When I started reading this, I realized that this is the most un-Maine-like book, despite the fact that perhaps the first 1/3rd of is set there, and iWhen I started reading this, I realized that this is the most un-Maine-like book, despite the fact that perhaps the first 1/3rd of is set there, and it's a dominant part of the plot- the puritanical early 1800s pioneer Maine. I'm basing this on books like The Tinker, or the older series, The Beans of Maine. Perhaps unfair comparisons, anyway. It's also a bit annoying having a first person narrator in that time period with modern sensibilities, psychology, etc. Something that Cold Mountain did really well.
Well, then, you get into the vampire-ish (luckily no vampires, just immortals) ahistorical living in Boston, and it's a bit more interesting, in a fantasy/sex way. The sex is alluded to, not detailed, which is OK, but a bit discursive. Then, the last third goes back to being not such an interesting book, as it's just so hard to identify with 200 year old people who have First World White People Problems. But heck, I did finish it, and it's not that bad really. I feel like the author has some great potential, her style isn't bad, and her characters become somewhat interesting near the end. In a way, the framing, and the purpose or plot of the book need to change. She needs to dig down and find something new to say, I guess. Oh well. ...more
I know there's 14000 reviews of this book, but hey, I'm going to add my $0.02.
I was an undergrad English major in Portland, and there's a LOT wrong, eI know there's 14000 reviews of this book, but hey, I'm going to add my $0.02.
I was an undergrad English major in Portland, and there's a LOT wrong, editorially, which made me laugh out loud while reading. Sure, the novel moves along quickly and it's soft porn, but this stuff just made me amazed at how bad it was:
1. In America, it's not "my final exams" it's "finals." "Are finals tomorrow? No, finals are next week." I don't think we ever say "exam" except, "I'm getting a rectal exam tomorrow, wanna come?" 2. I'm not sure this is the right or appropriate college choice- there is Lewis and Clark, PSU (Portland State), and Reed in that area. For someone with good grades, like her and her roommate, they'd probably go to Lewis and Clark. If they couldn't afford it, and they were Washington State residents, then definitely not Vancouver, but University of WAshington in Seattle. Weird choice. 3. It is *incredibly* unlikely that someone under 40 doesn't have an email address, or doesn't check email. 4. "MacBook Pro" doesn't require someone to set it up for you, nor does Apple release something early or special for some millionaire. 5. It takes 3 hours to drive to Seattle from Portland, you wouldn't do it in a morning and go home again. Really unlikely. 6. You don't drive south to Portland to get on the I-5 from Vancouver. You drive west through Vancouver to get to the I-5, which is in Vancouver. 7. College girls wouldn't both have 2 cars, we had one, that we all borrowed. We didn't have any money and owning a car takes money. We bike. 8. The Heathman has ridiculously expensive valet parking - I was waiting for this to happen in the book, just because I"m a nerd about it- and Portland has tough downtown parking. Never mentioned. 9. There's quite a good restaurant right in the building "for coffee" though they walk 3 blocks. And there are amazing coffee places all around, including Peets right across the street. 10. Heathman interior design wouldn't be described as "elegant" more as high thread count, understated modern. Fancy, yes, but elegant, not so much. More macho and modern. Oh, and there's Peets coffee en suite. 11. Many issues in re: to the Heathman. She's not at all titillated by the beauty and luxury, being a poor girl form the sticks, etc.?
The clothing, now that's another issue. 12. You repeatedly have her wearing Converse (so sick of reading that brand every time she takes off her shoes, or Christian does), but then her roommate is shocked to see her in tennis shoes. 13. Pigtails/ponytails worn un-ironically? 14. Despite being well-read in English literature, has she ever read Clarissa? Because this is a dead-ringer.
This novel was written with so little knowledge of the flavor, culture, and tastes of Portland. I think she visited online and then visited perhaps for a few days, if at all. The British-isms are also tired.
His character has so many flaws, but I'll go through them here: 1. He is way out of time/space. His behavior reminds me of my peers- 40 year old men- but his physique of course is younger. Yay for fantasy novels. 2. He's not even a smidgeon of a bit busy, as a CEO would be. 3. I am largely unconvinced that he's "crazy about her" as all of her friends, observers say...more
Just not a fan- I'm not vociferously saying "I hate this book," but when she starts in childhood, and it just goes so slowly through that- I knew I woJust not a fan- I'm not vociferously saying "I hate this book," but when she starts in childhood, and it just goes so slowly through that- I knew I wouldn't finish it. So caveat, this is a review of the first few chapters.
I'm not against promiscuity, but I do question her ability to understand her actions at such a young age, and so, I had this kind of lingering, "in-the-wings" feeling that this is somewhat of a deluded confessional. I never got to the fun dating-as-an-adult, and instead was left with what was probably more scarring youthful adventures. Also, I just didn't find it funny, and it's probably more for that audience. Pop culture references weren't funny or cute to me. Remember that Hawaiian Barbie doll? Yeah, I do. The Muppets? Yeah. So. To me they distract, especially if they're not really part of the moving forward actions.
The asides to "serious comedians" were a little heavy-handed.
I love her blog, she comes recommended by folks I respect, and even my librarian was all pumped to read it- everyone loves a good hipster put-down. ...more
I had this sitting around from the library forever, and not until it was due, having been renewed twice, did I finally understand why: David MitchellI had this sitting around from the library forever, and not until it was due, having been renewed twice, did I finally understand why: David Mitchell has a blurb! One of my new favorite authors, and now that I've completed this, I can add another.
What's so great about this book? I actually had a lot of sympathy for the "Madoff" character, and I was thinking about it (in a pleasant way) quite a bit afterwards. That's when it struck me, that oh, he's supposed to be the villain, and I was along with him for the ride. It's well-written, and has a Mitchell-like ability to have very distinct character voices.
