I loved listening to those kind words and watching the red and gold fire flickering in the stove and milky white clNO SPOILERS!!!
I loved listening to those kind words and watching the red and gold fire flickering in the stove and milky white clouds of steam rising over the vats, leaving a dove coloured crust; like hoar frost, on the sloping rafters of the roof , where jagged chinks let through blue patches of sky. The wind died down, the sun came out, and the whole yard seemed sprinkled with ground glass. The screeching of sleighs came from the street, light blue smoke curled up from chimneys, and soft shadows as if they too had a story to tell.
The tall, bony Grigory, hatless, with his long beard, and large ears, looked like a kind-hearted magician as he stood there mixing the bubbling dye and continued the lesson:
Never be afraid to look a person straight in the face. Even the dog that attacks you will run away then…… (23%)
Russian authors are the best – in my view. Their description of people, both in appearance and character, of places and events are unsurpassed. This is an autobiography, the first book of three, by and about Maxim Gorky. Tolstoy has also written an autobiography entitled My Childhood; their lives were very different. Gorky's portrays the lowest classes of the Russian people. It is not surprising that he became an enthused supporter of Marxism. Please read the book description if you are unaware of the basics of Gorky's life. Here, in this book, you see the events of the author's first eight years, through his own eyes.
Stories after stories – that is what you get. Gorky had a very frightening, terrible childhood. The suffering he describes is physical. Beatings, brawls, fights: and yet at the same time there are fairy tales and legends he has learned from his grandmother; he is close to his grandmother and her life philosophy inspires hope even during the darkest of times. When Gorky's father dies he goes to live with his mother's family, but even his mother cannot bear to live there. He is thus raised primarily by his grandmother……and grandfather. Although the grandfather is brutal, you see that he is also kind, well sometimes. The times are different; children are beaten, how else can they be taught?! Both grandparents are religious, but each in their own way. Both ways are vividly painted through Alexei's perception. The book shows how this child saw his world; it was utterly frightening and incomprehensible. You absorb his experiences through story after story after story:
I waited until the innkeeper's wife had gone down to the cellar, and then shut the hatch and locked it over her, danced a dance of revenge over it, flung the key onto the roof and rushed as fast as my legs could take me to the kitchen, where Grandmother happened to be doing the washing. It took her some time to find out why I was so delighted, and when she did, she gave me a smack in the right place, dragged me outside and sent me up on the roof after the keys. Amazed at the reception, I silently retrieved the key and then ran off to one corner of the yard, from where I could see Grandmother freeing the captive innkeeper's wife. Then both of them, laughing all over their faces, came towards me across the yard.
"You'll get it from me!" said the innkeeper's wife threatening me with her plump fist, but still smiling benevolently with that eyeless face of hers.
Grandmother took hold of me by the scruff of the neck and hauled me off to the kitchen, where she asked me: "What did you do that for?"
"She threw a carrot at you…."
"So you did it for me? Well! What a nerve. I've a good mind to put you under the stove to keep the mince company. Perhaps that will knock some sense into you.( (42%)
There are stories about everything, but they are all true stories: funerals where live frogs end up buried on top of the coffin, blazing fires, cockroach battles, people crushed under crosses…… Life was hard. One can understand why Gorky, or Alexei Maximovich Peshkov as he was really called, came to sympathize for the downtrodden tramps, factory workers and the poorest of the poor of Russian society. He lived from 1863 - 1936. His book "Mother" was the first comprehensive portrait of the Russian socialist movement. He was a friend of Stalin and was given a "Hero's Funeral" in the Red Square. But you should read this book for the marvellous storytelling, not for a summary of historical events. For that, look elsewhere.
I believe the following quote wonderfully expresses Gorky's view on both life and people:
In recalling my childhood I like to picture myself as a beehive to which very simple obscure people brought the honey of their knowledge and thoughts on life, generously enriching my character with their own experience. Often this honey was dirty and bitter, but every scrap of knowledge was honey all the same. (55%)
This book deserves more than five stars!!! ...more
This book is defintiely going to be "different", but I know this author can do magical things. Maybe I should just be happy with The White Woman on thThis book is defintiely going to be "different", but I know this author can do magical things. Maybe I should just be happy with The White Woman on the Green Bicycle, and leave it at that!
Kirkus says it is a bit slow.... It isn't always good to read everything just b/c you loved one book by an author. I really don't know what to do. I can imagine how the author describes icicles hanging from a body, snow flakes dusting the skin....more
On completion: The myth about Oedipus will, after reading this book, always mean more to me than just the twist and turns of the legend.NO SPOILERS!!!
On completion: The myth about Oedipus will, after reading this book, always mean more to me than just the twist and turns of the legend. It is strange to feel Jocasta's love for this man whom we know is her son. I think Jocasta's emotional reaction when she discovers the truth would be interesting to discuss in a group. A reader, knowing more than what Jocasta knows at certain points, is given a curious perspective; we feel both her passion and a definite disgust. We experience with her the discovery of the truth, an emotional ride indeed!
