[465]: The Dinner by Herman Koch

DSC_0740GOODREADS SUMMARY | Hogarth | February 12th, 2013 | Hardcover, 304 pages
| Adult Fiction | Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars


I wish I’d read Gone Girl before this. Because then I could at least decide if the comparison has  merits. As it is, this book was not what I’d expected for something that was highly praised by the literary community. Which proves  that once again, just because it’s a highly acclaimed book, it doesn’t mean the book is written for me.

Reservation for four.

The entire book happened in one day, most likely in just a few hours. The book is sectioned in parts that correspond with the courses of the meal. And as the meal progresses, bits of pieces about the characters and the plot are revealed. In the core is a story about a couple of brothers in the throes of a sibling rivalry, but they’ll never admit to each other’s jealousy. One is a high ranking official who may just be Netherland’s next Prime Minister, and the other, a teacher on leave due to a breakdown.

They have teens consisting of three boys and one girl. One was adopted from Africa. The epicenter of this book is around these kids, and why the dinner was called to begin with. I’m not going to expand any further, as it would ruin the anticipation of unraveling the threads.

All you need to know is that the slow reveal will either make you salivate or as in my case…

Lose your appetite.

How far would you go to protect your child? At what point does that love turn into madness? If you can answer those questions, then you might have a better chance at understanding these characters better than I did.

You will never meet a more unreliable narrator such as Paul.  He is a psychopath, and I don’t mean that in all the sense of the word. Perhaps, more of a sociopath? He presents a calm and well put together character, but he’s as unpredictable as they come. He beat his son’s principal to a pulp with nary a twitch, and he’s done worst things to others that he thought have done his son wrong. And yet the world sees him as a loving husband and a doting family man.  As a parent, I know the infinite length of  how far I would to go to protect my children. What I don’t know though, is whether I would forsake laws for them.

This is where you’ll start to wonder the relevance of nature versus nurture. And in this case, I think it’s a bit of both.

Over all, I struggled with this book. It didn’t appeal to my maternal instincts, nor did it engage me as a reader. The characters’ actions made sense, but I can’t say I felt any empathy.

You need to have an appreciation for an author’s wiles not to divulge information. At the same time, you need to have patience for some details that you’d normally consider as banal. Such was the root of my struggles with this book. It was stingy with the details that matter, and generous with the things that do not.

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Throwback Thursday [11]: Persuasion by Jane Austen

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Penguin Classics | 2011 Edition | Hardcover, 249 pages | Adult Fiction | Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


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Image is not mine.

I promised myself when I decided to post reviews of classic and quasi-classic literature that Jane Austen is one author that I would not touch. However, I thought that this book, being my more favoured of her work over Pride and Prejudice, at least warrants an attempt on my part.

It is a well-known fact that if you love romance novels, chances are, you’ve more than likely to have read at least one of her books. While Pride and Prejudice is a crowd favourite, Persuasion is mine. Admittedly, there was a time when I thought no one could ever be more dashing than Darcy. That is, until I met Captain Frederick Wentworth.

I was already a fan of Wentworth before I saw the BBC series. When I learned that Rupert Penry-Jones was playing his part, I didn’t dally and ordered the series from Amazon right away.

Forever, squandered.

Anne never did get over the heartbreak of her broken engagement to Frederick Wentworth when she was 19. Years later, Captain Frederick Wentworth, a decorated service man, is back in her life…sort of.

Anne’s family is in the cusp of financial ruin. With a vain father, and an equally narcissistic sister, she’s left with no choice but to save what’s left of her family’s legacy. News of the identity of their new tenant, however, brought nothing but a familiar heartache. He’s never forgiven Anne for breaking off their engagement, and now, it seems that he’s determined to hurt her by flaunting his affections towards another woman. Will he ever give Anne another chance? Or is it entirely too late for what was once their chance at forever?

Anne Eliott is no Lizzie Bennett.

