logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: New-York
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-06-26 11:01
Multi-award winner historical fiction in pre-revolution New York with a fabulous narrator and an intriguing main character
Golden Hill: A Novel of Old New York - Francis Spufford

Thanks to Net Galley and to Faber & Faber for offering me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

I had an interesting experience with this novel. In the last few weeks, every time I reviewed a novel that was nominated for an award and checked out what novel had won it, it was Golden Hill (among them, the Costa First Novel Award, The Desmond Elliott Prize, the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2017…) and I thought I had to read it and find out what the fuss what about.

It is not difficult to see why people are fascinated by this novel. It is a historical fiction novel by an author who has written non-fiction extensively and has chosen a very interesting narrative style. (I must confess to being very intrigued by his book called The Child that Books Built. A Life in Reading, especially in view of a recent discussion we had on my blog about books on reading). The story is set in the New York of the late 1740s and is narrated by an anonymous narrator (or so it seems as we read) who tells the story of a man, Richard Smith, who arrives in the New World with a money order for 1000 pounds and acts quite mysteriously. The story is told in the third person, but the narrator breaks the third wall barrier often, at times to despair at being unable to describe a card game, or a fight, at others to decide where we can or cannot enter. Although the book’s language and style are word-perfect (and will enchant those who love accuracy), it appears more sensitive to certain aspects of the society of the time than perhaps a novel of the period would have been (slavery, gender, and race issues…) but the narrating style reminds us of Henry and Sarah Fielding, and in a nod to metafiction, in the book itself there are discussions of novels that include Joseph Andrews or David Simple. I have talked often about my fascination for narrators and this is one of those novels that will keep it alive for a long time.

The book transports the reader to the New York of 1747, a provincial and small place, with only a few streets and a mixture of inhabitants mostly from Dutch and English origins, with a jumble of different coins and bank notes in circulation, what appear to be the equivalent of small-town politics and an interesting judicial system, and dependent on ships from London for news and entertainment. Although I have read historical tracts and fiction from the era, I don’t think any of them managed to give me as good an understanding and a feel for what colonial New York was like.

The story itself is built around the mystery of Smith’s character. Who is he? Is the money order real, or is he a con-man? Is he a magician, an actor, a seducer, a trouble-maker, all of the above? Everybody wants him, or better, his money, for their own goals (political, financial…) and he allows himself to be courted by all, although he is only really interested in the daughter of one of the Dutch businessmen who is holding his money order until they receive confirmation of its true value, Tabitha. Tabitha is my favourite character, a shrew, sharp and witty, and somebody I wouldn’t mind learning much more about.

Smith is a good stand-in for the reader because although he is from the era, he is naïve as to the colonies and the different social mores, politics, and customs there, and keeps getting into trouble. Although his adventures are interesting, and the mystery that surrounds him seemingly propels the story (although half-way through the novel we get a clue as to what might be behind the intrigue), I found it difficult to fully empathise with him, perhaps because of the style of narration (although the story is told by a narrator, and in the third person, at times we get a clear look at what Smith is thinking, but, for me, the hidden information somehow hindered my full investment in the character). There are many other interesting characters, although we do not get to know any of them in a lot of detail. For a great insight into the book and all that it contains, I recommend you read the About the author note I have included above. The man can write, for sure.

The ending… Well, there is an ending to the story and then there is a final twist. If you picked up the clues, the ending will not be such a big surprise. The twist… Yes, it makes one look at the book in a completely different way, although it makes perfect sense.

I highlighted many fragments that I particularly liked, but on checking them again I was worried they might, either give too much away or confuse somebody who is not following the story. So I’d advise you to check the book sample available on your favourite online bookstore and see if you enjoy the style. If you do, it only gets better.

I recommend this book to anybody curious about its reputation, to lovers of historical fiction, in particular, those set up in the colonies prior to the revolution, and to readers and writers who enjoy narrators and look for something a bit different.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-06-24 14:49
The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig
The Post-Office Girl (New York Review Books Classics) - Stefan Zweig

“Happiness can reach a pitch so great that any further happiness can’t be felt. Pain, despair, humiliation, disgust, and gear are no different.”

What a beautifully dark and heart-wrenching tale this was! Like other Stefan Zweig novels that i have read even this had a strange impact on me. I felt restless while reading this. Neither i could continue reading nor could I stop. I loved the way how he forces his readers to get involved with his characters and their story even if they don’t want to which is evident in his writing he stresses every word, every sentence till the reader gets the hang of it.

 

Christine a simple girl working in a post office in a small village is ignorant of any kind of luxuries that exists in life till she receives a letter from her aunt and uncle to join them in Swiss Alpine resort to give them company for a while. But the moment Christine steps in her new life her old self is dead instantly. It becomes difficult for Christine to be the same old person that she was even after returning from her abrupt vacation and that’s when her life becomes a living hell. She feels caged. Neither she could fit into her current life nor could she get out. She feels a constant embarrassment to lead her life. Her every thought, her every move was heart breaking to read. But the curiosity of what step Christine takes next kept me glued to this story as it was unpredictable. And then she meets Ferdinand, a war veteran who is as unhappy with his life and the society as Christine is and somehow their coming together disturbs both their lives entirely. Although the ending is abrupt yet I couldn’t have asked for any better ending than that because personally i was not prepared for a closed ending as I didn’t wanted to know what Ferdinand and Christine ended up doing together.

 

Must say I love this author and I am sure of reading all his works, essays, short stories, novellas and anything that he has ever written. His prose is like poetry to me.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-06-22 04:39
Action-packed story
Escape From New York Vol. 1 - Diego Baretto,Christopher Sebela,Jordie Bellaire

And it's fun.   It was just the brain candy I needed to get through this insomnia.   Not much meat on this, and I get the feeling that the movie was that, too.   Slick brain candy.   Ultra violent, and a potentially ace main character, which makes me more interested in the movie and how, or if, that was dealt with at all. 

 

Florida is free, and when Snake Plissken is on the run again, he gets convinced to make a run for Florida.   The twins, two supposedly supernaturally talented boys, are supposed to run Florida - and they do, along with Meemaw, a souped up muscle woman who believes the boys came to her by divine providence.   The boys are odd: one kind and the other sadistic, both high on power, both lying about their powers. 

 

Snake finds that no place is truly free, and there is no place he can truly be free.  So I guess there's a bit to it, but this story focused more on slick action scenes instead of truly delving into things like the concept of freedom and what it means.   And it was pretty amazing, but I wish it had taken the time to occasionally really explore these concepts.  I missed having a little more going on, and that's the only reason this wasn't five stars. 

 

Lovely art, with coloring that matched the scene at hand: lush if needed, muted when called for, and bolstering the script and line art/inks.   I'm glad I have the sequel, but I'm going to try to sleep again.  If not, I'll move onto volume two.  I started Evil Empire volume one - I have two of those in the BOOM! Humble Bundle - but it's a little too deep for me to really grasp right now.  I have a feeling when I'm more awake, it'll be pretty spectacular. 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2017-06-22 04:14
Reading progress update: I've read 63 out of 114 pages.
Escape From New York Vol. 1 - Diego Baretto,Christopher Sebela,Jordie Bellaire

 

Is Snake ace or just really cheesed off?   Seeing the movie would have helped, but I'm figuring someone in my friend's list has seen it.   Does he get it on with - I'm guessing here - a girl, or does he show zero interesting in any sexual/romantic realtionship?

 

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2017-06-22 03:48
Reading progress update: I've read 24 out of 114 pages.
Escape From New York Vol. 1 - Diego Baretto,Christopher Sebela,Jordie Bellaire

Kind of loving Jayne right now!

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?