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Sunday Salon: the Quadruple Post

February 14, 2010

The Sunday Salon.comIt’s been four weeks since my last Sunday Salon, so I’ve got to cover four Sundays in this one post. :) However, I didn’t actually read during most of those four weeks; my fibromylagia flared up badly, and when that happens I find it impossible to read. Both physically speaking, even the act of making sure my arms and neck are in alignment is too much for my poor muscles, and mentally speaking, because my brain descends into fibro fog and can’t quite put together a meaning from discrete words. I guess the point of this is: 1) fibro sucks and 2) I only have 13 books to talk about.

First up is A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid, which I read for the African Diaspora Challenge. I read Kincaid’s debut novel Annie John last year, and it was so amazing I knew I wanted to read the rest of her books. I put A Small Place on hold, thinking it was another novel. But it turned out to be an extended essay (the book is slightly less than 100 pages) about Antigua and the politics of the Western nations and the Caribbean. It blew me away; Kincaid is an incredible author, and her rage and wit come together to create a sharp, pointed essay that will probably make most Westerners a touch uncomfortable. I was quite happy not to be British and not to have ever gone on a Caribbean cruise while reading this. In the first section, Kincaid uses second-person to the most advantage to grab the attention of her presumably Western audience, by imagining the reader as a tourist arriving in Antigua. From the first line,

If you to go Antigua as a tourist, this is what you will see.

Kincaid sucked me into her writing and kept me there. I think that everyone should read, especially those who might not know much about the political history of the Caribbean. She’s so smart and passionate, and the way she rips into modern Western ‘forgetfulness’ re: colonialism is delicious and satisfying (as an international relations junkie, I get so sick of some of the ridiculousness I see out there that I loved Kincaid’s forthwriteness and willingness to call a spade a spade). I would absolutely love to share some of the passages with you, but alas I had to return all of my library books when I was ill, so I don’t have it here for reference. I definitely want to reread it in the future, though, and as soon as I have an income, I want a copy for my own shelves.

Speaking of awesome nonfiction, I next finished The Far Traveller by Nancy Marie Brown for the Tournament of Reading (Medieval) Challenge. This is a book about medieval Icelanders, mainly Icelandic women and most specifically it centers around Gudrid, a woman who appears in the sagas and has been found in other historical sources. Brown weaves together analyses of various saga stories with a look at archaelogy (she volunteers on a dig at some point) with a look at how history is discovered/made. She continually personalises the history, and as a woman, I found all of my curiousity about Icelandic women satisfied. I adored this book, and I think all of you will too. Seriously! Even if you have no inherent interest in the Middle Ages, or Iceland, Brown has made her subject so fascinating and sparkling it rises above all of that. She finds the universal truths of being woman, of being an explorer, or being human, and then she puts them in their more specific context. I can’t recommend it highly enough, and I rather want to read it again just thinking about it.

My feelings are considerably more ambivalent about The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. This was my first read for the Complete Booker Challenge; in the past, I’ve had a pretty good reaction to most of the Bookers I’ve read. This one had a different feeling from most of those; it felt brash, like an upstart determined to shake the system. It’s told in 2nd person, via a series of one-sided e-mails from a young Indian enterprenuer in Bangalore to some Chinese politician. The enterprenuer, Balram, tells the story of his life from a village boy to chauffeur in Delhi. Now, I think that Adiga has some definite writing talents; his characterisations are strong, and he knows how to pace a story. But I think a lot of this book was about Adiga trying to make waves and show off. Which is why it ultimately founders for me; I didn’t really care about any of the characters, or what would ultimately happen to them. Balram has horrible views on women, and while I understand that Adiga made it that way because Balram’s from a village, and he’s not supposed to be sympathetic, etc., etc., I simply ended up alienated. I don’t know…I was either laughing or rolling my eyes throughout most of the book. There’s enough strong stuff for me to be curious about Adiga’s short story collection Between the Assassinations. But I’m not sure if I’d recommend it. Although, as someone who’s read quite a few authors from the subcontinent, it was certainly a different viewpoint/voice than I would have expected!