Intellectually the reader learns about the different gods of ancient Greece:
There before us, each in their proper place, were the gods of the royal house of Thebes. Mighty Zeus and his wife and sister Hera, the king and queen of heaven. Beautiful Aphrodite and the warrior Ares, the parents of Harmonia. Demeter, goddess of the harvest and Dionysus, descended from Kadmos himself. Sly Hermes, hardworking Hephaaestus, and wise Athena. Graceful Artemis, goddess of the hunt. And her twin brother Apollo, lord of healing And Poseidon, who was not just the lord of the seas, but the god of horses and the dreaded shaker of the earth. (85%)
These separate gods and goddesses are listed here, but many of them have also played pivotal roles in this myth. I have learned of their idiosyncrasies, the rituals and sacrifices they demand and how mortals perceive them. How people reacted to their gods' plans and what we today feel when life throws stones n our path are really quite similar!
Reading this book was lots of fun; it has been both entertaining and informative. I do wish the authors had ended with an authors' note. The myth has several variants. An expose explaining their choices would have been interesting. I was told by one of the authors, but will others get this information?
I have read 53% of the book. I wondered when I began if it would sag in the middle and if the writing would be choppy due to there being two authors, each writing alternate chapters. The answers are NO and NO again! I see absolutely no difference between the different chapters. Rather than being choppy we have two authors who have put their heads together and given us double what perhaps one author could have provided.
Yesterday I read it many hours while traveling in a car. I looked up at one point and said to my husband, "This is good!" The story is exciting. Years and years ago I read Bullfinch's book on mythology. It certainly didn't bring to life the ancient myths as this does.
One fabulous quality of this book must be pointed out. I keep thinking this over and over again. The authors have made a time-period, with beliefs so foreign to our own, seem real and completely acceptable! How can I empathize and feel so close to these characters believing in fate and numerous gods. How is this possible to convince you I have chosen to quote a passage:
Democharus began the announcement, his rich voice booming across the heads of the crowd. "People of Thebes! The city gates are shut! And they will remain so, until a new king for Thebes is found!"…..
The herald continued. "In accordance with the will of Dionysus, as made known to us through his servant the Sphinx Melanthe: the new king of Thebes will be chosen through contest of wit! The contest will take place in three months' time, on the last day of winter; and the marriage will occur eight days later! These are the words of our regent, lord Creon! And of the god Dionysus!"
Silence held for a moment; then a ripple coursed through the crowd. Soon the common folk began to cheer; we had captured their interest. The contest would offer drama and spectacle, the wedding feasting and merriment. I relaxed my grip on the thyrsus. The peasants would no longer mutter that Thebes needed change: we were giving them change, by the will of a popular god – but this change we could control. (53%)
In addition I feel secure in the knowledge that the historical myth is properly conveyed. Many historical media sites have acclaimed the trustworthiness. I, myself, cannot judge, so I trust their views. So I am learning and enjoying myself at the same time.
Some of the lines are so perfect:
Jocasta you're right, you're only part of a tapestry. But that's true for all of us. We are all strands woven into gods' great tapestry. You want to choose your own place, your own colors. But none of us has that choice - our fates are already decided. (15%)
What a beautiful way of expressing fate. Over and over again I am struck by how ancient beliefs seem feasible to me, a modern person. I am also stuck by the thought that these people were living 1500 B.C. It is amazing to be there among them living so long ago.
ETA: after reading the first chapter.
One more thing: Jocasta is young, only 14 when she will wed the Crown Prince Alphenor. A woman/child of this age will certainly have a vivid imagination about love and sex. And yet she looks at her betrothed and feels NOTHING!
He approved of me, he seemed kind; surely these were good attributes in a husband. Yet still I felt nothing. His touch was warm but otherwise unremarkable. He squeezed my fingers lightly, and released my hand.
I must be dazed, still, from the prophecy - that had to explain my utter lack of interest. I felt as if I floated in a void, removed to some great distance. (7% through the book)
This struck a chord with me. This is the first meeting between the two. I happen to think that two people who love each other feel something at the start, and here there was nothing, nothing to build upon. Can you imagine one minute being told by the Prophetess Tiresias that she would marry, have a loving relationship and many children, and then she feels nothing..... Her confusion!
Religious beliefs current at this time period do not feel bizarre and strange to the modern reader. I loved Creon's explanation of historical events. His statements first appear heretical, and then he explains why there aren't at all! Or are they?! He stumps Jocasta and has the reader smiling. You have characters of a different time-period, but their thoughts and queries are very similar in nature to our own. If you follow the dialog you realize the ancient belief in numerous Gods and fate are not diametrically opposed to modern thought. It all depends on how you think it through. In any way, the reader is left feeling comfortable with these characters who have a religious belief system so different from our own.
