Buddy Read – Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

June 2018 – Mel’s choice

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

by Jonathan Safran Foer

Published 2005

Genres: Fiction / Historical Fiction

 

In a vase in a closet, a couple of years after his father died in 9/11, nine-year-old Oskar discovers a key….

The key belonged to his father, he’s sure of that. But which of New York’s 162 million locks does it open?

So begins a quest that takes Oskar – inventor, letter-writer and amateur detective – across New York’s five boroughs and into the jumbled lives of friends, relatives and complete strangers. He gets heavy boots, he gives himself little bruises and he inches ever nearer to the heart of a family mystery that stretches back fifty years. But will it take him any closer to, or even further from, his lost father?

 

Mel says…

I think anyone who is old enough to remember 9/11 and where they were on that day can agree, it is an event that we will never forget for as long as we live. This is why I chose this book, as it delves into the psyche of direct loss from that act of terrorism, albeit in a  fictional sense, however I found Oskar’s story of discovery and mourning intriguing.

Oskar was an extremely quirky 9 year-old, and the trauma that Safran Foer so cleverly portrayed through Oskar’s personality was both brilliant and heartbreaking.

The format of EL&IC was interesting with letters, narrative and images that made each chapter different from the next. There was a large amount of chapters that I skimmed through, due to lack of interest. Generally these were chapters from the Grandparents past which I felt were slightly confusing and uninteresting.

By the end of EL&IC, I was waiting for answers and closure that never came, but after a bit of thought felt that this was consistent with how Oskar would feel throughout his journey for closure.

Although I did enjoy EL&IC, I didn’t love it and was happy with a 3/5 star rating.

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

 

Janelle says…

I went in to this book not really that interested in reading it, but I thought I’d give it a go and hope to be pleasantly surprised.

Like Mel, I found the story told from Oskar’s point of view to be incredibly sad, all the more because of the fact that this trauma was and is real for so many people. But I also didn’t really care about the flashbacks of the earlier generation scattered throughout, and by the end of the book it still wasn’t obvious to me why they were necessary. I also felt a sense of “Ok…..aaaaand?” with the ending.

Frankly I struggled to get through this one, I didn’t learn anything new from it and it was all just a bit ho-hum. I gave it a 2-star rating on Goodreads, but the more I think about it post-read, the closer to a 1-star my opinion gets! There’s not really much more to say about it, other than don’t bother.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

 

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Yoga Book Club – Yoga School Dropout by Lucy Edge

 

 Yoga School Dropout

by Lucy Edge

 

Published 2005

Genres: Non-fiction / Travel & Adventure / Spirituality / Memoir

 

“Today asana has been made into a photograph,’ he said. ‘There is no difference between this and gymnastics. We see calendars with photographs of someone balancing on a rock in handstand, the sun setting between their hands, yoga in front of waterfalls, even naked yoga. But asana is not a performance, asana is what happens in the posture and afterwards. A circus man can do many postures – this is not asana.’

Lucy decides to leave her advertising job in London behind for a spiritual and yogic journey through India. Along the way she meets yogis from all different walks of life, tries different lineages of yoga, receives teachings from gurus, and learns things about herself that she never expected to.

 

Janelle says…

I’ve been mostly AWOL lately due to starting a new life chapter as a yoga teacher which, what with all the training and the practicing and the teaching and the reading and the studying, has really put the brakes on my reading and blogging time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving it and am super happy…but I do wish I had more like 48 hours in every day sometimes.

The good news though is that my yoga buddies and I have started a yoga book club. This is good news because 1) it’s my first ever book club and I’ve always wanted to be in one, and 2) instant book blog material! So here we go.

For our first book club read we chose this travelogue/memoir about a woman who travels to India to find authentic yoga and her true self. I found I really couldn’t warm to the main character until right near the very end. She was not well introduced at the start so I felt no connection with her whatsoever, as the story jumped straight in to her leaving her metropolitan life and job in advertising in order to run away to the other side of the world. I spent a lot of the book wondering who this woman really was, what was her deal, and did she even care about yoga or was she just there to be able to say she’d done it?

I did enjoy the tour through yogic India and the different people she met along the way, both from Indian and Western cultures. The topic of how yoga is viewed and practiced in India vs how it is portrayed in the West came up a few times and was intriguing, and I continued to think about it and try to form my own opinions even after putting the book down.