I can unequivocally recommend my next read: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (which I’m counting towards the Our Mutual Read Challenge). I’m sure you won’t be surprised that I loved it, since Ms. Waters has a place of honour in my ‘Very Favourite Authors Ever’ sidebar. ;) And unlike some of the other authors there, I think she has a completely universal appeal. So if you haven’t read her yet, go grab one of her novels! Personally, I’ve been reading them in published order, but Fingersmith would be as good a place to start as any. :) Right; I suppose I should actually talk about the book. It’s historical fiction, set in Victorian times, and it’s all twisty and full of fun. But for me at least, the plot wasn’t that huge of a deal. It was the characters, and their voices and experiences, that made me care about the book, that made me bite my nails wondering how it would all end. Which is exactly the way that I’d want it. Waters’ writing is as perfect as usual; her narrators have distinctive, convincing voices, and she’s the master of foreshadowing. For those of you who are more into plot, the book’s got a tight one. I think Waters gives enough hints to figure out all of the twists ahead of time, which in my opinion just makes it more fun; she definitely keeps the reader on their toes until the end. And the setting, the underworld of Victorian London, is great fun! So really, this book has every element it needs to be a wonderful, entertaining, thought-provoking novel, and it’s just that. It hasn’t replaced Tipping the Velvet as my fave Waters ever, but it has made me even more excited to read the rest of her books (which I’ve been spacing out so that they’ll last longer).

In Her Own Sweet Time by Rachel Lehmann Haupt was a very interesting mix of memoir and research about American women having biological children later in life, as our society changes. I picked it up for the Women Unbound Challenge, and I think it was a great choice, since I felt like I was having coffee with a group of smart, motivated women in which we could chat honestly and openly about the confused issues surrounding motherhood. Haupt originally began looking into the issues when she found herself newly single in her mid-thirties and still wanting a biological child. What I love about the book is its lack of judgement or fear tactics; Haupt talks to a bunch of scientists (especially women scientists), interviews lots of women with different experiences, and is open about her personal feelings and how they change as time wears on. It’s interesting for me, since I don’t have a particular desire to have a *biological* child (and yes, I know I’m young, and I know that might change) to read about the lengths other women go to for just that. I also find anything looking at single motherhood by choice fascinating, since I can imagine having a child without a husband, so even though Haupt isn’t keen on the idea, her coverage of it made me happy. :) I feel like I’m being rather disjointed! But ultimately, this is my kind of desert book…a strong woman looking at issues independent, contemporary, middle class American women face. It’s like my version of chick lit…it makes me examine my own life, it makes me chat with my friends, and ultimately it leaves me feeling empowered about my future. I just happen to prefer it in nonfiction!

I listened to Washington Square by Henry James and very much enjoyed it. I’ve always been a fan of James’ novels, though, so I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone. ;) Honestly, this book has one of the meanest villains I’ve encountered in some time, and watching James’ characterisation of him simply leaves me in awe. Dr. Sloper isn’t a deliberate villain; he just so continuously undermines his daughter and any of her abilities, systemetically destroying her life, that he ends up being more evil than most. And sometimes, he’s even got good motivations. Anyway, the storyline is quite interesting; it’s about a marriage attempt, but unlike in most classic novels, it opens with an engagement. There isn’t really a courtship, and all of the key players are introduced very early in the book. In fact, it has a tiny cast compared to most classic novels; there are really only four reoccurring characters. But it’s so psychologically fascinating, that I loved it and couldn’t wait to find out what the next chapter would bring. While this isn’t my favourite James novel (that’s a tie between Portrait of a Lady and The Ambassadors), I’m very happy that I read it, and it’s the kind of book that stays with you. I think this might be a good place for people to start with James, if his longer works make them nervous. ;)

I read The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa for the Japanese Literature Book Group and then got sick and didn’t participate! I believe that’s irony. ;) I’m sorry that I missed that discussion, but honestly, this book underwhelmed me. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve seen movies like Memento and Proof, or that I’ve read authors like Sacks and Hofstadter, but the memory and mathematics issues didn’t feel fresh to me. Ogawa’s characters didn’t really draw me in…I don’t know, I always felt like I was kept at arm’s reach. It all just felt a bit boring and banal, which is a shame since there are so many Japanese authors I really love that do the ‘quiet but profound’ thing more successfully. It’s interesting to me to see how some books gain momentum in the blogosphere. :)

I’m about to commit blasphemy when I talk about Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett. It’s my first read for the Terry Pratchett Challenge, and it has me a bit nervous that I committed to too high of a level. It’s the first book I’ve read of the adult Discworld series (I have read the YA Tiffany Aching trilogy, set in the same world), and honestly, I’m not impressed. Many of the jokes felt like they were trying a touch too hard, and even though the book itself isn’t that long, I got bored a few times in it. Eek! I really expected to love this one, since I’ve loved all of Pratchett’s books that I’ve read (which, now that I think about it, are all YA), but I don’t know what to say. I’m hoping it’s because it was an older Discworld novel…maybe I should switch from the Witches books to the Death ones?

Now we’re up to February. :) I listened to an audio version of “Hedda Gabler” by Henrik Ibsen, and I must say, I think it’s a great way to read plays! The audio the library had was a full production, with different actors playing each role. I’ve been wanting to read Ibsen for awhile now, hearing that he’s an amazing playwright. And while “Hedda Gabler” isn’t as famous as “The Doll House,” it was awesome and definitely made me want to read more Ibsen in the future! The main focus of the play is Hedda herself, who is one of those super-manipulative types. It was great fun watching her scheme, and since she’s the ultimate anti-heroine, I wasn’t too concerned about how her life would actually turn out. ;) Ibsen reminded me a bit of Chekhov…with the foreshadowing and just the general tone. Since I love Chekhov, this is a good thing! You know, I don’t read a lot of plays (I prefer to watch productions of them, usually on DVD since I live in the boonies, lol), and I’m not really sure how to review them. But I’d encourage people who are skeptical about audio format books to give it a try with plays. They complement each other perfectly!

Whew. I finished three books last night, but honestly, I’m feeling tired! It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these posts, so I’m going to close for now. :) I hope all of y’all have been reading awesome books! Feel free to tell me about any you think I should read. :)

86 Comments leave one →
  1. February 14, 2010 9:05 am

    Thanks for the roundup! I guess I really must read Waters–I have an aversion to historical fiction, but if anyone can make me enjoy it, it looks like Waters is it! Wonder if they’re available on audio…Have you read Pratchett & Gaiman’s Good Omens? Very funny if you want to try something out of the Discworld series!

    • February 15, 2010 3:53 am

      I have read Good Omens multiple times. :) I don’t know if any of Waters books have audio versions, but I think they’d be well suited to the format! I’ve never had problems w/ historical fiction, though, so I can’t evaluate how her books would read for you!

  2. February 14, 2010 9:28 am

    I know 13 books in 4 weeks is not much, but if it’s any consolation, you read more than I read in Jan. :) Ok, I won’t tell how much that is. :D

    On to book matters, you did read a lot of good ones. It’s interesting what you felt about The White Tiger, and I guess I’ll feel the same way too about that book, in spite of being from India and knowing its cultures well. I still don’t take nicely to books where the protagonist doesn’t respect women. I know that’s such a ridiculous sentiment, since the book is trying to capture a type of person who didn’t grow up in a broad-thinking community, but it’s still something I struggle with.

    Anyways, I hope you are feeling real better now and that the fibro doesn’t flare up again. Happy reading!

    • February 15, 2010 3:55 am

      I think one of the most difficult questions w/ feminism is how to evaluate books, or even narrators/characters that are obviously coming from a different background. In this case, I didn’t hold it against the author, and I already didn’t like the narrator all that much, but it definitely made me like him even less.

  3. February 14, 2010 9:35 am

    The Far Traveler sounds wonderful and has already been added to my TBR list. At school, I was captivated by Viking history and particularly the strong roles women played (including as explorers themselves). In Her Own Sweet Time sounds like an interesting read too and one I hadn’t heard of before.

    • February 15, 2010 3:56 am

      I was delighted to learn about the strong women in Iceland! :) I wish I’d learned about them in school, but better late than never. I think In Her Own Sweet Time is a recent release; I just picked it up randomly from my library’s New Books section.

  4. February 14, 2010 9:53 am

    Out of interest, what made you choose to go with Equal Rites? Of all the Discworld novels I’ve read -and that’s quite a few but not all- Equal Rites is my least favourite and underwhelmed me too. Read Mort or Guards! Guards!

    Fingersmith remains my favourite Waters book and I can’t wait to see what she produces next (I was very disappointed by The Little Stranger but have faith in a beloved author).

    • February 15, 2010 3:59 am

      I found this flowsheet that categorised the Discworld novels, and Equal Rites was shown as the ‘intro’ for the Witches books, which I was most interested in (since I’ve read the Tiffany Aching books). I’m glad to hear that I should write Discworld off based on this one! I’ll go w/ Mort next. :)

      I haven’t read The Little Stranger yet, since I’m reading in published order. But now you have me nervous! :p

  5. February 14, 2010 10:11 am

    Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet were both wonderful books by Waters. I have Affinity, and Little Stranger as well and are looking forward to them.

    The Housekeeper and the Professor was also very good IMO.

    Hope u have a great week.

    • February 15, 2010 4:00 am

      I really enjoyed Affinity too, so I think you’ll like it! :)

  6. February 14, 2010 10:27 am

    These sound intriguing! I’m making a note of Fingersmith, since I’ve been hearing about it here and there; and now I must read In Her Own Sweet Time…I’ve also signed up for the Women Unbound Challenge and haven’t read anything yet…well, not recently. I read a lot back in the day, but those don’t count now!

    My Salon:

    • February 15, 2010 4:00 am

      I’ve read way too much for the Women Unbound Challenge, lol. I actually read eight books for it just in the first month! I hope you enjoy Waters and In Her Own Sweet Time. :)

  7. February 14, 2010 10:39 am

    What a tantalizing selection of books! Where to start? I’ve never read Jamaica Kinkaid, but I’m completely enthralled with the idea of this book. I love “toe steppers” in general, so I think I might love this one.

    I’m mentally chastizing myself for having never read Sarah Waters!!!! I hear and read so many good things about her books, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to sit up and seriously take notice: put her on my library list, in other words. And I’m looking for some neo-Victorial choices for Our Mutual Read, so she seems to fit the bill wonderfully.

    I love me some Henry James (my dog’s name is Daisy Miller, after all), and I haven’t read Washington Square yet. It’s on the radar, though. I’m hoping I can find a free download of this one for my Nook.

    Finally, I *heart* Ibsen. Whenever I teach an in-person Intro to Lit class, I always ALWAYS require my students to read “A Doll House” or “A Doll’s House” (there’s a controversy about the correct title). It always seems to spark something of an analytical battle of the sexes. Great fun in a classroom discussion situation. I’ll have to give “Hedda Gabler” a go, too.

    • February 15, 2010 4:04 am

      You should definitely read the Kincaid! I want to know your reaction to it. :) And I think Waters would be perfect for Our Mutual Read; any of her first three books are set in Victorian times. I bet Ibsen would create some great classroom discussions!

  8. kiss a cloud permalink
    February 14, 2010 11:04 am

    Kincaid is awesome, isn’t she?? I’m reading Annie John soon, can’t wait!

    I didn’t think Adiga was show-offy, but then I really thought it was very realistic (the emotions and thoughts and intent). I think it may be because of growing up in the same kind of world. We had servants growing up, and I know some (a lot, actually) people who treated their servants in a manner that Balram was treated and not to be cruel but it was just the norm. Often I wondered how they felt about us. I made sure to treat our nannies and housekeepers and etc as if they were my friends but it’s not how everyone does. Also, views about women in the lower classes in third world countries are so backward, that Balram struck me as very real.

    I was also not blown away by The Housekeeper and the Professor, but I enjoyed it in the same manner as I did The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, just plain light no-fuss fun. It was clean and I loved it for that. But then I’m also a math fan, very much so, that I had fun with it, solving the problems, etc.

    Anyway, happy Vday! As always, I’m amazed at the amount of books you read. You bloggers are tempting me with Waters, though I must say I want to try The Little Stranger first, as I notice the ones who loved her other books first get disappointed with The Little Stranger, and it’s the one with the premise most appealing to me.

    • February 15, 2010 4:11 am

      I love Annie John! :)

      I felt like Adiga was show-offy in some of the decisions he made, like the letter format. But I very much appreciate you weighing in on the actual subject matter. I didn’t grow up in countries where servants are a middle-class thing (although of course, there are definitely rich Americans who have servants), and so I couldn’t tell if perhaps Balram was exaggerating things (since he struck me as an unreliable narrator) to justify his actions, or if that’s what it’s really like. I agree-Balram’s views on women felt very real to me too, and I applaud the author for not changing things up just to appeal to me. However, it did make me dislike Balram (which I’m sure was at least part of the point).

      I love math too, and I can’t believe I forgot to mention that in my mini-review of Housekeeper and the Professor! I love playing with numbers, and I definitely think it was the best part of the book. :) I haven’t read Guernsey yet (I have it on my shelves somewhere around here, lol), so I’m curious if I’ll react to it similarly.

  9. February 14, 2010 12:45 pm

    I have just read The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters for the Booker Challenge and it scared the pants off me.

    I hope to read The White Tiger this year too.

    • February 15, 2010 4:23 am

      Scared you in a good way? Yay! lol I’ll be curious to see what you make of The White Tiger.

    • February 15, 2010 7:23 am

      I just got this from the library, so I’m really excited about it! I hope it scares me as well.

  10. February 14, 2010 12:50 pm

    Isn’t Fingersmith fun? I love Sarah Waters. And thanks for reminding me about Jamaica Kincaid – I’ve only ever read one short story of hers, and I read it in high school. At the time, it was a little weird for me – very experimental, circular storytelling. Given how my tastes have developed, that story would be right up my alley now! :-) In any case, she’s a writer I’ve been meaning to check out – thanks for the nudge.

    • February 15, 2010 4:25 am

      It’s funny to think about my taste in high school and how it’s changed since then. :) I think you’d enjoy Kincaid, and I’d love to see you analyse Annie John!

  11. February 14, 2010 1:02 pm

    I loved Washington Square when I first read and I should really go and read it again. I felt so sorry for Catherine but I was cheering her on in the end when she finally stood up to everybody around her.

    I must move Sarah Waters up, up, up in my TBR. Everybody’s raving about her and she’s been in the pile for the last year…

    • February 15, 2010 4:25 am

      I know! I was all like ‘You go girl!’ at the end. :D Definitely move Waters to the top of your TBR pile!

  12. February 14, 2010 1:10 pm

    I’m so glad you’re feeling better. 13 books in 4 weeks sounds pretty good to me!

  13. February 14, 2010 1:44 pm

    Annie John is good.

    Eva, glad to hear you’re feeling better.

    • February 15, 2010 4:35 am

      Annie John was marvelous! And thanks for the well wishes Susan. :)

  14. February 14, 2010 3:26 pm

    The Far Traveler sounds so good!

    As for Pratchett, I’m sorry, but that IS blasphemy! Have you read Small Gods? That might be one you appreciate more. And I agree. I highly recommend the Death books or the ones around the Guards (which starts, I believe, with Guards! Guards!).

    • February 15, 2010 4:35 am

      Far Traveller is so good! And I knew you’d be calling me out on my Pratchett thoughts. :p lol It sounds like I should do Mort next?

  15. February 14, 2010 3:38 pm

    So glad to see you back and that you’re feeling better. White Tiger left me really underwhelmed as well and I ended up abandoning it. I think about going back every once in a while, but never do. Oh well!

    • February 15, 2010 4:36 am

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who didn’t love White Tiger. I don’t think I could have abandoned it, though-I was curious to see hwo it would all work out! lol

  16. February 14, 2010 4:10 pm

    I’ll add my voice to the Terry Pratchett mob and say try another one. I love the witches books, but something like ‘Witches Abroad’ might be better for a beginner Pratchettite. If you want something totally different I second the rec for ‘Small Gods’.

    • February 15, 2010 4:36 am

      Don’t worry-I signed up to read 9 Pratchett books this year, so I’ll definitely be giving it another try! Thanks for the recs. :)

  17. February 14, 2010 4:58 pm

    Glad you’re feeling better!

  18. February 14, 2010 5:07 pm

    I read White Tiger while I was traveling in India and really liked it – I felt it portrayed an alternative to many of the lyrical tales on India and touched on the darker side of the nation.

    Thanks for recommendation for In Her Own Sweet Time – that is one I would like to read.

    Glad to hear you are feeling better!

    • February 15, 2010 4:38 am

      I agree that White Tiger gave a much-needed alternative perspective to much of the India lit that I’ve read. :)

      • April 12, 2010 6:06 am

        I think The White Tiger also gives a little more realistic perspective. A lot of the local mafia boys and petty criminals come from that sort of a background. Such people with little/no education can have some disturbing opinions causing lot of clashes between the urban and rural people…

        I like your recommendation for Washington Square. I have read only Henry James shorter stories (the turn of the screw, and Daisy Miller) and I thoroughly enjoyed them. I think I will like this one as well.

        Stumbled on to your blog while looking for reviews on The Brothers Karamazov. I’ve just zipped through the 1st 150 odd pages or so, and I was just too curious to know how the story went…so was attempting to get an advance peek :)

  19. February 14, 2010 5:31 pm

    I know I’ve already said this, but let me repeat: It’s so great to have you back!

    I read Kincaid’s essay “Girl” in my women’s studies class in college, and I’ve really been meaning to read more of her ever since. Perhaps I’ll see if my library has that essay for me to borrow.

    And I NEED to read me some Sarah Waters…. why am I still waiting to, you ask? I have no idea… just one of those things. I will get to her soon, though. Everyone keeps reminding me of how much I need to!

    • February 15, 2010 4:39 am

      Aww-thanks! It’s great to be back Heather! And yes, you do need to read Waters. :p That “Girl” essay sounds interesting-I wonder if I can find it online!

  20. February 14, 2010 5:58 pm

    What a great parade of mini-reviews this was! So much fun to read. And I have so many different elements to comment upon:

    1) You convinced me: I just put The Far Traveller on my wishlist. It sounds fascinating.

    2) Fingersmith may be one of the more enjoyable books I have ever read. It was my first Sarah Waters, and I read Tipping the Velvet later and fond it a bit disappointing by comparison, so I wish I had been reading in publication order. But I am really interested in embarking on Night Watch sometime soon.

    3) I think there is a classic film version of Washington Square starring Montgomery Clift and Olivia de Haviland that (without ever having read the book) I really enjoyed. I would be interested to hear what you think of it. And I really should return to Henry James some time soon: maybe Washington Square is the place to start.

    4) Uh oh. Equal Rites is the next on my list of Discworld novels to be read. I am reading them in publication order, despite having been advised against this strategy by, um, everyone who has read Pratchett. And I keep waiting for them to get… good. Or at least as good as they are reputed to be.

    5) Hurrah for Ibsen!! (Says the professor of modern drama.) I will be teaching Ibsen and Chekhov (as well as the third in their proto-modernist triumvirate, Strindberg) in my 20th C European Drama course next year. I recommend “Ghosts” as your next Ibsen venture.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • February 15, 2010 4:55 am

      Thanks! :) I wonder if everyone’s first Waters ends up being their favourite? lol

      I’ve seen the classic movie a few years ago, and I thought it was really wonderful (but then, I love Olivia de Haviland). It did change the focus from the book’s though, in that (from what I remember) it was up in the air whether Montgomery Clift was actually just in it for the money or not. In the book, that’s evident right from the beginning.

      I’ve never read any Strindberg-sounds like I’ll have to change that! And thanks for the Ibsen rec. :)

    • February 15, 2010 7:27 am

      I think I’ve seen that version of Washington Square! There’s also a version from the late 1990s starring Jennifer Jason Lee. I haven’t seen it but there are lots of great actors in it.

  21. February 14, 2010 6:07 pm

    Welcome back Eva…glad you are feeling better and back to reading again!

  22. February 14, 2010 6:58 pm

    I love that you have “only” 13 books to talk about! I feel like I have been reading a zillion books and finishing none of them – I keep taking breaks to reread L.M. Montgomery. The one about single motherhood sounds really interesting!

    • February 15, 2010 4:55 am

      LM Montgomery breaks are always a good thing! :)

  23. February 14, 2010 7:59 pm

    Welcome back and hoping you’re feeling better… but I too loved Fingersmith, and I did enjoy the Housekeeper and the Professor, but I can definitely see where you’re coming from with not enjoying it quite as much as you’d have wished.

    • February 15, 2010 4:56 am

      Thanks Daphne! I wonder if my expectations for The Housekeeper and the Professor were too high? If I had gone into it blind, I met have liked it more.

  24. February 14, 2010 8:36 pm

    I’m so glad you enjoyed Fingersmith, it is certainly one of my most favorite books. I need to read more Henry James. I love James, but I have to be in a “Henry James mood”. Great reading!

    • February 15, 2010 5:00 am

      I totally get the Henry James mood thing; I have to be in a mood for him too. :)

  25. February 14, 2010 8:52 pm

    I’m so glad you loved Hedda Gabler. I have always liked that play. Hedda is such a delicious character to play. Fun to watch too. I didn’t know they had audio versions of plays available. I normally read plays, but I think I will check out the audio versions too.

    • February 15, 2010 5:01 am

      I’m usually bad at reading plays, so the audio versions work much better for me!

  26. February 14, 2010 9:40 pm

    Oh, The Far Traveler is one of those books I keep seeing in stores but have wondered what people thought of it. I’m so glad you liked it; now I can justify adding it to my tbr list :)

    If you liked Ibsen, you might want to try The Wild Duck. I saw it last year, and it was very wonderful and moving. I think you would like it, actually.

    • February 15, 2010 5:02 am

      Yep! It’s awesome! So many Ibsen fans coming out of the woodwork-it sounds like I need to read all of his works. :)

  27. February 14, 2010 10:17 pm

    I loved your reviews specially since you had to do so many which couldnt be easy at all after being sick. I hope you feel better very soon.

    The books that impressed me most were the Jamaica Kincaid and the Sarah Waters book. I have heard of Sarah Waters before though I’ve not read any of her books but Kincaid is someone totally new to me. The Yoko Ogawa book got good reviews elsewhere but your perspective of it is something different. since my choice of books is so very limited I must put Kincaid and Waters on my list and go find a way to get me some. Thank you so much for the detailed review. Its much appreciated as its the closest sometimes I could get to the actual book.

    • February 15, 2010 5:02 am

      Thanks Mystica! I’m sorry it’s so difficult for you to get ahold of books. :/ Have you looked into ebooks at all?

  28. February 14, 2010 10:20 pm

    Flares suck. They literally suck the life right out of you. However, you still managed to read quite a bit. Oh, and I so want to read Fingersmith. I’ve not read a Water’s book yet.

    • February 15, 2010 5:03 am

      Flares do suck. All the reading I did was before or after; when I was in the middle, I just watched obscene amounts of TV and movies. :/

  29. February 14, 2010 11:07 pm

    Fingersmith looks good! I have seen this one around and I am going to pick it up at our library.

    • February 15, 2010 5:04 am

      I think you’ll enjoy it! I haven’t seen one review in the blogosphere to say otherwise. :)

  30. February 14, 2010 11:15 pm

    I just finished Washington Square and will be posting about it later this week, but it was great to see your perspective. At times I couldn’t believe the father and his actions, but I thought it was a great novel-full of suspense, which is not what I had anticipated.
    As always, great reviews.

    • February 15, 2010 5:05 am

      I’ll be looking forward to your review-I bet it will be more in depth than mine! The father was *so* evil, and James did such a good job with him. :)

  31. February 15, 2010 6:18 am

    Enjoyed your review of “A Small Place” by Jamaica Kincaid. It’s a small book. Still, there is a lot to think about in the book. I wrote a review about it on one of my blogs about a year or two ago.

  32. February 15, 2010 6:27 am

    When you first found The Far Traveler, I added it to my wishlist, and now I wish I had found a job already so I could buy it for myself! It sounds just like the kind of history I love. I’ll definitely remember it.

    As for Pratchett, I must admit that I never fell in love with his work. I started in chronological order even though I was told not to and thought the first couple were okay, then I read Mort and a few of the Death books and a few of the Susan books, mostly because people sent or gave them to me, and I even read one from a different arc for a children’s lit class. I haven’t sought out any on my own. I feel like I’m missing something and it’s disappointing, but I just haven’t gotten what’s so great about them.

  33. February 15, 2010 7:33 am

    “Only 13 books.” LOL!! I’m so sorry you weren’t feeling well — must have been awful if you couldn’t even read. But you seem to have made up the time quickly — what a great list of books.

    Washington Square — I have fear of James after Turn of the Screw, but I’ll give it a shot. I’ll have to see if it counts for Our Mutual Read Challenge.

    Sarah Walters — why is EVERYONE reading her these days? Or am I just surrounded by neo-Victorian lovers? I too want to read her for OMR.

    Ibsen — I haven’t read any of his plays but my IRL group is reading A Doll’s House this year. I’ll have to look for an edition with the other plays as well.

    Terry Pratchett — I really want to read him but so afraid I’ll be adding so many books to my to-read list! I’ve had the Bromeliad Trilogy for about 5 years and haven’t even touched it. Sigh.

  34. February 15, 2010 8:23 am

    I have seen a lot of Jamaica Kincaid around the blogosphere lately. I should read some. Sounds eye-opening. I haven’t read any James, sounds like I should. And I have enjoyed the two Ibsen plays I’ve studied (A Doll’s House and Ghosts) so i really should try the others!

  35. February 15, 2010 8:33 am

    Eva, so glad you’re feeling better! I’ve had a bad flu the past week and it’s completely knocked the wind out of me, from both a blogging and a reading standpoint…

    I tried reading The White Tiger a year ago or so and I just couldn’t get into it. I think I will try it again at some point, but I can’t imagine it being a book that I’ll love.

    And I still need to read Sarah Waters! I can’t believe I’ve gone so long without doing so!

  36. February 15, 2010 8:35 am

    I’m ashamed to admit I don’t know anything about Sarah Waters. I will have to give her a look. Henry James will forevermore remind me of college. Not sure I could take him again! And I must be the only reader in America who’s not all that fond of Terry Pratchett… But you didn’t like it all that much either!

    Sorry about your fibromyalgia. A friend’s daughter suffers, and it’s not at all an easy row to hoe, especially because it’s one of those non-specific kinds of ailments! (It is, however, a condition that COULD get you Social Security Disability, depending on a whole bunch of factors.)

    My reading has been kind of non-fictiony these days. I’m a glutton (so to speak!) for nutrition and good health, plus I’m interested in the mind-body connection, so I just finished “The MindBody FX Lifestlye,” which stresses mastering the mind-body connection with regards to weight loss. Lots of good info, including on metabolic imbalances, negative thinking, emotional eating and an easy-to-follow nutrition plan.

    But fiction awaits! I just got a notice from my library that a John Lescroart book is in…

    Have a good day everyone.

  37. justbookreading permalink
    February 15, 2010 9:59 am

    The Far Traveler is on my list to read. I absolutely love Viking stories!

  38. February 15, 2010 7:56 pm

    I had read The Housekeeper and The Professor before it really started to appear every where and really loved it; I did feel like I connected with the characters. Likewise, I quite liked White Tiger. I listened to it on audio and wonder if that made the difference. I didn’t like Balram at all, but I was interested to find out what was going to happen.

  39. Juanita permalink
    February 16, 2010 12:11 am

    Your description of A Small Place reminds me of a documentary called Life and Debt (narrated by Kinkaid). It’s about the effects of IMF and World Bank policies on the Jamaican economy. It’s very sad and very good.

  40. February 16, 2010 11:46 pm

    It was fascinating to read your ‘Quadruple Sunday Salon’ post :)

    I have heard of Jamaica Kincaid, but haven’t read any of her books till now. I am a big fan of the Caribbean – not for the cruises or the beaches but because of the wonderful Caribbean cricketers :) Antigua is the home of one of the cricketing legends, Vivian Richards. Many of my favourite cricketers are from the Caribbean. So, I really enjoyed your ‘glowing’ review of Kincaid’s book and the fact that she gives a realistic picture of the Caribbean as an insider. I am going to add her to my ‘Authors to be read’ list.

    ‘The Far Traveler’ looks like a fascinating book too. I know one of my friends would love it :) ‘How history is discovered’ is such an interesting topic! I read a book many years back called ‘India Rediscovered’ by John Keay, which was about how the history of India was discovered. It was a fascinating and unique way of looking at history and I fell in love with the approach of the book. ‘The Far Traveler’ seems to be equally fascinating, by your description.

    Sorry to know that you didn’t like Adiga’s ‘The White Tiger’. I have heard conflicting views on the book, and I haven’t read it yet.

    ‘In her own sweet time’ sounds like a fascinating book! I will add it to my ‘TBR’ list. Is Rachel Lehmann-Haupt related to Christopher Lehmann-Haupt (from the NYT)? Lehmann-Haupt doesn’t seem to be a common name and this is only the second time that I have heard of it :)

    Sorry to know that you didn’t like ‘The Housekeeper and the Professor’ by Yoko Ogawa. I read it sometime back and I have to confess that I liked it very much. It doesn’t go deeply into mathematics like books by Douglas Hofstadter or Roger Penrose, but as a story which blended mathematics with life, I found it very appealing.

    I have read only one Henrik Ibsen play – ‘The Doll’s House’ – and liked it. I haven’t heard of ‘Hedda Gabler’ before and it was also interesting to read your experience of hearing the audio version. It will be an interesting experience to try listening to a play in its audio version. Reminds me of radio plays which used to be aired in the radio during old times.


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