Most of us know the general story of Oedipus, the man who killed his father and slept with his mother. This is general knowledge. I have always been curious to know more details. The poet Homer refers to this myth, and it is originally described in plays by Sophocles written 500B.C. The myth itself is said to have occurred during the Greek Bronze Age, which I believe is about 1500 B.C. Many of us already know more of the mythical details. I will not mention them here. that could be a spoiler for some. The full story is more involved, and although there are several versions, particularly of the ending, reading this book will put meat on the bones of my sketchy knowledge. I want to fall into the story, be there in the ancient times and experience firsthand what happens.
I want a novel to grab me from the start. Honestly, why must one struggle through the first 100-150 pages? I have only read the prologue and the first chapter. It is exciting from the very start! Jocasta, Oedipus' mother and wife will die before dawn breaks. And so she tells to her daughter, why and how these terrible events have come to pass. Jocasta had not known that Oedipus, her husband, was also her son. How did this happen? That is the story. Right smack in the first chapter you are there when the Prophetess Tiresias speaks the words of Apollo and declares who will be the next Queen of Thebes. The prophetess is blind; this is a requirement for the position. She blinded herself! There is a choice between four girls. Each girl has a different temperament and through the authors' words you have already begun to understand their temperamental differences. What kind of person is Jocasta's brother, Creon, who bring to her a vial of poison so she need not be torn limb by limb at dawn? I feel I have already begun to distinguish different character traits of the individuals. I see the clothes they are wearing. The prophetess, Queen Niobe, Jocasta, her brother, Jocasta's nurse: each are each dressed differently in clothing appropriate to their rank. Their actions and words depict different character traits. Thebes is described: the food served, the house construction, the sun. the noises... Well, I like it. This is how I want a novel to start.
At the site presenting this book and several other books which the authors have written together, I have found a map, a pronunciation guide (where I can hear the correct pronunciation not just read it) and an interesting article on how two authors work together. That does seem tricky, doesn't it? Here is a link to the site where all this is available: http://www.tapestryofbronze.com/index... I always need a map.
I want to see if the suspense and my engagement will continue. I want to see if the story lags in the middle. I want to see if I can distinguish which author has written which chapter, or will the writing be smooth? So far I am more than pleased. So far this is a great read.
I have for a long time been curious to know more about the Oedipus myth. Then I heard about this book, and saw the following reviews at Amazon:
A real page-turner . . . a wonderfully nuanced novel that repays previous knowledge of its subject matter - but never requires it" -- Historical Fiction Review, August 15, 2004
...very easy to stay engrossed in Victoria Grossack and Alice Underwood's story of Oedipus, told by his wife/mother Iokasta -- Ancient History About, February 1, 2005, N S Gill
An absorbing, quasi-historical portrait of ancient Greece ... well-balanced update that maintains the original mythic suspense. -- Kirkus, May 2005
Enthralling from cover to cover ... I'd recommend "Iokasta" to anybody who likes authors who write intelligent stories for intelligent readers. -- Actuarial Review, February 2005
The authors bring the turmoil of ancient Greek mythology to life...not only educational, but a page turner -- BPC Broadsheet, October 28, 2004
I read a snippet and liked the prose style. And then I happened to meet Victoria Grossack, one of the two authors, here at GoodReads! She wanted to know my honest opinion of her book. Of course I was terribly flattered. So now I am reading this book which she has leant to me via Kindle! Nice huh?!...more
I finished this book last night, before I went to bed, but it is still night or early, early morning. 3:30 AM to be precise! I cannot slNO SPOILERS!!!
I finished this book last night, before I went to bed, but it is still night or early, early morning. 3:30 AM to be precise! I cannot sleep. I keep thinking abut this book and how I shhould explain why I adore it. It swallowed me, sucked on me, swished me around, pounded me and then spit me out. Or have you ever been tumbled and beaten by a crashing wave? When you escape, thrown up on shore, dizzy, without footing, tousled, pummelled; that is another way of describing how you feel after reading this book. Chrissie, this is not helping..... be specific! Explain! How?! Where do I begin?
I will begin by saying you feel physically beaten and brutalized by this book. Well, I did. The land, the people, the pounding heat, the fruit that fall down on on your head, the insects that attack, the earth that rumbles and moves so you are shaken. You physically feel this book. With the author's words you feel life on the island of Trinidad. I cannot explain it better than that. And you feel the youth and sexual attraction of Sabine when she arrives, when she is atop that green bicycle pedalling all over the island, scared of NOTHING! She is too busy to be scared, There is not an ouce of fear even in situations where perhaps she should have been frightened. She is so alive and beautidul and sexy atop that bicycle. Everyone noticed her. Cars almost collided. And you see her when she is in her seventies, old and beaten by the sun and all the other forces of this island. This book is sensual. When a couple cannot talk, cannot communicate, they use sex to pound each other; it is the only means left to reach out to the other.
