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review 2017-07-05 11:00
A Suffocating Village: Death in Spring by Mercè Rodoreda
Death in Spring - Mercè Rodoreda,Martha Tennent

Less than a year ago I reviewed a novel by Catalan author Mercè Rodoreda (1908-1983) who is much celebrated in her country but virtually unknown elsewhere. I was so impressed by the book that I felt like reading also others of her works and from the two novels published posthumously, both of them unfinished, I eventually picked the one available in English translation, namely Death in Spring or in the original Catalan La mort i la primavera, i.e. Death and Spring. At first the title seems a bit strange, if not contradictory because it links death with nature’s rebirth after winter, but given that the novel flows over with powerful as well as poetical symbols and metaphors of life and death it’s quite appropriate. It’s a complex and well-constructed story about society that reminds me a lot of the works of Franz Kafka although it’s different in style.

 

The nameless I-narrator and protagonist makes his first appearance as a fourteen-year-old boy who enters the river passing under his mountain village built generations earlier on the debris of a huge rock-slip. He inhales the beauty of nature surrounding him and realises that he is “being followed by a bee, as well as by the stench of manure and the honey scent of blooming wisteria” representing the village with its pink houses that is always on his mind. As it turns out people there have many rituals to keep misfortune at bay. On the other side of the river is the forest of the dead with a tree dedicated to every inhabitant living or already dead with a plaque and a ring. During funerals all children are locked away into the stifling wooden kitchen cupboards, a custom that clearly mirrors the cruel death ritual practiced by the villagers for generations that requires to force pink cement down the throats of the dying in order to keep their souls from escaping and turning into shadows creeping “among the shrubs, always threatening to attack the village”. At the same time, and less obviously, it reflects the oppressive atmosphere in the village where everybody has to follow strict rules and not even the children are allowed to breathe freely in the literal as well as in the figurative sense. For being a boy the narrator doesn’t understand why the man whom he watches from behind a shrub hollows out a tree and enters it to die. As it turns out the man is his father, but instead of showing himself and talking to him, the boy returns to the village and tells the blacksmith. Everybody rushes out to give the already half-dead father the necessary cement treatment. With his teenage stepmother whom everybody considers retarded and strange he roams the village and its surroundings by night taking fun in vandalising the forest of the dead and using the pink powder of the cave to find out where its waters flow – thus defying the old village rituals that don’t make sense to them. Before long their adolescent urges take over and they have a daughter, but the community doesn’t accept them neither as individuals nor as a family because they are just too different, too free, too alive…

 

Many reviewers argue that Death in Spring represents life during the Spanish Civil War and in the rigid regime of General Franco that followed and that forced the author into exile, but in my opinion this is too limited an interpretation. I think that the author more generally portrayed the workings of human society where conservative forces use to be the stronger ones except in times of deepest discontent and misery. Even in our modern western civilisation that holds individual freedom in such high esteem, those who aren’t like all others or behave in a different, maybe even revolutionary way are marginalised, excluded and eventually crushed, i.e. driven to suicide or madness like in the novel although more subtly than in a totalitarian regime. In a nutshell: this is another great work of literature that would deserve much more attention. Highly recommended!

 

Death in Spring - Mercè Rodoreda,Martha Tennent 

 

»»» read also my review of In Diamond Square by Mercè Rodoreda.

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review 2017-07-01 22:26
[REVIEW] Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
Devil in Spring - Lisa Kleypas

What a sweet, fluffy read that went into wtf territory as soon as we hit the 75% mark. 

Is there a need for Ms. Kleypas to add a terrorist conspiracy near the end of the book? because it made no sense to me and it seemed tacked on.

(spoiler show)


First things first, Gabriel (the hero) is not a rake, so I have no idea why it says in the blurb that he is. That threw me off completely. He's a good enough hero, but he is easily overshadowed by his father, who appears many times in this book. Pandora (the heroine) is annoying but still, manages to be endearing at times. As a couple, they are just fine. Nothing out of the ordinary or memorable but fluffy enough to make me sigh in happiness a few times. I did love how patient he was with her (because believe you me, she can test anyone's patience) and how he tried to help her overcome difficulties with his support. Their relationship really felt like a partnership and I appreciated that.

Beware, the insta-lust/love is strong on this one. Blink, and you'll miss when the hero suddenly had to possess her with all his might.

The dialogue was fast-paced and smart, the easy humor is there. I kept giggling out loud at some lines.

Assuming the next book in the series is between Ethan and Garrett, I'm calling it now: Ethan is a Ravenel, probably Pandora's mother's love child.

