Tag Archives: family time

“Breathing lessons” Anne Tyler

Standard

Realism is what Tyler is known for. This novel is infused with such a realism that I felt as if I was in the same room with its characters. So, if you a looking for a escapist reading, look somewhere else. Unless you want to escape to Baltimore of 1988, when the novel was published.

The story line has Maggie and Ira as main characters, whose marriage seems impossible yet lasting. In all they do, “Ira [is] forever so righteous and Maggie so willing to be wrong.” Other characters – their son, daughter, daughter-in-law, granddaughter – seem all to come into play just to testify to that. Tyler manages to make you pissed of with Maggie’ constant intrusion in other people’s lives, just to redeem the character towards the end, by revealing her sweet vulnerability and pure desire to help. Maggie and Ira’s quarrels throughout the novel made me smile at the thought about how much energy we spend on minor things in life, at the expense of what’s important: love, respect, empathy, courage to speak up and courage to shut up, sometimes.

“The locust and the bird. My mother’s story” by Hanan Al-Shaykh

Standard

I absorbed the book. It’s my first book by Al-Shaykh and I bet it is not going to be the last. Her writing is as honest and truthful as the crystal water of a mountain river. Listening to and making public the story of one’s mother is brave because it requires introspection and forgiveness of all.

The story of Kamila, Hanan’s mother, is both unique and telling of an era and society dominated by religious patriarchs. Forced child marriage, an early pregnancy, abandonment, dependence and poverty marked Kamila’s life, yet it did not bend her free spirit. She was illiterate, yet her wisdom is deeper than the prescriptions of many scholars. She had no social security, yet her wit and survival instinct enabled her to see all her children into adulthood through the turmoil of war and social change of her country.

I am humbled by the story. And similar stories of million of women who remain anonymous, yet without which we would not be standing here and now.

“An elephant in the garden” by Michael Morpurgo

Standard

My child recommended this book to me. I loved it. Such a good story line.

With the war in the background of the story, the author puts empathy towards humans and animals at the forefront. It is the story of an ordinary German family from Dresden, who saved an young elephant from being killed before the city’s bombings by allies. Their refuge to west to meet the Americans was filled with hurdles, yet a certain magic enveloped them: “we must have been a strange sight for those who caught sight of us: Peter and I, stomping along together ahead, an elephant behind us with two or three children aboard, and, following them, Mutti and her cavalcade of signing children”.

This is a good book for small and big, to be read aloud on a long winter night. To remind ourselves about forgiveness and resilience.

“The single ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village” by Joanna Nell

Standard

That was a fun reading. Light and thoughtful, loving and self-ironic. An introspective and retrospective view into inter and intra-generational relationships. An ode to youthful playful souls even when the replaced knees and pacemakers demand otherwise.

“What I loved” by Siri Hustvedt

Standard

“What I loved” is a work of fiction rooted in research on human behaviour in a variety of disciplines. Leo, the narrator and one of main characters, tells us the story of his family and his closest friend’s family in the decor of the art world of New York.

The human tragedies entangle in seemingly distinct yet interconnected stories. Female and male friendships, the integrity of art dealerships and the father-son relationship will touch any reader’s mind in a sophisticated way, infused with the sadness of human failure to love one another.

“Lost for words” by Stephanie Butland

Standard

“A book is a match in the smoking second between strike and flame” – a marvelous opening line. One can say the same about the human life on Earth.

“Lost for words » is a story of a long path to self-love and empathy. Loveday – the name of the main character – moves in the blink of an eye from a carefree childhood into the world of a child in foster care, as a result of domestic violence.

The story line is nonlinear and the flashbacks are moving as they are narrated through the eyes of a 10 year old caught in a family drama, which keeps reverberating in her adult’s life through the choices she makes. The story ends a bit abruptly to my taste, as if letting you wonder about what’s next. There is a charm in that, I think.