This is the only author that I have given every single one of the books they have written five stars. What is amazing then? -Her writing. Every line r...moreThis is the only author that I have given every single one of the books they have written five stars. What is amazing then? -Her writing. Every line reads like poetry. -The content. There is so much to think about in Fuller's books. Only on the surface did this book concern the Rhodesian War. It is much more about making sense of our lives, about terror and promises and love. How low can a human being go? And how do we then pick ourselves up and go on? We all have our own demons, how do we get beyond them? And there is no one pat solution for all of us. The book description states it is about K, well it is just as much an introspective look at the author too. And you. And me. -The emotional impact. If you can read this book calmly without getting upset, then you are a stone. I guarantee you will both cry and laugh. I guarantee you will be moved. -The audio narration - by Lisette Lecat. She can sing like the birds and insects in the bushes. She weeps and she laughs and guffaws. The mens' voices are as distinctive and nuanced as the women's. Each person seems to have a different voice,and each voice speaks with sincerity and inner feeling.
This is not a book about Mozambique or the Rhodesian War. It is about all wars and more. The author let down K and K let down the author and don't people always do that? We think we are going after a goal together only to find that we each expect different things from the other. And what is the result? Hurt! Of course. But along the way we maybe laugh too and maybe tomorrow we are a little wiser. Yes, the book is philosophical, but it doesn't preach.
It is also about mundane topics.......like how men can never ask for directions when they are lost, about having to pee when you are traveling and there is nowhere to pee, about training your pet, only here it is a lion rather than a dog.
Now I have to go read another book by this author. Anything, I will read anything by this author. The Legend of Colton H. Bryant is the only one left for me. It doesn't really attract me, but I am pretty darn sure I will think it is terrific. I can think of no other author where every darn book has a huge emotional impact on me. Each book has had a different topic, each is unique, no repetition whatsoever. How many authors can do that? The author is amazing too!(less)
I finished this book last night, before I went to bed, but it is still night or early, early morning. 3:30 AM to be precise! I cannot sl...moreNO SPOILERS!!!
I finished this book last night, before I went to bed, but it is still night or early, early morning. 3:30 AM to be precise! I cannot sleep. I keep thinking abut this book and how I shhould explain why I adore it. It swallowed me, sucked on me, swished me around, pounded me and then spit me out. Or have you ever been tumbled and beaten by a crashing wave? When you escape, thrown up on shore, dizzy, without footing, tousled, pummelled; that is another way of describing how you feel after reading this book. Chrissie, this is not helping..... be specific! Explain! How?! Where do I begin?
I will begin by saying you feel physically beaten and brutalized by this book. Well, I did. The land, the people, the pounding heat, the fruit that fall down on on your head, the insects that attack, the earth that rumbles and moves so you are shaken. You physically feel this book. With the author's words you feel life on the island of Trinidad. I cannot explain it better than that. And you feel the youth and sexual attraction of Sabine when she arrives, when she is atop that green bicycle pedalling all over the island, scared of NOTHING! She is too busy to be scared, There is not an ouce of fear even in situations where perhaps she should have been frightened. She is so alive and beautidul and sexy atop that bicycle. Everyone noticed her. Cars almost collided. And you see her when she is in her seventies, old and beaten by the sun and all the other forces of this island. This book is sensual. When a couple cannot talk, cannot communicate, they use sex to pound each other; it is the only means left to reach out to the other.
Mentally this book puts you in a turmoil too. This book is historical fiction. You get the history of Trinidad from the 1950s through to 2007. The history isn't on the edge of the stroy but it IS the story. The whole story. It is the central theme. You cannot close the covers of this book and not understand what happened there in Trinidad during this time period. Such is impossible. A central theme of all this is colonialism. Europeans sucking the sap out of this West Indian island. It is about the love/hate feelings between the black Africans, the French Creole aristocracy and the Europeans. I have lived in different countries. I know what is is like to be plunked down in a culture that you do not understand. How do you feel when you arive and when you have been there for years? Sabine and her husband George arrived with completely different intentions. Sabine didn't really want to come. This made me feel cold toward her. But which of the two let the island's culture suck them in more? That is an interesting question? I also understand the turmoil Sabine felt because she didn't agree with her husband about the basics; how long would they stay or what was the purpose of their stay on the island?! I actually came to fully understand Sabine. I joined her side, but hej you do not understand where she really stood until you read this book. Read this book. It is marvellous.
