Tag Archives: Book Review

Wolf Hall

Thoughts by Hilary Mantel, Macmillan Audio 2009, 24 hours 14 minutes

Narrated by Simon Slater

Genre: Historical Lit
Type/Source: Audiobook, Audible
 Why I read this now:  Reading this for both TOB and to satisfy my own curiosity. I want to be ready for the 3rd in the series which is due in March.

MOTIVATION for READING: Super Rooster Chase <– see post. This edition of the TOB is to be held sometime in 2020. The March 202o edition will be just another regular TOB, I think.  The Long List for that is due next week! (I’ll update a link when I have it.) #SuperRoosterTOB

I really enjoyed listening to Wolf Hall and was wowed by the dialogue, the drama, the layers and depths to Cromwell’s persona.

Mantel was able to make him a sympathetic character! I like history, I do. I just don’t know as much as I think I should. Prior to this, I really didn’t have much knowledge other than the popular image of King Henry VIII and all his wives. I would say I thought Cromwell to be a shrewd, cruel man involved in some way with that period of English history. But this story does NOT portray him as particularly evil or mean, but rather quietly ambitious, loyal, fatherly, community-minded and very very thoughtful. I wasn’t sure what to do with this gentle, considerate and — oh sure, scheming  — person.

Was he scheming or just very very good at being flexible and adept at taking advantage of the opportunities presented?

So, I liked Cromwell. I did. Sigh. After finishing this book, I googled what might happen next and…. huh.  Well.

I’m not going to give a review of what happens in this book. It’s about Tom C and his rise to power, basically. And all THAT  is very dependent on the relationship with Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Anne is fascinating; very very fascinating…  OH, the whole thing is just DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA. I love how Hilary imagined it might have gone down. And I was amazed at how subtle and slippery it was. In fact, truly, I missed the milestones in the day to day to day – wait. WHAT happened? What did I miss?!

OFF WITH THEIR HEAD!

I googled SO MANY names! so many histories so many s/he begat so-and-so.

I googled Rafe Sadler. I googled his son Gregory. I googled “Is Oliver Cromwell related to Thomas Cromwell?” Such history! I can see why some people get obsessed with all things Royal.  It’s just fascinating for some reason. (I’ve googled descendants of our Founding Fathers, too, to see if any have popped up famous…) Family histories fascinate me, what can I say. You might wonder if I’m agog with the Kennedys but actually, I’m only mildly interested in them… The Vanderbilts tho? OH YEA.

I can’t wait to do the next in the series; will probably do the audiobook.

From a #SuperRooster perspective, this is not my favorite to win but I’m glad to finally read it and I’m psyched to be ready for the Champion TOB when it happens.

Your turn. Thoughts? Do share!

 

 

Ch 19 42:28         “Like he was a lid to a pie,”

Four slices of pie.

 

 

 

Up next: the Accidental by Ali Smith. Discussion 12/15/2019

My copy just arrived… This will be my first Ali Smith!

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2019. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Review: Matrimony by Joshua Henkin

Review    Matrimony by Joshua Henkin

My one word to describe this book is GENTLE.    Perhaps, that is exactly what I needed after the sad-to-me fact of not being able to finish the few books I attempted prior to this one.     And YIPPEE!  I read every word of this. 

As the May/June selection for the Planet Books Book Club, I was so happy that this was available to me at my local library.     Published in 2007 by Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, Inc., this book is 291 pages, for those who like to know such things…

*** SPOILERS AHEAD ***

This starts off seeming to be a story of two guys who meet their freshman year of college.   They are thrust into friendship when the professor of their creative writing class declares them to be the best that semester as he insults their work (and all of this students), and soon becomes a gentle weaving tale of life and marriage.   Interspersed with light moments and mostly heavy ones – death, grief, betrayal;  it never becomes a burden of a story – not at all.

Julian marries Mia, his girlfriend from that first year of college.    His writing friend Carter is backdrop and counterpoint – we never quite get into Carter’s head and he doesn’t ‘grow up’ until the end.    But he does play a pivotal role.     Julian wants to be a novelist.    Mia wonders if she can survive losing her mother.    Does their marriage survive the career frustrations, the conflict of personal goals to the goal of staying together?

