There are a few things I liked very much about this book. Then, there are a few things that I disliked very much about this book.
First, what I liked:
IThere are a few things I liked very much about this book. Then, there are a few things that I disliked very much about this book.
First, what I liked:
I too live in an area of the world – rural Alberta, Canada – where winter defines the landscape and the people in it. I think the author did a superb job of capturing it, and also the loneliness and despair that must have been present in the lives of the women who first homestead this land. (view spoiler)[ The failed suicide attempt crossing the frozen river is truly the highlight of this book in my opinion. (hide spoiler)]
I also liked the portrait of aging and how it affects a loving relationship, although the author seems to shy away at showing any true sexuality between Mabel and Jack.
What I did not like:
It was predictable and unbelievable. Oh, it was a fairy tale, some say. Well, it did not truly convince me. At the end I felt that this book was written with a YA audience as target, and had it been marketed as such, I would be more forgiven of it.
It does puzzle me that it was a Pulitzer nominee. I must have missed something essential in it.
But 3 stars it is, as at the end it was entertaining. ...more
“...I think we are well-advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they“...I think we are well-advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.”
I loved these essays. I could go on quoting Didion on and on, there are just too many great passages, great insights from her.
The truth is that I am full of envy. I envy Joan Didion’s facility with words. In a vernacular that is erudite without being stuffy, poetic without being overly romantic, extremely precise and sharp, she distill her thoughts skilfully.
I actually listen to it in audio format, and I know I am going to listen to one or another essay when I need something short to amuse me. But I am also going to buy the book because I want to highlight some passages, and because I want to give my own cadence to her voice. Diane Keaton narrated the version I listened and I did enjoy her voice. She sounded youthful, and made Didion’s monologues less cultured or intellectual than I perceive Didion to be. Which, surprisingly, I felt worked well. It gave Didion’s thoughts a new layer, more accessible and amicable.
This collection is said to capture the essence of 1960’s America, and I think it does. We have John Wayne, Joan Baez, San Francisco and hippies… yet, the personal essays will stay with me longer: self-respect, immorality and the power of going home are obviously more material to me than historical commentary on America.
I don’t know what I will read next, because it will be such a letdown after this book. I feel I am coming down from a high, and right now all I wanted is more of Didion’s words. Like a junkie I may just start from the beginning again. Someone please help me!
I really enjoyed The Other Side of the Bridge. There is maybe something predictable in a love triangle between brothers - one shy and caring, the otheI really enjoyed The Other Side of the Bridge. There is maybe something predictable in a love triangle between brothers - one shy and caring, the other a selfish charmer - and the pretty sad girl just arrived in town, but the characters are portrait with such depth and the story told with such a great voice that I could not avoid being hooked to this book. Also, the story of a fourth character - maybe the principal story after all - adds another layer to the narrative. I am also from a small Canadian community, albeit in the prairies not the Canadian shield, and the descriptions of the small community, with its prejudices and non-written social rules, hang true to my ears. This is my first book by Mary Lawson, but I intend to read more of her writing. ...more
Bury the Chains was a Christmas gift from my friends Julie and Stephan. Julie tells me that neither one of them has read it, but reading a review of tBury the Chains was a Christmas gift from my friends Julie and Stephan. Julie tells me that neither one of them has read it, but reading a review of the book, they thought I might enjoy it. I was surprised that, by coincidence, I had just read “The Book of Negroes” by Laurence Hill, which is a fictional account of much of the historical facts in “Bury the Chains.”
I have to say that I am deeply touched by it. Hochschild has done a tremendous amount of research and, although I am not particularly enthused by his writing, I was hooked by the narrative. It is so inspiring to feel that individuals do have the power to change the world.
I finished Rebecca a couple of days ago and had since been thinking of it as I intended to write a review in here. Then, this morning I opened a bookI finished Rebecca a couple of days ago and had since been thinking of it as I intended to write a review in here. Then, this morning I opened a book at random - Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach – and there, under the entry for May 26 (I did open this at random), I found this quote from Rebecca:
This was a woman’s room, graceful, fragile, the room of someone who had chosen every particle of furniture with great care, so that each chair, each vase, each small infinitesimal thing should be in harmony with one another and with her own personality. It was as though she who had arranged this room has said: “This I will have, and this, and this,’ taking piece by piece from the treasures in Manderley each object that pleased her best, ignoring the second-rate, the mediocre, laying her hand with sure and certain instinct only upon the best.
I love when I experience such moments of literary serendipity. It was almost uncanny that I had found this specific quote, as I remember it well from when I heard it (oh yes, I listened to it in audio). The young Mrs. De Winter was describing the previous Mrs. De Winter’s morning room, and I remember thinking what great power of description Daphne Du Maurie had: while bringing this room to life she was also telling us so much about the deceased Rebecca.
The book is a long monologue by young Mrs. DeWinter, of whom we never learn her first name, only that it was unusual. But through her narration we are enveloped by the beauty of Manderley, a place that is as much a character in this book as the people in it, and we started to learn of all of the other characters. Here again Daphne Du Maurier surprised me. The characters are multi-dimensional, full of flaws, but through their shortcomings: Maxim’s pride, Mrs. Danver’s revengefulness and grief, and even Rebecca’s egocentricity ‘ they became more human in our eyes.
I should say that I had trouble finding sympathy for young Mrs. De Winter though. I realize she was young, naïve and in love, and that she was put into a completely dysfunctional situation yet I wanted to shake her a few times. Maybe my lack of kindness comes not from lack of familiarity with her situation, but because I do see myself in the mirror here. No, I never married a widower with an overbearing housekeeper, but I have been in situations where I was the new arrival, the new kid in the block, the junior employee in the office, the new member of the board, the new bride, the young mother, the new person joining an internet group… and I blundered. I hesitated because of fear or because I wanted to be accepted and I only made things worst.
This is getting long, but I have more to say about this book. I liked that it defies genre. It was a romance, but had such gothic elements to it, then it veered very close into mystery terrain. More than anything it was a very sharp commentary into class relation and British society of the period. I dare say that Du Maurier is as discriminating as Jane Austen in social commentary. The difference being that in Austen’s writing the social commentary is at the center of her stories, where Daphne Du Maurier puts it at the background, almost part of the scenery she describes so well.
I don’t know why it took me so long to read Daphne Du Maurier, but I am very glad I finally did.