I chose to read this book because I very much liked Mary Doria Russell's novel A Thread of Grace. I enjoy historical fiction, but notNO SPOILERS!!!!!
I chose to read this book because I very much liked Mary Doria Russell's novel A Thread of Grace. I enjoy historical fiction, but not science fiction, the genre of several other of the author's books. True, I was not terribly interested in a cowboy story, but in a good author's hands almost any topic is interesting. So I was willing to give this a chance. I am glad I read the novel, but I do not believe it matches up with "A Thread of Grace",
This book is not primarily about the 1881 shoot-out in Tombstone, Arizona, but it is about the same individuals of this event and following events. It is about the personalities of Doc Holliday and his flames, Wyatt Earp and his family, and it is about life in Dodge City, Kansas, prior to the gunfight at the OK Corral. It is about life in this place and at this time. It is about saloons, and whore houses and brawls and cowboy life. Life as it was for both women and men in the West. It is very much about dentistry and consumption and cleanliness or lack thereof…… It is also very much about people of different personalities. The book starts with a listing of all the people in the book. My first thought was – how am I going to keep track of all these people?! That is no problem. Each one becomes a real character; each has their own idiosyncrasies. Your heart will bleed for some. You will feel pity for others. You will get angry at some, and you simply nod when some of them make the choices they do because although you personally would never make such choices you do understand why they make these choices. So, character portrayal is very well done.
The author has given us an "Author's Note" that clearly explains what is fictitious and what isn't. She sticks to the known facts as much as possible. I believe in the character portrayals she has drawn. She has done her homework regarding treatment of tuberculosis in the 1800s and of dentistry and off other historical events.
The author is fluent in several languages. She has an appreciation for music and Greek mythology. She throws all these elements into the novel and thus makes the story even more interesting. There is French and Latin and poetry and cowboy songs and classical music and Greek mythology. There are bits about Seminole Indians and the Civil War. There is a lot to suck on.
So what are my complaints? As I said above, and this cannot be termed a complaint, cowboy stories are just not my top reading choice, but this does affects how many stars I will give the book. However sometimes I would think - please, please, please get to the point. The book should have been tightened up a bit. While every sentence in the last few chapters is utterly perfect, the middle chapters were too long and winding. Some of the details were a bit superfluous. But then the wide range of facts will draw a larger reading group……I am giving the stars, and I was bored sometimes.
I ended up feeling: Yup, I liked this book and I am glad I read it. I could have been carried away by the ending and given it more stars, but when you judge a book it is the whole book. Right? I definitely liked the book and can recommend reading it. But hey, it is not a light read. TB is a horrible illness and you will suffer alongside Doc. What a horrible illness TB was. If you read this book, you will come to understand that. ...more
If you are interested in Hokusai's art work, I highly recommend this book. I have presented a general synopsis of what the book concernSPOILER FREE!!!
If you are interested in Hokusai's art work, I highly recommend this book. I have presented a general synopsis of what the book concerns below. Here I want to explain my view of the book on completion.
Very, very little is known about Hokusai's life and practically nothing about his daughter. It has been noted that Hokusai died at the age of 89 in 1849. His work is stamped and signed. and his age is indicated on the stamp. How is it possible that such a very large number of his pieces were made when he was 88 years old? Why does there seem to be a different style in many of those done as he grew old? He had palsy in his 60s and at his death. Perhapsit never even went into remission. Could he really have produced all these pieces which he has signed? His daughter has signed, with her own name, 6 pieces. These six have a astyle that is different. The colors are more vibrant and thicker, the background is white, the figures are centered in a tight group. The hands have a particular style. It is known that she lived and worked with her father. Just what did she do and what did he do and what were in fact forgeries done by apprentices signed without Hokusai's permission? There are many other questions. What happened to Oei after her father's death? Her death itself is mysterious. A central point of the book is the realtionship between Oei and her father. Their life was grim. Don't expect a light, breezy novel.
This book is a novel, but it is based on the known facts that are thoroughly presented in the Afterword. And yes guesses and suppositions. Something doesn't make sense in assuming that all those pictures signed and stamped with Hokusai's name were truly done by him. Here in this book we have a possible explanation, that I find feasible. It makes sense to me, and the reasons why the author drew the story as she did are backed by specific noted facts in the Afterword. In addition the book teaches so much about life in Edo in the 1800s. It teaches about the fall of the Shogunate and the opening up of Japan to the West. The history is interesting. I would recommend reading this book for these reasons alone.