The story is woven and layered across the years.  Consider a movie camera that changes perspectives showing highlights from far above (like the penthouse office and home that Julian moves through with his parents), and pans across the landscapes of their love and then slowly zooms into the minds and hearts of Julian and Mia – never at the same time.   Henkin was a master of this technique of allowing the reader into pieces and parts, to get emotionally involved and yet held at a distance, much like the partner of whose ever head he was ‘inside’ at the time.    First Julian, then Mia, then Julian and then back together again.     I think that was the point:  to have us rooting for each side, to realize how separate these two are as individuals and yet how well they complement each other in the end.

I liked the pace of this book.   I was slightly frustrated that we didn’t get more of Carter, but then again – I really didn’t like him much.  But I really liked Mia and I grew to like Julian as the story of their love unfolded.     Many things were not shared and I also believe this to be part of the author’s intention – gaps in time, their wedding was barely touched on, only one religion’s influence explored, the changing question of when or IF to have a child and becoming parents, etc.    Tis true, in ‘real life’, we never really get the ‘whole’ story, even when it’s ours!  

I very much enjoyed reading the descriptions of the creative writing courses and studying the ‘art’ of writing.    Technique and style, the challenges to writer’s block, competition between classmates and how vicious critiquing can be – I had no idea!    (OK, this part isn’t ‘gentle’!)   And… I also want to say, that Henkin gives a lot of description of moving through the locations, the streets of the towns, the buildings, etc.    Made me think, if I was from Ann Arbor or NYC, I could shout, “Yes!  I KNOW that place!”   

I would rank this 3.5 out of 5 stars.

*** 1/2

I will share one of the quotes from the back of the book:

“With vibrant intelligence, Matrimony looks at the mystery of how a couple stays together and the ways even the most privileged among us are subject to the disasters wrought by our incalculable natures.   A  luminous tale, eloquently told. – Joan Silber

 

Links to REVIEWS I know about:  Leave a link/comment if you have one to share!

Julie P:Booking Mama

Lisa M:  Books on the Brain

One Minute Book Reviews

 

Ask Again Later

A Review   Ask Again Later by Jill A. Davis

Purchased after reading an ADVERTISEMENT for it in the USAToday.

The following was taken from the author’s website:   [jilldavis.com]

“Emily has a tendency to live with one foot out the door. For her, the best thing about a family crisis is the excuse to cut and run. When her mother dramatically announces they’ve found a lump, Emily gladly takes a rain check on life to be by her mother’s side, leaving behind her career, her boyfriend, and those pesky, unanswerable questions about who she is and what she’s doing with her life.

But back in her childhood bedroom, Emily realizes that she hasn’t run fast or far enough. One evening, while her mother calls everyone in her Rolodex to brief them on her medical crisis and schedule a farewell martini, Emily opens the door, quite literally, to find her past staring her in the face. How do you forge a relationship with the father who left when you were five years old? As Emily attempts to find balance on the emotional see-saw of her life with the help of two hopeful suitors and her Park Avenue princess sister, she takes a no-risk job as a receptionist at his law firm and slowly gets to know the man she once pretended was dead.”

I was interested in this book because the author is known for her comic writing.  I have not read her first novel, Girl’s Poker Night, but she had been a writer for Letterman’s The Late Show and that was enough for me.   That, and when I happened to be in Borders later that day (after seeing the ad for it – I believe Wednesday editions of USA Today have a section devoted to books), this was prominently displayed.   And not too thick.   Since, I was traveling, I like non-heavy books!

From the beginning, I had trouble with the style of writing.    It is written in a present tense voice to describe present AND past events.  Sentences are not run on sentences.  They are short;  noun -> verb.    Subject noun.  Action verb.    Over and over and over again.    She also uses fragments (eek – I do, too?!)

Her dialogue, however, is quite good.    I enjoyed the conversations, the banter, the back and forth.

For example of the present tense short sentence annoying style:

Perry pulls some glasses out of his cabinet.  He inspects two of them.  Then gets out a white cloth napkin and starts shining up the glasses.  Not good enough.  He pulls out two more.  They meet his standards.  He uncorks a bottle of wine.  Pours.  He’s not talking. 

WAIT A DERN MINUTE!   So THAT’s it!!   She’s writing a screenplay!?    It just got so tedious. 

