This book was absolutely delightful! This was a Book Club read and I am so glad I read it! The book takes the form of a collection of correspondence....moreThis book was absolutely delightful! This was a Book Club read and I am so glad I read it! The book takes the form of a collection of correspondence. While reading it you feel as though you have found a treasured box of secrets. It is such an interesting was to tell a story! It doesn't have a 'dear diary' feel to it either. It is as though someone stumbled upon a stack of letters in various houses and put them in chronological order to see what happened with this group of people. There is more than enough in the letters to keep you from becoming lost or confused, but the story moves along much more quickly this way.
The content of the story is quite heavy since these people are dealing with the aftermath of the German Occupation, and yet their telling of their own experiences in a way that focuses on the happy times and the friendships that they've formed.
It was truly impressive to me that the author is painting a vivid picture of the aftermath of WWII and yet this book seems so warm and inviting. It is really all about the interesting characters. There were moments that I shed tears, but even more when I found myself laughing along with the characters.
This was yet another step outside of my normal reading habits. I enjoyed it though. Rose is a sweet spirited girl until she discovers that she can tas...moreThis was yet another step outside of my normal reading habits. I enjoyed it though. Rose is a sweet spirited girl until she discovers that she can taste feelings in food. From that point on her life is dramatically different. I wanted to cry for the little girl who knew so much more than any child should know about her mother. The idea that she couldn't enjoy food anymore because the majority of the world around her was so unhappy! I imagine it would be awful.
One of the things that makes this book so different is the detachment of the characters. You have Paul, the dad, who likes to have his normal organized family, and goes through the motions even when things aren't so great. You have Joseph who prefers to be alone all of the time and very rarely engages with the family. You have Rose who, before long, avoids cooked foods because there is too much emotion there. She sticks to processed snack food so that all she tastes are the methodical factories that produce the food. Then there is Lane, the mom. She is so sad and so empty. We know more of her emotions than any other character because it is the one thing that Rose can't avoid. She tastes it in every meal. She is so sad, and lonely.
The book was well written and definitely creative, but it left me feeling empty as I read it. The emotions are conveyed beautifully by the author.
I will be honest, there is a secondary plot line involving Joseph that is kind of out there. For most of the book he goes through these spells where he disappears. We don't know why, and we don't know where he goes, but we know that something is off. When this begins to resolve it gets a little different. It was actually the part of the book that we spent the most time talking about at book club. The majority could only use the word 'weird'. I leaned more towards 'interesting'. This book is in the genre of magical realism so you have to be willing to accept that a lot of it isn't really explained in concrete satisfactory terms. It's about the emotion conveyed through the story.
This was a story of loss innocence for a young girl. Once she grows up she realizes that by avoiding the emotions in food, she has avoided emotion all together. When she sees what that detachment has done to her brother she sets out to find herself, and really live her life for her. The book ends in the middle of Rose's new beginning and I was left with the feeling that she was going to be ok, even if the path that brought her there was a little bumpy.
I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it for people who like something a little different and aren't bothered by the unexplained mystical elements. If you don't really like books where there is not a clear concrete explanation it may not be for you.(less)
This was a really great Christmas read. I picked this book for our December Book Club party because it sounded like a nice story and it was pretty sho...moreThis was a really great Christmas read. I picked this book for our December Book Club party because it sounded like a nice story and it was pretty short. Everyone's busy and I wanted to pick something that would be easy to read even though we are all so busy. I sat down and read it one night earlier this week. I really enjoyed this story. The writing is more a storytelling style than what I am used to reading fiction. There were a lot of narrative sections but it really played into the type of book it was.
This is the story of a young girl orphaned as an infant and taken in my a kind housekeeper who doted on her belated Christmas gift. Holly Jensen grows up to be an ambitious reporter for the local paper. When Hope receives an unexpected gift on the heels of an awful event she sets out to find her benefactor and write the best feature story yet. Through the course of her investigating she meets and falls in love with a wonderful family and finally discovers the origin of The Christmas Jars. the discovery throws Hope off balance and suddenly she longs for something other than an ambitious career.
Like most Christmas movies and stories this heart-warming tale is a little unbelievable, but that is what makes the Christmas season so magical. We have an opportunity to believe in the good of mankind and happy endings for people who truly deserve them. I cried like a baby when I finished this book. It's only 122 pages but it is a great read and a very inspiring story about the true spirit of Christmas.(less)
I loved the book. It now holds a place on my list of favorite books ever. The imagery and landscape in this novel is amazing. I've had this book on my...moreI loved the book. It now holds a place on my list of favorite books ever. The imagery and landscape in this novel is amazing. I've had this book on my "want to read" list for a year but I was saving it to share with my book club. I'm so glad I did. I think we all enjoyed it. Set in a small town tucked away in Appalachia, there were only a few clues here and there to let us know that it was set in the modern day. The practices of the neighbors could easily let you believe that this novel was set in a time when people lived off the land and socialized with their neighbors instead of computers.
This novel, told from the point of view of three very different people, shows how we are all connected to one another, through our communities, and also through the very earth we live on. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys vivid imagery and colorful characters. (less)
I really enjoyed this novel. There were definitely parts that were hard to read. I saw a bit of my own great-grandfather in the 90 or 93 year old Mr....moreI really enjoyed this novel. There were definitely parts that were hard to read. I saw a bit of my own great-grandfather in the 90 or 93 year old Mr. Janowski. I felt that Sara Gruen did a great job describing the grit and grime of the circus, and the the horrifying realities associated with it. There are tales of animal cruelty that might be hard for some people to read.
I would have liked to see more personality in Marlena's character. I know that it was Jacob's story, told from his point of view. I still would have liked to know more about the woman he was in love with, aside from the fact that she was beautiful. But I know that I have a preference for strong female characters.
I was a little disappointed with the end of the book. I kept hoping for something great. I can think of a few ways I might have rather she wrapped it up.(less)