I enjoyed this book almost as much as I enjoyed The Glass Castle: A Memoir. I found Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novelless shocking, but no less eye-opening and enjoyable. I felt like I was introduced and transported to a completely different world and found it intriguing and vivid and real. Jeanette Walls is truly a talented storyteller. The book is hailed as “Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults” and while I see no reason why the Little House books are not for adults, I certainly agree with that assessment. Life on the prairie, on ranches, learning about the nitty gritty details of the lives of real ranchers and cowboys was not a topic I ever thought that I would find enjoyable or fascinating and yet in this book, they were both. In truth, it is a good idea to read the books in tandem, as Half Broke Horses explains a lot about Rosemary by way of Lily and in turn, Jeannette as well.
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My oh my. Now this was an amazing novel. So amazing that I couldn’t read it in one day because I didn’t want it to be over. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made my heart yearn to be an author more than ever. What more could you want in a book? Love stories, intrigue, mystery, amazing art, an aspiring author, social commentary, misery and disappointment. There was nothing this novel did not have. Barbara Kingsolver seriously outdid herself in The Lacuna and I only hope it doesn’t take her nine more years to write her next novel! I don’t think I can wait that long!
What amazes me most about Barbara Kingsolver is how different her novels are now. Her first few: Pigs in Heaven, The Bean Trees etc. were okay. But then she took off as an author and now each novel is really an entire universe unto itself – each one a magnum opus (though I think The Lacuna so far takes the cake). This novel is seriously Pulitzer worthy. I know it won the Orange Prize, but in my mind it deserves so much more.
Here I must share one of my favorite quotes from the novel: “I should like to write my books only for the dear person who lies awake reading in bed until page last, then lets the book fall gently on her face to touch her smile or drink her tears.”
Yup. That just about sums up my writing philosophy right there.
Read this book now and let its pages touch your smiles and drink your tears.
I have to admit that this was a re-read, but I read the book so long ago that I felt as though I was reading it for the first time. I certainly enjoyed it as much if not more than the first time around! What I enjoyed the most this time was Wall’s engaging command of language – she kept me reading and interesting and enjoying her prose all at the same time – which is no easy feat. I was no less amazed by her story and her triumph against the odds than I was the last time I read it. I continue to be blown away by the way she was raised, by what she made of herself from the wreck of her childhood, but mostly by the grace and sympathetic way with which and in which she tells the story – never quite disparaging her parents, always finding the lesson, the silver lining or the lesson learned from every experience.
The Glass Castle: A Memoir is worth reading again, and again, and for the first time if you haven’t read it yet.
Now I’m off to read her newest book Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel in advance of my Wednesday night book club. The book club actually only read The Glass Castle: A Memoir but I would like to have read the newer book too so that I can recommend it as well. Will report back pronto with that review when finished!
As gruesome as his descriptions of being a serious burn victim are, I still enjoyed Andrew Davidson’s novel The Gargoyle tremendously. Not only is it well written, but the unexpected story told by Marianne and how unreliable both his narration and hers become. It is at once a psychological thriller, a moral novel, a love story, a novel about art and sculpture, about religion and faith, a fantasy, historical fiction, a story about addiction and recovery and a story about hope – but more than all of these combined – an extremely well written novel.
I hope that Andrew Davidson has more for us, because I am ready and waiting for his next!
What I most enjoyed about this book was reading about the lives of lobster fisherman. I found the details about fishing for lobster absolutely fascinating. Though I liked the characters in the story and I found the depiction of small town Maine life very engaging – I most enjoyed the descriptions of being out on the open sea and the relationship that these fisherman have with the water. There were so many interesting traditions and superstitions about when to go out and when not to go out fishing – depending on the weather, the color of the sky, the color of the water and more – I truly felt that the author gave me a glimpse into a world I would never have learned about or come in contact with otherwise. Not only did this story make me want to go visit some of these small Maine villages and islands, but it made me want to go out on the open water and even meet the local people. Perhaps someday I will.
I also found the relationship between Anja and Jaime a fascinating one in that there are many people around the world who choose to care for and love a partner who has suffered from a traumatic brain injury or some other type of life threatening or debilitating illness or condition and I think that there was a lot to sympathize with here.
Wow. What an amazing book. I had been looking forward to reading one of Eva Ibbotson’s books for a really long time and so when The Star of Kazan finally came my way, I jumped at the chance. Annika is the loveliest of characters, though you can’t help getting a bit frustrated at her not seeing how evil and blatantly wrong her mother is, but more than anything I loved her descriptions of Vienna, of the pastries, and of how she learned to cook. This is what every young adult novel should be. Smart. Funny. Beautifully written. Old fashioned. Educational. A real coming of age novel.
I enjoyed August Is A Wicked Month not just because it was so well written – as all of Edna O’Brien’s works are, but also because I felt that its themes were universal. All of us at some point have wanted to escape our lives, to do something reckless and dangerous, to have a fling, to spontaneously go on vacation. But every decision we make has a consequence, and so, while this novel is a sad story – it is infinitely approachable in its universality.
I wasn’t sure that I was going to love A Reliable Wife because I found the first few chapters pretty slow – but once this book grabbed me, WOW! I couldn’t put it down. I basically read the book in one sitting except for those first few chapters. The book has a happy ending even though the characters all go through some pretty terrible things in their lifetimes and you know what? I like happy endings. A lot. Especially when they are unexpected. Especially when people can find a way to forgive and a way to love and a way to hope and move on and find redemption against all odds.
Actually this book reminded me a lot of my novel “Blown to Smithereens” which I am actively seeking representation for (see here for more information). I think that all humans seek happiness and redemption deep down and that is why novels with happy endings make us feel good. I think it is humans are social animals and despite the worst circumstances – everyone wants to be loved and to be happy in the end.
Even though I love Anne Michaels’ writing with a passion, and I’ll read anything she writes for the sheer lyric quality of her language, and her book Fugitive Pieces has stayed at the top of my “most favorite books ever read” list for many many years, I was disappointed by The Winter Vault. Michaels’ language does not disappoint – it never does – she is a master of her craft and almost any sentence in the novel is breathtaking, but the story simply did not grasp me and pull me in the way Fugitive Pieces did and that I truly regret. I found the book hard to get through and a bit slow, confusing, disjointed – and yet I still loved it for its elegant sentences and really poignant themes and scenes. But if you want to get to know Anne Michaels’s work don’t start with this book, read Fugitive Pieces first!
Oh my gosh how this book made me cry!!! I love Anna Quindlen. I have loved Anna Quindlen since I was a little girl. This book just made me love her more. What I love the most about Anna Quindlen is that she writer popular women’s fiction that is also literary – fiction that is so well written it’s breathtaking – but still accessible to most people. That is a gift and she is a master. As much as I loved her other books, especially One True Thing and Blessings
, with Every Last One: A Novel Quindlen has really taken her art to a new level. The depths of emotion that she can make you feel, the truths that she writes into every moment of the novel in brilliant, eloquent, precise prose just marks her as one of the best writers writing today. Go out and get a copy of this boor right now! But pick up a box of tissues too, you’re going to need them!