RECOMMENDATIONS FIRST SEMESTER 2015

imagesI want to tell you about some books that I have read the first half of this year. They are just short reviews, not because the books aren’t worth a long one, but because even though I enjoyed them, and found a lot of messages for me, when I finished them I was not in the mood for great reviews and not for a coherent explanation of my feelings. Nevertheless, I really want to recommend them, and here we are.

Happy are the happy by Yasmina Reza

This book was recommended to me by my friend Trini, a reader whose taste I respect in reading, and like she said it is worth reading.

If you want to browse through relations between families, friends and colleagues this is the right book. Here you have a group of stories all of them connected to each other by characters and stories to see your reactions and try to understand others in the same situations.

This book is meant to be humorous, serious and mysterious at the same time, but for me it had no humor, and made me feel sad about how poorly we understand each other.

Anne of the Five Towns by Arnold Bennett

This is one of my star authors. One of the few whom I can always return to read a good book, and feel that that is the case, no matter what he is speaking about.

I discovered this author a couple of years ago thanks to one of these initiatives of another blogger that wanted to commemorate the day of his birth. This is only the third fiction novel that I read by him. I read other non fiction books by him in which I found an elegant writer capable of criticizing the injustice in social situations, gender, and education, without being derogatory, insulting or sugary.

In this book, the criticism goes against the lack of opportunities in women’s lives to decide about their future, just because of their gender.

The hours by Michael Cunningham

In this book with three stories, we start living the last moments of Virginia Wolf, and after that getting to know a different Mrs. Dalloway, and our third character will be Mrs. Brown a married woman, mother and mother to be, but wondering about something else.

These three stories are a little overwhelming as well, or as I said I read them in a bad moment, because I felt it too hard.

With this third recommendation come some of the sentences of the book.

“Not flowers; if flowers are subtly wrong for the deceased thery’re disastrous for the ill.”

“It is good, she reminds herself- it is lovely – that her husband cannot be touched by ephemera; that his happiness depends only on the fact of her, here in the house, living her life, thinking of him.”

“She believes that by obeying the rules, she can have what men have.”

“It’s time for this day to be over.”

I will return someday to this book and I will write the proper review that it surely deserves.

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

I had a reading crisis. What a horrible feeling! I have already had a few, or, to be honest, a lot more than a few, but I cannot get used to these crisis.

This one was like all the others. Suddenly, every book that I took was boring, too descriptive, too narrative, too much dialogue…. It doesn´t matter what the real problem was, but any way without a book to read I felt lost. Fortunately, I always continue to try with different fiction and non fiction books until one of them gives me what I need at that moment.

This time I needed something humorous and imaginative, and this was the book that brought me back to reading: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict.

I am mad about time travel books, and I am an admirer of Jane Austen books. They are a good critic of social classes and genres of her time, not the romantic Jane Austen that film directors like to present in the cinema and on TV.

Accordingly, this was a good book, and furthermore it contained some humour. That was a perfect combination on my way back to book reader.

The main character, Courtney Stone is a modern North American woman who one day wake up in Jane Austen time, in the body of a Regency England woman called Jane Mansfield. She is well aware that she is not Miss Mansfield, or that Miss Mansfield is not she, who knows. But at the same time it seems that she can behave like a woman of that time and age without a second thought. She wants to return to her life, but will she return or does she even want to?

Life has a new lesson for us around every corner, and this time travel will help Courtney to understand her real life better.

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LA MANO DE LA BUENA FORTUNA by Goran Petrovic

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAdam Lozanic has in his hands a copy of Mi legado, written by Anastas S. Branica. The owner of the book wants to make some adjustments, and offers Adam a sum of money not negligible that would be good to help him finish his thesis.

In the mean while, he dreams to meet in his readings the girl of the warm smell.

Jelena wants to leave Serbia with all her strength, and for that takes her English studies very seriously. Meanwhile she is the bridesmaid of Mrs. Natalia Dimitrijevic, and one of her tasks is to make of joint readings where she discovers the literary world in which she doesn’t live alone.

When Anastas Branica was twelve years old, it begins what is called the beginning of his story. This day he discovered his particular gift, the longing he felt when reading a few paragraphs describing a sea view, gave him motivation and his small child’s legs moved downhill to the water until they were soaked and full of sand …

This is only a small summary of the great story that this book contains.

For me it is really difficult to review this book. It is one of the books that I most enjoyed in the last years and I don´t want to say how many times I re-read it.

The center of the story, and what can easily catch reader´s attention, is not only the small personal stories of the main characters, all of them full of complete lives that catch you from the beginning, not even that all of them have something in common: the love of books.

The real important point is that all of them are “real readers”, that means they are persons with the capacity, with the power to introduce themselves physically into the stories that they are reading, and take a walk, living what happens, not only with the fictional characters, but also with others “real readers” who in that moment are reading the same book.

