This book does two things. It covers the biographies of eight generations of women in the author's family as well as offering a close study of the freThis book does two things. It covers the biographies of eight generations of women in the author's family as well as offering a close study of the frequently fraught mother- daughter relationship all women recognize. It starts with the mother of the author's great-great-grandmother, who was born in 1830. It concludes with the author's own granddaughter born in the second decade of the 21st Century. By studying these women what do we learn? Mistakes are repeated. To some extent the author is writing this book to help her understand her own behavior and to stop making the same mistakes! Secondly she is writing simply because her family has always written about themselves. Writing is a family trait. Many of Vita Sackville-West’s novels are in fact about herself and her family. Hopefully readers too will learn from what the author has learned.
Mistakes are often repeated from one generation to the next. I have noticed this, and haven’t you? The author is very honest; she recognized that she was repeating the very same mistakes made by previous women in her family. Every woman reading this account will recognize that we do tend to repeat the same errors. So how do we stop this? Through understanding and a conscious decision to shape our own lives as we want them to be. This is not a self-help book, but it does offer food for thought. What starts as an interesting study of particular women moves on to become a psychological study of relationships.
There is much about the Sackville-West family and Vita Sackville-West in particular. The author is an historian, but history is not the focus of the book. Historical events are thrown in as a backdrop, only mentioned to the extent with which they influence family life. Historical details are dispersed as interesting tidbits that help explain the era and why particular choices were made. Authors, literature and trends are detailed; these are important since they draw the atmosphere of the time and place. Clothes and food and particularly place play a prominent role in these women's lives. Much is said about the Sackville-West residencies. Places and life in France, in Spain and in NYC are well described.
I must point out the writing is good, both in its description of places and how people behave. In expression of thoughts too. Just two examples:
-Grief, such a small word, and yet an iceberg of a word....Grief is the price you pay for love.
-Within dying there is so much living.
The book gets better the further you go. Why? Because it gets more personal. The author speaks from her heart. She had a deep relationship with her grandmother, Vita Sackville-West; she had a difficult relationship with her mother, a close relationship with her father and when she herself has a granddaughter she has begun a path toward deeper self-understanding. With this understanding comes appreciation of the granddaughter held in her arms. I am left feeling a bit envious, a little bit jealous. Me? I don’t have all my answers. Family relationships are difficult, quite simply because they are so important. Nobody can teach you how to deal with vulnerability, and aren't most of us unsure, vulnerable and uncertain of ourselves? Also, there isn't one answer; you have to find it for yourself, but we can read to see how others reason.
It is not hard to keep track of who is who. Each person becomes a real identity. There aren't too many extraneous people to confuse the reader.
Alcoholism, feminism, lesbianism and aging are covered too. Some of the ideas drawn by the author stopped too short, or rather they didn’t cover ideas I have pondered. For example, I wanted more about how it feels when both your parents have passed away. Of course maybe the author’s thoughts were simply different from mine.
I enjoyed the audiobook narration by Julie Teal. For the most part, it’s easy to follow, but sometimes there is so much to consider. Then I did wish it had been a teeny bit slower. I had to have time to think. I was forced to rewind on several occasions.
So good writing, food for thought and interesting people, but it takes a while to be drawn in. I recommend it to those interested in the Sackville-West family and those interested in thinking about their own mother-daughter relationships. I made that plural on purpose! We all have a mother and many of us have a daughter too.