For a story that does have some heartwarming moments (she gets to know her father, and thus, learns how to (possibly?) commit to love) and yes, some comic hilarity, I was too annoyed with the staccato style of sentencing to describe the action to rate it even average.    However, it was tender enough for me not to give up on.

The beginning of this tradeback includes three (3!) pages of PRAISE – that should have been a clue for me.    Too much praise and I bring too high of an expectation!     I’m rating this 2 1/2 stars out of five. 

[ew…  I just got a pingback/spam due to my having the word POKER in this post.   You know – those annoying ‘stealing my words’ post on a poker site?!]

I’jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody

A review.ijaam1.jpgI’jaam:  An Iraqi Rhapsody by Sinan Antoon

“An inventory of the general security headquarters in central Baghdad reveals on obscure manuscript.  Written by a young man held in security detention, the prose moves from prison life, to adolescent memories, to frightening hallucinations and what emerges is a portrait of life in Saddam’s Iraq.”     from the book jacket

Thank you, Softdrink, for this gift of a book. 

What strikes me the MOST interesting thing about this book is not just the words and the story but how the story is FRAMED.   There’s a ‘setup’; one might even call it a gimick.

The story begins with an explanation of a particular characteristic of the Arabic alphabet and language:  the use of dots.    And how this use of dots, or the lack there of, is a challenge to translators because a dot on a letter, a stroke or mark can change the meaning entirely of a word.

Then, we are introduced to the manuscript.    It is explained that a manuscript was found in a prison and because the author – unknown – has left off all the dots on his letters, a skilled translator is needed.

Then we are thrust right into the playful and honest stories of how the author remembers life outside of prison, before prison.   Drastically contrasting that, he describes prison torture and what is going on in his mind.   We read his poetry and songs of love for the woman he meets in college and how their flirty romance blossoms.  We are introduced to his grandmother who raised him in the Christian faith.   He discusses religion but with a  detachment.    We learn how the government and the Leader (may God preserve him) [as used in the book!   He is never named…]  slowly and effectively erode rights and privileges of its citizens, assuming compliance and suspecting all of treason.   Maybe it wasn’t so slow, but the story telling is so sharp, his own warnings to be careful unheeded, his sense of sarcasm right on, that the reader is reminded that the feeling of dread is a heavy heavy blanket that gently enfolds upon you.   It doesn’t crash and break you; it smothers you.   

The art of the human spirit will inspire you.

I found this to be a powerful book.    And the laying out of the manuscript being in need of translation as  “book ends” to the story is extremely well done.   It adds greatly to the entirety.    It is actually a funny book with great humor.    And the sadness and terror is not an opposite but a look in a totally different scary direction.    The power of corrupt governments is one to be feared and not ignored;  I actually want to embrace all those annoying lawyers and stupid reporters asking silly stuff and/or screaming about rights over what can seem to be common sense.   It can start so simple; we need to question everything.   

I recommend this book.  Five stars. 5stars.jpg

I read this as part of the novella challenge.

Read Softdrink’s Review at FizzyBeverage here.

Book Review: I Sent A Letter To My Love

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I Sent A Letter To My Love by Bernice Rubens

From Amazon:

Synopsis
“All her life, Amy Evans has struggled against that unkind gift of fate – ugliness. A squat nose stubbed like a plasticine afterthought on her face, a chin too long and eyes straining to meet each other, form a sad picture that dooms Amy to a life of solitude and lovelessness. Now in her fifties, Amy lives alone with her crippled brother, both prisoners of the hopes and aspirations of their youth. Then Amy makes a final bid for happiness, a last ditch attempt to meet someone she can love . who might love her. Suddenly her life takes on dizzying new dimensions as she explores untrodden paths of sexual awareness in an all-or-nothing gamble for dangerous and delicious success. “

 isaltml1.jpg [Apparently they’ve adapted this into a French movie and quite a few live plays…]

I REALLY enjoyed this book!    The style and mood of this work is playful, intense, creative and enticing.    and dark, but not a depressing dark, maybe sinister is the better word here.     Just one of these feelings where you wonder ‘uh oh.  This isn’t going to end well!’   But you HAVE to keep reading to find out!    It doesn’t end as bad as I imagined…   But on the other hand, it isn’t what I’d call a happy ending, either.

