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About Viccie

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    reading, writing, wine, dawdling around
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  1. This is an unusual book, not just because it's the first novel I've read written by a Korean author. Kyung-Sook Shin (the anglicised version of her name) is the first South Kiroean and the first woman to win the Man Asian Literary Prize, for this novel, in 2012. It's an international best seller, translated into 19 different languages (hence the titles with the alternative versions of 'Mother' I've listed in the tags). It's the story of So-nyo who gets separated from her husband at Seoul railway station and disappears. She's an illiterate peasant living in a village, her children are all well educated, one is a sucessful novellist, and have moved to the city, her husband has long since stopped seeing her as anyone more than someone to serve his needs. The family searches for her and as the days pass more and more is revealed about So-nyo, how much her family never guessed about her, and her children and husband start to learn more about themselves and begin to value the mother they pretty well took for granted. It's not a fast read; the narration is mostly second person singular and sometimes it's hard to work out who "you" is, but there's something strangely compelling about it. It's utterly heartbreaking in places as you delve deeper into everyone's characters and realise the profound love So-nyo had for her family, though they didn't notice or appreciate it until after she's gone and that she was a much more complex person than they ever thought. The background - life in rural South Korea is fascinating too. A really interesting book, one I won't forget for a long time.
  2. The Roanoke Girls

    Can't help agreeing with you about Richard and Judy choices - I don't think I've ever enjoyed one that I wouldn't have read anyway. This sounds like it could the first...
  3. Fierce Kingdom

    Sounds terrific - exactly the sort of thing I invest in if I'm about to do a really long car journey (Bordeaux-London for instance, takes 15 hours in all) as good audio thrillers are the best thing for keeping you alert.
  4. Rest in Peace

    Tom Petty from a heart attack. I loved the albums he made with the Heartbreakers - and the Travelling Wiburies too, I had no idea he was still performing. His last concert was at the weekend.
  5. I tried Louise Penny some time ago and didn't really get on with her, I've got no idea why, just remember that I wasn't enthralled. I found one of her books when I didn't have anything to read last month and got completely hooked so I'm starting at the beginning. It isn't a fast mover but I love her writing style and her sense of place is so good I can smell the cold air in Three Pines as I read. It's great when you've just discovered someone who's got a large backlist!
  6. Book Chain

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith
  7. The Muse

    A copy found its way into the house and I picked it up. Lasted about 50 pages.
  8. I've just finished The String Diaries and read the last 50 pages or so not looking up, not speaking, not responding when anyone tried to talk to me. I was initially put off because it's classified as horror and I'm not keen on horror but I'd put in equally in the fantasy camp. Whichever one it's a really good read.
  9. Book Chain

    All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doer
  10. Giving birth grammar

    Mmm, I'm not sure you're right here. Writers are taught not to use superflous words - I think it can generally be assumed that when someone gives birth to a boy it's a baby, not a six year old with scabby knees. Therefore 'baby' is redundant because it's pretty obvious the annuncement isn't referring to a toddler or a hamster for that matter. Another of my bugbears is when people say that they're going 'horseback' riding. Firstly what are they riding if not a horse? A cow? An elephant? A camel? Someone going out on a machine will normally say 'bike ride' or 'out on the scooter'. Secondly, okay, so it might be a donkey (but that's more usually known as a donkey ride) but where are you going to ride it if not on its back? The neck? Hangng off the tail?
  11. His Bloody Project

    I chanced on it and the one last week which featured Peter May's Lewis trilogy Really enjoyed both. Lots of it is in gaelic but there are subtitles.
  12. Simon Sebag-Montefiore is better known as a historian than a writer of sweeping romantic epics and this is his first novel and the first of a trilogy of novels set in Stalinist Russia. This one os set in three different time periods, 1916 and the lead up to the Russian Revolution where the 16 year old Sashenka, priviledged daughter of a rich Jewish businessman is working secretly for the Bolshevieks, 1939 where Sashenka, utterly loyal party member, is married and has managed to skate unscathed through the Stalinist purges of the last three years and 1994 when a young History student is asked to research a family history. Simon S-S is obviously an expert historian and in places his sheer skill in evoking a place, a period is absolutely suberb, particularly in the section set in the Stalinist era. There you could feel the uneasy mix of complacency that as a good Party member nothing was ever going to happen to you combined with a constant unease and refusal to acknowledge what was really going on as well as the memory of friends who had become 'non-people'. However I couldn't help feeling he took Writing Romantic Saga 101 lessons from his wife, the novelist Santa Montefiore, for the romantic/sagaish elements often don't seem to sit very easily. He gets flowery, dwells too much on looks and Sashenka's worry that her bosom is "too noticeable" (I cannot recall any of my three daughters or their friends ever complaining aout too much frontage when they were 16!) - apparently the last two books in the series are more in thriller mode and I suspect they will suit his style better. In addition the last section has far too many unlikely co-incidences and relies strongly on people living to iimprobably great ages (one is 102 or more, others mid 90's). That said, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book which I wouldn't have picked up if it hadn't been our book group Summer Read. With all its faults, it's still a very good read and the middle section is truly memorable.
  13. Book Chain

    The Man in the Wooden Hat - Jane Gardam
  14. I just bought/borrowed/received...

    Oh goodness i remember The Machine Stops so well. It was in a book of short stories we read at school when I was about 13. How often do you ever find that a school books produces a reaction of 'Have you read ..... yet. You must, it's great!'
  15. Book Chain

    The Dark is Rising - Susan Cooper