2 stars MY REVIEW HAS BEEN REVISED AFTER COMPLETING THE BOOK
Reynolds' biography of Hemingway is more an analysis of what Hemingway has written than an2 stars MY REVIEW HAS BEEN REVISED AFTER COMPLETING THE BOOK
Reynolds' biography of Hemingway is more an analysis of what Hemingway has written than an examination of his inner soul. This book, the second in Reynold's series on Hemingway, covers only four years 1922-1926, predominantly set in Paris but also Spain, Italy,Turkey and Austria. In 1924 Hemingway began to receive acclaim. It covers his marriage to Hadley and his growing infatuation with Pauline, who will be his next wife. It covers the birth of his son. It covers his years as a reporter; he wrote both for The Toronto Star and for Hearst. He was in Turkey when the fire and catastrophe in Smyrna took place. As usual, he missed the real action but heard what others related. He observed and he listened. He was, as always, an observant listener. I found this coverage of historical event s more interesting than any other part of the book. Hemingway wanted to be a fiction writer, so that must be the main focus. The book covers primarily his friendship with those of the Lost Generation, those living in Paris in the 20s.
The main focus is what Hemingway wrote during this period. You have to be well aware of what he has written. A chapter can begin relating what one of his fictional characters is thinking or doing. This can be confusing; the reader must immediately recognize Hemingway’s fictional characters. This is further confused because the fictional characters are drawn from real ones. Just as Hemingway so often takes real events and fictionalizes them, so does this biography blend the two.
Being a literary analysis of his writing and his steps toward recognition, the book details the ins and outs of his writing and publishing contracts. Perhaps the book is best for those readers who are themselves budding authors, who are looking for guidelines on writing techniques. It shows what Hemingway learned from others.
The book is more a presentation of what Hemingway does than what he thinks. The reader observes his actions and the choices he makes. I still like Hemingway's writing but I do not admire him as a person. And none of this has to do with his despicable love of bullfighting. At least in the first book (The Young Hemingway) you are given an idea of why he was drawn to this barbaric practice. In the first book there is more discussion of what factors shaped Hemingway into the man he was. This second book focuses on how he became a writer. I like how Hemingway writes, but dissecting every paragraph, every line, every word in his books makes the Hemingway magic disappear.
I found neither Hemingway’s conversion to the Catholic faith or his changed feeling for Hadley well presented. I don’t understand how he was thinking, so neither can I empathize with him.
There is an awful lot of repetition within this second book AND from the previous book. The repetition is excessive. It quite simply drove me nuts.
You do learn a bit about Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas and Ezra Pound and F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sylvia Beach, known for her Paris bookstore/library Shakespeare and Company.
I will not be continuing this series. I do not like Reynold's focus or how he presents the facts. I get the impression he is trying to write with a style similar to Hemingway, only it fails. And the exceedingly rapid narration of the audiobook by Allen O'Reilly makes the reading experience even more unpleasant.
I have learned about Hemingway......I like him less. This is who he was. These are the things he did. These are the things he said. You can like an author's work but not the author himself! I am glad I know him better. With my increased awareness and dislike I remind myself that this book only covers four years of his entire life, but for now I have had enough of Hemingway!
There are numerous book descriptions here at GR. This says what you need to know:
"A sensational bestseller when it appeared in 1986, The Garden of EdThere are numerous book descriptions here at GR. This says what you need to know:
"A sensational bestseller when it appeared in 1986, The Garden of Eden is the last uncompleted novel of Ernest Hemingway, which he worked on intermittently from 1946 until his death in 1961. Set on the Côte d'Azur in the 1920s, it is the story of a young American writer, David Bourne, his glamorous wife, Catherine, and the dangerous, erotic game they play when they fall in love with the same woman...."
The book was uncompleted and was published posthumously. This is important to note. It does not read as a finished novel, even if it does contain some great lines. It is repetitive. The different threads are not drawn up properly. At the end, the message delivered is confused. It needs to be tightened up. Hemingway usually delivers a strong clear novel without numerous sidetracks, but not here.
There is subdued eroticism which is tantalizing in sections, but then this gets sidetracked into the power struggle in a couple's relationship, and on a higher level between men and women in general.
