the wonderful world of veena.

24 September 2013

book update: emperor's children, cold sassy tree, and the ocean at the end of the lane.

I've read a few new books in the last two months and listened to another, so I thought I would share some thoughts on them with you.

Emperor's Children [Claire Messud]. This is one of those that always appears on all those lists-of-books-you-should-read, so Britney, Rob, and I read it in September for our "book club" selection [we don't really discuss the books, since we live in different places and time zones, but we use each other as motivation for reading]. And I have to say, I wasn't all that impressed with the book. I know it's renowned for its prose and its language and all that, but it didn't really do it for me. I think one of my biggest struggles was that of the 5 main characters, I really only found one vaguely likable [and even that is a bit of a stretch]. That made the other chapters much more difficult to get through. And although the book was pretty long, I really didn't feel like a whole lot happened until the end. It was a lot of narrative, and I can't say Messud's style of writing is really my thing. I can see why literature snobs like the book, but it wasn't one of my favourites.

Cold Sassy Tree [Olive Ann Burns]. Lindsay recommended this book to me many moons ago, and while I've had it in my library for a number of years, I only just got around to reading it. I enjoyed this one much more than Emperor's Children for a number of reasons: I found Will Tweedy, the 14-year-old narrator of the story, to be immensely likable; I learned quite a lot about small-town Georgia circa 1906; and I very much enjoyed Burns' writing style, especially her way of writing how the characters would be speaking. I often found myself reading along with a bit of a Georgia twang. When Will's grandfather, the owner of the town's general store and only 3 weeks a widower, elopes with a "Yankee" lady [she's from Baltimore] half his age, the town pretty much erupts into chaos, and Will narrates the events of the months that follow with childlike amazement and a great sense of maturity. I'm so glad I finally read it, and I can't recommend it enough.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane [Neil Gaiman]. I downloaded this on on Audible for a recent trip to Little Rock, and I really enjoyed it. For one, it's narrated by Gaiman himself, which I think always gives audiobooks that little extra oomph. And for another, it's only about 5.5 hours long. It's a wonderful story about a young boy who befriends the girl at the end of the lane who has an "ocean" in her backyard. As the boy soon discovers, the girl and her mother and grandmother are not mere mortals like he and his family, and the adventures that soon occur are quite extraordinary. The book is narrated by the boy as an adult as he revisits his childhood village and these memories return to him. I really enjoyed the book, and it was a great listen for the road. I've previously read only one of Gaiman's books, which I enjoyed, and after this experience I think I am going to have to check out a few more of his soon.

Next on the list:
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • The Red House by Mark Haddon
Also, some of the lists I've found floating around on the interwebs, if you need reading inspiration:
woo pig.

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