Mentally this book puts you in a turmoil too. This book is historical fiction. You get the history of Trinidad from the 1950s through to 2007. The history isn't on the edge of the stroy but it IS the story. The whole story. It is the central theme. You cannot close the covers of this book and not understand what happened there in Trinidad during this time period. Such is impossible. A central theme of all this is colonialism. Europeans sucking the sap out of this West Indian island. It is about the love/hate feelings between the black Africans, the French Creole aristocracy and the Europeans. I have lived in different countries. I know what is is like to be plunked down in a culture that you do not understand. How do you feel when you arive and when you have been there for years? Sabine and her husband George arrived with completely different intentions. Sabine didn't really want to come. This made me feel cold toward her. But which of the two let the island's culture suck them in more? That is an interesting question? I also understand the turmoil Sabine felt because she didn't agree with her husband about the basics; how long would they stay or what was the purpose of their stay on the island?! I actually came to fully understand Sabine. I joined her side, but hej you do not understand where she really stood until you read this book. Read this book. It is marvellous.
I feel like removing stars from all the books I have recently read so that when I give this five stars you will see how this book sparkles and is illuminated by the five stars. I do not think this book will fit everybody. It fit me perfectly. Are you interested in how it feels to be a foreigner in a new country? Are you interested in history? Do you want an emotional ride? Do you enjoy the excerpts given below? Those are the suestions you should ask yourself when you decide whether you want to read this book! If you answer yes, then read this book.
49% percent through the book: I absolutely love the book. the more I read,the more it pulls me in. I absolutely adore how it describes Trinidad and those living there. The plot line goes backwards. You start in 2006, but then when you know these people and care for them, when you NEED to know more, that is when the author dips into the past. It is the writing style that draws you in.
You all know that I am not interested in cuisine or cooking. Me, I cook as quickly as I can. But this suthor entices me with the Trinidadian cuisine:
It was Venus who got me cooking. She introduced George and me to creole cuisine, which she called blue food: sweet potatoe, eddoes, cassava, yams.
'Good old-fashioned stodge,'George called it.
Venus brewed up drinks, too - a red cordial a bit like cranberry juice: sorrel. Another from the bark of a tree: mauby, a green liquorice-type medicine we choked back. In months, our diets had changed for ever. Venus devised our menus. Instead of reading the cookbook, I hung around the kitchen.
'What are you doing?' I asked, peering over her shoulder. She was stripping down the stalks of some large leaves.
'It's dasheen bush.'
'Can't you just chop them up and put them in the soup?'
'You hadda take out dis vein furs.'
'It trouble de throat. Make it itch. Her eyes shone. I stared. Venus nodded and smiled, suppressing her amusement. (at 49%)
Just as how the plot goes backwards in time so you want to know when it is finally presented to you, the same is true here. Callaloo has been mentioned many times. I have been asking myself: What IS that? Now I know. I also finally found out what steupsed means. Wikipedia didn't help me. Always the author makes us want to know before we are told! Finally, I know why Sabine speaks French and why the people in this former British colony revert to French. I am only told when I find myself going crazy with curiosity.
I SAID I wouldn't give any more excerpts, but yes, I just broke down. I simply had too. NOW NO MORE EXCERPTS, no matter how wonderful the lines are. I think this book will get five stars. I cannot believe I have half left. What is going to happen next?!
I love how everything is described - the people, the places, the feel of Trinidad. I knew nothing about Trinidad, but know I feel I am there. One more excerpt and that will just have to do. Here we are at the World Cup football match between the Soca Warriors of Trinidad and the opposing Peruvians:
Everyone wore red. Flags hung from shoulders, faces were painted with the Trinidad and Tobago colours. Conch horns bellowed. Vendors greeted ticket holders well in advance of the entrance, hawking writstbands, T-shirts, whistles, car stickers. George and Clock dodged them, drifting up the main corridor towards the stadium entrance, stopping to buy cherry-flavoured snow cones. Four in the afternoon and the sun poured down. They climbed the stairs to the balconies, arriving at the top, gazing out onto the scratchy yellos-grass pitch....
George and Clock made their way down an aisle and across a row of seats. George opened his giant golf umbrella and they sat under it eating their melting snow cones and warm peanuts, watching a fat man dressed in a red satin suit and red cowboy hat goose-stepping around the pitch. (at 32%)
The writing is vividly colored. You hear a cacophony of voices, shrill cries, whistles and the reader is right there in that stadium under the glaring sun. I love it.
************************************************* 21% through the book:
So the bicycle it is found again, There it is: clean and sparkling and repaired. All had their own memories tied to this bike. Memories of Sabine on this bike. Memories of a person who had been! The faces looked on expectantly when the bike was put before Sabine again:
La Pompey (the handyman) laughed. 'Yeah, man. Try it, nuh.'
Jennifer (the maid) cackled, blushing through her black skin. 'Mrs Harwood, give it a try, nuh. I cyan believe you ride it once.'
Everyone turned to look at Sabine.
Sabine backed away, holding onto her dog. 'Are you crazy? Jennifer give it to Chantal.'
