Simone2 about Books and Booker

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Simone2 about Books and Booker

1Simone2
Editado: Ago 18, 2014, 4:05pm

Hi everyone,

I have been totally focussed on my lifelong project of reading the ‘1001 books to read before you die’-list. It is about time I start reading some other books and because I already have read quite a few Booker Prize winners and nominees, I’d like to join your group.

My goal is to read the winner, a shortlisted and a longlisted book from each year. I know, it is ambitious, and it will take a lot of time because I also want to read those 1001 books before I die. Still, I am gonna try! Per year I write the ones I have read.

Any suggestions for filling in the missing ‘gaps’ or replacing my own suggestions for better ones, are very welcome!

2Simone2
Editado: Ago 1, 2014, 10:24am

Este mensaje fue borrado por su autor.

3Simone2
Editado: Feb 10, 2021, 2:19pm

The 60s and 70s, of which I haven't read much...

1969
Winner:
Shortlist: The Nice and the Good 3,5*

1970
Winner:
Shortlist:

1971
Winner: In a Free State 3*
Shortlist:

1972
Winner: G
Shortlist:

1973
Winner: The Siege of Krishnapur 2*
Shortlist: The Black Prince 4,5*

1974
Winner: The Conservationist
Shortlist: The Bottle Factory Outing 2*

1975
Winner:
Shortlist:

1976
Winner:
Shortlist:

1977
Winner:
Shortlist:

1978
Winner: The Sea, The Sea 4,5*
Shortlist: The Bookshop 5*

1979
Winner: Offshore 3*
Shortlist:

4Simone2
Editado: Oct 30, 2017, 1:32pm

The 1980s, with some of my all-time favourites in it. Thinking of it, maybe they are my favourites because I read most of them a long time ago and books used to make a much bigger impression on me then, I sometimes think.

1980
Winner: Rites of Passage
Shortlist: A Month in the Country 4* | The Beggar Maid 3,5*

1981
Winner: Midnight’s Children 4,5*
Shortlist: The Comfort of Strangers 4,5*

1982
Winner: Schindler's Ark 3,5*
Shortlist:

1983
Winner: Life and Times of Michael K 2,5*
Shortlist: Shame 3* | Waterland 3,5

1984
Winner: Hotel Du Lac 3,5*
Shortlist: Flaubert’s Parrot 3* | Empire of the Sun | Small World

1985
Winner: The Bone People 5*
Shortlist:

1986
Winner: The Old Devils 2,5*
Shortlist: An Artist of the Floating World 3*| The Handmaid’s Tale 5* | What's Bred in the Bone

1987
Winner: Moon Tiger 4,5*
Shortlist:

1988
Winner: Oscar and Lucinda 4*
Shortlist: The Satanic Verses 5*

1989
Winner: The Remains of the Day 5*
Shortlist: Cat’s Eye 3*

5Simone2
Editado: Jun 10, 2017, 2:38am

1990
Winner: Possession 3,5*
Shortlist:

1991
Winner:
Shortlist: The Van 4* | Time's Arrow: 4*

1992
Winner: The English Patient 5*
Shortlist: The Butcher Boy 3* | Black Dogs 3*

1993
Winner: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha 5*
Shortlist: The Stone Diaries 4*

1994
Winner: How Late It Was, How Late 3,5*
Shortlist:

1995
Winner: The Ghost Road 4*
Shortlist: The Moor’s Last Sigh 3,5*

1996
Winner: Last Orders 4*
Shortlist: Alias Grace 4*| A Fine Balance 3*

1997
Winner: The God of Small Things 5*
Shortlist: The Essence of the Thing 2*

1998
Winner: Amsterdam 3,5*
Shortlist:

1999
Winner: Disgrace 3,5*
Shortlist:

6Simone2
Editado: Dic 3, 2018, 4:47am

I have reached my goal (to read the winner, a shortlisted and a longlisted of every year) for the first time in the 2000s!

2000
Winner: The Blind Assassin 4*
Shortlist: When We Were Orphans 3* | The Hiding Place

2001
Winner: True History of the Kelly Gang
Shortlist: Atonement 4* | The Dark Room 5*
Longlist: The Stone Carvers 4*

2002
Winner: Life of Pi 4*
Shortlist: Dirt Music 3* | The Story of Lucy Gault 4*| Unless 2,5* | Family Matters 4*
Longlist: If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things 5* | The Mulberry Empire 3*

2003
Winner: Vernon God Little 3*
Shortlist: Brick Lane 3*| Notes on a Scandal 3,5*| Oryx and Crake 3*
Longlist: Frankie and Stankie 1,5* | Elisabeth Costello 2,5*| The Light of Day 3*| The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time 3*

2004
Winner: The Line of Beauty 4,5*
Shortlist: Cloud Atlas 4*
Longlist: Becoming Strangers 3* | Maps for Lost Lovers | Purple Hibiscus

2005
Winner: The Sea 3*
Shortlist: The Accidental 3,5*| Never Let Me Go 5* | On Beauty 3,5* | Arthur and George
Longlist: A Short History of a Tractors in Ukrainian 3* | Shalimar the Clown 2,5* | The People’s Act of Love 3,5*| Saturday 3,5*

2006
Winner: The Inheritance of Loss 3,5*
Shortlist: Mother’s Milk 3* | The Night Watch 4* | Carry me Down 4*
Longlist: Be Near Me 2,5*| Black Swan Green 4*| So Many Ways to Begin 2,5*| The Testament of Gideon Mack 3*

2007
Winner: The Gathering 3*
Shortlist: On Chesil Beach 3,5*| The Reluctant Fundamentalist 4,5* | Mister Pip 4*
Longlist: What is Lost 2,5* | Self Help

2008
Winner: The White Tiger 3*
Shortlist: The Secret Scripture 2,5* | The Clothes on Their Backs 3*| A Fraction of the Whole 3*
Longlist: A Case of Exploding Mangoes 3,5*| Netherland 3*

2009
Winner: Wolf Hall 3,5*
Shortlist: The Children's Book 2,5*
Longlist: Brooklyn 3,5*

7Simone2
Editado: Mar 7, 2020, 10:11am

And to finish for now the 2010s, of which I have a lot of reading to do.

2010
Winner: The Finkler Question
Shortlist: Room 3,5* | Parrot and Olivier in America 2*
Longlist: The Slap 3,5*| The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet 3* | The Stars in the Bright Sky 3* | Skippy Dies 4*

2010 (The Lost Man Booker Prize)
Winner: Troubles 3*
Shortlist: The Driver's Seat 4*
Longlist:

2011
Winner: The Sense of an Ending 4,5*
Shortlist: Snowdrops 3* | Jamrach's Menagerie | Halfblood Blues | Pigeon English 3,5* | The Sisters Brothers 4*
Longlist: On Canaan's Side 4* | The Stranger's Child 1,5* | The Last Hundred Days | A Cupboard Full of Coats 4*

2012
Winner: Bring up the Bodies
Shortlist: The Light House 4* | Swimming Home 3,5* | The Garden of Evening Mists | Narcopolis
Longlist: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry 4*

2013
Winner: The Luminaries 5*
Shortlist: Harvest 4* | The Testament of Mary 3* | The Lowland 3,5* | We Need New Names
Longlist: TransAtlantic 3*

2014
Winner: The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Shortlist: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour 2,5* | We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves 4* | J 4*
Longlist: The Blazing World 4* | History of the Rain 5* | Us 3,5* | The Bone Clocks 3* | Orfeo | The Dog 2,5*

2015
Winner: A Brief History of Seven Killings 3,5*
Shortlist: A Little Life 4,5* | The Year of the Runaways 3,5* | A Spool of Blue Thread 4* | The Fishermen 3,5*
Longlist: The Chimes 3* | Did You Ever Have a Family 4,5* | Sleeping on Jupiter 3* | Lila 4* | The Moor's Account

2016
Winner: The Sellout 3*
Shortlist: Hot Milk 4,5*| Eileen 3* | Do Not Say we Have Nothing | All That Man Is 4* | His Bloody Project 3,5*
Longlist: My Name is Lucy Barton 5* | Work Like Any Other 4*| The Many 3,5* | Hystopia | The North Water

2017
Winner: Lincoln in the Bardo 4*
Shortlist: Autumn 4*| Exit West 5*| History of Wolves 4* | Elmet 3,5* | 4321
Longlist: The Underground Railroad 4* | Reservoir 13 4* | The Ministry of Utmost Happiness 4,5* | Swing Time | Days Without End 3,5* | Solar Bones 2* | Home Fire 5*

2018
Winner: Milkman 3,5*
Shortlist: The Long Take 4* | The Overstory 3*| Everything Under 3,5*| The Mars Room 3* | Washington Black 3*
Longlist: In Our Mad and Furious City 4*| From a Low and Quiet Sea 2* | Sabrina 3,5* | Warlight 3,5* | Snap 4* | Normal People 4* | The Water Cure 3,5*

2019
Winner: The Testaments 2* | Girl, Woman, Other 3,5*
Shortlist: Quichotte | 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World | Ducks, Newburyport | An Orchestra of Minorities |
Longlist: Night Boat to Tangier 2* | My Sister the Serial Killer 4* | The Wall 4* | The Man who Saw Everything 4* | Lost Children Archive 4,5* | Lanny 4* | Frankissstein |

8Simone2
Ago 9, 2014, 6:21am

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

I had never heard of this book and read here about 'the twist' which made me curious. Without reading any comments or reviews I started the book and finished it almost at once. I really liked Rosemary and the style Fowles writes. The twist surprised me, as did the subject of the book. It is good that I didn't know it beforehand, I doubt I would have read it then. But now I am glad I have and I even had tears in my eyes at the sentimental ending. I doubt it will win the Booker Prize but a nice read it is.

