Monday, June 6, 2016

Two Very Different Books

One is a quiet, easy read with familiarity of characters growing slowly.  Very understated in its someone else described "a slow simmer."  That would be Nora Webster by Colm Toibin.  I can't say I disliked this book, but it wasn't a style I am used to.  Nora is going through the grief over losing her husband, and the journey of finding her own voice.  She seems to bow to what others want her to do at first and then slowly realizes she can choose for herself.  She is very likeable and so are her children, but I expected more depth to their lives and was somewhat disappointed, especially as one son appears to be having a seriously difficult tinme with the loss of his father, and Nora doesn't really address his needs at first.  It is set in 1968-70 approx. Ireland with some political upheaval from the time coming through, but generally the book is about the everyday lives of she and her children in minute detail.  I kept expecting the pace to pick up, but it did not. 

The second book couldn't have been more action-packed.  It is filled with a myriad of fascinating characters and events that detail life in Hawaii in the years leading up to and during World War II, but also the affects the times had on the characters as they go from New Orleans to Paris to Shanghai and back to Hawaii.  Song of the Exile, by Kiana Davenport is definitely a page-turner, and it is NOT boring.  Much of what the author describes is very raw and brutal.  Her characters are real and very interesting, and the reader becomes involved in their lives and their emotions.  However, the prose is so florid, it is "too much" at times.  Some turns of phrase were wonderfully written; others made me say "what???"  Davenport also shows us the courage and pain and horror the "Comfort Women" went through during WWII and for that she is to be commended.  That tragedy of the War is something we should not forget.  I really liked the book, but it was an experience!  So many beautifully crafted sentences, poetically describing this world; so many events spanning the globe in scope! 

Mom wrote an excellent review of this book when she read it, I think, last year.  HERE is the link to what she had to say.  Read them both and make up your own mind how you feel about these different writing styles, and which one you prefer!  I, personally, especially enjoy something somewhere in between the two.  I love poetic prose, and the page-turning writing, but I also love some of the more understated qualities of Toibin's book.  I'd love to see reviews of either book by any of you out there, and get your thoughts on what makes a great read!


  1. Your review made me curious about Song of the Exile. Thanks for 2 more picks!

  2. I think I will skip that first one. It could have made a great read but I think I would like a little faster pace, more intrigue. Now, you know how I felt about Song of Exile. It was a good book, just wish it wasn't so graphic at times but that was life in those days and she portrayed it well.

  3. I have read a few books by CT - but not this one. So many books, so little time!

    Cheers (and sorry about the slowness of my visit) - Stewart M - Melbourne


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