'How she go ride it up dat hill?' Jennifer retorted.
Sabine looked at George: he was blushing, heat in his face. Was he hurt?
'Well, give it away to your friend who runs the charity shop at the church. Take it away. I can't believe we still have it lying around. Give it away, for God's sake.'
Sabine looked at their expectant faces, all of a sudden crowdedin.
Memories flooded up. Eric Williams in his flashy American car, sailing past. The look he gave her, through the windo, questions in his eyes. She felt faint, woozy, the wind in her hair.
La Pompey stopped his clowning, perplexed. 'She doh want it?'
Sebastian frowned. 'No.'
'She'll ride it,' Jennifer assured 'She just take a turn.'
'Maybe she'll try it tomorrow,' La Pompey reasoned. 'When nobody arong She must feel shy to ride it now. Mr. Hartwood, you mus encourage her. Why you look so sad?'
So why do I bother to give you this excerpt? I have given it to show two things. How the people speak and, more importantly, for you to see and feel the emotions of the family. The servants, they too are a part of the family. These people, all of them, care for each other, but they do not understand each other. A huge theme of this book is our relationships with those closest to us. These relationship are never stagnant; they are complicated, messy knots.
What does the word "steupsed" mean? Some of the colloquialisms I do not understand. Maybe Wikipedia will clue me in?
I had to give you this excerpt found 13% through the book:
We treat politicians like parents. It's the same relationship. We never forgive them if they fuck up.
Well that is true. I think we cannot forgive our parents because we want to see them as Gods. They should be perfect. Even when we ourselves become parents and know we are full of mistakes, we still want our parents to be pretty darn perfect. It would be nice if our politicians could be trusted, admired, a bit above ordinary human beings. I just never thought of it that way.
I have just begun this; I have only read 10% of the egalley I received from NetGalley. An egalley is an ARC book in e-format. Please read the book description, it seems foolish to just repeat what is already written!
Sabine and George had many years ago left England and moved to Trinidad. They had planned a three year stay, but then they stayed and now many, many years have passed and Trinidad is there home. The book is about Trinidad, the culture and the history of the island (1950s - 2000), but also about Sabine's and Georges's relationship. What relationship stays fiexed? None, of course. How was it before as newlyweds? How is it now? Different, that is all one can assume.... But what has made it change, and is change good or bad or a lovely mixture? We will see! I am intrigued. George has just found hidden letters written by his wife. Not just a few, but boxes of letters During 26 years Sabine was writing to Eric Williams, the Prime Minister of Trinidad after British rule ended. Why were Sabine's letters hidden away here in their house? Were they answered? Had there been an affair?
George read till dawn. Sitting on the office floor, his back against the wall. He read every letter, mouthing the words. Three hundred and fifty-eight letters in all. "Dear Mr. Williams." Nothing was straightforward as a love affair: passion, guilt, betrayal all the usual to and fro. No. This was far worse. He stopped several times to ponder, lost in reveries of their life together. He only knew the half of it, only half her despair.
The letters were originals. Unsent. Communiqués to the self in some respects. He found no replies and wondered if they were in another stash, other boxes hidden elsewhere in the house. From what she had written he began to understand.
Me? I do not understand. I am intrigued. I want to know more, and I want to know more about Trinidad. I have already glimpsed a bit. I have met the native Trinidadians. I had a bit of a hard time understanding their collooquialisms, but now I am getting the hang of it. The rampant vice, corrupt politicians and police force, the oppressive heat: all of this has hit me. Was it like this when they arrived? When they arrived Sabine was young and beautiful and she was "that white woman on the green bicycle" that attracted everyone's attention. What has happened during the last 50 years. I want to know.
BEFORE READING: "Equal love and attention go into the marriage and the country at the heart of this Orange Prize short-listed novel... It's a book packed with meaty themes, from racism to corruption to passion and loyalty." -Seven, The Sunday Telegraph
This book recounts the life of Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister. It is another biography based on a woman living through the holocaust. Howeve NO SPOILERS!!!
This book recounts the life of Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister. It is another biography based on a woman living through the holocaust. However, Nonna is not Jewish. She was raised according to the practises of the Russian Orthodox Church. Her grandfather was a Cossack and although he dies rather early on in the story, her grandmother plays a central role in the early years of Nonna's life. There are two central themes, the wonderful memories of her young childhood spent with her family and grandmother in Konstantinowka (Santurinowka) and her experiences in German labor camps during WW2 with her mother. Nonna had to hang to the good memories to have the strength to survive the bad memories. The bad memories were horrible. It is important to recognize that not only the Jews suffered unimaginable horrors during the war. Nonna was the only survivor of her large Ukrainian family. Life under Stalin also influenced who she became as an adult. Even children of this time and place came to realize the need for secrets; not keeping hidden that which is said in the family walls and that which can be said in public. Keeping secrets became a manner of being, a way of life.