The narration by Patrick Wilson is perfectly acceptable....more
One star means, here at GR, that the reader did not like the book. No, I do not like this book. IF I cannot bear to listen to it to the very end how c One star means, here at GR, that the reader did not like the book. No, I do not like this book. IF I cannot bear to listen to it to the very end how can I even say it was OK? I have listened to seven of thirty-six hours of the unabridged audiobook version translated by Tobias Smollett and narrated by the talented Robert Whitfield/Simon Vance. I cannot continue. I have given this enough of my time. My good friends know that I often will struggle through a book that is displeasing me. Why? To give it a fair chance; some books do turn around. My patience is tested to the limit with this book. In addition, let it be noted that even a superb narrator cannot save a book if you don't like how it is written. Robert Whitfield does a fantastic job.
I found the book tedious, extremely wordy and repetitive. It is a composite of many stories relating the escapades of the knight errant, Don Quixote, and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza. Don Quixote is always, in every story depicted, the idealist, a worthy knight bent on fighting for good and honor, fighting for women and men who are unfairly treated. He is fighting against all injustice, in whatever form it may be. That is all fine and dandy; but he is delusional and sees injustice, inequity and dishonor where it does not exist. He is an honorable man fighting against problems that in fact do not exist. In contrast, Sancho Panza offers us the realist's interpretation of events. (That they see the world differently does make their friendship all the more wonderful!) Each story/episode introduces the reader to new characters, new events, but there is a huge similarity in what is to be drawn from the separate stories.
I do not enjoy short stories so I am not the ideal reader for this book! If you do enjoy short stories it may be enjoyable to listen to one, laugh at the humor depicted in the events and the naivety of Don Quixote and smile at the wonderful friendship one sees between the knight errant and his squire. Then put the book aside for a later time when you feel like listening to another story. However do keep in mind that the message imparted is to all extent and purposes the same in all the related stories.
The stories are cute, the lines are humorous and the book well depicts Spanish society and ways of thinking in the early 17th Century. It was published in two volumes, the first in 1605 and the second in 1615. To quote from Wiki: "Don Quixote is considered the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire Spanish literary canon. As a founding work of modern Western literature, and one of the earliest canonical novels, it regularly appears high on lists of the greatest works of fiction ever published."
But I personally have had enough. This is in fact the second time I have tried to read the book. My grandmother had a wonderful hardback with great illustrations. It attracted me, I tried to like it, but failed that time too. That was a good fifty years ago.
I am NOT judging the book. I am telling you merely how I personally react to this book. Yes, it can be seen as amazing, as a break-through piece of writing, but it is not with this criterion I rate books. ...more
On completion, all I will add to that written below is that I adored the ending. This IS my favorite book by Hemingway. Hemingway has illuminated frieOn completion, all I will add to that written below is that I adored the ending. This IS my favorite book by Hemingway. Hemingway has illuminated friendship and love in a beautiful and also honest manner. Note, this is a love story, a wonderful love story that rings true. Nothing false here. If other authors could write love stories like this, romance would be my favorite genre.
Although fiction, the book is in fact written about real people and real events, and it has an autobiographical basis. Check out Wiki when you have completed the book; no peaking before! I found Jake very attractive. I will include just one quote from Wiki: "In the novel, Hemingway presents his notion that the "Lost Generation", considered to have been decadent, dissolute and irretrievably damaged by World War I, was resilient and strong." When you finish the book you have glimpsed French and Spanish life in the 20s. You feel you have yourself vacationed in both France and Spain. Need a vacation? Read this book. I absolutely loved it.
I am nearing the end, and I am absolutely loving this. Yes, even the bullfighting fiesta. It goes on for seven days - rockets and dancing and music and crowds. And yes of course drinking. To remove that would be absurd! Me,I am the one to faint in a crowd and have done so at a 4th of July parade, so this fiesta should not be my kind of thing, but here, in this book, you see why it is so loved by the Spanish people. You, the reader, are part of their festivities and understand and f-e-e-l their excitement. Back away two steps and your inhibitions rise up, but while reading Hemingway's lines you are there in the middle, and it is glorious and frightful all rolled together. Hemingway shows the horrors of it too, so the reader gets a rounded view. Not all Spaniards love bullfighting, even back then in the twenties.
