Finished: I feel like I was a bit harsh in all my previous criticism. However what I said IS what I felt at those particular points in the book. I amFinished: I feel like I was a bit harsh in all my previous criticism. However what I said IS what I felt at those particular points in the book. I am giving this 4 stars - the ending was superbly done. What can I say other than that I forgive all the previous faults that irritated me. Still, one can be almost proud to NOT be religious! The title is perfect. The Passion of Artemesia is the passion that moves an artist. Now at the end, I simply have deep respect for this woman, artist, mother and daughter.
Through page 275: The lecturing has stopped, and I like the way the author is tying up the strings. I also really like how the relationship between Artemisia and her daughter Palmira is described by the author. I guess it is imagined, but it is a very true to life relationship. There is love and there is acceptance even of traits that are so very different between the mother and daughter.
Through page 237: OK, maybe this is what is bothering me. First of all the paintings do not move me. Secondly, I don't like it when books analyzing art to tell you what you should be feeling, tell you why you should feel this or that or tell you what a particular paining MEANS. The analysis seems quite feasible, but I don't enjoy being fed this spoon by spoon.
Through page 225: Nope I just do not like this. It is putting me to sleep.
Through page 194: Religion played a vital role in people's lives. I have a very had time relating to this. Religious beliefs did not bother me in Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring, but in this book it does. Religion influences the subject matter of Artemisia's paintings, and I end up feeling just sort of numb. Another thing that bothers me is that because Artemisia is so strong I have little sympathy for her. Think of Michelangelo's David, we love him b/c he is fighting a battle where his opponent is so much stronger than he is. This thought is not mine, but stated in the book. I agree! Knowing this, Vreeland should have realized herself that it is hard to side with Artemisia. She doesn't need my help - she is so strong herself! She consistently manages to do the right thing even when she is treated unfairly. She seems a bit too good to be true.....
Through page 109: I am liking this more and more. It IS about the soul of artist too.
"Inclinazione (a painting commissioned by Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger) may have been beautiful. It may have looked real, but it was missing something. For me the pleasure had been visual, in creating shape and applying the color, and tactile, in smearing the thick creamy paint on my palette, but the pleasure was not of the mind. The painting did not have 'invenzioneé'. It did not tell a story. I had been paid for craft, not for art."
Hmm, maybe this is how Artemisia felt, but this canvas was commissioned for a particular purpose, a particular place. Artists must sell their pieces and not all can be completely a result of the artist's own feelings and motivations and wishes. Furthermore, doesn't a good piece of art move the observer in many different ways. A masterpiece doesn't mean just that one thing, but will affect different people in different ways. Each will see a different story perhaps. What is important is that it moves us, NOT that it moves us along one set path. Just my views!
And the book is about people and our human emotions of anger, jealousy, revenge and our inability to change. It is about the artist and the model, husband and wife, parents and children..... all of these both rewarding and conflicting relationships. You just have to stop and think about them in the context of how the story plays out.
Through page 67; Artemisia is now in Florence, the city of artists! Vreeland's writing makes the city come alive with all its smells and sounds and views. I am a sucker for good descriptive writing:
"In the afternoon two days later, the clouds broke apart and sunlight brushed with a light sienna the stone arches and crenelations of Porta Romana, the southern entrance to the city of Florence. Ocher buildings with red tiled roofs and shutters the color of cinnamon or basil lined the road......"
"The street of the cheese shops, though pungent, wasn't so bad, and by the time we passed the spice shops, I was breathing normally again. Every shade of yellow ocher, sienna, orange, cinnamon, and dull green powders spilled out of large muslin bags onto the street. . The colors of my new city. In every piazza a sculpture, in every niche the patron saint of some guild."
Palazzo Pitti, the Duomo of Santa Mariadel Fiore, the Brunelleschi Dome, the Arno and much, much more are described! Hmmm - this I like!
Through page 56: Perhaps I shouldn't but it is impossible not to compare this historical fiction about an artist with Girl with a Pearl Earring which I just finished. Both are about artists, both occur in the mid 1600s, the latter in Holland and the one I am currently reading taking place in Italy. Their tone is so very different. There was a calmness in Chevalier's book while this book pulses with urgency. Maybe this is not surprising in that Vreeland's book begins with a rape trial and the last book was about a humble maid with artistic talents. It was her master, Vermeer, who was the acclaimed artist in Chevalier's novel! Chevalier's book seems to be more about character study and what makes an artist an artist while Vreeland's is more about betrayal, so far at least. How does one deal with betrayal? In Vreeland's book the characters act in a manner or with a determination that seems "modern". To me it seems a bit like a message is being given and that makes me uncomfortable. But hey it is a good story and maybe my initial worries are completely off track! Each book should be judged on its own merits. I am so happy to be home reading again! ...more
My final opinion is that this was a deeply honest and humorous autibiograohy. It extremely well depicts life behind the Iron Curtain duringNO SPOILERS
My final opinion is that this was a deeply honest and humorous autibiograohy. It extremely well depicts life behind the Iron Curtain during the 70s and 80s. The crooked truth, the need to hide your true thoughts, the need to pretend were fundamental to life in Russia at this time. I had a hard time choosing 4 or 5 stars, but have chosen 4. While I sat there rading, I most often was thoroughly enjoying myself, but sometimes I felt it needed some editing. Some descriptions were excessive. Occasionally you felt you were wading through words. I must add that I highly admire the author and what she did with her life. She honestly depicted her feelings on many subjects that are common to all people, irregardless of their nationality, particularly her relationship with her mother.
Through page 240:The more you read the better it gets. You comen to "know" the author. You know her idiosyncracies. What is amazing is that the author comes alive, a real person with a specific identity, and you see how she matures and questions life around her. In the process you learn about Russian life and culture during the 60s and 70s. She questions everything. That is who she is! As a child, as a teenager and as an adult. She is always questioning, but her questions change. Some of her questions reveal Russian culture and other questions are those that trouble all individuals, not just Russians. And there are some central questions that trouble her as a child, a teenager and as an adult. There is a quality to Russian life that sticks out. It is the need to pretend, to twist truth and to close your eyes or look away. I traveled by car, not a bus load of tourists but just my family, from Sweden all the way to Moscow in 1973. I recognize and understand better that which I saw and experienced. This book is excellent both as an autobiography and as a glimpse into life behind the Iron Curtain, and it is so humorously written.
Through page 147: I feel that I am gypping you if I am too lazy to quote part of the text...... How can you experience the style of writing without tasting it? The following is from page 78:
"Masha Mironova is the only girl I know who wears nylon tights. The rest of us put on vest-like lifchiks, underbodies that sprout elastic suspenders with rubber clips, and pull on ribbed cotton stockings that twist around our legs like snakes......"
"Masha is unique in other ways too. Of all my friends, her mother is the only one who wears high heels. Every morning she clicks across the yard on her way to work: a tailored skirt, teased hair, red lipstick. She teaches college English: the word "English" sounds majestic and alien. In my family no one speaks a foreign language, especially one as foreign as English. My mother knows the names of all the body parts in Latin, but Latin isn't exotic, it's ancient and dead. My sister studied French at her Moscow drama school, but French is so ingrained in Russian history that even my provincial Aunt Muza sometimes says, 'Merci beaucoup.'"
I feel alot is learned about how life really was in the Soviet Union, behind the Iron Curtain - how people thought, what they ate and wore and read and how they spent their time. Summers at the dacha. Pioneer study groups. How a Russian child relates to her mother and siblings. Elena was born in 1956. There are insightful thoughts on how different lanuages reflect cultural differences. There is no word for privacy in Russian! Maybe there are similar words, but they are not really the same.
