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Everything posted by virginia123

  1. "I am afraid that the second half of this book cemented my current ambition, started by watching "Slumdog Millionare" and reading White Tiger to never visit India." I don't agree. This is not how I experienced it. I loved this book and it made me long to return to India. It brought back so many memories of my visits to India and expressed the contradictions of that extraordinary country so beautifully. Dyer has an extraordinary facility with language : he captures the essence of a place and makes it alive. I had great sympathy with his experience in Varanasi. I suppose you could say he was in danger of "going native" having stayed too long and his body was protesting. But he had imbibed that marvellous Indian attitude, as a result of his long stay there, of letting things happen, not manipulating events, just going with the flow. I have never been in India more than a month at a time, but I could empathise with and envy Dyer's experience. The first half, Jeff in Venice, did not mean as much to me as the second. But I enjoyed reading it greatly and was overwhelmed by the sex scenes. I could not read this part with the equanimity and enjoyment that I did the Varanasi part. Here I savoured every word and was sad when I reached the end. I shall now read all of Dyer's previous books. I agree with the correspondent who compared it to reading William Boyd's "Any Human Heart". For me too that was a book I couldn't put down and led me to read all his previous books.
  2. This is the first Cormac Macarthy book I have read. It is certainly strange. Not only the lack of apostrophes in won't and can't, but the brief sentences and paragraphs-cum-chapters make it an unusual reading experience. In a way ideal for bed-time as you can read a few mini-chapters before falling asleep. The end of the world I suppose is an original setting for a novel, and in a sense he carries it off with the descriptions of the bleak landscape and the weird atmosphere but it never really gripped me. There is a repetitive quality about the narrative. The boy saying "I'm scared", the empty houses, the corpses by the roadside. it just goes on and on. the end is particularly unsatisfactory : a too neat tying up of the strands. But having said all that, it is a book that held my attention to the end. But in my view not the greatest novel of all time by any means.
  3. I agree with Mad Dog and Glory (amazing name - where does it come from?) This is a great book. I read it 3 or 4 years ago and can still remember incidents in it. It is probably one of those books that needs to be read continuously, ie on holiday or, if you are able to, over a weekend. It had far more resonance for me than Roth or Updike. But unlike them, Franzen seems to be a one book author. I recommend it to those who is interested in psychology, family dynamics, and American angst.
  4. I would be happy to join a Book Group. I value the discussions in BGO but can see the advantage of all of us reading the same book at the same time. How and when does one nominate books and vote on them?
  5. I suppose I should resist writing this until I have finished reading the book, but I was curious to see what other BGOLers thought about it. I think it is an absolutely brilliant book - Coetzee writes unlike any other author I know, his language is a joy to read, and emotionally he pushes the boundaries into the depths of himself. For me it resonates. He uses the book to explore himself and there are no gloves on : everything is open to examination. I guess I sound incoherent! Emotionally he gets below the skin and because I felt disturbed and exhilarated, I gave myself a break and went to watch a TV programme I had recorded and found myself in tears (a good programme about Dementia Care homes but not something what would usually reduce me to tears.) Leyla's summary is masterly and gets it just right.
  6. Like Jen, I find this too coy and sweet for my taste. It is similar to (imitated?) 84 Charing Cross Road and Dear Daddy Longlegs, both of which I loved but maybe now that I am older, or maybe because it is not original this book does not work for me. I like the epistolary style in books, Clarissa by Samuel Richardson, was the first to be written like this and although it goes on rather, it is a very gripping book. Guernsey L&PPS seems to me not only derivative but also unconvincing. Do uneducaed workmen write in the same style as sophisticated American women? It is ages since I read 84 Charing ross Road but I seem to remember that the two writers of the letters wrote in different identifiable styles. On the positive side, it is interesting to learn about Guerney's experience during the war.
