Tag: Rating: 5 stars

Review: Suite Francaise

Posted 23 May, 2011 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Suite Francaise
By: Irene Nemirovsky

By the early l940s, when Ukrainian-born Irène Némirovsky began working on what would become Suite Française-the first two parts of a planned five-part novel-she was already a highly successful writer living in Paris. But she was also a Jew, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz: a month later she was dead at the age of thirty-nine. Two years earlier, living in a small village in central France-where she, her husband, and their two small daughters had fled in a vain attempt to elude the Nazis-she’d begun her novel, a luminous portrayal of a human drama in which she herself would become a victim. When she was arrested, she had completed two parts of the epic, the handwritten manuscripts of which were hidden in a suitcase that her daughters would take with them into hiding and eventually into freedom. Sixty-four years later, at long last, we can read Némirovsky’s literary masterpiece

The first part, “A Storm in June,” opens in the chaos of the massive 1940 exodus from Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion during which several families and individuals are thrown together under circumstances beyond their control. They share nothing but the harsh demands of survival-some trying to maintain lives of privilege, others struggling simply to preserve their lives-but soon, all together, they will be forced to face the awful exigencies of physical and emotional displacement, and the annihilation of the world they know. In the second part, “Dolce,” we enter the increasingly complex life of a German-occupied provincial village. Coexisting uneasily with the soldiers billeted among them, the villagers-from aristocrats to shopkeepers to peasants-cope as best they can. Some choose resistance, others collaboration, and as their community is transformed by these acts, the lives of these these men and women reveal nothing less than the very essence of humanity.

Suite Française is a singularly piercing evocation-at once subtle and severe, deeply compassionate and fiercely ironic-of life and death in occupied France, and a brilliant, profoundly moving work of art.

This book came at the recommendation of a friend who read it a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I kept it in my radar but actually got around to reading All Our Worldly Goods first before this novel (which I also enjoyed, though I don’t think I had time to type up a review of sorts). I got a hold of a copy last year but didn’t have time to read it until now. Major spoilers ahead!

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Review: Anna Karenina

Posted 15 May, 2011 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Anna Karenina
By: Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy”s tumultuous tale of passion and self-discovery marks a turning point in the author”s career. His compelling, emotional saga recounts the effects of nonconformist behavior–a society woman”s adulterous affair and a landowner”s unconventional quest for a meaningful existence–against a backdrop of
late 19th-century Russia.

Backstory: I read War and Peace some three summers ago and quite enjoyed it so I noted to myself that I’d read Anna Karenina as well. For some reason though I had put it off since; I don’t know if it was the size or the nature of the story that kept me back (both of which shouldn’t). I finally got a copy of the book last year with all intent of reading it but didn’t get around to it again (though to be fair, I was busy with my research, my Russian classes and was out of the country at the end of last summer) so one of my New Year’s book resolutions was to read it this year. Given that I have three Russian classic novels on my TBR pile (the other two are by Dostoevsky—I’m not including my Russian version of Pushkin’s Evgeny Onegin because my Russian isn’t so fluent right now), I finally decided to start reading it =)

I should also note that when I started reading it, my only gripe was the translation itself; I thought it was odd that some words were completely Anglocised but later found out that a) the copy I have used the 1918 translation previously used by Oxford Classics (my edition is actually the Dover Thrifts edition) and b) the character’s nickname really is “Betsy”, which to me is sooooo un-Russian and even un-French (as the Russian court in the nineteenth century was heavily influenced by the French). But that was an aside. Major spoilers ahead!

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Review: A Storm of Swords

Posted 25 April, 2011 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

A Storm of Swords
By: George R.R. Martin

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as violently as ever, as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey, of House Lannister, sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the land of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, the victim of the jealous sorceress who holds him in her evil thrall. But young Robb, of House Stark, still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Robb plots against his despised Lannister enemies, even as they hold his sister hostage at King’s Landing, the seat of the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. . . .

But as opposing forces maneuver for the final titanic showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost line of civilization. In their vanguard is a horde of mythical Others–a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords. . .

Okay, so I’ve avoided reviewing any of the books from the Song of Ice and Fire series because there’s just so much going on, I wouldn’t know where to begin in commenting them. It’s also taken me a while to get around to the rest of the series because the first book shocked me quite a bit with one of my favourite characters (I was quite young when I first read A Game of Thrones) but the books are good and with the HBO series airing now (and the new book being released in July), I decided to get around to the rest of the books. I felt like commenting on A Storm of Swords because I could see why everyone particularly enjoyed this novel; it’s a game changer novel so by the time you start A Feast of Crows, the entire dynamic of the political struggle and the relationships between characters have changed immensely. So yes, while I’m not commenting on every single story line that took place in this novel (as it was a massive one), I will comment on a few that have caught my attention. So yeah, super, massive spoilers ahead!

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Review: The Shack

Posted 11 April, 2011 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Shack
By: William Paul Young

Mackenzie Allen Philips youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever.

I’ve heard about this book for a few years now but only got around to reading it now, especially after it was recommended to me by two (priest!) friends and my brother reading it before me. I heard nothing but positive things about it from them. I was initially going to save this book until after I finished all my school stuff but alas, caved in xD Spoilers ahead!

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