If you’ve ever yielded to anyone’s prodding that have made quite an impact in your life for years, then you’ll speak Anne’s language. If you’ve ever sacrificed your heart’s wiles for the sake of your family, then Anne is more like your girl than Lizzie Bennett ever will be. Anne is worlds away from Lizzie, disposition wise. She’s very timid, and would not be too quick to offer her opinions on matters. More importantly though, she’s very selfless, while Lizzie Bennett would argue with you until you’re too tired to argue any longer. If she did not succumb to her mother’s dramatics for the sake of saving the family’s almost non-existent fortune, there was no chance in hell that she’d have heeded to family’s pressure to give up the man she loves. Anne Eliott did just that.

Darcy, he is not.

I can’t not talk about Capt. Wentworth. He’s a very contained fellow until the very end. He has the same mannerisms as Darcy, except unlike Darcy, he doesn’t look down on those beneath him. Mind you, Wentworth was not as rich or privileged because he didn’t have the same lineage as Darcy. In the end, Wentworth did to Anne what Darcy did to Lizzie: he gave her the world. So I suppose they’re similar in that way.

Persuasion has a more sombre tone than P & P. Though it didn’t lack for ridiculous caricatures of characters, it focuses more on the issue of what a person would be willing to do for those they love regardless of how seemingly unworthy they may be. You may be inclined to blame Anne for her unhappiness, but you can’t fault her for doing what she did.

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[459]: Lethal by Sandra Brown

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Grand Central Publishing | Published: September 20th, 2011 | Hardcover, 472 pages | Adult Fiction | Suspense | Romance | Mystery | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Honor Gillete could not have foreseen the identity of the man that her daughter found sprawled and bleeding in their yard. Not even that of an accused mass murderer who killed at least 7 people in a shooting at a shipping warehouse. Armed and dangerous, he promised Honor that no harm will come to her and her daughter. The more time she spent with him, however, the more she questions the worth of the man’s word. Honor soon discovers that Coburn ending up in her yard may not be accidental. He claims that her husband was in possession of something that could put a face to an organization whose criminal activities puts the mafia to shame.

The race is on to find whatever it was her dead husband found, but only if they can escape those who wanted them dead first.

So this book had everything that I’ve come to enjoy about her books…well, except for one thing: the ending left me shouting expletives because she decided that implied happy ending would be better than no HEA. Seriously?!

It is not okay. Okay?!

It was cruelty in the basest of form. Sigh.

This book features the second worst kind of depravity I’ve ever read in all of her works. The first one being Breath of Scandal, where the avenging heroine was gang-raped headed by a man whose family had influence in their small town. Lethal had human trafficking, corrupt public officials, drug trafficking, and killings left and right.

Chase is the name of the game here. Sometimes, it got to a point where I thought Coburn and Honor could not possibly get away from all those who were after them. I mean, how could they? When they didn’t know who was in the payroll of the crime organization, and whose money had reaches even so far as the FBI. However, the best thing about Sandra’s books is that the good guys are always a step ahead of the bad guys. Just when you think, “this is it. They’re going to get caught for sure!”, Sandra manages to let them slip away almost flawlessly. At the same time, I’m worried that I’m starting to feel complacent. That the next time I read something of hers, she’ll pull a fast one on me, then puts her characters through immeasurable torture.

I have read 12 of her books. Each one a stand alone, and not a part of a series. I honestly couldn’t tell you which is a favourite because each one is equally fantastic on their own rights. While I was writing this post, I was also stalking her Goodreads page, looking for clues on when her next book would be out. To my utter disappointment, she just released a new one. Which means, that I will be waiting for at least two more years until her next book. Then I realized, that I own at least 13 more of her books that I haven’t read. Hopefully, it will keep me satiated for now.

Do you like romantic suspense?

Or Linda Howard, for that matter? Because if your answer is yes, you’ll definitely enjoy Sandra Brown’s books. But I must warn you that hers are the habit-forming kind. You’ll find yourself looking for your next hit soon after you finish one, guaranteed.