Question:   do you enjoy books that actually stir your imagination beyond where the author intends to take you?!

Amy is not the favored child growing up.    We only get a quick chapter, a short glimpse into Amy’s seventh year, but we are easily persuaded of how the early years have formed her into a middle-aged woman who has had sad experiences form her life.   

We are then taken into this adult life where her parents are gone and she is the caretaker of her brother who has lived much longer than anyone ever expected.  

“There’s good you are to me, Amy,” he says.

Amy starts to fear the next phase – WHAT will become of her sad little life when he dies and leaves her all alone?!      So she takes out a personal ad in the newspaper.     Oh my.

FOUR STARS   4star.jpg FOURhhhhhhhhhh

[For my Novella Challenge.   197 pages.    Rubens was the Man Booker Prize Winner for Fiction in 1970.  This book was published in 1978.]

I Can’t Read This…

gsrm.jpg Garden State by Rick Moody (not the movie source.)

Winner of the Pushcart’s Tenth Annual Editor’s Book Award, published 1992

[Selected randomly from the library when looking for SHORT books for the Novella Challenge.]

I can’t read this book right now.    It’s lyrically descriptive.   and imaginative.  and depressing.   I won’t read it – I’ll return it to the maybe part of my tbr.   I’m stopping on page 54 (of 212).

The inside front cover says this:  “…set in a stylish, hellish New Jersey, … about youth and the ironies here are subtle, violent, terrifying and beautiful.”

 I will share some of it anyway.   I wish I only cared enough to find out how it ends. 

“They were steadily eroded, these signs, by the dismal spring rain – only some industrial toxin could explain the relentlessness of it – and the results resembled ancient parchment.  The signs were consigned now to some dead letter office of posted bills with the legions of unelected political candidates and lost pets.  They were as unreadable as hieroglyphs.”

how about,

“…the burdensome waiting of adolescence had created possibilities that were gone now.   Adulthood proved the poverty of imagination.”

and this: 

“The color pink was superimposed over everything:  the sensation of nausea and of being constantly late for an appointment, these were fixed in his awakeness now.

Now the flowered wallpaper in his bedroom was not flowered at all, but covered instead with the double helixes of genetic information.  His sudden ability to read these ideograms didn’t surprise him.  The blinking red light in each pattern, the gene for his madness which had waited in the abeyance all through childhood, stood out in the patterns he saw.  So this was him now.

While lying there in bed, he waited for details to return, as if his life were immersed in a photographic developing solution. All was elusive at first.  He had called his mother, after weeks of avoiding her, after weeks of ignoring what was sitting right in from of him – his ruined self – and he remembered that the explanation was like pulled teeth.  Please come and get me, he had said at last.”

and on, and on.    With each character calmly depressed about their depressing lives in their depressing town.    Eh.

The imagery is great, though, isn’t it?   I’m not saying it’s poorly written.  It’s just a world I don’t want to explore at this time.    

Wind, Sand, & Stars

images.jpg   Finally finished this book and it’s a keeper.   It is one I hope to read again and again.   And I don’t usually do that.    I’m giving it 5 stars.

5stars.jpg

It’s philosophy and beautiful prose.  And history.   And beautiful language.   Fascinating, isn’t it?  that even though Mr. de Saint-Exupery wrote it in French originally, that the translation into English translated so well?  (Translation acknowledgement / thank you to Lewis Galantiere)

He takes us into flight; we survive being sucked into the seas or hurled into mountain sides.   We travel the countrysides of France and Spain, into the bombed city of Madrid, over the snow-covered Andes, introduced to the mirages of the Libyan desert.   We die of thrist; we are rescued.   We are left to guard a crashed airplane with one gun and few bullets against possible marauding fanatics.   We fear not death.

And we explore life from amazing perspectives.   We ponder, we contemplate, we question, and we share.

“But if we are to succeed in grasping what is essential in man, we must put aside the passions that divide us and that, once they are accepted, sow in the wind a whole Koran of unassailable verities and fanaticisms.  Nothing is easier than to divide men into rightest and leftists, hunchbacks and straightbacks, fascists and democrats – and these distinctions will be perfectly just.  But truth, we know, is that which clarifies, not that which confuses.  Truth is the language that expresses universality.  Newton did not”discover” a law that lay hidden from man like the answer to a rebus.   He accomplished a creative operation.   He founded a human speech which could express at one and the same time the fall of an apple and the rising of the sun.  Truth is not that which is demonstrable but that which is ineluctable.