Doesn't hurt of course to be in a luxury setting. Some characters I just loved- the rugby player turned opportunist personal trainer, the trophy wife, the crazy playwright living on a houseboat, the budding ethicist/blogger, etc. Great stuff. Enjoyable read....more
I'm not a huge fan of Kingsolver, but read this for a book club. When I was 16 or 17 I read Animal Dreams and Bean Trees, and loved those. But in theI'm not a huge fan of Kingsolver, but read this for a book club. When I was 16 or 17 I read Animal Dreams and Bean Trees, and loved those. But in the last few novels, I've felt she gets very preachy. In this novel, I got into the beginning a lot more than I'd expected- that was a pleasant surprise. Then, it devolved into once-sided polemic political nonsense. I would tend to agree with her politics, but they are so emotional and ... naive. Workers and the poor are never wrong, etc. I'm also a bit sick to death of Frida and Diego - they don't capture my imagination. Having just read a World War I novel, I was excited about Trotsky entering the picture, but again it took a very clearly one-sided view on an incredibly complex time in history....more
Kind of a gratuitous fantasy book for middle-aged women, but heck, whatever. It was really interesting, in general, but not a great book overall. I stKind of a gratuitous fantasy book for middle-aged women, but heck, whatever. It was really interesting, in general, but not a great book overall. I still like these- experimental book ideas. Kind of a combination of Four Non-Blondes & Nanny Diaries, with a bit of Laurie Colwin mixed in. The result, sadly, is a mishmash of flat characters and occasional sex scenes. In reading the author's book-club answers at the end, I feel like she was onto something, but didn't execute it well enough to get that across. I think there is something about agism that could be a fascinating and good book. Funny bits: her feminist publishing house was an unrealistic joke, the idea of what a 25-year-old guy is like was pretty funny, and the dating/clubbing scene in NYC. Oh well, still interesting....more
By far one of the best books I've read in years. I've spent some time near Johns Hopkins- sister used to live 2 blocks away- and besides capturing theBy far one of the best books I've read in years. I've spent some time near Johns Hopkins- sister used to live 2 blocks away- and besides capturing the atmosphere and history of such a racially tense environment, the author also dives into a prickly subject that absolutely needs to be seen & read. Well-written, super interesting, and also very, very thought-provoking....more
I really liked this book, except for the ending, but I don't want to spoil it for you. I enjoy apocalyptic fiction, and this had all the good stuff inI really liked this book, except for the ending, but I don't want to spoil it for you. I enjoy apocalyptic fiction, and this had all the good stuff in spades: ghost towns, scrappy survivalists, lack of morality/ethics, lord of the flies-ish squabbling over scant resources, mad-max obsession with fuel, nostalgia for the "time before", etc.
I also like the variety of focusing on the settlment for the second part. That didn't bore me, like other reviewers wrote, it just reminded me of what I liked about Battlestar Galactica, all of those settlers in random space tankers floating in the military caravan.
Annoying things- the constant suspense, 700 pages worth, gets trying. I'm not a fan of pivotal child characters, they're just kind of boring. Everytime an older person set on the stage it was a relief. Bit of an obsession with pregnancy and procreation. And, yeah, the ending.
Very glad California seceded, of course, being a Califorian....more
In reading the comments, there are a few main points that were left out. I believe the emphasis placed on this as a diet book, or book of recipes, isIn reading the comments, there are a few main points that were left out. I believe the emphasis placed on this as a diet book, or book of recipes, is misplaced. It's a doctor's examination of her experiences in other cultures where certain diseases have not taken root like they have in the U.S. And, in positing a hypothesis to why that is, she includes yes, recipes and diets, but also, the idea that social and communal eating and preparation have been somewhat lost. Don't eat alone, prepare your own food, and teach children to prepare food. While I've gotten a lot out of her rye bread and fish hash recipes, I also took it to heart to eat socially more, and to invite others over, as well as teaching and educating about food preparation. She has a lot of interesting far-out theories on some cultural diets- Scandinavians not eating vegetables, Japanese and Congese and the role of pickling/fermentation. but what I got mainly was that we need to leave behind our isolated US "nuclear family" eating routines. It's interesting, and it was a nice approach that was very different than other books. Basically, making tortillas with your family is as important as eating them....more
Really nice, fun book. I finished it not only hoping it would go on, but eager to see the writer's next work. I love a romance from the man's point ofReally nice, fun book. I finished it not only hoping it would go on, but eager to see the writer's next work. I love a romance from the man's point of view- it's just unique, and the characters truly drive this work. You grow to love the village as much as the characters, and in all it was just a great read....more
I was looking forward to a light beach read, a chick book, and instead got a rather disturbing fantasy written by someone with barely concealed abuseI was looking forward to a light beach read, a chick book, and instead got a rather disturbing fantasy written by someone with barely concealed abuse issues. A naked 40 year old man appears near her house, when she's 6, telling her things about herself and that she should trust him because 'we're going to get married." Uh, that's just creepy no matter how you dress it up. Here's an interesting thought exercise: would the time traveler let his daughter cavort in a meadow with a 40 year old man who is going to marry her? Niffenegger's characters sadly aren't round enough to really merit any kind of motivation, her main character the wife is about as empty a shell of a character as you can get. Her dominating character trait, I kid you not, is her hair. It reminds me of exercises we did in writing classes. He's punk. How? He wears punk clothes and list off the punk bands. That paragraph caused quite the roar of laughter in our book club. Oh this book is just sad. I'm kind of depressed that publishers print, and make money off of this schlock. There are just tons of better books out there. ...more