Through humorous and gripping narrative, the author speaks of her own life behind the Iron Curtain. She speaks of fishing and mushroom hunting and coming of age and death.... All is depicted with real emotion, both humor and sadness. It is great! I have read about half so far. Wonderful photos are included. ...more
In conclusion, having completed this novel, having struggled through to the end, I can say I did not like it. I didn't like it from theNO SPOILERS!!!
In conclusion, having completed this novel, having struggled through to the end, I can say I did not like it. I didn't like it from the start to the end. When I voice this opinion, I am obviously in the minority. I do appreciate that the author concluded with an informative author's note, which supports her belief that Pope Joan did exist, between the acknowledged Pope Leo IV and Pope Benedict III. I found her arguments undeniably convincing. I do not know whether Pope Joan existed or not, but I find the author's points valid. Before I can say Pope Joan didn't exist, I would need to have several questions answered.
However whether Pope Joan existed or not is irrelevant to how I judge this book. I did not like how the story was told. The characters were two-dimensional. There were the good guys and the bad guys. I vehemently disliked the cinematic tone characteristic of the entire novel. It was ridiculously romantic and melodramatic. Rarely do I so dislike a book. I have said enough. Below you will see what has annoyed me as I read through the book. I do not need to reapeat these criticisms. It is not the description of the era and the historical events that I am complaiming about. I am complaining about how the story was told. I would not choose to read another book by this author, but she doesn't need me since many others adore her writing.
Through page 204: I have read further. One aspect of the book that I think the author handles well is the description of the era - the religious beliefs, historical events, soothsayers, celebration of feast and market gatherings. What I am enjoying is the author's descriptive abilities, her description of the time and place. The struggles between the Saxons, Franks and Norsemen and between pagan and early Christian beliefs are included in the story. This I appreciate, but even here the depiction is rather cinematic. The reader cannot help but grasp the trends of the era.
Through page 148: Maybe my mood is off, but I find Pope Joan disappointing. I find the characters simplistic and feminism emphasized to an extreme. It also feels like a romance novel. And Luke, he is a wolf for heaven's sake. A wolf cub will not behave as he is portrayed in this novel. It is too cute. John(Joan's brother) is too stupid and jealous and bad, while Joan is so smart and forgiving and brave. You can stack the characters in two groups - the good guys or the bad guys.
Here is an excerpt about the white wolf cub, Luke. You judge. Isn't this meant for the movies?
She looked at Luke. "Will it work, Luke? Will it be enough to save me?"
He titlted his head inquisitively, as if trying to understand. It was a mannerism that always amused Gerold. Joan hugged the white wolf, burying her face in the thick fur ringing his neck. (page 142)
A movie has been made. Perfect!
Maybe it will improve. I do not give up easily. Oh, I have had bad luck lately. This will be my third "not so hot" book in a row.
Through page 98: I know this is a minor quibble but it is irritating. How can one put a cover on a book that completely missrepresents the person's appearance? In the book Joan has practically white-blonde hair, deep set eyes of a grry-green color and a thick fringe of eyelashes. Look at the cover on my book! How can you put this cover on this book?
It is a fun read, but I feel the primary message is feministic. On every page you are confronted with how horribly and unjustly women are treated. I know this is an accurate description of the times, but the message doesn't have to be pounded into our skulls.
So far the characters are rather simplistic. Joan is so curious and intelligent. John, her older brother is so unscholarly. Joan's father is such a missguided religious fanatic and her Mom, such a "Mom", loving her child deeply but also rather selfishly. I planned to just read this for fun. Stop being so critical, Chrissie!
I started this 5 days ago. I was worried from the start that it would not be my cup of tea. For five days my head is telling me: Be patient! Don't beI started this 5 days ago. I was worried from the start that it would not be my cup of tea. For five days my head is telling me: Be patient! Don't be rash. Give this book a chance. You know those books that you cannot put down? Well this belongs instead with those books that you cannot motivate yourself to pick up. That is how it has been for me. Now this is only my opinion, and I am pretty darn sure that I am the "odd ball out" here! Why? Well because generally I do not like crime stories, but I thought with this one I would get history too. You do. You also get a mixture of different character types, different cultures.
Here is an excerpt about Cambridge, the town itself:
Believing it to be her business to investigate the murderer's territory and see something of the town, she was surprised but not displeased, to find that Brother Swithin, busy with a new influx of travellers, was prepared to let her go without an escort and that, in Cambridge's teeming streets, women of all castes bustled about their business unaccompanied with faces unveiled.....The town opened itself wide like a flat flower to catch what light the english sky gave it. (page 119)
Compare Cambridge to Salerno in southern Italy. I would have been happier if the story took place there, but then of course it would be a different story all together:
Adelia was clawed by homesickness. Most of all for Margaret, that loving presence. But also, oh, God, for Salerno. For orange trees and sun and shade, for aqueducts, for the sea, for the sunken Roman bath in the house she shared with her foster-parents, for the mosaic floors, for trained servants, for acceptance as her position as medica, for the facilities of the school, for salads - she hadn't eaten green stuff since arriving in this God-forsaken, meat-stuffing country.
Truly, I am trying to present a fair unbiased review. I am bending over backwards to point out the positive along with the negative. However, there aren't that many lines worth quoting........
The central theme is about Christian children who are being killed in Cambridge during medieval times. The year is 1170. The Jews are accused. Who else would be accused, even though they are all hiding to escape the hatred of the Christians? They are in fact imprisoned. So how can they be killing the kids? And the deaths of the children are gruesome. They are sexually assaulted. their eyelids are torn off. Not a pretty sight. But Henry II doesn't believe the Jews are guilty and he certainly doesn't want them all imprisoned because then they cannot work and pay their taxes. To him! He needs their money! The murderer must be found so the Jews can go home, back to work so they can pay taxes. And for some reason the King of Sicily is involved too. He has sent three to investigate the crime. One is a Jew, Simon. One is Muslim and then theire is the doctor who is to study the corpses and help figure out who the murderer is. This is Adelia, and she is a woman, trained in Salerno, but still a woman, when woman were not accepted as doctors! Not in England. So the premises are very interesting. So why am I bored? This one does not pull me. It neither gets me mad nor delights me. It doesn't move me at all.
There is humor. Adelia is so darn headstrong; it is downright amusing. Would one have such a person in the 1100s? Of course it is possible, but not that likely. However it has taken me 137 pages to care about her, to laugh with her sometimes. You cannot help but admire her stubborness. She will find the murderer, if it is the last thing she does.
So what is wrong? This reads like fiction from start to finish. No, I cannot say that since I have only read through 137 pages. From start through page 137, it reads like fiction. I do not think the style will change. You get a feel for a book right from the beginning. Rarely does that "feeling" change. The plot can take intersting turns but that is not the same as how the book portrays the individuals. So if you adore fiction oaver all else, this might be right up your alley.
And most people are curious to know who the bad guy is. Who is the murderer? Since this isn't a true story I simply cannot get terribly involved. The story does not feel real. Now that I thik is a serious fault. I don't like short stories, and yet I loved Babette's Feast. Dog Tails: Three Humorous Short Stories for Dog Lovers had me laughing from start to finish! So why is this author incapable of making me enjoy a novel of historical crime? I try to stretch into different genre, that is why I keep trying books that are not what I usually read. You know, I like reading historical memoirs and about different cultures. I will continue to try and stretch my horizons, but not with this book. I am closing this book - leaving it unfinished. It is not for me. It might be just perfect for you. Vivez la différence! I can always pick it up later and give it another try. If I continue reading it now I will just get more and more annoyed and frustrated.
