Review: The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

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Read: The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

Stars: Five

Drinking: Lavazza Prontissimo! Intenso

The Improbability of Love is a sprawling novel full of intrigue featuring the seedy underbelly of London’s high art world.  At first glance, it seems like the usual contemporary fiction, but Rothschild has crafted the story so well that the reader is immersed. I only put it down with regret for work and sleep. This book has everything: Nazis, dysfunctional parent-child relationships, a sweet love story, and MI5.

What made the novel so unique from others in its class was the characters, particularly the titular painting. Found – rescued – from a junk shop by Annie, a broken-hearted chef, the painting tells us its story interwoven with Annie’s and that of Rebecca, Annie’s boss and heir to an art auction house. From the painter’s short and tragic life to Nazi looters, and royal hijinks all over Europe in between, the painting represented love to all who owned it.

She has the eye. The heart. She may be bog poor but she knows, doesn’t she? She can feel and sense my greatness. Like anyone, I need to be loved and admired.

Jesse was another character that I loved. He knew that Annie was struggling with both herself, her past relationship, and her mother. Instead of pushing her into a relationship or whining about being “friendzoned,” he accepted that Annie did not want a romantic relationship and instead was actually a friend. As an artist, he was fascinated by the painting and its mystery. He was able to put aside his unrequited romance to support Annie in solving the puzzle, even when it

The mystery part of the book was gripping as well, especially in the last twists and turns of the painting’s history. I honestly did not see the twists and turns of the last quarter of the book coming.

The Improbability of Love is a fun, lighthearted mystery. I highly recommend it.

 

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

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Read: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Stars: Five

Do you like having your heart ripped out of your chest, stomped on, and then shredded? Then you will love A Thousand Splendid Suns. Hosseini is the master of getting your hopes up, making you think that finally, something good will happen, and then destroying everything. The lives of Mariam and Laila are a microcosm of Afghanistan over the decades from before the Soviet invasion to the American arrival post-9/11.

The plight of women in Afghanistan is well-known. The Taliban are a repressive group that refuse to let women out in public uncovered or without men. I enjoyed reading about the pre-war times when women were able to walk the street alone and to work. I was amazed that the Soviet-backed regime was more gender-equal when it came to education and women working. Like many Westerners, I assumed that women had been covered in Afghanistan since Islam arrived. It makes the laws against women when the Taliban took over that much more frustrating – this is a country, and a city, in the case of Kabul, that has known empowered women who participated in economic activities. The huge backward jump has affected the country in so many ways.

Despite the heartbreak, the novel is a beautiful picture of female friendship in a broken society. Miriam is old enough to be Laila’s mother, but they bond over their shared misery and Laila’s delightful daughter. Their friendship sustains both through the dark times of war and abuse.

Mariam is the true hero of the book. After her semi-happy childhood comes to an abrupt end, she spends the next 20 or so years miserable and downtrodden. Even the light from her friendship with Laila isn’t enough. When her story comes to an end, though, the reader is by her side feeling proud that she was able to end her suffering on her own terms.  Laila’s happy ending is nice and highlights Miriam’s sacrifice. It satisfies the reader after all the tragedy. But Miriam’s story is the truly heroic arc.

30 Days of Books – Day 4 – A book that reminds you of home

Read: Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman
Stars: Five

As with the “favorite” category, I have read many, many books that remind me of home.  Ex Libris, a series of witty essays by Anne Fadiman, has possibly the strongest association.  There are several reasons: it was a gift from my friend J when we were in high school, it’s about family and home, and Fadiman always makes me feel better.  I mean, how could an essay about excessive footnotes NOT make one happy?

My favorite essay is the first, “Marrying Libraries,” but they are all so wonderful.  Written over four years, they chronicle Fadiman’s life during that period but also her life story and that of her quirky family (her father, the late Clifton Fadiman, was the author of the Lifetime Reading Plan among many other books).  Mostly, though, this is a book about books and the love of books.  There is nothing that reminds me more of growing up than my love of books and reading that survived college and has carried over into adulthood.  I highly recommend this to anyone who loves books, words or family.

Now I’m going to dig out my copy and re-read it and think of home. 

