First of all, I totally agree with all who adore Atwood's words. How do you describe them, so those who have not yet read a book by Atwood will properFirst of all, I totally agree with all who adore Atwood's words. How do you describe them, so those who have not yet read a book by Atwood will properly understand? You read one of Atwood's sentences and the words mean more than what is said. Each sentence has several meanings; it us up the reader to interpret them.
Many lines send your head into a twirl. How do people interact? What do you see if you observe carefully? Atwood says, "As for the dance, it was more like a battle than a dance." If there is a stare, is it a stare of hostility, jealousy or joy?
What do you think of this line? "Romance means leaving things out." You must always read between the lines, Atwood's lines that is.
Some lines make you chuckle. Iris "scooped (the peanut butter) directly from the jar with her forefinger. Why dirty a spoon?" And you? Have you never done this?
Some lines create a tension, a feeling, "voices like liquid rope." Let me add here that the audiobook narration by Lorelei King is top-notch, superb. The voices sound here exactly as "liquid rope"! Children's and adults’, male and female, each character has a perfect intonation. Those told in first person, those in the third person, those in the crazy story within the story.
Then there are the lines of Reenie, the loyal Chase family housekeeper. She is responsible for the running commentary on the family's shenanigans. Her lines are pitch-perfect: "Business is business and then there is funny business." or "Loose your temper and you lose the fight." I should remember that myself! She is the one who raised both Chase girls, Laura the younger and Iris the older. It is a bit pat, by that I mean the role that she plays, but I couldn't help but like her! Reenie advises Laura to, "Think twice." Wise Laura responds, "Why only twice?" You may think she is young and naive but she has a head on her shoulders, that young one!
Enough about Atwood's words, I find them sometimes delightful, sometimes humorous, and often noteworthy. They say much more than what you take them for at first glance. This aspect of the writing I like VERY much.
BUT, I have had huge problems with the story within the story, also called "The Blind Assassin"! Making it even worse, there is a third story within the second story. All these stories within stories are confusing. The so called "clever" point, that is to be made, is NOT convincing, as far as I am concerned. I do not find (view spoiler)[the relationship between Alex and Iris to be convincing. That Richard would commit suicide as a result of the book's publication, written either by Iris OR Laura, I find scarcely believable. (hide spoiler)] I find the fantasy, science fiction parts boring. I wanted those sections to end as soon as possible.
I admit, I like neither science fiction nor mystery! There is a mystery element too. The writing I appreciate, but not the plot. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
ETA: There are two more reasons why this book disappointed me. There is no discussion of a government's right to move people out of the hinterlands, tETA: There are two more reasons why this book disappointed me. There is no discussion of a government's right to move people out of the hinterlands, to force them to live where everybody else lives. Obviously this is cheaper for the state! There is no analysis of this whatsoever - nothing about economics, safety, education, public facilities.In the way the offer is set out, in that all agree or the deal is off, the focus is shifted to the pressure of neighbors, fellow island inhabitants. Two completely different themes. Secondly, there is practically nothing about life on Newfoundland. No history at all. You do not learn about Newfoundland. The book is not about place. This is a book about family relationships, suicide and mental retardation. It is important this is made clear to prospective readers.
I assume you have read the book description, so go read it if you haven't.
Quite simply, I need clarity in a book and this book is as far from that as black is from white. Dreams, flashbacks, hallucinations and the present time story are all interwoven. I kept asking, "Did that just happen or was it a hallucination?" Maybe I am just too dumb, but I spent the whole time trying to figure out what the hell was actually taking place and what was simply in Moses' head? Moses Sweetand is the central character. Should he leave? Should he stay? Or..... logical Chrissie kept thinking, "Does he really have a choice?" If you want to get into the head of a delusional old man this is the book for YOU!
So I did not enjoy this book, BUT the author draws places beautifully. I am not talking about scenery as much as the feel of a place or a situation or a person. There are very good lines. Only one example: there is a visiting government official and he struts around with a briefcase under his arm - as if he were born with that briefcase there, glued under his arm. Think abo it ….you've seen men like that! I am giving this book two stars because it is OK, but it is only the lines that made me like the book at all. Sweetland’s confusion drove me nuts. It’s true, maybe the author wanted to depict exactly that!
