Beryl Markham was a remarkable woman and I loved reading this book. She was a pioneer in her career choices as a horse trainer and pilot and she was iBeryl Markham was a remarkable woman and I loved reading this book. She was a pioneer in her career choices as a horse trainer and pilot and she was incredibly human, making disastrous choices in husbands and falling in love with the wrong people. She was truly a woman ahead of her time--she really just wanted to be able to follow her own path and live her own life, but even in Kenya at the beginning of the twentieth century surrounded by people who didn't exactly follow all of the social rules of England she kept running into age-old expectations of what it meant to be a woman in the eyes of the culture and inside herself. ...more
I really enjoyed this book. It's a story told from the point of view of a dog named Enzo and it is about his relationship with his owner Denny. Enzo iI really enjoyed this book. It's a story told from the point of view of a dog named Enzo and it is about his relationship with his owner Denny. Enzo is the observer and participant in some major times in Denny's life and I think it is what we all hope our dogs think and feel about us. Denny is a race car driver who is especially good at racing in the rain, hence the title, and through Enzo's voice, the author weaves in the art of racing in the rain which becomes the metaphor for Denny's life as he struggles with some major challenges. The metaphor actually works well and is thought provoking.
There are times when Enzo's ability to reason and communicate are a little too close to being human, but it doesn't take away from the story in any way. There is also an explanation for how this happened in the novel that makes it work for the most part. ...more
Wow! This book is amazing and I'm sorry it took me so long to read it. Everything about the book is wonderful--it so creative, it is so beautifully wrWow! This book is amazing and I'm sorry it took me so long to read it. Everything about the book is wonderful--it so creative, it is so beautifully written that it could be read just for that reason alone, it is funny at times, especially as Pi looks for religion, and then incredibly thought-provoking. The story opens with a man telling the would-be writer that Pi Patel can tell him a story that will make him believe in God. I have spent the last couple of days considering this statement and how it applies to everything that happens to Pi, especially in light of the end of the book which I never saw coming. This was excellent. ...more
I loved it! This is quite different in style from Toni Morrison's other books-more direct and plainly written. However, it shows that she is still a mI loved it! This is quite different in style from Toni Morrison's other books-more direct and plainly written. However, it shows that she is still a master of understanding human beings and the things that influence their choices, especially if the possiblity of love is held out as a reward for those choices.
It can be a difficult read because the characters are facing the aftermath of their own pain and trauma which is very sad at times. However, the ending shows that incredibly human mix of hope and healing, survival and reality that is real life. ...more
I loved this book. I took with me on a recent trip to Philadelphia and even with all of our traveling, I read as much as I could. I started reading itI loved this book. I took with me on a recent trip to Philadelphia and even with all of our traveling, I read as much as I could. I started reading it on April 10 and finished it on April 14-I just couldn't put it down.
I picked it up thinking that it was a collection of recipes with some memoir thrown in. Instead, it is a memoir with recipes thrown in. After reading the author's introduction, I think that it might have been meant to be the way I expected it to be, but it turned out this way and I loved it.
I think a great strength of this book is how beautifully and humanly she describes some really devastating events in her life without ever becoming melodramatic, though I would certainly have understood if she had crossed that line because she has gone through some really painful things.
Another great thing is that she writes about some loose ends in her life and though she tries to tie them up and create either closure or reconnection, she isn't able to in all of her major relationships. Though I found myself wanting that for her, and maybe for me too because books so often do wrap up everything neatly in the end, I realized that this is real life--human beings and relationshps are fragile and vulnerable and sometimes people in our lives need to walk away.
This is an excellent book and if you enjoy it, I would really recommend checking out her blog post--it's great fun and a good way to read more about Sasha Martin and her family. ...more
I loved it. Because I've read almost all of her books, reading a new Anne Lamott is like meeting an old friend for coffee. In this book, Anne continueI loved it. Because I've read almost all of her books, reading a new Anne Lamott is like meeting an old friend for coffee. In this book, Anne continues to struggle with her own imperfections and how that impacts faith, life, and understanding other people who are wildly different than she is. This book also hones in on the reality that miracles of biblical proportion are pretty rare. Instead, she encourages us to focus on the small moments of grace that come through far more frequently. According to Anne, these moments of grace can sustain us in difficult times and actually create their own healing and connection-maybe not the one we were hoping for, but something still beautiful that lets us know we are connected to one another and to the Spirit of God.
