Tuesday, May 15, 2012

looking for (hot) author of award-winning historical novels!

Being a fan of history books, non-fiction and fiction alike, I checked out The Guardian's Top 10 Best Historical Novels, and was struck by the phrases "the destruction of the church of Les Innocents and the clearance of its cemetery" and "major conflicts... between history and progress, remembering and forgetting". It was part of the list-compiler's description of "Pure" by Andrew Miller, winner of the 2011 Costa Book Awards.

I was intrigued, and read more. And learned that his first novel, "Ingenious Pain", whose main character reminds me of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from "Perfume" by Patrick Suskind, won several awards.

Also, Andrew Miller is hot (for a 52-year-old)!

How could I have not heard of him before? Well, the only thing to do is to rectify the situation and get my hands on the above books.

book review: "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I have seen this novel a couple of times at my favorite secondhand bookstore, but what finally made me buy a copy were the recommendations from members of The Historical Fiction Group at Shelfari.

Trying to rebuild their lives after the Second World War, writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from farmer Dawsey Adams, who lives on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel, asking her to recommend a book seller who would send him Charles Lamb's works. Thus begins the correspondence between Juliet and the other members of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, and other characters that inhabit Juliet's life in London and Dawsey's life in Guernsey.

I finished the book in an afternoon, stopping near the end for a cup of tea and a tuna sandwich (I dislike cucumbers) to savor the book longer. I was charmed by Guernsey and its people. Each character's personality comes across in the letters he or she writes, making me mourn the disappearing art of letter-writing in this age of the internet. I especially empathize with Juliet, who at the age of 32 has mostly resigned herself to living a solitary life with her writing and her books, breaking off her engagement with a man who would dare empty her bookshelves and pack her books in boxes.

The story wanders, although Juliet remains the center, but that's how life happens; one can't impose order on it. Still, the novel affirms the fact that sometimes it is not the book that matters, but the company of people who enjoy books and reading as much as one does.


Friday, May 04, 2012

book review: "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green

John Green

Have you ever read a book you had difficulty trying to tell other people about, because you feel that your words are inadequate to describe what the book meant to you, and you're afraid that your attempt might diminish its meaning, and afraid you would not be understood? "The Fault in Our Stars" is such a book. To say that it is about a girl with cancer who falls in love with a boy who also has cancer, and their experience living with cancer, is a simplification; It cannot convey the depths of a life aware of its nearing death, and its impact not only on the way that life is lived but also its impact on the lives around it.

I would recommend this book not only to people who have cancer or people who know people who have cancer, but also people who have a long-term illness and those who know them, and people who have had experience with death, which is all of us.