It is a pity that all this analysis, all this understanding does nothing for the causes and little for the symptoms of our pain; gives us only ways of
It is a pity that all this analysis, all this understanding does nothing for the causes and little for the symptoms of our pain; gives us only ways of thinking, ways of seeing what cannot be born...
Ally and Tom are a young couple, living in the Victorian age, who face a long separation shortly after getting married. Tom is going to Japan to help build lighthouses, while Ally begins her work as a doctor in a mental institution. I wouldn't think this would be a book I could identify myself with but I was wrong! Despite being a groundbreaking female physician, Ally is not as daring and sure of herself as one might imagine. She is haunted by voices and feelings of guilt and self-hatred, deriving from her family: a beast of a creature for a mother, an absent (useless) father and a sister who drowned. She is, therefore, vulnerable and insecure. Her work experience in the asylum (the way it is run and how the patients are treated) disconcerts her but also begins the journey that will lead her to direct a convalescent home later on. A lot of Ally's struggles resonated with me, while Tom didn't really exist to me until he began returning from Japan. Before this, his passages were very descriptive and long-winded and, even though there were some very interesting cultural clashes with his Japanese guides, I felt they weren't properly explored, or at least not in the most engaging way. He confused me when he returned as well, it seemed all he longed for was a bathtub.
I felt the best sections were those related to the convalescent home and, in general, Ally's considerations on mental health and the thin blurry line between being accepted by society and being considered "mental". The title is puzzling to me, since children are rarely mentioned throughout the book. My understanding is that these 'children' refer to all of us who get a bit lost sometimes, but frankly it's not the best title I've ever seen. Despite being a little too descriptive in parts, I definitely enjoy Sarah Moss's style, the depth of the issues presented and how you can slowly savour a story. It was the same with Night Waking. Unfortunately, the narration in the audiobook was a little bit too quick and hurried, when normally I find audibooks too slow, and I feel like there were little details I ended up missing.
I love Robin Black's writing: it is so mature and it feels real and meaningful, with no pretenses or trying too hard. You suspect that so much hard woI love Robin Black's writing: it is so mature and it feels real and meaningful, with no pretenses or trying too hard. You suspect that so much hard work went into the stories to make them so deep and engrossing but you don't notice it while you're reading. I'm not often a fan of short stories because they don't usually last long enough for me to connect to the characters, but with Robin Black that is never a problem. High quality reading here....more
I started listening to this audiobook and only two solid hours later did I realize that this was a sequel to Man At The Helm, which I read about 6 monI started listening to this audiobook and only two solid hours later did I realize that this was a sequel to Man At The Helm, which I read about 6 months ago. I was getting annoyed that the writer seemed to be creating a family that was very similar to the one in the previous book, until suddenly it occurred to me that it was, in fact, the same family! I find it bizarre that the connection to Man at the Helm is not mentioned at all in the blurb for this.
But, moving along, this is very much in the line of the previous book. It's funny and quirky; at times annoying, in others endearing. The audiobook made it easier to sit back and appreciate the bizarreness of this resting home in 70s rural England. Lizzie wants to have money to buy good shampoo and better coffee so she starts skipping school to work at Paradise Lodge. Strangely for a 15 year old, she is never fazed by having to take care of the needs of the elderly patients there and she quickly becomes enamoured by the place and the camaraderie with other nurses and patients. It's a little (again, the word) bizarre but you just go along with it and the endless comings and goings of the staff. I like the fact that it seemed to convey an authentic portrait of the 70s: the hobbies people had, who was famous, what brands were on trend (I say this despite not actually having been alive then...). Coincidentally, the characters also went through a period where a lot of famous people died (Elvis, Marc Bolan and Maria Callas) which was very 'in' in 2016. Despite being a teenager in love, Lizzie is remarkably wise and altruistic and the book is more concerned with Paradise Lodge than her own development. To sum it up, this didn't rock my world but it was entertaining enough.
This was the first Robert Galbraith book I've read and it kept me company throughout some very stormy and gloomy days. This is the kind of thriller whThis was the first Robert Galbraith book I've read and it kept me company throughout some very stormy and gloomy days. This is the kind of thriller where the detectives' personal life and their history plays a big part. Sometimes I wished there was less about Strike and Robin because I wanted a quicker resolution of the crime, but I ended up getting used to the rhythm of the narrative. This was entertaining and engrossing, but the final act didn't blow my mind, as I always expect crime novels to do. One thing that made no sense to me from the beginning was the marriage between Leonora and Owen Quine: I couldn't for the life of me understand what could bring such distinct people together (and their past was not explored so I never found out). It is, however, a well-crafted story and an interesting critique of the literary world. Some very interesting observations and comparisons throughout the narration. Just as a side note, I didn't care much for the way women were portrayed in this (not necessarily by the author, but by the characters and the context): some were headcases, others were constantly being put down by the rest, a lot of hysterics and practically none of them were exactly taken seriously.
