photo of the day: make a wish

22 05 2009


readings: the children’s book

22 05 2009

After finishing Byatt’s The Children’s Book a couple of days ago, I found myself in a bit of a muddle.  I felt like some of the characters in the novel – the women in the Fludd house – who are described many times as not quite there, somehow distanced from things, and that was my feeling on closing the final page.

To begin with, it felt like I was reading it all the time and not making any headway.  And by the end, I felt like threads that I thought important, really weren’t by the end, and characters that I thought somewhat secondary became much more of a focus.  There were also points in the last third where I felt like I was reading more of a history book than a novel with Byatt’s listing and description of all these different historical events that happened in different years.

I did enjoy the children’s stories that were inserted in the narrative, and I didn’t scan and skip as I did with the poems in Possession (I know they were important and had certain clues, but I just wanted to find out how it all turned out).  The end section – the WWI one – seemed rushed to me and I felt I needed more, though as I said the reading of it felt very long and expanding the WWI section would have probably made the book too heavy to keep propped up.

I know that everything I’ve said as been negative, but I didn’t really dislike the book.  I didn’t feel much of anything really, which might be worse.  I did enjoy the use of pottery and it made me really want to see the creations of the potters in the book.  I think the book dealt with some very big ideas and had a great to say, but I’m still trying to puzzle out what all of that meant to me.

Up next is The Winter Vault which I received through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program.

reading catch-up

6 05 2009

In my prolonged absence from blogging, I’ve finished three books.

First was The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox.  It had been on my TBR list since it was published and I picked it up a few weeks ago from the discount shelves at Chapters.  I enjoyed the story, and I thought Cox did a good job of building suspense and of handling the key twist.   I did find it a bit overwritten though, to the point that it took me out of the story at times.

The next book I finished was a real find: Come Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant.  I found it just browsing new titles in the bookstore and it was every bit as quirky and heart-warming as I expected it to be from the blurb on the book jacket.  It’s the first book that’s made me laugh out loud in a long time, and it has the added bonus of having some of the chapters told from the perspective of Winnifred the tortoise.

Last was the new Sarah Waters novel, The Little Stranger.  Waters is one of my favourite historical novelists, my very favourite of her books being Fingersmith.  I enjoyed The Little Stranger, but not nearly as much as I’d hoped or expected to.  The novel focuses on the Ayres family and is told from the perspective of Dr. Farrady, who first encounters the estate as a child and then returns years later when he is called out to care for their maid Betty.  The house – post-WWII – has lost all of its former glory and the Ayres are struggling to meet ends and keep the house from falling down around them.  Dr. Farrady becomes intimately involved in the lives of the Ayres and in the strange occurrences that begin occurring at the house.  Waters did an excellent job of creating the mood of decay that permeated the Ayres’ estate, but I found the characters all difficult to relate to and I found the twist too obvious.

Next on the reading agenda is Byatt’s The Children’s Book and then probably The Winter’s Vault, which I just found out is making its way to me through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program.