If you love children’s books, you will recognize that this author also penned The Little Prince.  If I know The Little Prince, it is a vague recollection only.     Wind, Sand & Stars was written in 1939 before this kids book which was written in 1943.      It won the National Book Award and is listed as a Top Ten Adventure Book of All Time by National Geographic.   A few sexist and racist sentences which reflect the times stand out so glaringly in our now PC world and I’m not quite sure if worth mentioning.    While flying for his air squadron, Antoine de Saint-Exupery disappeared over the Mediterranean in 1944 at the age of 44.    He also wrote Night Flight and Wartime Writings.

P.G.Wodehouse: A Portrait of a Master

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P.G.Wodehouse:  A Portrait of a Master

by David A. Jasen

[P.G.Wodehouse was a British writer and is most famous for the characters of man-about-town Wooster and his butler Jeeves.   If you’ve never heard of Jeeves, you probably won’t know anything about this guy Wodehouse…]

Internet/QUESTION:   Hey Care, why did you pick up THIS book to read?

Care/ANSWER:   I don’t really know!   I was casually wandering the biography aisle at the library when this book jumped into my hands.   I think.  Yes, I think that is how it happened…

            *   *    *

Internet/QUESTION:   Who is P.G. Wodehouse?  Why did you not just put the book back on the shelf?  

Care/ANSWER:    Excellent question!   I only had an inkling at the time that I recognized the name at all!    Which prompted me to OPEN the book and one of the first things I read that piqued my interest was that friends called the man “Plum.”     I found that pleasant; that friends called him Plum.   What a terrific nickname!    Had to be a good guy to have such a cool nickname.    So, what does the P. and the G. stand for?   I had to find out.   So I checked out the book and took it home with me.

             *   *    *

Internet/QUESTION:   That’s it?   That’s all it took?

Care/ANSWER:    Pretty much, yea.    I like reading about writers.  Even writers I haven’t ever read.    I like humor.   Mr. Wodehouse is described as a comic writer.     It just sounded like a good read.    I am aware of the character of Jeeves, but before picking up this book I would not have been able to say that Jeeves is from the imagination of a P.G. Wodehouse;  and that sad fact inspired me to really want to know MORE.    Perhaps, a well-read person would know who this Wodehouse guy is?   I want to be a well-read person.  ta da!   I enjoyed this book very much.   I want to read his books!   I want to read the books that influenced him!   I do need to read Kipling, some Evelyn Waugh, and some other guys mentioned in the book that I can’t recall at this second; I now know who Ogden Nash is!   and he’s FUNNY.  

I’m worried a tad, that Plum’s books might be dated.   But I doubt it.    Just different, is my hope.   The quantity of stuff that this gentleman produced is amazing.    He is another example of a passion for writing that finds its own success.    He didn’t chase the dream of being a famous author.   He just wanted to write and write well.    He wasn’t caught up in the trappings of wealth, the glory, the awe of all he accomplished.

He did enjoy it.   He enjoyed life and lived his life everyday, his way.   Every day, he wrote and worked on many different stories all the time.   He married well; she took care of him and they were a great team.   

As someone who enjoys the movies and loves reading books turned into movies, I raced to Netflix to reserve some of the works that Wodehouse had a hand in:   Damsel in Distress with Fred Astaire (not available:  BUMMER),  Showboat (also not available… YET.   It at least comes up as a hit!), and so, I reserve Anything Goes (Cole Porter?  Bing Crosby?  why not?)  and also settle for the Wodehouse Playhouse Series 1 (I’ll wait to see 2.)     

If you enjoy learning about real people and like to see slices of life from different eras and world perspectives, then I would recommend this biography.   If you want to know more about Wodehouse, by all means, read this book.   If you enjoy reading about writers and how they approach their ideas?  this, too, is a good reason to open this book.    If you do NOT enjoy reading about people you don’t have a clue who it is, then do not read this:   TONS of references to actors and playwrights and Broadway producers and English authors from 80 years ago that I will never know or care to recall.