I also thought that there were a lot of yoga terms and Sanskrit words used, which, if you had little to no knowledge of yoga philosophy, would likely have gone straight over your head and supremely frustrated you. I don’t think this book is friendly to those with only a mild interest in yoga, it’s written with a lot of assumed knowledge and I think that let it down in making it less accessible.

Overall, I wasn’t expecting to absolutely love this book but I thought I would like it more than I did. If you’re really into yoga and you’ve done some reading on the history and philosophy behind it, you might enjoy this if the premise sounds good to you. For everyone else, give it a miss.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Yawn – The History of Bees by Maja Lunde

The History of Bees

by Maja Lunde

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Published 2017

Genres: Fiction / Mystery / Crime Fiction

“The little plastic container was full of the gossamer gold, carefully weighed out. I tried to transfer invisible portions lightly out of the container and over into the trees.

Each individual blossom was to be dusted with the tiny brush of hen feathers, from hens scientifically cultivated for precisely this purpose. No feathers of artificial fibers had proven nearly as effective. 

….in my district the tradition of hand pollination was more than a hundred years old. The bees here had disappeared back in the 1980’s, long before The Collapse;..”

 

 Mel says…

This was in my TBR pile for so long and I finally got my hands on a library copy. The History of Bees had such high praise on Goodreads, so I was really looking forward to the concept of 3 intertwining stories, all set in different eras of time.

The story of William, set in the 1800’s was probably my least favourite of the 3. He begins by being bedridden with an unexplained illness and his family try desperately to get him to begin participating in life once more. He is then driven by immense guilt from his children to get back on his feet (literally and figuratively) and develops a brilliant idea to design a new concept of bee hive. Fast forward through his dramas and his story begun to bore me to the point where I skipped the last handful of his chapters, as my care factor was ZERO!

George is a modern day bee keeper who has a struggling honey farm. He fights battles to keep his farm and family together. He is also an ignorant father and angered me to the point I wanted to throttle him with the book. Some of the conversations he held with his son and wife made me wonder how the hell these people managed to put up with him. Such a prat!

Finally we have Tao. Tao lives in China, post “Collapse” and works tirelessly to make ends meet. Her son is struck with a mystery illness and he is taken away for “treatment”, which Tao and her husband then have to struggle to find where their son was taken and what has happened to him. I related the most with Tao, as she demonstrates the lengths a mother will go to for her children. She is a fighter and a bad ass woman, who never gives up hope of finding her son alive.

Overall, The History of Bees had very few subtleties as to how each story related to the next and I found the minor links boring. I am still scratching my head as to how this book has such a high star rating on Goodreads because I unapologetically give it 2 stars.

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Let Down – Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water

by Paula Hawkins

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Published 2017

Genres: Fiction / Mystery / Crime Fiction

“Again! Again!”

The men bind her again. Different this time: left thumb to right toe, right thumb to left. The rope around her waist. This time, they carry her into the water.

“Please,” she starts to beg, because she’s not sure that she can face it, the blackness and the cold…

…She sinks. By the time they drag her out the second time, her lips are the blue of a bruise, and her breath is gone for good.”

 

In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help.

Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind.

But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.

And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool . . .

Mel says…

 

Ugh, whhhhyyyyyyyy!!!???? Why was this book such a let down?? What did Paula Hawkins do that was so different to The Girl on the Train?! Sigh…

It took me roughly 3/4 of the book to finally understand who’s who, without having to read 1-2 pages of their designated chapter and that was my biggest pet peeve. What was with the large amount of characters that the plot followed? Why couldn’t the plot be solely told through the protagonist, who I am still confused as to whether it was Jules or Lena, but either would have been fine.

The plot was interesting and intriguing, but my focused wained due to the confusion from all the different angles and I began resenting this book by page 200.

This was my main holiday read over the Christmas break and I’m somewhat disappointed that I stuck with it.

2/5 stars 😦

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Conflicted – The Scent of You by Maggie Alderson

The Scent of You

by Maggie Alderson

Book

Published 2017

Genres: Fiction / Chic Lit

“Your glass might be half-empty or half-full, whatever – I’m wearing mine on my head, juggling it, making it into a percussion instrument. It’s not what you’re doing, or where you go, or who you’re with, but what you make it into.”

