Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

This book is charming and delicious. Joanne Harris always does a good job describing food in all varieties which makes my mouth water. But not only that. The five Quarters of the Orange is tale about a mother who has to raise her three children alone in France during second world war. She tries best but especially in the eyes of her youngest daughter Framboise she fails. Framboise gets in contact with a young German soldier and happens to attend an accident at the river Loire where the young soldier drowns. She and her brother decide to cover up the accident as they don't want anybody to know they had regular contact with him. The family has to leave the little Les Laveuses. When Framboise is grown up and a widow she decides to come back home but that nobody needs to know her true identity and opens a soon good-running crèperie. But her past will get to her sooner or later.

The story is told by Framboise being an old lady revealing the truth about the accident and of course what Oranges have got to do with it at all.

Very much is told about the relationships between mothers and daughters and the life in small villages in France during the second world war as well as today, which I liked. Harris' style is unique and somehow magical. I think that this book is at least as good as Chocolat.

I give it three stars and a half. Rounded up to four.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem

First of all I never read science fiction. Second of all I don’t like novels taking place in space. Solaris has both of it. But the man I love loves this book and after having ignored him asking me to read it for a long time now, I finally gave in.

At the beginning I couldn’t get into the book very well. This is because I lack imagination concerning technical and spacey things and doings. But after thirty pages or so it went better. The main character Kelvin visits the planet Solaris for research. But as he gets there he realizes that strange things are going on. Solaris is covered by a big ocean of a glibbery mass which seems to be orange or blue or black depending on the daytime and the both suns orange and blue accompanying Solaris.

All three researchers on Solaris are having “guests”. Those guests behave and act like people who only exist in the minds of the researchers, as Kelvin’s guest for example is his young wife who had killed herself after Kelvin left her some years ago.

The big questions are: what kind of trick of mind is that? What has the ocean got to do with it? And how can one get rid of “guests” in order to stay sane?

Have I already mentioned that I actually do not read books of this kind? This has got a reason. But Lem’s writing wasn’t all in all bad or boring to me. He writes in a descriptive and often philosophical manner. But still I’m not sure I got his message for I don’t know if I got the right meaning of the ocean. But of course this could be intentionally and everybody is going to come up with something different. I hope so.

I think I’m going to stand back from science fiction for now as I had my portion for this year.

I’m going to give ★ ★ ★ under reserve.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Literary Blog Hop

Literary Blog Hop

This blog hop is hosted by The Blue Bookcase. It is made for bloggers who mainly blog and review about classic literature or literary fiction.

This weeks task is to highlight one of my favorite books and why I think it to be literary. So here it goes:

I think it may be easier to describe why a book is not literary than why I think it is. First of all a literary book is not what everybody enjoys to read but I do. That does not necessarily mean I enjoy every literary book I read. Take Madame Bovary for an example. I did not like it at all. This may be because I read a horrible German translation of it, but that topic would be worth another post. I did like Lolita, The Dud Avocado or The Elegance of a Hedgehog though just to name a few.

Next a literary book has no shallow main characters. That means the character could be an idiot but soon discovers he is one and tries to change it. Characters need to develop during the course of a book. Those who stay the same all along are not interesting. Take Pride and Prejudice for an example the one is pride the other is prejudiced but both overcome that nasty flaws of character and get together.

A literary book is not coming without a social standpoint or other question of morality. It gives the ambitious reader what he or she wants. Something to think about, to get along with or completely disagree.

At last the style of an author who writes literary books is not the same as the one of any other author. The use of language is the channel which affects the reader. Everything like feelings, thoughts, actions and moods are transmitted by it. Take To kill a Mockingbird. I totally connected with the style of Harper Lee so that it was a pure pleasure to read it.

The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy

This is a gorgeous book with a gorgeous heroine. Sally Jay Gorce sets out to take two years for herself in Paris in the late 1950s. She wants to get to know life and be independent. There she has love affairs and is trying to become an actress. But of course very much can go wrong being a young American in Paris. Sally Jay loses her passport and later on she has to discover that it has been stolen from her by one of her dearest friends.

The book is witty and funny. What it has to say about life has to be read between the lines. But one thing is for sure one does not need to live in Paris to get to know life. Although I tend to have this romantic thoughts about Paris too.

To the question how much biographical this book was, Elaine Dundy answered that all the impulsive, outrageous things her heroine does, she did herself. But all the sensible things Sally did, she made up.

I'm going as far as to say that this one hilarious, charming and romantic book is going to make it very high on my top ten list for 2010.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★!