I’m adding Code of the Woosters and Service with a Smile to my tbr pile.   If ANYONE (hint, hint) has a better/different Wodehouse novel or short story collection to recommend, I’m all ears.   Or is it eyes, when in this bloggy world?

To conclude, I’ll type up a long passage from a letter that Plum wrote to one of his best buds:

…Golly, what rot it sounds when one writes it down!  Come, come, Wodehouse, is this the best you can do in the way of carrying on the great tradition of English Literature?  Still, I’ll bet the plot of Hamlet seemed just as lousy when Shakespeare was trying to tell it to Ben Jonson in the Mermaid Tavern. (‘Well, Ben, see what I mean, the central character is this guy, see, who’s in love with this girl, see, but her old man doesn’t think he’s on the level, see, so he tells her – wait a minute, I better start at the beginning.  Well, so this guy’s in college, see, and he’s come home because his mother’s gone and married his uncle, see, and he sees a ghost, see.  So this…)

For the link to Wikipedia’s info on Wodehouse, click herepgw2.jpg

Review: No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

No Country For Old Men ncfom.jpgwas a quick thrilling read about an average guy, at least what I imagine as average when I think of a working man of the sort that would live in the area of Texas that this story is set in.   Rugged, independent, capable.

He finds a drug deal gone bad – lots of dead bodies, the drugs, and off aways, the guy who didn’t survive carrying off the cash.   Our boy picks up the cash and attempts the process of surviving this new turn in his life.

He knows the danger.   He thinks he can handle it.

But the psycho who quickly finds out who has this cash is not about to let up on completing his task of retrieving the money and punishing all who gets in the way.

Weaving through this process of cat and mouse are the thoughts of the lawman who is responsible for the well-being of the county’s citizens.    He’s got his own burdens to contemplate and we feel every nuance, all the weight.

My heart was beating so fast in the chase!   I enjoyed this book.   I eagerly await the movie.    What does that say about me and what I ‘enjoy’?    I don’t know.    Maybe, because I don’t want to realize this scary stuff is real and such people do exist;  that I feel very far from any possible impact on me personally?    I can make it all just-another-scary-movie?    

McCarthy doesn’t use much punctuation.  I read a quote somewhere that it just gets in his way to worry about such tedious things.   I’m generalizing and paraphrasing…    It took some to get used to,  like page 3!     An amazing storyteller.   This was action packed and thrilling.     I recommend it.

    

He looked at her.  After a while he said:  It’s not about knowin where you are.  It’s about thinkin you got there without takin anything with you.  Your notions about startin over.  Or anybody’s.  You dont start over.  That’s what it’s about.  Ever step you take is forever.  You cant make it go away.  None of it.  You understand what I’m sayin?

I think so.

I know you dont but let me try it one more time.  You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday dont count.   But yesterday is all that does count.  What else is there?  Your life is made out of the days it’s made out of.  Nothin else.  You might think you could run away and change your name and I dont know what all.  Start over.   And then one mornin you wake up and look at the ceilin and guess who’s layin there?

ncfom.jpg

**** 

4 out of 5 stars

      

   

  

the sweetest dream, Part 2

Part 1 is here. 

(((feel free to skip to the last 2-3 paragraphs…))) 

I originally started this review with:

This epic and sweeping story of a family of diverse characters covers the communal feel and revolutionary politics of the 60s through the following 30 years and jumps the continents from England to Africa.   To say my preconceptions of Africa are incorrect might be an understatement or only another proof that stereotypes often have similarities to truth, but I digress…

I started the review of this novel after reading only 100+ pages into it and though I put the book down for an 11 day sabbatical, I was able to jump back in and relished the conclusion of the story.

 Then I got befuddled and more than a couple of weeks later, I’m here: 

Writing a Book Review 

I googled “How to Write a Book Review” and wasn’t really surprised at how many available suggestions popped into my view.    

But none  inspired me just to GET ON WITH IT ALREADY!

Nonetheless, I refer you, gentle reader, to the this website as THE guide  (yep, this was one of the shortest!) that I utilized the most in prompting what follows:  

My Review, Part 2, of the sweetest dream   by Doris Lessing.

                                                         for Part 1, see here.

