The Gravedigger's Daughter
by: Joyce Carol Oates
# of pages: 582
Quote: "Yet she was drawn to gaze into the display windows. So much! So many things! And a girl's wan, ghostly face reflection super-imposed upon them, magically." -p. 179
This book is hard for me to review. It changes so much from beginning to end. The first part of the book is horrible. It's about a girl, Rebecca, who is living with her (crazy) family in a graveyard in New York after they flee Nazi Germany. She's abused in many different ways. There's a lot of bad language and it really bogged me down. I didn't want to read it because it was so disgusting and dreary. However, I didn't have any other books from the library so this was it. Plus, I hate not finishing a book. There's been a handful of books that I've put away without finishing.
Thankfully the middle of the book starts lightening up even though poor Rebecca's life doesn't really lighten up. What gave me that impression was the bad language tapering off and the fact that Rebecca has some hope. Whereas before she was in a bad situation and had no hope, now she's in a bad situation with hope.
The last part of the book is the best. Rebecca starts a new life and shows strength by forging ahead and breaking away from her past. The bad language is very rare in the last part of the book and everything seems more light hearted. Obviously she still struggles with everyday situations that get everyone down, and she still has to worry about her past catching up with her, but overall her life is much improved.
It was fascinating to see how the main character changes and have that change manifested in the language and wording of the narrative. The reader also changes their opinions and emotions while reading farther into the book. The importance of the past...and the future, is woven into the storyline. The subjects of identity and labels are also a large part of the story.
I recommend this book to adults who like "deep" books and aren't afraid of emotional stories. I think this book would also be an interesting study of feminism, so if that is a subject that interests you, this book may be worth reading.
The Gravedigger's Daughter
Another post that isn't about books! I'm reading a book now that is taking me forever to get through. I'm halfway through it though so I don't want to give up on it now. It just makes it harder to get motivated enough to read.
So here's something else I'm doing...watching TV.
My regular shows:
Lost (when it finally comes back on!)
I also like watching re-runs of Friends and King of the Hill.
My favorite shows of all time:
Shows I'm planning on watching in the future on DVD:
What about you? What shows are you watching now and what are your favorites? Any recommendations?
My reading time has been limited the past few weeks because I've started my own graphic design business. I design blog/Etsy banners, invitation/announcement designs, greeting card designs, business card designs, etc. I can create all sorts of graphics for webpages and postcard/notecard designs. I accept custom orders or you can buy one of my premade graphics!
Here's my webpage: http://octoberbutterfly.etsy.com
I also have a blog: http://octoberbutterflydesigns.blogspot.com
by: Joanne Harris
# of pages: 306
Quote: "'It sounds stupid, but I used to think that there must have been a mistake somewhere, that one day someone was going to come and tell me that it wasn't happening, that this was all some other woman's dream and that none of it could ever have happened to me --'" -Josephine pp. 175-176
What an enjoyable book! It was short but had a lot of depth. I love reading books that really make you think every once in awhile. This book may be considered by some to be "anti-Christian," but I think that if anything it would be anti-Catholic. Even so, I don't think it has to be about religion versus paganism. My mom read this before I did and said she felt it was more pleasure versus legalism and I agree. The Catholic church and paganism (magic) are used as examples, but the underlying battle is between legalism and pleasure. Also, it is a typical battle of good versus evil.
The story is told by Vianne Rocher, a wandering single mother who decides to open a chocolate shop in a small French town. She works hard to open the shop and make new friends. She quickly has an impact on the town, especially the "outcasts" such as an old witch, gypsies, an abused woman, and a man whose best friend is his dog. She helps all of these people and accepts them as they are. The other parts of the book are told by Reynauld, the curate of the village church. He immediately hates Vianna and her daughter and does everything he can to keep people from visiting her shop. He preaches against indulging in chocolates during Lent, and creates friction and sees every move she makes as a battle he has to retaliate against.
These two characters are completely opposites, one is good, loving, and accepting while the other is evil, filled with hate, and manipulative. However, it was interesting to see what the two have in common as well. Both have strong pasts that they continue to remember as the story progresses. They both had parental figures that influenced the people they turned out to be. They are both passionate and have strong desires.
Overall this was a very well written as well as fascinating book. The descriptions were intricate and delicious (they really are!). You should definitely keep some chocolate nearby while you read! I also enjoyed the fact that Harris bases parts of the book after her own life and family members. The book does have some bad language, but I definitely recommend it to adults who are looking for a good read or who enjoy the magic realism genre.
by: Robin McKinley
# of pages: 309
Robin McKinley is one of my all time favorite authors. As a matter of fact, her book The Blue Sword is what introduced me to my love of fantasy. Fantasy is my favorite genre (can you tell?) but before reading McKinley's books I had only started to read a couple of fantasy books that I didn't enjoy enough to finish. McKinley opened up my world and once I realized I loved escaping to another world through a book I was able to give so many other great fantasy books a chance.
I hadn't read Deerskin before now because I had heard hints of what happens in the story and I was a little nervous to read it. However, although some of the content was disturbing, it wasn't as graphic as I thought it would be. This is definitely an "adult fairytale" as I've heard it described many times, but it isn't crude. I actually think it was great that McKinley chose this fairytale (the original fairytale's name is "Donkeyskin") as one to rewrite in more detail for the modern age. Horrible things happen in the book, but they are overcome and good prevails.
The story is about Lissar, a princess and daughter of the most beautiful woman in seven kingdoms. Lissar spends her life in solitude being overshadowed by her beautiful mother and her majestic father. Her dog, Ash, becomes one of her only companions and sticks with her when she is finally singled out for a terrible disaster. Lissar and Ash keep each other alive and stay together in the months and years after they are forced to flee from their home.
The story is very emotional. The narrative describes everything that Lissar and Ash feel and we don't read much dialogue. The narrative also describes who said what, etc. Normally I find this very frustrating, but I discovered that it didn't annoy me at all in this book. I think one reason is because it does allow us to step back and not become too involved. It might have been overwhelming otherwise. The style fits with Lissar's personality and how she lives her life. It's interesting that it is told this way. It makes me want to go back and re-read my favorite books by McKinley to see if they are in a similar style that I didn't notice before.
I was also wary of reading this book because of the dog. I sometimes get bogged down in stories that feature animals as prominent characters. There was a part in the middle of this story that was a little long for me because of all the dogs. However, it didn't bore me and it wasn't too much of a chore to read through it. Just when I started getting tired of all the puppies/dogs the story shifted and the dogs weren't the main priority.
I was pleasantly surprised by the book and admire McKinley for choosing this tale to explore furthur in a very well written manner. I recommend this book to adults who enjoy fantasy and fairytales. Very sensitive people may not enjoy the book, but I still think you should give it a try. If you are interested in any of McKinley's other books I recommend The Blue Sword/The Hero and the Crown, and Beauty...these are my favorites by her and out of all the books I've read. Enjoy!
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