As usual, my view of the audiobbok narration does not influence my rating. I used to absolutely adore audiobooks narrated by John Lee. If you have listened to him you will immediately recognize the special lilt of his voice. He sings the lines. His intonation goes up when most people's go down. Here in this story you have old cantankerous rough men and they just would not sound like this! I absolutely detested the narration. To appreciate the lines, I had to think very hard to not listen to what I was hearing. My advice? Read the paper book, don't listen to the audiobook. If you are like me, well then don’t even read it.
All my friends love this book. I don't. I kept wondering, "What is wrong with me?" Well, here I have explained what bothered me. ...more
The book started off terribly promising - looking at the art of writing biographies versus novels, i.e. what it takes from an author to write a book oThe book started off terribly promising - looking at the art of writing biographies versus novels, i.e. what it takes from an author to write a book of these two different genres. The main characters are authors and teachers of literature. In the beginning the lines had me thinking.
Halfway through, the book fizzled for me. The characters no longer rang true. Their behavior did not make sense to me. All the empty talk and socializing quite simply left me cold. The characters kept secrets from each other! Such behavior is very foreign to me. I find such behavior totally incomprehensible.
The message relayed about how authors take real life events and then fictionalize them became disappointingly banal.
There could have been an interesting discussion of the differences between Canadian, American and British cultures. This is not explored in the novel.
The audiobook narration by Justis Bolding was well done - the speed good and the different intonations for different characters easy to recognize. ...more
I received this book through GR’s First Reads Program. Thank you!
I read this book from start to finish with a magnifying glass. I am telling you thisI received this book through GR’s First Reads Program. Thank you!
I read this book from start to finish with a magnifying glass. I am telling you this simply because even given the difficulty it posed for me to read the book, given my poor eyesight, I would not quit. It was that good!
You can read a book of fiction for the story that is told, for what happens, Let's call this plot. Or you can read fiction for how it is written, for the charm, beauty, wisdom and humor of the lines. It was the latter that I loved about this book. The language is simple. The dialogs too. There stand just a few words, but you understand immediately their meaning and significance. Everything in this book is said with utter simplicity. All the unnecessary is washed away. You laugh, you marvel, you ponder.
What this book offers is a peek into three lives. The three are Etta's, Otto's and Russell's. This is a book about friendship and love - different kinds of love. And then there is James, a coyote. Otto and Russell grew up together; Russell almost part of Otto’s family. . All three spent their entire lives together. Three's a crowd? No, not here. This story is the quiet telling of their lives together. From childhood to old age - through adolescence and separation and war.
I should not like this book. It jumps backwards and forwards in time. Like The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which I detested, it follows an elderly person's pilgrimage. There are similarities between the two that I dislike, but Etta's pilgrimage doesn't have the religious message of Fry's. I usually don't read fantasy, and honestly there are elements that stretch believability. An eighty-two year-old woman plagued with dementia walking alone from Saskatchewan to the Atlantic 3232km away? Her husband, Otto, doesn't stop her? And Russell’s choices? Possibly conceivable, but not likely! Then there is the coyote, with whom Etta communicates. Remember? That is James! But hey, I can communicate with my dog, so why can't she communicate with James? Let's just say the book has magical realism. I like magical realism. Magical realism is just about different interpretations, not fantasy really. Regardless of why I shouldn't have liked this book I still did. Actually very, very much as I read it, but the ending – it just stopped. Did I want more of a message, a final punch?
If this book is available or becomes available in an audiobook format I would advise against it. You need to see the words' placement on the pages to comprehend the time switches. You need to see which portions of the text are letters between Etta and Otto. In the paper book these are in italics. Maybe most importantly, it is delightful to read the text slowly savoring each word, to suck on the lines. It is this that is the best part of the book, not what happens step by step. The value of the book is the passage through it. ...more
I don't want to annoy others who think Louise Penny writes great stuff. OK, she does - for the simple reason she has achieved a high star rating, butI don't want to annoy others who think Louise Penny writes great stuff. OK, she does - for the simple reason she has achieved a high star rating, but she is NOT for me. The ending is SO incredible - (view spoiler)[ Snakes,hoses / rat traps / umpteen people falling down steps with broken bones galore and one strong brave woman standing there triumphant.... (hide spoiler)] I like credible, realistic stories. This is not. The ending was simply the last straw for me.