On completion: Much of what we know about Muhammad and those closest to him was passed down from generation to generation verbally. This bNO SPOILERS:
On completion: Much of what we know about Muhammad and those closest to him was passed down from generation to generation verbally. This book presents their lives in the same manner. The author relates these very same tales to the reader. This is captivating story telling for adults. You learn history in an engaging manner through tales such as The Affair of the Necklace, People of the Cloak, The Episode of the Pen and Paper and more. This book covers primarily the 50 years 630-380 up to the Karbala Massacre. There is a twofold shift in the book, geographically from Arabia to Iraq and the Middle East and from a narrative of tales to a discussion of politics. You learn about the subtleties of the Arabic language and how a spoken work can be interpreted in several ways. The author clearly has a thorough grasp of the subject. The main focus of the book is to explain the history that lies behind the Shia-Sunni split. The focus is less on current events, although there is some discussion on how the split played a role in the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the Iran-Iraq wars of the 1980s. The similarity between particular historical events and Saddam Hussein's deeds are also pointed out. There is discussion of later day Sunni (Ibn Taymia) and Shia (Ali Shariati) proponents. The beginnings of Islamic fundamentalism is also covered.
From my point of view, the text became harder to follow as it progressed to the modern day issues. Politics became the central theme. It became less engaging to me, probably because I was having a harder time grasping all the details. I think I would need to read the book several times to suck up all that is presented. So while this is not a criticism of the book, I want to make clear that the focu changes from tales to a discussion of politics. To understand the Shia-Sunni split you have to understand the role politics came to play. In the beginning, for Muhammad the spiritual and the political were one.
One other issue troubles me. I wonder where the author's sentiments lie. Does she have a preference fo one side or the other? I clearly feel a stronger liking for Shia rather than Sunni beliefs. I started out not even knowing the differences between the two. I now favor one side! This worries me. Have both sides been presented to me in a balanced impartial manner?
I highly recommend this book to those of you interested in understanding the similarities and differences between Schiism and Sunni beliefs. You have to be genuinely interested in and curiousaboutn the subject to enjoy the entire book. I am happy I read it from cover to cover. I probably should immediately start over and read it again to grasp all the innuendos. I also recommend this book to those of you who are interested in the tales that tell the earliest history of Islam. You can stop when you find your interst sagging. You will have at least learned a bit about an interesting subject - the birth of Islam. Futhermore it is startling to see the clear similarities between Islam, Judaism and Christianity in the seventh century.
Through page 37: I have to share my thoughts with you! Reading a book is fun, but sharing it with others is perhaps even more fun. You learn about the personalities and little quirks of the main protagonists - Muhammad, Aisha, Khadija, Ali and more. Each one is fascinating. I was going to include an excerpt about Ali, but then I ran into this about Muhammad, the Prophet himself:
Sure enough, the man who remained without sons of his own soon had two adored grandsons, Hassan and Hussein. Only a year apart, they instantly became the apples of their grandfather's eye. It is said there is no love purer than that of a grandparent for a grandchild, and Muhammad was clearly as doting and proud a grandfather as ever lived. He would bounce the young boys on his lap for hours at a time, kissing and hugging them. Would even happily abandon all the decorum and dignity of his position as the Messenger of God to get down on all fours and let them ride him like a horse, kicking his sides with their heels and shrieking in delight. These two boys were the future of Islam, as the Shia would see it - and by fathering them, Ali, the one man after Muhammad most loyal to Khadija, had made that future possible. (page 37)
Did you know that Muhammad was monogamously married to Khadija until her death. She was his first wife. After her death he married Aisha, and after her he accumulated nine other wives. None of these produced offspring with Muhammad, although several had children from previous marriages. Aisha was a virgin. When Muhammad gave his daughter to Ali, his first cousin and adopten son, he demanded that they too have a monogamous marriage. This was not typical of the times, not at all. Marriage was a political instrument, and of course a means of producing offspring.
I will not say any more, but I hope I have enticed you enough so you choose to pick up this book. I want you to have the experience of learning the facts from an author who has a knack for telling a story. A story? No, this isn't a story. This is history.
*********************************** Through page 25 of 212: No, I haven't read much, but the relaxed narrative style of this non-fiction book is simply delightful. Even if I were to stop now, which I have no intention of doing, I would have learned a lot. What I want to say here is that this book does not present the facts in a dry, boring manner. This is non-fiction that reads like a story. Tell me, does this sound like non-fiction? I will give you an excerpt:
...it is enough to know that it was the kind of necklace a young girl would wear, and treasure more than if it had been made of diamonds because it had been Muhammad's gift to her on her wedding day. (Aisha's lost necklace)
Its loss and the ensuing scandal would be known as the Affair of the Necklace, the kind of folksy title that speaks of oral history, which is how all history began before the age of the printing press and mass literacy. The People of the Cloak, The Episode of Pen and Paper, The Battle of the Camel, The Secret Letter, The Night of Shrieking-all these and more would be the building blocks of early Islamic history. This is history told as story, which of course it always is, but rarely in such vivid and intimate detail.
For the first hundred years of Islam, these stories lived not on the page but on the tongues of those who told them and in the ears and hearts of those who heard them and remembered them to tell again, the details gathering impact as the years unfolded. (page 18)
And then the story continues about how this necklace gets lost, but you must read the book yourself to find out.
This quote begins with a bit of the story which helps explain the antipathy between Aisha and Ali. The antipathy between these two lies at the bottom of the Islamic Sunni-Shia split. The topic is fascinating, and the way it is told is captivating - at least so far!
I assume you do know that the split is fundamentally a split between the followers of Aisha, Muhammad's youngest and favorite wife, and the followers who supported Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law, married to his first wife's oldest daughter Fatima. Muhammad had no living sons to suceed him. Neither did he designate who would suceed him after his death. He didn't want to proclaim a successor because he had finally suceeded in uniting the Islamic people. He had finally suceeded even in bringing the aristocratic Quraysh clan of Mecca into his fold, despite his teachings being clearly egalitarian. He had stopped intertribal warfare. He had expelled pagan gods. He had founded the world's third great monotheistic faith. Perhaps he simply couldn't face the ruckus that would unfold if he were to name his successor. History is fascinating, but it must be told in a manner so we don't yawn and fall asleep. ...more
If you do no know how the affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick ends up - well then you absolutely must read this book.NO SPOILERS!!!
If you do no know how the affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick ends up - well then you absolutely must read this book. That is assuming you are inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture and design. I was in the blue. I had no idea what happened. Think if I hadn't read this book! So if you are like me and do not now how all was resolved - read this book. The writing is good. there are many lines I underlined to copy and add here as quotes, but then I got too lazy. What is most remarkable about this book is the ability of the writer to show how all those affected by the love affair felt. By the end of the book you come to understand why each of them made the decisions they made. Even Elisabeth Wright. I think the fairness whith which the author portrayed all points of view was remarkable. Each character's emotion - hurt, betrayal and love are all felt by the reader. I, as the reader, kept changing my mind not knowing who to support. This shows that the author made me understand each one's point of view. You learn alot about Frank Lloyd Wright. His personality, both his faults and his talents. Such knowledge is rarely imparted as well in a strict biography filled with dates and names and facts. I greatly admire Mamah. It is spooky how close I came to NOT reading this book. I suggest you read it. When you finish the book you understand each person and what they have gone through.
Through page 228:Loving Frank is an engaging book. What is most outstanding is that the author captures the lovers' euphoria and then also their pain and grief. Bit by bit you understand the emotions of each member of the two families. Some lines of the writing are beutiful. What do you think of this?