I feel like removing stars from all the books I have recently read so that when I give this five stars you will see how this book sparkles and is illuminated by the five stars. I do not think this book will fit everybody. It fit me perfectly. Are you interested in how it feels to be a foreigner in a new country? Are you interested in history? Do you want an emotional ride? Do you enjoy the excerpts given below? Those are the suestions you should ask yourself when you decide whether you want to read this book! If you answer yes, then read this book.
49% percent through the book: I absolutely love the book. the more I read,the more it pulls me in. I absolutely adore how it describes Trinidad and those living there. The plot line goes backwards. You start in 2006, but then when you know these people and care for them, when you NEED to know more, that is when the author dips into the past. It is the writing style that draws you in.
You all know that I am not interested in cuisine or cooking. Me, I cook as quickly as I can. But this suthor entices me with the Trinidadian cuisine:
It was Venus who got me cooking. She introduced George and me to creole cuisine, which she called blue food: sweet potatoe, eddoes, cassava, yams.
'Good old-fashioned stodge,'George called it.
Venus brewed up drinks, too - a red cordial a bit like cranberry juice: sorrel. Another from the bark of a tree: mauby, a green liquorice-type medicine we choked back. In months, our diets had changed for ever. Venus devised our menus. Instead of reading the cookbook, I hung around the kitchen.
'What are you doing?' I asked, peering over her shoulder. She was stripping down the stalks of some large leaves.
'It's dasheen bush.'
'Can't you just chop them up and put them in the soup?'
'You hadda take out dis vein furs.'
'It trouble de throat. Make it itch. Her eyes shone. I stared. Venus nodded and smiled, suppressing her amusement. (at 49%)
Just as how the plot goes backwards in time so you want to know when it is finally presented to you, the same is true here. Callaloo has been mentioned many times. I have been asking myself: What IS that? Now I know. I also finally found out what steupsed means. Wikipedia didn't help me. Always the author makes us want to know before we are told! Finally, I know why Sabine speaks French and why the people in this former British colony revert to French. I am only told when I find myself going crazy with curiosity.
I SAID I wouldn't give any more excerpts, but yes, I just broke down. I simply had too. NOW NO MORE EXCERPTS, no matter how wonderful the lines are. I think this book will get five stars. I cannot believe I have half left. What is going to happen next?!
I love how everything is described - the people, the places, the feel of Trinidad. I knew nothing about Trinidad, but know I feel I am there. One more excerpt and that will just have to do. Here we are at the World Cup football match between the Soca Warriors of Trinidad and the opposing Peruvians:
Everyone wore red. Flags hung from shoulders, faces were painted with the Trinidad and Tobago colours. Conch horns bellowed. Vendors greeted ticket holders well in advance of the entrance, hawking writstbands, T-shirts, whistles, car stickers. George and Clock dodged them, drifting up the main corridor towards the stadium entrance, stopping to buy cherry-flavoured snow cones. Four in the afternoon and the sun poured down. They climbed the stairs to the balconies, arriving at the top, gazing out onto the scratchy yellos-grass pitch....
George and Clock made their way down an aisle and across a row of seats. George opened his giant golf umbrella and they sat under it eating their melting snow cones and warm peanuts, watching a fat man dressed in a red satin suit and red cowboy hat goose-stepping around the pitch. (at 32%)
The writing is vividly colored. You hear a cacophony of voices, shrill cries, whistles and the reader is right there in that stadium under the glaring sun. I love it.