 

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Throwback Thursday [#10]: The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Chatham River Press | Hardcover, 192 pages | 1989 | Adult Fiction | Science Fiction | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Back in 2012, I decided to do something about the glaring shortage of classics on my shelves. I own several of them, but I’ve never really read most of them. They’ve always been a terrifying undertaking, and I’m always worried that I’ll come off sounding a little pretentious. So I started picking classics that I thought would be relatively easy to read. I must admit that this H.G. Wells collection is a little way over my head, since his genre is something that I don’t normally seek out. However, there are six short stories to choose from; most of which are relatively known. So I chose the one that I know a bit about.

The War of the Worlds is a short novel that I thought would be a fun one to read since I’ve seen the movie years ago. I actually dragged my husband to see it, even though neither of us are a fan of Tom Cruise. We despise the poor sod, to be honest. I knew that the movie will be worlds different from the Victorian novel, which, to be honest is its major draw.

It was interesting to see how different things were at the time. For one, there were no phones or internet to spread the news of the world’s impending doom. All you have are people clamouring to save their own hides as they flee London. News of the invasion was passed on via rumours and hearsays. There was a telling absence of a ruling government directing its people; amongst of which, was the complete lack of organization from the military. In fact, every one was left to fend for themselves. Horses and carriages were the means of transport, a combination that seemed like a feeble match to the aliens.

The invaders were from Mars, but the notion that they’ve been here all along was alluded to. Some came in a fireball that embedded themselves in the ground. And when they rose from the pits from where they landed, people felt complacent enough to think that they’ll be slowed down by the gravitational difference between two planets. They were wrong, of course. In addition, with the seemingly archaic choice of weaponry, it had me thinking about how easily the human race would be wiped out. They were powerless.

In the end though, nature saved the day. If you’ve not seen the movie, the aliens got sick, and eventually died from consuming human blood. Humans had antibodies, viruses that the genetic make up of aliens couldn’t handle. It was what led to their demise.

What I loved about the movie adaptation was the realistic portrayal of how humans behave in time of great strife. We have the tendency to defeat our own selves. We succumb to madness – both real and imagined. That was a prevailing observation in this novel as well. I think it was even more so, because the lack of information at the time wreaked havoc in everyone’s minds.

The underlying lesson in this book is, simply put, dominance; hierarchy, and the man’s perch on top of the food chain. That regardless of how important, and how further ahead we are from other species, there will always be something/someone who will have to power to overcome us. Existentially, we were compared to animals that we hunt (for game or for sustenance). Humans turn on their basest of instincts when faced with grave danger. Unfortunately, we more often go back to our selfish nature.

In conclusion, this book was a fast read. Though the narrative is painfully dry, the suspense and the action makes the readers forget the lack of dialogues.

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[455]: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | McClelland & Stewart | Hardcover, 576 pages
Publication Date: September 16th, 2014 | Adult Fiction | Historical | Mystery
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


The literary world is a vast universe I’ve only began to explore. A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon Sarah Waters’ latest via a recommendation from one of the ladies at my bookstore. I wasn’t familiar with the author and her work, and much to my delight, I found out that Sarah Waters has the corner on a specific arch: lesbian protagonists in an historical setting. I’m ashamed to admit that this is my very first read featuring a lesbian relationship, considering that I’ve read my fair share of gay lit featuring two males.

More and more, I’m learning that if I read up on an author’s background, it helps understand why they chose a specific niche. Sarah Waters’ background on lesbians and gay in historical fictions inspired  the characters in her books. However, I’ve yet to read other books for which she’s known for (Fingersmith or Tipping the Velvet), but I was able to have to taste of it in this novel.

