Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Sorrows of an American – Siri Hustvedt

The Sorrows of an American - Siri Hustvedt

The Sorrows of an American – Siri Hustvedt

As I enjoyed the The Summer without Men, I was keen to read this one.

Blurb …

When Erik Davidsen and his sister, Inga, find a disturbing note from an unknown woman among their dead father’s papers, they believe he may be implicated in a mysterious death. The Sorrows of an American tells the story of the Davidsen family as brother and sister uncover its secrets and unbandage its wounds in the year following their father’s funeral.

Returning to New York from Minnesota, the grieving siblings continue to pursue the mystery behind the note. While Erik’s fascination with his new tenants and emotional vulnerability to his psychiatric patients threaten to overwhelm him, Inga is confronted by a hostile journalist who seems to know a secret connected to her dead husband, a famous novelist. As each new mystery unfolds, Erik begins to inhabit his emotionally hidden father’s history and to glimpse how his impoverished childhood, the Depression, and the war shaped his relationship with his children, while Inga must confront the reality of her husband’s double life.

A novel about fathers and children, listening and deafness, recognition and blindness; the pain of speaking and the pain of keeping silent, the ambiguities of memory, loneliness, illness, and recovery. Siri Hustvedt’s exquisitely moving prose reveals one family’s hidden sorrows through an extraordinary mosaic of secrets and stories that reflect the fragmented nature of identity itself.

I struggled quite a bit with this one, which is probably due to the circumstances when I read it – I went to Singapore with a group of friends and read it in the ‘down’ time. Not really conducive to concentration and following a complicated story. I didn’t warm to Erik I found him too analytical and judgemental. I would have preferred the story from his sister’s view point.

The writing was superb and the characters brilliant (I didn’t like him, but that doesn’t make him poorly written).

I have What I Loved on my Kindle and will move onto it shortly.

More reviews …

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/jun/01/fiction2

http://www.theage.com.au/news/book-reviews/the-sorrows-of-an-american/2008/03/03/1204402339658.html

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Canada – Richard Ford

Canada - Richard Ford

Canada – Richard Ford

This novel was recommended from so many different sources it was really only a matter of time before I got to it. It was another holiday read.

Here is the blurb …

“First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.”

When fifteen-year-old Dell Parsons’ parents rob a bank, his sense of normal life is forever altered. In an instant, this private cataclysm drives his life into before and after, a threshold that can never be uncrossed.

His parents’ arrest and imprisonment mean a threatening and uncertain future for Dell and his twin sister, Berner. Willful and burning with resentment, Berner flees their home in Montana, abandoning her brother and her life. But Dell is not completely alone. A family friend intervenes, spiriting him across the Canadian border, in hopes of delivering him to a better life. There, afloat on the prairie of Saskatchewan, Dell is taken in by Arthur Remlinger, an enigmatic and charismatic American whose cool reserve masks a dark and violent nature.

Undone by the calamity of his parents’ robbery and arrest, Dell struggles under the vast prairie sky to remake himself and define the adults he thought he knew. But his search for grace and peace only moves him nearer to a harrowing and murderous collision with Remlinger, an elemental force of darkness.

A true masterwork of haunting and spectacular vision from one of America’s greatest writers, Canada is a profound novel of boundaries traversed, innocence lost and reconciled, and the mysterious and consoling bonds of family. Told in spare, elegant prose, both resonant and luminous, it is destined to become a classic.

This is an unexpected novel -the complete incompetence of the bank robbery (quite funny) contrasted with the chillingness of Arthur Remlinger.  Dell was alone – very alone – and I was impressed with his resilience. The characterisation, the scene setting are all magnificent.

More reviews …

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/jun/03/canada-richard-ford-review

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/books/review/canada-by-richard-ford.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://kevinfromcanada.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/canada-by-richard-ford/

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The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp – Eva Rice

The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp - Eva Rice

The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp – Eva Rice

I am still writing reviews for the books I read while on holiday in July. I read this one because I enjoyed The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets. This was also lots of fun to read.