Please, don´t say that the idea is not extremely attractive.

But, the book is not only interesting for this point of magical realism that adsorbs me completely, but as happens to me with other books, it is full of messages, worries, situations that seem to me as speaking directly to me, and I cannot stop myself to sharing here.

Before going to these sentences with special meanings, and for those that are curious about this book, I tell you that “La mano de la buena fortuna” is not only the book’s title, but the name of a shop that existed in the book, and that was closed a lot of years ago. The people who still have the memories of the shop can visit it and purchase the things, small important things that they can find only there, and that make a big difference.

Among the sentences of this review, some may seem misleading to you or even not see what the meaning is, but I think all hold great truth:

“There are things that can never be localized if they always remain in the same place”

“I lost a memory .. I lost a memory of my father … My God, how can I lose it! …”

“… I read and sobbing frightened by the possibility of being alone again in a world of sadly limited and interior ideas, in a world of still lifes, tables, columns of percentages and thousandths.”

“The young man spent hours and hours looking for words thin and soft enough to mend the damaged place”

“I open my eyes because I learned to not see”

Goran Petrovic was born in 1961 in Kraljevo (centraldownload Serbia), where he currently lives. He studied Serbian and Yugoslav literature at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade.

He currently works as a librarian at the Monastery Žiča. He is known for his novels, written in a style very close to magic realism. He has published a book of short prose Tips for an easier life (1989), the story collection The island and the surrounding stories (1996), the novel The Siege of the Church of San Salvador (Opsada crkve Svetog Spasa, 1997) Atlas described by heaven (Atlas opisan nebom, 1993) and the Hand of good fortune (Sitničarnica “Kod srećne ruke” 2000), a novel which won the NIN prize, one of the highest recognitions in their country.

THE GALLERY OF VANISHED HUSBANDS by Natasha Solomons

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJuliet is married, and she is not. Her husband disappeared one day and now for her people she is married and cannot divorce her husband. In Jewish culture only men are allowed to ask for a divorce. The community feels pity for her and ignores her, but a sudden encounter with a young painter change everything and gives her the opportunity of starting a new life.

First thing first, she decides to buy a portrait of herself rather than a new fridge.

This story carries me through a life that starts with a small memory of a nine year old girl and finishes with an old woman re-reading the only letter of her vanished husband.

We all have a life, be it shorter or longer, we all have a life, but not all our years are the same. I always like to think on my birthday, which I really enjoy celebrating, that I have lived each of my years, but, of course, not all these years have been the same, and some of them seem to be as present as they were in the past, and other years are almost blurred somehow.

In this story, I had the same feeling. I met Juliet Montague knowing a lot of around ten years of her life, but other years passed in such a hurry, that I had the feeling all the time that we were in different cities, and we only met each other occasionally to catch up on our lives.

Juliet’s life started for me with page 66, when she expresses what is art for her. With these short sentences, she expresses what I want to feel one day when re-reading some of my feelings that I expressed them perfectly.

“He values useful objects like a walking stick or a pair of spectacles. Bur art does have a use. It helps us see the world more clearly. Like my father’s beloved spectacles, art sharpens our perception. We see Max’s bird or Jim’s bathers and when we look at the sea again, we understand it better.”

Now a child’s point of view of the real world.

“Between Louisville and Fort Smith he sat beside a travelling salesman with a briefcase full of imitation watches (that kept real time just the same)…”

She finally understands that she is without limits.

“I could go anywhere. I’m not lost, I’m free.”

Even a woman like Juliet wishes for her son a quiet life because in the end people like to think that the more average a life is, the happier it will be.

“I wish upon my son an ordinary life of fatness and fatherhood and simple joys.”

You can remember moments of your life that were good, but as Juliet discover everything can be erased.

“He was charming and could be terribly funny. He adored you and Leonard. But then he left and that cancelled out everything good that happened before.”

I completely agree with Juliet in this affirmation:

“I can’t change my birthday and more than I can change the day of my death,”, and so to feel that I am celebrating my birthday I need it to be celebrated always the day of my birth, not before, and not after.

This sentence is to understand better what kind of woman Juliet is:

“I like to know how other people see the world.”

The end of the book is a mixture of sadness, understanding and acceptance of the reality, and how the years passed in a second.

Natasha Solomons was born in 1980. Her first job, aged nine, natashawas as a shepherdess, minding the flock on Bulbarrow hill. Since then, she has worked as a screenwriter with her husband, and they are currently working on the film adaptation of her first novel, Mr Rosenblum’s List. She is also researching a Ph.D. in eighteenth-century poetry. She lives in Dorset.

Natasha Solomons was inspired in part by the life of her husband’s grandmother, a woman whose husband vanished one day to write this book.

Bibliography:

Mr Rosemblun’s List

Mr Rosemblun dream in English

The gallery of vanished Husbands

 The house of Tyneford/The novel in the viola