Khaled Hosseini evokes the anguish of Afghanistan brilliantly in this sequel to "The Kite Runner". Through the eyes of two very different women, we coKhaled Hosseini evokes the anguish of Afghanistan brilliantly in this sequel to "The Kite Runner". Through the eyes of two very different women, we come to know the despair and great tragedy of this ancient country.
We experience the impact and cost of invasion and civil war among its own warring tribal factions; we also experience its beauty, its history and culture.
The power and depth and valiant struggle of the lead characters kept me going through a very bleak narrative. The two women rise above their predicaments; they manage to triumph over cruelty, physical and mental abuse, rape and confinement with a dead-eyed psychopath. Stripped of freedoms, often afraid for their lives, they form a saving alliance.
I wouldn't go so far as to say they are redeemed by suffering, but their nobility feels wonderful and true. While women are viewed as essentially shameful, this book made me understand that the shame really belongs to those who use their power to destroy the country, to enslave the people, to kill what was a richly beautiful culture.
There is also a very subtle thread about family life under the Taliban/Sharia Law. The narrative shows how the boys are routinely raised, and, from the time they are very small, these children are taught to hold their mothers and sisters in utter contempt, to disregard them as non-beings. Readers come to understand at a deeper level how central structural misogyny is to the survival of the Taliban state and to appreciate the brave individuals who are willing to set aside personal safety to build a more enlightened future.
A very satisfying read. I highly recommend this book. ...more
As I read this novel, I wondered how I would have felt reading it 40 years ago, when I was 20. I am sure I would have been mystified by the story andAs I read this novel, I wondered how I would have felt reading it 40 years ago, when I was 20. I am sure I would have been mystified by the story and unsure of what to make of the young adults coming of age in mid-20th century North America.
Now, I appreciate the book as a statement about power relationships between men and women in a society that rigidly prescribed roles based on sex.
But I found the central characters to be so detached, disconnected, almost robotic in their actions—even misanthropic—that it was tough to accept their perspectives.
These one-dimensional archetypes seem too flat and listless to be fully believable. The eat-or-be-eaten theme seems stretched thin.
What impressed me was the timeless quality of the writing and how well she understands world we inhabit.
But I like later Atwood books set in our times, which have more fully human characters, some even with a sense of wit and humour. You recognize them and care about their character's developmental arc through the narrative. ...more
If you can suspend your disbelief, this novel takes you on an enchanting, mysterious journey. The writing is vivid, and I was impressed with how elegaIf you can suspend your disbelief, this novel takes you on an enchanting, mysterious journey. The writing is vivid, and I was impressed with how elegantly the author crafted this tale of fantastic events set in a community of circus eccentrics and paranormally gifted performers.
But I also found it precious, contrived, as if the author would like to meditate on the subjective nature of "reality", with the story as a means to this more contemplative end. It took a long time to get going; I think the pacing for the first half was very slow, and I enjoyed the last third more, as that is when the narrative seemed to gather some steam. But I suppose this says more about my tastes and interests than about the book itself. ...more
I listened to the audiobook of The Goldfinch, narrated by David Pittu.
Ms Tartt is a compelling writer, and she captures the essence of a scene, the s I listened to the audiobook of The Goldfinch, narrated by David Pittu.
Ms Tartt is a compelling writer, and she captures the essence of a scene, the speech patterns of different classes of people, of recent times in America, and the atmospherics of family life brilliantly. But she overwrites scenes (the aftermath of the museum bomb) and some conversations between Boris and Theo.
Also, for me, that last part of the book seemed like an afterthought, Theo wandering the world and meditating about the meaning (or lack of meaning) of life, page after page after discursive page, without really connecting to the book itself or adding that satisfying sense of closure we all love to feel when we finish a great book.
Ms Tartt's characters seem stuck and maybe that is what she intends. It isn't that I have to love or agree or approve of every character in a book. But these characters are walking non sequiturs, and I found it hard to understand what motivates their decisions most of the time and this had the effect of distancing me from caring about them or what happens to them.
So why did I finish the book? Two reasons.
First, the superb narration by actor David Pittu, who lifts the characters right off the page and breathes personality and life into each of them, kept me with this book when I might otherwise have given up. His performance was precise, nuanced, and so emotionally true.
Second, this is not a bad book just because I found it relentlessly tedious and way too long, and since so many other readers liked it, I thought I'd defer to the wisdom of the crowd and see it through to the end.
Fabulous, sprawling, utterly compelling narrative that explores a family generation to generation, weaving social history into the story as it unfoldsFabulous, sprawling, utterly compelling narrative that explores a family generation to generation, weaving social history into the story as it unfolds. I could not put this book down: the characters are believable, broken, romantic and stand, for me, as something of a metaphor for the Maritimes itself. I would like to read this book again. ...more
An assassin you can admire, where murder is a conceit for other attributes. Very entertaining to see how this very cool cat uses methodical planning iAn assassin you can admire, where murder is a conceit for other attributes. Very entertaining to see how this very cool cat uses methodical planning in an inventive manner to foil (and get revenge upon) his enemies. ...more
Some spoilers in this review, but the ending is not revealed.
I'm a longtime devotee of Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache/Three Pines mysteries. I loveSome spoilers in this review, but the ending is not revealed.
I'm a longtime devotee of Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache/Three Pines mysteries. I loved previous novels because the characters were interesting and believable, the narrative lines were complex, strong, and, well, MYSTERIOUS!
But I'm now wondering if a book a year isn't an awful lot to ask of a quality writer like Ms. Penny.
I listen to the audio versions of the books. In this tenth Three Pines mystery, Ralph Cosham's wonderful audiobook narration remains pitch-perfect. Ms Penny's Gamache mysteries and Ralph Cosham's voice remain, for me, a match made in heaven.
But the story itself, not so much. It is hard to admit that "The Long Way Home" disappointed me. I wanted to be enchanted once again, but I was not.
Missing, for me: a more complex narrative structure, through which Ms. Penny introduces at least two totally unrelated story lines, compelling character development, and a variety of different people, and, gradually, expertly, pulls these strands tighter, and weaves them into a page-turner of a yarn.
I think that part of the issue is the project itself. There is no murder, no beastly crime to solve, but the rather less interesting task of finding out what happened to Peter, among the least appealing of Three Pines residents.
I found it hard to suspend my disbelief that experienced police investigators (one retired, one on active duty) and Myrna (a business woman with her own life and troubles) would agree to be led by Peter's estranged wife, Clara, on a seek-and-find expedition just because he failed to keep a dinner date.
For one thing, Clara is known as an untidy and somewhat bumbling artistic genius. She is not by the longest shot a leader. Few artists are. For another, it's a false sense of urgency. In this day and age, if you can't trace a living adult who left you using telecommunications, then, best let them be.
The single-threaded narrative was dosed out at such a slow pace that I found myself wishing Gamache and Jean-Guy would just take charge and get it done the right way, and let Clara be annoyed with them! Besides, that is at least partly why I read these books, to see Gamache at work, to watch a real leader using principles and kindness and reserving judgment, even when others are behaving in a vile, evil way.
Best part: Ruth flying. Very funny.
Ms Penny's books tend to feel meditative, almost like lullabies for the mind. And this book is no exception. I love the ideas. But narrative matters, too. I understand that mysteries are a kind of piling on of details, some matter, some do not, but usually Ms Penny achieves this by drawing us into the world, not keeping us outside the story.
One more thing: I recommend Penny Watson's review of this book.