I tried this book in an attempt to enjoy a fun cozy mystery. It only confirmed that even a book touted as being rich in character portrayal STILL isn't going to work for me if it isn't credible! This is first and foremost a mystery. Lots of time is spent covering the details of who "did it" and why and how. The chance that the events in this book would happen is minimal. Not only is the ending incredible but also the motive for the crime is feeble. I have learned that I value credibility.
Another aspect of this book that annoyed ME, was all the discussion of food. Lots of people love books where every other paragraph reverts to what is being eaten. I have learned to value other aspects of life than food. Why? Because I am a T1 diabetic and food just leads ME to trouble, I am the exception. Many adore books about eating and talking about delicious food. So again, a book for YOU, but NOT me. Go ahead, enjoy it.
A fun cozy murder mystery filled with yummy food. Not everything has to be credible for most people......except me.
Adam Sims narrated my audiobook. HE did nothing wrong whatsoever so go ahead and choose his narration if you think the book will be good for you!
ETA: I am getting braver. Here are more complaints:
There is simplistic philosophizing. You know that the criminal accused in the middle of the book will NOT be the right one. Nothing is done with the theme of the French versus English communities in Quebec. Popular themes of bullying and discrimination against gay people and women and Black rights - all covered but only superficially. It is set in a cozy fictive town in Quebec, but nothing is delved into with depth. Does cozy have to mean superficial?
ETA: I figured it out. Even though I ought to love this book, I don't, and that is because there is little humor in it. I don't need laugh out loud huETA: I figured it out. Even though I ought to love this book, I don't, and that is because there is little humor in it. I don't need laugh out loud humor, but I want to smile at the way the author draws a situation or a person. No, there is very little humor in this book so reading it is kind of a chore. It ought to be good, but it isn't really. Don't tell me humor doesn't belong in a book about a war. There is always something to smile at when a book is about people!
This is a good book of historical fiction. It contains LOTS of interesting information on:
* the role of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in WW1, culminating in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France April 9-12, 1917. * the explosion of the vessel Mont Blanc on April 9, 1918 in Halifax Bay and following tidal wave * the after-effects plaguing those who survived the war * German internment camps in Canada * banks fishing and community life in Halifax
All of the above is woven into a story about an extended family living in a village near Halifax. There is a coming of age story, a love story and a story about women who discover their own capabilities. The history is woven into family events so you never feel you are being lectured. It just sinks in. I didn't know that Canadian nurses in the war were referred to as "Bluebirds". I didn't know that some of the Canadian soldiers wore kilts. Sassoon's protests and the development of electro-therapy - it is all here.
The story covers a small time period, a little more than one year beginning in February 1917. Chapters alternate between Halifax and fighting on the front in France, but the time period is the same. It is simple to know where you are - the events and the people make this obvious, and you see what is happening in two places at a given moment in time. Both the war scenes and the life in Halifax drew me in. All of the characters are equally well drawn.
There are other themes too woven into the book - the value of art, traditional foods and flora and fauna and beeches. This author looks at nature; she is aware of nature.
I liked the reality of how the characters behave. I liked the ending. You aren't delivered a fairy tale, but that isn't to say the story is without hope. Pain and hardship and hope are well balanced.
How do I feel on completion? That was a good read. Maybe the reason I don't give it more than three stars is that I have read so many books now on the war so the content just does not surprise me anymore. This is a good strong three star book and I do recommend it.
One word about the audiobook narration by David Marantz. This I did not like, not at all. I had to tell myself to listen to the author's lines and not how they sounded. He made good prose sound corny. There are French characters and their French is just laughable. Let me put it this way, it sounds like I am reading the French, not a native French person. The narration is extremely unprofessional. When he sings you want to laugh. Read the book instead until it is available by another, better narrator. ...more
I liked this book for many reasons. It has humor. It covers widely varied topics, all of which I found interesting. Sibling rivalry. Pa In conclusion:
I liked this book for many reasons. It has humor. It covers widely varied topics, all of which I found interesting. Sibling rivalry. Parents’ attachments to their children…. and let’s admit it, we do not respond identically to each child. How do we / should we choose what we want to do with our lives? I mean what job we ultimately choose. Do we choose, or is it fate that decides for us? Are we destined for a certain occupation, given our particular personality? And what is the value of a job? Must we all be academics? The book is set in Canada during WW2, this too was interesting!
