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2018 Group Reads > August 2018: House of Erzulie

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Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Our August/September read is House of Erzulie! The discussion will be 'til September 15th so plenty of time for everyone to jump in. Who will be reading along?


message 2: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 4305 comments I will - I started a new job and it has reduced my reading time, but I should be able to start Erzulie later this week.


message 3: by Lulu, The Book Reader who could. (new)

Lulu (lulureads365) | 2423 comments Mod
I’ll be joining!


message 4: by Samy (new)

Samy | 1 comments I’m in too!


message 5: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 69 comments I hope to be joining the discussion. I haven't got the book yet.


message 6: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 2 comments I’m in! Just got the book and will start this week!


message 7: by Lulu, The Book Reader who could. (new)

Lulu (lulureads365) | 2423 comments Mod
Is a there a reading schedule?


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Sheri wrote: "I’m in! Just got the book and will start this week!"

How about having the first two "letter sections" read by the 20th? Does that give everyone enough time?


message 9: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 4305 comments Anastasia wrote: "Sheri wrote: "I’m in! Just got the book and will start this week!"

How about having the first two "letter sections" read by the 20th? Does that give everyone enough time?"


That would be perfect. Thanks for proposing it.


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments If you get to that point before the 20th feel free to post initial impressions! Spoiler tags if you say anything that gives it away for other people, of course.


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Alright guys, so how do you feel about the book format? Do you like the alternation? I feel like we've read books that have that before but off the top of my head I don't remember.


message 12: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 69 comments I just started reading the book today on the 20th.

When I read a book with a contemporary plotline and a historical plotline alternating, I'm usually more interested in one of them more than the other.

In this case, the historical content started with letters. Sometimes it's hard for me to maintain my interest in letters, but that wasn't the case for me in The House of Erzulie. I was very interested in the content.

I'm now on page 94 back in the contemporary story and wishing I were still reading about Emilie.


message 13: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 4305 comments Anastasia wrote: "Alright guys, so how do you feel about the book format? Do you like the alternation? I feel like we've read books that have that before but off the top of my head I don't remember."

The Kindness of Enemies by Leila Aboulela is the one that immediately leaps to mind for me. The historical sections were amazing. The contemporary portions not even close, for me.

I’m okay with alternating, in principle, but, typically one piece works much better than the other and so find myself hurrying through the less-favored part to get back to The Story.

What Shomeret said.


message 14: by Shomeret (last edited Aug 24, 2018 09:42AM) (new)

Shomeret | 69 comments Some people might consider this a spoiler because it deals with a historical person not mentioned in the summary. So I'm using spoiler brackets to hide this.

(view spoiler)

This book contains historical inaccuracies dealing with the person in the spoiler paragraph.


message 15: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 4305 comments Shomeret wrote: "Some people might consider this a spoiler because it deals with a historical person not mentioned in the summary. So I'm using spoiler brackets to hide this.

[spoilers removed]

This book contains..."


That's frustrating, Shomeret. I'm glad you flagged it, but it does impact my confidence in a historical fiction book once that occurs.


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Shomeret wrote: "Some people might consider this a spoiler because it deals with a historical person not mentioned in the summary. So I'm using spoiler brackets to hide this.

[spoilers removed]

This book contains..."


Just cuz I'm curious, what were the particular inaccuracies you noticed while reading?


message 17: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 69 comments I'll put this in spoiler brackets too.

(view spoiler)


message 18: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 69 comments I've finished this book and reviewed it. I want books to either entertain or educate me, and this did neither. So it wasn't a book for me. There are horrific scenes of slave abuse, so it's not for people who are upset or triggered by violence. This includes sexual violence.

For other comments see my review at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Shomeret wrote: "I'll put this in spoiler brackets too.

[spoilers removed]"


So a bit of "artistic license" you might say.

That raises a good point. For those who have read enough of the book to feel comfortable looking at spoilers what do you think about that? Do you feel it's okay for an author to essentially rewrite history in their novel? Do authors have a responsibility to be accurate in their portrayal of historical figures? Or is it okay to take creative license?


message 20: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 4305 comments Shomeret wrote: "I've finished this book and reviewed it. I want books to either entertain or educate me, and this did neither. So it wasn't a book for me. There are horrific scenes of slave abuse, so it's not for ..."