Polly’s life is great. Her children are away at uni, her glamorous mother – still modelling at eighty-five – is happily settled in a  retirement village, and her perfume blog is taking off. Then her husband announces he needs some space and promptly vanishes.
As Polly grapples with her bewildering situation, she clings to a few new friends to keep her going – Shirlee, the loudmouthed yoga student; Guy, the mysterious, infuriating and hugely talented perfumer; and Edward, an old flame from university.
And while she distracts herself with the heady world of luxury perfume, Polly knows she can’t keep reality at bay forever. Eventually she is forced to confront some difficult truths; about her husband, herself and who she really wants to be.

Mel says…

I really, REALLY wanted to like this book. I fell in love with Maggie Alderson years ago and have collected her novels ever since, but I must sadly say, I am glad I borrowed this one from the library…

The Scent of You is about self love, self worth and discovery, and I was eager to go on this whimsical journey with the protagonist, Polly.  In the beginning, the plot developed well and kept me eager to discover what would happen next. The mystery surrounding Polly’s husbands disappearance was at the forefront of my eagerness to keep turning pages.

By halfway, the story had veered its focus away from the husband’s disappearance and started focusing in on Polly’s relationships with other men and her children. This is when I started to get confused and bored. The anticipation of finding out why the husband had disappeared was losing all appeal and I began to struggle with my reading.

Polly became infuriating to read and I struggled to care about how her life would pan out, purely due to the drawn out conclusion. By the time the big reveal took place, I was disappointed and glad it was almost over.

It is hard to put my finger on exactly what this book was lacking, but one thing is for certain, it required more soul.

I struggled through the second half of this book and the only reason I stuck with it to the end was out of love for Maggie Alderson. This was a miss for me and it breaks my heart to say it, but don’t waste your time.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Buddy Read – Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

May 2017 – Janelle’s choice

 

Big Magic

by Elizabeth Gilbert

Published 2015

Genres: Non-Fiction / Self-help

 

“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life.”

Elizabeth Gilbert is a champion of creative living, and in this book she shares tips on pushing past fear, giving yourself permission, and committing, to live out your most creative dreams.

 

Janelle says…

This is my second time reading this book, and while I can see why others have taken fault with it, I still love it. This is Liz Gilbert’s call to creativity, a kick-up-the-bum that we all sometimes need. Applicable to whatever your form of creative outlet is, this book quashes the usual excuses for not starting that project, or making time to do something you love, or taking that chance. Fear/time/embarrassment/lack of confidence….she covers it all. This book is your permission slip to allow yourself to do whatever it is that you truly yearn to do. In fact she says so herself in the book, she personally gives you permission!

Admittedly, at times this book does get a bit woo-woo. But while I don’t necessarily believe in Gilbert’s way of viewing how ideas are born and realised, I do think it’s a fun and motivating way of thinking about it. Meditating on the thought that if you don’t pick up a floating idea and do something about it, it will move on to someone else, does make me feel more inclined to take my ideas seriously lest I lose them.

I don’t really get why Gilbert cops such a lashing from critics and readers, I think she deserves to be cut some slack. I loved Eat Pray Love, and I love Big Magic. The first time I experienced Big Magic was on audio, and I felt so inspired I wanted to shout from the mountaintop about all the amazing things it made me want to do with my life. In the time between reading this the first time and reading it the second time, I have taken a big step in making one of my creative dreams come to fruition, and reading this again while knowing that I AM already allowing myself my creative freedom made me so happy and proud. And honestly, Big Magic did play a part in giving me the nudge that I needed to get going.

If you have ideas or hobbies or passions, or even if you don’t but you’d like to, let Elizabeth Gilbert inspire you to make your life full of beautiful creativity!

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

 

Mel says…

I’m going to start by stating that I am not a creative person, in that I don’t write (aside from this blog), paint, build, dance or play music. I wish I had a creative bone in my body, but sadly I have attempted all of the above and I just don’t have the talent or patience for such things.

With that said, I found it hard to connect with Big Magic. I would read several pages and get bored, put the book down and not touch it for days.

There was the occasional passage that I found intriguing, such as Liz Gilbert’s theory on Multiple Discovery. I like to think that ideas are out in the Universe, just waiting for their creator to grab them with both hands and mould them into something brilliant. That makes me feel warm and fuzzy, for some strange reason.

Aside from this, I have to admit I did a lot of skimming and then decided to give up after 3/4 of the way through. I apologise to my sister, who I know loves this book, but I just could not relate and so will forever more be a huge fan of creativity, but I was not created to be the creator…

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

 

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Buddy Read – The Girls by Emma Cline

March 2017 – Mel’s choice

The Girls

by Emma Cline

Published 2016

Genres: Fiction / Literary

“I didn’t tell him that I wished I’d never met Suzanne. That I wished I’d stayed safely in my bedroom in the dry hills near Petaluma, the bookshelves packed tight with the gold-foil spines of my childhood favourites. And I did wish that. But some nights, unable to sleep, I peeled an apple slowly at the sink, letting the curl lengthen under the glint of the knife. The house dark around me. Sometimes it didn’t feel like regret. It felt like a missing.”

1969. California. Fourteen-year-old Evie Boyd is living a standard suburban teenage life- trying to make sense of her split family situation, learning about herself, noticing boys. And noticing the group of scruffy, devil-may-care girls who keep crossing her path. Something about them is alluring to her. One of them in particular sticks in her mind, and through some coincidental events, Evie manages to weave her way into their group and become entwined in their lives. Living off the grid, she experiences drugs and sex, and very quickly leaves her old life behind. However the influence of the group’s “leader”, Russell, is about to become something more than she could have ever foreseen.

 

Mel says…

I chose this book for our March Buddy Read as I had heard such amazing reviews. Celebrities were posting about it and it made me want to find out what all the fuss was about.

At the start, I enjoyed the writing style of Emma Cline. The back and forth from past to present was intriguing, for about half the book. I found the present day Evie to become irrelevant. There seemed no real logical explanation for bothering with present day Evie. She added zero value to the storyline, in my opinion and I began getting irritated when I would turn the page and there she would be, for the next 10-20 pages.

From start to finish, I was expecting something….more. I felt like I was constantly on the brink of some huge revelation in Evie’s life, that never came. She was the kind of protagonist that you wish would be killed off in the dying pages. She was infuriating and I just couldn’t get on board with her way of thinking, even when I tried stepping back into teenage-Mel’s shoes.

I think the saving grace for me was the plot itself. I have always been intrigued with real life crime stories and this was very closely related to the Charles Manson story. The cult following, the era and the murders. This is what kept me reading and I have to admit, by the end, I was somewhat relieved it was over and was severely disappointed!

It took me weeks to write this review after finishing The Girls. Partly because of my poor time management, but mainly due to the fact that as the days wore on, I forgot what actually occurred. If I could sum this book up in one word it would be; Forgettable!

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

Janelle says…

Well, it started out ok.

It’s no secret that this story is meant to be reminiscent of the evolution of the Manson family. But if you’re going into it expecting a lot of gruesome details and a focus on the murders, you’ll be disappointed. This is a story about puberty, love, friendships, and learning about oneself – your limitations, your image, your self-restraint.

As far as a book that studies the above topics goes, it doesn’t do a bad job. If I was reading this about 15 years ago, I probably would have felt very connected to the internal challenges that the main character Evie faces. I could definitely identify with her at certain times, particularly in her defiant moments.

But…..that’s it. In all honesty I just found this to be, well, boring. I had the scene all figured out within the first 100 pages or so, I didn’t need it to go on with the same stuff for the next 250. It probably didn’t help that I had already read reviews and opinions on this book when it first came out, but still, that didn’t stop me wanting to read it. Now that I have read it though, I found it lacking in substance, and basically just forgettable.

Teens and other people into YA would probably really enjoy this, but personally I think I just can’t be interested in teenage girl problems. I wasn’t interested in them when I was a teenage girl myself. Sorry not sorry.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Flat – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses

by Sarah J. Maas

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Published 2015

Genres: Fiction/Fantasy/Young Adult

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal but Tamlin – one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As Feyre dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility to a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it…or doom Tamlin – and his world – forever.


Mel says…

When I first decided to read this book, I didn’t really know much about it except that images of the cover were all over Instagram and blog posts, so I knew it had a lot of fans. I’m not usually into too much fantasy, but was excited to give this a read nonetheless.