And a word about how antisemitism is portrayed. Yes, one of the characters is a Jew, and yes he is disliked, but really it is not for his religious beliefs. It has nothing to do with that. This book is about friends and all the currents that lie underneath a friendship - jealously, competition, disgust, petty annoyances, sharing, camaraderie and caring. Be honest, friendship is NOT so simple. Much of the antisemitism is pure bluster.
William Hurt does a marvelous job with the narration, but it is not perfect. Tut, tut, tut, what do you mean, William? Shame on you! Not every line is perfect! (For clarity - I AM being sarcastic.) The French and American voices are perfect. I mean perfect! Dialogs between different friends succeed in that you know exactly who is speaking. Even if a female voice or the Scottish and German dialects could be improved, you still easily know who is who! And the pacing and strength of the lines describing scenery, the mountains, the fields, the color of the sky are wonderful too. Perfect narration? No. Very good? Yes! And this book is not easy to narrate.
I have just begun, but I am sucking up the atmosphere of Paris in the 20s. All are plastered - that is, some Americans and French and Italians and Greeks. I am listening to a narration by the w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l William Hurt. There is no way I could imagine the lines spoken with all these different accents as well as Hurt narrates them. Sooo perfect, particularly the French and American, the others accents give an amusing contrast! The mood of that time and place, Paris and expatriates and booze and bars, 1924, is delightfully portrayed. I don't mind the macho lines at all. They make me laugh and giggle. Sooooooo Hemingway!!!! Good stuff.
And I am not a boozer, but this I enjoy. You can live vicariously through books ...... without yourself having a hangover the next day!
Please let my enjoyment continue.
I know this book contains misogyny, homophobia, and some antisemitism too, but a good author can handle difficult themes well. Oh yeah, yucky bullfighting too. We will see how I feel at the end.
I think this will be my favorite book by Hemingway!...more
What draws me to recommend this book is the writing. I thoroughly enjoy Salter's description of places and individuals. And sex - explicit but not tooWhat draws me to recommend this book is the writing. I thoroughly enjoy Salter's description of places and individuals. And sex - explicit but not too graphic and not rosily drawn in romantic words.
The places so wonderfully described are Manhattan and its suburbs. Paris, France. Spain. Thunderstorms. Beaches. Restaurants and bars. The publishing community as it was after the Second World War. The publishing houses are fictional but the atmosphere of the time feels genuine as well as the authors, poets, photographers and artists named. The central character, Philip Bowman, is an editor. He is born in Manhattan in 1925. We follow him in the years after the war through the 1980s. His life is dissolute. If you need a hero to enjoy a novel, look elsewhere. He is not a person like me, but he is a person searching for something, something not quite within his grasp. It is this that I think one can relate to. Life has an allure. Life is intoxicating. Moments of pleasure are there for the grabbing.
So why not more stars? Not because Philip is different from me, not because his choices are immoral, but because Philip remains at arm’s length. I came to know many secondary characters better than Philip. Yet at the same time I complete the novel feeling that Philip being Philip could not let anyone closer. That is quite simply who Philip was. You can ask why. You can also ask yourself if Philip's unremarkable life is so very different, not in the specifics, but in its general quality of life compared to most people's lives. No one's life is all that dramatic as novels draw the lives of books' heros and villains.
The audiobook narration by Joe Barrett was absolutely excellent. Women and men, those with a lisp, those from the South, from Spain, from France, each and every one could be identified from Barrett's meticulously correct intonations. Easy to follow. Perfect speed. ...more
Hemingway uses special "literary techniques" in "For whom the Bell Tolls" that rather than enhancing the reading experience detract from it. Please seHemingway uses special "literary techniques" in "For whom the Bell Tolls" that rather than enhancing the reading experience detract from it. Please see the list below. The ending is totally soppy. You learn nothing about the Spanish Civil War, and a better explanation for why Robert Jordan decided to fight with the Republicans should have been given. The scenes depicting physical attraction were bland and insipid. Some dislike the macho behavior of Hemingway's characters, but this doesn't bother me. I see it as typical of the times, and Pilar is the best character of this novel. She is a strong, intelligent, no-nonsense woman! What remains undeniably true though is that Hemingway can draw a scene so you see, hear, smell and feel it in your pores. It is interesting to see what goes through a soldier's mind, but there is so much wrong with this book I cannot justify a better rating.
