I suppose for some, these kind of edgy stories might be commonplace, but, honestly, I have never read anything like this book. I am used to going from point A to point B with all of the numerous offshoots that an author can muster but I just had to hold on with this journey. The stories are complex, strange and wonderfully buoyant. They are beautifully written so I never let go of where Saunders chose to take me - I loved this read. One needs to be pushed off one's assumptions every once in a while.
I don't remember how I found this book, but it popped into my life and, as soon as I finished it, I started it all over again. I know now that I have many other Toibin books that will sustain me through the dark PNWest winter which makes me very happy.
First of all, the narration on this is phenomenal. I had thought it was more than one person until I went back to check. Fiona Shaw makes this novel come alive and Colm Toibin gives her a lot to work with - beautifully drawn characters, simple but compelling story line and an undercurrent of sorrow turning to coping turning to joy. I loved it.
I have liked Jane Smiley in the past - A Thousand Acres was one of my all time favorites. This story is SO slow, so cumbersome and so full of unnecessary detail that I want to scream from the sidelines - "Jane, get on with it!" The premise that she would think her characterization of a child's view of the world would sustain us for a very long time was, in my mind, not a good calculation. I didn't even want to finish this. That doesn't happen very often with me.
I never would have read the first one of Rob Lowe's books but I did because my daughter told me I would like it. I loved that one. This one not so much -- I still think he is a great writer and his self-effacing manner in regards to describing his life is so delightful, so one might say "what is there not to love?" It's the story - he preaches a bit too much. He took a good thing and stretched it too thin on another attempt. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for him because I learned quickly in his first book that he is waaaay more than just a pretty face, but this one didn't measure up.
I loved this book. I am not sure I can articulate everything about why,but I will try -- it is a wonderful story and pulls in many,many layers of human angst and resolution at just the right time while keeping the story line sane and magical at the same time. Ruth Ozeki reads it beautifully (not always the case with authors) and the characters are well drawn with a clear and significant plunge into new worlds. It was this - the fact that the book took me to another world. that captivated me
The fall season is a good time to be transported to another place while a transition is happening before our eyes. Don't miss this one.
I enjoyed this book, but I wouldn't ever recommend it to anyone. I enjoyed it because I wanted to have more of an insight into Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt and thought starting with their marriage was a good beginning. So it was a very personal motivation and it succeeded in that the book does chronicle the marriage, poke into many of the rumors and paint the two main characters as noteworthy to be sure. BUT I now expect my non-fiction forays to be told by a good story teller - I guess I am spoiled, but this book just sort of loped along and relied on its facts rather than its art.
While I have had some good reads this spring, nothing compares to the joy I have experienced in reading this beautifully written book. One of the first things I thought of when I finished it is that I have to start all over again sometime so I can stop thinking about the content and just bask in its exquisite language and imagery.
I have read numerous books about World War II and the ones I have liked will stay in my memory for a long time. I have not listened to one as good as The Book Thief until this book, however - funny how they both center on a child's perspective. From the thoughtful characterization to the masterful unfolding of the plot, this is a book that cries out for you to download it right away.
I have read a lot of John Irving - some very good, some not so good. My favorite book of all time is A Prayer for Owen Meany. He can't write another one of those and I knew that when I started this book. Nonetheless, the characters are very well drawn, quirky, very human and quite Owenesque. I liked this book, the story is solid but it was missing the tight, clearly crafted writing that I think of when I think of Irving. I am glad I read it, but I am not going to run out and tell everybody to read it.
I was completely enthralled with the beginning half of this book - the author wove a good story and kept me entranced with true events about a disturbing time. I found myself suggesting this to many other "boomers" who might, like I, have protested the Vietnam War in the 60s, didn't know the clear response to people like us from the FBI and have been intrigued by the despotism of J. Edgar Hoover.
It is a good read but not all the way through. I got bogged down with the level of detail that Betty Medsger used and found that her story telling ability didn't continue through the second half of the book.
Like a former reader, I also found it puzzling why a man read the book when it is written by a woman. I also found the editorializing he did through the way he read the book to be annoying.
Despite all of this, I didn't stop reading the book because I do think those at the heart of the book - the men and women who carried out the burglary -- need to be honored and praised for their courage. Each of us needs to know what despicable acts were perpetrated in the name of democracy and learn from the knowledge.
This is not an easy read - the length and the story definitely require a commitment to the story's end and the characters' journey. But what a ride! Donna Tartt's style is riveting - she writes and you are there, caught in the web of her exquisite descriptions. Her characters are so solid, so endearing, at times so frustrating, but ultimately unforgettable. I generally stay away from "dark" books and this one is dark but it isn't ponderous or without hope. It is SO worth the ups and downs because it is such a fine piece of literature.
A particularly telling standard I have for if a book is good is if I listen to it as I am walking the 5 minutes -- not half hour, but 5 minutes -- to my office from where I park which I did throughout my read of this one. It definitely interrupted my life - the two strands of the love story and the commentary on race in America and in Nigeria kept me glued to the book in many unusual situations. I walked more as I read this book and I listened whenever I could and still be responsible. It is beautifully written, the characters are plucky and memorable and the story is very clever. Perhaps most important, it will shake your beliefs around a bit - and when is that not a good thing? The New York Times was right in naming this one of the year's ten best!
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