Normally, I can put aside my job as a copy editor and enjoy books, but some of the errors and poor judgments in Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and SweeNormally, I can put aside my job as a copy editor and enjoy books, but some of the errors and poor judgments in Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet were so egregious that I found myself reaching for a red pen.
The 1942 passages, as far as I could tell, were well-researched, and the rough idea of the plot was compelling. The 1986 portions were a disaster, and the story seems to drag and repeat itself. We don't learn anything new every flashback/fast-forward, which, to me, defeats the purpose of a split-time setting.
My biggest gripes were the anachronisms in the 1986 part of the story and the portrayal of Henry's parents. There isn't really a good argument for choosing 1986 as the setting. A lot of the "modern" technology mentioned is very modern -- it wouldn't be accessible for at least another 10 years. Henry's son uses the internet to search for a person, but the internet was really not used a lot before the 1990s. I'm vaguely remembering that he might have been majoring in something computer-related, but even with that access and know-how, that wasn't something readily available in 1986. And CDs weren't big until the 1990s, either. In 1986, everyone was mostly using cassette tapes.
The treatment of Henry's parents is patronizing. Even when it's clear that they're speaking in Cantonese and the conversation is in English for the reader's convenience, they omit verbs in a very stereotypical portrayal of Asian immigrants. It makes no sense to suggest that they would be speaking so brokenly in their native language.
The mistakes really didn't make me think less of the author; like I said, the story is compelling. But the editor could have made it so much better with some strategic cutting and a closer read for fact-checking....more
This was hands-down the best book I've read this year and the most beautiful imagery I've ever read. It's so beautifully written that I feel like anytThis was hands-down the best book I've read this year and the most beautiful imagery I've ever read. It's so beautifully written that I feel like anything I say about it would cheapen what was obviously a labor of love....more
In compliance with FCC regulations, I am disclosing that I received a copy of Next To Love by Ellen Feldman as a part of the Goodreads First Reads givIn compliance with FCC regulations, I am disclosing that I received a copy of Next To Love by Ellen Feldman as a part of the Goodreads First Reads giveaway.
The perspective Ellen Feldman presents historically is really interesting: The war never ends, at least in the minds of the people who lived it. Some of the trauma fades, but it's changed all the characters drastically. I have not lived a war the way people on the home front lived World War II, so it was something I never considered. If PTSD is a struggle now, of course it was in the 1940s and '50s, and men would have been ashamed to seek help because of gender stereotypes. The emotions the characters experienced were painstakingly recounted, and the nightmares, the guilt resulting from emotional instability, and the strain all of that puts on a marriage were eloquent and poignant. The reader feels what the characters feel.
This was a compulsive read and an interesting story, but the organization made it somewhat disjointed. I don't know if that was intentional, but it hurt the book for me. I think the story would have run more smoothly if, instead of breaking each chapter up into three parts to give Babe, Millie, and Grace equal parts of the story, Feldman had just written the whole book in third-person omniscient, as she did the last chapter. This way, you sort of know what's going to happen before it happens, and as you get to know the characters, you know how they're going to react.
I also felt like starting with Babe the day news of the Allies' invasion comes is a little unfair if you want the story to have three heroines. No one else's perspective is shared from that day until much later, so for me, I started the book most sympathetic to Babe, rather than liking all the women equally. With a different format, I might have been more sympathetic toward Grace, who is probably most like me of the three, and Millie, who is probably the most likable of the three. As it was, I was on Team Babe from the start, and I plowed through the Millie and Grace chapters to get back to Babe....more
I bought this on a whim and didn't expect much, but it was much better than I anticipated. There were several times that I thought, "I honestly don'tI bought this on a whim and didn't expect much, but it was much better than I anticipated. There were several times that I thought, "I honestly don't know how we can get to the ending I think it should have," which was refreshing. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of dresses and of sketching designs....more
This is one of those books that you need to read slowly and digest. I thoroughly enjoyed it -- mostly because it's so eloquent. Sometimes Chabon descrThis is one of those books that you need to read slowly and digest. I thoroughly enjoyed it -- mostly because it's so eloquent. Sometimes Chabon describes horrific scenes delicately; sometimes, he is blunt where you would expect delicacy. I never doubt that writing is an art form, but it's rare to come in contact with such a masterful piece. I felt kind of disappointed with the ending. But overall, it was a really, really good read, and I'm glad I read it with a pen so I could mark the perfect word choices I found particularly poignant or hilarious....more
**spoiler alert** It's been about six years since I first read Mansfield Park, and I can tell how much I've changed by how different my reactions were**spoiler alert** It's been about six years since I first read Mansfield Park, and I can tell how much I've changed by how different my reactions were. The first time I read it, it was hands-down my favorite Austen book. I was surprised to find that now, it's probably in my lower two (which are still higher than most other books in general).
While Fanny's forbearance and selflessness remain extremely admirable, I had little patience for Edmund. Throughout the book, I thought, "Edmund, why are you being so stupid! Fanny deserves so much better." I loved Fanny's character development and seeing her sweet character be rewarded for her goodness. I did not love hearing Edmund go on and on about awful Miss Crawford. And I still can't decide for sure whether Miss Crawford truly loved Fanny as much as she said or used her to get to Edmund.
Jane Austen's books describe family life in homes so different from mine that I always find them interesting and not quite comprehensible. I can't imagine, for example, a home like the Prices', where things are so chaotic and children run wild. I also can't imagine a home like the Bertrams', with the mother so useless. And the indifference in both homes is foreign to me. But all of it is fascinating.
My big disappointment on the second reading was never having a scene in which Edmund says, "I'm an idiot, Fanny. I love you." It's not as though he's incapable of expressing such sentiments; he won't shut up about Miss Crawford for most of the book. I feel a tad cheated that we don't see that with Fanny. The resolution seemed like Austen was writing for a deadline. Everyone reaches a satisfying conclusion, but it feels like it could have been more fleshed out with dialogue and more specific narration....more
Absolutely masterful storytelling. What you're reading is from the viewpoint of a fictional character, so it's easier to separate fact from fiction. IAbsolutely masterful storytelling. What you're reading is from the viewpoint of a fictional character, so it's easier to separate fact from fiction. I like that Gregory has, in the back of all her books, conversations about what is known and what is unknown. Hannah is an enormously likeable character, and you end up just as interested in her story as you are in the spying she does for Mary Tudor, the Princess Elizabeth, and the Dudley clan....more