  7. I was looking for Hilary Mantel's masterly novel "Wolf Hall" and was surprised not to find it under novels of 21st century. I found it eventually under historical. Well, yes, it is a historical novel but it is also a novel of 21st century and by placing it under the historical category it would seem many readers have not found it - only 2 or is it 3? people have written in about it and none of the long thought-provoking comments that one finds in other categories. Does 'of 21st century' mean set in 21st century or written in 21st century? Many reviewers of "Wolf Hall" have pointed out that Mantel's writing has broken the conventions of the historical novel by an original approach to character and rewriting of the historical record. Maybe a solution as far as BGO is concerned is to have a double entry for "Wolf Hall" and put it into both historical and novels of 21st century.
  8. I agree with your first comments about the book, Phoebus. I do not think you misjudged it by saying it deteriorates as it progresses. I too felt it ran out of stream after a fascinating and absorbing beginning. I was disappointed that the relationship between von Apt and Liesl did not develop. Also agree with Leila - too many coincidences. The house dominates the book most effectively but the storyline meanders after the first half. I am not surprised it did not win the Booker. Wolf Hall is far more convincing and coherent.
  9. I am about half way through and enjoying it - but with one major reservation. There are lots of engaging characters, lots of action, and fascinating portraits of historical characters. But my reservation is about the confusion caused by Mantel's narrative style. She uses "he" mostly to refer to Thomas Cromwell but not exclusively. This means I am left wondering who she referring to, who said what, who interpreted the King's dream for instance, and I have to read back to try and work it out. Like others I have read many admiring reviews of this book and I am surprised no reviewer has pointed out the unnecessary confusion caused by the author failing to make clear who is talking, thinking, acting.
  10. I was surprised how dated this book seemed, although it belongs to the genre which I have loved in the past ie Rosamund Lehmann and Elizabeth Bowen - both friends of the author, Elizabeth Jenkins. But it is dated in the way that Jenmcd points out - we handle relationships differently today and we are much more demanding of them. The description of the crumbling marriage was very compelling and the characterisation was spot on. There is an introduction to the edition I read (Virago Modern Classics) by Hilary Mantel which is acute and informative, likewise the end note by Carmen Cahill, the editor. This is not a book I would have chosen myself, it was given to me as a birthday present, but I thoroughly recommend it : it has stayed in my memory since reading : it is indeed a modern classic.
  11. I agree with JFP's comments.The construction of the novel is unsatisfactory. In fact I would go so far as to say that it reads like a first draft : there are some excellent things in the novel : the characters are well drawn, the bits about St Ives, the artists' colony, bi-polar illness, family dynamics - these all show that Patrick Gale is an author to follow. He has a surprising ability to understand minutiae of family life, quite similar to Anne Tyler (whose books he recommends at the end of the novel). But, and it is a big but, the novel is disjointed and unsatisfactory because of its construction : it reads like notes or jottings : the novel needs to be gestated and re-written so that it flows as one story. As it is, it is like a stop-start train, as soon as you think you are going on the journey, the train stops again and then you have to wait for ages before it starts again. In the case of this novel, you get engrossed in one character : and then there is a break not only of character but also of time, maybe jumping forward several years or back. Very unsatisfactory from a reader's point of view anf does not add anything to the overall novel. Maybe Patrick Gale was under pressure from his publisher to produce the book. But I wish he had resisted. If he had waited another year, he could have produced a really excellent book out of this material.
  12. I was less enamoured by this book than by previous Anne Tyler's. But having said that I nevertheless enjoyed it and marvelled at her ability to create character, to focus on minutiae, and to keep the story line going. How many authors could write several chapters about the parents' struggle to wean a toddler off her pacifier? Or catch the nuances of feeling that the 65 year old Iranian woman has towards her American admirer? Tyler is a past master at pacing the plot and holding the reader's attention to the very end. The reason I am less enthusiastic about this book is that it seemed to creak along, it seemed hard work for the author to keep up the momentum, This she achieves, but it doesn't flow effortlessly as her previous books did for me.
  13. This novel of wilderness Canada was given a rave review in the Guardian. The first couple of chapters had me totally gripped but this did not continue. There is a repetitive quality about the story, as I suppose is inevitable in a novel in which the theme is a journey, but some of it seemed to me contrived - ie how to keep this going, oh yes, introduce a storm, another character etc. I did read to the end and then went back to read the Guardian's review again. "This is a serious, literary book that moves far beyond genre or gender stereotypes. It is also hugely enjoyable - as the cowpokes might say, a rattling good yarn." Are there any readers out there who got more from this novel than I did?