The stories about Christmas celebrations, sleigh rides, an abundance of food and well being, garden filled with fruit and flowers. Glorious remembrances of sights and sounds and smells are marvellously imparted.
At the same time there are depictions of such evil events that this book is one of the hardest to read. There are childhood reminiscences of seeing Jews deported into extermination camps, compared to her experiences while being deported into the German labor camps. There is an episode with an umbrella, an episode with a Jewish baby being thrown into the train car and an episode concerning a little Jewish boy called Nathan that came to save Nonna's life that are simply heart-wrenching! That such has happened! The book should be read to know of these events. I will never forget these three events. This book should be read by all.
Now I need to talk a bit about how the book came to be written. It is based on Nonna's diary. After the war she immigrated to the US and she never spoke of her diary, of her hidden photos and letters she had saved from her past. She never spoke of her past - not to her husband and not to her children, to no one! In the 1980s she decided to transcribe her diary notes and poems and other writings into English. They had been written in several different languages. Her father had insisted she learn many languages. That she was proficient in several did in fact save her life. Eventually she spoke to her husband about these memories, writings and saved mementos. She agreed that the material could be brought forth after her death. The truth should be known.
Given the history of how this book came into being one can understand the inconsistencies that the reader finds in the book. Actually that one time she says the bombing of Kassel took 15 minutes or a little less than one half hour is for me insignificant. That she says she was eight when she began her diary and other times she says she was nine; this doesn't bother me either. If I were to talk about what happened in my childhood I am sure I would not keep absolutely everything straight. I see these inconsistencies as a proof of truth.
Many reviewers dislike that the prose is interrupted by comments on Nonna's statements. These are like footnotes, but they occur right in the middle of the text. I liked this. I would often have questions about what Nonna says and the following paragraph would then answer the questions that had just troubled me. However if you never read footnotes, this may disturb you. I wanted to understand; the inserted paragraphs increased my understanding.
There are poems that she wrote as a child. There are religious thoughts about God. Neither spoke to me! At the end of the book there is a map which I only discovered when I had finished the book. Anyhow, it was impossible to read in the ebook format. At the end of the book there is a chronological summary of all the events in the book. This is a bit redundant. Definitely some further editing would have improved the book. At times I asked myself if I hadn't just read a given sentence twice; two adjacent sentences were almost exactly the same! One of them should have been eliminated. So yes, there are problems on how the book has been put together. The errors that have occurred in this book are not due to Nonna's writing. She had an important story to tell. I am very glad I read this book.
You should read about Nathan and about what can be done with an umbrella………
I am making a bet with myself. Here it is. Let's see if I am proven correct! I think I will end up giving this book four or five starsNO SPOILERS!!!!!
I am making a bet with myself. Here it is. Let's see if I am proven correct! I think I will end up giving this book four or five stars! So far I have only read 13%, but I am totally captivated. The author, Irfan Orga, begins by describing his early childhood, growing up in Istanbul. He was born in 1908. It is, as usual, how an author expresses himself that makes or breaks a book. I adore the writing style. Please, do yourself a favour and check out the excerpt available at Amazon. Click on the look-inside button. Why should I rewrite it here, when it is available there?!
As a child he lives in a white house with green shutters, beside the Marmara Sea. The author has you, the reader, listening to the gentle sounds of the sea, as he does, as he lies in his bed. The morning rituals are not what I would have expected in a Muslim household. The festivities, related to a boy's circumcision, are delightfully described. The fear, the excitement and the celebration are marvellously depicted. There is a lot to be learned from this book. Look at the date. Look at the place. The journey is sure to be captivating!
On completion: Yes, I will give this book five stars. Near the end, 98% of the way through, one finds the line:
Now there was no one who remembered my childhood.
Had this book not been written……… yes, all of this would have been lost! I am very glad I was given then opportunity to read this book. The topic is interesting and the writing is wonderful. I will try and explain why I thought the topic was so interesting. You have the possibility of tasting the writing style by clicking on the link above.
This book depicts the life of one family living through WWI, and that family is Muslim and one belonging to the German-Ottoman side! This is not historical fiction; it is real life, grittingly and enchantingly described. All of it – the ups and the downs. Real people and real events. There is even real magic related by several witnesses, if you dare to believe them. There are so many memoirs and biographies concerning life during WW2, but here you get an amazing book on WW1. I felt I learned much about an ordinary Muslim family, not one that bows down to Mecca numerous times every day, but one that I personally could be part of. These people were little different from you or I. I liked how the book was able to show me a new perspective concerning those of the Muslim faith. You get WW1, the Muslim perspective and the experiences of a Turkish family.
The family is Turkish – not Armenian, not Greek. They lived when Kemal Atatürk ruled. Again, I was given another perspective. I have previously read many books about the Armenians; here we are presented with a family living on the other side. Atatürk was loved and honored by many.
