Tag: book club

August 29, 2015

Review | Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Review | Still Alice by Lisa GenovaStill Alice by Lisa Genova
Publisher: Gallery Books, January 6th 2009
Pages: 308

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New WritersThis may be one of the most frightening novels you'll ever read. It's certainly one of the most unforgettable. Genova's debut revolves around Alice Howland - Harvard professor, gifted researcher and lecturer, wife,and mother of three grown children. One day, Alice sets out for a run and soon realizes she has no idea how to find her way home. It's a route she has taken for years, but nothing looks familiar. She is utterly lost. Is her forgetfulness the result of menopausal symptoms? A ministroke? A neurological cancer? After a few doctors' appointments and medical tests, Alice has her diagnosis, and it's a shocker -- she has early-onset Alzheimer's disease.
What follows is the story of Alice's slow but inevitable loss of memory and connection with reality, told from her perspective. She gradually loses the ability to follow a conversational thread, the story line of a book,or to recall information she heard just moments before. To Genova's great credit, readers learn of the progression of Alice's disease through the reactions of others, as Alice does, so they feel what she feels -- a slowly building terror.
In Still Alice, Genova, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard, uniquely reveals the experience of living with Alzheimer's. Hers is an unusual book -- both a moving novel and an important read.(Spring 2009 Selection)

 

Still Alice isn’t an easy read.

The language isn’t hard, despite many technical/medical terms – Genova goes out of her way to make the narration flow as simply as possible. Still Alice is a hard read because of the vast amount of emotions, each one taking the reader on an entirely different roller coaster ride.

It took me a while to fall into her story. I picked the book up and down, trying to get past the first scene as John, Alice’s husband, searches for his perpetually missing keys. It was the moment she forgets her way home on her run that got to me: such an innocent, everyday moment that marks the beginning of a significant change in her life. From that moment, Alice and John became real figures in my life, people I wanted to hug and offer any help that I could.

Each character dealt with Alice’s diagnosis differently. John searched desperately for a miracle drug, disbelieving the original diagnosis; the two older children fell into a cycle of disbelief, thinking/hoping if they just told their mother to remember, all of the missing pieces would fall into place; the younger, Lydia, became the strong pillar in her mother’s life. What truly broke my heart was Alice’s colleagues’ reactions. I understood their detachment: there were still kids to teach, essays to grade, lectures to deliver, and she couldn’t meet those qualifications (painfully revealed later in the story). The vast amount of embarrassing moments, caused by either the disease or the colleagues’ reaction to it, made me feel for her and wish, like John, that a cure would appear.

The ending, however, was completely unexpected and utterly beautiful, sealing in Still Alice with the message that I think Genova was trying to teach us all along.

Posted August 29, 2015 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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August 21, 2015

Review | Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood

Review | Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi WoodMrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood
Publisher: Penguin Books, May 2014
Pages: 322
Format: Hardcover
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The Paris Wife was only the beginning of the story . . .
Paula McLain’s New York Times–bestselling novel piqued readers’ interest about Ernest Hemingway’s romantic life. But Hadley was only one of four women married, in turn, to the legendary writer. Just as T.C. Boyle’s bestseller The Women completed the picture begun by Nancy Horan’s Loving Frank, Naomi Wood’s Mrs. Hemingway tells the story of how it was to love, and be loved by, the most famous and dashing writer of his generation. As each wife struggles with his mistress for Ernest’s heart, and a place in his bed, each marriage slips from tenderness to treachery. Each Mrs. Hemingway thought it would last forever. Each one was wrong.
Told in four parts and populated with members of the fabled “Lost Generation”—including Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald—Mrs. Hemingway interweaves the love letters, diaries, and telegrams of four very different women into one spellbinding tale.

We have a strange obsession with Ernest Hemingway. Even after 89 years since his first novel was published (The Sun Also Rises), Hemingway’s legend lives on. It’s so powerful that I even use a writing app, Hemingway Editor, to make my writing more concise. Despite his strong legacy, I didn’t expect Wood’s Mrs. Hemingway to be so compelling.