  14. Hi Bella. Glad you have joined us. I am a new(ish) member too. When I was in my teens (much older now) BGOL would have been wonderful for me. I never knew what to read, not that my family didn't read books, they just never had time to take me to the library or discuss books with me, so it was hit and miss what I found to read. When I was a publishers' reader I learnt a lot about different genres becauser we had to read whatever was top of the pile of suibmitted manuscripts. But you didn't get a chance to read Jane Austen that way! Now I learn a lot about good books from the Guardian Review on Saturday, the New York Review of Books, and now BGOL. By the way, what is LOTR?
  15. Hi Sibs. Good to have you with us. Books and animals are high on my list of favourites too. As to your 'habit' of flicking forward to see what's going to happen. I try not to do this, it feels a bit like cheating. Probably only do it if I'm getting fed up with a book and am wondering whether to continue. Haven't read Engleby. I loved Bird Song but didn't think much about Charlotte Gray. I am reading Netherfield at the moment : at first I thought the cricket would put me off (such a boring game!) but it is brilliantly written and un-put-downable. Best wishes, Virginia
  16. Now I have finished the book (ashamed to admit I wrote my posting after only reading the childhood section) I tend to agree with you : the beginning and the end of the book is definitety Obama himself. The middle section smells to me like an editor using Obama's script. All that dialogue doesn't ring true to me. BUT in the latest New York Review of Books, Sadie Smith writes a brilliant article (Speaking with tongues) in which she specifically praises Obama for his use of authentic dialogue.
  17. I am enthralled by it by this book, particularly by his use of language. Obama has a wonderful skill with words. To me it is amazing to find this in a politician. Even if he wasn't president of the United States, his book would be worth reading for its eloquent description of a extraordinary childhood.
  18. Leyla recommended 'Lost in the Forest' in the thread about Rose Tremain "If you like Rose Tremain and Anne Tyler you will like Sue Miller". I had never heard of her, and neither apparently has BGOL (not included in author list, and not found in advanced search.) On the basis of this book, I would say she is an excellent writer : her English is precise, her story telling compelling and she understands her characters psychologically : she provides everything I have found missing in Joanna Trollope's books : 3 dimensional characters who are believable and are made up of positive and negative characteristics. Miller is the first woman author I have come across who writes convincingly about sex. I wonder how men would react to this, also to the book as a whole? It is not a 'girly' book but its focus is on understanding what makes people tick and this I have always thought was particularly a feminine concern (Disabuse me!) The theme of the book on one level is how a family copes with bereavement, on another it is about the sexual awakening of the problematic daughter and how she comes to terms with having been abused.
  19. Thanks for your sympathy, Jack. I hope it doesn't happen to your village though it may do as we are only about 30 miles away in East Sussex. I have just learnt that we can claim compensation for every hour over 18. Can't be bad. And I found I could read using a torch. Just finished brilliant book Leyla recommended by Sue Miller. I will post a proper comment about it once I have got my head sorted.
  20. Thanks a million for your advice, Megastaleer. I think it has worked. Easy peasy. Power cut for past 22 hours which is why I haven't replied before.
  21. Nothing happens on the edit page. ie none of the tabs work. I am wondering if this is because I use an Apple Mac and not a pc. Has anybody else had this problem?
  22. LL - your reply illustrates the point I was making. I am 40 years older than you. I don't see anything offensive in word golliwog.
  23. I think it is a generational thing : Carol Thatcher is 57 - so could be said to be in older age group as I am. I was brought up on 'Little Black Sambo' and had a gollywog stuffed doll. Nothing racist about it as far as I knew then or thinking about it now. In those days there was very little talk about homosexuality, in fact gays were called queers then, if couples lived together without being married they were 'living in sin'. Things have changed - we have moved on - not sure if this is progress or if there is such a thing as progress - but now political correctness reigns. Hence the fuss about Carol Thatcher's use of gollywog.
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