Look at the Latin title. Translated it means 'Remember you must die'. This is the telephone message delivered to a group of elderly upper-class BritsLook at the Latin title. Translated it means 'Remember you must die'. This is the telephone message delivered to a group of elderly upper-class Brits in the 1950s. Dame Lettie Colston was the first to be targeted. Soon many of Lettie's acquaintances had received the same call. The person or persons calling is sometimes said to be young, sometimes old and was identified by one as a woman. "Who is the caller?" is the mystery of the story.
It disappointed me (view spoiler)[that the caller is never identified. A police investigation concludes that the calls never occurred but were simply imaginings of senile, doddering old folk. As the calls are described this just does not seem feasible (hide spoiler)]. Somehow the author just hasn't made this alternative credible, and thus the end disappointed me.
The theme of the book is the message stated in the title. More specifically one should 'Remember you must die while you live'. This being the case, I think the novel would have been better had the message been delivered to not just the elderly.
Character portrayal is not the focus of the book. The message is the focus. There are too many characters and their interrelationships become confusing. Most often as one nears the end of a book a few central characters stand out. This doesn't happen here. This is another reason why the ending just sort of fizzled for me. You understand the message long before, and since what happens to each character doesn't matter, because you are not emotionally tied to them, the reader gets bored by the detailed documentation of each character’s fate, i.e. death, with which the book concludes.
What I did like about the book is its humor. Maybe one has to be coming up in years to recognize how we become as we age. The book gives you the opportunity to laugh at yourself. The chilling description of life in elderly homecare facilities gives a sobering balance.
The narration by Eve Karpf was very well done. Easy to follow and read at a perfect speed.
OK, I didn’t absolutely love this, but I do adore Spark’s humor. I appreciate that each one of her books have a different theme, even if most of them do seem to hold a mystery, contain a murder or two and are written with humor. Which of her books will I try next? I am not stopping here.
I began with Silas House's A Parchment of Leaves because it had won prizes for Southern writing: *Winner of the Kentucky Novel of the Year, 2003 *WinneI began with Silas House's A Parchment of Leaves because it had won prizes for Southern writing: *Winner of the Kentucky Novel of the Year, 2003 *Winner of the Award for Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers *Nominee of the Southern Book Critics Circle Prize *Nominee of the Book Sense Book of the Year Longlist It had a strong impact on me. My overall impression was that it was beautiful. The writing was gorgeous and at the same time simple and expressive. It wonderfully captures the essence of the rural South, the land and the people. The same is true here. This contemporary author is talented.
I have given the first book five stars, this book three and will soon be reading The Coal Tattoo. The past lives of two of the central characters in Clay's Quilt are explored in The Coal Tattoo. Nevertheless, the three books are stand-alones.
Clay's Quilt draws life in southern Appalachia, a small mining village in Kentucky. Most of the events roll out in the 1980s. Clay is the central character. In 1974, his mother, Anneth, dies. He is only four, and thus the circumstances around her death are blurry. We come to understand past events and observe how he comes to find his own place in the village. Much is about a person’s sense of home. This theme does not fit me well since I have lived in many different places and appreciate having done so. I found Clay’s personal life story to be unremarkable. This explains why I gave the book only three stars even though I found the descriptive writing exceptional.
I enjoyed getting a glimpse of Southern rural life. Pentecostal beliefs, superstitions, traditions tied to marriage, birth and death as well as contemporary issues concerning drugs, physical abuse and excessive drinking all play in. There is sadness and there is joy and love and hate.
The narrator of the audiobook is Tom Stechschulte. I could easily follow the story and the southern dialect comes across well, but I felt he over-dramatized the written lines....more
I have not seen the movie Adaption which is based on portions of this book.
I picked up this book because I enjoyed an essay written by the author inI have not seen the movie Adaption which is based on portions of this book.
I picked up this book because I enjoyed an essay written by the author in The New Yorker. I had found it amusing and perceptive. The book has the feel of an essay, or rather a series of essays focused on the central theme of orchids. Orchid collecting, orchid theft, orchid hunting and orchid obsession are all covered. The writing does go off on tangents. Forays are made into related topics - exploitation of natural resources, environment protection, smuggling and poaching of animals and plants, extensive land scams and the twisting of legislation regulating Native American rights. The setting is Florida. That which holds the whole together is the pull toward obsession. For good and for bad.
The author has met the people and observed firsthand their behavior. She trekked in the swamps, she got lost in Florida’s Fakahatchee Strand Preserve searching for ghost orchids. She talks to us not as a learned but as an equal, as a friend. She magnificently well captures the feel of Florida, not merely the place but also the people. Their way of talking and thinking and being. It is this that I appreciated most about the book. She brought back to me my earlier visits to Florida. This portrayal captured me more than the detailed descriptions of thefts and scams and peculiar individuals on which she sidetracks. I like how she told her story more than the actual details of the story. Please see below the quotes I have taken from the book.
The audiobook is extremely well narrated by Jennifer Meyers. Her tone captures perfectly the people and the place, the atmosphere.
Lines from the book that were particularly special for me:
"The world is so huge that people are always getting lost in it. There are too many ideas and things and people, too many directions to go. I was starting to believe that the reason it matters to care passionately about something is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size. It makes the world seem not huge and empty but full of possibility."
"If you set out alone and sovereign, unconnected to a family, a religion, a nationality, a tradition, a class, then pretty soon you are too lonely, too self-invented and unique, and too much aware that there is no one else like you in the world. If you submerge yourself completely in something -- your town or your profession or your hobby -- then pretty soon you have to struggle up to the surface because you need to be sure that even though you are a part of something big, some community, you still exist as a single unit with a single mind."
"It was a relief to have no hope because then I had no fear; looking for something you want is a comfort in the clutter of the universe, but knowing you don't have to look means you can't be disappointed."
"'It's not really about collecting the thing itself,' Laroche went on. 'It's about getting immersed in something, and learning about it, and having it become part of your life. It's a kind of direction.'"...more