Ernest Hemingway was a busy guy; with four wives, it’s amazing that he had any time to write. Mrs. Hemingway begins with his first wife, Hadley Hemingway, mulling over her husband, their mutual friend, and her mixed emotions. Hadley’s character depiction was just the beginning: Wood creates each of the four wives as powerful and emotionally-charged characters.

I was a little put off when I realized that each wife had her turn at narration, but Wood’s compelling writing style knocks this typically tricky narrative out the park. To make each woman – Hadley, Fife, Martha, and Mary – stand out as an individual and make the narration so smooth is quite an accomplishment and makes for an in-depth, intensive read. I felt Hadley’s uncertainty, her jealousy, her relief. I recognized Fife’s intense emotions, ranging from the feelings of a real first love to a mad rage. I admired Martha for her guts, realizing that this life, whatever it was, wasn’t for her. Mary’s strength was dim at first (she and Martha’s first conversation took me aback a bit), but her steadiness and courage were remarkable.

I found myself admiring these women, and through their eyes, seeing a new version of the legendary Ernest Hemingway. Mrs. Hemingway is a remarkable story, one that holds up the standard of the historical fiction genre, and one of my new favorite reads.

4 Stars

Posted August 21, 2015 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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May 1, 2015

Review | At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

Title: At the Water’s Edge
Author: Sara Gruen
Publication Date: March 2015
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Source & Format: Netgalley; ebook
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes  & Noble

After embarrassing themselves at the social event of the year in high society Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve of 1942, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off financially by Ellis’s father, a former army Colonel who is already embarrassed by his son’s inability to serve in WWII due to his being colorblind. To Maddie’s horror, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father’s favor is to succeed in a venture his father attempted and very publicly failed at: he will hunt the famous Loch Ness monster and when he finds it he will restore his father’s name and return to his father’s good graces (and pocketbook). Joined by their friend Hank, a wealthy socialite, the three make their way to Scotland in the midst of war. Each day the two men go off to hunt the monster, while another monster, Hitler, is devastating Europe. And Maddie, now alone in a foreign country, must begin to figure out who she is and what she wants. The novel tells of Maddie’s social awakening: to the harsh realities of life, to the beauties of nature, to a connection with forces larger than herself, to female friendship, and finally, to love. 



When I saw that Gruen’s book was blurbed as a “Scottish Downton Abbey,” I knew I had to read it. Everything about At the Water’s Edge called my name, from the book’s description to the gorgeous cover and typography title. 




I liked Maddie, but for the good first half of the novel, it was hard to identify with her, or any of the other characters, for that matter. They lived in a world so far removed from my own that the chasm between us felt impossible to cross. Even after Maddie and Ellis lose their home and leave to explore Scotland with Hank, there was an air of entitlement. Both men are rejected from the military for different reasons and live with a forced bravado, one they wear as a shield in the harsh environment in the first world war. Hank and Ellis lived as rich playboys, no thought or care in the world except their own.




Maddie had flashes of clarity, but for the most part, she went along with their hare-brained schemes. When she had a change of heart and finally opened her eyes, I found the heroine I had been searching for. She developed into her own person instead of the pretty shell she had been with Ellis and Hank. 



Although I didn’t immediately understand the initial opening scenes with Mairi, I loved how her story connected with Maddie’s. Although horribly heartbreaking, Mairi’s scenes not only set the tone for the story, but the metaphors and the story’s arc. Gruen’s work opens with great emotion and closes the same way. 

I expected Gruen’s work to be a romance, but she surprised me. Instead of focusing on the romance, At the Water’s Edge is the story of a woman coming into her own, finding herself, and learning how to stand up for herself. The romance was just the cherry on top.


Posted May 1, 2015 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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January 27, 2015

If I Were in a Book Club | Top Ten Tuesday


I have mixed feelings about book clubs: on one hand, it would be fabulous to have a weekly/monthly meeting to talk about books. I love to talk about books, but sometimes I feel like I get a little too intense (“But the green light! It must have meant something!”). On the other hand, the books marked for book clubs in the libraries and bookstores don’t hold my attention – sometimes I feel they are trying to be heavy and serious fiction instead of whatever genre actually fits the author’s writing style. 


Regardless, I have a bit of a fascination with book clubs and if I were in one, I would suggest:


1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
2. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
3. Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin
6. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
7. A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin
8. The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern
9. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Posted January 27, 2015 by Ellen in top ten tuesday, Uncategorized / 2 Comments
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January 9, 2015

Review | The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin

Title: The Aviator’s Wife
Author: Melanie Benjamin {website}
Publication Date: January 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source & Format: Library; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes &  Noble

For much of her life, Anne Morrow, the shy daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has stood in the shadows of those around her, including her millionaire father and vibrant older sister, who often steals the spotlight. Then Anne, a college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family. There she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Enthralled by Charles’s assurance and fame, Anne is certain the celebrated aviator has scarcely noticed her. But she is wrong.
 
Charles sees in Anne a kindred spirit, a fellow adventurer, and her world will be changed forever. The two marry in a headline-making wedding. Hounded by adoring crowds and hunted by an insatiable press, Charles shields himself and his new bride from prying eyes, leaving Anne to feel her life falling back into the shadows. In the years that follow, despite her own major achievements—she becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States—Anne is viewed merely as the aviator’s wife. The fairy-tale life she once longed for will bring heartbreak and hardships, ultimately pushing her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence, and to embrace, at last, life’s infinite possibilities for change and happiness.
 
Drawing on the rich history of the twentieth century—from the late twenties to the mid-sixties—and featuring cameos from such notable characters as Joseph Kennedy and Amelia Earhart, The Aviator’s Wife is a vividly imagined novel of a complicated marriage—revealing both its dizzying highs and its devastating lows. With stunning power and grace, Melanie Benjamin provides new insight into what made this remarkable relationship endure.



I grew up with Charles Lindbergh, the hero. The Spirit of St. Louis is a popular movie in my parents’ house – Lindbergh’s famous flight across the Atlantic to Paris, brought to life by James Stewart, was familiar to me as pizza night on Fridays. When I read the blurb of The Aviator’s Wife, my curiousity was piqued. Anne Lindbergh was a complete unknown to me – I knew that Lindbergh had been married, but I knew absolutely nothing about his wife.


Anne’s story was a constant coming-of-age tale; she constantly grows, learns and becomes wiser, but she doesn’t have that defining aha moment until the very end of the novel. Her transition from the ambassador’s daughter to Lucky Lindy’s wife was a jolt in of itself – both to her and I, I think. She had such a quiet complexity that I was instantly invested in her. She was a girl who saw herself as the unremarkable one, the quiet one, the unnoticed one, from her role as a daughter throughout a good portion of her marriage. I found her fascinating.


Historical fiction can be a hit or miss for me – Anne’s story was a hit. Occasionally, an author will focus too much on background, on issues that didn’t grab me, or include events that didn’t fall in the flow of the story. When Benjamin began Anne’s story in her late teens, I was afraid this might be one of those stories. Instead, Anne’s story captivated me; Benjamin described the public’s madness for the Lindberghs so acutely that I half expected to hear a headline on the news about his latest antics when I drove home from work. 


The element I had the greatest love/hate relationship with was the portrayal of women in Anne’s time. At first, her romance with Charles was cute, endearing, but as their marriage progressed, I found myself getting angry for her. He can cook his own damn eggs in the morning! Charles’ demanding, complex personality dominated over her quiet exterior, and I found myself staring at the words in frustration – why doesn’t she stand up for herself? Then I saw the date – in 1931, women were just starting to hike up the hemlines, to show the men who they were dealing with – comparing Anne’s life and relationship with mine were like comparing eggs and bacon. 


I didn’t expect to feel so passionately about this story, to stay until the last possible moment in my car at lunch reading her story. I didn’t expect to find a fascination with this quiet woman who stood behind the man of the age. Simply, I fell in love with The Aviator’s Wife.