4*

9danieljayfriedman
Ago 16, 2014, 9:15pm

>1 Simone2: Over many years, I've read and occasionally reread all of the Booker winners, with one exception that I started but failed to finish. I've also read many of the short-listed novels. More recently, I've been trying to more systematically read prior year entire short lists, in ten year increments (such as 1974, '75, '84, '85. '94, '95, and so forth). I've enjoyed reading all of the short-listed novels in individual years, because doing so gives me a much better sense of years that I think of as good Booker years and years that I think of a bad years. This has also made me much more aware of some wonderful short-listed novels that either had the misfortune of being published in a year with another wonderful novel that ultimately won the Booker, or had the misfortune of losing to what I think of as a more forgettable novel.

10Nickelini
Ago 16, 2014, 10:30pm

My first ‘longlist’ reads appear in the 2000s, no idea why they didn’t earlier

Simone - the first long list/short list year was 2001. Before that there was just the nominees (or short list), and the winner.

Also, in 2010, they came up with "the Lost Booker" which covers books from 1971 that were made ineligible due to a rule change at the time. You can find out the list of books here: http://www.themanbookerprize.com/lost-man-booker-prize

I like your idea of reading one each from every year.

#9 because doing so gives me a much better sense of years that I think of as good Booker years and years that I think of a bad years.

Well that is a very interesting project. I'd like to hear more about what you've learned.

11danieljayfriedman
Editado: Ago 18, 2014, 8:38pm

>10 Nickelini: Nickelini, Unfortunately, I don't have any profound insights from my somewhat methodical reading of the Booker winners and short-listed novels. My not-profound insight is that some years are terrific, some years are disappointing, and the selection of the winners in some years seems more appropriate in some years than in other years. Perhaps what I've learned is that the Booker panel members, distinguished as they are, bring their own preferences to their reading and judging. Some years I agree with their judgments, some years I don't. Some years I think that the winner was no more distinguished or interesting or well written or innovative than one or more of the short listed novels. Most of all, however, what I've learned is that, overall, the Booker panels do an admirable job of choosing the the short lists. I've read and enjoyed many novels and authors whom I wouldn't have read if they hadn't appeared in the short lists.

12Nickelini
Ago 18, 2014, 11:33pm

Most of all, however, what I've learned is that, overall, the Booker panels do an admirable job of choosing the the short lists. I've read and enjoyed many novels and authors whom I wouldn't have read if they hadn't appeared in the short lists.

I'd say that's been my experience too.

13Simone2
Ago 19, 2014, 3:58am

> 10 en 11. Thanks you both for your remarks! I updated my threads and am really intrigued by your favourite books. I am going to read your reviews here!

14Simone2
Ago 25, 2014, 4:55am

The Blazing World

I haven’t read this book with much pleasure actually, but oh how Hustvedt can write!
This is the story of Harriëtte (or Harry) who, as an artist gets little recognition for her work. She blames this on the fact that she is a woman en hopes that collaborating with three consecutive male artists and exhibit her work under their names, will bring her recognition.
The book is made up of material extracted from Harry’s notebooks, interviews in magazines and testimonials from family and friends. This structure makes the book very believable; because the story is being told from so many sides, I became just as bewildered as I think some people involved in the story I think.
Hustvedt's descriptions of Harry's art object are - as well as those in my favorite Hustvedt, What I Loved - matchless and the character Harry becomes incredibly real. I do not find her particularly sympathetic, she acts so superior and omniscient. I really don’t know if I can believe her. As I said, it was not a light read for me, however now that I have finished it, I am deeply impressed. The description of Harry's end (no spoiler), both by herself in het notebooks and by her relatives, left me breathless - so painful and true.

4*

15Simone2
Editado: Ago 25, 2014, 5:30am

Some Booker books I have read in the last two years and reviewed on my ‘1001 books you must read before you die’-thread, I'll copy/paste here:

The Sense of an Ending
One of my favourites in 2011. Great plot, beatifully written. I am not a real fan of Barnes, but this made up for all the others.

4*

The Inheritance of Loss
In the end everybody loses in this novel about India after colonization. Sad stories of the various personages in India, England and the US, beautiful descriptions of the Indian Himalayas. Definitely worth reading.

3,5*

The Story of Lucy Gault
A small, dense story of loss, penance, missed chances. Very tragic. Although the writing is a bit aloof (I wonder if this is the right word) and certainly not dramatic, I felt being drawn into the lives and feelings of the Gaults.

4*

The Beggar Maid
I bought this one because Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize and I had not read any of her books. Well, I will read more by her. I am impressed by the way she observates ordinary things, deeds, conversations and is able to write them down in a way they make me very conscious of myself. It's as if she knows me. I reckon that's what makes her this great writer: I guess everyone will recognize himself or herself in Munro's words.
The Beggarmaid is the story of Rose, finding her way in the world, and her stepmother Flo. I loved the first part of the book, when Rose grows up in poverty, but with dignity. I also loved the stories of her marriage and het daughter. The last few chapters didn't get to me somehow. That's where I lost Rose. Still I am looking forward to Munro's other books.

3,5*

Life of Pi
Of what I knew about this book, I thought it wouldn't be much to my taste, but how wrong I was. I was pulled in from the first page and loved all sides of it. The end is so unexpected (that is, to me) and makes me think of religion in a way I hardly ever do. On New Year's Day, I am going to watch the movie!

4*

On Beauty
One that had been waiting on my TBR shelves for years. I read a lot of critical comments on the book, but I actually enjoyed it a lot. Maybe because it is an easy-read, perfectly fit for my holiday mood, but then again I really liked the various characters; they really came to life for me. However, with this one again I wouldn't be surprised if it will be forgotten in another hundred years. In general I do like the more recent entries of the 1001 list but I have a hard time believing they can last as long as some of the classics do.

3,5*

16Simone2
Sep 8, 2014, 4:11am

J

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was alert, warned by Deern's review, but the book overtook me tremendously. The relationship between Ailinn and Kevern I found hearbreakingly beautiful, they said so much with so little words. I was very fascinated by all that happens to them and the people they are surrounded by. Jacobson certainly knows how to build a story.
And then there is, of course, the slow (though not always very subtle) unveiling of WHAT HAPPENED IF IT HAPPENED. Very timely and political, and therefore also rather subjective. You wonder whether it could be true and that is a strong point, although I am personally convinced it will not. For me, being Dutch, this scenario seems very unlikely. In the Netherlands, many people following the attacks on Gaza are critical of Israel, but not of the Jews in general. Being critical with respect to a country’s actions should not be confused with anti-Semitism! . Anyway, about such things the book makes you wonder and I think that’s very good.

4*

17Simone2
Sep 18, 2014, 3:33am

History of the Rain

I can hardly say anything about this book without getting lyrical or overly sentimental. And that while I was just so impressed by the fact that Williams avoids being sentimental, while the story is full of sentiment.

The chronically ill Ruth is, despite what she’s going through, so cool. Cool and poetic, a combination that makes this book so special to me. Of course Vincent Cunningham is in love with her! He is also someone to love by the way: the scene in which he washes her hair, I won’t ever forget any day soon. Nor will I forget the last chapter, the last alinea, the last sentence. Man, how Williams can write!

History of the Rain is the story of Ruth’s life and family and of the role books have been playing in it. I loved the stories Ruth tells and I find an enormous truth in the remark that stories can be healing. Never thought of them that way. Finally, the reference to the many books, that's kind of a gift to someone who is as addicted to the list of 1001 books you must have read before you die, as I am!

My favourite of the nominated books this year. In fact, the best book I've read this year.

5 *

18Simone2
Sep 27, 2014, 11:48am

Life and Times of Michael K

Somehow Coetzee’s books don’t do anything to me. I have read four now; I know he can write well and his themes also appeal to me, but that’s about it. Without any feeling I read one page after another, waiting for something that won’t come. Pity.

2,5*

19Simone2
Editado: Oct 14, 2014, 5:37pm

Harvest

So, while The Narrow Road to the Deep North was given the MAN Booker Prize 2014 I was finishing Harvest, of last year's shortlist.

A beatifully written novel about a rural community which changes completely in the week after the harvest. Over the course of seven days Walter Thirsk sees all he believed in for the past twelve years fall to pieces and finds himself confronted with mainly himself. Subtle and gripping.

4*

By the way, I think I'll keep Flanagan for another while on my TBR list, I am not at all looking forward to reading his book after some of the reviews I read and after being unable to finish his Gould's Book of Fish.

20Simone2
Nov 9, 2014, 1:42am

TransAtlantic

I couldn't wait to read this one after all your raving reviews here and, especially, the fact that someone called it the 'History of the Rain' of 2013 - my favourite this year.
I guess my expectations were too high. I liked the book, the theme and the writing, but that's about it, I am sorry to say.

3*

21Simone2
Nov 30, 2014, 2:33am

The Testament of Mary

I liked the ingredients of the book, its originality and its suspense. In the end, however, I felt a bit disappointed. The beginning is so strong, the end couldn't match my expectations I think.

3*

22Simone2
Dic 3, 2014, 4:58pm

Black Dogs

It's always the same with me and McEwan: I am drawn into a story at once and a bit disappointed after finishing it. I love his themes, his originality, maybe it's just that my expectations are too high. Of the eight McEwans I have read so far, only Atonement could match them. I also liked On Chesil Beach and Saturday and was intrigued by his ridiculous view of my country in Amsterdam, but all the others made me feel let down.

The same goes for Black Dogs, which starts strong, with a man writing the biography of his mother-in-law because he wants to know the truth about why she left her husband and goes on loving him at the same time. What happened in 1946, when they were travelling through post-war Europe and both members of the Communist Party? Who tells the truth?
Nice start, huh? However, at the end of the novel I didn't care any longer.

Still, I just ordered McEwan's latest, The Children Act from Amazon yesterday...

3*

23Simone2
Dic 16, 2014, 4:28pm

The Siege of Krishnapur

I had a hard time reading this book, it took me over a week while it isn't a difficult read. It just didn't capture me, despite the good plot and the English behaving so very English even in the circumstances of their Residence being under siege. I don't know what was missing for me.

2*

24Simone2
Ene 20, 2015, 5:03pm

Us

An easy read on marriage and parenthood. No literature with a capital L, I guess, but I liked it. A lot was very recognizable for me, that's probably why I liked it better than some other people in this thread. Also I liked the travelling part and some real good observations of art and paintings in the various European musea Nicholls describes. But that's also quite personal.

3,5*

25Simone2
Feb 26, 2015, 8:52am

Schindler's Ark

At its release, the movie swept me off my feet. I didn't know the story about Oskar Schindler then, I knew of course about the horrors of WWII, but seeing them visualized as they were in the movie... Some of those scenes have been lingering in my mind ever since and I cried the whole time.
In the book I recognized a lot of the scenes. However, in this case the written words couldn't match those images still in my head. The character of Oskar himself though, was better worked out in the book than in the movie. It is an important book, I completely understand why it won the Booker Prize. It just couldn't have the same impact the movie had years ago.

3,5*

26Simone2
Mar 29, 2015, 9:18am

The Night Watch

Moving story, told backwards, about four Londoners living their live during and after WWII. How they try to get their lives back on track after all that happened. And how everything doesn't work out the way they supposed. Great characters, great dialogues.

4*

27Simone2
Editado: Abr 4, 2015, 2:33am

Family Matters

I find Mistry such a wonderful writer. All his sentences are full of love and meaning without overdoing it. This is the story of a family, taking care of their old grandfather who comes to live with them in their small Bombay flat. This has a big effect on all of them, especially on the father, who feels guilty about not being able to feed his family properly and starts looking for ways to earn more. Through him Mistry shows us the circumstances of workers' life in India, Bombay.

A beautiful story, except for the epilogue, which did not add anything. The book should and could have ended without it.

4*

28Simone2
mayo 9, 2015, 10:15am

The Sea, The Sea

What a novel! I had been looking forward to this book for a long time and I am not disappointed!

It is the page turning story of Charles Arrowby, a retiring theater director, who moves from London to the North Sea coast to write his memoirs.
At first he describes his daily life there, the food, the sea (quite beautiful) and the memories of his childhood. He seems quite likable, but after a while you realize that is because you know everything only from his point of view.

Then people from London come visiting him and his first love appears to live in the village. Suddenly, you get to know another side of Charles: sometimes directly by letters others write to him, but mostly indirectly by his own story.
He turns out to be a jealous, egocentric man, not very much interested in others as long as it's not regarding their relationship to him, the famous showbiz man.

A lot happens in the story that kept me wanting to read on. Besides that, I so admire how Iris Murdoch succeeds in creating his character. I feel like I know him and I am really annoyed with him for not asking the right questions to the people around him. They have so much to tell, but he just won't listen and he doesn't even realize it! The frustration with which this left me after finishing this book.... wow!

4,5*

29lilisin
mayo 10, 2015, 11:41pm

He turns out to be a jealous, egocentric man, not very much interested in others as long as it's not regarding their relationship to him.

Huh, sounds like my roommate. ;)

I've never actually known the plot to this book but it sounds like something I'd enjoy.

30Simone2
Jun 25, 2015, 10:33pm

Skippy Dies

After Skippy dies, things get totally out of control at Dublin's Seabrook College for Boys. While during his life he was a rather average, shy adolescent, his death has an enormous impact on his friends, his teachers, the girl he was in love with and her dealer annex other lover.

The Principal of the school does all he can to hide the truth and to keep Seabrook's reputation spotless and he seems to get away with it, which is why the book, despite its light and often funny tone of voice, also is quite disturbing.

4*

31Simone2
Jul 11, 2015, 5:31am

Snowdrops

Nice story, lots of suspense, building up to... To what exactly? In the end it became a bit of a disappointment. An easy-read during my holidays, but worth shortlisting for the Booker Prize?

3*

32Simone2
Ago 7, 2015, 3:27am

The Driver's Seat

I knew nothing about this book and just started to read. So I was completely surprised by Lise, whose thoughts we never know, which makes this book so creepy and funny at the same time.
In the end, she is certainly in the driver's seat. Recommended easy-read!

4*

33Simone2
Ago 11, 2015, 1:59am

The Chimes

A difficult read to me as a non-native English reader. I still cannot visualize some of the places Smaill describes.

At the same time, the plot is not so difficult. I read somewhere that Smaill started writing The Chimes for young adults. It is kind of an adventure that Simon and Lucien go through. England after Allbreaking is completely different, the music everywhere, the way things function make this a good fantasy novel.

I liked to read on, was anxious to find out what would happen to them and Chimes. A surprising read!

3*

34Simone2
Ago 27, 2015, 5:44pm

A Little Life

Oh man, what a book. I have had to cry at least five times, but probably more. I didn't count because I could not read on and on although I wanted to.

Such a heavy book, such a tragedy.

I loved both Jude and Willem, the two friends this book is about. I loved their friendship, their conversations and the way they cared for each other.

Jude's past. I can't say much about it here. The way he dealt with it is written in detail by Yanagihara and although I fortunately don't recognize any of it, I now feel like I do. So beautifully written, it broke my heart.

When I started I thought this would be a 5 star read. It went however a bit over the hill, I think.

And I also have some negative commends.
About Jude's past: I got the point after Brother Luke. How many bad luck can one encounter?
About the friendship between all main characters: why are they continuously apologizing themselves?
About their way of live: is everyone in NY wealthy, creative and gay? The characters are sometimes a bit one-dimensional I think. Jude and Willem are being introduced as two of four friends, however the characters of the other two, JB and Malcolm (and especially the last one) are hardly worked out at all. The book would have survived without them - probably a bit shorter as well, because 700 pages to tell the story is a lot.

But now I feel guilty about being so critical because I haven't read a book all year which touched me like this one did. It won't win the Booker Prize I guess, but for me it is a 4,5 stars read.

35Simone2
Sep 4, 2015, 3:50pm

Did You Ever Have a Family

Such a sad story and still those sparks of hope. The story is being told by different characters and they all were so real to me.
The fact that you don't get to know some of the people the story is about, makes this a book unlike any other I recently read. I know I am being cryptical, just read it!

4,5*

36Simone2
Sep 10, 2015, 2:47pm

Troubles

This is the story of the Major who stays in the decaying Majestic Hotel in Ireland way too long. However, many of the guests never leave, although the place is taken over by cracks in the walls, roots through the carpets, cats and rats.

The parallels with the situation in Ireland are clear: these are the 1920s and Ireland experiences its 'Troubles'.

The guests at the hotel try to hide from reality although they have a strong opinion of the Irish.

All of the above could have led to a real interesting story. It did not however. For me the characters are way too one-dimensional (I felt like watching them, not getting to know them) and a lot of storylines are not worked out at all, which I thought was quite frustating.

3*

37Deern
Sep 11, 2015, 4:28am

>36 Simone2: "All of the above could have led to a real interesting story" that's exactly what I thought reading the first 3 lines of your review - I thought I MUST read this book and soon.
What a pity that it turned out a bit disappointing. Is it a Booker winner?

38Simone2
Sep 11, 2015, 11:42am

>37 Deern: To me it isn't but it is this month's Group Read in the '1001 books before your die'-group and many there are enthusiastic about it. So you should probably not let my opinion discourage you.

39Simone2
Editado: Sep 12, 2015, 4:06am

Sleeping on Jupiter

I am afraid I don't understand this novel. It has such a potential (I liked the storyline about Nomi as well as that about the three old ladies and the tea sellers on the beach), but Roy doesn't work out any of them. Or if she does, I don't understand. The ending as well, what's happening and why?
I would have liked to know more about all characters, then it could really deserve a nomination on the short list, but now I am just a bit dazed and disappointed.

So now I can't even rate it with more than 3 stars although I really enjoyed reading it until the moment I realized I would be left empty handed.

3*

40Simone2
Sep 13, 2015, 4:22pm

Lila

I was very much touched by this novel, as I was by Home when I read it years ago.

Gilead symbolizes a world for me I can hardly relate to, but I loved to read about it. All this gentleness and understanding, the hope and the meaning: it shows so much optimism. It offers a home to a wild, drifting girl like Lila. She can be herself there and she is also able to open herself to Christianity, with all the existential questions she has. John Ames is the best person she could meet. I think we all can use a John Ames in our lives once in a while. I know I could, and that without being religious. That's probably what makes this novel so good in my opinion.

4*

41Simone2
Sep 23, 2015, 5:43pm

The Year of the Runaways

I was a bit disappointed by this one. All this misery, the poverty, the lack of hope. I liked some of the storylines but not as much as I expected from the reviews. I kept hoping for some light in the darkness of those Indian people, trying their best in the UK, and sometimes, well....
Still I feel rather depressed after finishing it.

3,5*

42Simone2
Editado: Oct 4, 2015, 3:21pm

A Brief History of Seven Killings

An epic work of rivalling ghettos in Kingston in the 1970s. One of the ghettos is being supported by the Labour Party, the other by the Communist People Party. The CIA is everywhere, trying to prevent Jamaica going communist. And in the centre is Bob Marley (The Singer), who tries to unite both parties and gets shot as a result.

Many characters tell what happens, it's hard to know who's who in the beginning but you get used to that.

Then the story moves in time to the 80s and 90s and in place to the US. The characters are into drugs now, in competition with Colombia.

The story is as violent as it was in the 70s. It is gruesome and a trip, moving and disgusting. However, in the end it went a bit over my head I guess, because it didn't end for me with a big sigh and a 'wow', as it did for many others. Maybe I'll find out one day!

3,5*

43Simone2
Oct 22, 2015, 10:22am

The Comfort of Strangers

This is a creepy book for sure. I read it quite slowly, did want to treasure every word of it. All have a meaning, whether it is about Mary and Colin's relationship, Venice or about meeting Robert and Caroline. You feel the tension building up, without understanding what's actually happening. Definitely one of McEwan's best.

4,5*

44Simone2
Oct 25, 2015, 6:56am

Mister Pip

Despite the drama happening on the island of Bougainville, the story of Matilda is being told very modestly. This gives the book its unique character, along with the theme of storytelling, which I liked a lot.
Everyone has its story, not only Dickens, but all of us. And we can read in it what we want and tell it on the way we want. I like Mr. Watts better than I do like Pip, for example..!

4*

45Simone2
Editado: Dic 10, 2015, 10:04am

Becoming Strangers

A holiday in a Caribbean resort where all guests have their own, sad story. Two couples whose marriages fall apart. Cancer, Altzheimers, alcoholism, adultery: it's all there. Nicely written but at moments a bit stereotype.

3*

46Simone2
Dic 23, 2015, 10:30pm

Waterland

What a weird book. I liked the concept of the History teacher telling stories to his class. I liked the description and history of The Fens (a place in England I had never heard of) and I liked most storylines which all came neatly together in the end.
I just wonder if Swift needed all of them, if the story wouldn't have been just as powerful with a little less of, well, of everything.

3,5*

47Simone2
Editado: Feb 3, 2016, 3:48pm

The Old Devils

Unbelievable that this book was chosen over The Handmaid's Tale and The Artist of a Floating World!
What a disappointment. A long, long time ago I read Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis and I remember it as the funniest book I had read until then. So I looked forward to this novel, that was supposed to be funny too. Well, maybe it was... for aging Welshmen in the 80s perhaps. For me now it did do little. I sometimes smiled, but overall I was mostly irritated by all the booze all of those 'devils' are drinking continually. Some conversations were spot-on however, probably because drunken men always tell the truth. Those conversations (about aging, Wales, careers, marriage and adultery) were the few pearls which convinced me to give the book another half star.

2,5*

48Simone2
Mar 14, 2016, 5:29am

The Nice and the Good

This Iris Murdoch novel, where I was looking forward to so much after reading The Sea, the Sea, was a bit over the top to my tase. Too many characters, too little worked out, too many storylines, too many (sexual!) relationships. I certainly enjoyed reading it and am still a fan of the Murdoch style and humour, but the end left me wondering what exactly she wanted to tell with this novel.

3,5*

49Simone2
Abr 24, 2016, 1:18pm

The Stone Carvers

Years and years ago I read The Underpainter by the Canadian writer Jane Urquhart and was enormously impressed by it. Although I don't remember anymore what it was about exactly, I do recall that she wrote a lovestory that touched me deeply.

She did that again in The Stone Carvers, a book based around the building of the monument to Canadian war dead at Vimy Ridge in France.

In her youth Klara lives in Ontario and loses her brother (who disappears one day when she is young) and her lover Eamon (to a war far from home, WWI). After this, she stays alone, keeps to herself and tries to forget about her feelings.

I cannot tell you how she ends up as a stone carver in France without giving away too much of the story, but it is a moving story, beautifully written and one to cherish.

4*

50Simone2
Jun 1, 2016, 2:48pm

The Black Prince

While I write the title above I wonder what it actually means. It doesn't relate at all to the story I just read, or does it?
Just one more question added to the many others Murdoch leaves me with after finishing this brilliant novel.
I really loved this one. On forehand I had no idea what it was about, I just dived in and only came back to the surface after the last page.
And now I want to start all over again, because of all the twists. This book is a mind f***, I have no clue what happened and what didn't. Fiction at its best I think!
My favourite Murdoch so far, I liked it even better than The Sea, the Sea!

4,5*

51Simone2
Jun 7, 2016, 11:12am

The Vegetarian

I read the winner of the International Booker Prize. This is a really weird story about a woman who tries to get rid of her demons by becoming vegetarian and, finally, refuses to eat at all.
She is diagnosed as mentally ill but the strength of the story is that it is told by members of her family, never by herself. So we keep wondering what is true, who she really is and if she is mad at all. Fascinating read and yes, erotic as well :-)

4*

52Simone2
Jul 8, 2016, 4:28pm

Parrot and Olivier in America

Although I enjoyed it at some parts, I kept wondering what this book was all about. It is the story of the aristocrat Olivier (based on Alexis de Toqueville, who I don't know and am not really interested in) and his servant, Parrot, a man with a wild past. They despise eachother at first but get closer when they arrive in the States.
A lot happens, but I couldn't really care. Nor for me, this one.

2*

53Simone2
Ago 6, 2016, 3:09am

My Name is Lucy Barton

This is the story of Lucy Barton, hospitalized for a long time in which her mother comes and stays with her because her husband doesn't like hospitals.
Lucy has not seen her mother for years since she escaped the poor, abusive environment she grew up in.

In the five days her mother sits beside her bed, they talk. Very cautiously. With so much meaning.
When they don't talk Lucy thinks of her youth, her marriage, her daughters and friends and NYC.

She is such an admirable person. So sensible, so honest and empathic. Driven by the wish to try to understand people, even if she can’t stand them (based on how she was treated by others as a poor white girl, I think), she comes to such beautiful thoughts. I envy her for being able to live that way and think that way.

And then there is the storyline in which Lucy looks back on her time in hospital and tells how she became a writer. In this process she meets another author who has a big influence on her. When she meets her during a workshop and they discuss Lucy's notes on her stay in hospital, they have such a wonderful conversation as well. The dialogues in this book are absolutely great.

There is also a scene in which Lucy describes a statue in The Met of some children, clung to the lege of their father. 'He knows', she thinks upon seeing this.

And that's what I think of Elizabeth Strout after reading this book. She knows.

5*

54Nickelini
Ago 6, 2016, 3:21am

>53 Simone2: Despite all the chatter about this book, I've sort of ignored it all. Your review piques my interest. What era is it set in? Sounds mid-century, perhaps?

55Simone2
Ago 6, 2016, 5:48am

>54 Nickelini: I guess she grows up in the sixties, Vietnam is mentioned. But when she talks about the present it is the 21th century. She tells about 9/11.

I have missed all the chatter somehow, so I dived in unprepared. Hooked from the first page. That doesn't happen that often.

56Simone2
Ago 14, 2016, 3:15am

Hot Milk

The storyline of this book isn't half as interesting as it could have been (a mother who remortgaged her flat to come to a Spanish clinic to be treated for the mysterious paralysis that confines her to a wheelchair and binds her daughter Sofia to her with chains of control and dependency. Sofia divides her time between taking care of her mother and exploring the coastal town of Almería with or without some new friends, as eccentric as herself. The book is Sofia's story).

What made this book so good to me that I didn't even care much about the plot, is Sofia's inner life.
Hot Milk is a tale of how she understands her life and her relationships and of how she begins to repair things that are holding her back. She learns to stand up for herself, to take risks.
Levy catches Sofia's thoughts into the most beautiful sentences, associations and reflections on what happens around her, what people say and do and what it means to live in the 21th century.

4,5*

57Simone2
Ago 17, 2016, 2:11pm

Work Like Any Other

This is the very sad story of Roscoe Martin who ends up in jail after a man is electrocuted partly by his responsibility.
Roscoe's time in jail, his dignity, his dreams and frustrations are being told so well, without being too sentimental, it really touched me.
The way the story is build up, the chapters and the storyline: all these aspects make this a really special read, which I won't easily forget.

4*

58Simone2
Ago 26, 2016, 12:51am

The Sellout

The narrator ('The Sellout') lives in Dickens, an LA suburb. As one day Dickens is not mentioned any longer on maps and road signs, he thinks of a way to give the ghetto back its identity. The solution, he thinks, is in bringing back segregation.
A lot of what he thinks and does goes way over my head. It is hard for me to relate to ghetto life and racial reality in the US. Beatty doesn't do introductions, for which I don't blame him. He throws us right in the middle of his reality and that is the book's strenght but I think I didn't get it all and frankly, I didn't mind too much.
I liked the concept and the satire, but that's about it.

3*

59Simone2
Editado: Sep 4, 2016, 3:15am

The Many

Well, in the end I haven't got a clue what this book was about.

It is the story of Timothy, who buys a house on the brink of an English fisherman's village. It has been left vacant for years. Ten years ago it was the home of Perran, the boy who died in the sea. His death is the beginning of the end of the village: the fishery comes to an end by pollution of the water and some mysterious container ships are permanently anchored near the coast. Ethan, who is still being tormented by Perran's death, is one of the fishermen who keeps fishing the polluted sea, despite the fact that he only catches deformed, translucent fishes. A woman in grey buys his fishes nevertheless and he and Timothy become sort of friends, although they hardly speak. Every question Timothy asks about the mysterious Perran is followed by hostility and silence.

I loved the prose, the setting and the lack of dialogues. The fact that I have so many questions after finishing it, could be intriguing and provoking as well, however there are too many.

SPOILER ALERT

I don't know what the title is about, I don't know what the link is between Perran the fisherboy and Perran the son, I don't know what the environmental storyline means, I don't know who the woman in grey is or why she is there, I don't know what happened to Perran and why people should be so hostile towards Timothy, I don't know what Lauren's got to do with it. In short, I am left with so many questions that in the end I am disappointed. Although it also intrigues me and I will try to find some answers.

3*

It is now a few days later and I keep thinking about this book. I have to change my rating for sure:

3,5*

60Simone2
Sep 9, 2016, 3:54am

Eileen

I finished Eileen and dit not really like it. Perhaps that is exactly what Moshfegh meant with this book, but that sounds a bit contradictory of course.

Eileen is a very lonely and insecure girl with a monotonous life of working in a youth detention centre at day and taking care of her druk father at night. No one cares for her and she makes sure it stays that way by making herself as invisible as possible. She doesn't want anyone to pay attention to her because she feels ugly and unworthy. This is very sad, but Mosfhegh makes sure Eileen is not very likable, neither as a young woman and, nor as the old one who tells the story.

Eileen's life changes when Rebecca arrives, a new colleague who, with all her beauty and charisma, chooses Eileen to confide in. A sparkle of hope in Eileen's dull life, but this storyline doesn't work out very good in my opinion.

I think Moshfegh did a very good job in creating an atmosphere which leaves you uncomfortable, while reading and after finishing the book, because she is able to direct your feelings towards Eileen. Still, my not liking it predominates.

3*

61Simone2
Sep 30, 2016, 8:05am

His Bloody Project

One day Roddy murders his neighbour. This book is about the events leading to this murder and the trial afterwards. The story is situated in a poor village in the highlands of Scotland.

During all of the story Roddy remains a mysterious boy. We read his own story, others opinion of him and a coverage of the trial itself. This arrangement of the book is very interesting. Moreover, the various perspectives on what happened, one of them very plausible as well, make this a real good read. Not worthy of the Booker Prize though.

3,5*

62Simone2
Oct 7, 2016, 9:06am

All That Man Is

I liked this book a lot. It consists of nine short stories of nine man in different phases of their lives. There is a teenager Interrailing for example, a wealthy man on a superyacht and a man selling real estate in the French Alps. All are travelling through Europe, one way or another.

David Szalay is still young, but I am surprised at how well he can relate to men of all ages. Some stories are better than others, probably because I can relate more to some of them, but overall I was pleasantly surprised.

My personal favourites are the one about the journalist, chasing a scoop, and the last one, which is very sad. The narrator observes his own life, what has been and, especially, his expectation that he won't live anymore within another ten years since he has become an old man - something he has come ro realize recently. I can imagine that will be anyone's thoughts one day, but it depresses me immensely and I hope I won't be that way.

4*

63Simone2
Oct 13, 2016, 10:17am

Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Call me blasé but I have already read so much about China under Mao that I am not really interested in yet another. Add the fact that this is a very densely told novel with many characters doesn't help in continuing this one.
Chances are high it'll win the Booker Prize next week, perhaps I'll give it another try then, but for now I give up the fight.

64Simone2
Dic 2, 2016, 9:40am

The Mulberry Empire

After I finished this book I read online a few recensions who all mention that Philip Hensher’s novel with its characters and its style is relating to other authors, such as Byatt, Kipling and Ondaatje. Perhaps this gives the novel an extra layer, however I didn’t know it and still liked The Mulberry Empire.

The story is about the English presence in Afghanistan in the 19th century and the dubious role they play over there. Kabul is described vividly, as are all the English and Afghan characters who come to life in this novel. Each chapter is about another character, some of them keep returning, others do play just a small role in the book. Some are very interesting (Bella, Masson, the Afghan amir), others are in my opinion a bit boring.

Overall an enjoyable read, although I don’t think I would recommend it to my friends.

3*

65Simone2
Ene 6, 2017, 1:17pm

The Bone Clocks

In this novel David Mitchell combines a realistic story with fantasy/magical realism. I don't think he succeeded in this. I really enjoyed the book as long as it was the story of Holly Sykes, who we follow in different stories, told by herself (part 1), a boyfriend (part 2), her husband (part 3) and an over-his-top author (part 4).

Sure, there were some fantasy elements throughout these parts, but they were few and intriguing. In the mean time I enjoyed Holly's story, but also that of the egocentric Hugo Lamb, that of the author (Mitchell?) who criticizes the literary world, and, especially that of Ed, Holly's husband, who works as a journalist in Iraq after 9/11. I loved his (Mitchell's?) view on international politics and the British/European dependence on the US, without any government having a policy of what to do with Iraq after the fall of Saddam.

And then there is part 5 and the battle between good and evil takes place. I felt like I had arrived in a YA-novel I didn't like. I skimmed the pages and the last part didn't make up for that, even though they describe a scary but imaginable future of the world.

So. Partly very good, partly very weak and boring, in my opinion.

3*

66Simone2
Feb 12, 2017, 11:39am

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

I am a fan of Toibin's writing style, however I liked Brooklyn a lot less than Nora Webster and The Heather Blazing.

This is because of the storyline which I think is very thin. It feels like reading one of those romantic novels I read as a teenager - although I really liked Eiles, the girl who moves from Ireland to Brooklyn and succeeds in finding her way there within and outside the Irish community.

3,5*

67Simone2
Abr 10, 2017, 4:14am

Wolf Hall

I finally finished it, Wolf Hall. I have missed all those books, movies and tv series about the Tudors and the Boleyns, so I knew little about Thomas Cromwell, Thomas More, Henry VIII, Anne and Mary Boleyn etc. So far I thought of the Catholic More as a noble good man and Cromwell as the bad guy.

Therefore, I really liked the perspective Mantel uses to describe this period of British history. The book shows how More treated his adversaries while I couldn’t help but like and admire Cromwell; his smartness, his opportunism, the way he treats his family, his cunning. Mantel portrays him as a really cool guy.

Then there is King Henry VII, the one Cromwell helps to annul his marriage to Catherina so he can marry Anne Boleyn and hopefully, get a male heir. You only see Henry and Anne from Cromwell’s viewpoint and that is quite originally as well. I often had to laugh reading his thoughts regarding the people surrounding him.

I can’t say I will read Bring up the Bodies immediately, but I am definitely looking forward to Anne’s fall and Cromwell’s role in this.

3,5*

68Simone2
mayo 24, 2017, 10:05am

On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry

Lily was as a young woman forced to leave Ireland because her husband was haunted by the IRA. Together they went to America.
In this book Lily, now 89, looks back on her life in the US. It is her story, sure, but more than that it is the story of America, the land of possibilities and hope. The land where people from all over the world can find a place and live together. Lily’s life shows a perfect example of this.
An important moment is 1968, when Martin Luther King was killed. I had never realised this was such an important event. ‘The death of hope’, Barry calls it, ‘on Canaan’s side’.
I enjoyed the book and keep thinking how many things have changed over the last years. Within the US and all over the world.

4*

69Simone2
Jun 10, 2017, 2:36am

Time's Arrow

Wow, what a mindblowing read this was. It describes life with a reversed chronology. And Amis works this out perfectly, and shockingly.

It is the story of the American doctor Tod Friendly, who keeps wondering about the meaning of life because doctors are the ones who demolish human bodies. He feels something is wrong, but later in life, when he gets younger, he becomes nazi doctor Odilo Unverdorben and then all makes sense: then he is able as a doctor to create life, he creates Jews out of ashes and is able to reunite families.

This is not a spoiler, you know from the start what will happen - however it is so shocking when reading it.
Especially because it is a funny book as well, explaining life backwards. The protagonist for example is pleasantly surprised that NY yellowcabs are always exactly there where you need them, no wonder people salute them for hours after arriving, waving goodbye!

A highly original, disturbing read.

4*

70Simone2
Jul 9, 2017, 6:59am

The Dog

After his divorce an American lawyer accepts a vague job as advisor of an ultra rich family doing business in Dubai. While there he tries to make the best of an unsatisfying, boring life. Ingredients for a good novel but somehow it led to nothing.

2,5*

71Simone2
Editado: Jul 26, 2017, 11:29pm

Now that the 2017 longlist has been announced, I have a lot of reading to do!
- I read only two, Autumn and The Underground Railroad, which I enjoyed both.
- I have copies of Reservoir 13, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness and Exit West; I should be able to read them during my upcoming holidays.
- I have heard good things about Swing Time, Lincoln in the Bardo and 4321
- I had never heard of Days Without End, History of Wolves, Elmet, Home Fire and Solar Bones, so am pretty excited to find out more about them.

I'll copy the reviews I made earlier of the ones I read:

Autumn by Ali Smith

This is the story of the friendship between Elisabeth and her old neighbour, Mr Daniel Gluck. A friendship that sustains over the years. But the book is much more than that: it is about this post-Brexit world, it is about art and storytelling.

Smitt writes mesmerizing about her characters: I am fascinated by and liking Elisabeth, her mother, her mothers friend Zoe and Daniel a lot. I was happy to learn about Pauline Boty, a pop art artist of the sixties of whom I had never heard. I loved the dialogues between Elisabeth and Mr Gluck, between Elisabeth and her mother and between Elisabeth and the man behind the counter at the post office.

Autumn is the first of a planned quartet by Smith, I am really looking forward to where the next installments will take us.

4*

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

I read this one during a holiday in NYC, a few weeks before the elections and many aspects of US history and present were coming together and overwhelming me.

The book is about Cora, a slave who is able to escape the plantage she was held in in Georgia by the underground railroad. It is shocking to read about the white people in the various states she arrives in, how they are really able to become so inhumanly cruel. I knew, of course, what circumstances can do to human behaviour, but it is still so shocking.

And then there is the contrast with the ones who risk their lives 'running' the railway and who often have to pay for their courage.

A book such as this one deserves to be hyped and read to remind us of times we don't want to ever happen again. To let stupid sentiments not take over, but to keep our senses - with Trump in the US but also in Europe with its current attitude towards muslims.

4*

72Simone2
Jul 31, 2017, 2:36pm

Reservoir 13

A 13 year old girl goes missing in an English village. The whole village participates in a search for the girl but without any result.
What follows are 13 chapters describing the village and its inhabitants in the 13 years following the incident.
We get to know a lot of these inhabitants and what happens in their lives. We also read about the yearly changes in seasons and nature, the animals coming and going and the yearly events and celebrations in the village. In the background there is always the missing girl.
McGregor pulls the reader into the story with short sentences full of meaning. Subjects which are being touched upon in a certain year, turn out to be relevant for what happens the next year, subjects which seem so important turn out not to be at all. Just like real life!