This one follows the story of Frances; a woman who had to be at the helm of what’s left of the family fortune.  Her brothers were both killed in the war; closely followed by the death of her father, leaving her to care for her mother and a house in a state of disrepair. As they learned that her father lost just about everything to failed ventures, Frances and her mother decided to take on borders (or paying guests) to alleviate the financial stress. This was how they met Lillian and Leonard Barber, the childless married couple who would be the subject of Frances’ great curiousity, and would spearhead a tumult of chaos in what used to be a peaceful life.

Frances didn’t expect to experience such great attraction to Lillian, but the lonely homemaker found what her husband lacked in Frances. I suppose if I’d to dive deeper into her psyche, I’d say that Frances offered refinement, and gentle love as oppose to Leonard’s exuberance. What started out as friendship and easy companionship evolved into a clandestine affair between the two women. To read such a relationship in that era and how women dealt with the condemnation of the time was interesting to me. What’s even more surprising (or maybe not so), is that in the present time, if you find yourself in a conservative circle, you’ll probably be met with the same narrow-minded judgement. In some cases, status quo is about the same.

Another point of interest for me was the implications of the women’s role during and after the war. When men left to fight, women assumed the jobs that they vacated. Waters deftly captures the gender role reversals after the war: while the men could barely find employment, the women have become established in positions that were previously unavailable to them. Some men felt castrated, and didn’t shy away from expressing their opinions.

Because this book was my baptism of fire to Waters’ works, I would consider it as an adjustment period of sorts. A taste test, to get a feel of what to expect from her. I’ve never been one to go for award-winning body of works, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try them. Sarah Waters writes with sophistication, but hardly reticent to tackle anything that could be considered crass or uncivilized, if need be.

I enjoyed this one, but I think hers are the kind of novels where your mood dictates exactly when you should pick them up. I’m looking forward to Fingersmith, though; and wouldn’t mind picking up her other novels as well.

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Throwback Thursday [#9]: Pulp by Charles Bukowski

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Pulp by Charles Bukowski | Ecco | Paperback, 208 pages
Publication Date: May 31st, 2002 | Adult Fiction | Crime |
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars


The whole time I was reading this, all I could think of was what my brain would look like if it was on meth.

This book should come with a warning: “Book may induce numbness to the brain that may lead to permanent damage.” Or something to that effect.

Clearly, my first foray into Bukowski’s world did not get off to a great start. I read somewhere that this was his farewell book as he wrote it before he died. So being one of the greatest minds in the modern literature, of course the book was full of metaphors for the life he’d lived that I, unfortunately, knew nothing about. This is what happens when I become an overzealous reader. It’s like face-planting in front of a room-full of people with my skirt pulled up, thereby showing them a piece of my caboose.

It’s humiliating.

Anyway, I bought a couple of Bukowski’s short novels a while back because I wanted a little glimpse into how his mind works. Incidentally, this one caught my eye because I’m such a whore for pulp fiction covers. Last weekend, while I was trying to figure out what to feature on my throwback review, I thought it was as good a time as any. At 208 pages, and with chapters that sometimes are only a paragraph or two long, Pulp was just perfect.

Big mistake. Huge.

Imagine the most misogynistic character you’ve ever known then multiply that by ten. Dress him up as someone who drinks himself to stupor, gambles money he doesn’t have, jerks off at a woman’s voice over the phone, then makes deals with people only to double cross them in the end.

Are you imagining this person?

If you are, then congratulations. You just found yourself face to face with Nick Belane, PI. This man is quite the character. He’d often found himself in situations of his own making. It would be funny if it wasn’t so terrible. Anyway, his assignment to find Céline spear headed a domino effect of troubles for him. From one client to another, he crosses and double crosses each one. It was exhausting. So exhausting that I wished someone would put the poor sob out of his misery by the next page.

I went and read a little more about this book’s history and I found out that this book was sort of Bukowski’s “fuck you” to the world. He made fun of pulp fiction, and fired shots at some authors. I really am clueless. It wasn’t a good idea to read the last work that the author penned as he was close to dying. There was a deliberate referral to his pending escape as one of the characters is called, Lady Death. The one looking for the author Celine, who incidentally was supposed to be dead as he was born in the 1800s.

Needless to say, I  think Bukowski’s brilliance lay waste on someone like me.

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[454]: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

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The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes | Penguin Canada | Hardcover, 384 pages
Publication date: August 13th, 2014 | Adult Fiction | Historical | Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


“Will it buy my husband his freedom? Will…will I buy my husband his freedom?”

The story began in World War 1, most specifically during the invasion of France by Germany. In a small town ruled by German forces, Sophie and her sister ran a cafe/bar called, Le Coq Rouge. Situation was dire as both their husbands were fighting the war; and the only man in the house was their teenage brother full of spite and bad temper. One night, when the Germans came knocking at their door with an accusation of theft, Herr Kommandant came face to face with strong willed, Sophie Lefèvre.  She stood her ground, talked back to an officer, risked punishment by telling them exactly what they can do with their accusations. Herr Kommandant was stunned, and a little taken with the beauty who showed him no fear. That wasn’t the only thing that rendered him speechless, however. It was a painting of a girl full of life, desire and passion. Not at all the same girl who stood before him. It was Sophie, of course, painted by Edward Lefèvre, her husband before they got married.

Herr Kommandant was inexplicably drawn to the painting as much as he was drawn to Sophie. Every night since then, he commissioned Le Coq Rouge to provide dinner for him and for his troop. Sophie risked being hated by her neighbours, and their allegations of being a German sympathizer. But Sophie was not a selfish person, nor did she care of what they thought of her. As long as her family was eating, and she was able to provide leftover food to those in need, she continued to cook for Herr Kommandant. Besides, she’d become accustomed to his company; and their discussions about Art sated the ache of missing her husband.

But when the cruelty of the Nazi regime became even more obvious, and her husband was taken to a camp, Sophie had nowhere to turn to but Herr Kommandant.

Sophie’s story began when she was taken by the Germans on accusations of insurgence. When she thought that the Herr Kommandant came through with his promise for her to be reunited with her husband. What happens to the painting after that, becomes the crux of Liv Halston’s story, almost a century later.

I’m sorry to have written such a long summary for Sophie’s story. I feel that hers is the major draw for this book. I must admit that I felt guilty for being giddy with the forbidden romance between Kommandant Henchken and Sophie, mainly because romanticizing such a dark period in the world history is wrong. The lives lost at the time, the torture that the victims endured, and the preamble to what was to be an even more unimaginable horrors yet to come are just hard to think of but nightmarish.

Jojo Moyes captured the sombre and frightful air of a town besieged by enemies. It was a bleak world; one where supplies were controlled by the German forces, and people were hungry and afraid. Cut off from the world, post was hard to come by. Especially if they were expecting to hear from loved ones battling in the front. Here, we saw people doing what they can to salvage what was left of their riches (by burying them in their garden), and hiding missives received from loved ones. The author took great pains in making sure she captured the aura of the times, and have given justice to the sufferings of the French people.

The second part of this story is set in the modern times. It was the story of a struggling widow, Liv Halston. Her husband was a brilliant architect who died in his sleep, leaving her with an enormous house a single woman can’t afford. She’s already struggling to make ends meet, so when her purse was stolen on a night when she wanted to forget her troubles by getting smashed, she just about gave up. Enter Paul McCafferty, an expat who finds lost art for a living. Fate is such a cruel bitch. Instant connection between the two stymied by The Girl You Left Behind, a painting that was believed to have been stolen by the Germans during the war.

It was interesting to see the process of how some of the looted art during the war are being recovered. The amount of research required and the how such a delicate thing is being handled. A lot of people wouldn’t be so quick to contest a stolen art, so it was also interesting to see what kind of hostility a person would face in such a case where  they refuse to hand it over.