************************************************* 21% through the book:
So the bicycle it is found again, There it is: clean and sparkling and repaired. All had their own memories tied to this bike. Memories of Sabine on this bike. Memories of a person who had been! The faces looked on expectantly when the bike was put before Sabine again:
La Pompey (the handyman) laughed. 'Yeah, man. Try it, nuh.'
Jennifer (the maid) cackled, blushing through her black skin. 'Mrs Harwood, give it a try, nuh. I cyan believe you ride it once.'
Everyone turned to look at Sabine.
Sabine backed away, holding onto her dog. 'Are you crazy? Jennifer give it to Chantal.'
'How she go ride it up dat hill?' Jennifer retorted.
Sabine looked at George: he was blushing, heat in his face. Was he hurt?
'Well, give it away to your friend who runs the charity shop at the church. Take it away. I can't believe we still have it lying around. Give it away, for God's sake.'
Sabine looked at their expectant faces, all of a sudden crowdedin.
Memories flooded up. Eric Williams in his flashy American car, sailing past. The look he gave her, through the windo, questions in his eyes. She felt faint, woozy, the wind in her hair.
La Pompey stopped his clowning, perplexed. 'She doh want it?'
Sebastian frowned. 'No.'
'She'll ride it,' Jennifer assured 'She just take a turn.'
'Maybe she'll try it tomorrow,' La Pompey reasoned. 'When nobody arong She must feel shy to ride it now. Mr. Hartwood, you mus encourage her. Why you look so sad?'
So why do I bother to give you this excerpt? I have given it to show two things. How the people speak and, more importantly, for you to see and feel the emotions of the family. The servants, they too are a part of the family. These people, all of them, care for each other, but they do not understand each other. A huge theme of this book is our relationships with those closest to us. These relationship are never stagnant; they are complicated, messy knots.
What does the word "steupsed" mean? Some of the colloquialisms I do not understand. Maybe Wikipedia will clue me in?
I had to give you this excerpt found 13% through the book:
We treat politicians like parents. It's the same relationship. We never forgive them if they fuck up.
Well that is true. I think we cannot forgive our parents because we want to see them as Gods. They should be perfect. Even when we ourselves become parents and know we are full of mistakes, we still want our parents to be pretty darn perfect. It would be nice if our politicians could be trusted, admired, a bit above ordinary human beings. I just never thought of it that way.
I have just begun this; I have only read 10% of the egalley I received from NetGalley. An egalley is an ARC book in e-format. Please read the book description, it seems foolish to just repeat what is already written!
Sabine and George had many years ago left England and moved to Trinidad. They had planned a three year stay, but then they stayed and now many, many years have passed and Trinidad is there home. The book is about Trinidad, the culture and the history of the island (1950s - 2000), but also about Sabine's and Georges's relationship. What relationship stays fiexed? None, of course. How was it before as newlyweds? How is it now? Different, that is all one can assume.... But what has made it change, and is change good or bad or a lovely mixture? We will see! I am intrigued. George has just found hidden letters written by his wife. Not just a few, but boxes of letters During 26 years Sabine was writing to Eric Williams, the Prime Minister of Trinidad after British rule ended. Why were Sabine's letters hidden away here in their house? Were they answered? Had there been an affair?
George read till dawn. Sitting on the office floor, his back against the wall. He read every letter, mouthing the words. Three hundred and fifty-eight letters in all. "Dear Mr. Williams." Nothing was straightforward as a love affair: passion, guilt, betrayal all the usual to and fro. No. This was far worse. He stopped several times to ponder, lost in reveries of their life together. He only knew the half of it, only half her despair.
The letters were originals. Unsent. Communiqués to the self in some respects. He found no replies and wondered if they were in another stash, other boxes hidden elsewhere in the house. From what she had written he began to understand.
Me? I do not understand. I am intrigued. I want to know more, and I want to know more about Trinidad. I have already glimpsed a bit. I have met the native Trinidadians. I had a bit of a hard time understanding their collooquialisms, but now I am getting the hang of it. The rampant vice, corrupt politicians and police force, the oppressive heat: all of this has hit me. Was it like this when they arrived? When they arrived Sabine was young and beautiful and she was "that white woman on the green bicycle" that attracted everyone's attention. What has happened during the last 50 years. I want to know.
