Author: Elizabeth McCracken
Release Date: September 10, 2008
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Review: Hachette Book Group Blog Tour
Rating: ***** (out of 5)
From the dust jacket:
A prizewinning, successful novelist in her thirties, Elizabeth McCracken was happy to be an itinerant writer and self-proclaimed spinster. Then she fell in love, got married, and continued her life of writing, traveling, and teaching with her husband. Two years ago, she found herself in a remote part of France, waiting for the birth of her first child.
This book is about wht happens next. In the ninth month of her pregnancy, a baby is lost. Just over a year later, a baby is born. In a profoundly moving display of humor, heart, and unfailing generosity, McCracken tenderly presents her story.
It is a story of truelove and unfathomable sadness. It is a story of courageous recovery and bittersweet moments, of steadfast memories and deep affection. It is a story of the importance of friendship. It is a story of happienss and of hope.
Anyone who has ever experienced loss or loves someone who has, will hope to go on with the company of this remarkable book.
Any reader who visits this blog on a regular basis knows that I don't often give out 5 star ratings. 4 and a half, yes, but not 5. To me, 5 stars means "perfect" - it doesn't have to be perfectly written or the perfect storyline, but it needs to speak with me on a deeper level; I need to get it, and it needs to get me.
I've never had a baby. That may be in the cards one day, but it's not something my husband and I have planned for anytime soon. So you might ask: how can this book, about a woman who loses her unborn child, speak to me?
The answer? I don't know. But what I can tell you is that this book is amazing. It is simple and beautiful; a tribute to a child that didn't quite make it into the world. It is a work of enduring and unconditional love from a mother to a child. Though I haven't been a mother, I have been a child and I have seen the quality of that love firsthand. It pours from each page, love and grief mixed into one.
However, somehow the book is still joyful and full of hope. On every page, as the reader takes in McCracken's unfathomable sense of loss, there is also hope. Don't get me wrong - it is sometimes difficult to read. I found myself tearing up more than once. But the book is so unflinchingly honest, so real, that it feels like real life. There are all the emotions present, mixed in with the grief.
I can't recommend this book highly enough. It is beautifully written, honest, emotional, and full of the wonder of life. It is McCracken's tribute to her unborn child, so that she, and everyone else, will always remember what she had and what she lost.
I'll end this interview with a question I posed to McCracken, and her wonderful answer:
Me: What made you want to write a book about something so personal and tragic as the loss of a child? Was it something you originally wrote for yourself, as a way to deal with your grief, or did you always mean to share it with others?
Elizabeth: All along I knew I would eventually write something about my lost first child, but when I got pregnant the second time I just couldn’t do it. Of course I was regularly visited by worries and nightmares: I wasn’t prepared to invite them in. So once my second child was three weeks old and healthy, I started writing. I don’t know what I thought I was working on. Notes? Blather? A private diary? I was sleep deprived and ecstatic and yet still griefstruck. Writing plain made me feel better. It turned the shadows into words. It helped me know I felt. In some ways it felt like a return to my earliest years of writing fiction seriously, I wrote it in such strange privacy. I didn’t even tell my friends I was doing it. Because I write books, what I wrote came out moderately book-shaped, but practically everything about it is accidental. Deciding to publish it was completely separate. I’m glad it was that way. I think if I’d thought I’d publish it, I would have never written it, if you know what I mean.
This blog tour continues at A Bookworm's World - a big thank you to Miriam at Hachette!
1. The Bible***
2. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
3. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
4. The Koran
5. Arabian Nights
6. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
7. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
8. Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
9. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
10. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
11. The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli***
12. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
13. Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
14. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
15. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
16. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo***
17. Dracula by Bram Stoker
18. Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
19. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
20. Essays by Michel de Montaigne
21. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
22. History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
23. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
24. Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
25. Ulysses by James Joyce
26. Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
27. Animal Farm by George Orwell***
28. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell***
29. Candide by Voltaire
30. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
31. Analects by Confucius
32. Dubliners by James Joyce
33. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
34. Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
35. Red and the Black by Stendhal
36. Das Capital by Karl Marx
37. Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
38. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
39. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
40. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley***
41. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
42. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell***
43. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair***
44. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
45. Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx***
46. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
47. Diary by Samuel Pepys
48. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
49. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
50. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
51. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
52. Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
53. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey***
54. Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
55. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller***
56. Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
57. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
58. Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger***
59. Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
60. Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
61. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
62. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
63. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
64. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
65. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
66. Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
67. Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
68. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
69. The Talmud
70. Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
71. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
72. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
73. American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
74. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
75. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
76. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
77. Red Pony by John Steinbeck
78. Popol Vuh
79. Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
80. Satyricon by Petronius
81. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
82. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
83. Black Boy by Richard Wright
84. Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
85. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut***
86. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
87. Metaphysics by Aristotle
88. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
89. Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
90. Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse***
91. Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
92. Sanctuary by William Faulkner
93. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
94. Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
95. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
96. Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
97. General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
98. Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
99. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
100. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess***
101. Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
102. Émile Jean by Jacques Rousseau
103. Nana by Émile Zola
104. Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
105. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
106. Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn***
107. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
108. Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
109. Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
110. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
111. Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
112. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
113. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
114. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
115. The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Keatly Snyder
WHAT ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW? I am currently reading How Perfect Is That by Sarah Bird.
WHY ARE YOU READING WHAT YOU’RE READING? PLEASURE? FOR REVIEW? SOMETHING ELSE? I'm reading it for review purposes, it's been sitting on my bookshelf for a long time now. It's also part of my Fall Into Reading 2008 Challenge.
WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?
I recently finished The Likeness by Tana French
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL BE READING NEXT?
I'm not sure what I'll be reading next! When I'm done with a book, I usually just go to my bookshelf and stand in front of it until something jumps out at me.
WHAT WAS THE BEST BOOK YOU READ THIS MONTH? WHY?
Probably An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination: A Memoir. You'll see why when my review is posted tomorrow.
WHAT WAS THE WORST BOOK YOU READ THIS MONTH? WHY?
Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times: The Citizenry and the Breakdown of Democracy by Nancy Bermeo - I read it for grad school. Blah.
Author: Anisha Lakhani
Release Date: August 5, 2008
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Satire
Review: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Rating: *** 1/2 (out of 5)
From the dust jacket:
All she wants to do is teach. For Anna Taggert, an earnest Ivy League graduate, pursuing her passion as a teacher means engaging young hearts and minds. She longs to be in a place where she can give her best self, and give that self to her students. Turns out that isn't easy.
Landing a job at an elite private school in Manhattan, Anna finds her dreams of chalkboards and lesson plans replaced with board families, learning specialists, and benefit-planning mothers. Not to mention the grim realities of her small paycheck.
And then comes the realization that the papers she grades are not the work of her students, but of their high-priced, college-educated tutors. After uncovering an underground economy where a teacher can make the same hourly rate as a Manhattan attorney, Anna herself is seduced by lucrative offers - one after another. Teacher by day, tutor by night, she starts to sample the good life her students enjoy: binges at Barney's, dinner at the Waverly Inn, and a new address on Madison Avenue. Until, that is, the truth sets in.
Schooled is another entry in the genre of books that has cropped up over the last few years: a tell-all about a difficult occupation and the crazy life associated with it. (Other examples are The Nanny Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada, to name two). These usually involve encounters with the rich in which they act so ridiculous that it is difficult to believe that we are all the same species. Schooled is no exception to this rule.
Schooled was generally easy to read. However, while I was reading it, I had a nauseous feeling in my stomach the whole time. I could tell that the book was heading towards a train wreck of sorts, and while I actually was pleased with the ending, I didn't like the anticipation it built up. Lakhani starts the book with a bit from the present (in which Anna is a tutor) and then goes back to visit the days when she first started teaching. Perhaps if she had written the book in chronological order, it would have alleviated this feeling of discomfort.
I also had a problem with the main character, Anna. Basically, I just didn't like her. I felt like she was too easily manipulated, especially after how strongly she believed in being a teacher. She got angry with her best friend, Bridgitte (whose couch she was staying on!) because she chose to go to a work function (though admittedly superficial) instead of staying home with Anna, which leads to a ridiculous materialistic rivalry between the two. I do understand how Anna got sucked into the tutoring; I just think the manner in which she dealt with it at the end was completely out of character, and out of left field. While I liked her decision, I was a bit bewildered.
Overall, Schooled is relatively enjoyable, but I do have my reservations about it. If you enjoy the wave of tell-all books about occupations that have the reader dropping their jaw at the ridiculousness that is being portrayed, I can definitely recommend this book to you - you will like it, without a doubt.
I have a blog tour coming through on Tuesday, September 30 for Elizabeth McCracken's An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination: A Memoir. I really enjoyed the book and will be posting my review, as well as a giveaway of the book hosted by Hachette Book Group, so make sure you check back here on Tuesday!
I'm currently reading The Likeness by Tana French. I really enjoyed In the Woods and am excited about the continuation of Cassie's story. I'll be posting my review of In the Woods later on this week!
Books Finished This Week:
In the Land of No Right Angles - Daphne Beal [review]
Sleeping Arrangements - Madeleine Wickham [review]
Nefertiti - Michelle Moran [review]
The Man Who Loved China - Simon Winchester [review]
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination - Elizabeth McCracken [review to come]
Schooled - Anisha Lakhani [review to come]
Other Reviews Posted This Week:
The Enchantress of Florence - Salman Rushdie [review]
Today was the 2008 National Book Festival, and because I live in the DC metro area, I was lucky enough to be able to attend, along with my husband. We arrived around 10:30 AM, and while there were plenty of people there, it wasn't crowded so we got the chance to wander into all of the tents and scope the scene out.
Once we made our way through the whole festival, I decided to go to the Fiction/Mystery tent to grab a good seat before the authors I wanted to see came on. My husband decided to just hang out by the book signing tents. I'd heard from past attendees that it really is only possible to get one author's autograph if you are interested in the popular authors. Although I would have loved to get the autographs of Philippa Gregory and Marisa de los Santos, I knew that I wanted Salman Rushdie's autograph the most. The setup of the festival made this a problem though; the idea was that you would watch your favorite author speak and then go stand in the autograph line; the author would begin signing autographs about an hour after his/her speech. They would only sign for an hour, so if you weren't far enough ahead in the line, you were simply out of luck.
Now, the problem was that I wanted to see Marisa de los Santos, Salman Rushdie, and Philippa Gregory speak - but if I did that, I'd be at the end of the line for the Rushdie autographs (and his line was the longest). So, before the festival, my husband came up with an ingenius and ridiculously generous solution - he would stand in line while I went and watched whatever I wanted. (Amazing, isn't he?)
So I left him standing by the Salman Rushdie sign (that wasn't even up yet), and went in search of the Fiction/Mystery author tent.
I finally found the tent, and an author was just finishing up. I looked at who was next, and it was Brad Meltzer. I've read his novel The Book of Fate and enjoyed it, so I didn't mind listening to him talk - de los Santos was next, after whom was Rushdie, and then Philippa Gregory.
In between the authors, people of course got up and moved around. I went in search of a seat, and happened to catch an empty seat IN THE FRONT ROW, CENTER. That's right, I was front and center in the pavilion! It was an amazing stroke of luck.
The view from my seat, without the camera zoomed in:
As I said before, first up was Brad Meltzer. I didn't mind hearing him speak, but before the event, I could have taken it or left it. Afterwords, I was so thankful I had gotten the chance - he was absolutely hilarious! Even if you haven't read any of his books, if he is doing an author event in your area, I highly recommend that you go see him. He really is an entertaining speaker. Meltzer discussed his latest book The Book of Lies. It was on my TBR list before, but I've moved it way up. It sounds really interesting (or maybe I just found him really interesting and funny). Either way, I enjoyed his talk quite a bit.
Next up was Marisa de los Santos. I have to say, I felt a little sorry for her. While I did enjoy listening to her speak, she's a poet and (of course) is not quite as funny as Brad Meltzer - he was a hard act to follow. She also immediately preceded Salman Rushdie, so I think a lot of the people there were just staking out good seats to see him speak, and weren't really familiar with her work. But Marisa talked a lot about her writing process and where the characters in her novels come from, something that I found really interesting. And she really is adorable in person!