I must state clearly this is not a book centered on the historical aspects of the time period 1914-1945. No, it is instead about a family and how their lives were so dramatically changed by the historical events. The emphasis is on the family, not the historical events. The emphasis is more on the time-period of the first rather than the seconds world war because the central focus is on the author's childhood, his parents' and his grandmother's lives.You get a wonderful view of life on the Bosporus, life in Istanbul, life in Izmir – all these places that play a role in historical events. Mostly you learn about a family and the separate individuals of that family. Each individual responded differently to the same events! You learn about people, how we all react differently. You learn about the author, his mother, his brother and sister, his grandmother, his father and grandfather and others too. Who was strong? And what actually is strength? And is survival the ultimate goal? And what happens to us as we age?
I will finish with one quote from the book, because I love the author's descriptive talent:
I wish I had the words to paint the strange enchantment of Izmir: the little crooked streets with the air of secrecy and squalor; the haphazard shops in the side ways; the open carriages and the noisy trams and the hooting of the boats, overriding all other sounds; the casinos fronting the harbor, with the never ending strains of music issuing from them; the hot sunlight and the blue sky and the golden sands, the tree-lined roads and the wisteria and bougainvillea that hangs everywhere like a scented purple curtain. (88%)
Recall these lines when you read of the atrocities that happen in Izmir.
I love this book. A life of plenty becomes one of nothing and then still life goes on. How do each of us respond to life's roller-coaster ride? Five stars. ...more
First, let me point out that the samples available from Amazon should NOT be only the introduction to the bI could not finis h this book. I read 29%.
First, let me point out that the samples available from Amazon should NOT be only the introduction to the book. The introduction is written by a writer different from the author. You cannot glimpse the author's style from this. I also checked the the very beginning of the book that can be read at the Amazon site. This did intrigue me. It was suspenseful, amusing and filled with similes that I enjoyed. I thought the similes were very perceptive. Try this one on page 45:
...at dawn he would have stopped in at St. Roch's Chapel where the poor nuns, like white seagulls by the ocean's dark shore, sat in the pews, row after row, saying prayers as adventitious as birdsong.
One simile at a time, that I like, but when whole paragraphs are nothing but similes about a character you do not even know, well then my interest drops like a stone. You even forget who is being described sometimes! Here, try this description of a croupier in a gambling hall on page 47:
A dyed mustache, meticulous shave, pomaded strands of hair pasted across his bald skull like dark twigs on winter trees: this was the croupier. He wore a green bunting jacket and tight pants, like landed gentry on a city outing. He let the nail grow long on his little finger, and wore an oversize signet ring bought at a pawn shop. He was on familiar terms with everyone present, for that was the style of the house. His bulging frog's eyes took in his guests from top to toe, the rock in his tiepin was the size of a pea, and he wore his watch chain short, in the manner of army officers. His platinum-capped false teeth smiled enigmatically behind blue lips. This man was never bothered by the thought that outdoors it might be springtime....He wore great big American shoes, equipped with ear-and toothpicks in a silver case, a gilt-backed mustache brush, a a silver cigar-cutter, a pocketknife with a handle fashioned from an antler, and matching morocco leather notebook, mirror, wallet and change purse; his back pocket had a Browning automatic, his lapel sported ........
I have only given you about half of the paragraph. This is all about an insignificant character in the tale!
Let me say this very clearly. The beginning of the book aroused my curiosity and intrigued me. Then as I progressed into the novel it went off onto tangents, became overly descriptitve and put me to sleep. I feel tricked. What I read in the beginning is not what the book delivers. I am giving up. What a disappointment. This is a "New York Review Books Classic"!
Oh, and not only did I dislike the excessiveness of the details, absolutely nothing has happened since the first chapter when Eveline left her home in Pest and moved out to her manor Bujdos-Hideaway on the upper reaches of the River Tisza. I have met three main characters: Eveline, Kaliman and Andor Alimos-Dreamer, and have been sufficiently informed about their ancestors with almost exactly the same names. Nice and confusing. A challenge, if you want that sort of a challenge. All Eveline has done is left Pest. All Andor has done is pretend he was dead and then sat up in his coffin. Kaliman, Eveline's former fianceé, tried to sneak into her apartment. That was the exciting part in chapter one, but he only stole a sprig of frozen rosemary from her garden. Yes, it is bizarre. That is what intrigued me, but the writing style makes it impossible for me to enjoy it. Maybe one should rad it as poetry, one paragraph at a time, while you read another book!...more
How many people do you know are real heroes? I bet not that many. So why do I want a book to have at least one or two characters that I adNO SPOILERS!
How many people do you know are real heroes? I bet not that many. So why do I want a book to have at least one or two characters that I admire? Well, the book gets kind of depressing otherwise. Why bother reading, all I have to do is turn on the television or look out my window to see the ordinary.