I could go on for miles about this book. All I can say is, it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year. This coming at the heels of reading Night Film by Marisha Pessl, another book that I’d gladly shout praises until practically everyone I know have added it to their shelves. All you need to know is that Jojo Moyes will not fail you. The woman can turn something uncouth into something understandable, and can incite empathy to someone whose political belief was rooted in hate.

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[453]: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Bond Street Books | Hardcover, 544 pages | Published: April 2nd, 2013 | Adult Fiction | Historical | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Ursula Todd died at birth; she strangled from her own umbilical cord.

The next scene played out like the last. Only this time, baby Ursula lived.

Ursula Todd grew up. When she was five, she fell out from the window trying to save her precious doll.

The next scene played out after her birth (she lived).

When she was eight, influenza ravaged much of England. She contacted the disease from Bridget, their servant. She died.

The next scene began again before she got sick.

This time, she knew what to do. She must stay away from Bridget who’d come back from attending the armistice festivities already infected.

She did. But Teddy, the youngest, found his way in Bridget’s room. She had no choice but to fetch him. She contacted the disease.

She died.

The next scene began again before she got sick.

This time, she knew it was Bridget she had to stop. So she tripped her and caused an injury. But an ankle sprain did not stop Bridget from going.

Darkness came for Ursula again.

She died.

And so on…and so forth.

This is Ursula’s life, recycled over and over again. She lived every time she died. And every time she lived, she’d try to prevent things from happening. She’d changed things to dictate the outcome. But for someone who saw the future, her life was far from perfect, nor could she stop the horrors that befall her family.

She didn’t live forever, I don’t think. Because the ending was vague. I’d rather not know, actually. I’d rather draw my own conclusion.

This book is bleak; for every death is difficult to read than the last.

We see her get sexually assaulted, which began the darkest period of her life. In that era, who would want a damaged girl? So she clung to the first man who’d ever shown her affection. A mistake. She died in the hands of an abusive husband.

We also see her amongst Hitler’s people. Which was, quite possibly the second hardest thing I had to read. She had a daughter.

Oh and the things she had to do to save her…

This is about reincarnation, told during the most difficult of times. It’s not for the faint of heart, and not because it’s gruesome (though some scenes were). In a way, Kate Atkinson wrote versions of Ursula’s life. One with varied endings that catered to her readers. Regardless of how it turned out, I was blown away. The research, the thought, the structure of this story took my breath away.

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Throwback Thursday [7]: The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller

IMG_7606 GOODREADS SUMMARY | Warner Books | Hardcover, 171 pages | Publication Date: April 13, 1992 | Adult Fiction | Romance | Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


I’ve never seen the film. I’ve never had the interest to read this book. Buoyed by the thought that I could probably read it one sitting, I decided to forge on ahead. All I can say is, wow. 

Robert James Waller was able to reach me in ways I cannot express. It was in the way he made me feel like I’ve been reading my books wrong all along. When an author tells you that words have taste, and when he tells you that you’re looking at the world in general all wrong, you need to start paying attention.

It was in the way he immortalized Robert Kincaid; a photographer who saw the world with a different set of eyes.

“Eventually, he began to see that light was what he photographed, not objects. The objects merely were the vehicles for reflecting the light.”

 It was the artist in him that gave me the impression that he felt more; saw more.

“He liked words and images. “Blue” was one of his favourite words. He liked the feeling it made on his lips and tongue when he said it. Words have physical feeling, not just meaning, he remembered thinking when he was young.”

He was a simple man; a traveled, worldly man who saw the changing world as something that he could never be a part of. He is a part of a dying species so rare that to know him is more than an honour.

There is a wildness in him that you can’t tame. A need to be free, that to anchor him to one place would be criminal.

“Don’t you see? I love you so much that I cannot think of restraining you for a moment. To do that would be to kill the wild, magnificent animal that is you, and the power would die with it.”

Robert James Waller also introduced me to a love story that was destined but yet, it wasn’t meant to be. It was as if Francesca and Robert waited all their lives to fall in love. And when they did, it was the kind that consumed them whole. They became two halves of a new entity. Not partly Francesca, not partly Robert.

