I didn’t come close to posting reviews of everything I read in May. I’m still trying to get back into the blogging groove and, perhaps, not all of them warranted an individual post.
So, what was I reading? From best to worst…
by Kaui Hart Hemmings 4 stars
I loved this novel of grief, life and possibility. Admittedly it was a little slow to get started, but what a rare treat to read a book that just keeps getting better and better. Sarah St. John is lost in a world of grief 3 months after her son Cully dies in an avalanche. She craves “knowing” but has more questions than answers. Her dad, Cully’s father and her in-the-midst-of-divorce best friend alternately comfort and irritate. Into all if this comes Kit with some answers that lead to more questions.
“You can’t compare and rank heartache. Pain is pain is pain. There is no precise measurement. No quarter cup.”
by Michael Cunningham 3.5 stars
From the start, this novel reminded me of La Boheme (or Rent for less operatic readers). We have illness, addiction, sex, money problems and even “visions” all in a crumbling apartment. The quality of writing alone rescues this novel from sappy to breathtaking. Cunningham so completely embodies his characters and captures their thoughts, fears and dreams, that even when I didn’t particularly like them, I was still interested.
“People are more than you think they are. And they’re less, as well. The trick lies in negotiating your way between the two.”
by Sebastian Barry 3.5 stars
I love the book’s Irish-ness. I love the lyrical, reflective moments. I like learning about early and mid-century Ireland as well as Accra…Barry really writes the stranger in a strange land well. I can’t even fault his protagonists, two young hopefuls busted and broken by booze and war. It’s all the makings of a great read, but it never quite clicked into gear for me.
“Just now and then, in my effort to form some sort of narrative, to touch accidentally on something rawer than a mere wound…I have evoked the gods of truth, and they will have their way with me.”
by Emma Donoghue 3 stars
I wanted to like this novel much more than I did. I’m a big fan of Donoghue and appreciate the thoughtful detail she puts in to her historic fiction — in this case 19th century San Francisco at the peak of a heat wave and small pox epidemic. It’s the details, I think, that bog the novel down. I’m normally a sucker for atmosphere, but in this case, all of the information seemed to make the book drag on for too long.
“better keep your mouth shut and seem stupid than open it and remove all doubt.”
by Mark Haddon 1 star
The premise – two estranged families on holiday together – holds so much potential. The author’s track record – The Incident of the Curious Dog in the Nighttime – predicts great writing. The ambition – stream of consciousness from alternating perspectives – indicates something interesting. All of the components should have combined into a great novel. Instead, I spent 3 days with a muddled, confused, overly-ambitious mess of a book.
“Family, that slippery word, a star to every wandering bark, and everyone sailing under a different sky.”