I didn't think this would ever end... Too many characters, too many plot lines, and since I really am not interested in WW1 history, I was relieved when it was over. Unlike Follett's Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, I could not really embrace the characters (except for Billy-With-Jesus who ended up playing a minor role). Most of the stories revolved around more despicable individuals and the "accidental" meetings tried to tie the threads together. I was pleased to see Follett include the Christmas soccer game in No Man's Land, but the rest felt contrived and overwritten. I won't be buying the sequels. The Two Star rating is more for John Lee's wonderful narration than for the content. Lee's voice and pacing are simply amazing but not enough to overcome the content.
I'll admit it, I'm a foodie. So this tale of rival restaurants in the south of France is not only food-heaven but a delightful story. This is Hassan's tale. From humble and tragic beginnings in India to London and finally to France, this is the story of awakening, growth, and passion for the art of truly fine food. Family bonds and cultural heritage clash as the family opens an Indian restaurant across the street from a Michelin-starred French eatery, and eventually the rivalry becomes Hassan's salvation. Richly told in lyric prose that brings the smells and tastes of French cuisine to the reader. A feast to the senses.....
I loved Lisa See's books. "Snow Flower" was gripping, incredible, heart wrenching and joyful, a seminal work. "Peony" was beautiful and informative. But as her characters move to the US, I'm less enchanted with her work. "Shanghai Girls" and "Dreams of Joy" were OK. "China Dolls" has potential, however......
The China Dolls: Grace, Ruby, and Helen begin a lifelong friendship in San Francisco where they all get jobs in a chorus line in a Chinatown nightclub just after the depression. Of course, there are love triangles, intrigue, back biting, secrets, lies, and positioning to be the biggest star. The years roll by through WW2 and its aftermath, until the conclusion in 1988.
This could be a great multigenerational story, the characters are shallow but clear. The plot becomes predictable. The narrator could have done a lot more and given each doll her own voice, a missed opportunity. Janet Song would have been a much better choice to read this book.
I listened to the whole thing while driving across two states. It worked for that, keeping me alert over my 1200 mile trip. But I was glad when it was over.
This book is a masterpiece... I did not want it to end! Sue Monk Kidd presents a carefully documented account of suffrage and abolition. Set prior to the Civil War, the story is related by two voices: Sarah, the daughter of a wealthy attorneys family in Charleston SC, and Handful, the slave given to Sarah on her 11th birthday. Both women are held captive by society rules and social strata. Their voices tell of the rules and expectations of the day, yet their spirits carry them beyond the social norm.
Sarah holds serious reservations about the morality of slaveholding, witnessing the abuse and horrible treatment of the slaves in her household. She yearns to become a jurist like her father, yet women were not afforded the same educational opportunities as men. She and her younger sister, Angelina, become active in the abolitionist movement and become Quakers. Handful remains behind in the family, holding her dreams of freedom as closely as the quilt her mother made.
The readers bring the story to life. Jenna Lamia, as the voice of Sarah, brings a certain sweetness to the narration, yet maintains the edge that Sarah possesses. Adepero Oduye, as Handful, not only portrays the desperation of the slave culture, but the strength of the character.
I have found Sue Monk Kidd's work a bit uneven in the past (Dance of the Dissident Daughter [fair], Secret Life of Bees [wonderful], and The Mermaid Chair [chick lit!]). But this is her seminal work displaying superb storytelling, deep character development, and incredible pacing.
First off, I'm a total Michael Pollan fan. I first read "Food Rules" many years ago, which made so much sense that it became the springboard for my becoming vegan, a lifestyle that has lasted and lasted. Each and every one of his books has rekindled my commitment to stay away from processed foods and the other over-manufactured foods on the grocery shelves.
"Cooked" takes the next step. Pollan uses the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water) to show us the delights of home cooking and the benefits therein. While I don't eat meat, I still enjoyed his adventures thru barbeque and braising (without any desire to try the foods he cooked), but it was his adventures into bread baking and fermentation that really spurred my imagination.