Here is the blurb …

Country girl Tara is whisked off to ’60s London to become a star; there she is dressed, she is shown off at Chelsea parties, photographed by the best. She meets songwriters, singers, designers, and records her song. And she falls in love – with two men. Behind the buzz and excitement of her success, the bitterness between her elder sister Lucy and her friend Matilda haunts Tara. Their past friendship is broken and among the secrets and the strangeness of both their marriages, the past keeps on reappearing.

This novel captured the essence of ’60s London. In particular, the music and fashion sections. Some of the characters continue on from The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets although I wouldn’t say this is a sequel. It is a fun, light-hearted novel that has been well researched. And lets face it, it is nice to read something fun with all the angst-ridden novels out there.

I’m looking forward to Ms Rice’s next novel.

More reviews …

http://keepcalmandreadabook.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/the-misinterpretation-of-tara-jupp-eva-rice/

http://sophsophia.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/the-misinterpretation-of-tara-jupp-by.html

 

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May We Be Forgiven – A M Homes

May We Be Forgiven - A M Homes

May We Be Forgiven – A M Homes

I read this while on holiday having heard nothing about it at all and enjoyed it – I didn’t even know it was written by a woman.  I was surprised how sympathetically I viewed Harold – he did sleep with his brother’s wife (that’s no spoiler it happens pretty early in the story).

Blurb …

Harry is a Richard Nixon scholar who leads a quiet, regular life; his brother George is a high-flying TV producer, with a murderous temper.They have been uneasy rivals since childhood.Then one day George’s loses control so extravagantly that he precipitates Harry into an entirely new life. In May We Be Forgiven, Homes gives us a darkly comic look at 21st century domestic life – at individual lives spiraling out of control, bound together by family and history.The cast of characters experience adultery, accidents, divorce, and death. But this is also a savage and dizzyingly inventive vision of contemporary America, whose dark heart Homes penetrates like no other writer – the strange jargons of its language, its passive aggressive institutions, its inhabitants’ desperate craving for intimacy and their pushing it away with litigation, technology, paranoia. At the novel’s heart are the spaces in between, where the modern family comes together to re-form itself. May We Be Forgiven explores contemporary orphans losing and finding themselves anew; and it speaks above all to the power of personal transformation – simultaneously terrifying and inspiring.

This novel is about family and what being a family means and how it is much more complicated than the typical nuclear family – Harold is like a magnet picking up extra members. It is also darkly satirical – commenting on modern life, values and accountability.

I will definitely be reading more of her work.

More reviews …

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/jun/05/am-homes-wins-womens-prize-fiction-orange

http://laurasmusings.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/review-may-we-be-forgiven-by-a-m-homes/

http://pru-testament.blogspot.com.au/2013/06/book-review-may-we-be-forgiven.html

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The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets – Eva Rice

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets - Eva Rice

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets – Eva Rice

I read about this novel on Amazon – the bit where it tells you what other people bought who also bought the book you just bought. I find Amazon’s recommendations to be quite handy.

Blurb…

Set in 1950s London, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets centers around Penelope, the wide- eyed daughter of a legendary beauty, Talitha, who lost her husband to the war. Penelope, with her mother and brother, struggles to maintain their vast and crumbling ancestral home—while postwar London spins toward the next decade’s cultural revolution.

Penelope wants nothing more than to fall in love, and when her new best friend, Charlotte, a free spirit in the young society set, drags Penelope into London with all of its grand parties, she sets in motion great change for them all. Charlotte’s mysterious and attractive brother Harry uses Penelope to make his American ex-girlfriend jealous, with unforeseen consequences, and a dashing, wealthy American movie producer arrives with what might be the key to Penelope’s— and her family’s—future happiness.

Vibrant, witty, and filled with vivid historical detail, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is an utterly unique debut novel about a time and place just slipping into history.

This was a fun easy to read novel that reminds me of I Capture the Castle. I liked it so much I went on to read The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp. This novel was charming – the settings and characters were all believable by which I mean nothing jarred as I was reading. I kept turning the pages despite having a pretty good idea about how it would all turn out.

More reviews …

http://writemeg.com/2009/12/18/book-review-the-lost-art-of-keeping-secrets-by-eva-rice/

http://www.turn-the-page.net/2012/01/28/rewind-and-review-the-lost-art-of-keeping-secrets-by-eva-rice/

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