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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Books Read in February

Leninsky Prospekt by Katherine Bucknell is a little bit long-winded at times. It is a very
interesting psychological study set in the early sixties in Russia
when the Cold War is at its height. The heroine, Nina, is the
daughter of an American who actually defected to Russia. When he
died she had a hard time escaping back to America with her
mother.



Now she is back in Russia because she is married to an American
diplomat. The contrasts between the Russian and American
character is well-delineated, I think, although I have not had
that much to do with Russians!

The Masterpiece by Emile Zola is an enjoyable classic based on Zola's friendship
with the Impressionists. His descriptions of Paris are wonderful
and his main character, Claude, is sympathetic with his youthful
enthusiasm and ambition. However, as he becomes more passionate
about his art and his pursuit of the 'great work' at all costs, he
becomes more irritating but a truthful embodiment of obsession.

Autobiography of My Mother by Meg Stewart

A lovely Australian story about a famous artist. I especially enjoyed her tales
of Bohemian life and liked learning that the region around Circular Quay was full of artists like King's Cross.

The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux

I found this very complicated and got tired of it. I liked The Phantom of the Opera much more.

Grace by Robert Lacey: This is reviewed here.

Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda. (SPOILERS)

Gavalda enchants with this fairy-tale version of Camille. Here Phillibert saves Camille, depressed and anorexic. She meets Franck, his flatmate, and his grandmother, Paulette, who also feels depressed in her nursing-home. Together they enjoy a somewhat bohemian life and find romantic love and the love of a family. This was incredibly moving, but sometimes a little bit self-consciously 'cool'.

I will be reading Gavalda's other books and watching the film.




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