(spoiler show)
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text 2017-06-19 17:58
U.S. Kindle Sale: Miscellaneous
The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club - Dorothy L. Sayers
The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman
All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and All Things Wise and Wonderful: Three James Herriot Classics - James Herriot
Jack of Shadows - Roger Zelazny
And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic - Randy Shilts,William Greider
Silent Spring - Rachel Carson,Linda Lear,Edward O. Wilson
Cheaper by the Dozen - Frank B. Gilbreth Jr.,Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

Currently $1.99: The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, by Dorothy L. Sayers.  The Golden Compass (aka Northern Lights), The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, by Phillip Pullman.  Jack of Shadows, by Roger Zelazny.  Cheaper by the Dozen, by Frank Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.

 

Currently $2.99: Three James Herriot Classics (All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and All Things Wise and Wonderful), by James Herriot.  Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh.

 

Currently $3.99: And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts.  Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson.

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review 2017-05-19 21:50
The Devil in Spring ★★★☆☆
Devil in Spring - Lisa Kleypas

This book was a little disappointing, relative to the others in the series. I’m not sure why. The heroine was both strong and adorable, the hero was both strong and sensitive, and I was pleased that the story didn’t stop at the wedding, as so many stories do.

 

But…

 

The heroine’s quirkiness seemed a little cloying. The hero’s willingness to adapt and accept strained my ability to suspend disbelief, even knowing that I have to exercise more determination in this area when I read in this genre. Maybe I’ve just had my fill of Romance (capital R) for now and need to spend some time away from the genre.

 

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library. Once again, Mary Jane Wells provides an excellent performance.

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review 2017-05-19 13:03
Playing for the Save (Men of Spring, #4) - Rachelle Ayala

I loved this book. It tugged at my heartstrings and left an indelible impression on me. I had high expectations for this book based on my prior experience with the previous books in the series. I was not disappointed. In fact, this was my favourite of the series. It should be noted there is no need to read the books in any specific order as each can be read as a standalone.

 

Playing for the Save tells the story of Ryan Hudson veteran relief pitcher for the Phoenix Rattlers. At 38 years old, he is not looking to retire, even though he had suffered back-to-back injuries. He had no interest in being in a relationship as he feels that women bring noise and chaos and he loves peace and quiet. For him being alone was orderly and predictable, which was what he needed, but then he met Jamie Rush who would have him rethinking his views on women.

Jamie Rush is a thirty-two-year-old single mother of two boys, Ben (7 years old) and Drew (5 years old). Life has not been easy for her. Her five-year-old is autistic, and she alone has to deal with the challenges that come with raising him, as her husband decided that he was not interested in raising a child he considered disabled.

The connection between Jamie and Ryan was intense. From the moment they met, it was clear they had chemistry. Relating to them as a couple was easy as I felt everything they were both going through. They struggled with their feelings for each other. Each time when it appears they were taking a step in the right direction, something makes question their love for each other. Their relationship developed gradually which I appreciated, especially given their circumstances.

I adored Ryan. He is not the athlete to boast of his accomplishments. He is caring and thoughtful, which was demonstrated in his actions towards Jaime and her sons. The connection he established with her sons, especially Drew was captivating. He was keeping a secret, that he had no desire for anyone to discover, especially the media. He was afraid to tell Jaime for fear she may want nothing to do with him. It was not difficult to figure out the secret he was hiding. I was amazed at how he was able to keep it a secret for so long.

Jaime is a contradiction. There were many layers to her character, which when peeled away revealed who she was an individual. When it came to her sons ‘welfare, she would fight with her last breath to protect them. However, she allowed her ex-husband to control every facet of her life. She depended on him for the welfare of her sons and she accepted the poor treatment he dished out to her. She felt the need to control how Drew was cared for, but never once tried to wrest control of her life from her ex-husband. I loved that she evolved and took the steps needed to take charge of her life. It is such a pity it took a neat tragic incident to open her eyes to what was taking place.

The secondary characters were well portrayed. I enjoyed reading about each of them. Their actions were typical of who they were. My least favourite was Jaime’s ex-husband, Andrew. If you have ever imagined, while reading, to which into the book and punch the villain. Well, this how I felt in regards to Andrew. He was pure evil. I was glad to see him receiving what he duly deserved.

The story, which was well written, was mainly writing in the 3rd POV. There were some minor areas where it was written in the first person POV. I had a difficult time putting this one down. This is not just a story of a romance between the main characters. It is a story of unconditional love and embracing each other differences. It touched on issues of abuse and bullying. It highlighted how intolerant persons were towards those who are different from them. This book gave me a brief look into the effects autism not only on the child but on the parents as well. I learnt that it is possible for persons with autism to live normal lives if they receive the necessary help from an early age.

Verdict:

I cannot say it often enough ‘Playing for the Save was a book I absolutely loved. This is by far my favourite book for 2017. I cannot recommend this enough.



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