"Two years in a child's life is the distance between stars, she thought. She remembered being a child herself, lolling luxuriously in a bathtub at the age of eight and contemplating the vastness of the summer ahead. And it had turned out to be that - a millenium, it seemed, of fireflies and kick the can, of nights and days strung together by long pulsing cricket songs." (page 201)
The point is how a child might feel when a mother disappears for months..... The spouses, the children and the lovers are depicted in such a manner that you undestand what each one is going through as the relationship begins and progresses. The relationship and the people change, Small idiosyncracies about Frank are revealed. You learn of his strengths and his weaknesses. You learn about his family and his relationship with his sister and his mother.
Through page 125:I STILL do not know what to think. I still cannot judge! There are many aspects to consider:
"Can one week negate who you have been to your children for the whole of their lives?" (page 124)
No, of course not, but neither are any of your actions forgotten, although perhaps they can be forgiven. What is not forgotten remains. It is a kernel that never disappears.
"You can't keep your children by having no life of your own. You said that once to me. You said, 'They will know. Your own unhappiness will plant the seeds of unhappiness in your children. And they will blame you for it someday.'" (page 24)
But then there is this statementfrom pages 124-124:
"My mother's family went through years of persecution before they came over to the States. And do you know what it did to them after awhile? It actually made them tougher. I've told you what my family motto is: 'Truth against the world.'
I am a big proponent of truth. However, I just don't think this motto supports Frank and Mamah's relationship! I simply find this a false way of supporting the lovers' choices. What Frank says is that they supposely will be stronger by fighting the disapproval thrown at them. Maybe, but still they are satisfying their own desires and hurting others at the same time! I think he is kind of twisting things. Hopefully their children can be made stronger by what their parents have heaped on to them. I am not worried about Frank and Mamah; it is the others that worry me. You make choices and thzn you better be willing to accept the results. The behavior that bothers me the most is how they run from solving the problem rather than confronting it. Now they are leaving Germany to hide in some other European city.
My main point is - there is alot to think about. No reader can read this and not draw their own conclusions. We might all draw different conclusions, but certainly we will all be thinking and evaluating what each of us might do in these circumstances.
Through page 122: I am fuming. What did Mamah THINK was going to happen when she ran off with Frank? Both of them married, both having children, both having loving spouses that wanted them back. The sad part is not the mess they created for themselves, but the grief that came pounding down on others. Even in the early 1900s the journalist made big news of such scandals. So what do I do? I mmediately go to the back of the book and check if there is an author's note that explains what is real and what is fiction. There is a very clear explanation. I would have been very disappointed otherwise. The author has stuck to all the known facts and only filled in the holes. She has numerous letters between Mamah and the Swedish writer Ellen Key. Mamah translated from Swedish Ellen Key's essay "The Torpedo Under the Ark - Ibsen and Women". This analyses the women characters that make up Ibsen's writing. Keep in mind Ibsen's A Doll's House where the main character leaves her husband rather than be as a "doll" in their perfect home. These letters shed light on Mamah's relationship with Frank. I have not made any judgement concerning if what they did was right or wrong, not yet at least,but they certainly should have thought about how best to lessen their families' inevitable grief.
Through page 46: I feel like crying for these people. If you have read just a teeny bit about this book you know that Frank Lloyd Wright had an affair with Mamah Cheney. She leaves her children to be with him. Now I thought I wouldn't enjoy reading about this. I thought I couldn't understand how she could leave her children and cheat on her husband. I thought, but I was so wrong. I cry for all four adults, and I cry for the children. The author is making eachones's decisions so real that you truely understand how this could happen. The lines are sad and moving and funny! Mamah, which is pronounced May-mah, speaks of herself as a twelve-year-old:
"Oh, I was just the right age then, I think. Smarter than I ever was before of since. There were no grays. I worshipped my father. I loved my dog. I adored reading." (page 18)
Frank speaks philosophically:
"The measure of a man's culture is the measure of his appreciation. We are ourselves what we appreciate and no more." (page 10)
And this on page 32:
"How has it come to this? she wondered as she scrubbed. She had always thought herself a deeply moral person. Not a prude, by any stretch, but someone decent. Honorable. She would no more unerline in a library book than allow the butcher to return too much change. How had she come to a point where she could so easily tell herself that adultery with a friend's husband was all right?"
Somehoow I understand. Somehow actions which first hit me as simply deplorable are now tragic.
Furthermore, I am learning about Frank Lloyd Wright. I have always loved His architecture and interior design. Think to be able to start fresh. Think to throw out all the clutter. On the other hand, I don't agree completely. There are some decorative pieces I could never bring myself to abandon. How can one abandon everything? No, I don't agree completely. Mamah was like me. She had a house designed by Frank, but she knew she could not completely erase herself.
Having recently completed Ali and Nino: A Love Story and having given it 5 stars, I wanted to know more about the author. The author Lev Nussimbaum, bHaving recently completed Ali and Nino: A Love Story and having given it 5 stars, I wanted to know more about the author. The author Lev Nussimbaum, born a Jew, used the pen name Kurban Said. Actually both this book and The Girl from the Golden Horn were registered under the author Elfriede Ehrenfels in the German Nazi document Deutscher Gesamkatalog for the years 1935-1939! Who was this guy?! Why all the different names? He left Judaism and converted to the Islamic faith. This was not motivated by the persecution of Jews under Hitler. He converted earlier. What motivated him? What life experiences formed him? You get all of this in this biography which is carefully researched by Tom Reiss. Basically Lev Nussimbaum continually reinvented himself, even when he was dieing at 36 years of age from Raynaud's disease.
However, this book is more centered on political science than this one man's life. Definitely more than half of this book is about political movements and history. I found the parts about Lev's youth in Baku, Azerbaijan, after the early exploitation of oil, the most colorful and wonderful. I had a harder time following the political topics. The more you know the easier it is to follow such topics. I have alot to learn. This book definitely taught me tons. You learn about how the Russian Revolution played out in the Caucasus, about the growth of fascism and communism and the effects this had on the people living not only in Europe but also Asia and the Near East. I knew little about Jewish Orientalists. Although I have studied the philosopher Buber, he and others like him were hoping that that Zionism would promote the oriental Jewish cause rather than just European Judaic problems. These issues affected who Lev Nussimbaum was as a person. He wrote 14 non-fiction books on political issues, one being a biography about Mussolini. He livesd 1905-1942. Born in Baku to a wealthy oil baron he escaped during the Russian Revolution via boat and camels to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkey and Italy. He lived in Germany and Austria. He had to escape again from the claws of Hitler. How? Well most often, by reinventing himself - over and over again! He lived in the thick of the Russian and European turmoil. For this reason history was a real part os what shaped him. To understand him you have to understand the history of his time. A fascinating life! The book never dragged, but at times it was very difficult to follow all the political twists and turns.
I have two complaints. There is no map in the book and SOMETIMES I think Tom Reiss goes too far in trying to pinpoint WHY Lev did what he did. Sometimes a thorough analysis of a painting just goes too far. Let it be. Let the readers draw their own conclusions. ...more
Before reading: Maybe what happens in this book is difficult, but I have the feeling it will have a hopeful message. I need to read something with dogsBefore reading: Maybe what happens in this book is difficult, but I have the feeling it will have a hopeful message. I need to read something with dogs. You can rely on dogs being there for you when you need them. After the last book read I am so depressed with people.