As always, Anne uses stories from her own life which I appreciate. Her vulnerability and humanity shines through and I admire her for being able to put this into the world where we are so often closed off from one another. I am not sure that I would have the courage to put so much of myself into the hands of readers....more
As with other books that I have read by this author, it is so incredibly fun. Likable characters, an interesting setting, interesting pasts for the chAs with other books that I have read by this author, it is so incredibly fun. Likable characters, an interesting setting, interesting pasts for the characters and a little bit of magic, this time in the figure of an alligator, that characters Allen's books. Plot was still predictable, still enjoyed it. ...more
**spoiler alert** In many ways I am torn in my thoughts/feelings about this book. It is basically about the life of Alma Whitaker, the only biological**spoiler alert** In many ways I am torn in my thoughts/feelings about this book. It is basically about the life of Alma Whitaker, the only biological child of Henry Whitaker, a wealthy horticulturist. Alma is intelligent and well educated and, after losing the person she believed to be the love of her life, she dedicates herself to the study of mosses. In a roundabout way, Alma begins to understand and sort of articulate the theory of evolution.
On the one hand, Gilbert's writing style is really beautiful. In the first third of the book or so, she spends a lot of time describing what is going on instead of creating a great deal of conversation between her characters. Because she writes so well, this really doesn't get in the way of the story telling.
In addition, Alma is a likable, interesting character. She is intelligent and good hearted and she has her own flaws and insecurities. In the beginning of the book, all the way up to the point where she is in Tahiti, I really enjoyed reading about her.
On the other hand, there are some stereotypes in the novel and some disturbing and/or irritating handling of human sexuality.
To begin with, Alma is big, tall, clumsy and ugly--so one of the themes seems to be that she just couldn't possibly get a man. This is in direct contrast to the fact that Alma discovers her own sexuality through some books in the family library, yet she is never able to enjoy it with another person.
In contrast, her sister Prudence, who was adopted after her prostitute mother was killed by a john, is stunningly beautiful. She does get married, but of course to someone she doesn't love and they have several children.
Alma and Prudence's friend marries the man that Alma loved, but the friend goes insane and in her ravings talks about various sexual trysts prior to her marriage-the implication being that her acting out of her role sexually made her insane.
Alma finally gets married--and doesn't realize until after she is married that she has "mentally" communicated that she is willing to engage in a marriage of spirit, which means that she and her husband will have a sexless marriage.
Alma finally gets one small sliver of a chance for sexual interaction, and she chooses to do only one thing, for the man she is with, and that fulfilled everything she ever desired sexually. Really? I felt like I had been led up the side of a mountain and then just pushed off. After this part of the book, I lost interest even though I finished the book. All around these characters swirls life and death and reproduction, but the humans in the book aren't allowed to experience emotional intimacy in connection with healthy human sexuality.
The final blow for me was even after Alma has a rebirth experience and she begins to create her own theory of evolution (though she calls it something else), she become content to live out the rest of her days in the shadow of great men. I realize that because Alma is a fictional character, she can't exactly pre-empt the men who really did set forth these theories, but she just fades into the sunset. I also realize that this could be construed as Alma simply being a woman of her time, but I felt that this was just sexist and a very unsatisfying way for the novel to end.
I think I kept waiting for Alma to take her life, her sexuality and her work more seriously and finally create her own sense of self and a life in which each of these elements come together in a healthy, loving way. It didn't. ...more
I loved this book. My book group has read several books on meditation and mindfulness and all of us agree that we need to practice this, and we all agI loved this book. My book group has read several books on meditation and mindfulness and all of us agree that we need to practice this, and we all agree that finding time is a challenge in busy lives. What is great about this book is it's practicality, especially in the beginning of the book. Nhat Hanh shared that you don't have to have a specific time very day to sit down and meditate or be present, nor do you need a specific meditation place. He pointed out that any moment of our lives is a chance to be present in this moment and to breathe and pay attention. You can do this while washing dishes, driving the car, eating a meal.
Included are helpful suggestions on how to include your spouse and family members in small ways that bring people closer and hopefully set the stage for more peaceful co-existence.
Nhat Hanh gently stressed our need to pay attention to right here and now. He isn't saying that we always need to be or will be happy, it is enough to be present with how we really feel and what we are really experiencing.
Towards the end, he discusses ideas of what he calls "inter-being" which is a belief that all living creatures are related to one another and that when we can understand this, we can make more peaceful choices that allow us all to live in the world together in a more peaceful way.
This is a great book and I am looking for ways to incorporate more breathing, mindfulness, peacefulness and compassion into my life. ...more
It took me a while to finish this book, though I realy enjoyed it. I am glad that I traveled out to Arizona before reading this book because the landsIt took me a while to finish this book, though I realy enjoyed it. I am glad that I traveled out to Arizona before reading this book because the landscape is very important to this story, though Arizona is not the setting, and it helped me to picture the descriptions better.