I listened to the audiobook. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Scott Campbell's narration, except that a few bomb blasts fell flat. Even a good narrator cannot save a bad book.
Through 1/2 of chapter 10: I very much enjoy the description of the landscapes and events. I like the strength and clarity of the prose. The dialogs have stopped bothering me. I am in chapter 10 and what happens is truly moving. You feel as the villagers' mood changes from controlled hostility to frenzied anger to drunken brutality. There is a massacre in the town.
Through Hemingway's usage of the words thee and thou, I understand now that he is simply giving the reader more information about the relationship between the individuals speaking. It doesn't disturb me in the slightest any more. In fact I like it! It serves a purpose. (Please note that by the end of the book I was totally fed up with this.)
I am in fact totally enjoying the book now. I have come to care for some of the characters, Pilar in particular. There is emotion in the book. There is the theme of what makes a person fight in a war. Motivation is not the same for all, and thus one person's behavior will be very different from another's.
Through chapter 7: This is what is bugging me: 1. The dialogs are NOT in the least believable. None of them. 2. Swear words are replaced with "unprintable word" or "obscenity". This is ridiculous and disrupts the prose! "F*/k you" will be written, "obscenity you", for example. Crazy! 3. In the 30s people did not speak with the terms "thy", "thee", "thou art". This is driving me nuts. WHY has Hemingway done this? (Answer: Kim explained this to me. It is to show the relationship between the people speaking. Please see comments 21-22 below!) 4. Robert Jordan is holier than "thou" (:0)), and it drives me crazy. SUCH a perfect soldier with SUCH motivation, and he is SO devoted to his job. 5. To top it all off the love between Maria and Robert Jordan jumps out of nowhere. The same day they meet they are in bed, no, actually a sleeping bag, and then she says in one of those above mentioned dialogs that she doesn't know how to kiss. Jeez! (OK, if one is a little patient an explanation is given.) 6. And what is this with calling Robert Jordan Robert Jordan?. Everyone else goes by one name, usually a nickname!
I will persevere. Why? Well because I DO enjoy Hemingway's depictions of places and events. They become moving and laden with feeling. You feel the immensity of those airplanes lined up in rows. You hear the gurgling stream. There is something that draws me to Hemingway's writing; it is just the dialogs that irritate me.
ETA: It bothers me that I don't explain more about the theme of the story, but I don't know how to explain without giving the whole thing away. In addETA: It bothers me that I don't explain more about the theme of the story, but I don't know how to explain without giving the whole thing away. In addition I am pretty darn sure that others may not interpret this story as I do. What I think is so tragic and beautiful at the same time is that the father, the photographer, being who he is and (view spoiler)[loving his wife beyond all else, simply HAD to take the photos he took of his wife. Those photos destroyed his wife and his relationship with her. (hide spoiler)] If you read this, please tell me if you react as I do? I love both HOW McCann writes and WHAT he has to say.
With his shirt open to the third button, he turned around from the fireplace. His chest was a xylophone of bones sticking out against his skin. His face and arms still held some tan, but the veil of his throat was lost to whiteness and the remaining chest hairs curled, acolytes of gray. His neck was a sack of sag and his trousers were huge on him. Not to healthy for him to be out in the cold. Although it would be lovely if I could see him cast in the way he used to. Even when I detested him, there were times when I was astounded just to watch him cast, back when the river was alive. Those flicks of the wrist like so many fireflies on the bank. The hooks glinting on the lapel of his overcoat. The huge sadness of him disappearing as the rod ripped away. Him counting under his breath, “One, two , three, here we go.” Lassoing it to the wind. Brisk upward motion of the tip of the glass rod, sometimes drawing off the flies by false casting. Finally watching them curl out over the water, and plunk, reeling the surface into soft circles. Stomping his feet on the bank. Spitting out over the water. All sorts of hidden violence in the motion. He coughed again…..