The characters? Well there are several, but central to the story are two brothers and guess what - a girl they both like. One brother made me nervous just at the mention of his name. You have surely met such a person - handsome, charming ....but too good to be true. This is the one that made me so nervous! And I liked Pete, a Native American. There is Ian too, he works as a farm help. Each character ties the story together. One gripe I have with the book is that I do not understand why all the guys (at least three) are so captivated by Laura; I wish the author had drawn her better.
The plot is definitely filled with excitement.
Unfortunately this was another one of those books that do not run chronologically; it flips between different time periods. Each chapter begins with a date and newspaper headlines. The only thing achieved by this is an increase in suspense, or perhaps it is an attempt to turn the story into a mystery, into a puzzle to be solved? I personally could do without this.
The narration by Paul Hecht was well done. He used different intonations for different characters.
The book concludes with an author interview explaining how she went about writing the book and what she wanted to have said. Mary Lawson has plans for a third novel. The Other Side of the Bridge was her second following her first one Crow Lake.
Immediately I love the writing. Each line is loaded with subtle humor. The theme, and why you might be interested? Who doesn't connect with the competing emotions between one sibling and another and parents' preferences for one child over another?
I have just begun so let me see if this continues as well as it starts.
BTW, this is set in the fictional town of Struan, Ontario, near New Liskeard, Ontario. Others have said this is set in northern Canada, well look at a map! It isn't. I certainly wouldn't place Ontario in northern Canada. ...more
ETA: Check out National Geographic's article on the Haida (Vol 172, NO.1, July 1987)
Anyone interested in forest conservation should read this book. It is informative and clear. You will learn about the timber industry. Maybe that sounds dry, but the book is in no way dry. Why? That is because the author couples it with a true event concerning the chopping down of the tree shown above and the disappearance of the man who chopped it down, Grant Hadwin in January 1997. Why did he do it? Was it right to do it? The latter has certainly been debated! And is he still alive? To top it all off, this magnificent tree was an essential part of the Haida culture. The Haida are a First Nation tribe living primarily on coastal British Colombia, Canada, many on the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii). Their culture and traditions are also covered in this book. All of these different topics are interwoven and engagingly told.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Edoardo Ballerini. He did a great job. He never puts you to sleep. Both the text and the narration are engaging.
I pulled out a map of the northwestern coastline of British Colombia, the Charlotte Islands and the Hecate Strait. When you hear of the virulence of this stretch of water you are drawn to find it and place it on a map.
What makes this book good is how it covers an exciting, true event, history and conservation....more
Please start by carefully reading the GR book description. It is accurate and toThrough A House in the Sky you vicariously experience being a hostage.
Please start by carefully reading the GR book description. It is accurate and to the point.
What can I add? The book is both well written and well laid out. What the author lived through is not sensationalized and I admire Amanda Lindhout for that. The book is co-authored by Sara Corbett. Together the two have written a very, very good book. It is not an easy book to read. By starting with Amanda's troubled family circumstances the reader grasps where she is coming from and why she makes the choices she makes. Some are extremely foolish, but don't we all?
460 days, that is how long she was held hostage. I cannot describe as well as the author does herself her h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e experience. Everything goes from bad to worse. (view spoiler)[Yes, she is raped, repeatedly! And tortured. (hide spoiler)] You might as well know that before you start. But absolutely none of the events are described in a sensational manner. She describes all with grace. I cannot emphasize this enough.
Islamic fundamentalists do this to her. This made me very, very mad. I am mad at all that is done in the name of religion. I am not willing to point a finger at Islam. Historically people of all religions under a guise of sweet words do the unforgivable. Some people did help Amanda. I am primarily thinking in this case of one wonderful Somali woman. I have to hang on to what that one woman did to not lose all faith in humankind. I recommend this book very highly. It needs to be read.
I really enjoyed the audiobook narration by Amanda, the one who lived through these events. OK, I have not met her in person but at least I have heard her voice. It is not pretentious. She has learned from her mistakes and gone forward with such amazing strength. I admire her tremendously.
I was using a map from National Geographic while I listened to this. Both Amanda and I love that magazine!