PS - the audiobook was great and made me laugh a few times.
This makes for some compulsive if heartbreaking reading. You can tell how well-researched it was, how careful the author was to keep it realistic andThis makes for some compulsive if heartbreaking reading. You can tell how well-researched it was, how careful the author was to keep it realistic and I think it was really brave to tell the story from Alice's point of view. I have to say I didn't like the characters at all at first (they all seemed snob and annoying) but you'd have to have a heart of stone not to feel completely for Alice and her struggles. I guess a common thought in every book we read is the voice that asks: 'what if this happened to me?', but in this book this voice seems a lot louder and you can't help but feel the despair and sadness and helplessness, even though Alice deals with everything better than I expect. There seems to be a serenity in her, she becomes almost noble, despite her growing confusion and forgetfulness. She doesn't know much about what's happening around her, but she's still Alice. ...more
I enjoyed this book, despite it using the same formula as Big Little Lies: a big event traumatises three middle-class couples who can't seem to go onI enjoyed this book, despite it using the same formula as Big Little Lies: a big event traumatises three middle-class couples who can't seem to go on with their normal lives until this incident is thoroughly digested. The trouble is: it takes more than half the book for us to know what this event even was (if I remember correctly, it took practically the whole book in Big Little Lies) and on the first quarter of the book we are given so little to go on that I considered giving it up. It's fine to tease the reader but you have to be a little generous and give them something to keep them happily reading. Liane Moriarty clearly has writing skills so I think she can do better than use the same formula in consecutive books; it felt a little lazy. Otherwise, the dialogues and character actions are usually very realistic and well-written so I still liked the book, even though I wish it didn't drag so much in some sections (it was raining, we know!). ...more
Bill Bryson is primarily a great storyteller and a dedicated one. I've read practically all of his books and my favourite ones are the ones where hisBill Bryson is primarily a great storyteller and a dedicated one. I've read practically all of his books and my favourite ones are the ones where his investigations are more prominent like: One Summer in America, Mother Tongue and A Short Story of Nearly Everything. But I also enjoyed his travelling stories and other books where his personal experience is more central, like the Thunderbolt Kid. Sadly, this book didn't work for me. From what I gathered in the beginning, Bryson wanted to travel through Britain following "the Bryson line" (of his invention) that divided Britain in half from Bognor Regis to Cape Wrath and he wanted to go to places that he'd never been before. What ended up happening was that he went to many, many places in all corners of Britain (very far away from this invisible line) and he kept going to places where he'd been before, to capture old memories or see how things had changed. (Admittedly, as a travel writer and resident in Britain for 40 years, he'd visited many places before). Overall, I thought the goal of his journey was a bit murky and the book, despite starting in Bognor and ending in Cape Wrath, felt aimless as well.
And then there was the overall tone of the book. I can relate to Bryson's ranty, grouchy old-person sense of humor and I wholeheartedly share his hatred for stupidity and littering (and knuckles tattoos). But at times the ranting felt not only excessive but out of context and this contributed to the general randomness of the book. Sometimes it was simply silly, such as when he ranted about the fame given to Parkinson for Parkinson's law and then confessed that he'd got an honorary degree from Durham University simply for having written some nice things about the town. Other times, he seemed to be simply waiting for the time when he could start drinking in the evening in some pub. But, in his defense, he did encounter some profoundly rude individuals that would drive the best person to a pint glass. In conclusion, even though there were still some funny and entertaining stories and observations, I never found myself very enthusiastic about reading/hearing this book. Sorry, Bill.
A little note about the audiobook edition: the narrator was so brilliant that after a while I started thinking he WAS Bill Bryson even though I knew he wasn't. It also included some lovely musical interludes between chapters.
I often see Sarah's panels online and they're always cute and relatable. This is a small book that you can read in one sitting. The themes are not verI often see Sarah's panels online and they're always cute and relatable. This is a small book that you can read in one sitting. The themes are not very varied but basically "it does what it says in the title": it shows how young (and not so young) adults often feel like they're not as adult as they're supposed to be....more