BEFORE READING: "Equal love and attention go into the marriage and the country at the heart of this Orange Prize short-listed novel... It's a book packed with meaty themes, from racism to corruption to passion and loyalty." -Seven, The Sunday Telegraph
This book recounts the life of Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister. It is another biography based on a woman living through the holocaust. Howeve...more NO SPOILERS!!!
This book recounts the life of Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister. It is another biography based on a woman living through the holocaust. However, Nonna is not Jewish. She was raised according to the practises of the Russian Orthodox Church. Her grandfather was a Cossack and although he dies rather early on in the story, her grandmother plays a central role in the early years of Nonna's life. There are two central themes, the wonderful memories of her young childhood spent with her family and grandmother in Konstantinowka (Santurinowka) and her experiences in German labor camps during WW2 with her mother. Nonna had to hang to the good memories to have the strength to survive the bad memories. The bad memories were horrible. It is important to recognize that not only the Jews suffered unimaginable horrors during the war. Nonna was the only survivor of her large Ukrainian family. Life under Stalin also influenced who she became as an adult. Even children of this time and place came to realize the need for secrets; not keeping hidden that which is said in the family walls and that which can be said in public. Keeping secrets became a manner of being, a way of life.
The stories about Christmas celebrations, sleigh rides, an abundance of food and well being, garden filled with fruit and flowers. Glorious remembrances of sights and sounds and smells are marvellously imparted.
At the same time there are depictions of such evil events that this book is one of the hardest to read. There are childhood reminiscences of seeing Jews deported into extermination camps, compared to her experiences while being deported into the German labor camps. There is an episode with an umbrella, an episode with a Jewish baby being thrown into the train car and an episode concerning a little Jewish boy called Nathan that came to save Nonna's life that are simply heart-wrenching! That such has happened! The book should be read to know of these events. I will never forget these three events. This book should be read by all.
Now I need to talk a bit about how the book came to be written. It is based on Nonna's diary. After the war she immigrated to the US and she never spoke of her diary, of her hidden photos and letters she had saved from her past. She never spoke of her past - not to her husband and not to her children, to no one! In the 1980s she decided to transcribe her diary notes and poems and other writings into English. They had been written in several different languages. Her father had insisted she learn many languages. That she was proficient in several did in fact save her life. Eventually she spoke to her husband about these memories, writings and saved mementos. She agreed that the material could be brought forth after her death. The truth should be known.
Given the history of how this book came into being one can understand the inconsistencies that the reader finds in the book. Actually that one time she says the bombing of Kassel took 15 minutes or a little less than one half hour is for me insignificant. That she says she was eight when she began her diary and other times she says she was nine; this doesn't bother me either. If I were to talk about what happened in my childhood I am sure I would not keep absolutely everything straight. I see these inconsistencies as a proof of truth.
Many reviewers dislike that the prose is interrupted by comments on Nonna's statements. These are like footnotes, but they occur right in the middle of the text. I liked this. I would often have questions about what Nonna says and the following paragraph would then answer the questions that had just troubled me. However if you never read footnotes, this may disturb you. I wanted to understand; the inserted paragraphs increased my understanding.
There are poems that she wrote as a child. There are religious thoughts about God. Neither spoke to me! At the end of the book there is a map which I only discovered when I had finished the book. Anyhow, it was impossible to read in the ebook format. At the end of the book there is a chronological summary of all the events in the book. This is a bit redundant. Definitely some further editing would have improved the book. At times I asked myself if I hadn't just read a given sentence twice; two adjacent sentences were almost exactly the same! One of them should have been eliminated. So yes, there are problems on how the book has been put together. The errors that have occurred in this book are not due to Nonna's writing. She had an important story to tell. I am very glad I read this book.
