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Emily

Field: clinical psychology. Hispanohablante & lusófona.

New York, NY, United States | Member Since 2009

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  • 1 reviews
  • 1 ratings
  • 178 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2015
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  • Housekeeping

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Marilynne Robinson
    • Narrated By Becket Royce
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (257)
    Performance
    (95)
    Story
    (96)

    A modern classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, their eccentric and remote aunt. The family house is in the small Far West town of Fingerbone, set on a glacial lake, the same lake where their grandfather died in a spectacular train wreck and their mother drove off a cliff to her death.

    dm says: "Beautiful"
    "errancy, abandonment, and madness"
    Overall

    This book is so rich in metaphor, permitting multiple interpretations. Many reviews that I have read of it focus on the author's masterful use of language, but I think it is equally important to consider the themes that she tackles: errancy, abandonment, and madness.

    Although the narrator never says so outright, this is a book not only about family losses, but about how people respond to such losses -- either by clinging rigidly to some sort of external structure (Lucille and the grandmother) or by fleeing the scene, whether through physical or psychic abandonment of home (Sylvie, Helen, Ruth).

    As a mental health professional, it was fascinating to me to read about characters whose contours would fit within the bounds of psychiatric diagnosis, and yet whose lives are richer, more forgivable, than such categories would suggest. In Ruthie's eccentric grandfather, a sort of outside painter, dreamer, and railroad man, we catch glimpses of manic-depressive illness. In Sylvie, we see a woman teetering on the edge of psychosis, caught up in the detritus of the past while denying the present. Ruthie, who follows Sylvie much like her Biblical namesake followed Naomi, gets caught up in a kind of folie-a-deux, a shared dream of lifting anchor and drifting through the world together. In this family, errancy is a pre-emptive strike against abandonment; before they are deserted, the characters choose to desert the world. Whether or not this is a heroic measure or a thoughtless, selfish choice is up to the reader/listener to decide.

    A note about the narrator: I think I would have been able to relish the book more deeply if the narrator had not spoken so quickly. The lines were delivered rapid-fire pace at times, which detracted from the author's careful construction of language and character.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Indian Clerk

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By David Leavitt
    • Narrated By Graeme Malcom
    Overall
    (106)
    Performance
    (60)
    Story
    (63)

    Based on the remarkable true story of G. H. Hardy and Srinivasa Ramanujan, and populated with such luminaries such as D. H. Lawrence, Bertrand Russell, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, The Indian Clerk takes this extraordinary slice of history and transforms it into an emotional and spellbinding story about the fragility of human connection and our need to find order in the world.

    Susianna says: "Too Graphic for My Taste"
    "mathematics and longing"
    Overall

    The narrator of "The Indian Clerk" is a reserved, gay mathematician (G. Hardy, a historical figure) from a middle-class background who, despite belonging to one of the most elite intellectual societies of his day, always feel a bit out-of-place in pre-WWI Cambridge. With a fellow mathematician, he manages to bring an obscure Indian mathematical genius, Ramanujan, to study and work at Cambridge. The book is a nostalgic account of an imagine relationship between the two men, one English, one Indian, who are united by their love of mathematics and divided by their cultural differences. A superb depiction of the pre-WWI and WWI era (one of my favorites to read about), as well as a bittersweet tale of a man's love for another.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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