Virginia's Reviews > Skeletons at the Feast

Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian
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Apr 07, 2010

really liked it
Recommended to Virginia by: Jennifer Entwistle
Read in April, 2010

Bohjalian got me with this one, as he has in the two other books of his I've read. It took me about 1/4 of the way into it to get hooked, but I stayed up until 1 am last night reading it. His writing is really quite nice, possibly underrated. His storytelling is incredibly compelling.

There are several stories woven together in this book, the main being the plight of an aristocratic Prussian family forced to march west in the waning months of WWII. The horrors and atrocities of the war are on full display -- almost, but somehow not quite, unbearable to read about.

The storyline about Anna and her family's slog west was the more bearable narrative to me. They had an ostensible destination -- maybe not just one precise destination, but you knew they were heading west ... ahead of the Russian onslaught (if, at times, barely). Cecile's character's experience was so hard for me to stomach ... she never knew where she was going. She had no known destination -- so much despair (even though she was remarkable in the face of it).

Really good read, really good reminder.


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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC I am glad you friended me, because you are a much "braver" reader than I am and I enjoy reading your reviews. As you've probably noticed, I mostly read mysteries and historical fiction, and tend to shy away from anything very dark - but your reviews help me vicariously see what's out there, and get a taste of books I might not otherwise consider. Thanks! (And you also make me realize how lazy I am about reviewing books - I often just give stars, but I will try to do better.)


Virginia What a nice compliment, Sue, thank you. I never thought of myself as particularly brave, but I'll take it.

As for the reviews, selfish reason: I assemble a "summer reading list" every year (five years' worth of the list are pasted in on a blog -- www.booksforthebeach.blogspot.com). I pull the list together from suggestions that I solicit by email from a big group of friends.

It's mostly other people's suggestions and comments, but I put some of my ideas in there, and having already written Goodreads reviews throughout the year makes that easier.

Thanks again. I still have Queen Lucia on my Kindle. I must get to it!


message 3: by Susan in NC (new)

Susan in NC You're welcome - I'm a bit of a news junkie, but when the insanity of the world gets to be a bit much, I like to escape into reading, and tend to pick something with humor, or a good puzzle (preferably both!).

I tend to go in long stretches reading the same genre, such as my current "Golden Age of British Mysteries" obsession. I'm a lazy reader and don't often feel like trying to like a book - I might give it 50 pages or so, but if it doesn't capture my attention, I'm on to the next one - usually a tried and true favorite like Georgette Heyer, E.F. Benson, Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham, etc. (Oh God, everyone I like to read has been dead for at least 25 years . . .)

I love stories like Benson's "Lucia" series - a critic's quote on the back of my copy of "Queen Lucia" perfectly summed up the appeal for me: "Nothing that Lucia and her enemy, Miss Mapp, did was ever of the slightest importance, but they did it with Napoleonic strategy, Attilan ferocity, and Satanic motive. It is a sad fact that Benson borrowers usually become non-returners." Very wise of you to keep "Lucia" captive on your Kindle, you don't have to lend it out if you become addicted! I do hope you like it when you get to it, and thanks for the blog address, I'll have to check it out.


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