From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, comes an unforgettable edge-of-your-seat mystery that is at once heartbreakingly tender and morally courageous about what it means to be human.
I'll try not to reveal too much. This story centers on a group of adolescents and young adults conceived and raised separately to provide a "benefit" to modern English society at large. They live at a separate boarding school whose purpose is to cultivate them and protect them for this function. Ishiguro creates a world that is for the most part quite believable. It includes the daily activities, inner thoughts, dreams, and tragedies of these young people, as well as some of the conflicts felt by their guardians. From some of the other reviews, I guess this novel is not for everyone. I found it engaging, thought-provoking, suspenseful, and compassionate. The questions raised for me by this story are "What if a modern society conspired to use people this way? What is the value of a human soul?" Uncomfortable to think about...but fascinating at the same time.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Philip Roth, one of the best-known and award winning literary masters of our time, engages his readership with insightful and challenging novels of the human condition. With The Dying Animal, he revisits the character David Kepesh. At age 60, Kapesh is drawn out of his carefully ordered existence and into an obsessive affair with one of his students.
Nothing in the summary hints at the sucker-punch that this book delivers in its heartrending conclusion. The frame of this novel is the love affair between an older college professor (David) and his beautiful student (Consuela), who is many years younger. The themes of this book include the struggle for meaning in life, loss of youth, mortality, connection, sexual fulfillment, familial loyalty and disloyalty, and honesty with oneself. The themes are developed by the primary story, as well as by a series of remembrances that David narrates from his life. Yes, there are quite a number of scenes of explicitly described sex and sexual fantasies. Gratuitous? No. Pornographic? No. Stick with this short novel to the end. It is well worth it. Very well narrated.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
In The Moon and Sixpence, Charles Strickland is a respectable London stockbroker who decides in middle age to abandon his wife and children and devote himself to his true passion: art. Strickland's destructive desire for self-expression takes him first to Paris to learn the craft of painting, and finally to Tahiti in the South Pacific. The Moon and Sixpence remains a complex and engaging novel echoing Maugham's own struggles between artistic expression and public respectability.
This novel is loosely based on the life of artist Paul Gauguin. Fascinating story narrated superbly by Steven Crossley. A nice read!
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
That Old Cape Magic is a novel of deep introspection and every family feeling imaginable, with a middle-aged man confronting his parents and their failed marriage, his own troubled one, his daughter's new life and, finally, what it was he thought he wanted and what in fact he has.
Perhaps not one of Richard Russo's best, but fun to read nonetheless. If you know and love Cape Cod, you may experience an added layer of enjoyment.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Meet Yumi Fuller. A Japanese-American prodigal daughter, Yumi (aka Yummy) is returning home to the Idaho potato farm she ran away from twenty-five years earlier. Then a freewheeling hippie chick, Yumi is now a fairly responsible parent and a professor with a side gig selling lava lots in Hawaii. But can she possibly be prepared to face her dying father, her Alzheimer's-devastated mother, and Cass, the best friend she left behind?
I actually learned a lot about agriculture, genetically engineered crops, and potatoes in this unique novel about family conflicts, reconciliation, deception, and grassroots protest. Through the voices of some of the protesting characters, this novel can at times be a little too preachy. At other times, some of the situations and portrayals seem more like the 1970's than the 1990's. The superb narration of Anna Fields gives life to the story.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
John Updike's 21st novel, a bildungsroman, follows its hero, Owen Mackenzie, from his birth in the semi-rural Pennsylvania town of Willow to his retirement in the rather geriatric community of Haskells Crossing, Massachusetts. In between these two settlements comes Middle Falls, Connecticut, where Owen, an early computer programmer, founds with a partner, Ed Mervine, the successful firm of E-O Data, which is housed in an old gun factory on the Chunkaunkabaug River.
I have listened to the first 45 minutes of Villages, and as of yet, I haven't come across anything in the way of interesting plot -- or *any* plot for that matter. So far, it seems to be just tedious exposition. I can see why people speak of Updike's keen observations and his poetic use of language, etc. However, this book is not my cup of tea. My interest in the characters, places, periods described simply has not been piqued, not after nearly an hour of listening. This will be one of the rare pieces of literature that I shall leave unfinished.
2 of 4 people found this review helpful
From the internationally best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, a superbly crafted new work of fiction: eight stories that take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand. In the stunning title story, Ruma, a young mother in a new city, is visited by her father, who carefully tends the earth of her garden, where he and his grandson form a special bond. But he's harboring a secret from his daughter, a love affair he's keeping all to himself.
5 stars are not enough for this collection of short stories, whose effect is hard for me to describe. The landscape of these stories is the middle class life of first generation Americans (adolescents and adults) and their Bengali parents. The events in their lives seem strikingly ordinary: no different from those that any of us may have experienced. And yet, the way that Lahiri conveys the characters' pleasures, desires for human connection, losses, secrets, and nostalgia are the real subject of these stories. My favorite stories were the three inter-related tales centering on Hema and Kaushik. They know each other as children; have a brief, but distant re-acquaintance as adolescents; and re-connect with a profound love as adults. You might want to listen to this book in private. Like me, you might occasionally find your eyes getting moist as you listen. Superb narration, by the way.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
It is 1951 in America, the second year of the Korean War. Marcus Messner of Newark, New Jersey, is beginning his sophomore year at the pastoral, conservative Winesburg College in Ohio. Why is he here? Because his father, a hard-working neighborhood butcher, seems to have gone mad.
This is the story of a young Jewish man who grew up in Newark and who seeks to expand his world by going to a private college in Ohio. The characters (his parents, other students at college, a supercilious dean of students) are fascinating...as is the glimpse of life in the 1940's and early 1950's. Great narration.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Nicole Krauss' first novel, Man Walks Into a Room, was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Award and her short fiction has been collected in Best American Short Stories. Now The History of Love proves Krauss is among our finest and freshest literary voices.
This novel has several narrators and a number of inter-related stories. I was drawn to this book because the town of Slonim (Belarus) is one of my ancestral towns, and some of the characters similarly emmigrated to Chile and the U.S., just as in my family. The separate, inter-related stories and characters were intriguing. However, it was just a tad confusing at times to keep them all straight! Worth the effort, and the resolution was satisfying.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her.
This is a rather intriguing collection of inter-related stories that take place in a small town in Maine. We see the human growth of Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher and a fascinating character. She is the focus of most of these stories and at least makes an appearance in every one of them. The stories and the excellent narration give a vivid sense of life in this small town. Marital and inter-generational conflicts are portrayed with believable honesty. In general, the female characters are better developed than the male ones, but that is presumably the point of view of these stories. Quite enjoyable.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful