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Sunday Salon: the Autumnal Post

November 7, 2010

The Sunday Salon.comAutumn has finally arrived here. :D Granted, that means the lows are in the mid 50s and the highs are in the mid 70s, but I’ll take what I can get; I’ve busted out my corduroy skirts, even if I’m holding off on tights. And in the early mornings, I can sit outside in the backyard with a warm cup of tea, wrapped in a big cardigan and scarf, and feel a bit chilly as I read: I can’t ask for more. I need to keep that inspiration with me, as I dive into my backlog of books to talk about! Today, I’ve decided on seven books; I tried to get a mix of books I loved and didn’t love, of fiction and nonfiction, of new and old. So let’s get started, shall we?

I requested Running in the Family, Michael Ondaatje’s memoir, after reading Mosquito by Roma Tearne (which I see now I didn’t review…I think I’ll have to do a super-mini-review post for my August reads soon); I wasn’t ready to ‘leave’ Sri Lanka at the end of that novel. And the Ondaateje was one of the few Sri Lankan nonfiction books on my library’s shelves. While I wasn’t overly entranced by the Ondaatje novel I’ve read (Anhil’s Ghost), I loved Running in the Family! It had a kind of dreamy style to it, with a connected-essays-with-a-few-poems-thrown-in structure that completely worked for me. It starts off with Ondaatje’s decision to return to Sri Lanka, after years of living in Canada, but most of the book is about his family, either things he remembers from childhood or stories he’s heard about his parents. And those stories are full of craziness; they reminded me of the Roaring Twenties, but in Sri Lanka’s most privileged class. While I’m sure that some of the stories have been embellished over time, the way that all families embellish, it felt so natural, and I loved the way that Ondaatje told the stories themselves while also looking at how they can shape us and our identities. Even though my own family’s history is far different from Ondaatje’s, I still connected with the book, which is a testament to his ability to get down to the essence of what it means to be a child, of suddenly seeing your parents as people instead of parents, of hearing the same stories from different relatives over and over again. But while Running in the Family explores all of this, it stays on the personal level, rather than the ‘objective intellectual’ one, which keeps it entertaining and thought-provoking throughout. My only complaint was its slimness; I could have happily read another hundred pages.

I had high hopes for The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin. This is a debut novel, set in her native Nigeria, and looks at the practice of (contemporary) polygamy. As a study in how destructive polygamy is, and in the difficulties of women living in a patriarchal society, the book succeeds admirably. Shoneyin is definitely a proud feminist, and one who doesn’t buy the ‘traditional African culture’ line (don’t get me started on the ‘cultural differences’ apologia for human rights abuses). Go her! ;) (I received that impression just from reading the novel, but this interview confirms that.) I also loved how she brought Nigeria to life; every time I picked up the book, it felt like I was walking the streets along with the characters, or sitting down to meals with them, or shopping the markets. It was everyday life, which was great. But unfortunately, Shoneyin decided to write the book in chapters that alternate between characters’ points of view. I’ve said before that I think this is one of the most difficult ways to write a novel, because the characters’ voices should ‘sound’ individual, and most authors end up just using the same narrative voice for each character. That was the case here; the style never changed, so at the beginning of a new chapter I was often confused about who was talking. In fact, sometimes I stayed confused for several pages! And this leads me to the other drawback of the book: the characters felt like props for Shoneyin’s message; they never transcended a kind of cardboard cut-outs being moved about the stage feel. I was never entranced by the book, which is a shame. While Shoneyin definitely included a variety of viewpoints in the book, it was a bit too obvious…a kind of paint-by-numbers approach that just didn’t breathe life into the novel. I almost think Shoneyin should have written a narrative nonfiction book instead, including accounts by real women (and men) living in polygamous households; I suspect it would have been a stronger story. So, I’m not sure whether to recommend this one or not, but I am glad that I read it. There was enough thought-provoking stuff in the novel to make it worthwhile. :)

