I wanted to like this way more than I did. The start seemed promising but I found the writing style quite bland. While Rose and Mrs Kehoe sparkle, mosI wanted to like this way more than I did. The start seemed promising but I found the writing style quite bland. While Rose and Mrs Kehoe sparkle, most of the other characters blend into the background. Eilis' spends her first year in Brooklyn homesick, getting a new job, witnessing social change and falling in love yet still the experience just seems mind-numbingly boring. Her behaviour when she gets home as well is incredibly frustrating, not only because she's acting stupidly but because Toibin never seems to scratch beneath the surface, with no desire to fully explore why she's making the choices she does. The ending was also particularly unsatisfying. That being said, there were some touching moments and I felt it captured the heartbreak and finality of emigration very well. Ultimately, pretty over-rated though and a bit of a disappointment....more
Disjointed and surprisingly dull. While there were some gems hidden in the book, the read proved more frustrating and overly long. Shah's narrative juDisjointed and surprisingly dull. While there were some gems hidden in the book, the read proved more frustrating and overly long. Shah's narrative jumped everywhere; just as he seemed to be revealing something important in a conversation with another person, the scene ended and he went back to tearing his hair out around the house. I was also curious about the very vague descriptions of how his wife was getting on with the move; it seemed like the entire family should be going insane within the first year, yet most of the trouble and doubts she feels are completely glossed over as the narrator goes to escape the house by going to the market or for coffee constantly. It felt a bit shallow and self-absorbed and just too jumpy a story....more
I'm surprised how much I loved it. The writing is so simple and poignant. Charlie's autism can often isolate himself from other people but on occasionI'm surprised how much I loved it. The writing is so simple and poignant. Charlie's autism can often isolate himself from other people but on occasion can bring him closer, as he's able to cut right to the heart of some observations and emotions. Because of his lack of social awareness, he often touches people in unexpected and surprising ways and it was lovely to read about the different ways his friend group reacted and warmed to him. I felt upset when he was misunderstood. I wasn't totally onboard with the revelations in the epilogue however, I think the story might have been better without it. But I came away from it feeling like like I want to hold and cherish the book a bit longer, so for that it gets 5 stars ...more
I quite enjoyed it for what it was - a kind of trashy, holiday easy read - and I was more or less pulled along by the story. It was such an easy readI quite enjoyed it for what it was - a kind of trashy, holiday easy read - and I was more or less pulled along by the story. It was such an easy read I finished it in a day and a half, but that's not a full testament to the content. I was really disappointed by the "massive twist" though, as I called it around page 40, but kept hoping I was wrong and would be properly shocked. ...more
This book is a quintessential work of European elegance and beauty. The characters are painted in a really tender way and, for the most part, Kundera'This book is a quintessential work of European elegance and beauty. The characters are painted in a really tender way and, for the most part, Kundera's philosophising is welcome and insightful. It's a book with too big a scope to be fully digested in one reading as well, so I've marked it for a future re-read where I think I'll get a lot more out of it. I liked the jumping around of the timeline, the narrative 'eternal return'. It suited a novel which wasn't fully dedicated to characters or the story, but rather the joy in the process of writing and reading. It's rare for me to like a book like this so I was surprised by how much I did enjoy it. It loses a star though as I felt it was a little too long and Section 6 got a bit too heavy-handed with the philosophy element and too far removed from the story. It more or less redeemed itself with the final part though....more
Maybe it's not fair of me to review as it's not normally a genre I'd ever go with anyway but I have to get the thoughts down. I had to read this for mMaybe it's not fair of me to review as it's not normally a genre I'd ever go with anyway but I have to get the thoughts down. I had to read this for my book club and, sadly, nowhere near the funny and empathic Marian Keyes like I'd hoped it might be. It was clunky writing of a cliche and saccharine story. The dialogue was very stilted and the prose featured such gems as "icy fingers wrap around my spine and pull hard on my intuition". I just ended up skimming the ending because I desperately wanted it to be over but unfortunately failed to miss (SPOILER) when Rosie dissipates into the afterlife in a host of shimmery diamonds in a ballroom that was built just for her. My cold, cynical heart just can't take that kind of imagery.
Also, poor Sinead. Would I be sending my husbands of decades into his afterlife to spend it with some woman he never even kissed when she was alive? Like hell I would. ...more
Ideally, I would have read this before Adichie's Americanah, which I finished in the last couple of months. Americanah, in a way, feels like a continuIdeally, I would have read this before Adichie's Americanah, which I finished in the last couple of months. Americanah, in a way, feels like a continuation of this story. One thing I noted was the similarity in some of the character types. There's the strict, religious parent partnered with a more easygoing, pliable one. There's the cool aunt who is a saviour figure to the female protagonist and the background setting of a university and its troubles. I believe that lots of these elements are in Half of a Yellow Sun as well, which would put me off reading it in the near future, since I already really felt the repetition in this novel.
That being said, it was still a worthwhile read. The atmosphere of suffocating silence in the Catholic household was really well-represented and I loved the heartfelt, conflicted feelings Kambili had towards her father. There was something very honest about the narrator. Even more fascinating, was the disconnect between the private and public Eugene: the outstanding, morally upright, courageous public citizen versus the extremely religious, abusive private side. Papa-Nnukwu, on the other hand, is a vivid link to the older African traditions.
Not sure if it's worth the read if you've already read Americanah but it does stand up on its own....more
I"m going to review this and the Iron King together, as the Iron King felt like a prequel to the rest of the series.
The detailed political intrigue isI"m going to review this and the Iron King together, as the Iron King felt like a prequel to the rest of the series.
The detailed political intrigue is just fantastic and really ropes you in. The characters are wonderfully painted and all very unique, full of life and intelligence (or lack thereof). I also loved Druon's occasional commentary statements on the nature of power, wealth, religion and status.
What I found most interesting about the series was the direct parallels you can draw from the benefits of being in power in both medieval and modern times. For example, the tight relationships between crown and the Lombard bankers, where those in power are bought and backed by financiers is eerily similar to our current economic situation.
On the downside, the huge span of the series means that the 2nd book in particular has a rushed feeling. There is simply so many plot points to get through, nuanced scenes and in-depth exploration of character relationships just doesn't seem to be possible. I'll definitely be continuing the series later on though....more
I guessed there was hype around this debut novel from the dedicated stands I saw in bookstores but I didn't think it had been the major publishing sucI guessed there was hype around this debut novel from the dedicated stands I saw in bookstores but I didn't think it had been the major publishing success story of 2014. I'm glad I didn't, as I would definitely have been let down.
The good stuff is the historical setting. Burton does a fantastic job of scene-setting, encapulsating the city's atmosphere, greed and repression. The minor characters were interesting but we never really get to scratch beyond the surface into more complex territory. However, Nella, the main character, felt flat to me. The action was dullened by virtue of seeing it through her eyes and she took longer than (I would guess) the average reader to figure out the knots of the plot. Since she is meant to be a teenager, I imagine this is deliberate by the author, but it doesn't make it any less tedious at times.
That being said, the story did sweep me away about a third of the way through and I was eager to finish it. I also loved how Nella rose to the occasion and the interesting, alternative family dynamic that unfolded throughout. Infuriatingly though, the central mystery of the Miniaturist themselves is never answered. There seems to be an almost supernatural element to her creations but we never get any way close to her.
Now I await the inevitable BBC adaptation. ...more