On completion: This book did the trick. You ask me how a book where the husband is hit by a car (in April 2000), has near fatal brain damage and comes to permanently loose his short-term memory can be anything but depressing? I will tell you why. It is for two reasons, no maybe three. First of all the author adjusts and learns to live with what has happened; she continues to be there for her husband and at the same time acknowledges her own need to live a good life. And she succeeds. She shares a wonderful life with her husband until his death, albeit not one she would ever have imagined. Secondly, the book is wonderful because it is very well written. Some lines will make you laugh. Some lines express a thought just so perfectly. Thirdly, the book is interesting. You will learn of Outsider Art, and I promise you the chapter "Edward Batterman Sleeps at Home" will have you seriously reconsidering what we know today of how the brain functions! This book is anything but depressing - there is an appreciation of life, there are lines you want to memorize and there is aroused curiosity to learn more.
There are so many lines I should quote, but here are just a few:
Once in a while Rich says something that takes my breath away: "I feel like a tent that wants to be a kite, tugging at my stakes," he said one day, out of a clear blue sky. He was lying in a hospital bed, but his eyes were joyous. (page 162)
You must remember one could not talk with Rich. He was psychotic. He could be ragingly violent.
Here is a sentence about art and writing, about creativity:
I didn't start writing until I was forty-seven. I had always wanted to write but thought you needed a degree, or membership in a club nobody had asked me to join. I thought God had to touch you on the forehead. I thought you needed to have something specific to say, something important, and I thought you needed all that laid out from git-go.It was a long time before I realized that you don't have to start right, you just have to start. Put pen to paper.... (page 149)
In this book there are gardening scenes that will have you laughing, there are eye-openers about survivor's guilt and there are of course those events we who love dogs will immediately recognize: how do you break up a dog fight. Here is some advice that I found rather amusing:
Grab the haunches of the smaller dog and pull. Or grab the haunches of the larger dog and pull. Forget about being bitten. Or consider what your friend Claudette did in this situation and recall her words for their comic relief. "I screamed and threw a paper towel at them."
Carry a water pistol at all times filled with some repellent liquid....Tear gas. Wear an earsplitting whistle around your neck. Have handy a coffee can filled with coins to shake at them.....
Try another approach. At the slightest sign of an escalating growl, get up and leave the room. This is called "removing yourself from the equation" and try to remember what this has to do with mathematics. Fail. Discover that when you are gone they lost interest in fighting and wonder whether everything is always your fault. (pages 67 and 69)
Sure, give me a break. ALWAYS carry that whistle or have the coffee can stuffed in your pocket?! If you are a dog lover you will love this book. I am not allowed to have Oscar in our bed anymore..... She gets to have all three with her, cuddled up next to her in bed. Hmmph. I am jealous, but she knows too she is lucky. Did you hear what I just said?
Have you finished a depressing book? Do you want to be cheered up? Pick this book. ...more
Oh my, there are too many details. Rather than clarifying, they confuse. I actually want to quit this.... How much more can I take? I have read 111 ofOh my, there are too many details. Rather than clarifying, they confuse. I actually want to quit this.... How much more can I take? I have read 111 of 466. It is a very bad sign when you start looking at page numbers.
Nope, I am giving this up. I picked up Armenian Golgotha just to check out a bit about the author who survived the Armenian Genocide in Turkey, 1915. This is also a book of non-fiction. Now this I cannot put down. Non-fiction does not have to be dry and confusing as I found "Kasztner's Train" to be!
I do not intend on finishing "Kasztner's Train". I will give it two stars because it is clearly well researched. It has an index, photos, a map and notes for every chapter. I didn't like it much, irregardless of all the effort put into it. Please do not judge the author by this book. See below.
This biography is about Kasztner, a Hungarian who, like the more well-known Schindler and Wallenberg, saved many Hungarian Jews in WW2. He was assassinated in Israel in 1957 b/c right wings thought he had collaborated with the Nazis! He saved Jewish lives through monetary payments to Nazis and by putting others in Austrian labor camps where their chance of survival was better. He was accused of not warning other less wealthy Hungarian Jews. Some say he paid Nazis with "blood money". A very controversial figure. In this author's hands the story must be riveting. ...more
Finished; I thought I would like this so much, so I am quite disappointed! The author's imagery is beautiful, but didn't draw me to any ofNO SPOILERS!
Finished; I thought I would like this so much, so I am quite disappointed! The author's imagery is beautiful, but didn't draw me to any of the characters. Several were annoying as hell! For me their behavior was superficial and hurtful or pitiful. I DO think families have all the ingredients described - love, hate jealousy, disgust and even indifference. The book is about relationships and very, very little about the Crimea. Kirkus is 100% right - very, very unfocused. Maybe it deserves two stars b/c of the author's talent for imagery, but quite simply I would rather give too few stars than too many stars. Often I didn't enjoy reading the book, so only one star.
Through page 153: I am having a hard time with this. There are so many people, not everyone is listed in the family tree. The feeling of what it is to be family is superbly done, BUT every relative is described retroactively and in huge detail. The result is that the book goes off on tangents. Maybe it is necessary to know each person's past life but you are told this, this and this happened. You are not living it. On the other hand the feeling of family perfectly hits the mark. Everybody in the family KNOWS the idiosyncracies of each other and accepts them. Terrible things and small trivial disputes happen within a family. Sure, you argue and fuss and laugh and scream, but in the end people each remain true to their own character and they are accepted. That is just how it is in a family. The writer describes situations and emotions and the scenery with great talent. Overall it feels like the book should have been pulled together more. Beautiful depictions but too unfocused. That is what I am feeling now. I am hoping that all the different strands will be pulled together, but as it stands now, the book is an analysis of separate distinct people. It doesn't hold together.
But who is that on the cover? Could that be Medea in her youth? Now she only wears black, maybe with a white polka dot here and there.
Through page 49: This is abook about Medea, as the title indicates. She is an older woman, a widow with no children of her own. She has 12 brothers and sisters and it is all her nieces and nephews and their children that visit her in the family house with four rooms, so things get rather cramped and they must keep rosters to make sure that all don't arive at the same time! Where is this house? Near the southern coast of the Crimea, the Tauride coast, and it seems the family has Greek and Tartar background. So it's a huge family, some living in France or Georgia, others having ties to Turkey, Greece or Uzbekistan, and there are lots of friends, so it is a bit hard to keep everybody straight, but it is like entering a room where all are happy, mostly, and there are hugs and kisses and a cacophony of noises and all these people are delightfully strange. Kirkus says the book is unfocused, but I am enjoying it.
Before starting: I have chosen to read this book because it is written by an acclaimed contemporary Russian writer. I have a soft spot for Russian writers, and I do not want to just read the classics. In addition, it takes place in the Crimea, which is a fascinating place! There are lots of character, but a family tree is in the front of the book to help me. I have my atlas open. I think it will be necessary to follow the trajectories of the numerous characters. I wish there was a spell check here at GR!...more
This book starts with a bang; it is very exciting! You are drawn in immediately, but then it goes down-hill, unless you enjoy fictitious murder mysterThis book starts with a bang; it is very exciting! You are drawn in immediately, but then it goes down-hill, unless you enjoy fictitious murder mysteries. If you know me, you know this genre is not one of my favorites! Far from it. What I did enjoy was reading about Renaissance Florence, peopled with the likes of Savonarola and the Medici family. Michelangelo and Leonardo de Vinci have to be included too. The author has not twisted the historical dates and events. What she has done is bind together the Medici family with Mona Lisa, Lisa di Antonio Gherardini, the model of De Vinci’s famed portrait. I never bought this, nor some other family connections that were thrown in! As you read the story, if you know a little about the history of the Medici family, you will also immediately know something is wrong with the story being fed us. To explain more would be a spoiler. I repeat, this book is at heart a fictional murder mystery woven around known historical events. I never found the fictional mystery believable.