My first impressions were pretty good. I devoured the first quarter of this book fairly quickly, but then I started to get bored of it. Too much of the characteristics of the protagonist, Feyre (pronounced, Fay-ruh) reminded me of The Hunger Games protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. For one, her family was poor and living in starvation – same as Katniss. Two, she had to hunt to feed her family – same as Katniss. Three, she was described as being a tomboy, yet beautiful – same as Katniss. The similarities between ACoTR and The Hunger Games didn’t stop there, but you get the picture.

The main focus of this story centres around Feyre and Tamlin’s relationship. It is described as ‘burning passion’, so you know it is going to be juicy. I found the relationship between them to actually be pretty boring. It seemed like it went from pure hatred on day 1 to passion and sex on day 4. Maybe not in that exact timeline, but it was that quick of a shift, that you get the point. I found it confusing, but I also found that some of the plot and descriptive writing fell flat. I struggled to picture a fair few of the characters as the descriptions weren’t written well.

This is one of those books where I found the main character so irritating, that I struggled to keep reading at times. For whatever reason, Maas kept jamming down our throats that Feyre was a painter. With every description of scenery, Feyre would think ‘if only I could paint this’, or ‘I tried to store every line of his face in my memory, so I could paint him later’. This happened all. the. TIME! We get it, she likes to paint. Moving on…

I know I have slammed this book with my above comments, but in the end, I finished it with the intent of seeking out the second book in the series. I’m in no hurry to read the second book, but I will eventually, when I need a bit of a ‘nothing’ book to fill some time. Seeing as this book took me a month to read, when the text is actually quite large and I didn’t really engage with many of the characters, I can’t give it anymore than 2-stars. Sorry!

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Lacking – The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos

by Dominic Smith

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Published 2016

Genres: Fiction / Literary

 

“By the time Gabriel came to her with the commission for At the Edge of a Wood, she had saved close to ten thousand dollars – so she technically didn’t need the money. He said the present owner wanted an exact replica made but couldn’t bear to part with the original. She remained skeptical and told him that copying an artwork was not the same as restoring it. But when he produced three high-resolution color photographs of the painting in its frame she felt her breath catch – it was unlike anything else painted by a baroque woman.”

Split narratives intertwine to reveal the path of Sara de Vos’ illusive 17th century painting, At the Edge of a Wood, and its forged copy. From Sara’s life, struggles and motives, to the most recent owner of the painting, a wealthy Manhattan socialite in the 1950’s, to the naive student skilled in art restoration and living in 1950’s Brooklyn, to the modern-day exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales which could be the setting for the truth to reveal itself.

 

Janelle says…

 

The more time I have to think about this book since finishing it, the more dissatisfied I feel about it. I don’t even have a lot to say about it, because there’s really just not that much to say. Not much happened in this book!

There’s a painting from the 17th century, which has found its way into the home of a wealthy family in the 1950’s, only to be stolen and forged at the same time, and then in the 2000’s both the original and the forgery rise to the surface ahead of an upcoming exhibition on Dutch women painters of the 17th century at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Even after the reading the book though, there are still holes in my mind as to the movements of the painting, so that’s about the best I can do in outlining the story.

I heard about this book and actually assumed it might have a light thriller or mystery-type feel to it, and so I was excited when I found a competition to win an advance copy on the publisher Allen & Unwin’s site. And then even more excited when I actually won the advance copy! I bumped it to the top of my TBR list and started reading it, but I found it hard to stay focussed on the words. I realised I was bored, twiddling my thumbs waiting for something to happen, but I stuck with it because I was sure something would happen. It had the makings of an interesting and surprising story that I could get on board with – there were literary aspects, the touches of history and culture, museum life which is something to which I can relate to and understand…..all it needed was some kind of event or revelation. So I kept reading (slowly), and then when I got to the end, finally something semi-interesting did happen, but then the book finished quite suddenly in the middle of a scene, and what I thought could actually have been a great scene had it been allowed to continue! What the?

I can sniff undertones of feminism here, in both the scenes from the 1630’s featuring Sara de Vos, and the 2000’s when we follow Eleanor Shipley, but that’s something I’ve realised may have been there only since reading the book and trying to find some kind of message, they weren’t formed ideas that were clear during the reading of it.

