Saturday, March 22, 2008

Fire in the Blood by Irene Némirovsky

Fire in the Blood is a mostly enjoyable read, in part due to how quickly the short chapters move readers through the story. The plot is, for a long time, based on the infidelity of the young people in the book as observed by the old narrator and it's not till the end that you learn of his own youth, despite his frequent comments on the "fire" of the young. I can't say that I'm greatly impressed by the book, especially considering the positive reviews I read, and based on this work, I don't care whether I read any more of her work, but Fire in the Blood isn't a drag to read, either. (Otherwise, you know I wouldn't have bothered finishing it.)

Almost more interesting than the book itself, though, is the "Note on the Text" that prefaces the story; Irene Némirovsky died in 1942 in Auschwitz, and for a long time, all that existed of this book was the couple of pages; biographers later discovered the rest of the book entrusted to a family friend and editor in 1942.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

just a note to readers

Hi, everyone. I feel remiss because I haven't been posting as often as you expect me to, so I want to offer an explanation: I got married in December (see my other blog for details about that ordeal) and finally made it back to British Columbia at the end of January. I promptly tried to unpack, but the cottage is just too small to have places to put everything, so we've found a new place to move to and we're
trying to pack up everything I just unpacked plus the stuff from Roger's year of bachelor pad living and everything from us moving in before that. It's crazy what this place looks like. Maybe I'll post a video to my other blog so you can see how much it's not a reading-friendly environment. I can't sit down for more than 20 minutes with a book, and it has to be a damn good book to hold my attention that long.

But with the new place we're getting more space and I expect a much better attention span. I'm almost finished with Fire in the Blood by Irene Némirovsky, a book that's gotten a lot of press lately. Look for that posting as early as later today!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

Feeling Sorry for Celia is a very funny teen chick lit book. I think I enjoyed it far more than Louise Rennison's Confessions of Georgia Nicholson books (Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging; On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God; etc). Elizabeth Clarry makes for a fairly down-to-earth teenager in spite of all the kooky people around her. Her best friend Celia has, in the beginning of the book, run away to join the circus. No one seems particularly concerned, especially after they receive news that she actually is joining a circus. Elizabeth's newest friend is a pen pal from another school whose name she received as an assignment from her English teacher. Elizabeth's father has moved back to Australia (where Elizabeth lives) and is trying to spend time with her, and Elizabeth's mother can't quite figure out what to do about it.

What I like best about this books is how Moriarty's characters are so well developed by the notes and letters they write. You just know Elizabeth's mother is kooky (but not as kooky as Celia's) from her first note which is all punctuated with exclamation marks in the first half--the equivalent of standing in front of the fridge and waving her arms frantically to get her daughter's attention--and is followed by a few directions and a warning that if she sunburns her face "like that again," nothing will be left "but bones and brains and eyeballs."

Also included in the characters' correspondence is unsolicited advice from groups in Elizabeth's (slightly paranoid) head from organizations like, "The Society of People Who Are Definitely Going to Fail High School (and Most Probably Life as Well)," "Best Friends Club," and "The Society of High School Runners Who Aren't Very Good at Long-Distance Running but Would Be if They Just Trained." Sometimes these seemed a bit over the top--but who doesn't have all these seemingly outside opinions filtering through their head from some mysterious somewhere?

Recommended readers: fans of the Georgia Nicholson series, teenage fans of Bridget Jones (I liked this book better than any of the aforementioned), teenage girls who are required to read a book for some period of time during the school day but who don't care to read perceived-to-be -generally-boring long-chapters books, and just about any teenage girl who does like to read. Very few teen girls won't find themselves in some facet of this book.