I read this book over so many weeks. I could’ve read it faster, but let’s just say it wasn’t my favourite book. It’s not as entertaining as the blurb leads you to believe. I decided only to read this book when I had free time as I had:
So, I decided to get this book out because it was recommended by the New York Times and had fairly good reviews on GoodReads. Apparently, you can’t trust all the critics. I found the book a little dull. Why? I don’t remember if I’ve read a book that the book quoted. Why? Well, a lot of the classical books that people love, I just can’t get into. The language used then is not the same as it is now.
A lot of the time, she quoted paragraphs from books with great examples of (speech, sentences, paragraphs, etc.). I don’t agree with all that she quoted. I can’t pick an example off the top of my head, but as I was reading through, I thought that she over exaggerated and read too much into the stories. That’s just my humble opinion. I think books are for enjoyment, and if you have to analyse a sentence to read a deeper meaning, then that’s not so fun.
I have read quite a few books on writing now (you can check my GoodReads), and I have several more to read. This book hasn’t stopped me enjoying reading on how to write. I would say, read the first chapter in a local library. See if you enjoy it. I found the paragraphs quite long winded and long to read through. My thinking, or so I’ve read, is that the longer the paragraphs, the more intellectual the book is. Whether that makes it a good book, is a different story. I believe that writing, and reading that writing is entirely subjective, and you can’t look at a piece of writing and objectively declare it better than another. You may read this book and decide that Francine Prose is the best author and totally disagree with me. That’s okay.
Today's topic is "it was a dark and stormy night," which strangely ended up being one of the more difficult squares to fill!
OBSIDIAN BLACK DEATH
Oh this was tough. Who knew that we would have to bang our heads repeatedly to get "it was a dark and stormy night." I actually like this square because it took me a lot of digging to find some books that fit this square.
1. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. I chose this book to complete this square. The main plot of this book reminds me a bit of "Death on the Nile" by Agatha Christie. The book synopsis says: "In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard." I hope that we get a dark and stormy night. It sounds like it. If not, I am swapping it out for another book though.
2. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle. I personally love this book. It definitely hits on some other squares too such as "Set in New England" and I would even push this one towards the "Magical Realism" square too though it is mostly counted as science fiction.
3. Acceptable Risk by Robin Cook. This meets a lot of squares. It takes place in Salem, Massachusetts, there is reference to the Salem Witch trials, the final climax of the book takes place during a dark and stormy night. In fact I think there were a couple. I read this book when I was a teen and really enjoyed it.
1. Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson. So, I've talked a lot about We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House, but I want to mention Hangsaman here. This is a very different sort of a book - it is shelved on GR as horror and gothic. There is a section in the book where the main character ends up wandering around a forest at night, which I remember as also being in the middle of a storm, although maybe it was just a storm inside of her own head! Anyway, I think it would qualify!
2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. There are whole sections of this book that take place during dark and stormy nights, most particularly the ghostly appearance of Catherine at the window of the narrator. In my head, I pretty much set all Victorian era gothics in the middle of dark and stormy nights any way!
3. A Curse Dark As Gold by Elizabeth Bunce. I actually just re-read this book. It is a very well done retelling of Rumplestiltskin, and the climax of the book - the reckoning, so to speak - happens during one wild, storm-ridden night.
I'm planning on reading The Hounds of the Baskervilles for this box, because I vaguely remember that there's an event that happens during a stormy night on the moors. If it turns out I'm wrong about that, I'll find something else to read!
Other posts in the series:
106. MY NEW AMERICAN LIFE, BY FRANCINE PROSE
Recommended to me by my two-year-old niece. She hasn’t read it, she still doesn’t know how to read, but she said the lady in the cover was pretty and I should read it because of that. Yeah, she still has to learn not to judge a book by its cover... Though, in this case, she wasn’t completely wrong.
Synopsis: Lula, an Albanian immigrant, works as something like a nanny to a 19-year-old boy in a suburban house. Her boss tries very hard to keep everything together, even after his wife left him on Christmas eve; he’s the kind of person who always wants to do what’s right and proper. Lula’s life working for this family descends very easily into a stifling routine, which is shaken when three strange Albanian men ask her to hide a gun for them.
Overall enjoyment: It was a bit satirical, light, and entertaining. The characters are vivid and interesting, and they manage to hold a somewhat weak plot. A nice read for a lazy day.
Plot: There are some holes, some things that are too convenient or that happen at too convenient times, but overall, it works.
Characters: Lula is delightful. She is very realistic in her ennui and yearning for something different, while being afraid of losing what she has. The other characters work very well alongside of her.
World/setting: Lula rarely leaves a very restricted segment of the suburbia. In fact, she rarely leaves the house at all. She feels oppressed by it, wanting to escape, but she also somewhat sees it as home.
Writing style: Light, quick and funny.
Representation: Lula is an Albanian immigrant, and she also serves as a nice portrait to immigrants in general. She’s not overly romanticized nor stereotyped, just a person doing her best with what she has.
Political correctness: There are some instances of slut-shaming, over-awareness of body images, some light homophobia. Those are all the views of the characters, though, hardly sustained by the book itself.
Up next: Mayhem, by Sarah Pinborough