Ok, I’m going to be upfront about The Butterfly Mosque by Willow Wilson: I loathed it. I began it with high hopes, but then Wilson started reminding me of some of the students I went to college with, the ones who assumed that most Americans were far more close-minded and ignorant than them, the ones who idealised non-Western cultures and demonised the West. And I began to get a bit cranky. And then it just kept getting worse, until I would have flung the book across the room except I didn’t want to damage library property. Unfortunately, I didn’t bother typing out some sample passages before I returned the book, since rereading those passages put me in a white-hot rage, and I prefer doing things that make me happy. So you’ll just have to take my word for it. But, having studied the Middle East in college (where I had friends from Egypt! and Palestine! see? I’m multicultural too *rolls eyes*), and having read quite a few books about Islam this year (particularly its interaction with the West), I found The Butterfly Mosque to be singularly banal, pretentious, and guilty of the worst kind of cultural relativism, pseudointellectualism, and (dare I say it?) Orientalism. I haven’t been this annoyed since I had to read a Thomas Friedman book, and I deeply wish I could have the time I spent reading it back.

Whew! Let’s move on from the Eva crankiness, ok? Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier was one of my R.I.P. choices, because I’ve loved almost all of the du Maurier that I’ve read (I did not love My Cousin Rachel, but I still liked it). And ohmigosh this one grabbed me from the first page and didn’t let me go until the ending, which had me aching and sighing and wanting to start the whole thing over again. It was gothic and adventurous and romantic and thrilling and touching and I think it might be my new favourite du Maurier (at least, until I reread Jamaica Inn or House on the Strand or Rebecca). In case you’re still not sure if you should read it, let me tell you: it has pirates! Who can resist that? Also, if you’ve yet to make du Maurier’s acquaintance, go read anything of hers (except maybe My Cousin Rachel); you can come back and thank me later. ;) You better believe she’ll be showing up in an Assembling My Atheneum post one of these days.

Speaking of AMA authors, my love affair with Diana Wynne Jones continues apace. For my third DWJ adventure, I read Howl’s Moving Castle, which I scored at a thrift store for 50 cents a couple months back. It was wonderful: smart, fun, hilarious…everything I needed. You see, during the move I was in a bit of a reading slump, and after a couple days of moping I decided to give this a try. I ended up reading it in an afternoon on a Taco Cab patio, oblivious to everything but my ice tea refills. Also? It has one of the best openings I’ve ever read:

In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes.

Sophie Hatter was the eldest of three sisters. She was not even the child of a poor woodcutter, which might have given her some chance of success.

It reminds me a bit of the opening to Northanger Abbey, plus one of my favourite Byatt short stories (“The Story of the Eldest Princess”), but it’s all DWJ. I can’t say it’s knocked Fire and Hemlock or The Lives of Christopher Chant off their joint throne of my super-favourites (I know when I posted about F&H I had a couple reservations, but the more I think about it the more I’ve grown to love it the past few months), but I loved it to pieces and it made me sparkle with pleasure. If you’re in a reading slump, DWJ might be just what you need to get out of it!

Last year, I read Marlon JamesThe Book of Night Women, a historical novel about a strong slave woman on a Jamaican plantation. It blew me away, to the point that I got blog paralysis and never actually wrote a post about it. So when I got an e-mail from Akashic Books offering a review copy of James’ earlier-written novel John Crow’s Devil, I jumped at the opportunity. I curled up with it a couple of weeks ago, expecting to fall in love, but I ended up with some very mixed feelings. James is an incredible writer; his prose is vivid, his characters unforgettable, his plots tight. He makes Jamaica jump off the page and envelop you; I’m in awe of his writing, quite frankly, and I fully intend to follow his career closely. But this was a dark, dark book. And much of the darkness in the book stems from sex (there is also a lot of violence). After a certain point, I had to force myself to pick it back up, and by the time it was done I felt in need of a hot shower. Because James never lets up; he just keeps pushing the reader, and while I can admire that on an intellectual level, on a reading-for-pleasure level the book was too much. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think James wrote it the way he did for the shock value (I wouldn’t compare him at all to, say, Chuck Palahniuk). Having read some philosophical works on colonialism and its effects, I can see how levels of the story connect what happens in the town to the history of Jamaica and the larger Caribbean experience. There are so many themes and ideas in here I think it’d be a lit professor’s dream. But I became physically nauseous at a few points in the book and couldn’t help wondering why I was doing this to myself. At the end of the day, I’m glad that I read it, but nothing on earth could persuade me to reread it. And I’m unsure of recommending it to y’all…I’m afraid you’ll start reading it, become as upset as I did, and curse me to the heavens. If you’re prepared for a tough book, the kind that forces you to become the best reader you can be, the kind that gives no quarter, go for it. It’s the kind of book that rewards a reader willing to work hard. But if this whole paragraph has you shaking your head ‘no way,’ I’d highly suggest you get your hands on The Book of Night Women instead. James’ stellar talent is still on full display, but it’s not quite so dark. In fact, I’m contemplating a reread of it, and it’s a book I’d recommend to anyone without caveats (unlike John Crow’s Devil). (P.S., if you haven’t heard of Akashic Books before, I urge you to check them out!)

The wonderful Chris sent me Dream Homes by Joyce Zonana for Christmas last year. He wrote a mouthwatering review of it back in 2008, and I was sad that my library didn’t have it. So you can imagine my thrill when I unwrapped it last year! :D Now that I’ve read it, I’m even more impressed with how well Chris knows me. ;) When Zonana was a baby, her parents immigrated to the US from Egypt. As Egyptian Jews, they had begun feeling unsafe, so they decided to make a new life. This is a memoir about Zonana’s search for her heritage, and about her experiences on the ‘fringe’ of so many things. As a child, she never feels quite Jewish since her Sephardic heritage is at odds in a neighbourhood of Ashkenazic Jews. But she never feels quite Middle Eastern, since her parents speak French instead of Arabic at home, and her mother especially sees herself as different from, and better than, ‘Arab’ Egyptians. Add concerns about being ‘American,’ her sexuality, and being a woman in the 70s, and you’ve got quite a lot of search for identity going on. I always love learning about new cultures, and so I enjoyed the peek into (immigrant) Egyptian Jewish life. But I also enjoyed being able to follow along on Zonana’s journey of self discovery; in one sense, it’s messy and random and doesn’t have much a plot, just like my own life. But in another sense, there are overarching themes that run through her experiences, questions she keeps coming back to, also like myself. I connected with Zonana and the way she presents herself unsugarcoated, which I think is key for enjoying any memoir. And there are recipes included at the end! (You better believe I’ll be trying them out soon, especially the vegetarian stuffed grape leaves.) My one complaint is that occasionally, I felt Zonana was writing for an audience that already knew her; certain things were referred to only in passing, or on fast forward, that had me thinking ‘wait! what is this? who is that?’. Especially the last third of the book seemed more scattered, and I found it more difficult to follow. But it was still a good book, one I’m very happy to have read, and I’m even happier that I own it! Thanks Chris. ;)

Whew! I’m exhausted, but I’m glad I’m starting to catch up on talking about books. Have y’all read any of these? Want to now?

73 Comments leave one →
  1. November 7, 2010 9:34 am

    Wow! Thank you so much for the reviews. I see that we have in common a love for multicultural lit.

    Here’s my Sunday Salon:

    • November 8, 2010 11:07 am

      I definitely love multicultural fiction! :)

  2. November 7, 2010 9:59 am

    Oh, I think I’ll stay away from The Butterfly Mosque. I intensely dislike pretentious people and it sounds like that book is full of their ideas. Idolizing any culture is something that really annoys me – none of us have everything “figured out”. I’m quite fascinated with other cultures, but putting our own down in favor of others isn’t something I want to read.

    You have, however, reminded me to move Diana Wynne Jones up my wishlist – it’s almost Christmas and I hope I’ll be getting a few of her books this year!

    • November 8, 2010 11:13 am

      I agree: yep, the USA has a lot of problems, but so does every other country/culture! And we’ve got our good points too. :)

      The nice thing about DWJ is that her books are really fast reads; I’ve read all of them in one sitting, because I get so sucked in I don’t want to put it down!

  3. November 7, 2010 10:02 am

    Wow long post – and great reviews! Have a wonderful sunday.

    • November 8, 2010 11:13 am

      I’m glad you enjoyed it Willa! It was a long post, but otherwise I’ll never get caught up on all the books I want to talk about. :)

  4. November 7, 2010 10:32 am

    Oh, these all have now piqued my interest, except for the Shoneyin book. I recently read a book in which the writer chose that same style of alternating POV (in first person narrative for each), and I was royally confused for awhile.

    It was by an author I usually enjoy (Dorothy Koomson, Goodnight, Beautiful), so I’m guessing she was trying something new. It didn’t work for me.

    I loved everything by du Maurier and keep planning to reread. Frenchman’s Creek was an all-time favorite for me, too.

    I like the way you write your posts…I can visualize you curling up outside with your book.

    Here’s my Salon:

    • November 8, 2010 11:14 am

      Thanks Laurel! :) Alternating POVs is so hard to pull off, although I can understand the temptation on the author’s part.

  5. November 7, 2010 10:46 am

    I have The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives on my bookshelf – I won it from LT Early Reviewer’s months ago and still haven’t picked it up… although you didn’t love it, you did inspire me to move it closer to the top of my list, just to see what I think in comparison to your thoughts! So thanks for that. :) And you’ve also reminded me that I really, REALLY need to read some du Maurier, stat. Would you believe I haven’t even read Rebecca yet? *gasps*

    Happy Sunday!

    • November 8, 2010 11:15 am

      I think it’s well worth a read! And I’d love to see what you think of it. :) Rebecca is awesome! You should read it and then watch the Hitchcock film. :D

  6. November 7, 2010 11:12 am

    Do we want to read any of them now? Well, of course I do!

    Mosquito ~ by Roma Tearne (not in my library)
    Running in the Family ~ by Michael Ondaatje (hold placed)
    The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives ~ by Lola Shoneyin (hold placed)
    The Book of Night Women ~ by Marlon James (hold placed)
    Dream Homes ~ by Joyce Zonana (not in my library)

    You reviewed seven, you say? (And mentioned others.) And I came away with five more on my TBR list. I may have to quit reading your reviews, if my list grows that much with a single post!

    : )

  7. November 7, 2010 11:21 am

    Ohmigosh I did not know Howl’s Moving Castle was a book! I’m a little vapid today. =) But the movie’s great… it’s a Miyazaki film, and it’s amazing, I highly recommend it, especially since you’ve already read the book.

    • November 8, 2010 1:21 pm

      I didn’t know it was a movie, so we’re even! ;)

  8. November 7, 2010 11:23 am

    great selection of reviews ,all the best stu

  9. November 7, 2010 11:31 am

    I am so glad I am not the only one who felt this way about ‘The Butterfly Mosque’, I’ve never been more angry while reading a book! Thanks for the reviews!

    • November 8, 2010 1:23 pm

      I’m glad I’m not the only one too! I was a bit nervous about writing about it, since I haven’t seen any other negative posts. Did you post about it?

  10. November 7, 2010 11:32 am

    Oops! I see that Mosquito by Roma Tearne is a novel, now that I’m looking into these books. I misunderstood which book you were referring to when you said, “I wasn’t ready to ‘leave’ Sri Lanka at the end of that story. And this was one of the few Sri Lankan nonfiction books on my library’s shelves.”

    • November 8, 2010 1:23 pm

      Sorry for the sloppy writing there! I went back and re-edited the post. :)

  11. November 7, 2010 11:35 am

    I’ve loved everything I’ve read so far by Daphne du Maurier (including My Cousin Rachel) but I haven’t read Frenchman’s Creek yet. It sounds wonderful – I’m adding it to my list, along with House on the Strand!

    • November 8, 2010 1:24 pm

      I wonder if I was in a cranky mood when I read My Cousin Rachel and that contributed to my lack of love? I own it, so I might reread it one of these days! Isn’t du Maurier wonderful?

  12. November 7, 2010 12:09 pm

    I’m reading My Cousin Rachel right now, and I think I know what you mean. It is very slow. I’m two-thirds through and I just don’t feel that tension and suspense that I felt while reading Rebecca. It’s good to know that you liked her other books. I’ll have to try Frenchman’s Creek.

    • November 8, 2010 1:25 pm

      Frenchman’s Creek isn’t a suspense novel like Rebecca, but the romantic tension is pitch perfect! :D Yeah…in theory I should have loved My Cousin Rachel, but in practice I just didn’t. Odd.

  13. November 7, 2010 12:16 pm

    The Butterfly Mosque sounds very worth of your ire–Orientalism, especially by people who ought to know better, irks me.

    • November 8, 2010 1:25 pm

      The most ironic thing is that at one point in the book she accuses a different author of orientalism. LOL

  14. November 7, 2010 1:29 pm

    I saw Howl’s Moving Castle forever and ever ago and ADORED it. (Right up there with Spirited Away). So, can you imagine my embarrassment to my own ignorance when I admit that I only recently found out that it was a book. Oh yeah, that was right about the time I was chewing on my lip muttering: “DW, who?”

    And now, while I’m not as ignorant as I once was of the author, I am far from aware. You see, I still have not read anything by her. Eep!

    • November 8, 2010 1:26 pm

      I only read her for the first time in June! And I’d NEVER heard of her before book blogging! So you’re not alone in your ignorance. ;) Also, I didn’t know it was a movie, so there you go! lol

  15. November 7, 2010 2:02 pm

    I loved Running in the Family and how his writing swept me away with just that hint of disquiet so I wasn’t quite sure my feet could actually touch the ground in the deluge.

    Great pick.

    • November 8, 2010 1:26 pm

      That’s a great way to put it! There was definitely some disquiet going on. :)

  16. November 7, 2010 2:19 pm

    Ha! I’m kind of glad you hated The Butterfly Mosque, only because I was thinking how pretty the cover was and maybe I should look into it… I need your harsh bitch-slap to remind me that there is more to books than their covers! ;) That’ll teach me to be so superficial! :D

    Also, I really need to get on reading some Du Maurier already… I have no idea why I’m dragging my feet on this one since she is so beloved!

    • November 8, 2010 1:28 pm

      Isn’t it a lovely cover? I almost didn’t want to put the cover in my post, because I don’t think it deserves such prettiness. LOL

      I know sometimes you read hyped books and feel let down, but I don’t think du Maurier will let you down! At least, I hope not. ;) Frenchman’s Creek is more straight up romance than the other books of hers I’ve read, so if you’re in a more gothic mood go for Rebecca or Jamaica Inn. House on the Strand is time travel, fyi (I have a weird thing for time travel books!).

  17. November 7, 2010 2:30 pm

    Wonderful selection of books, Eva. I am curious about Marlon James and really want to read Howl’s Moving Castle. I am glad you are back on line!

    • November 8, 2010 1:29 pm

      Thank you Gavin! I think Book of Night Women is just your style. :)

  18. November 7, 2010 3:30 pm

    Wow Eva. Incredible collection of books. I’ve been hearing a lot of disappointing things about Baba Segi’s Wives which is unfortunate. I *want* to read it and love it, but I don’t know now if it’s worth ordering… we shall see… And DWJ is still on my wish list (actually, Howl’s Moving Castle is in my to buy cart on at the moment… heh).

    • November 8, 2010 1:29 pm

      I wanted to read and love Baba Segi’s Wives too, but I just couldn’t. So it might be more of library book than purchase? But then, you might be the exception! lol I think most of the Nigerian authors I’ve read are SO amazing, maybe my expectations of the writing were too high.

      • November 8, 2010 2:04 pm

        I’m not sure Eva. I’ve absolutely loved and come to expect incredible things from Nigerian authors too so I think this will let me down :) But we’ll see!

  19. November 7, 2010 3:37 pm

    Just loved this post :D I’m so glad we can talk weather now because our weather is actually SIMILAR!! Isn’t it gorgeous???? I keep hearing about all these new DuMaurier books!! She wrote so much more than I knew she did…that one sounds amazing! And I seriously need to read some DWJ…I can’t believe that I still haven’t read her :/ I’m SO glad that you read Dream Homes and liked it for the most part :) It’s interesting that you said the latter part especially felt like it was written to those who know her…seeing as I DID know her, I had no problem with that :p Was it just the New Orleans parts or was it even more personal than that? And I SERIOUSLY need to email you back!!! Hopefully tonight :/

    • November 8, 2010 1:31 pm

      I’m excited that we have similar weather now too! Because I want a similar garden!

      I only started reading DWJ this summer, so you’re not too far behind me. I bet you’re going to totally fall for her just like I did. And The Nine Lives of Christopher Chant even has your name in it! ;)

      As far as Dream Homes, it wasn’t the NOLA parts…it was everything after she decided to be a lit professor. All of a sudden, the book just seemed to move at a whirlwind pace, although I understand why she wanted to do it that way. And I expected to hear a lot more about her partner!

  20. November 7, 2010 4:11 pm

    Hello Eva. Thanks for featuring my interview with Lola Shoneyin on your blog. You can read the full version on my own blog

    I think your assessment of ‘The Secret Lives…’ is quite harsh. I can understand that some of the voices in the novel did overlap and it was hard to distinguish. However I thought the characters were developed enough for the reader to be able to care about them which isn’t always achieved when a story is as driven by plot as ‘Baba Segi…’. They therefore weren’t as cartoon-ish as your review suggests and it’s overall a satisfying read. In my opinion anyway…

    I see you are a fan of Chimamanda. I am as well but not of her most celebrated work ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ much preferring her superb debut ‘Purple Hibiscus’ and to a lesser extent her collection of short stories ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’. One of my gripes with ‘Half…’ is similar to the observation you made about cardboard cut out characters…I get the impression however you think ‘Half…’ is the best thing sliced bread :-).

    Anyway please email me if you get a chance. I’m always happy to converse with another book lover.

    Shalom, Tola x

  21. November 7, 2010 4:13 pm

    I am reading House on the Strand at the moment and loving it!

    I am still kind of interested in the Shoneyin book mainly because I have a loose connection to Nigeria and therefore like reading Nigerian authors, although I haven’t done so for ages!

    • November 8, 2010 1:32 pm

      I’m glad you’re loving House on the Strand! I enjoy most of the Nigerian authors I read, and I think the Shoneyin book is worth a read for the setting & political/philosophical angle. So I say still read it. :) If you need more ideas for Nigerian Authors, Amy (Amy Reads) did a whole feature on them this summer!

  22. November 7, 2010 4:41 pm

    I’m starting to think I really should try out something by Diana Wynne Jones. Seems like everyone has something good to say about her! I’m sorry to hear that The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives was a bit of a disappointment. It definitely sounds like it’s got a neat premise, but I know I would be frustrated by the lack of differentiation in the multiple narrators’ voices. That kind of thing always drives me crazy. Too bad The Butterfly Mosque is so dreadful, too. It’s got such a pretty cover, and I’m a total sucker for a pretty cover. Thanks for saving me from my own shallow attraction…. ;-)

    • November 8, 2010 1:33 pm

      Ohhh: I think you’ll LOVE DWJ! Definitely a Megan author. :)

      I’m a sucker for a pretty cover too, so I completely understand!

  23. November 7, 2010 5:15 pm

    Now you’ve added two more books to my tbr pile: Running in the Family and Dream Homes. I really need to read some Diana Wynne Jones. Have a great week! :-D

  24. November 7, 2010 5:34 pm

    I’ve been dancing around copies of Running In The Family for almost 20 years now. Your review has decided me: I’ll pick it up next time I see it…which is fairly often here.

    • November 8, 2010 1:34 pm

      I’d love to see your thoughts on it! :)

  25. November 7, 2010 6:39 pm

    I am so glad you are reading DWJ! I love her and after reading your praise I really want to go grab some of her books off of my shelf and dive in. She’s a simply wonderful writer! I wish I would have discovered her earlier than I did.

    Dream Homes sounds marvelous. Its officially added to the list.

    • November 8, 2010 1:34 pm

      Half of me wishes I’d discovered DWJ as a child, but the other half is super-happy to have soooo many books to look forward to. :D

  26. November 7, 2010 7:09 pm

    Wow that is one list! Great reviews all of them! I was excited to see Frenchman’s Creek on your list, have been dying to read it and after reading your good review, I will definitely have to check it out. Thanks for your review! :)

    • November 8, 2010 1:35 pm

      Thanks! Frenchman’s Creek is definitely a romance, so judging by your name it’ll be perfect. ;)

  27. November 8, 2010 4:27 am

    Since this post added five books to my TBR, I wrote about them here:

  28. November 8, 2010 7:28 am

    I LOVED Running in the Family. Of course it’s not representative of most Sri Lankan families but then Ondaatje’s family isn’t, is it? It really did remind me of the roaring twenties too (a period I love). I’m also a huge fan of du Maurier’s so am glad you loved Frenchman’s Creek. I recall it being more about love than gothic. And I’m intrigued by The Book of Night Women which I’d read about before but have actually forgotten to put on my wishlist, so thank you for reminding me.

    • November 8, 2010 1:36 pm

      Definitely more romance than gothic! I didn’t realise that when I picked it up, though. I guess I assumed she only wrote gothic novels. lol

      I think Book of Night Women would be a great fit for your reading style! And do you have any nonfic Sri Lankan books to recommend?

  29. November 8, 2010 9:05 am

    I’m glad you enjoyed Howl’s Moving Castle — I think it’s my favorite DWJ. The movie has its good points, but I found the movie far superior — Miyazaki changed quite a bit and added this whole steampunk element. While it was interesting from a film standpoint, I personally didn’t like how it changed the book. And Sophie is much more passive in the movie.

    And I have had a copy of My Cousin Rachel on the to-read shelf for quite awhile. I guess it will keep waiting!

    • November 8, 2010 1:37 pm

      I’m hesitant to watch the movie just because I really loved the book, and I tend to feel more than a little possessive over the characters of books I love. So I might skip it.

      You know, I was in a bad mood when I read My Cousin Rachel, and I think most du Maurier fans really enjoy it, so don’t let me influence you too much! ;)

  30. November 8, 2010 11:07 am

    I love sitting on my back deck with a cup of coffee and watch the world come to life. Greta books here!

    • November 8, 2010 1:37 pm

      Isn’t it the best?! Early mornings are my new favourite time of day. :D (I used to be a confirmed night owl.)

  31. November 8, 2010 11:14 am

    Running in the Family sounds great, as does Frenchman’s Creek. I’ve only read Jamaica Inn by du Maurier and was somewhat underwhelmed by it, but I do want to give her another go.

    • November 8, 2010 1:38 pm

      Really? I loved Jamaica Inn! But I don’t think it’s at the same ‘level’ of Rebecca, if that makes sense. More like a fun, playful take on the genre than a classic. :) So do give Rebecca a shot!

  32. Caroline permalink
    November 8, 2010 2:53 pm

    Hi, Eva! I’m so glad that you’ve grown to love Fire and Hemlock so much – it’s one of my all-time favourites: I think I’ve read it 7 or 8 times now! And thanks to you and Jenny, I have rediscovered my teenage love of DWJ and have been on a DWJ reading binge. I’ll have to read Howl again – and apparently there are now two sort-of sequels as well – hooray!
    I read House on the Strand last year and really enjoyed it. You might enjoy Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, if you haven’t already read it – lots of time travel (to the Middle Ages) in that one!

  33. November 8, 2010 6:20 pm

    I picked up The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives last week to add something contemporary to my African literature project — I’m sorry it was not completely satisfying for you. Kinna Reads likewise had some issues with it. But I’m glad to hear that you still were glad you read it! I’ll have to try to get it before it’s due back at the library…

  34. November 8, 2010 7:01 pm

    These all look interesting though Dream Homes looks like it would be at the top of my list. I like the exploration aspect.

  35. November 9, 2010 4:01 am

    Dream Homes went straight onto my wishlist. I struggled with identity issues too and that topic still resonates with me.

  36. November 9, 2010 2:02 pm

    Nice set of books under review. I also had some issues with The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. I reviewed it last month.

    Now I loved Jim Crow’s Devil. I do agree with you that it’s a very dark, dark, dark novel. I will pick the author’s other book that you mentioned.

  37. November 12, 2010 7:49 pm

    Ha! I knew you would love F&H more the longer you carried on thinking about it. :p Howl’s Moving Castle is a lovely and accessible one, and Howl is one of DWJ’s best characters (in my opinion). I always want more of him in the sequel-type books that are not really exactly sequels. What are you going to read next by DWJ?


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