Posted January 9, 2015 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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December 26, 2014

The Canon Classics | The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Title: The Fellowship of the Ring
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Publication Date: Originally Published {1954}
Publisher: Original publisher {George Allen & Unwin}
Series: The Lord of the Rings {Book 1}
Source & Format: Owned; paperback
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The dark, fearsome Ringwraiths are searching for a Hobbit. Frodo Baggins knows that they are seeking him and the Ring he bears—the Ring of Power that will enable evil Sauron to destroy all that is good in Middle-earth. Now it is up to Frodo and his faithful servant, Sam, with a small band of companions, to carry the Ring to the one place it can be destroyed: Mount Doom, in the very center of Sauron’s realm.


I feel like Tolkien’s famous fantasy series isn’t a novel that can be reviewed in the way I typically would: everything that I would say about the plot and characters has most likely already been said. So, I’m going to write about my reaction to The Fellowship of the Ring.


Here’s the thing: I love these movies. Marathoning this series with a pizza during a thunderstorm is my perfect day, so, needless to say, I expected a rapid pace adventure. Instead, the narrative focused on the lore with an intensity that I didn’t quite expect. The narration of the novel described the world of Middle Earth with so much careful detail that it was easy to imagine the lush, rolling hills of the Shire, the dark mountains, the Road.


Without a doubt, my favorite scenes were in the darkness of Moria. The uncanny darkness sheathing the old underground city caught my attention and imagination – the action scenes were exactly what I longed for in the earlier chapters. The action also forced each character to show their true colors – Aragorn his bravery, Sam his devotion, and Gimli his loyalty to his history. 


The Fellowship of the Ring makes me long for English class again, if they had discussed such a novel in my curriculum. There are so many references, allusions, metaphors hidden in the text that it makes me yearn to sit and research theories (which might be exactly what I’m doing this weekend). 


Textually, the novel is fascinating, but I struggled a bit with the narrative – Tolkien’s descriptions of the landscape, while fascinating at first, grew a bit old as the story progressed. Maybe it’s just me, maybe I need to give the novel another whirl to understand. 



Posted December 26, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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September 28, 2014

The Canon Classics | Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Title: Vanity Fair
Author: William Makepeace Thackeray
Publication Date: 1847
Publisher: Originally published by Punch Magazine in serials
Source & Format: Library; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

“I think I could be a good woman, if I had five thousand a year,” observes beautiful and clever Becky Sharp, one of the wickedest—and most appealing—women in all of literature. Becky is just one of the many fascinating figures that populate William Makepeace Thackeray’s novelVanity Fair, a wonderfully satirical panorama of upper-middle-class life and manners in London at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Scorned for her lack of money and breeding, Becky must use all her wit, charm and considerable sex appeal to escape her drab destiny as a governess. From London’s ballrooms to the battlefields of Waterloo, the bewitching Becky works her wiles on a gallery of memorable characters, including her lecherous employer, Sir Pitt, his rich sister, Miss Crawley, and Pitt’s dashing son, Rawdon, the first of Becky’s misguided sexual entanglements.

Filled with hilarious dialogue and superb characterizations, Vanity Fair is a richly entertaining comedy that asks the reader, “Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?”



Vanity Fair has been on my TBR, well, since before I made a TBR. Reese Witherspoon’s photo on the movie poster for the 2004 Vanity Fair caught my eye when the movie premiered, but I held out for the book. Ten years later, I’ve finally read it.


It was nothing like I expected. 


My own love for Jane Austen’s social comedies/romances made me assume that Vanity Fair would be a lighthearted romance and moral lesson about life in 1800s English society. I didn’t expect the dark-natured view of humankind’s motivations and existence that I found in the main character, Becky. 


Becky Sharp had some…sharp edges to her (sorry. Couldn’t help it), but the drastic changes that take place in her character were astounding. She was a lesson for me in foreshadowing and trusting my instinct; I didn’t want to believe what her character was capable of, but Thackeray definitely stayed within the realms of character. I loved how he used each character to the extreme, testing their moral boundaries and pushing them beyond what they (and others) thought they could take. 


