I have to say that I did not like it as much as the earlier Murakami books I read (Norwegian Wood and Sputnik Sweetheart). Maybe I am more drawn towarI have to say that I did not like it as much as the earlier Murakami books I read (Norwegian Wood and Sputnik Sweetheart). Maybe I am more drawn towards philosophical angst than metaphysical angst. ...more
Well, I actually live on a prairie ranch 50 miles from the closest town, so Judy Blunt’s memoir certainly resonates with me. Her insights are writtenWell, I actually live on a prairie ranch 50 miles from the closest town, so Judy Blunt’s memoir certainly resonates with me. Her insights are written with an almost poetic prose and her voice conveys great strength. I envy her ability to articulate with such clarity the complex web of human relations that are so hardly shaped by the prairie environment and history. The struggle – and pain - to conform to gender roles; the isolation of long winters and muddy spring roads; the distrust of anything new and urban are all still too real in the communities around me. I think I will suggest this book to my bookclub, as an outsider – anyone with a foreign accent will forever be an outsider around here – I am curious to hear what the “locals” will say about this memoir. ...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.
Wide Sargasso Sea was such a pleasant surprise. It was a bookclub choice from an internet forum I enjoy, and I picked it up without much knowledge ofWide Sargasso Sea was such a pleasant surprise. It was a bookclub choice from an internet forum I enjoy, and I picked it up without much knowledge of what it was about, other than the notorious Jane Eyre connection. Fan fiction is a much older concept than many of us had previously considered. But, calling it fanfiction is too narrow a definition. Jean Rhys novella – it is quite a short book – wrestles with the human necessity of belonging, and the dire cost of not belonging. The luxuriant vegetation and climate of the Caribbean, the economic turmoil brought up by the abolition of slavery, and the distrust between European and Creole, white and black in a time ripe with revenge from past wrongs is all brought together as we follow “Antoinette/Bertha” from childhood to marriage, madness and death. In a strange coincidence, I read “Bury the Chains”, by Adam Hochschild just a few weeks ago. In this account of the civil movement to abolish slavery in the British Empire, a few chapters are devoted to the atrocities perpetrated by slave owners in the Caribbean. And so, I read with even more interest about the relationship between former slave owners and the newly freed population. Jean Rhys was born in the island of Dominica 60 years after the time when the events in the book take place, but her descriptions carry such depth and understanding that I can only wonder that distress must have permeated all interaction between the two communities for many generations to follow – how could it be any different after all? But, this book is not only about the relationship dynamics within the islanders. It makes us question madness, cultural crash, colonization, machismo, sexuality and fear of sexuality, superstitions… I did feel torn between 4 or 5 stars, because as beautiful as the prose is, the sequence of events left me feeling lost a couple of times. I had to turn back a few pages, wondering that I must had skipped a page or two, just to find out that the narration had “jumped”. But, I wonder, in a book where the characters are going mad, could the narrative be simple and linear? Also, the third part of the book – Bertha locked in an attic in England – seemed a bit contrived. It makes me speculate how the book would be like without the Jane Eyre connection. Would it had been a stronger book if we followed this character without the knowledge of where she was heading? At the end I decided on the 5 stars because its small shortcomings - if I can call them that - were greatly overshadowed by its strengths, and because it is a book that will remain with me for a long time… ...more
From a previous review I posted on Amazon: Don't be scared of the gloomy subject of this book. This is a tender and lovely, albeit very sad, story. MyFrom a previous review I posted on Amazon: Don't be scared of the gloomy subject of this book. This is a tender and lovely, albeit very sad, story. My teenage daughter actually suggested this book to me, and I am so glad she did. Teenagers are definitely the target audience for this book, but people of all ages will identify with the struggles of ordinary people living under the Nazi regime. That Death is the narrator adds a sophisticated literary touch to it, but the story never losses its kindheartedness appeal. This book also humanizes the German common folk in a way that, to this day, authors are reluctant to do. Very seldom Germans living during the WWII are given the degree of humanity and dignity that is shown in The Book Thief. ...more
This is a tender and deeply moving book. Frances Itani tells the story of a deaf woman (loosely inspired on her own deaf grandmother), waiting for herThis is a tender and deeply moving book. Frances Itani tells the story of a deaf woman (loosely inspired on her own deaf grandmother), waiting for her young husband’s return from WWI with superb prose. The complexity of what is or isn’t communicate in every relationship, the loneliness of disconnect, and ultimately the healing power of love, family and friendship is weaved through the plot with mastery.
I am looking forward to Itani’s next book. ...more
I seldom read non-fiction, but this was a book club choice and I am very glad I read it. John Vaillant's prose is rich and quite poetic at times. ButI seldom read non-fiction, but this was a book club choice and I am very glad I read it. John Vaillant's prose is rich and quite poetic at times. But the engrossing writing does not overshadow the tale Vaillant set himself to tell. The main thread of the book is the story of how a centuries old golden spruce, that was sacred to the Haida, was cut down by Grant Hadwin, a logger gone environmentalist gone mad. In a more in-depth journalistic style and skillfully researched, Vaillant also tells us the historical factors behind the logging industry in the West Coast, and the difficult relationship between loggers and the indigenous people of the area. This is a multi-layered book, partially mystery, partially historical account, definitely haunting in the environmental questions it poses. ...more
I love this book. It is definitely in the pack of books I would carry with me from a burning building. I read it 2 years ago or so, and recently browsI love this book. It is definitely in the pack of books I would carry with me from a burning building. I read it 2 years ago or so, and recently browsed through it again for a book club discussion. I feel surprised with myself that a book with so many graphic descriptions of battles and death does not however make me put it on the list of books never to reread. For all the sadness and destruction it describes, still it does not leave me downhearted. I guess I see the characters' struggles as an illustration of the strength of the human spirit, and specifically the strength of the aboriginal community. There are so many layers in this book - aboriginal integration - or not - and its sad consequences; friendship; war; madness - and each one is handled by the author with extreme skill. The language is beautiful, the characters well developed, the research into WWII remarkable. I look forward to reading more books by Boyden and cannot recommend this book enough. ...more
I hate when life interferes with my reading, and interfering is what it did of lately. Eliza Fay deserved better of me than putting this book down forI hate when life interferes with my reading, and interfering is what it did of lately. Eliza Fay deserved better of me than putting this book down for days at time, just to return to it without great emotional commitment. So, be aware that my impression of this collection of letters was maybe impaired by my own lack of time to devout to it. But, as much as I was impressed by Mrs. Fay strength of character, and the challenges that she faced to reach India, I wanted more of her person in it.
I too have wrote letters that I knew were going to be read by many in my family, and I recognize the “holding back” that it requires, as compared to a letter written to a close friend that we are certain will not share our deep feelings with others.
Anyway, I am still glad I read it, and I would still recommend it to anyone curious of the time period. Just keep in mind that Eliza Fay describes more of the scenery than of her heart. ...more
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
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.