Very little is known about Mona Lisa, so it is her family and relations that are imagined. These are the aspects of the story that are fictional. I wanted to know more about Mona Lisa. It was my error to choose this book. I thought I could learn more about her, but I can’t because practically nothing is known. What is known is that she married Francesco del Giocondo. Here, the book has played with the historical facts. No mention is made of this. There is no author’s note, only a “conversation with the author” at the end of the book. Francesco’s fictional portrait is truly evil. I find this disturbing, given that a man that did live, albeit years ago, has been misrepresented.
In summary, the author never succeeded in making me believe in the fictional aspects of the story. A good author can do this. A good author can make the imaginary feel real. Many others enjoy Jeanne Kalogridis’ writing. It is best you go read their reviews. ...more
Finished! Father, son and wife - they certainly all deserve eachother. I will throw at you all the thoughts that this novel throws at me. These threeFinished! Father, son and wife - they certainly all deserve eachother. I will throw at you all the thoughts that this novel throws at me. These three characters continually throw the real and the imaginary at each other. Delightfully, absurdly and horribly. What is real and what isn't? Well the reader never really knows, and finally one stops caring. This is a fairy tale for adults! Did I enjoy reading it? Sometimes yes and sometimes I hated it. The author plays with the readers. So how many stars should I give this book? I both hated it and loved it. One thing is certain - the author is gifted! The book is amazing - amazingly good and amazingly bad. I could classify it both as a favorites AND I also disliked it. I could give the book no stars at all. That would be a solution, since half of the time I loved it, and half of the time I hated it. That would be the most just solution! That is what I willo do.
Through page 221: So some aspects of the book I like alot and some I don't like at all. The thoughts about HOW Egon Schiele paints are fascinating. Are they true? Look at Schiele's paintings and you will see that the observations seem valid. Many facets of Schiele's painting are brought to the reader's attention - that often the painter sees his models from up above them, that many of the self-portraits and other portraits are multiple immages of one person, that the hands are very masculine both on the women and the men, that thumbs are not visible and the painter's frequent use of mirrors. Here is a quote: "Fonchito was explaining to Justiniana that the mirror is 'where we are when we look at the picture.' And the the model seen from the front wasn't flesh and blood, but an image in the mirror, while the painter and the model seen from the back were real and not reflections. Which meant that Egon Schiele had begun to paint Moa from the rear, in front of the mirror, but then, drawn by the part he did not see directly but only in projection, he decided to paint that too. And so thanks to the mirror, he painted two Moas, who were really only one: the complete Moa, the two halves of Moa, the Moa no one could see in reality because 'we only can see what we have in front of us, not the part behind that front.' Did she understand why the mirror was so important to Egon Schiels?" I doubt that the next book I have lined up to read about Schiele will go into such depth!
Through page 205: Yes the humor remains, if you can just wade through the long sentences on every philosophical subject imaginable. Here the author is definitely speaking to me concerning my opinion that the text becomes "pure sophistry": "If you think this letter is beginning to show signs of incoherence, think of Valéry's Monsieur Teste:'The incoherence of a discourse depends on the listener. The spirit apparently is not conceived in a way that allows it to be incoherent with itself'." Only when Rigoberto's writing takes takes the stage does the language become so convoluted!
Through page 187:Sometimes the writing gets me totally confused and I get annoyed and frustrated and wish it would just end. I wonder where is this going and is it going anywhere but in circles? Sometimes the ideas expressed about religion, freedom, politics seem pure sophistry. I have another book to read about Egon Schiele. Yes, I will read that next, if this book would only end....... Maybe it will pick up again?!
Through page 125: Tantalizing! What is real? What is not? What is intentionally erotic and what is just the readers' imagination? I don't like books that spell thing out in black and white. This is the opposite! Marvelous writing.
Through page 50: Oh I forgot to say, some of the lines are just too funny! No, I am not going to quote them.
This book is without question a guide to sexual arousal. I wouldn't recommend this book to any prude. Enticing, but beyond that the psychological ploys are amazing. She, Lucretia the wife and stepmother to Fonchito, is able to arouse her husband, Don Rigoberto, by describing her sexual encounters with Pluto, who invited her for that fabulous vacation week In Europe. Roberto encouraged Lucretia to accept - and what a trip it was! Willingly husband,wife and lover play this game. There is no reason to judge this immoral; they ALL know what they are doing. They all choose to play the game. These are quite extraordinary characters! (A sidenote - I mean if you love somebody, do you really not mind sharing them?!) Constantly I am wondering is this real or just arousing dreams of fantasy. Knowing this is not a "spoiler". I believe it helps a reader determine if it is a book they want to read. I like it, but it is certainly for adults. I hope I get more about Schiele; I am pretty sure I will.
Through 38 pages: The author dreams up very unusual and bizarre, but not unbelievable, scenarios - a young stepson's affair with his stepmother, a fabulous European vacation with the wife's previous lover and there are no strings attached, a house built for the things in it rather than the people. The circumstances are just so weird that you cannot help but wonder how you yourself would react. And yes some passages are erotic and very well expressed.
In Lima a stepson has affair with his stepmother, but what is real and what is fantasy is mixed/ not always clear. Schiele's life plays a central role in the novel. Erotic and sensual passages. Perhaps read In Praise of the Stepmother, which is tied to this novel. Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter is also praised by Kirkus...more
I WILL AVOID SPOILERS! My review is less about plot than what happens to my head and my emotions when I read this book.
Finished: Nope I was wrong abouI WILL AVOID SPOILERS! My review is less about plot than what happens to my head and my emotions when I read this book.
Finished: Nope I was wrong about how it would end. My guesses were not exactly right and the difference was very important! The end has a surprising twist. As you know this book had wonderful writing. Good story and good ending. This book has just about everything a book can have, but not much humor. Somehow I didn't miss it, maybe b/c rather than being a grim tale,the book was simply terribly interesting.
Through page 204 of 311 + very good author's note which I have already read! I swear I know how this book will end. I think I have it all figured out. I should warn that descriptions are very detailed. Maybe one likes this, maybe one doesn't. HOW the Erard piano works mechanically was a bit too confusing for me, but probably VERY interesting for someone who really knows about pianos. Anyone who loves the piano must love this book.... You know the first piano were square, and pianos developed from the harpsicord, at least Erard's version did. Then there is one scene that is fabulous about a hollow rock that rumbles/sings. Lots of info also about plant and alternative medicine treatments too.
Through page 179: OK, here is a little complaint. The author is trying to get me scared with numerous forewatnings. I feel like I am being played with. Like there is a mystery, but nothing happens. Then it is going to pounce on me. Most people like this - I don't. I don't have to read a book for the mystery in the plot. The travelogue, the history - that is what I enjoy. Oh yes, the dialogue is superbe. The author's dialogues at different occasions care ompletely different from eachother - drunk soldiers having a ribald talk over beers, a fancy colonial luncheon in Mandalay where the talk is more British than the British, the eccentirc speeches of Dr. Carroll himself. These dialogues are each perfect and each unique. They should be different and they certainly are. How the author is able to do this is beyond me. Still, I am annoyed about the mystery ploy.....
