This is the first Bryce Courtenay I’ve read and I couldn’t put it down. I’ve heard varied opinions on his novels so I’m obviously going to have to tryThis is the first Bryce Courtenay I’ve read and I couldn’t put it down. I’ve heard varied opinions on his novels so I’m obviously going to have to try some more, but going on this I’m eager to do that.
The narrator of this story is Billy O’Shannessy (without the ‘u’) who is a derelict sleeping in the Botanical Gardens in Sydney. Billy wakes one morning, in his usual hungover state, and is ‘visited’ by a 10-year-old boy who asks about the statue of the cat. Billy tries to brush the boy off, but his questions demand answers. The impending arrival of a policeman cuts the conversation short, but the next day the boy reappears and Billy finds himself promising to tell him the story of Matthew Flinders and his famous cat, Trim.
This book follows the lives of Billy and Ryan, and while the story unfolds we also gradually find out the past of each of them – why a very intelligent little boy is constantly wagging school, and why a once successful lawyer should opt to live on the streets. In this story we meet racism and alcoholism and drugs and paedophilia, but we also meet the people working against these evils, and though not everybody reaches the end intact, our journey with the two culminates in triumph over massive obstacles.
An excellent book, and delightful with the interweaving of Trim and his master....more
I loved Bel Canto, and I'd really enjoyed her non-fiction work Truth and Beauty, so was eager to read another by this author. I wasn't disappointed. II loved Bel Canto, and I'd really enjoyed her non-fiction work Truth and Beauty, so was eager to read another by this author. I wasn't disappointed. I really like the way she sees her characters and brings them into our vision.
What I particularly like about this book is how the straightforwardness of a child brings others into looking at the situation from a fresh point of view, or perhaps I mean into looking at the situation and themselves from a broader point of view than their usual.
I won't write any more. There are other reviews that talk about the book nicely....more
This book wasn't quite as funny as I was expecting, but I could imagine him talking as I got further into the book and that was very amusing.
I was thiThis book wasn't quite as funny as I was expecting, but I could imagine him talking as I got further into the book and that was very amusing.
I was thinking about pedantry. Sometimes it drives me nuts, when people get so pedantic that they must insist on every "t" being crossed and every "i" being dotted, and all in the exact same order that it has Always Been Done, without room for any deviation for any reason! Other times I am highly amused by pedantic meanderings - as long as the person is aware they're being pedantic, and doesn't have their whole personhood bound up in it.
I follow recipes when I want to make something new, though I can make nice and sometimes original salads. The other day I was very pleased with myself - I remembered the right quantities of butter, flour and milk to make a white sauce. This is the first time I didn't open the cookbook. That either says something about the frequency with which I make white sauce, or the frequency with which I'm active in the kitchen, or my terrible inability to remember anything, or my terribly inability to trust my memory ... or all of the above. My Darling thinks I can't cook, but he really enjoyed my white sauce which became a cheese and onion sauce, over rice and cauliflower and a few other veges. Ha! He might actually believe now that I will feed him properly once we "leave home" and are no longer being cooked for by my daughter....more
Sometimes it's good to read other people's reviews, and sometimes it's not. I finished this book yesterday, but I'd read another book the day before,Sometimes it's good to read other people's reviews, and sometimes it's not. I finished this book yesterday, but I'd read another book the day before, and I've started a third, and I've watched two DVDs in the last two days, and I was just thinking to myself, "Now, what did I like about this book?", and then I read 3 reviews here, and the last one was negative (DIDN'T enjoy it) and I started semi-agreeing. It's true - nothing really happened.
But then, on an ordinary Saturday of mine, even less happens than happened in his. Mind you, I've never felt I would want to write a novel about one of my Saturdays. Of course, Henry Perowne did a lot more thinking about things (and highly intelligent and literate thinking, too, which is more than I do at any time) on his Saturday. I enjoyed his thinking.
I also got quite anxious when I thought something really nasty was going to happen; and I had several moments of thinking that something else was going to happen, and the feeling of building up towards something. I enjoyed that.
One reviewer said something a little negative about the characters being so beautiful (the women) and intelligent (almost everybody) and talented (again, almost everybody) and skilled (the key character primarily), but I'm none of those things (well, perhaps a little intelligent and a little talented and a little skilled, but basically quite average and therefore inherently boring except to my friends) and so nobody would want to read about me. Don't we want the characters we meet in books to be "more" than we are? Not so much that they're caricatures, but still a little larger than life in one or more ways. I enjoyed these characters and their qualities that are more than mine, and I enjoyed their interactions, and I enjoyed the way Perowne thought about them.
I think I'd have to say that I enjoyed this book (in case, that wasn't already clear!?)...more
This was recommended by a friend who is an avid gardener. I'm not, but I often wish I was. I also like books which are collations of correspondence, oThis was recommended by a friend who is an avid gardener. I'm not, but I often wish I was. I also like books which are collations of correspondence, or which include correspondence. And it's a New Zealand book. Perfect.
Now I've finished it, I can recommend it even more thoroughly. Not only are the accounts of the gardens most stunningly descriptive, but it has given me a look into the life of a New Zealand farmer. We city-folk tend to discount farmers as rough-and-ready, and even though we have great television when they do the Young Farmer of the Year competition, and it really is quite clear that it takes an intelligent person to run an efficient farm, we still rather dismiss these people as "not-us." Well, the farming half (Virginia) of this letter-writing, gardening book is an intelligent, interesting woman who has shown me a world I almost didn't know existed, so bound-to-the-city am I.
The city half (Janice) is someone I am more easily in-tune with, but nevertheless her account of her garden, and her life on its periphery, also gave me great pleasure....more
It's just possible that I couldn't put this book down because I'm into avoidance tactics at the moment (avoiding the study I need to do for my 4 examsIt's just possible that I couldn't put this book down because I'm into avoidance tactics at the moment (avoiding the study I need to do for my 4 exams coming up in 2 weeks time), but, nevertheless, I couldn't put it down. I just loved these poor, sad people and their wonderful specialities and their struggling to find some normal type of existence. The way Gavalda brings them together is very clever, and the way she takes the flaws in their characters and weaves in a realisation about friendship and belonging, is delightful.
I love the descriptions of Camille's art as so much more than skill and technique. And the transformation of the angry young Franck into an inspired chef each time he cooks (or thinks of cooking) is fabulous. And then there's Philibert, the stuttering, caught-in-the-past 'rescuer' who learns how to be not-scared. Finally, there's Paulette and her journey into dementia that is so poignantly told and interconnected with our other three.
I'm going to read this book again.
Oh yes - a friend read the book and then saw the movie. She found the movie disappointing - "sweet," she said, "but..."). I had recently seen a poster for the movie and decided on that that I wouldn't go to it. I liked Audrey Tautou in Amelie, but she doesn't look like I imagined Camille, and I couldn't figure which of the two men in the poster was Franck and which was Philibert. In the book there is no mistaking them.
My decision not to see the movie has been confirmed by my friend's comments. My friend said that she asked her husband afterwards, and he hadn't realised that Camille suffered anorexia, nor that she was a sublimely gifted artist. Neither of these two highly necessary parts of the book development came out in the film. And, of course, no movie can have even half of the 'other' parts of the book....more