Showing posts with label drama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label drama. Show all posts

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Review: Two Sisters by Mary Hogan


Title: Two Sisters
Author: Mary Hogan
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Source: copy received for honest review through TLC Book Tours

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

One family, two sisters, a lifetime of secrets . . .

The third child in a family that wanted only two, Muriel Sullivant has always been an outsider. Short, dark-haired and round, she worships her beautiful blonde sister, Pia, and envies the close bond she shares with their mother, Lidia. Growing up in their shadow, Muriel believes that if she keeps all their secrets—and she knows plenty, outsiders always do—they will love her, too.

But that was a long time ago. Now an adult, Muriel has accepted the disappointments in her life. With her fourth-floor walk-up apartment and entry-level New York City job, she never will measure up to Pia and her wealthy husband, their daughter, and their suburban Connecticut dream home. Muriel would like nothing better than to avoid her judgmental family altogether. One thing she does quite well.

Until the day Pia shows up to visit and share devastating news that Muriel knows she cannot tell—a secret that will force her to come to terms with the past and help her see her life and her family in unexpected new ways.


My Review:

This novel is so good, but so inherently sad.  I just wanted to give Muriel a big, giant hug the entire time I was reading.  In the beginning, she seems to be a fairly self-assured, early-20's city dweller.  She has her own place in New York City, a decent job, and is finally living away from her family, who always treated her as a bit of a fifth wheel.  She's even come to terms with a lot of the body issues that plagued her as an adolescent.  (Opening scene features her luxuriantly eating caramel popcorn during a Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives marathon--YOU GO, WOMAN!)

However, as the story unfolds, it becomes obvious that Muriel still has plenty of insecurities and doubts to overcome.  As more of her family's secretive history is revealed, she has to continually rework her vision of herself among her parents and siblings.  Even though the end result is rather empowering, still...I was sad.  Not sure I've ever seen a female character more emotionally beat down by her family than poor Muriel.

I don't mean to scare you off by putting that nice dark cloud over Muriel's life.  Actually, as her interactions with her family became continually more heart-wrenching, I found myself reading faster and faster.  It's hard not to be sucked into her story.  You want Muriel to triumph in the end, and there's always another little family mystery to uncover, so to call this a page-turner is entirely accurate (if admittedly cliched).

In my experience, family dramas can sometimes move a bit too slowly, primarily because the author spends extra time on minute details of the family background.  However, in Two Sisters, every detail is compelling.  Every chapter gives you something new to mull over.  And if you ever thought your family was kinda messed up, I invite you to sample Muriel's world...she might have you beat.

As always, much thanks to Trish and TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour!
Check out the other blogs on this book tour HERE.  And connect with Mary Hogan on her websiteTwitter, and Facebook.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Book Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt


Title: The Goldfinch
Author: Donna Tartt
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
Publication Date: October 22, 2013
Source: personal purchase

Summary from Goodreads

A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and determined to avoid being taken in by the city as an orphan, Theo scrambles between nights in friends’ apartments and on the city streets. He becomes entranced by the one thing that reminds him of his mother, a small, mysteriously captivating painting that soon draws Theo into the art underworld. 


My Review:

Okay, wow Goodreads, way to provide the most underwhelming summary EVER of this nearly-800-page novel-monster.  Kinda hoping my review can do it justice a bit more than that.

Where to begin with The Goldfinch?  So much hype has been generated already, my piddly little review matters very little in the grand scheme of things.  But I will generously provide my two cents anyway!  Let me summarize this way: I often have a tough time with really (REALLY) long novels, and movies too.  My husband and I recently went to see The Wolf of Wall Street, which in typical Scorsese form, is 3 hours long.  At the end, I turned to him and said, "I know that was a good long movie, because I didn't start checking my watch after the first 2 hours went by."  That's how I feel about long novels too.  If I get about 2/3 of the way through, and start obsessively watching the percentage counter on my Kindle, praying and hoping that it will move JUST A LITTLE FASTER, I know me and that book are probably not going to be friends for life.  (Here's looking at you, 1Q84.)

Did The Goldfinch take a long time to read?  Yes.  But was it an enjoyable long time?  YES.  By the end, I was amazed at the amount of ground that Tartt had covered in 800 pages.  The main character (Theo) experiences the devastating loss of his mother at the very beginning of the novel, and during that incident, comes into possession of a painting of said goldfinch.  And pretty much every other major thing that happens to Theo for the next 700 pages, good and bad, happens because of this painting...sometimes in very odd and unexpected ways.

Major kudos to Tartt for the crazy chain of events that she manages to create.  It's funny...I'm currently reading a novel that is about 1/3 the size of The Goldfinch, but the author has managed to make the plot too complex and character-heavy (in terms of number of characters), to the point where it's just hard to follow.  But Tartt has created a novel that is epic in scope, without being overwhelming in plot detail or character complexity.  Plus, Theo is one of the most convincingly depressing characters I've ever encountered.  This guy can wax poetic on the pointlessness of life like no other...it's really rather impressive.  Some of the best passages, in my opinion, came from the times he pondered whether his life was worth living.  Which probably says nothing good about me, but I stand by my claim.

The only potentially weak point for me was the ending.  If you've ever read War and Peace, you know that after the "action" of the plot ends, Tolstoy tacked on 2 epilogues that were all philosophical and whatnot.  (Wow, best review of War and Peace ever, award goes to me.)  They were disappointing for me, mostly because I thought the ACTUAL ending itself was pretty good, and I could have thought about the philosophical stuff on my own if I wanted to.  Didn't need to read a long-arse epilogue to get to the crux of it.  I felt the same way about this book.  The plot action ends (and that ending is really, really good), but then there's all this deep, insightful brouhaha after that that I didn't love.  Some of it was great, don't get me wrong, but a lot of it just felt like "blah blah blah" to me, full of deep thoughts that I would have rather discovered on my own in a book club discussion or some such.

That is probably just me though, given the fact that this book is like, critically-acclaimed and stuff.  (Not to mention...War and Peace...yeah, my esteemed literary opinion probably doesn't change the general consensus on that one either.)

Bottom line: this book is worth the hype, and I promise the journey is worth every single one of its many pages.

What was your last good chunkster, friends?
 
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