemed a bit far-fetched to me. I needed to see a scene that alienated him more. They spent a fair amount of time alienating him from Rose, but it seems to me that his "circle" was a lot bigger than that.
There is a whole lot of novel here, and better people than me have devoted many resources to analyzing it. So I'm going to keep this focused.
Fives stThere is a whole lot of novel here, and better people than me have devoted many resources to analyzing it. So I'm going to keep this focused.
Fives stars because, despite it being a bit of slog and uneven in its application, it's just the kind of book I like to read. The characters were well-formed (mostly) and the plot extraordinarily tight and unpredictable. By the time the "third act" rolled around, I was regularly chatting at this book from my couch. "Now. Damn! Turn that screw. Now you've done it. Holy crap. What!?! No, no, no... Oh YES!" and so on. My husband was very amused.
I also loved this book (and here comes the focus) because the world having the character of Rosamund pretty much makes up for the fact that "Taming of the Shrew" is even a thing (note - I despise that play). Wondering what the hell I'm talking about? Read on.
(view spoiler)[ So, Rosamund was horrible, right? She was also pure femininity. And those that bought into it completely, suffered. Her husband = miserable. Her parents = disappointed. Herself = suffering for years (prettily, of course). The only people to see "through" her were her brother, Fred (who was the first character I even liked in the book), who thought her ridiculous and far inferior to the funny Mary, and, I'd argue, Dorothea, whose values just operated on a different plane. And things worked out for them. Coincidence? I think not. I found this book to be a scathing review of femininity and its role in marriage.
Taming of the Shrew always bothered me because the point is if you just play the roles, at least publicly, everything will be cool. Fuck that, Shakespeare. Middlemarch shows the true effects of such trappings.
I was upset Mary wasn't fleshed out more. She seems like she would have been a cool character, by today's standards. She was funny and thoughtful and stayed true to herself. But she was very much a provincial character, and maybe that held her back in a novel about disrupters. When asked by her views on gender at the end, she replied that boys and girls were equally naughty, but boys were physically stronger and could aim better. Truth, on many levels. But what good does that do you? Ah, that is the whole question of this book.
Rosamund took everyone down, frankly. It was only Dorothea's "hero" moment that saved them all (as much as possible).
In one reading viewpoint anyway. I'm actually excited to read more essays and criticism about this novel. As I said, there is a lot there. (hide spoiler)]...more
I'd actually give this book 4 1/2 stars, due to some choppiness in the storytelling. But it's understandable that with a book that tell aFascinating!
I'd actually give this book 4 1/2 stars, due to some choppiness in the storytelling. But it's understandable that with a book that tell a story this complicated (and this recent), that some holes will appear. It doesn't diminish the fact that this story is compelling, relevant, inspiring, and one that more people should be reading.
The summary gives a good overview of what the books is about, so I'll skip that. The book starts out very strong with the backstory of the librarian Abdel Kader Haidara, and then segues into a brief history of terror/radicals who end up in the area. I say brief, despite it being the biggest chunk of the book. Then the last bit going through the executed plan to smuggle the priceless manuscripts to a safer area.
I'm eager to go through some of the sources used to write this book, because, what...? I'll put this bit behind spoilers, for the hell of it. (view spoiler)[There was a Kickstarter? A thread on Reddit? All this was happening during the smuggle? They weren't worried about tipping off the radicals? I gotta look that up. (hide spoiler)] I also wanted to know more about (view spoiler)[Haidara's nephew, who was the one doing a giant chunk of the actual smuggling. What was his back story? What other obstacles did he face? How did he feel about them? (hide spoiler)]
But the larger story here is the story of a civilization of free thought and debate that keeps rising from the ashes. History has a long reach, and this book elegantly posits how decisions made hundreds of year ago are still extraordinarily influential today. ...more