Leaving Everything Most Loved
Winspeare said that this was book was going to change the entire playing field and the woman did not lie. She changed almost everything we were familiar with over the course of the book.
I have loved every one of these stories even when I got a little annoyed with the character of Maisie for clinging to tightly to her past and not moving on as fast as I thought she ought to. I am no longer annoyed. Plus she managed to change everything while leaving all the bare bones of the series firmly in place. This book just came out and I am already wishing for the next one.
And as for the mystery, I didn't figure it who-done-it until the very end. I absolutely love twisty mysteries and this one had a grand twist at the end. The book reminds us that regardless of how much we want to see Masie and James wrapped in each others arms Winspeare is a mystery writer and any romance that floats by is strictly secondary and is meant to advance the plot only.
I grew up watching Perry Mason mystery in the early days of TV and my brother and I competed every week to see which one of us could figure out the Grand Denouement first. I'll admit I had an advantage over him for a while because whoever casted the shows had a weakness for weak chins and all I had to do was look to see which character had one and I had the killer. But eventually he figured this out for himself and I had to fall back on thinking which is not usually my brain's default position.
And I say this in every review that I write for the Maisie books. Winspeare is probably better than any other writer of mysteries set in this era. She does such a good job of setting the atmosphere of time and place that the reader is left as fly on wall as they experience the story in whatever format they have chosen.
And, as a personal note to whoever reads this comment. I know I am sounding a little gushy but if you have read any of my journal entries in the past you know that I pretty much call them as I see them. It has gotten me quite a few negative votes on amazon and a few on audible. But happily I am not running for election to anything and I paid for my book and am not obligated to write a positive review for anyone so I will continue always to call them as I see them.
This book was a re-read for me. I read it several years ago and like most of the rest of the world I loved it. I have been checking from to to time to see if audible had added it to their catalog and finally it showed up.
I purchased it the day it became available and immediately listened to it straight through and it was magic. Sissy Spacek's narration is pure genius. It takes what was already one of the best books I had ever read and manages to add even more dimensions to it. I grew up in small towns in the South and was a little girl very much like Scout. I was transported straight back into my childhood. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
This month marks the 100th anniversary of World War One, also known as The Great War. The early 20th century is my favorite period of history and some very notable books have been set in this time period. This book is probably going on my list of best reads in 2014.
Falling Snow is a beautifully written book that focusses on the lives of some very strong women, both in the past and the present. It's also a very poignant book as there was nothing about that war that wasn't sad. But it is also a very uplifting book about accomplishments, love, secrets, sorrows and survival both in the past and the present.
My only quibble with the book is that it switched back and forth between the past and the future. That's always a problem with me but if the book is good enough I don't groan too loud.
This book didn't work nearly as well for me as Winspeare's Masie Dobbs series does. It was OK I guess but sadly I found it very predictable. I would not recommend it unless you knew nothing about that era and wanted the history lesson. As always Winspeare does a great job with the atmosphere of that time but there is really nothing driving this book as far as story. I knew in the first chapter how it was going to end.
What I did enjoy about the book was her portrait of life on a small Kentish farm. I also enjoyed the way Kezia, the wife who ran the farm and kept the home fires burning while her husband went off to war. She painted lovely word pictures in her letters to him of imaginary meals that she was cooking for them as if he was there with her. I thought that was a lovely way to convey a feeling of comfort and a connection to home. That was cleverly done by the author although the recipes did wander out into left field from time to time.
I did not care for the ending. It ended too abruptly. I know that Happy Ever Afters were thin on the ground at the end of WW1 but I'm not a reader who needs stark reality all the time. A little fantasy can be a good thing sometimes.
I am a big fan of travel books and if this were 1995 and if I was planning to travel to Hong Kong I would have found this book invaluable. It's an interesting and well written snap shot of Hong Kong during the 1980's with a brief mentions here and there of what happened in the past as background information for what is happening at the present. All from a British POV. But as reader looking for a comprehensive history of Hong Kong this book falls short.
