Posts Tagged ‘Book Review’

Last weekend, I finally finished reading “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt.

“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt (via Goodreads)

I’ve been trying to get into it since September when I was given it, but only in the last month did I finally get going with it! I was determined to finish it and see what the fuss was all about. The blurb reads:

“Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love – and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.”

Life as Theo knows it changes dramatically when his mother dies and he ends up in different places, trying to make his way through life without his beloved mother while clinging to her memory and to a painting which he cherishes. He learns more about the different worlds around him, from the wealthy family of his friend Andy, to the empty desert and glittering casinos of his father’s home in Las Vegas, to the dusty antiques shop in New York where he later works.

His relationships with different people are interesting to witness as they develop through the novel. He clearly idolises his mother and is slightly obsessive about her life and death, going over things he should have done differently the day she died. He doesn’t really like his father very much, with his alcoholism and how he deserted Theo and his mother, and resents having to go and live with him in Las Vegas, far from the memories and familiar sights of New York.

One of the most prominent relationships is his friendship with Boris who he meets while living with his father. They explore life together, from simple teenage antics like going to school together, to exploring drugs, drinking alcohol and shoplifting, to learning more about themselves as part of the world. This friendship only fades when Theo goes back to New York, but is re-instated when Boris appears again in New York and things start to get messy in Theo’s home and work life.

Most of the novel is about Theo going through those difficult teenage years, grieving for his mother and hating his father, but we realise just how traumatised he is by the accident that changed his life through his serious drug use. He is obviously suffering from PTSD and he stays in contact with another survivor who he falls in love with from a distance, a girl who understands the trauma Theo went through.

The latter parts of the novel jump into the future when Theo is grown-up and in a relationship with the sister of Andy, but is leading a secret criminal life which causes more problems for himself. The ending gets really weird and confusing but eventually things start to make sense.

I don’t want to go into any more detail without ruining the book for those who haven’t read it so that’s all I’m saying! If you struggle with it, just push on with it because it does get better and it’s totally worth it to see what all the fuss is about!

I’m giving it 7/10 because it keeps you guessing until the end, and is just so fascinating (once you get into it) that you have to finish it! It turned out better than I thought it would be because at first it was a bit boring. Give it a try!

I have finally finished reading “Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen! It’s only taken me almost 4 months to get through it!

“Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen (via Goodreads)

The blurb reads:

“Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny’s uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry’s attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary’s dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords’ influence and finds herself more isolated than ever. A subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s most profound works.”

I am reading my way through the complete works of Jane Austen, but they can be a bit long and boring at times, which is why it took me ages to get into Mansfield Park. It’s not the best of Austen’s novels, but after several fruitless attempts to get into it, I promised myself that I would finish it by next weekend! As I was a little bit bored this weekend, I was driven to reading and before I knew it, it had got more interesting so I managed to finish it!

Fanny Price is kind of boring. I suppose I understand that she is a quiet girl who sits on the outside of the social circle for most of the first part of the novel, and then gets sucked into the action as time progresses. Being quiet, kind and useful is probably Fanny’s advantage in this social circle, as she quietly judges the others as they make mistakes. Fanny is fairly grounded and modest, which is a contrast to her cousins, and certainly in comparison to her own family when she visits them and realises how much she has changed since moving to Mansfield Park when she was younger. The issues surrounding social classes show when Fanny is thinking about how she could never be deserving of, or able to even consider, a marriage proposal from someone out of her social class, no matter how much she has changed since being parted from her uncouth family and brought up in a refined environment such as Mansfield Park with her aunt, uncle and cousins.

The development of the relationships between the characters is interesting, with a massive scandal shaking up the foundations of many of them. Fanny grows to be accepted as a kind friend and cousin, even if she is not so keen on people around her at first, and then as a surrogate daughter towards the end of the novel. Her choice of who she is likely to marry is sort of obvious, even if it seems that she is too lowly in social class to be considered. I did grow to respect Fanny and her decisions in the end as she was the most sensible of the lot and took everything into consideration.

This novel took too long to get to the juicy bits, so it’s not going to be one of my favourite Austens! I have issues with how much time these characters spend fretting over stupid little things like what necklace to wear, which girl is likely to marry which man, or that someone was selfish to go for a walk without telling a certain person! I also don’t like the idea of cousins marrying each other! I suppose these things come with being privileged and not having anything too pressing to worry about.

I give it 5/10 because it took a while to get into, and when it did get interesting, it seemed to end a bit too abruptly for my liking. I can’t like all of Austen’s work!

I have just finished reading “Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert.

“Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert (via Goodreads)

This is the sequel to “Eat, Pray, Love” and follows Liz and Felipe as they continue their relationship in the way they want: travelling around the world, making a living, and generally being content. Then the US Immigration department bans Brazilian Felipe from entering the US, thus stopping him from settling down with Liz in her home country and also preventing him from making a living by selling his goods in the US. The only solution they are offered is to get married.

Neither of them wants to marry again after each already having a failed marriage behind them. So, while they wander around Asia trying to distract themselves and not make plans for the future, they spend months organising the complicated process of paperwork for their marriage and Felipe’s visa. Liz takes it upon herself to research marriage, hoping that she can find a way to make peace with the idea of it after her divorce.

She asks people in all the countries the couple visit about marriage and learns about how different societies and cultures see and treat it. She reads many books and studies on the subject of marriage through history, and she also asks her friends and family about it as well.

The book is mainly about Liz’s research into marriage, and how her findings question everything she knew about marriage. She does a lot of soul-searching and assesses all the information as she tries to reconcile herself with the fact she is being forced into another marriage just to stay with the man she loves. The reader gets to see how life without a permanent home and how the pressure of the visa application affects the couple. There are some tense moments but ultimately they know each other so well that they get through the difficult times.

This book has less of a story than “Eat, Pray, Love”, but it covers an important topic and introduces many different ideas around marriage. Nevertheless, it’s still an interesting read and worth a go if you liked the previous book! I give it 7/10.