**spoiler alert** I read this under duress, for book club. I wasn't excited to read it, but sometimes it's nice to read what "everyone else" is readin**spoiler alert** I read this under duress, for book club. I wasn't excited to read it, but sometimes it's nice to read what "everyone else" is reading, so I slogged through it. (Most of the way -- I skipped a couple of chapters towards the end because I was running out of time. I'm quite confident I didn't miss anything important.)
I liked Gone Girl at the beginning: I liked the characters, even though they were both whiny and annoying. I love a flawed protagonist, and I liked the (I thought) honest portrayal of a messed up marriage between two basically nice but screwed up people.
But then it went from Nick Hornsby to Stephen King (but not as good as either) with the turn of a page: the nice, pretty, "cool" girl was revealed to be a scheming, evil sociopath and the self-absorbed, cheating, abusive husband was revealed to be the nice-guy victim of her malicious plan. It's an MRA's wet dream, basically.
The character Nick was interesting and rich with possibilities: how does someone who was brought up to be a misogynist function when the most important people in his life are women, and when he's smart enough to realize that his misogyny is anachronistic and wrong? The character of Fake Amy was interesting, too; how does a city girl manage when she's moved to a small town and her husband doesn't seem interested in her any more? How does she make friends and find her place in this unfamiliar milieu?
I was much more interested in the real problems of real Nick and fake Amy than the author was; she decided to make the book a more lucrative, easier to write, more sensational thriller.
I think that's why I disliked this book so much: I started to enjoy a book which never finished, but which changed midstream into a completely different kind of book....more
This was a book club read, and we basically hated it. We didn't like the style, we didn't like the allegory, we didn't like the ending. Okay, I likedThis was a book club read, and we basically hated it. We didn't like the style, we didn't like the allegory, we didn't like the ending. Okay, I liked the ending but no-one else did, I think. On the plus side, I blew through this book in a few hours in one afternoon; it moved along pretty easily and the story was good, but the characters' motivations were unconvincing. This book was trying too hard to be clever....more
This book was fine - it was a quick read and a good story. The characters weren't particularly rich, and the writing was rushed and flat sometimes, buThis book was fine - it was a quick read and a good story. The characters weren't particularly rich, and the writing was rushed and flat sometimes, but it got the job done....more
I'm not sure whether to rate this book three stars or four. Four seems too high, because I didn't really enjoy reading it, but three seems low becauseI'm not sure whether to rate this book three stars or four. Four seems too high, because I didn't really enjoy reading it, but three seems low because it's not a bad book by any means, and it wasn't a struggle to read it. I went with four because the book is highly lauded and I don't want to look stupid. (Honesty is the best policy.)
The book's anti-hero has several names, but he starts off without one -- his family doesn't care to name him and just calls him "boy". He lives in rural India, and his life's path is seemingly delimited by caste, class and tradition. He is too smart and stubborn to just do as he is expected to, and he manages to forge a different path for himself.
I didn't engage with the character, but that's probably good because he's a bit of an asshole. (Okay, and a murderer.) I suppose I've been spoiled by the usual book club fare where there is usually at least one engaging character for the reader to relate to. This book is not that kind of book; the interest comes from finding out how the character will deal with his problems, and from getting into his head and understanding how he justifies what he has to do to get ahead in very difficult circumstances.
I think this book will generate some very good book club discussion, although I also predict most of us won't like it....more
I loved this book. It was a little slow to start, but after the first ten pages I was captivated by the characters and the ideas. The book is based onI loved this book. It was a little slow to start, but after the first ten pages I was captivated by the characters and the ideas. The book is based on history; it's about Mary Anning, a lower-class English woman who discovered some of the most important fossils found in her time. Due to her class and gender, she didn't get any credit for her contribution to our knowledge of the history of the earth, but enough records of her survive the Joan Thomas was able to piece together this fascinating novel.
Curiosity is about class and religion, both of which fascinate me. Thomas deals with both deftly: she clearly explains English class distinctions to the reader, then reveals how they affect her characters. She also deals gracefully with her characters' struggles to fit the new information they are learning about geology and pre-history with their beliefs about the age of the world and how it came to be.
And then there's the matter of romance. There is more than a bit of Jane Austen in this book -- Austen is mentioned in the book, and Curiosity deals with questions of society and marriage in an Austenian way.
Lev and Kolya have to find a dozen eggs. They are sent on this quest, in exchange for their lives, by a Russian colonel who needs the eggs for a weddiLev and Kolya have to find a dozen eggs. They are sent on this quest, in exchange for their lives, by a Russian colonel who needs the eggs for a wedding cake for his daughter. There are no eggs in Leningrad, or Piter as they prefer to call it, so their search takes them outside the relative safety of the city to German-occupied territory.
City of Thieves is a buddy story, a road story and a love story. (Well, several love stories.) I just finished reading it and I can't think of anything I didn't like about it, except that I'm sorry it's over. The characters are flawed and wonderful, the setting is rich and evocative.
I suppose I might rescind this initial burst of enthusiasm as I did with Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet but I don't think so. I don't feel manipulated this time; I don't feel like I've been dragged on an emotional journey, but rather that I've chosen to embark on one of my own accord, because I love the characters.
I wonder if his other books are this good......more