Thursday, December 31, 2009

Slut! by Leora Tanenbaum

iconiconI ran across this book — Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Repuation, by Leora Tanenbaum — while I was babysitting a couple of weekends ago. What woman wouldn't be able to resist a book with such an arresting title? I read half the book there, and then checked it out to finish it.

First of all, the book is written in a very readable style. It read very quickly and easily for nonfiction, yet it wasn't watered down by any means. It was well-researched and informative, yet incredibly compelling.

I think it's the women's stories about how they were labeled as sluts that make the book so addicting. Tanenbaum intersperses the first-person accounts with well-researched passages, using a dual approach of individual stories and research in order to make each point. It's a very effective approach, and keeps you interested in the book until then end.

Another thing that makes this book so compelling was the ability to relate to many of these stories. I was sexually active as a teen, and although I never had it as bad as some of these women, I certainly suffered some grief thanks to the sexual double standard.

One of the sections in this book that was most striking to me was the part that talks about the fallacy of romance. Tanenbaum talks about how young girls are taught, via romance novels and other forms of media, that sex is based on love and romance. She also offers research that demonstrates the girls who are taught that love and sex are (or ought to be) the same thing, are the ones who are the most co-dependent, and suffer through the worst breakups. On the other hand, she argues, girls who are taught that it's okay to feel desire, and even to act on it if you are safe about it, tend to be more independent and move on the easiest after a breakup.

It's interesting, because basically Tanenbaum is pointing out that society's chief way of trying to protect our daughters — telling them it's okay to sleep with a guy if you love them — actually reinforces the romance trap, and makes girls more likely to get hurt. (i.e., If they take birth control or carry condoms, they are planning for sex, which makes it seem unromantic and skanky... So they have unsafe sex instead of admitting that they have actually thought about or wanted or planned for sex.)

I think this is an important book on two levels: 1) to help women come to terms with the sexual double standard they faced when they were growing up, and 2) to encourage parents and future parents think about what they plan on telling their daughters about sex.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve

iconiconI actually finished this book on Christmas Day. I started out reading it a couple of weeks ago, and then was interrupted when another book (Slut!, which I'll blog about next) caught my eye. I read half of the other book while babysitting, returned to A Wedding in December, and then checked Slut! out at the library in order to finish it.

My mom recommended A Wedding in December to me, and while I found it interesting and enjoyable, I had more than a few of those moments when you say, "Okay, now how much do I have left?" and wish that you could finish it a little faster. It's a good story, and I do love Anita Shreve, but it's far from one of my favorites of her books. (I liked The Pilot's Wifeicon and Sea Glassicon
the best.)

Of course, accounting for differences in people's tastes, I can easily see how this might be someone else's favorite. Shreve does a beautiful job of weaving together, comparing and contrasting, the stories of all the different friends' lives in this reunion story. There are parallels, and there are stark differences — both from one another, and from who they were versus who they are now. I also like how she incorporates 9/11 into the story by comparing and contrasting everyone's reactions — the reunion takes place not long afterward, so it is natural that it would be a topic at the forefront of everyone's mind.

In other words, I think whether you like this book will have a lot to do with personal taste. I liked it but didn't love it, but I could totally see how someone else would.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

iconiconI actually finished Joyce Maynard's Labor Day a couple of weeks ago, but with Christmas coming up and everything else going on, I didn't have time to blog about it then.

I had heard about this book somewhere, I think on NPR, but it took so long to get it from the library that by that time I'd forgotten where. When I flipped through it initially, I was admittedly skeptical as to whether I'd like it. But I had a chance to read it almost right away, so read it I did.

I was pleasantly surprised: Labor Day is an incredibly engrossing book. One of the quotes on the cover compares it to Atonement, and I have to say I agree. It feels like a more modern story, but it has some similar themes: love, betrayal, and coming of age. The characters are equally as interesting, in some ways more so, as they are never quite what you expect.

This is one of those books that you shouldn't judge from your first impressions. The cover isn't very exciting, and flipping through the pages the story might seem a bit dull, but don't believe it for a minute!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

iconiconEdit 3/30/2011: The illustrated edition I own is no longer available on BN.com.  Instead I've linked to an inexpensive paperback copy.  If you would prefer the ebook, you can download it for free from Project Gutenberg.

