I thought a lot of things about this book and I am not sure how to rate it star-wise. There are parts of the book that are beautifully and creativelyI thought a lot of things about this book and I am not sure how to rate it star-wise. There are parts of the book that are beautifully and creatively written and I couldn't put the book down. Yet there are also parts that were tedious and not as interesting and I put the book down often.
The main character is Alma, a writer living in Vermont with her husband Richard. At age 49, almost 50, she seems to be having a bit of a mid-life crisis while she is unable to finish a novel she is writing that is under contract with her publisher. This is what I thought the book was going to be about, but it wasn't. With various twists and turns in the plot, it is really about the "have's and have not's" in developed and undeveloped countries. While I generally care very much about this, I was very surprised when the book took this turn and I didn't really feel prepared for it at all. Unfortunately, Alma can also be a bit whiny and trying at times which made me not want to rate the book as highly as other sections of the book did.
The contrasting story in the novel is about Isabel, a woman who traveled to Centrual and South America and beyond in 1803 on an expedition that attempted to innoculate the people for smallpox. It turns out that this is historical-that people figured out that if humans were exposed to the bovine version of smallpox, it would innoculate them from the human version and it could literally have saved thousands of lives. This is the part of the novel that rings the truest and I love Julia Alvarez's attention to the detail of Isabel's life, especially on board the ship as the only woman.
I would still recommend this book in spite of some of it's flaws. It really does force the reader to question why we act as if some people's lives really are expendable in our quest for knowledge and opportunity....more
I really liked this book. It's a story about a New England family who has become more wealthy through the centuries, but "dessicated" as people, so thI really liked this book. It's a story about a New England family who has become more wealthy through the centuries, but "dessicated" as people, so that they keep carrying on, but life moves more like a protected dream than real life. It's a bit of a cliche--the wealthy people in the big house have no life except for an occasional ball, bridge and visiting one another while the servants and middle class folks who are more earthy are very connected to life and passion, including sexual desire. Yet Bromfield's characterization was wonderful and I enjoyed them. I found it interesting that the blurb on the back of the book indicated that Sabine Callendar was the main character but it turned out that she wasn't. Olivia was the main character and all the other characters revolved around her. Olivia has an important choice to make in the book and this is the main plot of the story and, even though it is predictable what she will choose, she's still very interesting and has a fair amount of depth. ...more
This was a thoroughly likable book with some good insights. Miller takes ordinary tasks, such as laundry, cooking and gardening to show the reader howThis was a thoroughly likable book with some good insights. Miller takes ordinary tasks, such as laundry, cooking and gardening to show the reader how to approach them in the Buddhist way of being fully present to the task at hand. I enjoyed it and am considering ideas as I am beginning meditation and a more frequent yoga practice.
Book Group. Interesting pieces, especially the title essay. I enjoy how Buechner is able to tie scripture and the ethereal into everyday life events.Book Group. Interesting pieces, especially the title essay. I enjoy how Buechner is able to tie scripture and the ethereal into everyday life events. The essay's are a bit heavy, but enjoyable....more
If there was a way to give this three-and-a-half stars, I would. For the most part, I enjoyed it and there were long passages that were beautifully wrIf there was a way to give this three-and-a-half stars, I would. For the most part, I enjoyed it and there were long passages that were beautifully written and enjoyable, especially the descriptions of a fishing trip in Spain and the running of the bulls to the arena for the bull fights and the bull fights themselves. However, I found that the slang the characters used was fairly dated and didn't ring as true as it might have when it was first written. I also found the main characters pretty selfish, drunk most of the time (which didn't help the selfishness) and not terribly likable. Ironically, the selfishness of the characters doesn't keep them from being interesting, just unlikable. (Except for Mike, Lady Brett Ashley's fiance. He's pretty much a drunken idiot most of the time.)
I understand that this is Hemingway's first novel, so I think that I will read other books that he wrote. I just found myself feeling ambivalent about this one, which is probably why it took me so long to finish it....more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found that as I read along, I would remember the next section of the book from when I read it in high school. I findI thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found that as I read along, I would remember the next section of the book from when I read it in high school. I find Jay Gatsby's character thoroughly likable and I enjoyed the way Fitzgerald never really tells you what he does. The reader gets just enough of Gatsby's story to give some insight, but not too much. It's heartbreaking that he could be in love with Daisy, who really seems to want some amusement in her life, but Gatsby's affection/infatuation is pretty true to life.
