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Jenmcd

Brooklyn

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I have read it and loved it and yet don't appear in the discussion.  How discouraging.  I thought the movie was good, too.

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    • By Viccie
      The blurb on the back of my copy of this books describes it as a "quiet book" and indeed it is, an Irish High Court judge is nearing retirementand about to spend the summer where he goes every year - a holiday house near Wexford. The narrative is part about his upbringing and part about the present day, it's low key, undramatic even when sad things happen and it's utterly mesmerising. The writing is fabulous, I found myself rereading pages just for the sheer pleasure of his prose and there's a cadence about the way he writes that draws you in.
       
      It's also quite short and I think would be an excellent choice for those book clubs where members don't want to be bogged down with 400 pages plus every month.
    • By MisterHobgoblin
      The House of Names is a retelling of the Greek legends of the House of Atreus. But as with his previous novel, The Testament of Mary, Colm Toibin takes a very human, prosaic approach to the story. The Gods who had dominated both Greek legends and the Holy Bible are not there; we just see the ordinary men and (especially) the women of the stories. The goal, I presume, it to help the reader appreciate the ancient world as one inhabited by real people with real emotions and vulnerabilities. 

      And this starts so well. Clytemnestra is a mother as well as a Queen. Her daughter Iphigenia has been sacrificed by Agamemnon, the king, at the instigation of the gods to help him win the war. Clytemnestra is distraught with grief and willing to do whatever it takes, with whomever necessary, to exact her bloody revenge. Her first person narrative is genuinely arresting. 

      But then we disappear off to follow Orestes, her son, in third person. This starts off as idle life in a palace under siege, but soon becomes a bit of a road trip as Orestes is abducted and carted off across the land to a remote farmhouse. This works for creating a sense of scale to the land, and the people feel real enough that you can imagine these journeys across the rocky landscape of modern Greece. But it slows the narrative and dispels the sense of chaos and despair that was built so carefully in Clytemnestra’s section.

      And then, eventually, the narrative shifts again to a first person point of view of Electra, sister to Orestes and daughter to Clytemnestra. At this point, things get really confusing. Electra may or may not have the gift of prophesy, and she is determined to avenge her mother for the murder of her father. This is the point that the humanisation of the story fails. Without gods, Agamemnon’s sacrifice of Iphigenia is unjustifiable and Clytemnestra’s grief and anger was well founded. Why, then, would Electra side with Agamemnon over her mother? In a half-hearted attempt to explain this, Electra says that the gods have gone away; that the people of the palace were privileged to walk among the gods for a while, but those days are gone. This explanation doesn’t quite carry.

      The rest of the novel is just plain paranoia and madness. We lose track of who is trying to double cross who; there are bodies piling up all around and we lose all sense of character and emotion; it is just a series of events with little purpose. The land is at war; it has always been at war; it will always be at war. Apart from a very brief reprise of Clytemnestra, the second half of the novel is a bit of a slog. 

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      ***00
       
    • By MisterHobgoblin
      Nora Webster, mother of four, Enniscorthy, late 1960s. Recently widowed.

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    • By Starry
      Cached thread from google
       
      agnesd 21st August 2006 01:25 AM
       
      The Master/Colm Toibin
       
      Just Started The Master by Colm Toibin. Very good so far. Novel about Henry James. Can someone puleeezze tell me how to pronounce his name. I know its Gaelic but can't figure out Toibin.
       
       
       
      Starry 21st August 2006 09:54 AM
       
      As far as I know it is pronounced Toy-bin.
       
      I have this book on my TBR pile, so do let us know what you thought of it, might make me push it to the top
       
       
       
      Mungus 21st August 2006 11:35 AM
       
      And Colm is pronounced as you might guess, or listen to the link on this page for a nice Irish accent.
       