With Christmas approaching, I decided a couple of weeks ago that I wanted to read something in the spirit of the season. I usually read something sentimental to my childhood or my literary development every year around this time (a couple of years ago it was the Chronicles of Narnia, and last year it was supposed to be Lord of the Rings, though I didn't actually get to it until several months later).

As a kid, I can remember frequently watching this movie version of A Christmas Carolicon, but I don't actually remember ever reading the book. Still, I have vague memories of seeing the book on our bookshelves and even in my room, so I think I must have at some point.

I bought my own copy of the book last year when I happened to see it at Barnes & Noble. It is the exact same copy that is displayed in the Amazon link, and it is a beautifully illustrated edition that I would highly recommend to anyone who loves beautiful books. The illustrations make it a lovely copy for families with children, but even if you don't have kids, I promise you will love this book.

Anyway, A Christmas Carol is actually a fairly fast read; an adult can probably finish it in a couple of nights pretty easily, and if you read a chapter a night, you could read it to a child in under a week. It's a great book to read as Christmas approaches.

The book has been in the news lately: My favorite writer's newsletter, WritersWeekly.com, ran a story on how A Christmas Carol was self-published (which I didn't know), and the New York Times did a blog post on how the original manuscript shows the evolution of the story to its final published form.

When I was a kid, my dad used to read "The Night Before Christmas" to us every Christmas Eve. Well, I can definitely see this particular book becoming a part of my family's traditions someday. It was nice to reread it — I just can't believe it has taken me so many years!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Horse Crazy: Women and the Horses They Love

iconiconI had totally forgotten I had this book, Horse Crazy by A. Bronwyn Llewellyn, until just a week or two ago. I was going through my stack of books to read, looking for something that appealed to my mood at the time, when I found it. It wasn't what I was looking for right then, but I came back to it soon enough!

This is a great little book, full of short anecdotes about women and their horses. It's the kind of book that would make a great gift for a horsewoman. At around 200 pages, it's also a fast, enjoyable read.

What is especially nice about the book is the variety of stories. Some are about losing horses, others about finding horses. Sometimes the stories take place when the women are just kids, while others take place when they are adults. It's a great collection of stories that demonstrates that, no matter how different horsewomen seem from one another, we have one unifying factor that holds us together: We all love our horses!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

iconiconI'm a big fan of Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code, so I was pretty excited for his newest book, The Lost Symbol. My timing was perfect: I started reading it right after my husband and I watched the movie Angels and Demonsicon for the first time.

As with the other two books, The Lost Symbol was amazingly well researched. It never ceases to amaze me how he comes up with all this stuff. I mean, he creates puzzles and comes up with answers to incredibly old mysteries that actually sound plausible. And he does all that while crafting a well-written story.

I often find that with these books, I get even more out of it the second time I read it. So I'll put my copy away for a while, and come back to it in six months or a year. Maybe by that time they'll even have an illustrated edition — I have first printings of the illustrated editions of both earlier books, so I'd love to have this one in a similar edition to complete my set!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

iconiconA friend and colleague sent me an advance reading copy of Hush, Hush a little while back, after she had read and reviewed it. I finally started it one evening toward the end of November — and hardly stopped reading until I'd finished the book, later that night.

If you enjoyed Twilight, I'm pretty sure you will like Hush, Hush. It's a similar idea — mortal teenage girl falls for immortal guy — and Becca Fitzpatrick carries the story in a very similar style as Stephanie Meyer, with a similar narrative pace and lots of sexual tension to keep you turning the pages!

Interestingly, there is a different ending (just the very last page) in the advance reading copy than the final published edition. I've read both and I have to say I like the ARC version better! If you read the published version, you'll have to tell me — without seeing the ARC version, what did you think of the ending?

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Big Little Life by Dean Koontz

iconiconI'm still playing catch up — I finished Dean Koontz's A Big Little Life just over a week ago. It was a surprisingly good book — I haven't read anything by Koontz since high school, when I tried a couple of his suspense novels and discovered I wasn't a big fan.

A Big Little Life, on the other hand, was wonderful. It's a memoir about his dog, and it has a lot of heart and humor to it, not to mention a lot that a dog owner and lover can relate to.

I love the funny stories, but one of my favorite aspects of the book was his constant denials of what modern science claims: that animals don't feel emotion, don't remember for more than a few weeks, and aren't capable of higher-level intelligence. With two cats, two dogs, and a horse, I can tell you that all of those claims are — well, horse shit. And it was really refreshing to read a book by someone else who feels the same way.

I told my husband the next day that I love dog memoirs, but one of these days I've got to learn to not read the final chapter. I don't want to read about the dog's death, and since the author always seems to feel the need to make their audience cry, that's how every single dog memoir I've ever read ends. Would someone pretty please write a memoir about their dog that is still living, so that I can read a dog memoir with a happy ending?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Two Marys by Sylvia Browne

iconiconI finished this book quite a while back, but because I've been doing NaNoWriMo this month, I haven't had a lot of free time for blogging. I have still been reading, though — not as fast as usual, but I still have a few books to catch up on reviewing.

Sylvia Browne's The Two Marys is a nonfiction book about Mary the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, and the part that they played in Jesus's life. Although I am not Christian, I have had a fascination with Mary Magdalene, the Gnostic gospels, and other similar subjects for years — fueled in part, of course, by movies such as Stigmataicon and books such as The Da Vinci Codeicon, but also cultivated by a very interesting class I took in college called "The English Bible as Literature," which discussed the history of the Bible as well as the literary devices used.

On one hand, I was a bit turned off by the author talking about her visions. (A friend of mine who is an ex-seminarian commented about how "lunacy" was often visible in self-proclaimed non-Catholic prophets, but he seems not to understand that I would have been just as turned off by a Catholic writer claiming to have had visions about a subject.) On the other hand, though, there were some very interesting (and non-visionary) points that she made that are worth considering — about the historical selection process of what books would be included in the Bible, of changes that were made to the texts, and of evidence in the text that points to a relationship between Jesus and Mary that was edited out.

If you are interested in the theory that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married, I do recommend this book, as I think there is a lot of interesting information to be gleaned here. The book is also short and well-organized, making it an easy and fairly fast read. However, if you are interested in a more scholarly approach, I do recommend skimming (or skipping altogether) the divergences into personal belief!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Emily's Ghost by Denise Giardina

iconiconI actually finished Emily's Ghost by Denise Giardina some time ago, but for various reasons I kept forgetting to blog about it.

Many of you will remember that I am a big fan of the Brontës, especially Anne. I've read all of their books now except one (Charlotte's The Professor, which is next on my list).

At first I was skeptical of a fictionalized account of their lives, but my mom read it first, and when she talked about it I thought it sounded very well researched. I decided to read it.

I'm glad I did. I thought Giardina's portrayals of the sisters were very well done, right down to Charlotte's controlling nature and Anne's role as the peacemaker. Some of it was hypothetical, of course — such as Emily having a relationship with William Weightman, or Charlotte burning Emily's unpublished second novel after her death — but it was all based on very thorough research, so I'm mollified.

I especially like being able to picture the house and the moors exactly when Giardina wrote about the sisters there. Having been to Haworth in March definitely enhanced my enjoyment of this novel!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Reasons to buy books in stores

I know I have Amazon ads on my blog, but for my own collection I like to buy books from an actual store. Here are a few reasons why.

1) I like to support independent bookstores. My favorite indie bookstore in Denver is Tattered Cover, which has three stores in the metro area.

2) I like to flip through a book before I buy it. Sure, some of Amazon's listings allow you to do that virtually, but you can't see everything and it's just not the same experience.

3) I am picky about the condition of my books. I can't stand ripped dustjackets, bent corners, or insecurely bound spines, so I usually go through every copy on th shelf to pick out the best one. You don't have that option when you buy books online, and in fact, I find they usually get damaged even worse in shipping.

4) I just like the experience better! A favorite pastime of mine and my husband's is to go to a bookstore, get a coffee from the cafe, and browse books or work on our computers. That's a fun evening out for us, and something we'd miss out on if we bought most of our books online.

So remember, when online bookstores start gearing up for the holiday seasons with tempting sales, there are still plenty of reasons to buy your books in actual stores!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

iconiconI read Robin McKinley's Sunshine last summer, and it immediately became one of my favorite vampire books. So after reading the Twilight saga earlier this year, I developed a craving to read Sunshine again.

Last summer I checked Sunshine out from the library, but I discovered at the time that a new edition, with a redesigned cover, was coming out in October. My bookstore took its sweet time stocking the book, so I stopped checking for it and eventually forgot. When I got a Barnes and Noble gift card from my aunt this summer, however, I thought of Sunshine — and they had it! I'm pleased to say that it's a lovely trade paperback — there's nothing better to me than the feeling of a trade paperback in my hands.

You can see my original review of Sunshine by clicking here. I have to say, though, as much as I loved it the first time around, I think it was even better the second. It's written in the character's voice, which can be kind of rambling at times; I think I skimmed many of the longer paragraphs last time. This time, however, I devoured (and adored) every word. It's like a grown-up version of Twilight — just as addicting, but with more power and character development.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Villette by Charlotte Bronte

iconiconNote: The image links to Barnes & Noble's paperback and ebook edition of Villette.  If you would prefer a free ebook edition, you can download a nicely formatted one for free at Girlebooks.com.

I love the Brontë sisters' books, but there were a few I had yet to read, so I set out to read them. Villette was the next on my list after Agnes Grey, and having finished it at long last, I confess I need a break from the Brontës' world — or should I say from Charlotte.

I love Jane Eyre — there's no doubt about that. Even though Charlotte is not my favorite of the three (I prefer Anne's Tenant of Wildfell Hall to all the others), I've always loved Jane for her independence, and her story for the mystery and its gothic influences. I also enjoyed Shirley quite a bit, and for a similar reason: The title character was so spirited!

Villette, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired. I've heard that one of the complaints of Shirley was that the plot was so meandering — but whoever complained of that one's plot couldn't possibly have read Villette. It takes forever to figure out where the plot is going, and really never does succeed in making the reader care about the heroine, Lucy Snowe.

What frightens me is that Charlotte's first novel, The Professor, which was unpublished until after her death — and is the only one I have left to read — is supposed to be an even less passionate version of Villette. Even less passionate? I expect it will be as dry as cardboard.

I hate to say it, but unlike Anne, who shows clear improvement in her writing between Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, I don't think Charlotte's writing improves over time at all. In fact, I think she gets wordier and less focused with each book she writes!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Yesterday I took an admin day to take care of some administrative tasks that had been piling up. This included making some long-needed changes to my blog templates.

I've done quite a bit of work revamping the Livre du Jour template. You'll find that post titles are also now links to the individual post pages, for one thing. I've also written an author bio, rather than pulling in my Blogger profile, and changed the picture. Finally, I've made the copyright notice a little more prominent, as well as provided a link to the feed for the site.

Other than that, the only changes are a little reworking of the ads displayed on the main and individual post pages.

Let me know if you notice any bugs with the new template changes, and enjoy!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

iconiconNote: The image links to Barnes & Noble's paperback and ebook editions.  If you prefer a free ebook version, you can download a nicely formatted one for free from Girlebooks.com.

I actually finished this book at least a week ago, but I've been really busy and kept forgetting to blog about it.

Anyone who knows me or reads my blogs often probably already knows that I'm a Brontë fanatic. I visited Haworth in March, and have read Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Shirley, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall multiple times each.

Anne Brontë is my favorite of the three sisters — I absolutely adore The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I hadn't read Agnes Grey yet, though, so when a friend gave me a book on the Brontë sisters' books and the influences on them, I decided I needed to hurry up and finish reading their novels before reading the new book.

Flipping through the book our friend gave me, I saw a comment about how the reader can see a lot of growth between Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. This is absolutely true. Agnes Grey had a lot of description and much more "telling" than "showing," and is a much less involved plot than Tenant. Tenant, on the other hand, shows a lot of growth in the development of plot, characters, and narration.

Agnes Grey is an interesting story and worth reading if you are a big Brontë fan — I think it really helps to understand Anne's work to see its progression. I also can't help but wonder how much of the observations and events that took place in Agnes Grey came from Anne's real-life experiences as a governess. However, the book is not for everyone, and is much more difficult to appreciate on the basis of the story alone than Tenant.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Light of the Oracle by Victoria Hanley

iconiconIt's pretty bad when your reading list is so long you even forget what books you have waiting on the shelf. But that's exactly what happened with The Light of the Oracle, by Victoria Hanley.

I bought this book months ago when I saw it at Barnes & Noble. It's an autographed copy by a local author, not to mention it's in my favorite genre (young adult), so I thought it was worth giving a try.

I wasn't disappointed. The Light of the Oracle is a fantasy about a young woman with special powers and visions, who is discovered by the Master Priest and taken to the Temple to train as a handmaiden. There, she encounters the shady politics that the Temple is involved in.

The book has all of the characteristics of great young adult fantasy: The action starts off immediately, the fantasy world is solidly created, and the heroine is properly flawed — and unlikely heroine. It is also a fairly short, fast-paced story that didn't take me all that long to finish.

This is apparently the author's third book, and a continuation of the world created in her earlier two. I will have to check them out as well!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Horse, Follow Closely by Gawani Pony Boy

iconiconOne of the reasons it took me so long to finish The Other Boleyn Girl was because I took a break midway through to read a couple of horse books. One I haven't finished yet, but the other was a training book called Horse, Follow Closely by Gawani Pony Boy.

I've reviewed this book over on my Pony Tales Blog, so I'll let you go over there to read it!

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

iconiconLast year, my husband and I watched The Other Boleyn Girlicon (the movie), and I loved it so much that I promptly put Philippa Gregory's book on my stack of books to read. I'd bought the book a few years ago, but I have so many waiting to be read that I hadn't gotten to it yet. In fact, even moved up to the "short" stack, it still took me months and months to get to it, if that tells you anything!

Anyway, in the meantime we'd also watched the first two seasons of the TV series The Tudorsicon, and I'm now very glad I'd waited to read the book. I'm not usually a fan of watching the movie first, but in this case whatever you do with the movie you also ought to do with the TV series: Either watch both before you read the book, or read the book before you watch both.

This is because there is A LOT that wasn't included in the movie, but was definitely present in the TV series. The major difference is that the TV series cuts Mary out of pretty much everything, so none of the events are shown from Mary's point of view. But since it's a TV series, there was also more time to include many of the complicated events that led up to Anne's beheading.

I have to say one more thing about this book. It's a perfect example of how sometimes hastily flipping through a book won't really tell you anything about whether you'll like it. When I flipped through it after watching the movie, I wasn't sure I'd like it, particularly the writing style. But I was quite wrong: I loved it! It's hard to say what makes us decide to read certain books, but apparently judging a book by its cover isn't the biggest danger. I'm glad I decided to read this one anyway!

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

iconiconThis was actually my second time reading Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees. I read it for the first time several years ago, probably just a year or two after it came out.

I liked the novel the first time I read it, but I actually think I had more appreciation for it the second time I read it. I was motivated to read it again because I saw the movie with my mom several months ago, and loved it.

I'm not usually a big fan of movie adaptations, but this is one of several recently that I think was fabulously done. First of all, it has my favorite young actress in it, Dakota Fanning, and I think she played the role beautifully. (You ought to hear the breathless, nonstop way she rolls out Lily's lies in the movie. Perfect!) All of the older actresses were perfect, too, but especially Queen Latifah as August. I found that I was imagining these two in the roles as I read, and not in a bad way, either!

It's not often that I say this, but I actually think the movie made me appreciate the book more. It is a perfect visual counterpart to the novel, which is excellent in its own right too. An unforgettable story of a poor white girl growing up during the Civil Rights Era — definitely worth reading... and watching!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett

iconiconThis is actually the original book I was reading on our vacation in March, before I got distracted by several other books. I started out reading it on the airplane, but that was about it. Unfortunately, I kept getting distracted after we got back, so although it's a short book and formatted so that it's a very easy, fast read, it took me until just a few days ago to finally finish it.

However, the reason I really picked up this book was as a writing/career book, so you'll find the review on Reading 4 Writers.

Edit: I decided to get rid of Reading 4 Writers since I wasn't updating it regularly.  I will be importing the more detailed review to Livre du Jour soon, at which time I will update the link below.

ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income

I just have to say, though, that this book is not really just for career writers. If you maintain a blog and you are interested in how to make it better — or even earn some money from it — you will probably benefit from the information provided!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

iconiconI finished this book days ago, actually, but lately I've gotten a little behind on blogging. In other words, expect a couple more reviews in the coming days — I have some catching up to do!

My husband, Michael, has been bugging me to read Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain for months now. He bought this book at Starbucks, of all places, and read it almost right away (a rarity for him). He's quite the dog person, so he loved it.

Basically, this novel is told from a dog's point of view — a very funny, very dog-like dog's point of view. It's amazing how easily you can picture the narrator's voice coming from a dog. It sounds just like what certain dogs I know would say if they could.

As Michael said, the heart of the book is some rather serious subject matter, but man does this dog have a good sense of humor! The witty comments provide excellent comic relief in all the right places.

I also really appreciated the fact that the main character (the dog's owner) is a race car driver who lives in Seattle. It's amusing and appropriate because before I was born, my dad was a race car driver who lived in Seattle. He never got into the big time stuff, of course, but still — it was a nice touch. Also, since my dad (naturally) was the one who taught me to drive, and since I've heard a lot of his racing stories, I was familiar with some of the concepts mentioned in the book (though by no means do you have to in order to understand and enjoy it).

The Art of Racing in the Rain is a pretty fast read, and I highly recommend it, particularly for dog lovers. The personality and voice of the narrator is so true to life — you'll love it!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Official New Moon trailer!

Okay, so it's not a book, but since I recently blogged about the book it is based on I thought I'd share the New Moon trailer that was just released this weekend. They've been holding out on us for a while — whether to heighten the anticipation or just because it wasn't ready yet I don't know, but it looks awesome! I can't wait!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult

iconiconPlease note: This review contains spoilers! I don't usually write about what happens in the end, but this time my review of the book isn't complete without spoiler commentary, so read at your own risk!

It's been a while since I've read a Jodi Picoult novel. You may remember from My Sister's Keeper and a couple others that I tend to lose sleep over these books (kind of like I did lately with the Twilight saga).

I didn't pull any all-nighters with Harvesting the Heart, but I did read it in just a few days. I've been back up to my old reading speed lately, and it's been kind of nice. I'd forgotten how good I feel when I read a lot — it seems to recharge my batteries, so to speak.

Harvesting the Heart confronted several controversial issues, as Picoult's books usually did. Abortion was sort of a sideline issue in this book, though the story didn't actually deal as much with the moral issues of abortion as much as the issue of a woman's and mother's responsibilities versus a man's and father's.

It was a good book, but I have to say I wasn't as thrilled with the way it ended. I personally couldn't understand the main character's decision to go back to a husband who had marginalized her as much as he had. Going back to her child, yes, of course — but her husband? Perhaps he would have been different, after three months of doing all the childcare himself — now that he knows what it was like for her — and I think that's suggested, in a way... But I still can't understand it.

Regardless of how it ended, though, this book was quite captivating. It's definitely more of a woman's story, but it's a well-written look at what it costs a woman to give everything up for a husband and a family.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell

iconiconI bought Maggie O'Farrell's The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox ages ago — so long ago I don't remember getting it, though I most likely got it from the bargain shelf at Barnes & Noble. My mom even read it before I did, and she loved it so much that she has been bugging me to read it ever since.

The book is fairly short, just under 250 pages, and is written in a style that is fairly fast and easy to read. It's extremely well written, so that the writing style changes depending on which character the story is focusing on. There are no chapters, only section breaks, usually dividing the changes in perspective.

The story is a mystery of sorts — who this woman really is — and the answers are given slowly, through each change in perspective. It's also a very sad story, of how just being different can set into motion things that change one's life. It's also a story of how the repression of women that used to be commonplace has the power to affect us even today.

I know I'm not doing this book justice in how I'm describing it. All I can say is that it is a sad, powerful story about the skeletons in one family's closet, and how those skeletons changed the lives of three separate generations.