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Star

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  1. I'm another one who's slightly mystified as to why there's so many people who are picking this as one of their best reads. I didn't dislike the book and I found the character of Lisbeth very intriguing, but the other characters seemed quite boring in comparison. I never felt I really got to know any of the minor characters, they all seemed to blend together. So much of the book seemed to be taken up with mundane descriptions of everyday things - Blomkvist gets up, has breakfast, goes for a walk, looks at some documents, has dinner, goes to bed - I just found it a bit hard going. The mystery of what has happened to Harriet I felt was a bit obvious from the start, though why it happened is the interesting part and once the investigation starts getting somewhere - around page 300 - the book gets more exciting. The company info I found myself skipping over and I felt the ending dragged on a bit. The one thing that probably takes it above any other mundane crime book is the girl with the dragon tattoo. I liked that she was different from the other characters and that she was unpredictable and vulnerable. It helped that we saw her emotions, thought processes and why she did things, something that seemed lacking from the main character of Blomkvist. Maybe he was meant to come across as a bit cool and emotionless, I'm not sure. He does all the right things, but I still felt I didn't really know him... not like Salander anyway.
  2. I haven't really had a good reading year. I think I've picked up more books I haven't liked than I thoroughly enjoyed. I suppose the best would be "One Good Turn" by Kate Atkinson (fiction) and "Those Feet" by David English (non-fiction) Worst? Well, there's several contenders...
  3. Have to admit I wondered which to post on and decided this one because it was older. I'm sure they can be combined.
  4. For me, The Children’s Book is a coming of age story. It attempts to convey the feelings of an age and the lives of such a wide range of characters, it’s a wonder that Byatt, the author manages to make us care about them, but she does. The characters in the book are the Wellwoods: chiefly, Tom and Dorothy and their mother, Olive. Then there’s Humphrey, the father who can’t resist a pretty girl, Violet, the Aunt, and Hedda, the suffragette. There are others too and also their cousins (also Wellwoods) Griselda, who knows she wants to study languages quite early on and Charles who wants to find out more about the way of the world than his banking father Basil would like. Then there’s the Fludds: Benedict, the bipolar potter father, whose family Seraphita, his wife, and daughters Imogen and Pomona live in near poverty and hide a shameful secret that the two escapees from the Potteries: Philip, who just wants to make pots, and his sister Elsie find out. Geraint Fludd, Benedict’s son, just wants to get away and earn money. Then there’s the Cains, led by Prosper, the father and curator of the V & A and his two children Florence and Julian, who falls in love with Tom. Every one of them has their turn in the spotlight, and as Byatt keeps up a 3rd person omniscient style dotting from one head to another, it’s quite amazing that I didn’t at any stage not know whose life I was following at any particular moment, nor did I ever get confused or bored. I think this is because Byatt’s characters all develop and interrelate (some turn out to be more interrelated than they thought) together as the book moves on. They are interesting and the book touches on all their cares as they grow up, exploring madness and creativity, bullying and sexual power as they do. I came to care about most of them - especially as time moved on and it became clear that their earlier hopes and desires for the future weren’t all going to turn out happily. What she isn’t able to do, is get so close to them, we feel like we’re living their lives as some stories can. This is obviously quite deliberate and I wonder if it’s because Byatt is more intent on creating a feel for the times. To do this she spends whole chapters describing events of the times and also describes things like dresses and design to the detriment of scenes and dialogue. This is in keeping with the subject of the arts and crafts movement, on which many of the characters rely for their livelihood. One of the main characters, Olive, is an author of children’s books and we get to read large chunks of her books which are a cross between Enid Blyton and E Nesbitt and also capture some of the feel of the times, seeming old-fashioned and quaint now as does the omniscient pov of the whole novel. It all adds to the atmosphere. Despite what they add to the book however, these bits do go on rather too long and could have been edited down a bit more ruthlessly. The other criticism I have is that the ending is built up for a finale, but eventually comes as a bit of a damp squibb and just peters out. I was expecting the book to end with the First World War from quite early on, but I was hoping for something more dramatic than what actually happens, some meaning that might tie it all – or most of it – together.
  5. That has encouraged me not to give up on it. Thanks, Elfstar. It sounds like I have some real fireworks in store when I go back to it.
  6. I like that schoolmarmish tone though. It makes me think in a kind of old-fashioned way which suits the book. Added to this the dialogue is curiously clipped like Celia Howard in Brief Encounter which adds to the atmosphere. Obviously I haven't got very far yet, so I may get irritated later on.
  7. Picked up The Children's Book from my tbr pile last night when I couldn't sleep and I'm finding it gripping. I had started The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo already but I'd left it downstairs and wasn't really getting in to it. I might come back to it later.
  8. I remember studying The Woman In White. I didn't think I'd enjoy it much, but studying it actually helped me enjoy it more. You can't always say that.
  9. I don't plan too far in advance. Some books I just have to be in the right mood to read. I usually know what I'm going to read from the tbr pile when I near the end of the previous book... unless it's such a good book I'm reading I've finished it before I know it... and even then I might like to have a break to digest it all before starting the next book and immersing myself in another world.
  10. I really enjoyed this book... up until the last section where suddenly everyone started to mellow and things came good for everyone - well, most of them. It all seemed just a bit too coincidental and convenient, not to say a tad unbelievable in places. I really wondered whether Lamb had lost interest, but was forced to finish the book. Enough of the ending though, because the rest of the book is great. I loved the characters: Dessa, the mother-earth type woman, Ray, the wicked step-father who's quite mixed up himself, Ralph, the indian-african who says very little but who proves quite pivotal to the plot and I loved Leo, the sleazy smart-talking car salesman who sticks by Dominic and his brother. Actually, I could go on and name the mother, Joy, the doctors and the translator. All come across as interesting characters, all fully rounded. The only character I wish I'd got to know a bit more about would be Thomas, Dominic's schizophrenic twin, although it was fascinating reading the descriptions of how his illness got worse and its effect on everyone else. I don't want to give too much of the plot away, but the fact that Dominic himself seems to be falling apart is one of the attractions of the book. Who wants to read about people who are perfect anyway? We also get to read the autobiography that the grandfather leaves behind which reveals the family history. I found this a bit unbelievable too. Lamb obviously wants the guy to come across as a bit arrogant, but I'm not sure he entirely pulls it off as he has to make others come out of it well. If you were arrogant, would you give the people you hated the best lines and show them in a good light? So all in all, this was a good read up to a point, but I'm told Lamb's other books are better.
  11. I don't think there's any book I would unread because it had a disturbing effect on me, but there's plenty I'd unread so I could experience all the magic of reading them again without knowing what comes next. The books that have given me an experience I found disturbing are quite tame in comparison to the ones on this list, like Sleepers and The Stars Look Down just because they were quite bleak in their outlook on life. I think I also had to put down Stephen King's The Stand but I was reading it in conjunction with seeing the dramatisation on the telly and both of them gave the heeby jeebies. I'm not good with horror. I know it, but every now and then I think I'll be alright and give it a go.
  12. I've just started reading this so obviously I can't comment on the book as a whole, but if I hadn't read such good reports about it, the explanations of the backgrounds of some characters and all the company information in the first few pages might have put me off. The actual girl with the dragon tattoo has just been introduced and she's the first character that has got me intrigued and interested.
  13. I couldn't finish We Need to Talk About Kevin, but The Road is on my wanted list. Not sure I want to read it now... not for pleasure anyway. At least now I know more of what to expect. I thought this list was going to have more books on it like Lolita which could be disturbing in one sense... not that I've read that either.
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