But as a novel, how did I like the style of writing, the depiction of the characters and life in Japan? Some of the writing, particularly that concerning life of the courtesans, life in the Yoshiwara pleasure district, was extremely moving. At times the writing is utterly lyrical. The views of landscape, snow, market scenes, twilight falling - your see all this and it is so beautiful. However I have a huge complaint concerning the dialogue passages. They did not work for me. The dialogue in the pleasure district was at times almost impossible to understand. I was thrown around. One minute I was loving the lines and then wham, I was totally let down.
Due to the predominence of dialogue in the early passages it took me quite a while to get into the book. Overall, the book should have been tightened up.
So my views are mixed. Good writing and bad writing. Better editing would have helped. I must mention that I am reading an egalley. Maybe what I have noted will be improved before the American edition is published. I appreciate both the Afterword and the glossary at the end. I would definitely advise one to read the American edition since only it has the Afterword. I wish both the book's internet site and the book showed the 6 paintings done by Oei. I would like to see them in comparison to those we know are painted by her father. I would like to see the difference with my own eyes.
So do I recommend the book? Definitely! Yes! It is fascinating.
Hokusai did have a daughter. Her name was Oei. She did paintings for her father. Very little is known about her, but the book is thoroughly researched. You get a view of life in Edo (Tokyo) during the first half of the 19th century under the repressive Tokugawa Shogunate. Hokusai is most famous for his wood block prints of Mt. Fuji, including "The Great Wave" of Kanagawa. He and his daughter and the apprentices did so many more paintings - of courtesans of the sea and the sky and people, all the ordinary people thronging the streets of Edo. In this book you learn about their lives and life in Edo.
This book is registered under two separate titles, this one and Ghost Brush. If some GR librarian could fix this it would be great!. Doesn't it look good. Could it be that there are some differences between the tow publications?
I have corresponded with the author. In Canada the book's title is the Ghost Brush, while the title has been changed to "The Printmaker's Daughter" in the USA by the American publisher. Other than the title, the only difference between the two editions is that the American book has an Afterword, while "Ghost Rush" doesn't. ...more
I cannot say I enjoyed reading this book. It is depressing, The family is doomed, there isn't much humor and the author's writing has a melancholic toI cannot say I enjoyed reading this book. It is depressing, The family is doomed, there isn't much humor and the author's writing has a melancholic tone. Furthermore, each episode went on and on and on; the author used too many words to get his message across.
Nevertheless, I left the novel with a vivid awaresness of each character's being. I really came to know them. I felt like I had known these people, grown alongside them. As the novel neared its end, I was jolted when I recalled how these characters were in their youth, I felt I had grown up alongside them. I remembered past Christmases past, shockingly inappropriate parental behavior and shared moments of kindness too. Birth and death, it is all there. I saw what life and age had done to the family. This, the author did exceedingly well. I believe Stegner wants us to see that to truly understand a person you must know all the messy details of their lives and even of their ancestors. What our parents have lived through does not stop within them, it continues to influence the next generation and the next and the next.
The novel does have an historical perspective. It depicts life in western USA during the early 1900s. It depicts that period when pioneering came to an end. It depicts chasers of rainbows, people who were disappointed when they arrived on the pioneering stage just a little bit too late to cash in big, people who thought it possible to get something from nothing. Quick money: be it gold mines, gambling, stocks. These are people with big dreams that for one reason or another always turns up five minutes to late or at the wrong place, always short on luck. Such people were not necesarrily lazy or not willing to work, at least in their youth, but as they failed time and time again they were never able to alter their behavior. Why? Some people are big dreamers, I guess.
Look at the book's title. Do you remember the song with the same name? If you know the song you will grasp the content of the book.
I like learning about past events, Why wasn't I satisfied by learning about this time period? The lives depicted what I have heard happened in my own family. My maternal grandmother's parents lived through the stock crash. They lived out west in Kansas and Missouri during the dustbowl. They went from rags to riches to rags again. Yes, many times. This particular great-grandfather of mine was born a gambler. So the story did speak to me personally. It did perhaps teach me a bit about their lives. But it was so dam depressing. It is more depressing than even holocaust memoirs since the troubles described are due to the actions of the characters themselves. You cannot get mad at a higher outside forces that destroys you. These people are destroying themselves. And they continue time after time to make the same dam mistakes. Some because they are dreamers, some because they do it for love.
When you are done reading this, what are you left with? There is no moral message on how we can improve things. It all feels rather hopeless. We humans are a sorry species. The book did move me. Now at least I have tried a book by Stegner. My husband read Angle of Repose. We concluded that both the style and the plot events were similar. ...more
ON COMPLETION: When you decided to read this book it is important to realize that this is a work of nonfiction. Although a verdict was reNO SPOILERS!!!