You should read about Nathan and about what can be done with an umbrella………
It is very important to know when you start this book that it is in fact based on the Chronica of King Pedro III. Although historical fiction, it clos...moreIt is very important to know when you start this book that it is in fact based on the Chronica of King Pedro III. Although historical fiction, it closely follows true events in Catalonia during the 1300s under King Pedro’s reign. There is tons of history incorporated into the novel. At the same time it has an engaging and fast moving plot. You will learn about Barcelona, the building of the cathedral Sant Maria de la Mar. You will be impressed by the cathedral’s history, its beauty and how it engaged the life of so many in Barcelona. It was built for and by the people of Barcelona. All its people. It was built at the site of an older church and underneath it is an ancient Roman cemetery. However the book and the plot covers many, many other actual events: wars, the bubonic plague, the Inquisition, guild practices, treatment of women and Jews, in fact all aspects of life in Barcelona during the 1300s. this book is a perfect example of how historical fiction can teach in a delightful, engrossing manner.
There is a author’s note, that clearly explains what is fiction and what is fact. The events that have been altered are pointed out. What is amazing is that what seems fiction is fact! I wish I had read it, in the middle of the novel rather than at the end.
So why only three stars? I know that for me to say I like the book feels more appropriate than to say I really liked it. This is because I never really attached my self to the characters. The book is more concerned with the unrolling of the plot than character analysis. Each character plays a significant role; there are none that could have been eliminated. Each character was rounded and well thought out, but maybe the fact that all was so well planned, that there were few bizarre elements, that it simply felt a bit boring. I do not mean the plot was boring;– that was rolling along at full speed continually. In fact it felt a bit cinematic.
So this book provides great history in an engaging story, but without much sparkle I am very glad I read it. I learned so very, very much. Did you know that the Inquisition began very early in Catalonia? Dis you know that people were trading and profiting from the buying and selling of different currencies in the 1300s? Did you know that when two serfs were married, the master had the right to sleep with the woman first, on the night of their marriage? You will not regret reading this book. (less)
I am not going to provide many excerpts for this novel. The writing is neither bad, nor exceptionally good, a story is simply being told...moreNO SPOILERS!!!
I am not going to provide many excerpts for this novel. The writing is neither bad, nor exceptionally good, a story is simply being told, a story about some Belgian characters during WWI and a clandestine newspaper. Perhaps if one is more religiously oriented than I am, this book would appeal to you more than it appeals to me. Here follows an example of the religious thoughts so frequently expressed in this book:
"We'll face the consequences, whatever they may be." Genny drew her close again. "But remember this, my little Isa: whatever happens, God is with us." (page 313)
Many chapters begin with a few lines from the newspaper La Libre Belgique. The lines are translated into English. Although it is interesting to that such documentation is included in this novel of historical fiction, I felt the connection between these lines and the following chapter was frequently thin. I kept wondering why is that quote put at the beginning of this chapter?! The author's note at the novel's end in fact states that the majority of these lines are fictional.
And there are some humorous lines, such as this describing German soldiers posted in front and behind a house:
But through the window she saw guards posted in the yard. No doubt they came as a matching set, one for the front as well. (page 308)
Overall, what I appreciate most with this novel of historical fiction is not the story, but the references to places ( squares and prisons and parks and town halls) in Brussels that I know. This is fun; I know exactly where the characters are moving and what the surroundings look like there and there and there. References to historical people, such as Father Clemenceau, Brand Whitlock and Edith Cavell, are also entertaining because there are squares and hospitals and streets in Brussels names after them! I hadn't known that Brand Whitlock was the American ambassador to Belgium during WWI.
Nevertheless, this is a very light novel, more about a woman and a man and their romantic feelings for each other – flirtations, misunderstandings and the overall development of their relationship commencing from an early childhood friendship.