Still on my kick, after reading The Paris Wife and A Moveable Feast, of reading American authors of the early 20th century. I read this in high school but remember little of it. I'm also not always the biggest of fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald, so we'll see how it goes....more
I am beginning to believe that the "Lost Generation" was aptly named and much of it showed in their writing as well as their lives. I found the novelI am beginning to believe that the "Lost Generation" was aptly named and much of it showed in their writing as well as their lives. I found the novel a bit slow at first, interesting though as Fitzgerald introduces a minor character who leads the reader to the main character, Dick Diver. The story picks up and becomes more interesting as Fitzgerald moves into the story of Dick and his wife and how they met and married. It's difficult to read in a sense because Nicole is manipulated into the marriage at a time when she is very vulnerable, but her character is redeemed in that she eventually realizes that she can take her own life into her own hands and choose what she wants. While Nicole grows stronger, Dick becomes more dissolute. It felt like Fitzgerald was encouraging the reader to fall in love with Dr. Diver just as his wife and the other characters did. Then, just as his wife and the other characters begin to know Dick for who he really is, they fall out of love and so does the reader.
A bit slow and heavy at times--Fitzgerald does love his metaphors--but a great book. ...more
Very well written. Wilder tries to tackle the great unanswerable question as to why we suffer and die unexpectedly--is it because we are so good thatVery well written. Wilder tries to tackle the great unanswerable question as to why we suffer and die unexpectedly--is it because we are so good that we should be in heaven or is it because we are so bad we shouldn't be here to keep making the world worse. What Wilder manages to do, and do beautifully, is to help us remember the complexity of human beings--that the best of us are flawed and the worst of us have pockets of goodness. The novel (novella?) is thought provoking and beautifully written....more
This book was wonderful!!! As I got closer to the end, I found that I didn't want it to end. It is simply a collection of essays about Hemingway's lifThis book was wonderful!!! As I got closer to the end, I found that I didn't want it to end. It is simply a collection of essays about Hemingway's life in Paris with his first wife Hadley before he became famous. He writes about the people he met, including Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald and of Paris and it's activities and cafe's. Though he wrote this collection of stories late in his life, they were based on his notebooks from that time when he was still in his twenties and so was the Twentieth Century. As a result, he seems less macho and more affectionate and loving with the people he cared about than his later reputation/legend might suggest.
I loved this book!
After reading The Paris Wife, I had to read this. I read the first essay last night and I think I'm going to enjoy it....more
**spoiler alert** I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is the story of the marriage of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley, narrated by Hadley. T**spoiler alert** I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is the story of the marriage of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley, narrated by Hadley. The novel is set up in the form of a memoir and Hadley describes meeting Hemingway, their years in Paris, the birth of their son, all the wonderful interesting people that they meet along the way and foreshadows the end of the marriage. Several of the characters in the novel comment that Hadley and Ernest had the best marriage of anyone they knew and I could understand why people thought so--it was clear that they loved each other very, very much and Hadley was completely committed to supporting Ernest's writing which took him to his own studio, or even on trips, so that he had uninterrupted writing time. Even though I knew what would eventually happen, it is still sad to witness through the novel the point where the marriage begins to unravel. I have to say that it was wonderful that Hadley knew her husband well enough to be able to make the cut when it finally became time. ...more
This book is excellent. I continue to be amazed by Diaz's use of language, sliding back and forth between Spanish and English, college educated undersThis book is excellent. I continue to be amazed by Diaz's use of language, sliding back and forth between Spanish and English, college educated understanding and street knowledge/wisdom/survival. I also am still entranced by Yunior. Yunior is terrible sometimes, lost other times, just plain lonely, manipulative, but still continues to try and figure out what it means to love and be loved. As I finished this book, I remembered some young men I have worked with and I think that they are the reason that I am so connected to Yunior--he really does exist inside of some lost and questioning young men.
One of the stories is narrated by Yasmin, a young Dominicana who works in the laundry department in a local hospital. The story is wonderful because it, along with some of Yunior's stories, shows how painful and difficult it is to move to a new country and try to make one's way. Anyone who thinks moving to the U.S. is as simple as crossing the border and getting a bunch of freebies needs to read Yasmin's story.
I was happy to hear that Diaz is working on another novel--I can't wait. Diaz is also coming to OSU soon. Can't wait for that either. ...more
Good pick-me-up in the middle of winter. Anne gives some wonderful examples of the three prayers and the situations they are used in and is able to crGood pick-me-up in the middle of winter. Anne gives some wonderful examples of the three prayers and the situations they are used in and is able to create a wonderfully human approach to prayer and faith. I'll definitely revisit from time to time as it is a quick read and I can see some sermon illustrations from this book in my church's future.
