I read this with my baseball-loving 9 and 10 year old sons. It took a few chapters for them to get into the story, but they were hooked by the end. WeI read this with my baseball-loving 9 and 10 year old sons. It took a few chapters for them to get into the story, but they were hooked by the end. We all enjoyed the way the author created a fictional story around real-life baseball great Honus Wagner and the 1909 World Series. We were all delighted to learn that this book is the first in a series of Baseball Card Adventures. We've already put Babe and Me on hold at the library. ...more
Add this to this list of amazing books I've read in the past year or so (along with Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin and The Unconsoled by Kazuo IshiguroAdd this to this list of amazing books I've read in the past year or so (along with Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin and The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro). Most of my 5 stars books earn that rating mostly due to the fact that I loved reading them, and I found them to be excellent. A few meet that criteria, but are something more as well. They are amazing in the sense that I haven't read anything quite like them before. The Transit of Venus fits this last category (as do Winter's Tale and The Unconsoled).
I think what sets The Transit of Venus apart for me is Shirley Hazzard's sublime mastery of the English language. This woman can write, and she writes in a voice and style I haven't encountered before. I don't think her writing would be everyone's cup of tea, but it suits my taste. Her word use is precise, yet not simple and rarely easy. I wanted to slow down to enjoy her sentences. Truthfully, I often also had to slow down to make sense of them. I like to be slowed down. Too often I tend to rush (after all, there are stack of books I want to read before I die). I found huge payoffs in pleasure and insight by reading slowly and carefully.
Overall, this is a pretty dark and gloomy take on romantic love. This book was recommended to me because I like Thomas Hardy. I did sense that Hardy vibe, although I can't quite articulate why. Maybe an overriding sense that if something bad could happen it would? Maybe a sense that the characters were fated to certain outcomes and there would be no escaping these fates? ...more
Carys Bray is a talented writer. I enjoyed her portrayal of a family coping with grief. However, I really struggled with several of her characters. ThCarys Bray is a talented writer. I enjoyed her portrayal of a family coping with grief. However, I really struggled with several of her characters. They seemed like types, caricatures really, more than actual people. I was initially intrigued to read about an LDS (Mormon) family from an outside perspective. It became clear quickly that it wasn't as much an outside perspective as a former (and disgruntled) insider perspective. It was as if Bray took every negative trait and behavior she had every seen, experienced, or imagined in members of the LDS church and crammed them into a few characters. As a result, these characters just didn't read as real people. ...more
The main focus of this book, the story of a man-eating tiger, is gripping. I enjoyed Vaillant's many tangents as well: tales of the hardships of lifeThe main focus of this book, the story of a man-eating tiger, is gripping. I enjoyed Vaillant's many tangents as well: tales of the hardships of life in Russia's far eastern corner, the history of Amur tigers and their relationships with humans, efforts to protect these tigers, the effects of communism and perestroika on the this corner of the world, descriptions of the amazing biodiversity in the area, etc. ...more
When I saw that a new film version of Far from the Madding Crowd was coming out, I remembered that I had always planned to read it. Many moons ago I wWhen I saw that a new film version of Far from the Madding Crowd was coming out, I remembered that I had always planned to read it. Many moons ago I went through a Hardy phase and read several of his novels, enjoying each of them, particularly Return of the Native. I decided it was time to enter his world once again.
Hardy's world is Wessex, his name for the southwest part of England. Hardy masterfully describes this world and the people in it. He obviously loved this corner of England, and wanted to capture a rural, simple way of life that was already fading away at the time of his writing. I am curious to see how well the film is able to reproduce his vision, particularly since I often found myself struck by the cinematic quality of many of the scenes and descriptions in the novelf.
Hardy's characters always seem to find themselves at the mercy of chance, circumstance, fate, or just bad luck. At times as a reader, I was filled with a sense of forboding and dread on behalf of the characters. Sometimes they seem to almost (but just almost) deserve what they get (I'm looking at your Frank Troy), and sometimes they seem nearly completely blameless (that's you Gabriel Oak). The plot of this novel really sucked me in - a total page turner.
Oh Bathsheba, you are such a study in contrasts. On the one hand, you are one of the most independent female characters I have come across in Victorian novels. But some of the choices you make lead to much head shaking and frustration. Is Hardy ahead of his times in his views about women? I think he was by the time he wrote Tess. But here, Hardy chalks up most of Bathsheba's weaknesses and mistakes to "womanishness." Is this Hardy's true voice, or just a reflection of the attitudes of his times? This would make a great book club discusssion.
If you have a weakness for symbolism, allusion (particularly of the Biblical variety) and allegory, this is a book for you. Hardy's got all that covered.
If you read this edition of the novel, don't read the introduction until you have finished. It contains too many spoilers. I've found that most introductions to classics work that way, so I leave them to the end. It is definitely worth reading, though....more
Oh my heart. I made the mistake of finishing this book right before I had to go somewhere, not realizing I would be going out with red-rimmed cry eyesOh my heart. I made the mistake of finishing this book right before I had to go somewhere, not realizing I would be going out with red-rimmed cry eyes. I think you have to be made of pretty stern stuff to finish this book withouth shedding tears.
I waited a few days to review this book to see if it would stay a five star, or fade to a four. It's still a five for me. Doerr put this novel together beautifully both in terms of plot and structure. His language is lovely throughout, very poetical without being pretentious. As for my tears, I felt like he elicited my emotions without leaving me feeling cheaply manipulated.
One last thought: To me this is not historical fiction. While it takes place in the recognizable past, there are elements of near-fantasy in this novel. Also, while World War 11 is the backdrop, and very important thematically to the story, and while there are some terrible things that happen in the book because of the war, the war didn't read as gritty and harsh as it often does in standard historical fiction about the period. ...more