Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Fine Balance is a fine read so far

After having this on my bookshelf before and not reading it, I have finally cracked the spine of A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry and I am so glad I am. It is, as a few people have told me, a suprisingly quick read despite its size. I managed to devour more than the first hundred pages the first morning I had the book in my possession. I have heard some mixed comments about this book and am interested in hearing from people about how they feel about this book - without spoilers please as I am just about a 1/3 into the book. So far there seems to be an interesting divide by gender. From what I have read so far, this book has some very bleak moments and I am almost certain this will get quite worse, particularly when reading in bed and Robert says "so who has died so far?". Oh dear. As with The Book of Negros, the story weaves around actual historical occurrences, in this case, India around the time of Partition. Historical fiction is something I had previously avoided, however I have begun to enjoy this in my reading more recently. I have always felt I had a poor understanding, or more likely poor retention, of world history and in some ways these stories help restore my memory. I am certain I will have more to write on this book, but until then, goodnight and happy reading.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Just One Week

It took me less than one week to finish my 15th read, The Birth House, lent to me by my best friend Kristin who is an avid reader and always has a great book to pass along! As I mentioned in my previous post I loved this book. What I found interesting in this book other than the story and the characters created by Ami was the images of old advertisments which I assume were either authentic or closely resembled ads of the time that were sprinkled throughout the novel. These ads were for special "cures" for women and their supposed delirium or histeria .... of course you will have to read the book to find out the "treatment" that Dora had both at the doctor's office and then through self-medication!

I am hoping to pick up my next read(s) very soon. I plan to finally read Rohinton Minstry's A Fine Balance but am also waiting for Wild Geese, by Martha Ostenso.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Birth House is just lovely

I have very little left to read of this great novel where author Ami McKay knits a wonderful story of Dora Rare, a young woman who is married early and despite her husband's wishes becomes a midwife and healer trained by her beloved friend and pseudo-mom Miss B. This story combines tragedy and disappointment with humour. I find it has been hard to put this book down, reading well beyond the late night news, and then waking and wanting to read more. The author has a great website/blog where followers of this book can get recipes, join the OKS (you have to read the book to find out what this is) and get a sneak preview of the author's upcoming book - check it out at http://www.thebirthhouse.com/

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Winner is Announced

I am overjoyed ... ecstatic really, that The Book of Negros by Lawrence Hill won Canada Reads 2009. I was a little worried there for a while when following the debates on the CBC this past week. I was surprised that some even voted for it to be eliminated on the days when there were votes. I was elated, sorry, but it is true, when The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant was eliminated on Thursday. As I mentioned in my review, I felt no connection to the characters in this story. I missed the last of the debates but understand that Fruit was in the final two. I think this was a great choice by the panelists. I was sad and shocked that Mercy went first .... All the info on Canada Reads, the new Book Club they have launched and so on can be found on www.cbc.ca/canadareads . I am currently reading Ami McKay's The Birth House. So far so good. Stay tuned for my review!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Through Black Spruce

My 14th official read for the challenge, Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden was a great read. It is a novel set in Northern Ontario about contemporary aboriginal life, and the difficulties faced by a people coping with life both in the forest and in the city, where for some, addiction and crime rein supreme and takes over and controls the direction their lives take. This theme is not something I have read in fiction before and I was struck by the difficulties faced by the main characters which likely mirrors the lives of people living this reality today. On the edges of the story it touched on subjects heard on the news - youth addicted to sniffing gas, alcholism etc. It also touched on some of the aboriginal traditions that are maintained by some today. It took me a few chapters to get into the story and figure out that each chapter alternated being narratted by a male character - Wil - and a female character - his neice Annie. Once I understood how this was being narrated, I found that I continually wanted to get to the next chapter to catch up to where the narrating character's story continued. I don't want to spoil the end, so I would recommend reading this novel and letting the story and the curiousity of how it will end carry you away!