Saturday, August 28, 2010


Book: The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

    I focused very hard on the dead geranium in his line of vision. I thought if I could make it bloom he would have his answer. In my heaven it bloomed. In my heaven geranium petals swirled in eddies up to my waist. On Earth nothing happened.
    But through the snow I noticed this: my father was looking toward the green house in a new way. He had begun to wonder.

Note: The book that spawned the movie. I watched the latter first, and although I really wanted to like it, I found it disappointing (oh Peter Jackson). Even without reading the novel I knew they were spending far too much time on Susie's heaven and her perspective, and not on the rest of the plot or characters, which didn't make much sense considering the time and place Susie lived in. Surely there was more to see, more people involved rather than just Susie and her parents. For example her sister, who has a very strong part to play in the story, but is almost barely featured in the movie except as an accessory to her father's grief. 

I found the book more satisfying and ended up enjoying it quite a bit with it's variety of characters. I especially enjoyed seeing the ways different characters dealt with their grief and the horror of the crime. It was a more rounded story with Susie overseeing all, and in the book you got better insight into what the dead do when they're gone, who they visit, what they long for and subsequently receive in heaven. Or what they don't. 

There were definitely some bits I didn't like, but overall I thought it was a very good read.  

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Book: Remarkable Creatures - Tracy Chevalier

The summer of James Foot had been the height of Margaret's potential. The following season she was treated as a fine gown that has dated in storage, the neckline now too high or low, the cloth a touch faded, the cut no longer so flattering. We were surprised that this could happen as easily in Lyme as London, yet there was little we could do to change it. Margaret kept her friends and made new ones from the seasonal visitors. But she no longer returned at night with a sparkle and a dance around the kitchen. In time the turbans she persisted in wearing seemed less daring and more a Philpot peculiarity. She did not manage to escape into marriage like Frances, but sank into spinsterhood beside Louise and me. 
There are worse fates.
(taken from p.55 as nothing on p.56)

Note: Tracy Chevalier never fails to inspire and appeal. I've read three other of her books (The Lady and the Unicorn, The Virgin Blue, and Girl with the Pearl Earring) and have thoroughly enjoyed all of them. She is a straight-forward storyteller, but investing enough emotion and truth that you can't help but tie yourself to every life and every character. Remarkable Creatures is no different. Telling the story of two amazing women, Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, Chevalier breathes air into their remarkable lives, both as women and as major contributors to the study of geology. 

Now both this book and Persuasion make me desperately want to visit Lyme Regis! 

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Book: A Thousand Splendid Suns

For most of the days, Mariam stayed in bed, feeling adrift and forlorn. Sometimes she went downstairs to the kitchen, ran her hands over the sticky, grease-stained counter, the vinyl, flowered curtains that smelled like burned meals. She looked through the ill-fitting drawers, at the mismatched spoons and knives, the colander and chipped, wooden spatulas, these would-be instruments of her new daily life, all of it reminding her of the havoc that had struck her life, making her feel uprooted, displaced, like an intruder on someone elses life.

Note: From the bestselling author of The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini delivers another captivating story in A Thousand Splendid Suns. Hosseini again uses the lives of highly personable characters to recount the war, culture and religion surrounding Kabul and Afghanistan  from the 1970s to the 2000s. I love how he tells complex histories, emotions and stories through simple means. That's the best way I can describe it really. Another powerful and gripping book by this author that deserves to be read.