If you haven't notices, I am always spelling things incorrectly. I totally mix up English and French and Swedish. BTW English and French keyboards are different - that too explains crazy spellings. Sorry! I am too lazy to proofread. I just want to get my feelings out. Please be kind to me and ignore my misspellings and grammatical errors. I write reviews for enjoyment; I do it for me, b/c it helps me understnad my own views. I don't do it to write a correct essay for a school paper or for publication. I hope my views get other people thinking. I want to explain what the book is really about so others can accurately decide whether it is something they really want to read. There is so much to read that we cannot be wasting our time. And each of us like different types of literature.
hrough page 89: I am reading this very slowly - it is chockfull of interesting info. Before Edgar Drake reaches Rangoon on the Irrawaddy Delta he has spent much time reading reports from the War Office and Anthony Carroll himself, the man in Burma who had requested/demanded the piano tuner. Carroll's documents are fascinating and perhaps explain the antipathy between the military personel and Carroll. Carroll is self-educated, a very cultured man who knows everything from the physical geography of Burna to its history, the language of all the different tribes, the detailed information of the land's plants and animals and much, much more. BUT WE LEARN NOTHING ABOUT THE PIANO RHAT HAS TO BE REPAIRED. This is very unsettling for us the readers and of course Edgar Drake too. So Edgar writes a letter to those employing him, informing then of the history of the piano beginning in the early 1700s and the history of Sebastien Erard who made the piano shipped to Burma. This is all verey, very fascinating. All of it. Little hints are dropped about what is going to happen to Edgar - but I will not tell you any of that! Remember no spoilers! Then Edgar gets to Rangoon and the story turns into a travelogue again. The people, the clothing, the city, all are described, the things he saw as the carriage rolled through Rangoon:
"He blinked and the tea shop disappeared. replaced by a woman holding a plate of betel nuts and tiny leaves. She pressed close to the carriage and stared inside from beneath the shade of a wide straw hat. Like some of the vendors by the shore, her face was painted with white circles, moonlike against her dark skin."
"Edgar turned to the soldier,'What is that on her face?' 'The paint?' 'Yes, I saw it on some of the women by the docks. But different patterns. Peculiar.....' 'They call it "thanaka". It is made from ground sandalwood. Almost all of the women wear it and many of the men. They cover the babies with it too.'......"
"The lane widened and the carriage picked up speed. Soon the images spun past the window too fast to be seen."
Fascinating. There is so much to learn here. Did you know that the paiano was invented by a person called Cristofori. I didn't! All through the 1700s it underwent great modifications. What happened to musical instuments in France during the French Revolution also has a story all its own. I think soon something dramatic will occur to Edgar. My lips are zipped.
Through page 77: The reader encounter storytales, a travelogue and now Burmese History is th theme. I find the quite detailed history of the Burmese-Anglo Wars from the 1820-1880s interesting, but it isn't always so easy to follow since the tribal names are so strange. They don't stick in my head. Some of the details I am sure to forget but hopefully the major events will fasten. Soon Edgar, the piano tuner, will arive in Mae Lwin, his destination, located on the eastern Shan States of British Burma near the Burmese border to Siam(Thailand). Actually the Shan people felt a cultural tie with the people of Siam more than the Burman people.
Through page 59: I very much like the author's writing style. Writing style is more important to me than the plot! I am a member of the Historical Fictionistas Group. In this group under "blurbs" there is a thread for quotes from page 42 of the book you are reading. I think this thread gives you a chance to see some random text. The text must be from page 42, NOT the beginning of the book. What a good idea! Anyhow since I copied some text there, I will now copy it here too. Basically I am very lazy! :0) Here follows what I quoted in that thread. "They" in the quote refers to the peiano tuner, who will be leaving for Burma in a few days, and his wife, who is to remain in London.
"They walk home, now they speak of inconsequentials like how many pairs of stockings he has packed, how often he will write, gifts he should bring home, how not to become ill. The conversation rests uneasily; one doesn't expect goodbyes to be burdened by trivialities. This is not how it is in the books, he thinks, or in the theater; and he feels the need to speak of mission, of dity, of love. They reach home and close the door and he doesn't drop her hand. Where speach fails, touch compensates."
I find this very, very real. THIS is exactly what happens when someone dear leaves. No words are adequate to express your feelings so one resorts to trivialities. Don't you think?
The piano tuner then travels by boat and rail. You should experience how delightfully this is described - the fog in London, the color of the Mediterranean, the French views on Gerard! Fun stories are thrown in about the travelers on the boat. Here is a snippet of part of one such story:
"For when I looked up, the boys were running down a broad slope, chasing the goats. Below them stretched one of the most stunning visions I had ever seen. Indeed, had I been struck with blindness, rather than deafness, I think I would have been content. For nothing, not even the pounding surf of Babelmandeb, could match the scene that stretched out before me, the slope descending, flattening into a flat desert plain that stretched into a horizon blurred with sandstorms. And out of the thick dust, whose silence belied the rage known to anyone who has ever been caught in the terror of one of the storms, marched legions of caravans, from every point of the compass, long dark trails of horses and camels, all emerging from the blur that swept across the valley, and all converging on a tent enpcampment that lay at the base of the hill."
Wow, draw a picture of THAT in your head! Then paint in the colors....
Before starting: Can music conquer nations more effectively than military operations? Of course not, but.....
Kirkus says: "A wealth of information-musical, medical, historical, political-and numerous colorfully detailed vignettes of life in Burma's teeming cities and jungle villages."
I guess I have to add this too my must shelf!...more
Maybe. I have read A Place of Greater Safety by this author ane really liked it, but I need to read other nbooks on the subject first. I need also toMaybe. I have read A Place of Greater Safety by this author ane really liked it, but I need to read other nbooks on the subject first. I need also to see what others say. I need to know more about Henry VIII. Can I deal with the politics of Cromwell when I know so little? Hmm - just maybe. Or later. I do not doubt that it is well researched or well written.
Kirkus says, "Although Mantel's language is original, evocative and at times wittily anachronistic, this minute exegesis of a relatively brief, albeit momentous, period in English history occasionally grows tedious. The characters, including Cromwell, remain unknowable, their emotions closely guarded; this works well for court intrigues, less so for fiction. Masterfully written and researched but likely to appeal mainly to devotees of all things Tudor."
Finished - wow! What can I say? I guess first of all I want to (((HUG))) GR for existing, for showing me all these MARVELOUS books!!!! OK, about the bFinished - wow! What can I say? I guess first of all I want to (((HUG))) GR for existing, for showing me all these MARVELOUS books!!!! OK, about the book. Well, how does the relationship between father and son(author) end up. It ends up right where I wanted it to end up, but you will have to read the book to find this out! It is summed up in the first three sentences on page 322 in the last chapter. Here is one last interesting quote: "There is a counterpoint to the familiar immigrant story of opportunities won: It is the story, less often told, of cultures lost." Yes, cultures are at least watered-down, but if we are aware of this danger maybe we can take steps to help preserve cultures. Furthermore, I believe that we pass on to our children and they to their own children the cultures of our ancestors. Family customs have a tendency to stick, although perhaps not in exactly the original form. This is evident in the author's family, in mine too, and I think in all families where they have emigrated to a new land. I think for many of us we learn to like some things about the new country and also like other things about the country we have left. We pass on these memories to our children. How horrible the world would be if it lacked diversity. What should I read now....... So exciting to start a new book!
Through page 272: I MUST add this too! Father and son are at Cambridge taking part at a high level academic conference on the Neo-Aramaic Language. The author MUST be beginning to see the the wonderful character of his father. His father is one of the few of academia who can talk so we all understand, who can make us laugh and feel passion for a subject, who brings all the scientific gibberish back to plain, straight, clear understandable words that ALL understand.
Through page 269: What is it like to go back to a place where you grew up? Not many of us live in the same place all our lives, so this is a question that speaks to us all. I have found that the man-made things, yes, they change. Nevertheless you recognize the "land". The hills the trees. Somehow the landscape remains and you can reconnect. This is easier in the country rather than in urban areas where everything is practically gone, but teeny bits remain even there. Also, is going back a disappointment? Another topic in this part of the book concerns the author's attempt to reconnect with his father. Quite simply their relationship was not at all good. They were up to that point very different people. When the author had a son himself he started understanding what it is like - "to be a father", to love a child irregardless of differences. Maybe it is pure biology, but you just do love your children. All of them, and they too are usually very different from each other! That is where I am now. I do not know where this will end up for these two people, the author and his father.
