Saturday, December 04, 2010

books 2010 #38 - 41

Private Altars: A NovelPrivate Altars: A Novel by Katherine Mosby

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jill just gave me back this book. Apparently it was one I bought from a library sale, and she borrowed it, although it didn't even look at all familiar to me. I didn't have anything waiting in the wings, so I picked it up. A few things here and there felt familiar as I read. I had no idea what was going to happen in the book, but I started to recognize my own underlining style, so I can only conclude that I had read it before at some point. A sad commentary on my retention. Good grief.

The good news is that I really liked it. The main character is a young, educated woman who moves to a small town after she marries. Neither Vienna nor the townspeople can understand or relate to each other, and she ostracizes herself, creating an almost mythic curiosity about her home and her family. The town doctor tells her husband, who is clearly disappointed with the way things have turned out, "She's not crazy, she's educated."

She manages to tutor her children at home for many years before a truant officer forces them to school, and as a result of their education, they are faced with similar peer problems to those of their mother.

While the characters and the story itself are compelling, the language is what most pleased me. Mosby's writing is precise and beautiful, perhaps a reflection on her career as a poet. Recommended for wordsmiths and fans of Southern Gothic fiction.

The RoadThe Road by Cormac McCarthy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't know how a novel about a thoroughly bleak, post-apocalyptic world filled with emptiness and strife can be beautiful, but this one is.

The relationship between the father and son, who are never named but only called the man and the boy, is achingly tender. The boy's innocence provides such a striking foil to the dark and dreary world he inhabits. A moving tribute to the human spirit and "the good guys."

The Tea-Olive Bird-Watching SocietyThe Tea-Olive Bird-Watching Society by Augusta Trobaugh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a light, quick read. Swan Place is still my favorite of Trobaugh's novels, but this one is enjoyable in an "Earl had to die" kind of way.

The Pillars of the EarthThe Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Early on, I would have given this 4 stars. Now it's more like 3-3.5.

It takes place in the 12th century, and includes monks, bishops, earls, kings, gluttony, greed, violence, war, revenge, forgiveness. I was fascinated by all that was involved in building a cathedral - what kinds of tools they used, the evolving knowledge and innovations, and how it took decades.

There are characters that are all good, characters that are all bad, and a few that seem more real. Still, I was invested enough to want to find out what happens to them.

Ultimately, I would have liked this book more without the rape scenes. Too graphic.

View all my reviews


Jill said...

How did I end up giving you that book back without reading it myself, especially if it's one you rated 4 stars? I guess I need to borrow it again.

crystal said...

I freaking love Cormac McCarthy.

I felt the same way about Pillars of the Earth. I L-O-V-E-D the historical fiction nature of it, but I really can do without raping in my leisure reads.

I decided after reading it that I am more of an Edward Rutherford fan. I adore all of his books.

I'm pretty much a history girl.

And a non-rape girl.


Charlotte said...

I probably commented on your Goodreads review of The Road, but I'll just say one more time how much I loved it. Plus, I love it when other people love the same books that I do.

Ashley said...

I must say. I hated the Road. HATED. It is in my top 5 books that I tell people to stay away from.

This just shows me that not every book has the same impact on everyone the same way. It's a good reminder for me.

Rebekah said...

I loved The Road. It stuck with me for months and months afterwards, which speaks to its power. It's amazing to me how McCarthy was able to paint such a vivid and real world with such sparse language. I felt like I was right there with the boy and the man, experiencing all of their emotions with them.

I also appreciated the reality of the situation -- that the planned destination really doesn't offer any salvation, and that the man does end up dying.

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