4*

73Simone2
Ago 6, 2017, 6:53am

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

At first this book is about Anjum, a hermaphrodite, who grows up with other 'Hijra's' in the slums of Delhi, where she becomes a woman.

Call me a snob, but I was thinking 'O no, not another book about poverty in Indian slums', when the story moves on to four students and the way their lives are one way or another all centered around Kashmir. In her beautiful thoughtful sentences Roy tells the story of religion, politics and violence in the northern part of India. All I knew from the news comes to live in this sad, sad story.

Set in the 90s, the parallells with our current times (in India as well as the rest of the world) are undeniable and frightening.

And then there is Anjum again and suddenly her story makes sense and I get the picture. I am so glad I didn't bail on this thought provoking book. I ended up loving it.

4,5*

74Simone2
Editado: Ago 9, 2017, 4:18am

Lincoln in the Bardo

This read reminded me the most of a very unusal play or at least the script for one.
Based on the story that Abraham Lincoln visited the grave of his death son Willie soon after the funeral to hug him one more time, the novel is set on the graveyard. There are many ghosts there in a kind of afterlife, and their voices are loudly heard. They reminiscence over the past, comment on other peoples lifes and death and observe what happens when Lincolns sits near the grave of his son, whose ghost is observing his fathers despair and grief.

The fact that, despite the often hilarious conversations between the ghosts, the grief remains so untouched, so raw, without ever having it explained by Lincoln himself - always through other voices -, makes this a very special read.

4*

75Simone2
Editado: Ago 29, 2017, 7:58pm

Elmet

It was a good read. This is the beautifully written story about a boy and a girl, raised by their father in an unconventional way. They build their own house and their father earns his money by fighting other men. The siblings don't go to school but the three of them are happy. Until their luck turns against them.

A good read although I kept wondering when the story is situated. I somehow think I somewhere read it is in the recent past but then again, I can't imagine the things that happen to happen in our time.

A good read but why it is longlisted for the Man Booker Prize I don't know. But maybe I have to be blamed for that because I guess there is a link with Ted Hughes's book Elmet which is lost on me.

3,5*

76Simone2
Editado: Ago 23, 2017, 7:36pm

History of Wolves

Linda, the main character of this book, is 14 and above all, an observant of life. She observes her teacher, nature and her classmate Lily. In the meantime she babysits Paul, the little boy who lives across the lake from her, in a house as isolated as her. She is charmed by Patra, Paul's mother. Is this what makes her less observant of what's happening right before her eyes?

A good plot, well worked-out characters. Impressive for a debut, but not enough to win the Man Booker Prize.

4*

77Simone2
Ago 29, 2017, 7:55pm

Days Without End

I think I am lucky that, thanks to my holiday, I was able to read this book in one go. Because it is not an easy book. For me it was hard work to concentrate, but then it grabbed me and the reward was there.

This story is about the self-creation of the US in the 19th century. Thomas, an Irish boy, and his friend and lover John, join the US Army in the battles against the indian communities and, later, in the Civil War. I didn't care much for the descriptions of the battles themselves but all other scenes and storyline touched me deeply. Almost every sentence Barry uses is beautiful and spot-on. For example I loved how Barry, with few words, makes Thomas's male and female side completely believable and sincere.

3,5*

78Simone2
Sep 8, 2017, 8:48am

Home Fire

Wow. This is one of those books I couldn’t stop reading and that kept me thinking about it whenever I had to stop.

Isma, Aneeka an Parvais are siblings and orphans. Their father was a captured jihadi, killed on his way to Guantánamo, their mother died shortly afterwards. Isma has since then taken care of the twins Aneeka and Parvais, nut now that they are old enough to take care of themselves, she moves to the US to study. In the meantime Aneeka is studying law in London and Parvais feels a bit excluded and starts looking for a new meaning of life.

What follows is the highly political story of British/Pakistani muslims living in the US and UK today. It is a great portrait of current times. I could symphatize with all main characters wile they all are so different and with diverging views on today’s world. Highly recommended, my favourite of the 2017 longlist!

5*

79Simone2
Sep 10, 2017, 12:16pm

Solar Bones

I bailed on this one. I am definitely not in the mood for this one right now. I'll give it another try when and if I am ready for a one-sentence-stream-of-conscience.
Not a favourite for the Man Booker shortlist in my opinion.

80Simone2
Oct 22, 2017, 11:49am

A Cupboard Full of Coats

Fourteen years after her mother’s murder, Jinx still blames herself for her role in the crime. She is living alone, separated from her husband and young son, when Lemon arrives, an old friend of Jinx’s mom and her abusive husband Berris. Lemon blames himself for the death as well. The next few days they spend revisiting old wounds and reliving past events. Over the course of a weekend of Caribbean food and revelations, things turn out to be not always as they appear. An emotional book, written very well.

4*

81kentboy40
Oct 26, 2017, 4:37am

Like you I debated about this book due to the format it is written in. But give it a go, there is so must to take in in the hour span of the story. Only problem is your brain saying where's the full stops lol.

82Simone2
Editado: Nov 20, 2017, 1:08pm

The Fishermen

This is the story of four teenage brothers. One day the mad man of the village predicts that the oldest brother will be killed by one of the others. This prophecy sets in motion a series of irreversible events. A tragic story of life and loss in a Nigerian community.

3,5*

83Simone2
Dic 3, 2017, 4:51am

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

It may be my partly due to my yearly December blues but I really loved this sweet story.

Harold is on his way to the mailbox to send a goodbye note to a dear friend from his past when he decides to deliver it personally. So he starts walking, to the other end of England
This walk means a lot of time to think. About his life, his marriage, his son and the dying woman he is walking towards.
An emotional read with a beautiful ending

4*

84LovingLit
Dic 9, 2017, 8:27pm

I am so inspired by your thread!
My lofty ambition to read the Booker winner for every year is a slow project in itself, and although I am sometimes aware that one I am reading was short- or long-listed, I don't keep track! How are you doing your challenge, are you sourcing the long lists and picking a book, or are you reading s normal and tracking ones that are listed?

85Simone2
Editado: mayo 26, 2018, 2:25am

>84 LovingLit: I am sorry for the late response. Thank you fot your kind words. I do read the nominated books fanatically in the months of the longlist and shortlist each year. The rest of the year I try to read some more.

86Simone2
Ene 19, 2018, 11:15pm

A Horse Walks into a Bar (winner of the International Man Booker Prize 2017)

I felt part of the audience of the club in which stand-up comedian Dovaleh is having a breakdown. Instead of telling bad jokes he tells the story of his youth. I felt a spectator - just as his youth friend Avishai did when he knew Dovaleh back then as well as this evening when they meet eachother again.
It is a dark and uncomfortable read but anything Grossman writes is perfect.

4*

87Simone2
Ene 30, 2018, 5:30pm

The Luminaries

What a ride! I really, really loved this book! I think of it as superb storytelling, as a wonderful, old-fashioned adventure with a fantastic plot and sub-plots. I was drawn in from the first page and loved how the many characters each revealed their interpretation of what happened on that night in 1866 in which Emery Staines disappeared, Anna Wetherell tried to commit suicide and Crosbie Wells died in the gold-digger town Hokitika. 800 pages read like a rollercoaster, wow. I am left with many questions and still don’t understand the Zodiac framing, but I am satisfied with the whole experience of reading this great book.

5*

88Nickelini
Ene 31, 2018, 12:03am

>88 Nickelini: - wow, what an endorsement. At this point in my life, an 800 page book would take me at least a year to read, but sometime in the future . . .

89Deern
Editado: Feb 27, 2018, 8:22am

>88 Nickelini: I couldn't believe that after such a long book I'd resurface from the story and complain because there wasn't another 800 pages, but that's what happened. Absolutely loved it!

90Simone2
Editado: mayo 26, 2018, 2:22am

>88 Nickelini: Oh if you find the time again, please do read it. I am almost sure you'd love it!

>89 Deern: Me too, it could have gone on for another 800 pages easily without me complaining!

91Simone2
mayo 26, 2018, 2:21am

The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt

For years I had been looking forward to this book, as it got so many raving reviews here. Now I finally got to it and I didn't care for it at all. There are so many characters and storylines (why??), all are potentially interesting. However because there are so many, none is really worked out well. All subjects (war, art, anarchism, etc.) are being touched upon and then onto the next. On me this had the effect that I ended up not being interested in any of the subjects or the characters. I really wonder what point Byatt wants to make with this book.

2,5*

92Simone2
mayo 31, 2018, 12:53pm

Pigeon English

Harri Opoku is an 11-year-old boy from Ghana who immigrates with his mother and sister to the tough projects of London. After the seemingly random stabbing of an older boy, Harri and his friend Dean turn amateur detectives, looking for clues everywhere. Kelman's ability to write from an 11-year-old's perspective is incredible, he creates such a sweet, naïf boy, who manages to stand strong in an environment of junkies and gangs. All the love for this book except for the role of the pigeon, that literally added nothing to the story.

3,5*

93Simone2
Editado: Jun 5, 2018, 1:36am

In a Free State

Two English people, Bobby and Linda, undertake a long car journey across an unnamed East African country (Uganda?) where a coup by the president has just displaced the king. Just freed of colonialism the president’s men replicate the selfsame power structures, similar instruments of oppression of their own peoples as the whites did before. During their road trip Bobby and Linda (both so white and racist) become aware of how serious the situation has become.
While I write this summary I realize the plot is very good. Yet somehow I didn’t enjoy reading it. It’s Naipaul’s style, the dialogues and the racism that botters me.
My vote for the #ManBookerGoldenPrize won’t go to this one.

