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 because...moreI'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.(less)
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 on...moreI 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 weddi...moreLev 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...(less)
I gave this book four stars right after I finished it, when I was all caught up in the womance of it, but later when I'd had a chanc...more**spoiler alert**
I gave this book four stars right after I finished it, when I was all caught up in the womance of it, but later when I'd had a chance to think about, I realized... there was nothing to think about. This book is about as deep as a puddle. Oh, it's well-written and the characters are appealing, if fairly one-dimensional. If you know absolutely nothing about the internment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War this will give you a not-too-harrowing overview.
But literarily-speaking, there's not much going on. No clever or interesting language, no symbolism, nothing to reward close reading or reflection. Just a nice story with a relentlessly, almost comically happy ending.(less)
Our book club usually meets at a restaurant, but one of our members is a newly minted Mary Kay rep (ask me about my eyeliner!) so we decided to meet a...moreOur book club usually meets at a restaurant, but one of our members is a newly minted Mary Kay rep (ask me about my eyeliner!) so we decided to meet at a member's house and have a combined meeting/Mary Kay presentation. In the spirit of beauty and identity and over-thinking everything, we decided to read a book which discussed those issues, so I asked Goodreads to recommend something, and this book is what it (you? we?) came up with.
I'm sure there is a great novel out there which deals with issues of beauty, vanity, identity, femininity and women's societally-imposed obligation to be ornamental, but this isn't it. This book really needed editing; lots and lots of editing. There are too many pointless characters, too many words with not enough action, and too many intriguing ideas introduced and then abandoned.
It's disappointing because I started off really liking Egan's writing style and enjoying the protagonist's voice, but it all got bogged down. (less)