To be honest, Becky is unlikable as all get out. She isn’t a Sookie, a Katniss, or even an Elizabeth Bennett. She’s a sharp (again, sorry), harsh woman who knows what she wants and doesn’t mind how she gets it. She is a parody, a satiric symbol, instead of the type of heroine we know and love today. 


I don’t know if this extends to Thackeray, but I learned in college that Dickens was paid by the serial as each was published, therefore motivating him to write more words. Since Dickens and Thackeray were contemporaries and Thackeray’s Vanity Fair was published originally as a serial, I wouldn’t find it to be a stretch to assume he was paid the same way. My point? Vanity Fair is a (bit) long-winded. This is a book that you have to sit down and focus on. I had so much trouble with the first few chapters because my mind was constantly wandering, but once I got the rhythm of the story, I fell in love with Thackeray’s parody. 


THE RATING:


Posted September 28, 2014 by Ellen in the canon classics, Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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September 5, 2014

Review | My Life in a Nutshell by Tanya J. Peterson

Title: My Life in a Nutshell
Author: Tanya J. Peterson
Publication Date: May 2014
Publisher: Inkwater Press
Source & Format: Provided by Author; ebook
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Life in a Nutshell: A Novel is the story of one man’s struggles with debilitating anxiety. Brian Cunningham has isolated himself to such a degree that his human contact is barely more than an hour a day. While lonely, he feels powerless to change his life. Unexpectedly, his safe little world is invaded by one Abigail Harris, a seven-year-old girl who, for the last five years, has bounced from foster home to foster home. She has come to live with an aunt and uncle she has never known. Unsure if she can trust her new environment, she turns to Brian. Neither one quite knows how to live in the world. Can they possibly help each other?


I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the author. This in no way influenced my opinion or review. Promise!


Here’s the thing about Peterson’s work: her characters are key. Peterson isn’t afraid to show the true side of human nature, to open doors that society has slammed closed, and examine what truly makes us tick. 


I fell in love with her two main characters in My Life in a Nutshell. Brian, the narrator, shines through his narrative voice. There’s a quiet struggle inside him, a war between his anxiety and his yearning to live his life that is simply fascinating. His tendency towards over-analyzing and struggling with what others think of him struck a chord in me: he and I are alike in that. 


There’s a magic in the friendship between Brian and Abigail, a magic so simple and pure that makes it one of the highlights of My Life. They find a kinship in each other, two people searching for a place, whether it be physically or mentally, to call home. Their story was one of the reasons I kept turning back to this book. 


Peterson’s approach to therapy and the social stigma attached to it was right on the mark for me. I loved the warm therapist who gently pushes Brian beyond the realms of his anxiety. Therapy isn’t portrayed as scary or negative; even the therapist is in therapy. I loved how Peterson knocks down that social roadblock.


The narration itself, told from Brian’s first person POV, can be a little thick. I loved the opportunity to learn his character, but I appreciated the scenes with dialogue with Abigail or other characters, giving me the opportunity to see his full character.


In the end, Peterson strikes gold again with My Life in a Nutshell. For those who loved Leave of Absence, she brings the same depth of character and plot that we fell in love with. I loved My Life in a Nutshell and I can’t wait to see what she does next.


THE RATING:


Posted September 5, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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September 4, 2014

Review | Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Title: Call Me Irresistible
Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips {website}
Publication Date: January 2011
Publisher: William Morrow
Series: Wynette, Texas {Book 6}
Source & Format: Library; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

R.S.V.P. to the most riotous wedding of the year . . . 

Lucy Jorik is the daughter of a former president of the United States. 

Meg Koranda is the offspring of legends. 

One of them is about to marry Mr. Irresistible—Ted Beaudine—the favorite son of Wynette, Texas. The other is not happy about it and is determined to save her friend from a mess of heartache. 

But even though Meg knows that breaking up her best friend’s wedding is the right thing to do, no one else seems to agree. Faster than Lucy can say “I don’t,” Meg becomes the most hated woman in town—a town she’s stuck in with a dead car, an empty wallet, and a very angry bridegroom. Broke, stranded, and without her famous parents at her back, Meg is sure she can survive on her own wits. What’s the worst that can happen? Lose her heart to the one and only Mr. Irresistible? Not likely. Not likely at all.