To be fair my negative opinions are very likely to be the result of my expectations. I recently finished Sarum by Edward Rutherford and have Russka on my TBR pile and I'm probably spoiled by books that practically take one back to the big bang.
What this book does is give to give the reader a sense of what colonial Hong Kong was like for the British which is almost exactly what it was like for the British in India. They created their own self absorbed little bubble and life outside that bubble only existed as it related to them. Interesting but no surprises for the reader there.
Where this book falls sadly short is examine the part the Chinese played. The Chinese made up 96% of the population, but are described repeatedly as a mysterious, superstitious mass. Energetic and hard working but whose motives and culture were unfathomable to the westerner.
When I finished this book I had more questions than I had when I began and I'm off to find a real history of Hong Kong. One that includes the years after 1997 to now.
There are a lot of 5 star reviews for this book both here and on amazon and I agree with almost of them. This book has a very good story line.
Maybe Someday was almost entirelly written in the stream of conscienceless style and I have always found that style very hard going. Added to that is that there is so much angst in this story that I felt like I was running out of breath a couple of times. All that angst kept accumulating in my brain the way mud accumulates on your boots does when you walk across a muddy field after a wet spell.
On the up side I really liked the characters in this story and thought it was beautifully read. Both narraters did a wonderful job of breathing life into them. But I didn't want to spend so much time in Ridge and Sydney's heads. I wanted the story to be more about what they were actually doing and less time about what was going their heads.
I was happy to see this story here in unabridged format but I had to think hard before I bought it. I bought it in spite of it being so poorly done. I am surprised that audible offered it for sale. It certainly doesn't reflect well on them. But I can't complain too much because I bought it with my eyes open.
Earlier this week I purchased "Stella Bain" (audiobook) I started listening to it and then finally gave up on it. I may try again later but I probably won't. For me it fell into the same category as The English Patient. Beautiful writing but absolutely no story.
I can overlook a lot in a good story including bad writing. But I can't overlook no story even if it is good writing. If I'm going to plunk my money down on a book I insist on a story. In Stella Bain I felt that the author was enamored by her own prose and was indulging herself by trying to work her words into some sort of a story in order to show how clever she was. If she gets off on stroking her ego that's her business but it really ticks me off when an author does it on my dime. Anita Shreve has been a hit and miss author for me in the past but I am definitely over her now.
This is one of the two really outstanding non fiction books I read recently. The book tells the story of the University of Washington's 1936 eight-oar crew that won an Olympic Gold Medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
But this is a book about more than just a story about overcoming hard times but about what we are made of and what we can accomplish if we really make up our minds to do it. It's a shame that the title True Grit has already been used for a story because it would really fit this book.
I purchased this audiobook the minute I saw it was out and available on audio. It is a sequel to "If I Stay" and I am sorry to have to say that I was a little disappointed with it. I loved "If I Stay" but this one just didn't have the charm and poignancy the first book had. It felt flat - especially when compared to it predecessor. Still I'm glad I bought it because even though I knew "Where she went" I really wanted to know what happened when she got there.
It was well written and the subject of the book was interesting to me. I just couldn't get past that author presumed to write about dying peoples last thoughts and actions in a way that he could not possibly have known about.
The book is a non-fictional account of the lives of a selected group of the survivors. All of them very deeply effected by the experience, some of them so much that it changed the entire course of their lives. A few were unable to cope and committed suicide. Some of them did not leave notes. However the author described the dying thoughts and actions of several people as if he had been there and was privy to their last thoughts. This really bothered me. It bothered me a lot. I felt like the author was being disrespectful to the people he was writing about. These were real people! He didn't even write any kind of disclaimer that explained why he decided he had the right to co-opt their last minutes. And then as a result of that I had another issue. How much credence can you give to anything in the book once you feel the author did at least part of his research in thin air. Otherwise I would have rated it at least four stars.
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