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review 2017-08-17 06:09
The Heart of Henry Quantum
The Heart of Henry Quantum - Pepper Harding

This book was compared with A Man Called Ove and Love, Actually, a book and a film the blurb refers to as beloved. And that is a big reason I chose this book on NetGalley — because I did love both of them.

 

Unlike Ove, this story does not feature a loveable character; in fact, only one of the three main characters, featured in different parts, was one I would consider compelling. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that the story revolves around a couple who has, for the most part, given up on love, where Ove's story was one of a love lost and mourned. This is a more cynical story, with an edge to it; Ove is a curmudgeon where Henry, despite being described as socially-awkward, has managed to have an affair that inspired a woman to leave her marriage. In Henry's long day's journey into shopping for his wife's Christmas present, I was reminded of Harold Fry, (in a good way) but at the same time I wanted to scream at him to just buy the damn perfume and get back to work. I understand the point wasn't the perfume, but still, it was aggravating given that the premise involved such an easily accomplished task as opposed to a complex journey.

 

I saw in some reviews outrage that the story contains offensive, inappropriate language regarding mental health, among other things, and I agree — there were several cringe-worthy statements made by the main characters. This is not a matter of being true to a character, the statements were gratuitous and would have been better left unexpressed.

 

I would guess that the relatively small number of reviews I've seen has as much to do with that last point as it does the poor comparisons in the blurb — perhaps aligning with something like Shopgirl or Little Children, both of which sprang to my mind while reading, would have helped. Aside from the poor choice of certain lines of dialogue, the book still would have appealed to me, but my expectations would have been very different.

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text 2017-08-08 05:53
Reading progress update: I've read 298 out of 432 pages.
The Monk - Nick Groom,Matthew Gregory Lewis

Slowly getting there. I've found that this is a book to be read in small chunks and really thought about. Quite modern themes with antiquated prose. Just goes to show that people have remained the same over the last 200+ years. 

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review 2017-07-31 00:22
Crime And Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I was looking forward to reading this book with some trepidation which is silly really because I am reading to relax and it shouldn't be work. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn't actually turn out to be work but rather an enjoyable, enlightening experience. It was a little confusing in places and seemed quite disjointed in the dialogue but that was the style of the story. I have to say however, that I would like to read a different translation at some point because some of the sentences felt rather literally translated and just didn't seem right. I don't know if this is really the case or whether it was how the story was written in the first place but it would be interesting to see how other translators interpret certain parts of the story.

 

The beautiful Vintage Russian Classics edition of the book was a bit of a pain to read. I don't like breaking spines and so I had terrible cramp in my hands. Thick pages and a thick cover made it difficult to bend the book far enough to be able to hold it comfortably. Maybe I shouldn't be quite so fastidious but we all have our little quirks don't we?

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review 2017-07-31 00:10
I really, really enjoyed this book, until...
Fingersmith - Sarah Waters

I want to give this story more than three and a half stars but hand on my heart, I just can't. The first 4/5 of the book were brilliant with twists and turns that I didn't see coming but then the whole thing turned into a cheesy romance. In some ways the ending was appropriate to the gothic romance style of the story but I felt the final few pages deserved something better. Whereas the rest of the story took unexpected turns the ending was entirely predictable. I think I will have to digest it for a while and see if I change my mind but for now I feel that the ending wasn't up to the rest of the story.

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review 2017-07-27 04:45
Cruel Beautiful World
Cruel Beautiful World: A Novel - Caroline Leavitt

This is a painful, heartbreaking story about expectations, disappointments, love and secrets. When Lucy leaves her already fragmented family to run away with William, her 30-year-old high school English teacher, she has no idea how isolated her life will become. (Time out a second - What is it with students and their high school teachers? I loved mine, but I never wanted to run away with them. I know they were nuns, but still.) While the story is primarily Lucy's, Leavitt gives vibrant life to each of her characters, who face their own demons and regrets with grace and dignity.

 

As usual, Leavitt delivers a beautifully written story, moving in its courage, raw emotion, and unflinching hope. William's selfishness and immaturity made me wonder why Lucy, a young, beautiful girl, would stay with him. Then I listened to this NPR interview that someone kindly posted on Goodreads, and I understood it a little better. This is not an easy story to read, but it is moving and thought provoking, and it is worth the effort you will have to put into seeing it through its final pages. Not because it is hard to read, but instead, because Leavitt has created a world so real that you will worry about these people until the very end, and then, maybe even a little bit longer.

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