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A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
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Archive: Other Books > A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra - 3 stars

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message 1: by Ellen (last edited May 20, 2017 08:19AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ellen | 2050 comments The war in Chechnya is the setting for this sweeping novel and the lives of several characters are interwoven throughout the story. Havaa is an 8-year-old girl who had been warned by her father to be ready to run should anything happen to him. Akhmed is her neighbor, an extremely unaccomplished doctor, who helps Havaa to safety in a local hospital. Sonja, a surgeon, is the only doctor remaining at the hospital and does not have time for Akhmed and Havaa, but eventually agrees to hide the child and to allow Akhmed to assist Sonja with patients. An elderly neighbor and his government informer son are the other important characters in the book. As the story unfolds, the lives of these individuals are examined and slowly interwoven through flashbacks and memories.

I agree that this author is a gifted storyteller who can make you feel deep connections with his characters. I just had a problem with the novels unrelenting sadness and depressing scenarios. No one was happy or likely ever would be if they even managed to live through the end of the book. Apologies to those of you who loved it; it was way too dark for me.


Susie | 4488 comments You don't have to apologise! I appreciate that everyone has different tastes. Thanks for your review.


message 3: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy | 8148 comments Extremely well written review. The issue of whether or not we pick up novels that we know will have a Darkside to them is another curious question. Maybe somebody will pose it sometime as a separate thread. For myself, I can stand the darkness if the ending has some measure of hope or transformation. But when things stay bleak, I am an uninterested. I started staying away from Anita Shreve, even though people have loved her books. I found them too painful and too depressing. And so I stopped with her. Life is short. Better read what we love and what raises us. At least it fulfilled a high note for you. And I think from more than one year it's an option.


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