Some thoughts on today’s choices. See covers below.
Me on Anna Karenina
Today we spent three hours talking about Anna Karenina in my class on Adultery in Nineteenth Century Fiction. Three hours was not nearly enough and yet the class has to move on to Jude the Obscure. I could talk about this book for several more classes.
I learned more about Tolstoy. As many of you may know, he was a Count and very well educated. He became religious in later life. Tolstoy despised the society of St. Petersburg. He had something like thirteen children with his wife and many other children through his liaisons. It took him many years to complete this novel and Tolstoy was most like the character Levin.
This is a novel of such incredible scope. There are of course the relationships-the marriages and the liaisons. Dolly and Stefan, Anna and Karenin, Anna and Vronsky, Levin and Kitty, Dolly and Kitty’s parents, who have one of only two happy marriages in the book. (The other happier relationship is a peasant couple.) There are themes of city versus country, accepting or not accepting the boundaries of marriage, doing what is expected/not expected of one in society, motherhood, aristocrats as compared to laborers, religion and, I am sure many more.
I have loved reading this novel. The scenes are beautifully rendered whether it is Anna and Vronsky’s first meeting, a ball, a wedding, hunting in the country, etc. The characters have depth and generally, like real human beings, have complex emotions and are not always consistent.
It is a big commitment to read AK. It has taken me the better part of a month. It has been time incredibly well spent. I remember that, as a child, for the longest time I thought the word Classic translated to boring. That changed when I read Little Women. If you think that classics are not for you, think again. This is a wonderful novel. I liked it much more than Madame Bovary which I previously blogged. Pick it up and see what you
The Wicked Girls
From School Library Journal on The Mysterious Benedict Society
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The trend for Scandinavian mysteries continues. My daughter pointed out an additional trend in these northern novels, when she observed that they include so many enticing food details and scenes of ordinary, daily life. I wanted to eat with Nora and to visit the island of Sandham where she lives for the summer.
Viveca Sten is an author I did not know. I just finished Still Waters and have immediately plunged into Closed Circles, the next in the series. In her own country, Ms. Sten has sold millions of books. I think that U.S. readers could also enjoy hunkering down with her novels. The main characters come fully to life in a way that makes me want to follow them through the next books. The final solution to the mystery is not the strongest part of the book but I did not mind as I so enjoyed everything else in this fun read. Highly recommended.
Me on The Recovering
The Recovering is, simply. an excellent non-fiction title. The author, Leslie Jamison, also wrote The Empathy Diaries which was well received.
The Recovering is a hybrid book. In parts, the author shares her own history of alcohol abuse and her candid thoughts about drinking, her efforts to stop and her life during these years. At times, these sections read like a novel; the reader hopes for Ms. Jamison and keeps turning the pages to learn how she fares.
In addition, the author, who has a PhD, explores her thesis subject; she looks at the life stories of many authors who faced or did not face their issues with alcoholism; for example, there are sections on Raymond Carver and Jean Rhys. There is also information about many treatment centers (some historical), types of treatment and attitudes towards addiction over the years.
If you would like to understand more about alcoholism, read this graceful and moving book. Highly recommended.
Some other opinions:
“A sprawling, compelling, fiercely ambitious book…Its publication represents the most significant new addition to the canon in more than a decade…Jamison’s writing throughout is spectacularly evocative and sensuous…She thinks with elegant precision, cutting through the whiskey-soaked myths…Jamison is interested in something else: the possibility that sobriety can form its own kind of legend, no less electric, and more generative in the end.”―Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic
“Masterful…beautifully honest…Essential reading…The most comprehensive study of the relationship between writing and alcohol that I have read, or know about…The prose is clean and clear and a pleasure to read, utterly without pretension. Although the subject is dark, Jamison has managed to write an often very funny page turner…In short, The Recovering is terrific, and if you’re interested in the relationship between artists and addiction, you must read it.”―Clancy Martin, Bookforum
“Magnificent and genuinely moving. This is that rare addiction memoir that gets better after sobriety takes hold.”―Dwight Garner, New York Times
“A remarkable feat…Jamison is a bracingly smart writer; her sentences wind and snake, at turns breathless and tense…Instead of solving the mystery of why she drank, she does something worthier, digging underneath the big emptiness that lives inside every addict to find something profound.”―Sam Lansky, Time