Tag: Rating: 4 stars


Review: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Posted 15 March, 2010 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

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 ūüėÄ

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Review: I Capture the Castle

Posted 1 February, 2010 by Lianne in Books / 3 Comments

I Capture the Castle
By: Dodie Smith

This enchanting novel tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her unusual family who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. Cassandra’s eccentric father is a writer whose first book took the literary world by storm but he has since failed to write a single word and now spends his time reading detective fiction. Cassandra’s sister, Rose, despairs of her family’s circumstances and determines to marry their affluent American landlord. She is helped and, sometimes, hindered in this by their bohemian stepmother, an artists’ model who likes to commune with nature. Finally there is Stephen who is hopelessly in love with Cassandra. Amid this maelstrom Cassandra hones her writing skills, candidly capturing the events that take place within the castle’s walls, and her own first descent into love.

So I finally decided to check this book out after hearing a lot about it last year over at GoodReads. The reviews I heard were all positive, which piqued my curiosity. Took me a while to get a hold of it too because I wanted the Vintage Classics edition (see above cover); their covers are always so pretty and appealing ūüôā

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Review: All Our Worldly Goods

Posted 10 November, 2009 by Li in Books / 0 Comments

All Our Worldly Goods
By: Irène Némirovsky

Pierre and Agnes marry for love against the wishes of his parents and the family patriarch, the tyrannical industrialist Julien Hardelot, provoking a family feud which cascades down the generations. This is Balzac or The Forsyte Saga on a smaller, more intimate scale, the bourgeoisie observed close-up, with Némirovsky’s characteristically sly humour and clear-eyed compassion. Full of drama and heartbreak, and telling observations of the devastating effects of two wars on a small town and an industrial family, Némirovsky is at the height of her powers.

Okay, firstly I’ve been very busy this semester with schoolwork and course readings and research and all the rest but despite of this, I’ve managed to read quite a bit (my solace from all my work). One of the books I’ve read quite recently was All Our Worldly Goods. It’s my first book by Irene N√©mirovsky, whom I heard wonderful things about through her unfinished work, Suite Francaise. I’ll try to keep this review as spoiler-less as I can ūüėČ

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Review: The Time Traveller’s Wife

Posted 20 August, 2009 by Li in Books / 0 Comments

The Time Traveller’s Wife
By: Audrey Niffenegger

When Henry meets Clare, he is twenty-eight and she is twenty. Henry has never met Clare before; Clare has known Henry since she was six. Impossible but true, because Henry finds himself periodically displaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. Henry and Clare’s attempts to live normal lives are threatened by a force they can neither prevent nor control, making their passionate love story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable. The Time Traveller’s Wife is a story of fate, hope and belief, and more than that, it’s about the power of love to endure beyond the bounds of time.

I’ve been debating back and forth whether or not to check this book out for the longest time. Then the trailer for the movie came out and that was when I decided to check the book out. As I mentioned for my Teaser Tuesday this week I’ve been re-reading LOTR lately but I decided to start reading The Time Traveller’s Wife as well, try to minimize the TBR list before I move in a few weeks. I was quite surprised that I was unable to put it down at all today (I say quite surprised because even after picking it up I’ve been rather guarded towards the book—the reviews have been either positive or negative)!—so much so that I just finished the book a little while ago and am typing this review while the reaction and memory of it is still fresh (shall be returning to Middle Earth shortly). Possibly highly spoilerish review ahead.

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Review: Sepulchre

Posted 3 August, 2009 by Li in Books / 2 Comments

Sepulchre
By: Kate Mosse

I’ve been meaning to post up this review for the past few months but for some reason I didn’t get around to it *blushes* But here I am doing it now ūüôā

In 1891, young L√©onie Vernier and her brother Anatole arrive in the beautiful town of Rennes-les-Bains, in southwest France. They’ve come at the invitation of their widowed aunt, whose mountain estate, Domain de la Cade, is famous in the region. But it soon becomes clear that their aunt Isolde‚ÄĒand the Domain‚ÄĒare not what L√©onie had imagined. The villagers claim that Isolde’s late husband died after summoning a demon from the old Visigoth sepulchre high on the mountainside. A book from the Domain’s cavernous library describes the strange tarot pack that mysteriously disappeared following the uncle’s death. But while L√©onie delves deeper into the ancient mysteries of the Domain, a different evil stalks her family‚ÄĒone which may explain why L√©onie and Anatole were invited to the sinister Domain in the first place.

More than a century later, Meredith Martin, an American graduate student, arrives in France to study the life of Claude Debussy, the nineteenth century French composer. In Rennes-les-Bains, Meredith checks into a grand old hotel‚ÄĒthe Domain de la Cade. Something about the hotel feels eerily familiar, and strange dreams and visions begin to haunt Meredith’s waking hours. A chance encounter leads her to a pack of tarot cards painted by L√©onie Vernier, which may hold the key to this twenty-first century American’s fate . . . just as they did to the fate of L√©onie Vernier more than a century earlier.

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