Rating: 3 Harvest A Novel by Jim Crace 2013 / 224 pages
From Goodreads: In effortless and tender prose, Jim Crace details the unraveling of a pastoral idyll in the wake of economic progress. His tale is timeless and unsettling, framed by a beautifully evoked world that will linger in your memory long after you finish reading.
But it wasn’t effortless prose.
As much as I wanted to like Jim Crace’s Harvest, a novel that is reported to be his last, I often found myself avoiding it. Yes, the book’s prose was beautiful. Yes, it was a tough and interesting premise. Yes, there is no question that Jim Crace is a respected author who has written another novel that is being widely discussed across literary circles. It just was not the book for me.
Rating: 3 (3.5) The Luminaries A Novel by Eleanor Catton 2013 / 848 Pages
Over on the Literary Hoarders site, you may have noticed on our side bar to your right that what I was “Currently Reading” was The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. It must have been showing I was “currently reading” it for well over a month, perhaps longer. For me, straight up and honest, it certainly felt like I was chained to this book for many, many months. Indeed, I easily and readily found a great number of times to put it aside and read other books all the while, four (4!) to be exact, and contemplated two others.
Rating: 3 The Marrying of Chani Kaufman A Novel by Eve Harris 2013/350 pages
So, I’ve spent the past few weeks knee-deep in the Frum (Orthodox Jewish) world. That’s basically what Eve Harris’s The Marrying of Chani Kaufman was. It took me forever to read this. I’m usually a speedy reader, and this? This I had a hard time picking up. It’s not that it was a bad book; it just lacked any excitement for me.
Harris depicted the insular and oppressive world of Orthodox Judaism in England in modern times. This could, however, be anywhere: London, Brooklyn, Jerusalem, and really, nearly any time period as well. I myself am Jewish, and found myself rather familiar with much (though not all) of the terminology – often in Yiddish form. However, I imagine if you weren’t familiar, the glossary attheback (especially in e-book form) did little to help you decipher certain things.
Five Star Billionaire A Novel by Tash Aw 2013 / 400 Pages
I read the synopsis for this one about two weeks before I started reading thinking that a humorous look at rich Asians in Singapore would be just the thing to ease me into this year’s BookerMarks project. As I got to about the 3rd or 4th chapter (still waiting for the hilarity to kick in) I realized this wasn’t the book I thought it was (Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan). Five Star Billionaire is actually a kind of boring book about depressing Malaysian immigrants pretending to be people they are not living in Shanghai. Oops! My bad!!
The Testament of Mary A Novel by Colm Tóibín 2012 / 96 Pages
Whenever a writer gives voice to a religious figure, there is bound to be controversy, and this is certainly true for Colm Tóibín’s Man Booker Prize-nominated novella, The Testament of Mary. Told from Mary’s perspective, the story recounts Mary’s experience during the capture and crucifixion of her son, Jesus. Tóibín’s portrait of the Virgin Mother is not the typical Christian vision of a saintly and martyred woman – but of a grieving mother who is angry at the world and the heavens for the lifetime of pain and suffering she has endured.
A Novel by Jim Crace
2013 / 224 pages
Jim Crace’s Harvest has the best odds of winning the 2013 Man Booker according to The Daily Beast, the online home of Newsweek Magazine. Thus, I chose Harvest as my third long listed book to read. The book is a first person narrative from the point of view of the widower and former man servant, Walter Thrask. Walter is a villager who tells the story of all things that have gone wrong in his village the week after the year’s harvest. The time and location of the book are unknown, but I figure it takes place in the English countryside sometime in the 1800s. The writing itself is in a nice descriptive tone. The plot is intriguing. The way Crace brings it all together will bore you to tears! Make sure you have a bottle of 5 hour energy handy for this snooze fest.