These lines are found within the first ½ hour of my listening to the audiobook reading by Paul Nugent. My breath was taken away. I couldn’t help but compare these lines with Steinbeck’s in his book “Travels with Charley”, also depicting a fisherman standing in Wellingtons in a river cluttered with garbage. McCann’s reference to garbage is to be found in the words “back when the river was alive” and a gate that slowed the stream’s tempo and reeds that grew along the embankment. Nugent’s timing, intonation and inflections make the Irish brogue come alive. For me this is pure poetry. And this is just one snippet. You should read McCann’s lines depicting coyotes. Steinbeck describes them too, but not like this! I should not compare, but how can I not?!
Now I am going to keep my mouth shut and see if this caliber of writing can be sustained throughout the entire novel.
The answer is yes. Astonishingly beautiful writing from start to finish. I would recommend that you listen to this because the narration was wonderful too.
McCann never writes books about happy, simple situations, but he shows beauty and hope. This book ends with a huge salmon leaping high over the brook and the line: "Let this joy last itself into the night." The lines are exquisite. His message too, but this is no fairy tale. This book is about a son trying to understand his parents, their relationship and how he fits in. His mother is Mexican, father Irish and a photographer. He fought in the Spanish Civil War. The son travels to all these places and through his father’s photos and his own memories he seeks to understand the past. Sex is both cruel and glorious, that is my only hint. I understood why each, the mother, the father and the son, felt and behaved as they did. Love and sorrow. Good memories and regrets. When you look at your own parents and your relationship to them don't you too see love and sorrow all jumbled together? Readers’ circumstances will be different but we can all recognize the emotions.
This is my favorite book by Colum McCann! I only have one more book left to read by him: Fishing the Sloe-Black River. I will read this next. I have only one complaint: I want more, longer books and more of them. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is a book which can be read on different levels! At least for me. I can think about a paragraph and the import of those lines OR I can read it foThis is a book which can be read on different levels! At least for me. I can think about a paragraph and the import of those lines OR I can read it for the story from start to finish. Some lines are priceless. Some lines, I just think: What??!!!
I am nearing the end! What is going to happen? It ends perfectly.
This book is very philosophical! Definitely not for everyone, and it is kind of wordy, but boy is there a lot to think about.....
Some reviewers remark that it is poorly translated from the German, the author being Swiss, but I think the lines flow beautifully. There are lines in French which are not translated but the Portuguese is! I bet that those who know Portuguese will delight in those lines. Why? Well, because words have a poetry to them. That is one of the many themes of this book. You remove one word and all the others change their meaning. In this respect, the audiobook format is the one to choose.
Sean Barrett does a fine job of narrating the audiobook. An audiobook filled with foreign names, as this one is, is a bit daunting. Perhaps a paper book is easier to follow. In addition, when reading a paper book it is easier to stop and ponder the lines. I don't know how many times I had to stop and rewind, so I had time to think, to figure out what I thought about the philosophical message.
I would only recommend this book to a reader who enjoys philosophical meanderings.... about what we want to get from life, our true identities, loyalty and love and friendship. The themes are numerous. I am very, very glad I read this book, and yet I only gave it three stars! That is because not all the lines "worked" for me, but some of them were absolutely, stunningly perfect!
I better add, this is a work of fiction. The characters are completely fictional. Except of course the Portuguese dictator, Salazar.
I was so moved by the primary message of this book that it has already changed what I want to do in one particular situation, and I believe it will continue to influence my choices in the future. Quite a book!
If you live your entire life doing what is safe you do nothing at all....more