The Awakening by Kate Chopin

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

This was a book that was picked at our book club for a classic genre.  Via Goodreads – “When first published in 1899, The Awakening shocked readers with its honest treatment of female marital infidelity. Audiences accustomed to the pieties of late Victorian romantic fiction were taken aback by Chopin’s daring portrayal of a woman trapped in a stifling marriage, who seeks and finds passionate physical love outside the confines of her domestic situation.

Aside from its unusually frank treatment of a then-controversial subject, the novel is widely admired today for its literary qualities. Edmund Wilson characterized it as a work “quite uninhibited and beautifully written, which anticipates D. H. Lawrence in its treatment of infidelity.” Although the theme of marital infidelity no longer shocks, few novels have plumbed the psychology of a woman involved in an illicit relationship with the perception, artistry, and honesty that Kate Chopin brought to The Awakening.”

It was a very short story that abruptly ended and left you feeling like there should of been more.  But once the discussion started at book club, we all found that there was more to the book that met the eye which made for interesting perspectives on the matters.

 

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All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

~Book Club Selection~ A Novel Idea’s book for May!

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

This book was so beautiful and haunting, a story of the broken destinies of two young protagonists, during World War II. There is Marie-Laure, a French blind girl, forced to flee Paris and the routine of her safe and familiar life, with her father. Then there is snow-haired Werner, a young German private, keen, resourceful and thrown in a war he doesn’t fathom.

Marie-Laure lives with her father near the Museum of Natural History in Paris.  Her father works as the “master of its thousands of locks”.  Ever since Marie-Laure went blind at the age of six, she as been memorizing the neighborhood via a perfect miniature rendition her father has made.  She can navigate easily now.  Then the war comes when she is twelve.  Her and her father flee to an uncles house by the sea, where they think they will be safe.  Although with them, they happen to carry the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In Germany, Werner grows up with his younger sister Jutta and many others at an orphanage.  They find an old radio one day and their lives were changed forever. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

All the Light We Cannot See is undeniably a masterpiece. The characters are well developed throughout the novel, the settings are lush with expository passages that help entrench the reader in Marie-Laure’s sightless world, and is ultimately a novel of optimism in a time of doom.  This is a highly recommended read!

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

~Book Club Selection~ A Novel Idea’s book for March!

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

A Man called Ove was a laugh and a tear jerker for me.  Ove is a grumpy old man. A man of principle. And not very nice. He was never a talker and not very social either. It’s the way he is, and there is a reason too. His wife Sonja died recently and he just can’t take life anymore. In flashbacks we learn how he meets Sonja, how they build a life together in which he absolutely adores her. He misses her dearly and when we meet Ove he actually makes several attempts to end his life as he sees no use living on without her. However, the neighborhood prevents him to do so…. He meets a new family who comes to live in his neighborhood. A pregnant woman, a clumsy husband, and two little daughters. The first encounters with the various family members are hilarious. And Ove meets a cat, who comes to live with him. And other colorful neighbors follow…. he does not want to connect with them at all, but it can’t be helped. And then… the story really starts. And Ove, without wanting it, bonds… with the cat and with the family. And the other neighbors.

This book was fantastic!  I had previously read Fredrik Backman’s  “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” and this book was just as enjoyable!  This book is about the transformations we go through in life and how different events within our life affect, shape us, and make us who we are today.  This book is a journey. For Ove, for Ove’s surroundings and for the reader. It is a magnificent tale about true love, Saab and the fact that what you see isn’t always what you get.  Ove is melodramatic but he will make you laugh and cry and you’ll be glad that you met him in the end.  A highly recommend read!

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home (Mennonite #1) by Rhoda Janzen

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Rating: ♥ ♥

This is the first book in my new post series “Book Club Selections”, as they are books that we have read for our book club ~ A Novel Idea!

Not long after Rhoda Janzen turned forty, her world turned upside down. It was bad enough that her brilliant husband of fifteen years left her for Bob, a guy he met on Gay.com, but that same week a car accident left her with serious injuries. What was a gal to do? Rhoda packed her bags and went home. This wasn’t just any home, though. This was a Mennonite home. While Rhoda had long ventured out on her own spiritual path, the conservative community welcomed her back with open arms and offbeat advice. (Rhoda’s good-natured mother suggested she date her first cousin—he owned a tractor, see.) It is in this safe place that Rhoda can come to terms with her failed marriage; her desire, as a young woman, to leave her sheltered world behind; and the choices that both freed and entrapped her.

Written with wry humor and huge personality—and tackling faith, love, family, and aging—Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is an immensely moving memoir of healing, certain to touch anyone who has ever had to look homeward in order to move ahead.

I will be completely honest with you, this book was difficult for me to get through.  I stepped out of my box, which is why I wanted to join a book club, and this one to me was just not a winner. All things considered I did find humor in a few places!  Sad to say, she pretty much used up her good material within the first few chapters, after that I felt as though she was rambling on, going no where.  Here’s another thing, the author makes a point of mentioning that she is an English professor and a grammarian who is often asked to edit her colleagues’ research papers and has in fact taken on a paying editing gig in the wake of her divorce. Apparently, these editorial skills don’t extend to fact-checking (in which her copy editor also failed her), since the text is sprinkled with such things as “Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers” (the actual name is spelled Bonne Bell).

Although I think the part that kept me reading the book was that it was interesting to me all the skills that Mennonites have.  Now a days you won’t find kids in the kitchen learning how to make bread or learning to sew.  Still, this was a bizarre read. I had no idea what to expect of this book but I’m glad that I stepped out of my ‘norm’ to take a shot at it!