3*

94Simone2
Ago 14, 2018, 11:47am

The Long Take

Walker is a smart guy, living the low life in Los Angeles, where he ends up (maybe because he loves the movies) after being mentally destroyed liberating Europe in 1945. He doesn’t feel a hero though, in the US. Like many other soldiers he feels neglected, the country being too busy with combatting communism and immigration. He despises it all: the cities, the government, the war, but mostly himself.
Walker’s thoughts are written in a lyrical, dark poetic style, which makes this book unforgettable.

4*

95Simone2
Ago 15, 2018, 5:21pm

From a Low and Quiet Sea

How can a book that starts so strong (with the story of Farouk, a Syrian refugee) become so utterly boring? I was drawn in immediately by Farouk’s story and Ryan’s style, but Lampy’s story was disappointing and the last one I could only skim. In the end the three stories come together in a forced way. Too late for me, I wasn’t interested anymore. Definitely not Booker worthy in my opinion.

2*

96Simone2
Ago 16, 2018, 1:27pm

Sabrina

Wow, this was a surprise. I never read graphic novels but I really liked this one. The simple, repeating graphics and the relevant plot about conspiracy theories and the power of the media. I didn’t understand the ending 😊 but I had a surprisingly good time reading Sabrina.

3,5*

97Simone2
Ago 18, 2018, 7:25am

The Water Cure

Okay it is not Booker worthy but I did enjoy this one. Set on a isolated island three sisters are being raised by their parents and by bizar punishments prepared for if evil (read: men) will reach the island. And of course, men do come.

It is a dystopian novel in line with The Handmaid’s Tale, Never Let Me Go (but not as good) and The Power (better than that, imo).

3,5*

98Simone2
Ago 20, 2018, 11:52am

Everything Under by Daisy Johnson

Well I don’t know about this book. I didn’t like it as much as I feel I should. It had some weak points I think. The plot is good, well written and interesting if not shocking. I do have a problem with the setting (what kind of places this, this riverside where no one lives and coincidentally all main characters keep running into each other?) and with the Bonak. The story didn’t need a Bonak. All in all a bit disappointing.

3,5*

99Simone2
Ago 24, 2018, 3:10am

In Our Mad and Furious City

This is a political very relevant novel about live in modern London. The Estate is a block of high buildings surrounding a square where the local youngsters meet and play football. All of them English yet with roots in another country or religion. They live an ordinary life but you can feel the tension in the community building up. Things spin out of control mad and furiously. A very believable plot, that could happen any day in any European city. Such a scary thought. One of my two favorites for this year so far.

4*

100Simone2
Ago 25, 2018, 1:01pm

Normal People

This is the kind of book you want to keep on reading and never to be finished. Because you want to know all there is about Marianne and Connell, who fall in love in high school and grow up together. Their dialogues are superb, their friendship is unique, their lives are recognizable. It is a feel good book and yet it isn’t. It is bittersweet. It is very good. Not the Booker Prize winner but a very good read.

4*

101Simone2
Ago 27, 2018, 4:37pm

Snap

This surely was one of the best thrillers I have read lately. Jack is a 14-year old, looking for his mother’s murderer. Fast paced and with good and unexpected twists the story made for some well spent hours.

In its genre it is a four stars read for me, but man, this is the Booker longlist! Call me a snob, but I don’t see its literary merites. Maybe it’s me and it’s just good that Booker broadens its horizon and that the longlist now includes a crime thriller beside a graphic novel and an almost poetry one. Maybe it just takes some getting used to....

4*

102Simone2
Sep 3, 2018, 3:48pm

The Overstory

I had a hard time reading this book. So many characters and let’s face it, I’m not that interested in trees. So while the character development was interesting I couldn’t really warm up to the many parts about trees and eco-terrorism. I admire Powers storytelling qualities though.

3*

103Simone2
Sep 6, 2018, 5:37pm

Warlight

Nathaniel tries to make sense of what happened in those years after the war, growing up among strangers who took care of him and his sister when their parents left them.
The first part describes this youth, in the second part (that I enjoyed a lot more) Nathaniel is an adult.
I so much love the way Ondaatje writes. His characters, the atmosphere, the descriptions of landscapes, hotel rooms, European cities. It’s all there, yet somehow it didn’t accumulate to the fantastic novel I expected.

3,5*

104Simone2
Sep 10, 2018, 4:34am

The Mars Room

I am not a fan of books about drugs and poverty, I have read too many of them. This one is about a poor, drug-using and lapdancing woman who ends up in prison. Books and films about prisons have its own clichés, and they are all here in the book: lousy lawyers, corruption, women being touched and hassled by male policemen not standing a chance, the poor circumstances in prison, the fights among the women, etc. Kushner writes well and I kind of liked Romy Hall, but that’s about it.

I wonder however, is this really reality in the US, this lousy criminal justice system and those circumstances in prison? Or are books and movies exaggerating?

3*

105Simone2
Oct 21, 2018, 1:37pm

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

Four generations of a middle-class American family, living in the suburbs of Baltimore. Nothing much happens to them, they live and love and lie and make mistakes. This easily could have been a cheesy novel, but it isn’t. As homely and cosy as it is, Anne Tyler takes it beyond cheesiness and creates a family I want to know all about.

4*

106Simone2
Dic 3, 2018, 4:46am

Carry me Down by MJ Hyland

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, on the list of 1001 books to read before you die and yet I had never heard about this book before.

And that while it is really good. Told (so convincingly!) from the POV of an unstable but lovely 11-year old boy who considers himself a human lie detector. Because there are many lies in his family, even though his parents are trying to be honest. Painful and beautiful.

4*

107Simone2
Ene 1, 2019, 5:14am

Washington Black

This was an amusing kind of adventure / coming of age novel. Wash is a slave that escapes in an air balloon with a white man who means the world to him from then on. He will follow him everywhere.
I enjoyed it but may have missed a deeper meaning?

3*

108Simone2
Ene 20, 2019, 8:26am

The Sisters Brothers

Eli Sister is one if the infamous Sisters brothers, hitmen. On horsebacks on their way from Oregon to gold digging California, this may seem a cliché western novel, but it‘s so much more. Eli is the softer of the brothers and he is a fantastic narrator, who thinks of life, the world around him and his role in it. A great read, funny and sad.

4*

109Yells
Ene 23, 2019, 8:03pm

>108 Simone2: I loved the The Sisters Brothers and Dewitt's humour. I just read French Exit and while it's not as good, the humour is definitely there.

110Simone2
Feb 9, 2019, 5:02pm

>109 Yells: I’ve heard so many good things about that one! I must check it out!

111Simone2
Feb 9, 2019, 5:03pm

Milkman

“... that I came to understand how much I’d been closed down, how much I’d been thwarted into a carefully constructed nothingness by that man.”

Was it really so hard, living in Belfast during the Troubles? I had no idea. Middle Sister’s live is aimed at survival. Nearly-Boyfriend is her saviour but then Milkman appears, the paramilitair who stalks her.

The book is wonderful but difficult to read. I had a hard time staying focussed. Yet I really admire Middle Sister and Anna Burns.

3,5*

112Simone2
Editado: mayo 6, 2019, 5:06pm

The Stranger’s Child

Everybody loves this book and I was sure I would too. Hollinghurst is such a good writer and I love his English-ness and his plots. At least I did in In the Line of Beauty (an all-time favorite) and The Swimming Pool Library.
So I didn’t want to give up but halfway through this chunkster I had to admit I wasn’t in the least interested in the parade of characters that came and went. This book is more a portrait of England in the 20th century than a novel I think. For me that didn’t work.

1,5*

113Nickelini
mayo 11, 2019, 4:02am

Disappointing! I loved that one but I listened to it while walking and cooking. I don’t think I’d have like it as much as a read.

114Simone2
Editado: mayo 26, 2019, 8:53am

Offshore

A group of odd people live on houseboats on the tidal Thames in London. Not much happens until the end, when the whole world of each protagonist changes irrevocably. The set-up was good but I had a hard time comprehending what was happening and caring for what was. I think I just wasn’t in the mood and that it deserves another read and a better appreciation.

3*

115Simone2
Jul 31, 2019, 6:34am

The Wall

The world has drown because of climate changes, England had build a wall around his coastline to protect its inhabitants against the rising sea and against refugees trying to enter the country. We follow some people who defend the Wall.

This is a frightening and very realistic novel about migration and climate change, about survival in harsh and uncertain times. The book describes a world that is unmistakably ours, albeit irreparably damaged.

4*

116Simone2
Jul 31, 2019, 6:35am

My Sister, the Serial Killer

I really enjoyed this story. It’s a quick and easy read about a young woman who literally cleans up the mess her sister makes of her life and her lovers. Despite the dark subject it is light and funny and bittersweet. It is definitely highly original.

4*

117Simone2
Ago 2, 2019, 7:40am

Lanny

Lanny is a little boy, busy talking to trees and doing other interesting things in the rural village he recently moved to with his parents - who both still live partly in London, at least mentally.
His mother arranges for Lanny to have art lessons with Pete, a local (once famous and controversial) resident. This provides the catalyst for the plot.

This book contains so much: current themes of our society go alongside the spiritual presence of Dead Papa Toothwort, an ancient spirit who has seen all life in this place.
Although the climax felt a bit too constructed to me, I really enjoyed this book and think it’s a worthy candidate for the Booker Prize.

4*

118Simone2
Ago 5, 2019, 11:21am

Lost Children Archive

A truly wonderful book that many many people should read. Beside the incredible well written plot of a marriage falling apart and the children noticing, it describes the reality of our current world, in which our leaders refuse child refugees at our borders, and leave them by themselves in the most inhumanly way. Must read and must win the Booker Prize!