       
       
      megustaleer 21st August 2006 12:57 PM
       
      A most interesting effect can be achieved by clicking on the 'listen' button for a second, and third name without clicking on the 'stop' button first!!
       
       
      gerbooks 22nd August 2006 07:26 PM
       
      Hi, the correct pronounciation for Toibin is Toe-Been. He is Irish and so am I so I'm pretty sure.
       
       
      dumpling 23rd August 2006 11:51 AM
       
      It's been a while since I read The Master, so I don't remember much of why I liked it, just that I did. Very much so. I do recall that it made me feel as though I had a great insight into the mind of Henry James, though naturally based entirely on Toibin's speculations. And the book also made me want to read some Henry James, even though I've never been a fan of his since attempting The Turn of the Screw. (I should add that I still haven't read any Henry James, but I intend to!)
       
       
      agnesd 24th August 2006 11:41 PM
       
      Just Finished
       
      I loved The Master. Just finished it. It's an odd book. It's like the Victorian, dramatic version of the Seinfeld show, "A Book about Nothing". They really had nothing to do but make mountains out of molehills. It was an interesting observation of a specific segment of society. I thought the segment about the Civil War especially interesting from the point of view of a family with boys in the war. I know that it was based on many factual accounts of James's life, but there is still the element of the authors interpretation. All in all it was well worth reading. I highly recommend it.
       
       
       
      Brightphoebus 30th August 2006 08:43 AM
       
      The Master
       
      I read 'The Master ' eighteen months ago and it has remained one of those 'stand out' reads for me. It is written with grace and compassion, tenderness and insight. Has anyone read Toibin's "The Heather Blazing"? Although set in Ireland 100 years or so later the quality of his writing had the same effect on me, that 'hairs raising on the back of the neck feeling' where you feel you have connected mysteriously to another person and through them to the whole of humanity.
      This is my first post and I'm still trying to get the hang of how the site works but I'm thrilled to have come across it and will keep trying.
       
       
       
      agnesd 30th August 2006 01:43 PM
       
      Great Review
       
      I completely agree with your analysis of The Master. I just love book discussions. Everyone brings unique language in their interpretations. I will have to read The Heather Blazing Have you read Arthur and George? I think you would enjoy JuLian Barnes's writing style.
       
       
      dumpling 30th August 2006 03:23 PM
       
      This may need a new thread, but I enjoyed Arthur and George even more than I did The Master.
       
       
      megustaleer 30th August 2006 03:53 PM
       
      Brightphoebus, welcome to BGO. You'll soon get the hang of the place, and if there's anything you need to know just ask, we are quite a helpful bunch.
       
      Perhaps you could post a bit about yourself and your taste in books on the introductions thread.
       
      dumpling, do add your comments to the Arthur and George thread.
       
       
      Brightphoebus 31st August 2006 08:18 AM
       
      Thanks, Agnesd and Dumpling, I'll definitely try Arthur and George - I think I didn't get on with a much earlier Julian Barnes which put me off trying it, but I will now.
       
       
      yorkshire rose 31st August 2006 07:57 PM
       
      I loved The Master, it really made me want to read Henry James. It was just so clever. It was tender and delicate and a bit like a good radio play you put part of yourself in it as you read it. I liked Arthur and George too, although I prefered 'History of the world in 10 1/2 Chapters' and I love 'Pedant in the Julain Barnes' collection of food columns from the Saturday Guardian
       
       
      Grammath 1st September 2006 11:55 AM
       
       
      Blimey, it must be a work of staggering genius in that case! I, for one, would take a great deal of persuading to ever pick up a Henry James novel again.
    • By jfp
      I'm a fan of both of Toibin's Booker-shortlisted novels, The Blackwater Lightship and The Master, two accomplished works very different from each other, but this earlier novel (Toibin's third) disappointed me.
       
      The Story Of The Night is the first-person narrative of Richard, the only child of an Argentinian father and an English mother, growing up in Argentina and coming to terms with:
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      Further complications stem from Richard's:
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      subsequently getting seriously involved with Jorge's brother, Pablo...
       
      I'm not sure why, but it just didn't add up plausibly for me. To be considered an apprentice work, possibly.
       
      **000
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