Friday, July 19, 2013

And the Mountains Echoed

I eagerly awaited this new novel. I used to teach The Kite Runner to my World Literature students and I've always loved his writing.

And the writing in this novel is good! I love how he manages to make the bleak landscape of Afghanistan sound beautiful. His love of that country shines through.

I'm not sure about the format, though. I was all into the characters when, poof, they were gone and new characters took their place. They are all loosely connected but....very loosely! It was like beginning a whole new novel.

Of his three books, this is my least favorite.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Skeletons at the Feast

I've read a couple other books by Chris Bohjalian and liked them so thought I'd give this one a try. It's a departure for him from his more modern settings. This one traces the plight of four different characters as they try to escape the onslaught of the Russians at the end of WWII.

Anna Emmerich is 18 when she and her family must abandon their beautiful estate to head west to stay ahead of the Russians.

With them is Callum Finella, a Scottish POW who had been sent to help on their farm. They hide him in their wagon. He's also Anna'a lover.

Uri Singer and his family were rounded up by the Germans and shipped like cattle to concentration camps. On the train, Uri sees an opportunity to escape and takes it. He survives by killing Germans and then impersonating them. Now, he, too, is fleeing west from the Russians.

Cecile is a French girl trying to survive in a concentration camp with only her positive attitude and hope to help her. As the Russians near the camp, the guards are ordered to burn it and force the women to march westward.

It's a harrowing book. It's a horrible book. It's a novel but is based on an actual diary so the atrocious incidents are believable. I couldn't put it down!

The Buddha in the Attic

My friend was reading this little book when she visited about a month ago. She'd just started it and was liking it okay. So, I decided to download it and read it, too. I mentioned it to her in a Words With Friends message and she answered that she hated the ending.

Well, I did, too!

I won't give it away, though.

The book is about the plight of Japanese brides who were purchased by Japanese Americans, married through the mail, and brought over here.

The weird thing about this novel, though, is there is no main character. The book is written in the first person plural so we get a broad picture of what the experience was like for these young brides.

All I can say is I'm glad it was short!