I'm almost finished with this book and I really enjoy it. Reading Anne Lamott's books is like having coffee with an old friend that I haven't seen in a while. I enjoy her very human approach to life and faith and her attempts to follow that "sweet brown-eyed Jew" who changed her life so many years ago. ...more
This is a fun, intelligently written book. It's about a woman whose grandmother tried very hard to raise her to become a real southern lady. This doesThis is a fun, intelligently written book. It's about a woman whose grandmother tried very hard to raise her to become a real southern lady. This doesn't quite work out, and the adventures of this family are very entertaining. I enjoyed it very much....more
I really wanted to like this book because I love Barbara Kingsolver. However, I didn't. I found the book tedious and boring, which is surprising givenI really wanted to like this book because I love Barbara Kingsolver. However, I didn't. I found the book tedious and boring, which is surprising given the seriousness of the subject. (Global Warming). The characters were pretty one-dimensional and their conversations often didn't ring true, especially the ones between Dellarobia and Dovey. I think this is part of what bogged the book down so much too--conversations that took forever to get to their point. I was also surprised that there was some stereotypical generalizations about men and women, Appalachian people and African American people. While I think the descriptions of global warming were useful and informative, I only finished this book because I have so loved Kingsolver's books in the past. Flight Behavior would have benefitted from some major editing. ...more
This book really deserves a 4.5 star rating but since that's not an option, I'll go with four. This is a collection of short stories with Yunior--a maThis book really deserves a 4.5 star rating but since that's not an option, I'll go with four. This is a collection of short stories with Yunior--a major character in Diaz's other two books--at the center. The stories are loosely interwoven, with Yunior telling stories about his life in the D.R. and his life after immigrating to the United States. In many ways, the stories are sad as they portray very imperfect, broken, and impoverished people trying to put the pieces of their lives together and learn about what it means to love and be loved. Yet Diaz is brilliant at creating these characters that the reader still really cares about. Loved it and can't wait to pick up Diaz's new book which was on the short list for the National Book Award. He is an absolutely incredible and gifted writer....more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am always amazed when authors are able to share personal details of their lives with such honesty and gentleness. InI thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am always amazed when authors are able to share personal details of their lives with such honesty and gentleness. In this book, Alvarez talks about two separate trips to Haiti, one before the earthquake and one after. She provides a very human description of Haiti and discusses the discomfort that she as a tourist feels about how to feel about such a devastated country and what would have to happen in order to rebuild. Along the way, there are the occasional spats and making up with her husband and Alvarez's challenges in coping with her parents advanced Alzheimer's. I love the way Alvarez recounts this journey because it's as if you are sitting in her living room and she is saying, "Let me tell you about this journey and the thoughts it brought up for me." ...more
My husband Stan picked this up for vacation reading and, after finishing it, told me I should read it. I did and I really enjoyed it. I think that AlbMy husband Stan picked this up for vacation reading and, after finishing it, told me I should read it. I did and I really enjoyed it. I think that Albom is a very good story teller and is able to look at ideas, such as the value of time, and breathe new life into our concepts about how precious it is or, for someone who feels terrible, how miserable each second is. It's a quick read with good characters and some interesting ideas on how time was created and what it's gifts are. ...more
WOW! This book is outstanding. If I could give it more stars, I would. I actually had to stop myself from reading it until two or three in the morningWOW! This book is outstanding. If I could give it more stars, I would. I actually had to stop myself from reading it until two or three in the morning on work nights because I wanted to know what was going to happen with these characters.
For me, what made this book so amazing was Diaz's ability to use language in a way that gave so much life to his characters and the story. It was creative, blunt, hilarious at times, abrasive at times, fast moving and authentic to the characters who narrated the story. Especially when Yunior was narrating, it was like overhearing him talk to his homeboys on the subway and telling them this story.
The book is set in New York, New Jersey and Santo Domingo and it surroundings in the Dominican Republic. Diaz writes about the Trujillo dictatorship in the D.R. and it's long-lasting impact on the people who lived during and after his regime. He also writes about the diaspora and it's impact on the people who leave one country, in this case the D.R., to move to another one, the U.S. and how the immigrants never really feel completely settled in either place.
This is an excellent book and I absolutely loved it.