Do you enjoy cinematic endings? If you do, add some more bonus points if you are trying to determine if the book is for you. I can only give it one star. I would have to be much more religiously inclined to give it more. (less)
I am adding this not b/c the topic draws me, but b/c I have read the author's book Bel Canto and thought the writing was excellent. I did read another...moreI am adding this not b/c the topic draws me, but b/c I have read the author's book Bel Canto and thought the writing was excellent. I did read another one too about her ill friend, the title of which escapes me. Kirkus says this new one is as good as Bel Canto. Is it really? YAY for new books on Kindle!(less)
I am making a bet with myself. Here it is. Let's see if I am proven correct! I think I will end up giving this book four or five stars...moreNO SPOILERS!!!!!
I am making a bet with myself. Here it is. Let's see if I am proven correct! I think I will end up giving this book four or five stars! So far I have only read 13%, but I am totally captivated. The author, Irfan Orga, begins by describing his early childhood, growing up in Istanbul. He was born in 1908. It is, as usual, how an author expresses himself that makes or breaks a book. I adore the writing style. Please, do yourself a favour and check out the excerpt available at Amazon. Click on the look-inside button. Why should I rewrite it here, when it is available there?!
As a child he lives in a white house with green shutters, beside the Marmara Sea. The author has you, the reader, listening to the gentle sounds of the sea, as he does, as he lies in his bed. The morning rituals are not what I would have expected in a Muslim household. The festivities, related to a boy's circumcision, are delightfully described. The fear, the excitement and the celebration are marvellously depicted. There is a lot to be learned from this book. Look at the date. Look at the place. The journey is sure to be captivating!
On completion: Yes, I will give this book five stars. Near the end, 98% of the way through, one finds the line:
Now there was no one who remembered my childhood.
Had this book not been written……… yes, all of this would have been lost! I am very glad I was given then opportunity to read this book. The topic is interesting and the writing is wonderful. I will try and explain why I thought the topic was so interesting. You have the possibility of tasting the writing style by clicking on the link above.
This book depicts the life of one family living through WWI, and that family is Muslim and one belonging to the German-Ottoman side! This is not historical fiction; it is real life, grittingly and enchantingly described. All of it – the ups and the downs. Real people and real events. There is even real magic related by several witnesses, if you dare to believe them. There are so many memoirs and biographies concerning life during WW2, but here you get an amazing book on WW1. I felt I learned much about an ordinary Muslim family, not one that bows down to Mecca numerous times every day, but one that I personally could be part of. These people were little different from you or I. I liked how the book was able to show me a new perspective concerning those of the Muslim faith. You get WW1, the Muslim perspective and the experiences of a Turkish family.
The family is Turkish – not Armenian, not Greek. They lived when Kemal Atatürk ruled. Again, I was given another perspective. I have previously read many books about the Armenians; here we are presented with a family living on the other side. Atatürk was loved and honoured by many.
I must state clearly this is not a book centered on the historical aspects of the time period 1914-1945. No, it is instead about a family and how their lives were so dramatically changed by the historical events. The emphasis is on the family, not the historical events. The emphasis is more on the time-period of the first rather than the seconds world war because the central focus is on the author's childhood, his parents' and his grandmother's lives.You get a wonderful view of life on the Bosporus, life in Istanbul, life in Izmir – all these places that play a role in historical events. Mostly you learn about a family and the separate individuals of that family. Each individual responded differently to the same events! You learn about people, how we all react differently. You learn about the author, his mother, his brother and sister, his grandmother, his father and grandfather and others too. Who was strong? And what actually is strength? And is survival the ultimate goal? And what happens to us as we age?
I will finish with one quote from the book, because I love the author's descriptive talent:
I wish I had the words to paint the strange enchantment of Izmir: the little crooked streets with the air of secrecy and squalor; the haphazard shops in the side ways; the open carriages and the noisy trams and the hooting of the boats, overriding all other sounds; the casinos fronting the harbor, with the never ending strains of music issuing from them; the hot sunlight and the blue sky and the golden sands, the tree-lined roads and the wisteria and bougainvillaea that hangs everywhere like a scented purple curtain. (88%)
Recall these lines when you read of the atrocities that happen in Izmir.
I love this book. A life of plenty becomes one of nothing and then still life goes on. How do each of us respond to life's roller-coaster ride? Five stars. (less)