“Well, we’re really not inside of that being. We are that being. We have both lost ourselves and created something else, something that exists only as an interlacing of the two of us. Christ, we’re in love. As deeply, as profoundly, as it’s possible to be in love.”

I’ve always complained about the impossibility of love at first sight; how incredulous it is. I am the cynic who thought it ludicrous. But after reading this book, I’ve gained a different perspective. It could happen. But it takes a certain kind of writer; someone who is wholly attuned to the cruel beauty of falling in love. Someone who knows how to write an impossible love story and will not apologize if it doesn’t end well. A writer who can persuade a reader through their words that no, it’s not impossible. If you find a writer like that, I suggest you hoard their books. Because you and I both know that I’ve never been a fan of adultery or cheating; nor would I try to convince you to read this book knowing that it features a couple of characters who disregard the dictates of time when it comes to falling in love.

Much of the not-so-good reviews for this book jeered that Waller lauded adultery, and that there is no excuse for cheating whatsoever. While I tend to agree on the latter, that is not the case for the former. I say, if you’re hung up on the adultery in this book, then you’ve missed the point entirely. It is not about that. It is about a couple of people who had fallen in love when they least expected it. It is about what they chose to do knowing that they’re two adults who’d been given the chance to be happy together? Or be responsible and live apart? Francesca and Robert did that in a matter of days – a week. But the love they had lasted a lifetime.

“In a universe of ambiguity, this kind of certainty comes only once, and never again, no matter how many lifetimes you live.”

They never saw each other again after that week, nor did they attempt to contact each other since. But in their hearts, their souls, their minds, theirs was the forever kind.

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[447]: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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Putnam Adult | Hardcover, 480 pages
Publication Date: July 29th, 2014
Adult Fiction | Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Liane Moriarty is an author whose books have always put me on a topsy-turvy. Her characters made me mad, made me laugh, and yes, on occasion, it had inspire a tear or two. Her previous work, The Husband’s Secret, drove me crazy. So much so that I set it aside for future reading. One of the best characteristics of her stories is her uncanny ability to let me into the lives of her characters while making me feel like I’m a peeping jane. Like, I’m encroaching on a private matter that I’m not supposed to see.  But no matter what, I can’t look away. The same is true for this book.

I took this book on our recent trip to San Diego, tucked safely away in my purse no matter where I went. I tell you, I was head over heels with it. I indulged, whole-heartedly and without guilt as I soaked in the story in all my voyeuristic glory. I read it everywhere. I just couldn’t get enough.

She has this ability to tell a story with succinct realism that it’s almost a sickness. Her characters, though most were cut out from a stereotypical cardboard, made for some engrossing read. You have Madeline: spunky, with an in-your-face honesty leads the pack of this school parents dramarama. She is funny, loyal and defender of the oppressed. The oppressed being, Jane: a recent transplant to Pirriwee Beach, who’d immediately become a pariah because her son was accused of bullying a little girl on the first day of school. Also in their little band of merry maids, is perfect Celeste: married to a financier, beautiful, statuesque, but is kind and generous. They each have their own stories and points of views.

This book boasts an unpredictable mystery. One that will have you pulling your hair on its ends, as you try to relieve the pressure in your chest. But not to worry, Liane knows how to  make her readers laugh as well. And it’s the kind of Australian dry humour we’d learned to appreciate from their British counterparts. Considering that the major plot arches dealt with a couple of heavy subjects (abuse and bullying), and that one of the mysteries revolved around a murder, humour was definitely required to ease off some of the tension.

If you’re looking to expand your world, look no further than Liane Moriarty’s work. Though ours is a shaky relationship (I loathed What Alice Forgot), I can always count on her for writing some shockingly honest depiction of how normal married people live. You know, not from what you see on their Facebook but what actually happens behind closed doors.

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