Through page 209: Studying at Yale the author very well captures how it must feel to fall into east coast American ivy league life, having first grown up in a a remote Kurdish village. Even life in bustling Jerusalem has no comparison to life at Yale. I have read lots of immigrant memoirs, but this is one of the best, something I clearly recognized.
Through page 176: The family emigrates to Israel. An analysis of the Jewish melting-pot is fascinating:
"Itzhak Ben-Zvi and David Ben-Gurion were sometimes called 'the twins'....Ben-Gurion as Prime Minister, Ben-Zvi as President. Yet, on the question of Israel's Middle Eastern immigrants, they never saw eye to eye. To Ben-Gurion Israel was a melting-pot. ....Ben Zvi was perhaps the only man in Israel with the stripes to challenge the melting-pot theory....For Ben-Zvi, the truth about Jews' common past could best be glimpsed, not through an erasure of differences, but through the light refracted by its many subcultures."
Or on page 69 and 70 about the great Muslim, Kurdish warrior general Saladin, a champion of jihad born in Tikrit 1138, who repelled the invasion of King Richard the Lionhearted and his Crusaders:
"Yet Saladin is remembered today less for his military cunning than his chivalry. When Richard's horse was killed, Saladin sent two replacements. When Richard fell ill after his victory at Jaffa, Saladin sent a sorbet of fruit and snow to cool his rival's fever. Christian crusaders had slaughtered thousands of Muslim prisoners, but after his victory, Saladin let Christians exit Jerusalem unmolested."
There is so much here of interest! Religious extremism was rare. Is that the key difference? History moves in cycles, but can't we lessen the waves' peaks and troughs?
Through page 69: I love this, so I am sharing a bit with you. Lots of fascinating history dating from 2700 years ago up to what happened to Iraq in WW1 and during WW2. Absolutely fascinating. If history isn't your thing it is still marvelous b/c family life in the isolated mountain village of Zakno constitutes the dominant thread. There are photos of the people and the place and a map - hurray for books with maps, although it is a bit rudimentary. I suck up hearing about how the Jews, Christians and Muslims ENJOYED each other's company:
"Seclusion (in the isolated mountain village) bred fraternity: Muslim, Jew and Christian suffered alike through the region's cruel cycles of flood, famine and Kurdish tribal bloodshed. They prospered alike when the soil yielded bumper crops of wheat, gall nuts and fragrant tobacco. In important ways they were Kurds first and Muslims, Christians and Jews second. Muslims sent Jews bread and milk as gifts after Passover. They ate matzoh, which they called "holiday bread" as a delicacy. They sent their Jewish neighbors hot tea during the Sabbath, when Jews were forbidden to light fires. Some Muslims even asked the synagogue to wake them early in the days before Yom Kippur . They viewed early rising on Jewish days of penitence as bringing good luck. And the Jews paid back the respect, forgoing cigarettes , for instance, during the holy month of Ramadan , when Muslims may not smoke."
Can't we learn from this? In Baghdad, at this time, riots and fighting between Muslims and Jews were violent and constant.
Through page 28: I am totally loving this. Although predominantly non-fiction, the uthor is a true story teller. His grandfather is described, when he is first presented to his future bride, who is only 13, as: "a short man in a shalla u-shappiksa of such brightly colored stripes that Miryam had to resist twin impulses - the first to giggle, the second to flee. The traditional billowy trousers and short sheep's-wool jacket radiated every color of the rainbow. Someone, it seemed, had gotten a little carried away in Mr. Beh Sabagha's dye shop."
The factual information about the almost dead language Aramaic is fascinating. The book is both about this language and the author's family....more
I absolutely adored this book. My modem/computer was down this afternoon and so rather than looking at GR, it was just me and the book, anNo spoilers:
I absolutely adored this book. My modem/computer was down this afternoon and so rather than looking at GR, it was just me and the book, and Oscar of course. I love the book b/c although much is conjecture about the relationship between Gustav Klimt and Emilie Flöge, I totally believe the author's interpretation. There is a clear author's note. Emilie Flöge was the model for Klimt's painting The Kiss, and it was her name that he spoke when he died. Their relationship feels authentic. I enjoy the sexual energy and the capacity for violence so inherent to these two people. The book is full of emotional turmoil. Not only do you come to understand their personalities but you also understand the historical events they lived through. You learn about how Klimt went about painting, about Emilie's famous fashion salon, about Vienna and its beautiful streets and buildings such as the Secession, about Egon Schiele and Joseph Hoffmann and Berta Zuckerkandl and Carl Moll.... After reading this you really must read Arrogance, about Schiele. I loved that book too!
Through page 130: This is a love story. I like how love is depicted, boht emotionally and sexually. It is a sensual novel. I like the book very, very much. The author has drawn real live people. You get this on top of learning about Klimt as an artist.
Through page 65: This book is about Gustav Klimt and Emilie Flöge, the model who posed for Klimt's famous painting "The Kiss". She is telling her story as an older woman, looking back on her life. At 12 she was a sassy girl who knew what she liked and didn't like. Her upbringing was very constricted and ruled by propriety. She lived in Vienna. Vienna comes alive with all its past glory.
"The medieval cobbled streets and marzipan-colored buildings were magical, and the dimly-lit shops selling sheet music or crystal goblets were enchanted, but I didn't know it yet It was just the palce I lived I believed that all other cities, all other towns must be similar." (page 19)
The writing is very descriptive, not only of Vienna but also of people and the rules of society. She and her two other sisters must wear stiff lace collars that make it impossible to move their heads. Emilie manages to steal a dinner napkin so the lace wouldn't scratch her.... Anyhow she and her 3 year older sister, Helene, have decided that they wil sneak to Klimt's studio to be painted, after first swiping money for the street-cars from their oldest sister, Pauline. First the area in which the studio is located is described using smells, sights and sounds:
"It was a street where goods were unloaded from ships and put into wagons, where nets of fish were hauled into warehouses to be gutted and salted. You could have a horse's shoe repaired, or your own, a sail mended, or a cow butchered and divided into pieces. The air was oppressive with the smell of things that had been rotting in bins and had finally been exposed to the air."
"In the tenement next to Gustav's building an immigrant from Silesia and his wife had a bakery, and as we climbed the stairs the aroma of dough and hot oil mingled with the sharp, sweet smell of turpentine and the bitter one of iron. The stairs slanted toward the street and a few of them gave way when you stepped on them."
"The studio was cold, since the artists were consistently short of coal for the furnace, and bare, since all the chaors were piled in the center of the room to be used in a tableau. The floor was made of cement and had cracked in places. It was filthy with charcoal dust. Some of the pains in the tall windows were broken and cardboard had been taped over them. The glass looked thin and weak, too thin to keep the cold out."
"Gustav was different here. For one thing, he was wearing a robe instead of a suit...."
"'Do you ever clean up?' asked Helene wonderingly."
"'Why should we?' said Gustav. 'This place is empty. When it gets to dirty to work in we'll move upstairs.'"
"The idea couldn't have been more radical to us. So much of our lives were consumed with keeping things neat. I felt like throwing my coat onto the floor." (from pages 65-67)
Not only can the reader picture the place but also one comes to understand what moves the different characters. I cannot show this to you withour quoting and suoting and quoting, so trust me instead. I prefer this writing styyle to that I just encountered in Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet. And I enjoy the Emilie's spunk. ...more