Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Olive Kitteridge

I read this book last month and barely remember it. Naughty book blogger. What I can say is that I was impressed and disappointed by this book.

The novel follows a variety of people in the same small town, all of which are touched in one way or another - some in larger ways than others - by retired school teacher Olive Kitteridge. Each chapter introduces you to a new person and while some stories connect, most chapters can almost stand alone.

The way the author captures a voice is uncanny - I would start to get sucked in to a character, but then that particular plot line would end and another would pick up. Which was the disappointment part. The story telling was so real, and the depictions of relationships (especially marriages) so uplifting and heart breaking at the same time. But you never get any real resolution because of the book's format and for that reason, I'm not sure I can fully recommend it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Coral Thief

This was our last book club pick and it had all the ingredients of a great read. But somehow it fell short on almost all levels.

Daniel Connor is a young medical student who is on his way to Paris in 1815 (shortly after Napoleon has been exiled) to study with the top researchers at Jardin Des Plantes. Once there he realizes that his credentials and rare coral specimens that he was to present to his new supervisor have been stolen by the mysterious and beautiful woman who sat next to him on the ride into town. He gets pulled into her secret circle of thief friends, finds himself falling in love with her, and there's French police chases, mystery, and capers. Yet somehow it all.... I don't know... felt a little Snoozeville to me. Which apparently Blogger doesn't deem a real word.

I had a hard time believing the "love" between Daniel and the coral thief - who we come to know as Lucienne Bernard, I didn't find her particularly likable, I thought he was a bit boring and in the end, I had a difficult time feeling engaged in the story. There wasn't anything very specifically wrong with the book, I just never found myself dying to pick it back up. In the end, most of the book club members felt the same way so there was obviously something missing here.

All that said, I don't want to be a complete Negative Nancy so I will say that there are chapters that follow the story of exiled Napoleon and they were great. I'll confess to very little French history and this was a peek into a fascinating era that made me want to read more (about Napoleon, not more of this particular book). I also liked reading about the Paris of 1815 - the underground passages, the police, the stolen art that filled the Louvre, and the exotic animals in the Jardin located in the center of the city. I wish I'd known more about this period in history before we traveled to Paris.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Apologies all around

Um. Wow. I've been supremely negligent. I've read a few books and then written absolutely nothing about them. In my defense, my life lately has been a comdram (do they make those?) I'd call "Three Weddings and an Ear Infection" so before you say anything snotty just picture me up all night with a shrieking one year old, pacing the dark street outside in my pajamas while stepping on snails in my slippers. Who knew there was a secret population of about 5 bajillion snails on our street and that they ALL come out to chill on the sidewalk at midnight? The sound of me accidentally (and unavoidably - did I mention that there are 5 bajillion of them??) stepping on one of those buggers in the quiet of the late night was a sickening crunch that was loud enough to wake the child I had finally lulled to sleep. Gross.

So anyways, I've pretty much lost my readership with my recent apathy and am starting to wonder if I should even bother keeping up this blog? If any of you care to keep reading my infrequent and whiny reviews, speak now or forever hold your peace. See? Too many weddings this summer. What I'm saying is that if you actually read this site and would like to see me continue to post book reviews here, let me know and I'll take it under advisement. But don't just say you read them to make me feel better! This is unnecessary, I promise.

In case you *do* want to see reviews, I've read Olive Kitteridge, The Coral Thief (for book club), Faithful Place (the new Tana French), and am just about finished with Death at Holy Orders.