**spoiler alert** I have always had trouble viewing Ernest Hemingway sympathetically or even favorably. Intellectually, I understand why he was an imp**spoiler alert** I have always had trouble viewing Ernest Hemingway sympathetically or even favorably. Intellectually, I understand why he was an important writer. When I read his work, it doesn't excite the same awe and admiration other people seem to experience -- as Hadley Richardson does in The Paris Wife. I think he was an overrated narcissist. (Yes, yes, cue shocked gasps and irate Hemingway zealots.) So I identified with Hadley, not only because I'm completely nonplussed by Hemingway but also because she is so much like me.
It starts as a beautiful love story with hope and promise and what everyone wants in a marriage. And then it unravels. It becomes harder to read and more heart-rending the deeper you go in the novel. At the same time, you realize the honesty of what Hemingway said about Hadley: that she was "so good and strong and true." She handles the chaos he brings everywhere beautifully, even when it nearly destroys her.
The Paris Wife is beautifully written, and it made me want to try to read Hemingway again. I hated The Old Man and the Sea (actually cried when I realized I was only a third of the way through, and I love to read), I was disappointed in A Farewell to Arms, and I've been stuck in The Sun Also Rises since last Christmas. Maybe knowing what he left out of Sun will make it more poignant. And I do want to see what he has to say about Hadley herself in A Moveable Feast. I'm hoping that knowing more about Hemingway's story (contrived though some of it is) will help me understand -- and maybe even like -- his work better.
I hope McLain writes more similar novels. I wanted to hate Pauline, but I couldn't. I would love to hear her perspective. Maybe the wives of Hemingway will become as fascinating as the wives of Henry VIII; after all, they all had to put up with terrifically awful husbands....more
This was a mostly pleasant read. There were more typos than I'm used to seeing, and a few passages seemed a little trite. But it was a well developedThis was a mostly pleasant read. There were more typos than I'm used to seeing, and a few passages seemed a little trite. But it was a well developed plot, and I always wondered what would happen if Charlotte regretted her decision to marry Mr. Collins. This was a satisfactory answer....more
I wasn't expecting anything like the story this turned out to be, but I really enjoyed this book. The plague seemed real, and Anna is a character who'I wasn't expecting anything like the story this turned out to be, but I really enjoyed this book. The plague seemed real, and Anna is a character who's easy to relate to. I did not see the end coming at all, which made the book a little more enjoyable and really made me dislike the character who'd had me so misled. I thought the end was a bit far-fetched, but it's fiction -- might as well go all the way....more
I received this book through a goodreads.com giveaway and am legally required to disclose that in my review. I also don't give five stars as a rule, uI received this book through a goodreads.com giveaway and am legally required to disclose that in my review. I also don't give five stars as a rule, unless I am truly blown away by a book or I think it has resounding effects on future literature or the lives of people who read it.
I didn't mean to read You Know When the Men are Gone tonight. I just meant to flip through and get a sense of what it was about. I hadn't even eaten my dinner. "I'll just read this first chapter," I thought, "and then I'll fix something to eat." Before I knew it, 100 pages were gone.
Fallon says in the afterword that she hoped to provide a "window" into life on a military base during wartime. Not having that experience, I can't say for sure, but it felt like more than a window. My heart went out to the men and women in the book, and I cried for nearly all of them. It's beautifully written, poignant with raw honesty. I felt sympathetic even for characters I thought were doing something wrong, which is more Fallon's talent than my good nature.
It was a compulsive read, and throughout it, I felt so thankful both for my civilian husband, sleeping safely upstairs, and for all the brave men and women so frequently turned into meaningless cliches who allow us to sleep safely. And grateful to their spouses who wait and children who may not recognize them when they come home from long deployments. Fallon strips away the cliches and stereotypes and really puts you in their shoes. It's probably about as close as you can get to understanding the sacrifices, the strength, and the will to survive without the actual experiences....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
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
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
When I started reading The Baker's Daughter, I was disappointed to see that it jumped back and forth from present to past in different points of view.When I started reading The Baker's Daughter, I was disappointed to see that it jumped back and forth from present to past in different points of view. Usually, I like a third-person point of view to be either omniscient or to concentrate on one character because swapping things around is so difficult to do well. Sarah McCoy is an exception. I was very impressed with how well the story flowed together. It wasn't hard to follow. You didn't get confused about which character was the focal point at any given moment. For what originally looked like something of a patchwork quilt, the plot moved pretty seamlessly.
There were parts that I wanted to know more about. What happened to all the other women Hazel was living with? Is it an actual historical unknown? If so, there probably would have been a way to weave that in. I also wondered about Josef's ending. Did that really happen? Or was it a rumor that reached Elsie?
Initially, I was uncomfortable with equating the Holocaust with deporting undocumented immigrants. But then I realized that McCoy wasn't trying to equate, per se. Studying Nazi Germany, it's easy to condemn all Germans who lived through the Holocaust, supported Hitler at any time or on any level or fought in the war. But governments commit atrocities all the time without the knowledge, much less consent, of the people they purport to represent. It was interesting to read something not remotely sympathetic to Nazism, but definitely sympathetic to the average German just trying to eke out an existence during a war that devastated the entire continent (and much of the rest of the world). I thought the passage where Reba asks Elsie whether she was a Nazi was poignant -- particularly Elsie's response: "I was a German."...more