Next up was the man himself - Salman Rushdie. You may know that he is my favorite author, and I was so excited to hear him speak. They changed the format of his talk - the other authors simply got up to the podium and said what they wanted to say. For Rushdie, it was an interview by a woman who works for the Washington Post's book section (I didn't catch her exact title). It reminded me of a fireside chat of sorts.
I didn't really know what to expect with Rushdie. I've seen his interviews, and my husband calls him a "pompous gasbag," and while I could see that (and it made me laugh), I wasn't expecting him to be so genial, or so funny. He talked about the fatwa issued against him after The Satanic Verses was published, twenty years ago yesterday. He also talked about The Enchantress of Florence and his playful use of language in his writing. All in all, it was a fascinating discussion, and everyone was disappointed when his 30 minutes were up.
After Rushdie, there was a bit of a to-do as a lot of people exited the tent. I was a little nervous because he had gone over his allotted time (but it still was too short), and he was signing books in an hour. But I decided that I'd go ahead and stay for Philippa Gregory, and I'm glad I did!
Philippa Gregory was funny and entertaining. She talked mostly about her latest novel, The Other Queen. I haven't read it yet, but it's on my Fall Into Reading Challenge list. She said that she had avoided writing a novel about Mary, Queen of Scots, for 10 years because she thought Mary was absolutely the dumbest woman. But she slowly has come to realize that history is full of biases, and what we read is all biased. (She used the example of how a popular historian called Katherine Howard "a stupid slut." She was incensed because she wanted to know how he could possibly know what was going through poor Katherine's head). She also read to us from The Other Queen. It was extremely interesting and I really enjoyed it!
A few minutes into Philippa's question and answer session, I got a text from my wonderful, generous, patient, standing-in-line-for-three-hours-to-get-his-wife-an-autograph-from-an-author-he-doesn't-care-about husband saying that they were starting to line up because Rushdie was going to start signing early, and that he was seventh in line. First of all, I marvelled at the seventh in line - I was front and center during the author talks, and seventh in line for Rushdie autographs? How did I get so lucky?
My second thought was that I might miss Salman Rushdie, and I started panicking. As soon as Philippa Gregory was finished speaking, I tore out of the tent and ran across the mall to the book signing area. I got there about three minutes before Salman Rushdie signed my books.
I really was giddy when I went up there - I've never met someone I admire that much, and he is one of the reasons I read as much as I do. I told him that I own all of his books, and I might be one of his biggest fans. He seemed amused, and I told him I had been in the front row of his talk earlier in the day. He said, "I know, I saw you there. You're cute." He had a little smirk on his face when he said it, and it was great! (When I told my husband that, he said it sounded kind of creepy - trust me, it was meant to be funny, not creepy.) Then we had a discussion about how I bought The Enchantress of Florence in Italy while I was on my honeymoon. He asked me how it was, and I said it was wonderful (of course, I mean, even if I didn't like it - which I did [review] - what else was I going to say?)
And that was it! A volunteer was nice enough to take pictures while I was getting my books signed, so here they are:
The autograph lines that I didn't have to stand in:
Though I do own all of Rushdie's books, I only decided to get three autographed - I didn't know if there was a limit, and it just seemed unfair to do more than that!
I was overwhelmed to find out I received this award again from iubookgirl over at Reader for Life! Thank you so much - it's so nice to know that people enjoy reading my blog because I am definitely addicted to writing it!
Author: Simon Winchester
Release Date: May 6, 2008
Genre: Non-fiction, Biography
Rating: *** 1/2 (out of 5)
From the dust jacket:
In sumptuous and illuminating detail, Simon Winchester...brings to life the extraordinary story of Joseph Needham, the brilliant Cambridge scientist who unlocked the most closely held secrets of China, long the world's most technologically advanced country.
No cloistered don, this tall, married Englishman was a freethinking intellectual, who practiced nudism and was devoted to a quirky brand of folk dancing. In 1937, while working as a biochemist at Cambridge University, he instantly fell in love with a visiting Chinese student, with whom he began a lifelong affair. He soon became fascinated with China, and his mistress swiftly persuaded the ever-enthusiastic Needham to travel to her home country, where he embarked on a series of extraordinary expeditions to the farthest frontiers of this ancient empire. He searched everywhere for evidence to bolster his conviction that the Chinese were responsible for hundreds of mankind's most familiar innovations - including printing, the compass, explosives, suspension bridges, even toilet paper - often centuries before the rest of the world...
Both epic and intimate, The Man Who Loved China tells the sweeping story of China through Needham's remarkable life. Her e is an unforgettable tale of what makes men, nations, and, indeed, mankind itself great - related by one of the world's most imitable storytellers.
Some of you might have noticed the ellipses in the summary above where I removed some of the description from the dust jacket. It was overly long and a bit dry, not unlike the book itself.
I did find The Man Who Loved China interesting. Joseph Needham led quite the life, and it is worthy of a biography such as this. Unfortunately, the book is very dry and seemed incredibly long, though it was only around 260 pages. I'm not entirely sure why this is; after all, the story is interesting and Needham's life is incredibly eventful. I think the problem is that I don't usually read biographies, but I thought this one sounded interesting - a tie-in of Chinese history with Needham's story.
Unfortunately, there isn't much Chinese history to be had. I think I would have enjoyed the book much more if there had been more focus on Needham's travels in China. As it is, the reader barely gets a glimpse of his travels or the history surrounding them; most of the book focuses on his personal difficulties and his reputation.
The bottom line is that if you enjoy non-fiction or biographies, you will probably love this book. However, if you are a fiction reader that only occasionally forays into non-fiction, skip this one; there are others that are more worth your time!
Yay! I've thought this award was absolutely adorable, and I am so excited that Kim & Jason over at I Smell Books found my blog worthy of it! Thank you so much!
1) Add the logo of the award to your blog (done!)
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you (see next post)
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs (done!)
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog (see next post!)
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs! (done!)
So now I have to pick seven blogs worthy of this award - a real feat when there are so many more! But I'm going to limit myself to the seven, otherwise this post will take me all day.
Pop Culture Junkie
She Is Too Fond of Books
J. Kaye's Book Blog
Devourer of Books
The Book Lady's Blog
I'll leave you all comments letting you know - congratulations and thank you!
Author: Salman Rushdie
Release Date: May 27, 2008
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
From the dust jacket:
A tall, yellow-haired young European calling himself 'Mogor dell'Amore', The Mughal of Love, arrives at the court of the real Grand Mughal, the Emperor Akbar, with a tale to tell that begins to obsess the whole imperial capital. The stranger claims to be the child of a lost Mughal princess, the youngest sister of Akbar's grandfather Babar: Qara Koz, "Little Black Eyes," a great beauty believed to possess powers of enchantment and sorcery, who is taken captive first by an Uzbeg warlorf, then by the Shah of Persia, and finally becomes the lover of a certain Argalia, a Florentine soldier of forture, commander of the armies of the Ottoman sultan. When Argalia returns home with his Mughal mistress, the city is mesmerized by her presence, and much trouble ensues.
The Enchantress of Florence is the story of a woman attempting to command her own destiny in a man's world. It brings together two cities that barely know each other - the hedonistic Mughal capital, in which the brilliant Emperor wrestles daily with questions of belief, desire, and the treachery of sons, and the equally sensual Florentine world of powerful courtesans, humansit philosophy and inhuman torture, where Argalia's boyhood friend 'il Machia' - Niccolo Machiavelli - is learning, the hard way, about the true bruality of power. These two worlds, so far apart, turn out to be uncannily alke, and the enchantments of women hold sway over them both.
But is Mogor's story true? And if so, then what happened to the lost princess? And if he's a liar, must he die?
How does one go about reviewing a Salman Rushdie novel? This is the first time I've tried, and I feel like his books are so complex and layered, with so many meanings for so many different people, that I'm not going to do it justice no matter what I say. But I'm going to try anyways.
This novel has garnered a lot of criticism, from reviewers to regular readers. It was famously omitted from the finalists for the 2008 Booker Prize. Despite all that, I went into the story with a clear head, without any preconceived notions, and am happy to say that I quite enjoyed it! I understand many of the criticisms, but those elements didn't ruin the book for me. No, it is not on par with many other Rushdie works, but it still cast a spell over me.
The story itself is quite entertaining, and the descriptions of Emperor Akbar's court really are wondrous. As always, Rushdie works some magic into his stories, and I love the way they are employed in this novel. I thought it was interesting that he made Jodhaa, Akbar's Hindu wife, a figment of Akbar's imagination. A recent Bollywood movie called Jodhaa Akbar is about Emperor Akbar and the Empress Jodhaa, and while she was most definitely not imaginary, I wonder what those who have seen the movie have to say about that. (I have not seen the movie, but it's number 3 on my Netflix queue!) I was simply amused by the whole thing.
The one real criticism I can make about The Enchantress of Florence is that it is wordy. Not is the sense that it is too long, or there is too much story; in fact, I thought the book was an appropriate length and quite readable. Instead, I mean that he simply uses too many words in his descriptions. This can make the book more confusing than necessary if you are not paying close attention.
Despite that, I found this book easier to read than a lot of Rushdie's other works. I'm guessing that the reason for this is that this book doesn't seem to run nearly as deep as The Satanic Verses or The Moor's Last Sigh. While that is disappointing in some respects, it actually makes the book a decent introduction to Rushdie. For readers who haven't approached his novels because they seem to be too dense, my opinion is that The Enchantress of Florence might be the book for you. Yes it has its faults, and yes, there are other Rushdie books that are better, but this novel is simply easier to read.
However, if you have read Rushdie before and are expecting a novel at least on par with his earlier works, I'm sorry to say that this isn't it. Despite that, I still enjoyed The Enchantress of Florence and would recommend it to anyone who has an open mind!
[Note: I used the European book cover as the cover image because I bought my copy of The Enchantress of Florence in Italy, so that's why my cover looked like!]
That being said, I have to say that I really enjoyed the movie. The movie takes place about three years since the end of the show, and there is a nice refresher on where all 4 of the women were at, in case you've forgotten. Of course, there were more than a few humorous references to sex, but the movie was much more about friendship and love than anything else, which I really enjoyed. I felt like it was more grown up than the show (ironic, I know coming from someone my age) and I feel like Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte had settled a bit into their lives. I don't know if you will enjoy this movie if you aren't at least a little bit familiar with the characters in the series, but if you have watched the show and been turned off in the past, you may enjoy the movie a bit more.
Well, interesting news. It looks like the beautiful Anne Hathaway has been signed to play the lead role in the movie! I didn't even know it was being made into a movie, but now I'll have to move it up on my TBR list so I can read it before the movie comes out!
Does finding out a book is being made into a movie have any affect on if/when you read the book?
Congratulations, Bookworm! I've sent you an e-mail to the e-mail address in your Blogger profile.
What was the most unusual (for you) book you ever read? Either because the book itself was completely from out in left field somewhere, or was a genre you never read, or was the only book available on a long flight… whatever? What (not counting school textbooks, though literature read for classes counts) was furthest outside your usual comfort zone/familiar territory?
And, did you like it? Did it stretch your boundaries? Did you shut it with a shudder the instant you were done? Did it make you think? Have nightmares? Kick off a new obsession?
Wow, this a great question! I feel like I always answer these, and then read everyone else's answer and wish I had said something completely different. Maybe I should read other people's answers first! But oh well.
I would say the book I read that was the furthest from my normal reading genre would probably be the Twilight series. Yes, I do read YA books, but I don't read too much fantasy and that was probably my first book about vampires. I read Twilight honestly because the cover was so gorgeous. I'd heard something about it here and there, and that people liked it, but I didn't really know what it was about. It was one of those things where I was at the library and needed a few books to read, and it was on the "Popular Recent Titles" shelf. Since the name rang a bell and I was in a hurry, I picked it up without reading the jacket flap. Once I got home and I did read it, I was extremely skeptical, but decided to give it a try. And I thoroughly enjoyed it! (That being said, it's by FAR the best of the series).
I wouldn't say it's kicked off a new obsession, but Twilight definitely taught me to stray outside my comfort zone every once in awhile.
By the way, did anyone else have a difficult time answering this question? Maybe my brain is just dead this morning, but I was having trouble thinking through all the books I've read!
I've decided to join my first reading challenge! Normally, I choose not to do reading challenges because my reading is often on a whim - I like being able to read whatever I feel like reading at the time. However, this challenge is extremely flexible, so I'm trying it out! (And just in time too - the deadline to participate is tonight at midnight!)
My list of books:
1. The Man Who Loved China - Simon Winchester
2. An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination - Elizabeth McCracken
3. The Heretic Queen - Michelle Moran
4. The Fire - Katherine Neville
5. The Best Day of Someone Else's Life - Kerry Reichs
6. House and Home - Kathleen McCleary
7. How Perfect is That - Sarah Bird
8. Hot Mess: Summer in the City - Julie Kraut & Sharon Lester
9. Soup in the City - Kelly Hollingsworth
10. The 19th Wife - David Ebershoff
11. The Likeness - Tana French
12. When Will There Be Good News - Kate Atkinson
13. The Last Queen - C.W. Gortner
14. My Husband's Sweethears - Bridget Asher
15. Altared - Colleen Curran
16. The Memorist - M.J. Rose
17. The Other Queen - Philippa Gregory
18. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larson
19. The Caliph's House - Tahir Shah
20. Riding Rockets - Mike Mullane
I think 20 is a reasonable amount for 3 months (at least I hope!) I have a good mix of books on there, I think. I'm going to try to refrain from changing any books - the only good reason I can think of is if they have a long wait at the library and I don't think I'm going to get them in time! We'll see how well I stick to this though; I could list less books and make it easier to reach my goal, but then there's no challenge!
Author: Michelle Moran
Release Date: July 10, 2007
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: **** 1/2 (out of 5)
Synopsis from Michelle Moran:
The sweeping story of a powerful Egyptian family, Nefertiti: A Novel tells the tale of two sisters, the first of whom is destined to rule as one of history’s most fascinating queens.
Beautiful Nefertiti and her sister, Mutnodjmet, have been raised far from the court of their aunt, the Queen of Egypt. But when the Pharaoh of Egypt dies, their father’s power play makes Nefertiti wife to the new and impetuous king. It is hoped she will temper King Amunhotep’s desire to overturn Egypt’s religion, but the ambitious Nefertiti encourages Amunhotep’s outrageous plans instead, winning the adoration of the people while making powerful enemies at court. Younger yet more prudent, Mutnodjmet is her sister’s sole confidant, and only she knows to what lengths Nefertiti will go for a child to replace the son of Amunhotep’s first wife.
As King Amunhotep’s commands become more extravagant, he and Nefertiti ostracize the army, clergy, and Egypt’s most powerful allies. Then, when Mutnodjmet begins a dangerous affair with a general, she sees how tenuous her situation is at her own sister’s court.
I love historical fiction, and I love stories about Ancient Egypt, so when I first heard of Michelle Moran's Nefertiti, I couldn't wait to read it. I'm not sure why it took me over a year, but now I wish I had read it earlier. It really is an amazing book; Moran's meticulous details really make Egypt come to life. It is obvious that she is an accomplished researcher, and that she took her time writing Nefertiti in order to ensure that she had her details and facts straight.
Michelle Moran has a blog in which she writes about recent archaeological discoveries, as well as her research for her third novel set to be released in 2009, Cleopatra's Bones. The site really is fascinating for anyone interested in history or archaeology; it's obvious that Moran is a real history buff! Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the site's RSS feed so I can follow it in Google Reader, which is a real disappointment.
However, historical details alone do not make a good novel. Moran shines through the way she writes her characters as well. She manages to make Nefertiti a character the reader hates, pities, and respects all at the same time. The narrator, Mutny, has a strong voice. The reader really comes to care about what happens to her and the rest of the characters in the novel. The plot is intriguing; I was up late into the night trying to finish the book! You know you've found a talented author when you read a 470 page book in one sitting (especially when you were planning on going to bed early!)
I have Moran's second novel The Heretic Queen sitting on my shelf right now, and after how much I enjoyed Nefertiti, I am incredibly anxious to read it!
[Edit: I just got an e-mail from Michelle Moran, saying she contacted the person in charge of her blog and they are going to add an RSS feed!]