Possibly 4.5 stars.
I originally read this in the late eighties after seeing the TV mini-series of it starring Jane Seymour. Figured the book had to be better than said mini series (which it was) but I'm afraid I didn't remember much else about it other than I had liked it.
What struck me this time around though, more than anything else was the writing style. Hemingway's stripped back prose is wonderfully evocative and a joy to read. I marveled how something so outwardly simple could be so rich. And after having finished the book it's the writing that's sticking with me most.
In some ways I feel like Hemingway should be a guilty pleasure as his reputation for macho themes, blood sports, antisemitism and misogyny make me feel like I shouldn't like him, but I do. I just can't help myself. I mean, I hate bull fighting. I absolutely loathe and detest it. No two ways about it. But despite this, Hemingway brought those scenes alive for me and I felt like I was part of the crowd. Did I enjoy it? Yes and no, for I felt like I was right there on the spot and curiosity got the better of me, although I cowered a bit and shut one eye while I was reading.
I just wish he wrote more books about stuff I'm interested in. War and blood sports aren't right up there on my reading agenda but for Hemingway, I might have to try. In the meantime, while I work up to another of his testosterone driven novels, I might read his memoir about his days in Paris, A Movable Feast, so I can experience this novel again but in a slightly different form and context.
Another excellent buddy read with my good friend Kim :-).
More like 3.5 stars.
Good solid, old school historical fiction about Richard II of England and his tragic reign which avoids getting overly bogged down in the politics of the time. The pluses of this are obvious but can lead to a little confusion why everyone is so against poor Richard and it also tends to romanticize his reign somewhat, although not in a sickly sweet and syrupy way. Recommended but you may need to reference Wikipedia occasionally if you are more interested in the nitty gritty history than the romance.
Buddy read with Anna :-).
Closer to 2.5 stars.
Meh. I've read worse but have definitely read better. Full of cliches & caricature, and as shallow as a summer puddle. Nothing new or interesting to be seen here. Next!
Buddy read with Anna :-).
Short, easy to read allegorical tale based on the Russian Revolution and the following Stalinist regime but it could easily be a tale about any popular revolution turned totalitarian regime. The real surprise for me was Orwell's writing style which was clear and crisp without any unnecessary words.
I should really give this five stars but haven't because it's not really my kind of book. It's definitely one worth reading though even if it's only to experience Orwell's wonderful prose.
Big thanks to my good friend Kim who was at the ready to hold my hand should I have needed it. After a bad experience with this book as a set text in high school, I wasn't all that confident going in. Thankfully, my older self could appreciate what makes this book an enduring classic even if my 13 year old self couldn't.
I think this is my favourite Jackson Brodie novel yet. Scrap that, it's my favourite Kate Atkinson novel full stop. It has everything I've come to love about and expect from her novels; wonderful prose, great characterization, intelligence, humour, humanity and poignancy but this one seems to have an added lump in the throat. And it really got me. These characters, especially the kid, the dog and poor old Tilly, will stay with me for a very long time.
Thanks to Kim for another excellent buddy read :-).
Hmmm...maybe 3.5 stars.
Even though I've not seen the musical version of this and came to it with no real preconceived expectations, it was still totally not what I expected. For me the love story was secondary to the fascinating story of the opera house and it's inhabitants.
Buddy read with Anna :-).
More like 4.5 stars.
Very clever and detailed 'modern' interpretation of the lives of the English historical figures Edward (AKA The Black Prince), Joan (AKA The Fair Maid of Kent), John of Gaunt, Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V. The cast come alive in this multi-generational saga that encompasses everything from scandal, lust, murder, sodomy, drunkenness, abuse, illegitimacy, jealously, madness and extortion spanning the years 1913 to 1966.
I seriously loved how the author wove the historical facts into a riveting story which gave a great psychological and sympathetic insight into the characters. There were no heros or villains just people doing the best they could as the actions of earlier generations echoed down the years. Wonderfully salacious, and satisfyingly dark & dysfunctional.
Another great chunkster buddy read with my good friend Anna :-).
Having previously read Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind I was really looking forward to this, the second installment of his trilogy about 'The Cemetery of Forgotten Books' but unfortunately it was a bit of a disappointment. While I loved the wonderfully Gothic & nightmarish atmosphere created within it's pages, I found the characters a little flat and the plot confusing. By the time I got halfway through, I found I didn't really care about either and only kept reading in the hope that in the end all would be revealed.
That's not to say it's a bad book. It isn't. The prose in places is quite wonderful. It just isn't as good as the first one. However, I will definitely be reading the next installment even if only to find out if it answers some of the questions that this one left unanswered.
Thanks to my good friend Kim who buddy read this with me. It was reassuring to know it wasn't just me :-).
Really 3.5 stars.
Totally trashy but fun 1980s bonkbuster. Horses, sex, scandal and 80s fashion; what more could you possibly want?
And many thanks to my reading buddy Anna who set such a cracking pace that I achieved a personal best for the least amount of days it's ever taken me to read a 900+ page book. I feel like I've run a marathon and dropped exhausted but grateful over the finish line in the early hours of this morning :-).