Pollan, a polished and award winning writer, takes the under-recognized elements of food and nutrition and makes them mystical. For example, the intricate interplay of microbes used in bread baking become characters in the drama of the baked loaf. He has an understanding of the interrelationship between food and society that made me sit back and sigh. Yes, it's all so clear now.
This is a very special book ... a perfect companion to Michael Moss' "Salt Sugar Fat." We can turn the current health crisis around if we listen to these sages of food.
I could write more, but I need to go punch down the bread dough that is rising in the kitchen....
Mary Mallon, a young, fiesty Irish immigrant, has been historically labeled as "Typhoid Mary" for over a century. Tied to multiple outbreaks of typhoid fever in families and facilities where she was employed as cook, she was eventually tracked down, and held in semi isolation for many years of her life.
The charm of this book is the fictionalization and glimpse into New York City at the turn of the 20th century. The medical climate is primitive by today's standards, but understandable and well portrayed. The plight of the residents of the ethnic neighborhoods generates a deeper understanding of the era.
The author weaves a wonderful mix of history and fiction, bringing characters to life as they share the challenges of their lives, their poverty, and their connections.
Well worth the read....
I've not been a total Barbara Kingsolver fan... some of her books were amazing, and others lost me in the first chapter .... I did have to listen to the first part 3 times before I understood where she was headed, but after that I was hooked.
This is a story of culture clashes, environmental issues, and the human condition. Dellarobia, an unlikely heroine, is a bright and articulate woman who is married to the dullard who fathered her children, and stuck in a life of second hand stores and family dysfunction. As she witnesses an environmental oddity, she is thrust into a world that has been hidden from her by her own fate.
Kingslover weaves a great tale of values, yet some of the story lines get tied up in a hurried manner. Her narration is crisp, but the character voices are a bit beyond her range. That aside, the story is satisfying and enlightening on many levels.
After devouring and adoring "Breakfast with Buddha," I found this book to be similar but not quite as earth shattering. As with most of us intrigued by Buddhism, the lead character, Eddy, becomes acquainted with Geoff, a practicing Buddhist. Their interactions form the context of the story, the ups and downs of everyday life. Geoff's gentle guidance helps Eddy begin to reassess his life and his responses. The story helps develop the pretexts of Buddhism without being preachy or overzealous.
The narrator's accent made some words difficult for my ear, but overall, well done with a great message.
Altho the story is a little contrived, the message and the teachings of Buddhism come thru in this wonderful book. I could easily picture the midwestern landmarks and the characters traversing the country. I wanted to be in the back seat llistening to their every word. I laughed and cried and had to back up the iPod several times to truly absorb the wisdom that the Rinpoche shared thru everyday experiences and delights. Even thought this is fiction, the teachings were clear and easy to understand.
I've been reading a lot about yoga (I'm a dedicated yoga practitioner), India, Buddhism and Hinduism.
The gentle teachings of the Rinpoche, set in every day experiences.... much easier to internalize and integrate.
I didn't want it to end. I wish there was a sequel!
Short little book ... really no depth to the content, it's really more of Betty's recollections and thoughts and wisdom... but an enjoyable listen because there is no one like Betty White.
I had seen Gretchen Rubin on CBS Sunday Morning and immediately bought the book! And I'm so glad I did. I was constantly feeling uplifted and grateful for her Happiness Project and her candid journey through a year of her life. While I would have not had the patience or inclination to research the topic as thoroughly as she did, I appreciate the work she used to lay a sound foundation for her project. Her tenacity was amazing (I don't do flow sheets!).
I found this book to be uplifting and entertaining. It gave me a lot of food for thought and I came to appreciate more the things I do to bring happiness to my life. I've become an avid reader of her blog. The grass is greener in our own backyards, if we just know how to look at it. Her suggestions can be applied to just about any setting.
Highly recommended (and I'm going to get the print version, cuz underlining books makes me happy!)
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