Amy's Reviews > Body and Soul

Body and Soul by Frank Conroy
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's review
Jun 10, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: at-least-the-writing-was-good, bookcrossing, first-novel-or-book, made-me-look-something-up, read-on-recommendation, taught-me-something, creatures
Recommended to Amy by: Gail Harrison
Read from June 10 to 20, 2011

This book was recommended to me as a "life changer" by a friend. I thought it started off really well, but lost steam, for me, about 2/3 of the way through. But those beginning oarts, wow!

It's a sort of rags to riches story, with self-awareness and a lot of luck thrown in. The story begins when Claude is six, often left home, while his mother earns her living driving a cab. I loved the view of New York City from ankle level via the window of the basement apartment, where Claude is locked in to be kept safe. (Reminded me of the farmer folk, who in earlier generations, would clothe their toddlers in long dress-like garments, and then anchor the hem under the bed, so that the child could move, but not wander off. They'd leave the children food and something to drink, knowing they were safe from harm while their parents worked the fields, then free them when parents were home for meals, etc. Different world -- today would be child endangerment or child abuse.)

It was interesting to see Claude's world unfold as he discovered music, an old piano in the apartment and as he began his relationship with his mentor Mr Weinstein. Claude was indeed gifted, but had a remarkable about of luck too, with teachers, performance opportunities and even the women in his life. I've often marveled how some people are "born lucky" as well as talented, so much so that despite crummy things that happen, they still land on their feet.

Interesting to note that this in considered Conroy's debut novel. He wrote other books (nonfiction I think) and headed the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa for 18 years. I've rated this book a 4, even though I felt the last third was a 3, because the early days in NYC delighted me so.

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Reading Progress

06/22/2011 page 370

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Isabel I feel the same about this book. The last third or so was...well, somehow the same if you know what I mean but the beginning was well worth it. I got it as a Christmas present through BC, was so fascinated that I kept the BC registered hardcover and bought two copies (one English, one German) and sent them out as rings.

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