 The three (3) step process…

1.   READ the book.   Good advice!   Not often followed by HS students, probably, but on this online book club blog, darn it!   I promise to always read the books I review!   I may not read the entire book and will say so if I had to bail on it.    (OOO, this guide IS actually pushing me to type some words and think some thoughts!   good.)

Now, I do not intend to imply that I did not enjoy the sweetest dream.   I read it to the end, didn’t I?  I would not say I squealed with its delights but I felt good about reading it.   If that makes any sense.    I learned something.   I was impressed with the ideas expressed and HOW those ideas were scripted.   I, however, can not find the words I seem to feel I should use in reviewing this work of fiction.    Like eeeks!  I’m not smart enough to review this book.   Yep, felt like one of THOSE kind of books.    Maybe some elitist snob would ‘get’ it, but maybe not me so much.

And yet, I don’t intend – OK, I don’t LIKE to put myself down here.    What I mean is I don’t have the words in my vocabulary to review this?   I am out of practice in reviewing this type of book!   Ii’s like, I want to or need to pretend to be ambivalent about it or I might give away that I’m not intellectual enough to say some impressive mumbo-jumbo.   yea, that’s it, I think! 

Of course, my real idea is to write so much crap b;lah-blah-blah here that no one will read it anyway.   And I can add more and more posts later which will effectively bury this post and all will be just fine, thank you very much.

THAT is what the book inspired in me.   The disdain of having to review it because I said I would and the real truth that I just don’t want to review it so there.   But that’s not it, I just can’t find the words.  sigh.

Have I lost you yet?  Gawd, I hope so.   Plus, I’m sure, my frequent use of the word ‘like’ has ingratiated  alienated everyone, anyway.   Especially, my Dad, like, for sure.

Very well, step 2, please: 

2. Questions to ask as you read.   The guide gives me some GREAT questions to address here!  (thank you Waterloo!)  and I will refer to just a few.

        Is the author’s prose readable?   YES.  Is the development orderly and logical?   Yes, for the most part.    How is the book structured?    The book’s locale is primary set in 2 very different environments on 2 different continents.    And the time covers decades, with the first half of the novel set mostly in the 1960s following a family and friends of students.     The second half follows primarily one character and interweaves a supporting cast of the prior family/friends.

Jumping to step 3:

3. Writing the review.   The guide suggests doing the following a series of drafts, but I’m going to wing it once, right here, right now…

  1. A brief description of the subject, aim, and scope of the book
  2. An outline of its thesis and its bias
  3. A detailed assessment of the author’s main contentions
  4. An evaluation of the book’s major strengths and weaknesses
  5. A survey of topics not yet covered (sources, illustrations, indexes, etc.)
  6. An assessment of the book’s place in the literature of its subject

Actually, I’m not.   I’m doing this for FUN, remember!?   Oh, I could clash how British revolutionaries were more revolutionary than America’s but I really have no basis in fact to cull a comparison.     But it seems like it would be so.    This book describes much more anarchy than I remember in the 60s (hey, I was not of an age to be aware of it.)   All I can think of  is the Beatles song about ‘Back in the USSR’:  why are the beatles singing a pro-Russia song?  Aren’t they the bad guys?)

This book talks about communists and revolutionaries and not in a pro or con sense, what so ever.      Maybe more negative, but more as an example of how people congregate in groups and take advantage of whatever they can take advantage of – be in the power circle or not at all.

The book talks about causes.    How impossible it is to save the world.    and how people keep trying anyway.    How blinded we can be to the truth and yet, aha!   whose TRUTH is it, really?    

The book is both bleak, doomed even.  and yet hopeful.   Maybe, that is why I find it so difficult to review.   For example, there are (I truly hate starting sentences like that, sorry) many instances and much talk about racial issues but it is NOT a book about race.   Or maybe it is.   It’s about politics, and people, and power.   About love, and family, and what defines family.

I will read more Doris Lessing.   I give the sweetest dream 2 1/2 stars.

 

 

On a side note, I must recommend Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains.    I was reminded of this book by the makeshift hospital scenes in the remote resource-poor parts of Africa as described in the sweetest dream.    Same dedication and can do spirit to provide healthcare to the neediest on our planet.   Non-fiction.   Kidder is a BIG favorite of mine.