stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
I picked this book up from the OBCZ at the Camel and Artichoke with the express intention of reading it and putting it into the Asia bookbox. So I did just that. It is set largely in Sri Lanka (or Ceylon, as it was at the time this book begins), from the seventies through to 2005, and follows the fortunes of one family, focusing largely on Alice, the granddaughter. While the Fonsekas, Alice's maternal family, are Singhalese, her father is Tamil, and the mixed marriage causes tensions, to say the least. The narrative follows Alice as she moves to London with her parents and grows up to become an artist.

Most memorable about this book is the gorgeously vivid description, particularly of the landscapes of Sri Lanka. Roma Tearne is an artist as well as an author, and it shows not only in the sympathy with which she portrays Alice's experience, but also in the colourful imagery.

I was a little troubled by the way the book is framed (at the beginning and end) in white male experience, and do not feel that it would have lost much without the most part of the prologue and the epilogue. I was much more interested in Alice's career as an artist than I was in what men thought of her, and would have liked to see more of this.

http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/9772189
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
To paraphrase Jonathan Coe's introduction, Rosamond Lehmann's last novel that's actually readable. Something of a disappointment, considering how much I enjoyed 'Dusty Answer'. I think I was slightly misled by the blurb, which implied that the novel was centred on two sisters, Madeleine and Dinah, following the death of Rickie, Madeleine's husband and Dinah's lover. Which it sort of is, but... An awful lot of the book deals directly with Rickie, who really felt like the least interesting character. I much preferred the tense scenes between Madeleine and Dinah, and there were several other characters I'd like to have seen privileged, particularly Dinah's husband Jo, who sounded absolutely fascinating and then just disappeared, and her lover Rob, who were the nearest Lehmann got to a lower-class voice. So, yes: less of Rickie, more of everyone else, please.

http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/9968372/
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
Nancy Mitford on top form. I'm not sure that I have actually read much, if any, Nancy Mitford before, but this was just as much fun as I thought it was going to be - impressive, given how depressing it could have been, what with failed marriages all over the place and then the Second World War. A gorgeous froth of fun with a satisfyingly acid edge to it, and a lovely ambiguous ending. And, my goodness, nobody does class like Nancy Mitford.

http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/10262594
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
Another BookCrossing roundabout: this one is Favourites of 2011. And I can see why Fugitive Pieces is somebody's favourite. I'm not sure yet that it will be my favourite of 2012, but it is certainly a striking work.

The narrator for the most part is Jakob Beer, a small boy who escapes the Holocaust with a Greek geologist and grows up to be a poet. Geology is used as a metaphor again and again, and Michaels does an evocative and convincing job of it. At times I found the writing rather too dense and wandering towards the pretentious; at others I was completely immersed.

I was disappointed by the absence of deep women characters. While I appreciate the fact that this is largely an artefact of the first person narration, and the restrictions associated with that convention, it did feel rather dismissive of the female experience, given the importance in the plot of relationships between men. It also seemed to me that the last section didn't really add much, and was simply the geology metaphor re-imagined as meteorology.

Well worth a read, though.

http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/10367298/
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
Another surprise in the ABC roundabout. It's certainly widening my horizons; this is a contender (though how serious a contender I'm not sure) for the Great American Novel. Set in the early 1950s, it documents a teenager's battle to a) get through university despite his father's paranoia; and b) avoid the Korean War. If that sounds thoroughly depressing, it's because it is. I could appreciate it as a competent and convincing piece of writing, but I will probably never read it again. I think it's partly because I'm feeling guilty about not liking the narrator much...

http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/10203481/
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
This is my last dark, moody, twisted spy thriller for a while, I think, and it's a good note to finish on. This is a very skilful novel, integrating two narratives, the mother's and the duaghter's, seamlessly, with a fantastic sense of time. I think on the whole the WW2 part was more successful than the seventies part, but the latter certainly added a lot. Recommended.

http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/10200598/
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
Immigration in Britain in the late 40s. I chose this from a bookbox that was going around last year, despite misgivings that it might turn out to be one of those terribly twee wartime love stories à la Joan Jonker or Gilda O'Neill. Happily (for me), it was nothing of the sort.

1948. Queenie Bligh's husband has disappeared, and she is taking in lodgers. These include Gilbert Joseph and his wife Hortense, recently moved to London from Jamaica. Gilbert has previously been in England, having volunteered for the RAF during the war. Hortense has not.

Levy traces all four back-stories, exposing in the process four rounded characters, not always likeable, but very human.

A sensitive exploration of an under-explored theme, with a satisfyingly bittersweet ending.

http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/8097181

Profile

stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
stapsreads

June 2013

S M T W T F S
      1
2345 6 78
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30      

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 20th, 2017 06:21 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios