Wednesday, July 27, 2005

July

Last night we met for book club and discussed Backpack by Emily Barr. I was not really impressed by this book. Yet another example of how chicklit has gone wrong. I don't understand these characters they create who have no redeeming factors. This one was awful. Tansy drank too much, did too much coke, knew she had a problem but never really stopped and still thought she was a better person when she was drunk. In fact the last line of the book was something like "boy I need a drink" and I don't think it was meant to be ironic.

I will say this though. The book was a fast read and hard to put down. It just was one of those books that I didn't want to put down, rather I wanted to throw is down somewhere.

At least I am finished and can now read Harry Potter without feeling guilty.

Next month: Lifeguard by James Patterson

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

July

This month we will be reading Backpack by Emily Barr

Here is the description:
Giving the tired single-girl school of fiction a much-needed shot in the arm, Barr concocts a stylish, astringent antidote to the usual sugary fare. Liberated by her alcoholic mother's death, Tansy Harris plans a yearlong tour of Asia with her off-again-on-again boyfriend, Tom. When he backs out, Tansy decides that traveling solo will be fabulous: she will meditate, she will do yoga, she will develop a new cosmopolitan persona. Of course, her journey does not go as planned. The Asia that Tansy finds is impoverished, malodorous and unfashionable not at all like the Asia she has seen in travel magazines. Disappointed and lonely, she befriends a group of backpackers, a species of traveler she disdains for their lack of style (as the title suggests, this attitude will be dramatically revised). These nomads help Tansy to understand and enjoy her surroundings; they also lead her to a delightful new man named Max, although Tansy regards her tryst with him as a holiday fling. Tom is her true love never mind that Max is generous and loving while Tom is nasty and self-absorbed. This tangle gives the novel a romantic spin, but it also prods Tansy into some much-needed introspection. There is a murder mystery thrown in, which could be intrusive but is intriguing and deftly woven into the plot. While tragedy never overburdens the story, Tansy's reliance on alcohol and drugs is candidly depicted, as is her unhappy relationship with her mother. Caustically hilarious and very entertaining, the novel carries emotional impact without schmaltz and rises above the usual Britpop fluff. Barr's is a welcome new voice. (Jan.)Forecast: This debut was a bestseller in Britain, and word of its charms should spread quickly.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

May - June

We are took two months to read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel by Susanna Clarke.

I really liked this book but thought it could have been half the length. Even though we gave ourselves 2 months to read it, half the group still didn't finish it. The length was difficult, and nothing would happen for literally hundreds of pages. I liked the use of imaginary foot notes up to a point. I think it went really overboard with them though. I also think it is really a mistake to label this book as "Harry Potter for adults" It involves magic, but that is about how close it is. I think a better comparison would be Jane Austin learns magic. So much of this book dealt with manners and long descriptions.

I was not very happy with the end of this book. I really wish we had found out what happened to the Raven King and why English magic disappeared. I didn't like the Jonathan and his wife were estranged etc.

All in all I would give it 7/10.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

April

For our first book we chose to read The Fig Eater by Jody Shields.

From Amazon: "It is 1910 Vienna, and a woman's body has been found in the Volksgarten. She is Dora--Freud's famous patient. The Inspector (whose name we never learn) is painstakingly trying to put together the circumstances of her death with the help of the principles outlined in the 1901 book System der Kriminalistik, the first tome to attempt a psychological approach to understanding crime. The Inspector's wife, Erszébet, meanwhile, is drawn to this murder for reasons she doesn't understand and decides to investigate using her own methodology, derived from the Gypsy folklore she grew up with in Hungary."

I was happy that the first book we picked was a mystery. Left to my own devices I read mysteries almost to the exclusion of everything else. Inpreparationn for the discussion I read a lot of Freud. The premise of this story is based on one of Freud's most famous case studiesinvolvingg a girl named Dora. I found it really helpful to read about this case inparallell to the story.

I thought it was interesting to learn about criminalistics at the turn of the lastcenturyy, but sometimes these details were extraneous to the story. I thought it was odd that so much of the book dealt with the clue of the figs and the search for the tree only tofaded intounimportancee by the time they finally find the tree. This book was filed with false clues and in the end is wrapped up too quickly to really be satisfying.

I give it a 6/10