You can read my review of The Paris Wife by Paula McLain on askmissa.com by clicking here.
Amazon.com has announced its Best Books of the Year for 2011! It’s a Top 100 list, but it’s also broken down into the Top 20, the Top Kindle Singles, Top Mystery and Thrillers, Top Literature and Fiction, Top Nonfiction, Top Debut Fiction, Top Quirky and Strange and Top Jackets and Covers.
I’d like to read all of them, but a few that are definitely on my must-read list are: The Marriage Plot: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides; The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern; 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami; and The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht.
I’ll get around to these eventually!
I chose to read Ernest Hemingway’s first novel because I picked up a copy of The Paris Wife which is about his first marriage to Hadley Richardson and their years in Paris with all the famous expat writers and artists. Those were also the years during which Hemingway wrote his first novel, The Sun Also Rises, based on his adventures in Europe. As I’d never read any of Hemingway’s work, I thought it a good idea to begin with this novel.
“That seemed to handle it. That was it. Send a girl off with one man. Introduce her to another to go off with him. Now go and bring her back. And sign the wire with love. That was it all right.”
This novel is about a group of expats in Paris who travel to Pamplona, Spain for the fiesta and the bull fights. It takes place after World War I, and they live like lushes and there is a sense of detachment among them. They definitely seem to represent “The Lost Generation”.
For example, the protagonist, Jake, is in love with Lady Brett Ashley and has been for some time. Yet he
acts as her friend as she becomes engaged to another man and has flings with a couple of others during their holiday. Brett is quite a fascinating character because she’s very liberal; she’s hardly monogamous. She’s free-spirited and a bit like a child who indulges every whim and fancy.
I wasn’t wildly in love with this novel, but it’s a classic and it was entertaining so I definitely recommend it. The descriptions of the bull-fighters during the fights are exquisite. And it did give me a better appreciation for Hemingway’s early struggles in Paris now that I’m reading The Paris Wife. I’m about halfway through that book, so expect a review soon!
“More than anything, we are thirsty for one another’s stories. When we tell our stories, there is no turning back. We may never see one another again – many people come only once, stopping in the city for a few days on their way to Patagonia or Brazil or wherever – but once you’ve sat at this table, you are one of us forever.”
I judged this book by its cover – well, by its title actually. As soon as I saw it in the bookstore and saw “Buenos Aires” in the title, I had to have it. I lived there for a year, so perhaps I’m a bit biased.
Anyway, The Buenos Aires Broken Hearts Club by Jessica Morrison is a charming, funny novel – the kind that keeps me awake much too late for a few nights because I need to know what happens, yet simultaneously makes me wish that it wouldn’t ever have to end.
The main character, Cassie Moore, is, well, a control freak. She’s got every detail of her life and future planned out and color-coded in an Excel spreadsheet, so she’s shell-shocked when she catches her perfect fiance in bed with another woman. They break up and she moves out. Oh and she also gets very drunk in the process one night, and she somehow books herself a six-month stay in Buenos Aires, where she’s never been.
When she first arrives in Buenos Aires, she’s terrified and depressed; she barely ventures out to the
supermarket. Eventually she meets people through her Spanish classes and all the while she blogs about her daily adventures and her encounters with Mateo, the infuriatingly sexy and smug handyman at the house she’s living in. During her six months, she changes and grows more than she could have ever guessed.
And the descriptions of Buenos Aires are so spot-on. At times it was difficult for me to keep reading because the book was making me ache for Buenos Aires; it’s such an incredible city and the perfect place to set a story like this! Seriously, if you’ve never been, you absolutely must go. And read this book as well!
“Time is a goon.”
A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan was extremely impressive. Egan’s prose had me hanging on her every word from the beginning.
The novel tells the story of Bennie, a middle-aged former punk rocker and big-shot record executive, and Sasha, his assistant. Through the inner lives of other characters, Egan tells the stories of their past and present. She effectively interweaves music and technology as themes throughout, creating an accurate lens through which to view modern life.
Egan also has a way of making the aging process, the passage of time and nostalgia beautifully
tragic; I felt an aching for the 80s and for who the characters once were, yet the book pretty much comes around full circle so that in a way, you’re right back to where you started even though years have passed. There is beauty in redemption as well.
“I think, The world is actually huge. That’s the part no one can really explain.”