ON COMPLETION: When you decided to read this book it is important to realize that this is a work of nonfiction. Although a verdict was reached at the trial, there remain numerous unanswered questions. The author has scrupulously investigated all the known facts and clearly presents them to the reader. Througout the book he made evident what is known fact and what is speculation. In the epilogue he presents his own speculations concerning the questions that remain unanswered. I appreciate tremendoulsy the author's aim and ability to differentiate between fact and speculation. If you are going to enjoy the book you must know what you will be given. This is not a fictitious mystery thriller. You are served the facts.
I cannot think really of any way this book could be improved. I personally stumbled occasionally with all the details, but these facts and details are necessary for a thorough analysis of the crime.
As I have mentioned below, other topics than the crime are sprinkled througout the book. You come away with a glimpse of life in Occupied Paris. You are served a platter of literary and philosophical trends, as well as nitty-gritty daily problems. The additional information about what Camus and Sarte were doing filled out the picture marvelously. The prime focus is a crime investigation, but humor is thrown in top. .
The book ends sooner than you think because the the final pages are acknowledgements, notes, and an index. These follow the epilogue. They begin at 81% of the book! The epilogue was a perfect ending. It tied all the strands together.
AFTER 60%: When I was halfway through the book, I clearly understood what had happened. At this point I was wondering, why is 1/2 of the book left to read?! There is a good reason for that. The trial is now being described. It is a circus! You simply have to read how it plays out. The year is now 1946. The Parisians have finally a liberated city, although collaborators continue to be flushed out. The Parisians have gone through so much. The "times and their past experiences" play into the hands of the defense. Dupin represents the prosecution:
One of the trial's low points was when Dupin protested that "human life is sacred" and the audience laughed. (60% of egalley)
It is amazing how Petiot draws the audience to his defense. It is amazing the ploys he uses. Totally unbelievable Or is it so unbelievable? Such continues today. This is a spoiler-free review. I cannot tell you in specifics what Petiot does at this trial or how the prosecution fails to properly prove its case given the inital ruckus and resulting need to rapidly close the proceedings. You will have to just pick up the book yourself! The facts, the figures and the details are all here.
I do not know how this will conclude. I am in the dark as much as you, except I do know what Petiot did. I do know how he covered his tracks. If he was crazy, he surely was intelligent at the same time!
AFTER25%: What have I learned? Don't be too hasty in judging a book! I thought it was boring in the beginning due to an excessive amount of extraneous information. Now I cannot put the book down! The crime is .......terrible! You are given the gruesome details. There is a torture chamber, dissection, a lime pit and a basement stove spewing sickening odours. But the bodies are not strangled or beaten or stabbed. There is no blood. And who is being killed? And why? Absolutely riveting.
Although the details are horrendou,s you alos get marvellous descriptions of the Nazi Occupation of Paris. There is humor too. So the Commissaire Massu is attacked by the reporters demanding information. He throws out a few sparse comments.
The commissaire felt like he was throwing crumbs to pigeions outside Notre Dame. (25%)
Times haven't changed, have they?! I am talking about the reporters.
PS..Gaeta, no! Do not listen to this book in the audio form. It could definitely be too gruesome. In addition, the facts may be difficult to digest.
AFTER 17%: Now it is getting better. I had to say that immediately. Other topics than the crime are discussed - such as the writers and artists living in Paris at this time: Jean Paul Sarte, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Pablo Picasso and his lover Francoise Gilot. I simply had to correct my previous misjudgement. You see, it is important not to give up on a book too soon.
Now I will just read. won't say any more.
AFTER 12%: I do not enjoy reading this. The first pages drew me in and had me interested, but now there is an overload of facts. I am not saying that is wrong. Somebody who really wants to understand this case thoroughly, well for them, this might be just perfect. For me, I do not need to know the entire carrier history of the inspector following the case or every singe bad deed Petiot has done in his entire life. He is no angel and has been doing bad stuff from day one. Rbrty detail imaginable is presented.
I will continue a bit longer. I do want to give the book a fair chance!
Netgalley offered it:0) and Naomi recommended it, so I have to read it NOW! It immediately pulls you in. It is non-fiction, but reads as fiction, at least at the start. The author has done extensive research.
Am I assuming that because I really enjoyed Larson's I will also enjoy this?
Ah, it is availabe from NetGalley at no cost. Thank you Naoml, for telling me. If you do not know about NetGalley please see the link Naomi has left in the comments. You get an egalley and review it. You do not need to review every book you receive from them. You do have to set up a profile. You can get books that work on Kindles and many other appliances.
I must try the sample I guess and take a chance. It does look good. The sample at Amazon will be available on Sept 20, 2011. ...more