Michelle's Reviews > Lifelode

Lifelode by Jo Walton
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Sep 04, 11

bookshelves: fantasy, feminism, award_winner
Recommended to Michelle by: the alternative world group
Recommended for: writers, people who love in-depth character studies
Read from August 31 to September 03, 2011

a couple of years back, there was a news story about a virtuoso violinist who played in a DC metro station during rush hour, just to see if anyone would stop and appreciate beauty in the midst of everyday life (sadly, few did). this book is the literary equivalent: a lovely example of an artist in fine form, on an intimate, personal scale.

Taveth is the housekeeper of the country manor house of her village. she "sees through time", catching echoes of future events and past selves in everyday life, resulting in a story that meanders non-linearly in the same way her life experience does. the disjointed time should feel awkward, but it doesn't. reading this is watching the virtuoso at work: it's a natural, smooth flow that delicately inserts you into someone else's way of viewing the world, and manages to neatly tuck all the loose threads of that life back into the braid of time by the end. it's a story about working in the kitchen, raising children, being in love, the turning of the seasons, and feeding your family, all with just a light touch of the local household magic - it's a far cry from the usual fantasy kings & monsters.

about halfway through, the book feels the need to have a plot, at which point in time it's about slightly larger events told in a more linearly-straightforward fashion. the characters are so vividly drawn that I didn't mind the shift, but the drifting closer to normalcy does make this go from a brilliant to a merely very good book. it's a sterling example of character-driven storytelling, well worth picking up if you find a copy.
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