30 Days of Books Challenge

Day 01 – Your favourite book

Day 02 – Least favourite book 

Day 03 – A book that completely surprised you (bad/good)

Day 04 – A book that reminds you of home

Day 05 – A non-fiction book that you actually enjoyed

Day 06 – A book that makes you cry

Day 07 – A book that’s hard to read

Day 08 – An unpopular book you believe should be a bestseller

Day 09 – A book you’ve read more than once 

Day 10 – The first novel you remember reading

Day 11 – The Book that made you fall in love with reading

Day 12 – A book so emotionally draining you couldn’t complete it or had to set aside for a bit

Day 13 – Favorite childhood book

Day 14 – Book that should be on hs/college required reading list

Day 15 – Favorite book dealing with foreign culture

Day 16 – Favorite book turned movie

Day 17 – Book turned movie and completely desecrated

Day 18 – A book you can’t find on shelves anymore that you love

Day 19 – A book that changed your mind about a particular subject (non-fiction)

Day 20 – A book you would recommend to an ignorant/racist/closed minded person

Day 21 – A guilty pleasure book

Day 22 – Favourite series

Day 23 – Favourite romance novel

Day 24 – A book you later found out the author lied about

Day 25 – Favourite autobiographical/biographical book

Day 26 – A book you wish would be written

Day 27 – A book you would write if you had all the resources

Day 28 – A book you wish you never read

Day 29- An author that you completely avoid/hate won’t read

Day 30 – An author that you will read whatever they put out

30 Days of Books: Day 1 – Your favourite book


Read: Love, Rosie by Ceclia Ahern
Stars: Five

Already, this challenge is difficult for me! I must admit that I don’t have a “favorite” book, although there are many that I will read over and over again.  They are like comfort food or a security blanket.  Love, Rosie is one of those books for me. It’s epistolary style draws me in and the plot, though I know it well, keeps me reading for hours. I’ve tried to analyze why I like it so much here for you.

Rosie Dunn, the protagonist, is smart, funny and fully flawed.  One of the reasons I love this book so much is that I identify with her – not in her life experiences, but in her personality.  No matter what happens to her, she stays positive and looks to make the best of her situation.  Her story is the embodiment of the saying, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.”  However, Rosie’s personality is only one part of the story.

There’s also Alex, her best friend and a strong addition to my fictional-character crush list (source of a future blog post? hmmm).  They remain friends despite the physical and emotional distances that separate them throughout the story.  I don’t want to spoil too much, but Katie is another favorite character, especially later in the story.

But the deep, somewhat shameful, real reason that I love Love, Rosie? The romance.  The very romantic and sweet ending despite all the twists and turns of the plot.  It’s not much of a surprise, but it gets me every time.  This is a book for women who have ever had unrequited love or felt like their love life was falling apart.  It’s for eternal optimists who still believe love will save the day.  So on a rainy day, take your tea and your blanket and curl up on the sofa with Rosie Dunn. 

30 Days of Books Challenge

Day 01 – Your favourite book

Day 02 – Least favourite book 

Day 03 – A book that completely surprised you (bad/good)

Day 04 – A book that reminds you of home

Day 05 – A non-fiction book that you actually enjoyed

Day 06 – A book that makes you cry

Day 07 – A book that’s hard to read

Day 08 – An unpopular book you believe should be a bestseller

Day 09 – A book you’ve read more than once 

Day 10 – The first novel you remember reading

Day 11 – The Book that made you fall in love with reading

Day 12 – A book so emotionally draining you couldn’t complete it or had to set aside for a bit

Day 13 – Favorite childhood book

Day 14 – Book that should be on hs/college required reading list

Day 15 – Favorite book dealing with foreign culture

Day 16 – Favorite book turned movie

Day 17 – Book turned movie and completely desecrated

Day 18 – A book you can’t find on shelves anymore that you love

Day 19 – A book that changed your mind about a particular subject (non-fiction)

Day 20 – A book you would recommend to an ignorant/racist/closed minded person

Day 21 – A guilty pleasure book

Day 22 – Favourite series

Day 23 – Favourite romance novel

Day 24 – A book you later found out the author lied about

Day 25 – Favourite autobiographical/biographical book

Day 26 – A book you wish would be written

Day 27 – A book you would write if you had all the resources

Day 28 – A book you wish you never read

Day 29- An author that you completely avoid/hate won’t read

Day 30 – An author that you will read whatever they put out