It might seem an obvious recommendation to people who are into art or museum culture, but I’m not sure even those people would find this interesting. It wasn’t a total blowout. I didn’t hate it. It just didn’t leave any impression at all. Still, I’m going to stick with the rating I gave it on Goodreads straight after finishing it.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Unfulfilling – Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Fates and Furies

by Lauren Groff

fates and furies

Published 2015

Genres: Fiction / Literary

 

“Up there rose the ghosts of parties, of themselves when they were younger, too dumb to understand that they were ecstatic.

Whatever happened to all of those friends of ours? Lotto wondered. The ones who had seemed so essential had faded away. Nerd princes with their twins in strollers, Park Slope and craft beers. Arnie, who owned a bar empire, still doing girls with plates in their ears and jailhouse tattoos. Natalie now a CFO of some Internet start-up in San Francisco, a hundred others faded off. The friends had been whittled down. The ones who remained were heartwood, marrow.”

Lotto and Mathilde meet in college and marry soon after, seemingly star-crossed infatuated lovers. And despite the trials of adulthood – financial stress, lack of job stability etc. – their love for each other seems steadfast. Lotto is the star, an actor-turned-playwright, beloved by all, centre of many a crush. Mathilde meanwhile plays the supportive spouse – happy to linger humbly out of the spotlight, taking care of household matters. But out of the spotlight, is that how they see it?

 

Janelle says…

So far, I’m the only person I know who was underwhelmed by this book which has otherwise been raved about. Maybe it was just a case of “wrong book, wrong time”, but I couldn’t wait to reach the end of it.

Fates and Furies was released in late 2015 to much acclaim – it was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award, a finalist as a fiction nominee for the 2015 Kirkus Prize, and a nominee for the 2015 Goodreads Readers Choice Award for Fiction. All this in the 5 months since it was published.

In case you haven’t heard about it, to quote the beginning of just about every review of this book so far – “It’s a book about marriage”. Although I believe that’s subjective. Maybe it would be more accurate to say it’s a book about the cliched heterosexual marriage. The husband is the shining star, the proud breadwinner, the very obvious head of the partnership. The wife – his admiring supporter, discreetly managing the many little details of life behind-the-scenes so that the surface displays a tidy, perfect, well-managed operation. Although how they each see themselves and each other are not necessarily aligned.

The book is split in two – the “Fates” half told by the husband, Lotto, with “Furies” told from Mathilde’s viewpoint. To be honest, I was bored about halfway through “Fates”, but I forced myself to stick with it in the hope that “Furies” would bring grand revelations and plenty of shocked gasping. It did not. For me anyway, I’ve heard other people have had this reaction to it though.

 

“Somehow, despite her politics and smarts, she had become a wife, and wives, as we all know, are invisible. The midnight elves of marriage. The house in the country, the apartment in the city, the taxes, the dog, all were her concern: he had no idea what she did with her time.”

 

I certainly understand that the author is trying to make a feminist point, and that it’s a commentary on the union of a traditional marriage – the purpose of a man in a relationship, and the purpose of a woman. The man in this book doesn’t live up to what he believes his purpose as a husband is supposed to be (for some of the book anyway), and the woman does believe she is living up to her supposed purpose as a wife but doesn’t necessarily agree with it. That’s how I interpreted it anyway.

But try as I might, I just couldn’t gel with the author’s abstract way of writing. I had to read over many paragraphs at least twice, my mind just couldn’t latch on to the words a lot of the time and it was too easy to be distracted by other things. And I think this could be an issue with me and this particular author in general. I started listening to another of her novels on audiobook at the same time that I was reading this in print, and I couldn’t stand to listen to it for more than about half an hour before I was completely lost and frustrated.

Also, the characters. I couldn’t have cared less for them and just wanted them out of my life. Total narcissists, although one was worse than the other. I know it goes against the moral of the story, but at times I just wanted to yell at them – “Hey guys? #firstworldproblems, ok?”

Maybe I just completely missed the point because the writing style wasn’t for me. Anyway, I truly am very disappointed to be the only person in the world who didn’t love this book, but hey – that’s what’s wonderful about the reading experience. You don’t have to love what everyone else does!

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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