Tag: Books: Literary

Review: The Story of a New Name

Posted 8 September, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Story of a New Name (L’amica geniale #2)
By: Elena Ferrante
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

The second book, following 2012’s acclaimed My Brilliant Friend, featuring the two friends Lila and Elena. The two protagonists are now in their twenties. Marriage appears to have imprisoned Lila. Meanwhile, Elena continues her journey of self-discovery. The two young women share a complex and evolving bond that brings them close at times, and drives them apart at others. Each vacillates between hurtful disregard and profound love for the other. With this complicated and meticulously portrayed friendship at the center of their emotional lives, the two girls mature into women, paying the sometimes cruel price that this passage exacts.

You may have seen me mention this on Twitter last month but #FerranteFever is real, you guys. I read My Brilliant Friend (review) and this book in more or less one day and started reading the third book, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, right after. Very rarely has this ever happened to me where I’d just read books in the same series consecutively without break and pretty much forgetting everything else I need to do 😛 So yes, here we are, book two in the Neapolitan series. May contain spoilers ahead, especially if you haven’t read the previous installment!

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Review: My Brilliant Friend

Posted 2 September, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

My Brilliant Friend (L’amica geniale #1)
By: Elena Ferrante
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship.

The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila.

I’ve long seen her books in passing whenever I’m browsing what’s new in the translated fiction lists (I think Days of Abandonment was the first book of hers that I added to my GoodReads wishlist). I’ve heard so much buzz about her Neapolitan books in recent months that I finally decided to delve into Elena Ferrante’s works. I think I mentioned a few times in the last few months that I was going to wait until the bulk of my offline stuff was finished to settle back and enjoy the book, and the minute the long weekend hit last month, I just started reading this book. And couldn’t stop 😛 May contain spoilers ahead?

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Review: Glaciers

Posted 11 June, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 10 Comments

By: Alexis M. Smith
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Isabel is a single, twentysomething thrift-store shopper and collector of remnants, things cast off or left behind by others. Glaciers follows Isabel through a day in her life in which work with damaged books in the basement of a library, unrequited love for the former soldier who fixes her computer, and dreams of the perfect vintage dress move over a backdrop of deteriorating urban architecture and the imminent loss of the glaciers she knew as a young girl in Alaska.

Glaciers unfolds internally, the action shaped by Isabel’s sense of history, memory, and place, recalling the work of writers such as Jean Rhys, Marguerite Duras, and Virginia Woolf. For Isabel, the fleeting moments of one day can reveal an entire life. While she contemplates loss and the intricate fissures it creates in our lives, she accumulates the stories—the remnants—of those around her and she begins to tell her own story.

I honestly found out about this book from a Huffington Post article that appeared on my feed a few months ago. There’s plenty of great books that slip under the radar, and by the sounds of the article this book was one of them. Reading the premise, it felt like my kind of novel, so I immediately added it to my wish-to-read. After having it sit on my wishlist for some time, I finally decided to pick it up. On a related note, isn’t the book cover so cute? 😀

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Review: Paris

Posted 10 June, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

By: Marcus Giralt Torrente
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

Paris depicts a man’s journey through the labyrinth of his memories, a search for his origins that will uncover an old family secret and turn his world upside down. A mesmerizing and haunting story by award-winning author Marcos Giralt Torrente, a master craftsman calibrating nuance and impact with a true gift.

I picked this book up during a sale on Kobo. I never heard of the author or the book before encountering it on Kobo, but I quickly learned that the author is Spanish and, as someone keen on reading more literature by Spanish authors, I thought it would be interesting to check out this title.

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Review: A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

Posted 27 April, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 12 Comments

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
By: Marina Lewycka
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

In this comic first novel, two estranged sisters living in England discover that their addled elderly father, a Ukrainian war refugee and expert on tractors, is planning to marry a young, enormous-breasted woman who sees his modest pension as her ticket to capitalist comfort. The sisters put aside their differences, and embark on a spirited campaign to save him from boil-in-the-bag dinners, slovenly housekeeping, and such extravagant purchases as a broken-down Rolls-Royce. In the midst of these machinations—which include long-winded letters to solicitors, venomous gossip, and all-out spying—Lewycka stealthily reveals how the depredations of the past century dictate what a family can bear.

I read this book back in 2009 after learning that it had been longlisted for the Man Booker and I believe the former Orange Prize (now Baileys Women Prize); the title alone was a curious one. I had really enjoyed it then; it seemed especially fitting to read it as I was taking a course in Ukrainian history at the time and understood all of the historical events mentioned throughout the novel. I had been meaning to revisit this novel as I don’t remember much of the story, and had been wanting to put my thoughts down here at my blog somewhere.

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