This book has been sitting on my shelf since last autumn; didn’t get around to reading it because I was up in Ottawa for the fall semester so when I got back this past weekend, I figured it be one of the first books to tackle in my TBR list xD
By: A.S. Byatt
The only thing Maud Bailey and Roland Michell have in common is a love of Victorian poets. They’ve dedicated their lives to finding out as much as they can about two obscure poets when their paths unexpectedly cross. Their independent research reveals that their respective subjects once shared a passionate love affair. At first they’re upset that this information will change all their past research, but soon they become consumed by the romance of long-ago and work feverishly together to unearth every detail.
I heard of this book last year on GoodReads; a lot of the book groups I was a member of had read this book in their monthly reads and I heard praises of this book from people in my flist. So I decided to check it out. Have been trying to finish my final draft of my proposal but in the process I couldn’t put this book down, lol. Although I used it as my book for this week’s Teaser Tuesday, I ended up finishing it last night xD Spoilers ahoy!
My friend/program colleague/dorm neighbour/fellow avid reader had been recommending me this book for some time now but I hadn’t picked it up because of the number of books I had lugged along with me from home. I managed to get through them so I finally borrowed the copy off her. When I saw the cover, I realised I have come across this book in the bookstores whenever I’m browsing the shelves (favourite past time of mine, lol) but didn’t flip through it. But I digress…
We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. Renee, the concierge, is witness to the lavish but vacuous lives of her numerous employers. Outwardly she conforms to every stereotype of the concierge: fat, cantankerous, addicted to television. Yet, unbeknownst to her employers, Renee is a cultured autodidact who adores art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With humor and intelligence she scrutinizes the lives of the building’s tenants, who for their part are barely aware of her existence.
Then there is Paloma, a twelve-year-old genius. She is the daughter of a tedious parliamentarian, a talented and startlingly lucid child who has decided to end her life on the sixteenth of June, her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue behaving as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter.
Paloma and Renee hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building. Only he is able to gain Paloma’s trust and to see through Renee’s timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her. This is a moving, funny, triumphant novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.
Massive Spoilers Lie Ahead as I Wrote Too Much About This Book, LOL; it really provoked a lot of thought out of me 😀
It’s been a while since I’ve done a review…with school starting again, my reviews will becoming sporadic again with everything that’s going on but I’ll try to post whenever I can. I might also start posting reviews and random comments on manga and anime series and stuff as I’ve been reading a ton lately xD Anyways, moving along now…
By: Alessandro Baricco
I’ve been waiting forever to get my hands on this book (had to put some money aside for this book as the price was a bit of a turnoff for some time (given the length of this book)). Anyways, Alessandro Baricco is the author of Silk (which was adapted into a movie starring Michael Pitt and Keira Knightley); as that book is probably his most well-known here in North America, you think I’d pick that book up first. But nope, it was Ocean Sea that caught my attention (and not just because it has the title conjures up endless sea and the cover was rather intriguing). Its premise is an interesting one: five different individuals all end up checking into a remote hotel facing the sea as a way to solve their troubles. For me, Ocean Sea is deeply rooted in the post-modern tradition of the novel (think stream of consciousness; book II is a clear example of this) so it was a different experience for me altogether (I hardly read post-modern books from the 20th century as I’m still going through the classics ;)); you had to really read each word and look beyond the the surface to really understand the psychological implications of what’s going on. Additionally, you have to suspend your sense of reality when you read this book as there are some mysterious elements that come into the story as you read along. But the events leading up to the end of the novel makes complete sense, including some twists that I didn’t figure. The journey that each of the characters make is compelling, like they’re all a metaphor on certain aspects of life. Even after I finished the novel, I was contemplating at exactly what the sea was supposed to represent: life? heaven? freedom? Another thing I liked about the book was the prose; I’m sure some meanings were lost in the translation from Italian to English but overall, it’s absolutely beautiful, another reason why you should read every single word in this novella. Overall, it’s an interesting novel that really gets you thinking about the deeper elements in life.
Learn more about Alessandro Baricco here || Order this book from the Book Depository
I’ve been meaning to do this entry for a very long time now but I wanted everything out of the way in order to do it because I’ve had a lot of thought about it and there’s just so much to say about the book. I’ve just finished re-reading the book so a lot of what I have to say about this novel is also relatively fresh in my mind. I originally thought I could merge the book and movie reviews here but it appears that my book review/analysis/discussion is on the long side so it’ll be split. So, this should be fun, lol. Massive spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the book!
By: Ian McEwan
What can be said about Atonement? Well, just a brief rundown on the premise: the book spans from three different time periods starting from 1935. On one hot summer day, the lives of three different individuals will drastically change thanks to (ultimately) the power of perspective and the action of one child. That last sentence sounds very vague, but the plot is a fairly complicated once you start getting your head wrapped around it but essentially the course of the book fundamentally follows the course of their lives as a result of one action, one lie, and the struggle to deal with the reprecussions of that event.
This is the first book I’ve ever read by Ian McEwan and I have to say, I was very impressed. What drew me in to the book right away was his prose; I know some people find his prose very boring, but I found it to be quite refreshing. The first time around, I was just drawn in by the way he described the events, the thoughts and actions of these characters, the words he used to describe these aspects of the story. The way he phrased things and the way his sentences were structured came to be as very different, as though it was written by someone in the early 20th century, maybe even earlier, like it was written in a way that you don’t see books written now. Reading it a second time around, I appreciated how he always seemed to find the right word to describe a particular event or a particular scene. It worked for the novel, and I think it really added to the story.