I loved The Secret History by the same author. It was beautifully crafted, carefully plotted, and the opening of the secret itself was deftly handled, like peeling a pomegranate! This book, by contrast, felt more like a clumsy mash up of a CSI: New York episode and a Rocky the Squirrel cartoon featuring only Boris and Natasha. I did see the cinematic aspects of the endless scenes in a forlorn Las Vegas suburb but otherwise that part of the book went on for eons.
The beginning is a grabber, with the death of a beautiful and loving mother as related by her bereft young son. From that strong beginning, comes the start of a too-coincidental lifetime friendship and a jump to the now teenaged boy's encounter with drugs, alcohol, more drugs, better drugs, bad food, sloppy adults, a disaffected and alcoholic Russian friend (who will resurface 10 years later to deal with the Russian mob...) and so on and so on. The meditations of this poor drug addled kid on death and the impermanence of life were very dark, but frankly, not deep. Yes: everyone is snared in the net of life like the poor Goldfinch chained to a limb. And only great art survives. Hmmm. There is no redemption in this story, unless getting paid a tremendous amount of reward money constitutes redemption. The hero skulks off stage, whining about his ennui. UGH
Nope. I enjoy mysteries and thrillers and "secret" anything. It is fun to see how an author keeps something suspenseful but plays fair with the reader.
Poor fellow was given a bad book to read. I think his excessive Boris accent was simply to be expected — as after all, the fellow's name was BORIS! I don't think he could have done anything to improve this limp story.
Annoyance, more annoyance, dismay (what a waste of a very good writer's talent), and finally worry that I'm the only reader anywhere who disliked this book so much!
The failed love story at the center of much of the 2nd half of the book felt utterly contrived. The two young people may not have been destined to marry and raise a family together, but the connection between them was either entirely untrue to start with, or was cancelled by the author in order to carry out the dark theme of dissolution that unpins the whole book.
The complex relationships among the family members were beautifully realized. The narration was fine: lucid and careful but not at all intrusive. I thought the pacing was masterful as this tale of family love and trauma opened slowly but relentlessly and inexorably to a breathtaking finish.
I can't share this as it would be a complete spoiler. Suffice to say that the denouement haunted my thoughts for weeks after I finished this book.
The narrator, the father in the story.
Again, to share this would be a spoiler. I would not want to spoil this book for anyone! It is just too excellent.
Read it. Think about it. There's morality here, and love, and duty and anguish. WOW.
This book is based on the premise that a chance accident or other blow from the Universe (in this case, a mugging) has ripples that flow outward from the incident in an every-widening circle. It's an interesting idea, well presented in the form of a story with a wide cast of characters. I enjoyed the deft way this accomplished British author wove the overlapping stories into this narrative. ENJOY!
These stories were very risqu?? for their time, and are interesting to read now. Wharton is a good, lucid and solid creator of character. Don't expect anything "modern" -- no faxes, cel phones, texting or email. The best story, ROMAN FEVER, is a quiet thriller.
I'm currently a student in an MFA in Creative Writing program, with a focus on short story.
I am therefore trying to read a wide range of short stories, and bought this and 2 other collections from Audible.com
I was sorry that so many of these stories were in the "horror" genre.
This beautifully written, gorgeously read book is set in the early 1900s in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia. It is a one-sided narrative, the letters of the main character Ivy, who is a precocious 12 year old when the book begins, and an elderly lady in her 80s as it ends. What a treat this book was! Like many other readers, I was sorry to bid Ivy goodbye, and grateful for being able to spend so many happy hours in her company.
Ridiculous! I'd give this histrionic nasty stupid and vile testosterone-zone book a negative 2 stars if that were only possible! I cannot believe that ANYONE enjoyed this poorly plotted unbelievable and simpering tale. Jeez! Did every single relative of the author write a review here?? I was truly embarrassed for the author and the reader. OY. Every woman in this story is a stereotype, every conversation a juvenile adolescent male diatribe, etc. etc. Every single joke (I kid you not) is about (a) vomit or (b) good beer.
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