Tag Archive | New York Times bestseller

Love in the Time of cholera #romance #bookclubpick #bestseller

Love in the Time of cholera

Synopsis
This is a story of loss love. Florentino and Fermina were lovers separated at a young age because her father did not approve of the relationship. Fermina was soon married to a local doctor. Fifty years later, Fermina’s husband dies and Florentino decided that the flame of love had never completely been extinguished.

Opinion
Our book club decided to read this book for the month of January and I was very excited. I thought I would like this book more than I did because, from the blurb, it seemed like a sweet romance.

I do think that the writing was very descriptive and sounded extremely romantic. The author painted a picture of every character that is mentioned with much detail. It made it very easy to visualize the setting and the people within.

BUT…

When it comes to unrequited love, I have a few rules. One of those is that the hero and the heroine should save themselves for each other. Granted in this case, they had to wait 50 years before they actually got together. I tried to be a little lenient because a person, realistically, is probably not going to wait 50 years pining over lost love.

Image result for you know there's a but meme

However in this book, I think the fact that Florentino slept with more than 600 women seemed excessive. Even when I tried to rationalize it by saying he was trying to re-create the love he had for Fermina, I still think he was a male whore. Many times, he seem to choose women who were emotionally unavailable. In the end, he chose a girl who was around the same age as Fermina was when he met her for the first time, making him a dirty old man.

Image result for you know there's a but meme

I would have preferred if Fermina had been a more likable character. She seems so angry, haughty, and arrogant all of the time. When she had the choice to choose love over money, she chose money. Then it seems as if she was bitter because Florentino eventually had money and wealth that she wanted from the beginning.

I thought there was too much time spent talking about the 50 years that they were not together, especially since they were not pining for each other. They live their lives. While they have their moments where they wondered what could have been, it did not seem that they had a burning love. I would have preferred if the story had focused on them getting to know who they were after the fifty-year gap.

I also took issue with the way that rape was glossed over and even romanticized in the book. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the author was male and probably could not adequately understand how that act of violence would traumatize a woman.

TOW Final Word: Buy, Borrow, Pass?

I say Borrow, but this was an Oprah book club pick. She liked it enough to encourage everyone to buy it. For me, even though the writing was extremely descriptive and beautiful, this was a difficult read because the story’s content fell short for me.

Book details

Print length: 357 pages

Series: No
Heat Level: 🔥 🔥

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The Secret Life of Bees #bestseller #historicalnovel #fiction #bookclubpick

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

3heart
Synopsis
Lily is searching for answers about her mother who died in a tragic accident when she was a toddler. Following a violent incident with her nanny Rosaleen and some racist men in their town, Lily and Rosaleen travel Tiburon, South Carolina. This town might be a clue to helping Lily find out who her mother really was.

The family that they stay with are 3 black beekeeper sisters. Here, they find shelter and Lily is able to search for the answers that she has had her whole life.

Opinion
The writing and imagery was good, but I could not fully enjoy the coming-of-age story because I was on edge hoping that these black women would not be lynched for having the humanity to be hospitable to a white girl. Given that racists at that time committed some very violent acts with impunity, I was not sure which way the author was taking the story.

In the beginning chapters, Rosaleen was put in the hospital because of a confrontation. I have two thoughts on that whole incident as well because I feel that was the catalyst for the Lily moving and taking Rosaleen with her.

  1. There is NO WAY that a black woman at that time would do what Rosaleen did, knowing full well that those men would try to kill her.
  2. If a black woman of that era had done what Rosaleen did and if the sheriff allowed them to beat her while in jail, I doubt that they would have taken her to the hospital. They would have beaten her to death.

I read this book because it was picked by a member of my book club. I hesitate to read books from this time period because usually the issue of the racial discord is glossed over in such a way that tries to make it seem like things were not really all that bad. Essentially, the white people were privileged to do whatever they pleased, and for the most part, they did not question the division and inequality of races. It was accepted as that is how society was and there was no need to change it (which is still a problem BTW). The black people were wise enough to counsel and support the white person in their care, while being content with their lot in life to be subservient.

Therein lies one of the main reasons I have issue with people saying that they wished they could be back in the “good old days”.

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But that is a post for another time…

All things considered, if you want to pretend that the ugliness of racial prejudice did not happen, the story is a heartwarming tale. If you or someone you know was negatively affected by the racially motivated domestic terrorism in the South during the 50s and 60s, you might be bitter like I was.

TOW Final Word: Buy, Borrow, Pass?
I say BORROW, but there is a large population of readers that say BUY.

Book Details
Print Length: 333 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0143124323
Publisher: Penguin Books; 1st edition (January 28, 2003)
Publication Date: January 28, 2003
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman #historicalfiction

The Light Between Oceans
3heart

Synopsis

Tom is the caretaker of a lighthouse and lives on an isolated island with his wife Isabel. When a boat appears with a dead man and a baby, Tom wants to report it. Isabel pleads with him to let her keep the baby and raise it as her own. Tom knows it is against the law, but relents since his wife suffered 3 miscarriages.

While in isolation, they can pretend their actions have no consequences. However, once back in tow, it becomes evident that the implications of one act will affect the entire town in some way.

Opinion

The book was well written in an artful way. It was very descriptive but I felt like the book was as tedious as trudging through knee-high snow. For example, when the author described some scenes and I wondered where the story was going. Was this important to the story? Does not seem to be. Does this give me additional insight into the character? Not much.

The pace was so slow, almost sluggish. In the first chapter, they find the baby. Based on that, I thought the story would have move faster than it did. Then the second chapter goes back to the time when Tom first started working at the lighthouse, before he met Isabel. There was so much build up, but the ending seemed rather flat, as if it fizzled out like a lukewarm, stale soda.

While all the characters experience different degrees of pain and suffering, the story was the most tragic for Isabel. Not that Isabel had done anything to endear herself to me, but I felt sorry for her desperate desire to have children. Three pregnancies which ended in miscarriages/stillbirth had to be heart wrenching. She had so much love to give a child, but desperation and isolation made her crazy.

When I started this book, I had no real expectations. I had a feeling that it would not end well since the whole plot line was centered on the consequences of not reporting the missing baby.

What good could come of that?

When I finished, I was not surprises that the story had no winners. While the story was interesting, I did not find that I identified with the characters. Tom had a screwed up childhood and acted as if he did not deserve any goodness in his life. On the other hand, Isabel was spoiled as if the world owed her.

Should you buy? If you like reading emotionally charged books that lean towards being depressing, you will enjoy this book. I could not rate this book higher because I like books with a decidedly happier ending.

 

Book Details
Paperback: 345 pages
Publisher: Scribner (April 2, 2013)
Language: English

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