In the beginning I was very much enjoying the humor, then I got tired of and annoyed at the characters. I didn't learn really any history from this book either. I did learn one thing, how life of many struggling emigrés in the 70s, fleeing the East to freedom in the West presented itself. I found it a depressing picture, although I do believe it to be accurate. I was struggling to keep reading when things kept going down and down and down. Then at the end I realized these characters did very special things. They were not as creepy as I had thought them to be. And I thought, maybe this is really how people are. Often the kindness one human being shows another isn't blatant, the kindness is to be found in little things that are not broadcasted out loud. I actually found I liked the book. On the other hand I was struggling through the majority of it. How do I give stars to such a book? This book proves that one should not give up on a book too soon. Sticking with a book can be rewarding. I will give this book two stars. Quite simply, the book as a whole was OK. I am restrictive with my stars. They express my emotions. As you see, this book has worthy elements, but still I only give two stars because "this book was OK" expresses how I feel toward it.
The situation of such émigres is worth delving into. Read this (found 80 %) through the novel:
He tried to envision different scenarios and how he might best behave in each. But no matter how hard he tried to focus, his thoughts became diffuse and drifted apart. It was impossible to plan without a clear objective, and he didn't have one. He didn't know what outcome he wanted.
These émigres were without money, without a home, many separated from their friends and family,lost both emotionally and physically. I felt this parapraph really summed up the problem in just a few words. Many had no direction. And what was the freedom they were looking for? To discuss this would be to give a spoiler.
Having now read 50%, I find I am having some trouble with the book. There are flashbacks to the 1940s and Latvia. I like learning history, but sometimes I feel totally lost. Political events are not clearly explained. I do not recognize the names of many political figures. They are thrown out at me and then dropped. The same happens with other family acquaintances. Maybe the problem is more my inability to accept not understanding every line. I do understand where the book is going. Maybe that should be enough?
Alec's behavior can get a bit annoying. The humor is still present, but not as strong.
This is a quick uppdate. I am certainly not so frustrated to motivate my dishing the book.
Now I have read 19%. I still enjoy this tremendously. Do you like this kind of humor?
-Do you speak English? the woman asked. -A little, Alec said. -And your wife? -No. -Well, perhaps we can be of help. The woman beamed, handing Alec a pamphlet. I am with an organization offering services. Free English classes and assistance with impmigration processing, for example.-What is your organization? -We are with the Baptist Church. -What is she saying? Polina asked. -Jesus Christ wants to solve all our problems. -That's a relief. (19%)
This kind of humor may not appeal to everybody, but me, I am laughing. Alec is a s"mart alec". Perfect name!
I have not read much, only 10%! Sorry, there are no page notations in this Amazon ebook. What I immediately like is that each individual is characterized by showing you how they behave, what they laugh at, how they respond to each other. The reader is not told, but shown so they can judge the personalities of the main characters.
The book is about a family of eight. They are Latvian Jews escaping from behind the Iron Curtain to freedom. Or so they hope. What will they pay for this freedom? How will each one react? It is the 1970s, I think.... The family consists of a mother and father (Emma and Samuil) and their two sons (the older is Karl and the younge is Alec). Both are married. Karl to Rosa and Alex to Polina. Karl and Rosa have two sons - Yury and Zhenya. they are seven and five respectively. All I know is that they have arrived from Vienna and are now outside Rome in housing for such emigrés.
What draws me immediately are the lines that deoict the different characters. Try this:
Alec stood beside his brother and directed his flashlight at the wall immediately above Karl's left shoulder. The wall, a grimy off-white, diffused just enoough light to illuminate the side of Karl's face. Karl's expression suggested that he was not at all seduced by the anarchic, carnival atmosphere in the hotel. His mind operated on another plane. Alec would see a circus and want to join; Karl, meanwhile, would estimate the cost of feeding the elephants and conjecture that the acrobats suffered from veneral disease. (10% of the novel)
The housing provided is dirty, cramped and there is really no food. There are power cuts. They have just arrived so let's give them a chane to sort things out. For some it is a carnival atmosphere! For others it is just dirty and horrible. And the kids are racing around having fun.
Here follows a quip from Samuil when he is traveling on a very hot bus:
Samuil and Emma settled for a pair of seats near the back. Once they were on the road it became evident that the bus lacked proper ventilation. For relief Samuil slid his window open but encountered resistance from the woman behind him.
-I have a young child, sir, do you want her to catch pneumonia? -We're elderly peopl, you'd prefer we suffocate? -Citizens, let's be civilized, another voice chimed in. -We could exchange seats, Emma suggested. -And wake my child? the woman said. -If your screeching hasn't woken her, moving won't either, Samuil said. (8% of the novel)
Samuil is use to his own chauffeur. He is use to being the family head, the one to dictate every move of the family. You learn about Samuil; you learn about Emma when you read these lines. And I felt the heat and discomfort in the bus. I laughed at the lines: Samuil "encountered reisitance from the woman behind him". I like the whole dialogue.
The reader has already met Alec too. The first thing he does in the train station while his brother is busy unloading /loading baggage is to eye some young girls and imagine himself talking with them. The reader has his number immediately.