The main character is a man named Abel, a native American who eventually wanders from home, the landscape of this place, and loses himeslf. It is a sad story because Abel's loss of identity is horrendous and he truly becomes a lost soul. To explain more gives away more of the plot.
This book has so much rich detail about the landscape where Abel is from, the movement of light and darkness, the feel of a storm, the native traditions being mixed with the Catholic traditions of the community that I really want to read it again at some point....more
I think I have found a new favorite author--I couldn't put this book down. It is the story of a Native American woman who was raped on or near the resI think I have found a new favorite author--I couldn't put this book down. It is the story of a Native American woman who was raped on or near the reservation by a non-Native person (the location becomes important) and it is told through the recollections of her son Joe who was 13 at the time of the attack. Erdrich's description of Geraldine's devastation are wrenchingly true to life as are the helplessness of her husband and her son as they try to both give her time and pull her back into life. The characters are beautifully created and they are woven through one another's lives in surprising ways. While the book is quite sad, there are moments of light and humor that break through as Joe shares the quest of finding his mother's rapist with his friends--adolescent boys being adolescent boys. Because of Erdrich's incredible writing style, the humor doesn't make the reader think that she's trying too hard to lighten an otherwise emotionally heavy novel, it works well as these boys and a community try to make sense of what has happened, especially because tribal law is only able to go so far even when the rapist is known.
I am glad that I happened to see a recommendation to read The Plague of Doves before I read The Round House. It isn't necessary because the second book certainly stands on it's own. However, by reading The Plague of Doves first, the reader has the background stories of Mooshum, Clemence and Edward, and the love story of Geraldine and her husband Bazil Coutts. Mooshum is an unforgettable character in both novels and I really enjoyed reading about him and hearing his stories. ...more
I just picked this up and re-read it and was reminded just how fabulous it is. It's the story of the Trueba family through several generations as compI just picked this up and re-read it and was reminded just how fabulous it is. It's the story of the Trueba family through several generations as compiled by Alba, the grand-daughter of the family patriarch and matriarch, Esteban and Clara Trueba. As always in Allende's novels, there is a wonderful cast of incredible women each with her own strengths, flaws, etc. The novel not only covers the story of this remarkable family, but the overthrow of Salvador Allende from the presidency of Chile in 1971 and the beginning of Pinochet's dictatorship. It amazed me yet again that this is the first novel that Isabel Allende wrote because it is fantastic. ...more
I really enjoyed this book! The novel is told by three different characters, with a surprise character thrown in at the end. The murder of a white famI really enjoyed this book! The novel is told by three different characters, with a surprise character thrown in at the end. The murder of a white family has occurred in a small North Dakota town and innocent Chippewa men are hanged for it. The three narrators all describe their own relationship to this event, whether they were around during the time it happened or found out about it later when the town is still coping with the aftermath and the inter-relatedness of people in small communities. Through one of the narrators, Evelina, the reader is introduced to her grandfather Mooshum who is central to this entire story and a repository of the tribal history and also of this event in the town history. Mooshum is a great character, complicated and, at times, hilarious.
I really look forward to reading more of Erdrich's books....more
I enjoyed this book though it was bit dated. It's the story of a retired judge who must make some very difficult moral decisions to protect his ward aI enjoyed this book though it was bit dated. It's the story of a retired judge who must make some very difficult moral decisions to protect his ward and her husband. I found it particularly interesting because the judge's nemesis, a man named Severidge, knows that he is empty of the ability to be ethical or moral, but he is fascinated with judge's ability to hold fast. There is something of a Paradise Lost allegory that is made clear at the end.
I am somewhat ambivalent about this book. On the one hand, Allende spent a great deal of time developing the characters which is what she does best. II am somewhat ambivalent about this book. On the one hand, Allende spent a great deal of time developing the characters which is what she does best. I actually enjoyed the charcters very much though some of their situations were a bit on the unbelievable side. On the other hand, it's pretty formulaic and it wasn't much of a surprise who the serial killer was. In addition, the book was a bit too long--I think it could have been edited a bit and maybe then it wouldn't have seemed to drag at times.
It's pretty rare that I read murder mysteries, so I don't really have much room for comparison of this novel to other books in its' genre. I only read this one because I love the author and was able to hear her speak here in town as the book was released.
I do admire the fact that Allende decided to try something new and for a first effort it's not bad....more