I finished this book over a week ago but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. To be honest, I have the mad craving to blow off my planned TBR for September, go to the library, rent it out again, and take the day to just read. I loved Call Me Irresistible that much.


It wasn’t just the multi-faceted characters, although good heavens, were they memorable. I loved the depth of character in Meg and Ted themselves; beneath the stereotypes of the spoiled rich girl and Mr. Perfect beat the hearts of a slightly-insecure hard worker and a man who hates to disappoint. Ted’s mask and Meg’s perception of herself made these characters come to life in a remarkable way. 


Even the townspeople were memorable and vibrant. There wasn’t a character that wasn’t created and developed within the story that I didn’t love (even the ones I was supposed to hate). All of the tense, outright emotion that runs rife through the plot helped to create such strong characters.


That emotion I mentioned? Yeah, it comes in buckets. Meg’s reputation as the spoiled Hollywood girl hides her own hardworking nature, but even I didn’t know how she would make it out of Wynette after Lucy leaves Ted at the alter. The vast amount of emotion (most of it negative) that is directed towards her in the first few chapters is downright painful, but her determination to make it through made me want to stick with her. 


Call Me Irresistible is the most unlikely romance I’ve ever read. Meg and Ted are the two people I would not pick to match together out of the cast of Wynette, Texas. When they began to fall in love, their romance was addictive. (I read Call Me Irresistible in one sitting.) All of their own personal feelings towards each other were affected by the town’s disappointment and hurt by Meg’s actions at the wedding, Meg’s own perception of herself, and Ted’s struggle to not disappoint. I was hooked.


To put it simply, there was nothing I didn’t love about this novel. The plot, the characters, all shone through, and Phillips’ simple writing style made this three hundred plus pages go by in an instant. 


THE RATING


Posted September 4, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 1 Comment
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August 15, 2014

Review | Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Title: Burial Rites
Author: Hannah Kent {website}
Publication Date: September 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Source & Format: Library; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. 

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard. 

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?



It’s been impossible to get this book out of my head.


I finished Burial Rites this morning, but ran out of time to write my review before my shift started. Normally I focus on work pretty quickly when I walk in the door, but Kent’s story kept wiggling its way back to the forefront of my thoughts. I imagined the landscape of Iceland, colored by the various characters’ perceptions, the strong themes of gossip, truth, betrayal and trust and wanted to read the novel all over again. It’s been a long time since I felt this way about a book


The element that spoke out to me was the language. Kent’s narration was fabulous. I loved the variation, switching between Agnes’ first person viewpoint to a third person limited with different characters. Typically I get a little confused when there isn’t a demarcation between the different narration, but the transitions flowed so well that I felt I was in the story itself. 


I loved how the descriptions and settings became part of the narration and dialogue so easily. It’s such a natural thing when done well and paints portraits of scenes in my mind. Kent’s language and descriptions made me feel like I was watching the story on a screen instead of reading words on a page. Once I fell into her world, I wanted to stay and find out what happened.  


Agnes herself was one of the most fascinating characters. I loved how her narration explained her ticks and motivations, even after other characters notice some of her stranger mannerisms. For me, Agnes was endearing because she was a girl who had fallen in love with the wrong man. It’s a story we can all sympathize with; Agnes’s fairy tale fell apart in front of her eyes. Her slow revelation of not only her side of the story but her character herself to the earnest young assistant reverend made me fall in love with her character along with the other characters in the novel.


To put it simply, there are a vast amount of minor characters in the novel, but each has a major effect on the plot itself. So many of them only put in small appearances in Burial Rites, but each’s personality, motivations, and thoughts made such an impact on me as a reader that it was nearly impossible to forget them. 


When I picked up Burial Rites, I didn’t realize Kent was giving her version of a true story. The vast amount of detail in the novel never felt like an infodump, but fascinating and engaging. I drank it all in, from the details of Anges’s life to the Icelandic countryside in the 1800s. Kent’s novel sparked a new fascination within me. 


THE RATING:


Posted August 15, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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