4,5*

119Simone2
Ago 22, 2019, 10:51am

Night Boat to Tangier

It seems as if I’m the first to not like this book but I really didn’t. Although the storyline set in the present (the two men waiting in a Spanish harbour for the girl Dilly to arrive) had some potential, the storyline set in the past (about the two men doing drugs and things - a subject I mostly find annoying) didn’t work for me. This author has been compared to Beckett. That may be a compliment but I’m no fan of Beckett either. Not at all.

2*

120Simone2
Oct 29, 2019, 10:10am

The Man who Saw Everything

"He doesn’t care about his own life, so he doesn’t care about the lives of others”, says a friend about Saul Adler, the main character in this book.

Saul is not very likeable indeed, but the way Levy places him in the middle of the turbulent second half of Europe’s 20th century is brilliant. I can’t say much without spoiling things, but be prepared that even the smallest details recur, reform, and return with new significance and meaning in Saul’s struggle to bring order to his life and story.

4*

121Simone2
Nov 1, 2019, 6:33pm

The Lowland

I liked this book more than I expected. It is a family saga set in turbulent Calcutta and quiet Rhodes Island. It’s about brothers and wives, mothers and daughters. Above all it is about people making choices for themselves and the consequences of those choices for others. Lahiri is a thoughtful storyteller with a lot to tell.

3,5*

122Simone2
Mar 3, 2020, 3:32pm

Girl, Woman, Other

Twelve character studies of black women, all so well worked out. Many many great quotes. I enjoyed reading this one, although I had enough at the end (too many characters, I did love how it all came together in the end).

3,5*

123Simone2
Mar 7, 2020, 10:11am

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

I am really disappointed and even a bit offended by this book. What was Margaret Atwood thinking? And the jury of the Booker Prize?

I loved The Handmaid’s Tale but this sequel is just a mediocre YA novel with a very weak plot. Its importance can only be commercial.
I hope the jury of the Tournament of Books will be wist and kick it out of the tournament immediately!

2*

124Yells
Mar 7, 2020, 2:11pm

>123 Simone2: This is exactly why I have the book but haven't read it yet. I thought The Handmaid's Tale was fantastic and worried that The Testaments wouldn't live up to it.

125Simone2
Editado: Jul 31, 2020, 5:56am

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

What is it that makes Japanese books so good? Their stillness? The lack of exaggeration? The respect for the plot and its characters? Their weird plots? This one is the fabulous portrait of a world where things disappear and with them, people’s memories of them. Their hearts grow empty and there seems no way out. Disturbing yet wonderful novel about a world in decay.

4,5*

126Simone2
Jul 31, 2020, 5:57am

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

An easy read, almost chicklit, but without the fluffiness because racism is everywhere in this book, with a lot of different truths about it. It’s hard to take sides and it made me wonder how I’d behave in the circumstances. So in the end the plot is just a tool to make you think about racial issues and character development in millennial times. Clever.

3,5*

127Nickelini
Jul 31, 2020, 12:14pm

>125 Simone2:
I had never heard of the Memory Police until I saw it 2 days ago at the bookstore. I was thinking of going back today and getting it. Now I know I must!

128Simone2
Ago 9, 2020, 9:36am

>127 Nickelini: it’d really good, I think!

129Simone2
Ago 9, 2020, 9:36am

The Last Hundred Days by Patrick McGuinness

“... a system that’s on its knees in a city that’s coming down. That’s not evil out there, that dark cloud, the Securitate, the motorcade, the decoy dogs... it’s not evil. It’s failure, that’s all, failure. “

This quote about the last hundred days of Ceaucescu’s Romania, seen through the eyes of a British ex-pat, says it all. Scary times and betrayal all around.

3,5*

130ChloeSwadling
Ago 9, 2020, 9:57am

Este usuario ha sido eliminado por spam.

131Simone2
Sep 17, 2020, 1:41pm

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak

Way too fragmented for my taste and with too many characters who never really came to life. For me it was a disappointing and incoherent story, as unfinished as Leila’s life.

2,5*

132Simone2
Sep 22, 2020, 2:08am

Burnt Sugar

As a girl Antara felt neglected by her young wild mother. As an adult their relationship is still very complicated and her past keeps catching up with Antara, het art and her marriage. She wonders if maybe becoming a mother herself will clarify things to her.

This is an extremely well written book, it seems easy but I could only manage a few pages at a time.

4*

133Simone2
Oct 17, 2020, 4:44am

Apeirogon

I was surprised that an Irish author dares to write about the Israelian-Palestinian conflict. But he does a good job, mostly because the story is based on the true lifes of Rami and Bassan who both lose a daughter in the conflict. The book touched me mostly because it tries to stay objective. I can’t judge if it succeeds completely but I read it as the story of two men who have much more they have in common than most are willing to admit. I even allowed myself to hope that there can be peace among them. That if the people want it and act upon in, governments shall follow eventually.

4*

134Simone2
Oct 24, 2020, 6:12am

The North Water

This is an enjoyable adventure book set on a whaling ship in Arctic Greenland. All goes wrong of course and the horrible crew is stuck with each other, their stench and horrible habits. There is of course a good guy and a bad guy and both are quite unique. I had a good time reading about the unscrupulous villain, despite all violence and gory details. It reminded me a bit of Lord of the Flies in that it shows what can become of men in times of duress.

3,5*

135SophieSpragg
Oct 24, 2020, 6:44am

Este usuario ha sido eliminado por spam.

136Simone2
Nov 3, 2020, 12:02am

Swing Time

I’m calling it quits. I enjoyed Zadie Smith’s earlier works but this book is just boring. Two not so interesting girls doing nog so interesting things in a world of music and glamour. I know that the story will move on to West Africa and that might add a lot but I can’t be bothered any longer.

137Simone2
Nov 3, 2020, 12:10am

The Discomfort of Evening

I read this book because of its nomination for the International Booker Prize and its Dutch. It's the story about a very conservative religious peasant family, affected by the death of a child. Through the eyes of the young Jas we see how each family member deals with this loss in their own way. The parents are completely paralyzed by sadness and fail to see how Jas and her siblings are derailing slowly. On each page we read about religion, sexuality and the filth of existence. It was beyond unpleasant to read, but very well written and it kept me reading on.

3*

138Simone2
Nov 3, 2020, 12:12am

The Memory Police

What is it that makes Japanese books so good? Their stillness? The lack of exaggeration? The respect for the plot and its characters? Their weird plots? This one is the fabulous portrait of a world where things disappear and with them, people’s memories of them. Their hearts grow empty and there seems no way out. Disturbing yet wonderful novel about a world in decay.

4,5*

139Simone2
Nov 3, 2020, 12:16am

The Stranger’s Child

Everybody loves this book and I was sure I would too. Hollinghurst is such a good writer and I love his English-ness and his plots. At least I did in In the Line of Beauty (an all-time favorite) and The Swimming Pool Library.
So I didn’t want to give up but halfway through this chunkster I had to admit I wasn’t in the least interested in the parade of characters that came and went. This book is more a portrait of England in the 20th century than a novel I think. For me that didn’t work.

1,5*

140Simone2
Ene 8, 2021, 3:04pm

A Tale of the Time Being

The time being is deep time, as opposed to linear, chronological time. The time being is a kind of eternal present. A time being is also a being who lives in time, who is alive, and who will therefore die.

The time being less too at least three different storylines, and a mix of history, contemporary fiction and magical realism. It could have been too much but Ozeki knows how to intregate all of this into a wonderful story of coming of age, love, and war. And of Japan.

4*

141Simone2
Ene 28, 2021, 3:11pm

The Conservationist

Instead of having a plot, this book is an analysis of the racist policy of Apartheid personified into the life of a white man, Mehring. This character is South Africa in miniature: entitled and privileged and almost completely ignorant of everything around him. He doesn’t understand the black laborers who run his farm and underestimates their foreman who hides his superior intellect whenever the boss is around. While Mehring’s white wife, mistress and son all flee the country, he himself represents the inevitable collapse of Apartheid.

2*

142Simone2
Feb 18, 2021, 7:10am

Shuggie Bain

It is impossible to rate this book negatively. It is so well written and Douglas Stuart deserves all the praise to be able to write this story.
I am glad it won the Booker and if the author is anything like Shuggie himself, he deserves all the luck in the world.
Having said that, I didn’t enjoy the book. Its repetitiveness was exhausting: the ongoing misery, never a break or some humor. I was even a bit annoyed by it (just one example: the one time Shuggie takes a taxi, the driver abuses him; what are the odds?).
I am glad I read it and glad it’s done.

3.5*

143Simone2
Abr 13, 2021, 11:02am

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

I feel ashamed of myself but I can’t focus on this book at the moment. Too much going on in real life to be able to concentrate on the horror of Australian POWs working the Burma Railroad in what’s now called Myanmar. I don’t bail, I want to read it one day. Just not now.

144Simone2
Jul 23, 2021, 7:49am

Good Behaviour

Meet Aroon St Charles, a girl too tall, too plain, too ungainly. She is the only and lonely daughter of Mummie and Papa, of Temple Alice, a once grand, now decrepit, country house.

It’s a long and complicated story Aroon shares - without ever understanding what that story is about.

That makes this book both funny and sad, and quite brilliant.

4*

145Simone2
Oct 25, 2021, 3:17pm

The Promise

I did enjoy this story of a white family in South Africa. I liked the style, the many points of view. The atmosphere felt raw at times, magical at other times. A book well worth the Booker but somehow it didn’t touch me as much as I expected.

3.5*

146Simone2
Nov 21, 2021, 10:06am

Real Life

Why do people hurt eachother so much? And themselves? Why being so hard on yourself and one another? This book is real life. Not mine, but it feels so real. Wallace does and my heart goes out to him. The loneliness of the black gay boy trying to fit in the the white Midwest. Hiding in science. All that anger and the feeling of not being worthy of love. All the misunderstandings, but also the tenderness. And that poor Miller. The book touched me deeply.

4.5*