Shomeret, thanks for the warning. This is probably more than I can take and I’ll pass on reading farther.


message 21: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 4305 comments Anastasia wrote: "Shomeret wrote: "I'll put this in spoiler brackets too.

[spoilers removed]"

So a bit of "artistic license" you might say.

That raises a good point. For those who have read enough of the book to ..."


I’m fine with authors of historical fiction taking creative license but expect to see detailed notes at the end that clearly identify any variances. I won’t read an author twice in this genre if he/she doesn’t disclose where the story diverges from historical fact. To me, it’s about respecting one’s readers.


message 22: by Shomeret (last edited Aug 28, 2018 04:06AM) (new)

Shomeret | 69 comments Carol wrote: "Anastasia wrote: "Shomeret wrote: "I'll put this in spoiler brackets too.

[spoilers removed]"

So a bit of "artistic license" you might say.

That raises a good point. For those who have read enou..."


The author does have a historical note, and does include an extensive bibliography about every subject except the one that's included in my spoiler notes. So I'll assume that she read nothing about that subject and assumed that there was either nothing historically reliable to read (which used to be the case) or that it didn't matter.

As someone who was a history major in college, I do feel that historical accuracy in fiction is important and that if authors do depart from history, it should be minor. I feel that this one wasn't minor because it affects the characterization of a major character in the book. It also confirms stereotypes and prejudices which bother me. I believe that the entire plot would have been totally different if she had been historically accurate.


message 23: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 4305 comments Shomeret wrote: "Carol wrote: "Anastasia wrote: "Shomeret wrote: "I'll put this in spoiler brackets too.

[spoilers removed]"

So a bit of "artistic license" you might say.

That raises a good point. For those who ..."


I agree with all of your points.


message 24: by Lulu, The Book Reader who could. (new)

Lulu (lulureads365) | 2423 comments Mod
I just finished reading and I don't get it. I can't grasp the purpose of this story at all. :(


message 25: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 69 comments The author believes that she has a new perspective on slavery. That's what she says about the purpose of the book.


message 26: by Lulu, The Book Reader who could. (new)

Lulu (lulureads365) | 2423 comments Mod
Not trying to be too critical, but I didn’t notice anything new.


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Just out of curiosity, how many of you read historical fiction to learn more about history? I know I do.

I personally prefer someone to be as accurate as possible in their portrayal or if they diverge it's relatively minor. If I wanted to read something made up I would read science fiction or fantasy.


message 28: by Lulu, The Book Reader who could. (new)

Lulu (lulureads365) | 2423 comments Mod
That’s one of the things I do love about Historical fiction...learning. HiStory books tend to make everything so black and white. I love reading different perspectives on certain events.


Anastasia Kinderman | 942 comments Lulu wrote: "That’s one of the things I do love about Historical fiction...learning. HiStory books tend to make everything so black and white. I love reading different perspectives on certain events."

And it makes it come alive. :)


message 30: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 4305 comments Anastasia wrote: "Just out of curiosity, how many of you read historical fiction to learn more about history? I know I do.

I personally prefer someone to be as accurate as possible in their portrayal or if they div..."


That’s me, too.


message 31: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 23 comments I totally missed the notification to inform me about this discussion. Not sure how that happened.

I was unaware of the author taking artistic license with the material here. Apparently many others have as well because none of the major reviewers brought it up either. Good noticing that!

That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. In fact, this is one of my favorite fiction titles i read this year. I thought the writing here was absolutely flawless! I thought she completely mastered the epistolary form better than anyone I can recall in recent years: letters; diary entries; journals; etc....just brilliant!

I thought it was really atmospheric and Louisiana of the 1850’s with witchcraft, vodou, spirits and such felt eerie and real; I was absolutely transfixed! I thought the historical characters were beautifully flawed and powerfully written and I just ate it up.

If there were any noticeable misfires in this book, it’s that the modern day section of the book did not quite live up to the historical period. Also, at the end, there’s something that happens, an angle the author uses, that requires the reader to sort of suspend belief a little. A little more than a minor distraction for me to be honest, but in no way takes away from a fantastic book written by Kasai!

Sorry others didn’t enjoy it but I certainly understand.


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