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review 2020-03-20 19:34
In the Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco

I finally finished a book! This quarantine thing has really made it hard for me to read. I can't even blame my children for it. I just have no focus. This seems to be a pretty common problem according to some of the posts in the various book groups I'm in on Facebook.

 

All of that aside, I think this book was always going to take me a little bit of time to finish. There's just so much to unpack. If you don't know anything about the history of the Catholic church and the papacy, I would avoid this book. I have a reference book that deals with every Pope up to the most recent one. Even that was barely enough to keep me above water. There were more than a few trips to Google to get clarification. 

 

Even without the history, there were the sheer number of people mentioned. Trying to keep track required a spreadsheet. And you had to try to pick out the various characters among all of Eco's detail. So much detail. If you take away all of the descriptions of the monastery, this book is probably only 200 pages. If you take away everything that doesn't deal directly with the mystery that is suppose to be the focus of this group, this book is maybe 50 pages.

 

Like I said, it's a lot to unpack. If I were to attempt this book at another point in time, I would probably invest in the readers' guide. Maybe I need to track down a copy of the movie. I hear it's pretty good as far a movies based on books go. 

 

Dates Read 2/12/2020 - 3/20/2020

Book 18/75 

Book 13 from the Idiot's Guide to Ultimate Reading - Historical Fiction List

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review 2020-03-05 16:54
Spring Moon - Bette Bao Lord
Spring Moon: A Novel of China - Bette Bao Lord

My knee is still bothering me. It's cold. It's windy. It's raining. All of these things combine to create the perfect excuse to stay in and catch up on some reading. 

 

I'm continuing my year long quest to work through The Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List: Chapter 1 - Historical Fiction. Spring Moon is book number 12 of 68 for me. It's one of only eight books said to take place in Asia. There are books that take place in the Middle East which for the most part is part of Asia but the creators of this list lump the Middle East in with Africa. And even when there are books that take place in Africa, they all take place in Egypt which is typically culturally considered to be the Middle East. So it could be argued that there aren't actually any books on this list that take place in Africa.  I need to stop this rant or I'm going to be here a while. The moral here is that the more I dig in, the more I realize this list has a huge issue with diversity. 

 

Spring Moon is the story of Spring Moon. She is a girl born in the dying days of Imperial China. Her story takes us through the first half of 20th century China and the rise of communism. It's a beautiful story full of tradition. It's a tragic story. Many reviewers compare Spring Moon to Gone with the Wind. I've never read Gone with the Wind but it's on the list. I have seen the movie over and over again. Spring Moon is a much more complex and likable character than Scarlett O'Hara. 

 

I know I've already said it but I'm coming back to the word beautiful. Lord weaves stunning details into her story about Spring Moon's coming to terms with the destruction of the world she knows. Lord captures the struggle between China's old ways and a new generation of citizens who long for change. 

 

The only issue I had with the book was the sheer number of characters. Lord does a masterful job developing each of her characters but I felt like something was missing. I wanted just a little bit more time with Nobel Talent. I wanted to watch Enduring Promise grow. The story was never really meant to be about either of those characters on their own. This was very much Spring Moon's story. Those two characters specifically had such large roles in Spring Moon's life, it seemed like a huge disservice to them to be cut so short. Understandably to give more life and depth to some of the secondary characters, the author would have needed another two hundred pages. I would have been perfectly content with another two hundred pages. 

 

Read 3/1/2020 - 3/5/2020

Book 16/75

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