4 Reviews: Finishing Up the Year!

OK! I’ve been so busy reading there has been no time for reviewing!! So, Here are my final 4 reviews for 2011!

The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes 

4 stars! A quick read that sucks you in from the start. It is a story about history– the history one thinks they remember vs the history of what actually happened. Tony is middle aged, happily divorced, gets along fine with his only daughter (really!!) and has recently inherited an artifact from his past. This prompts him to remember back to his school days, his 3 old chums and an ex-girlfriend. I thought fondly of Skippy Dies as he recounted his time in an English boarding school and could not stop reading until i discovered the secret brilliantly revealed at the end. After being disappointed at some of the recent award winning books (thinking Good Squad, Best Laid Plans and Sentimentalists) this one is FINALLY a book that was deserving (Man Booker Prize Winner 2011).

Incantation – Alice Hoffman

4 stars! A BIG thank you to fellow Hoarder Liz for shipping this one out to Windsor to re-establish my Alice Hoffman love!!! I soooo loved The Dovekeepers and was soooo let down by The Ice Queen that i had a question mark over my head about this author. Liz had to set me straight! her review said it all and i 100% agree! Click HERE to read. In addition this is one that MUST be read in hard cover only because it is BEAUTIFUL!!!

The Birth of Venus – Sarah Dunant

3 stars. This one, I listened to and I think i would have liked the main character, 15 year-old Alessandra, better had the narrator not read in such a harsh and bitchy tone. The story begins after an old nun dies. As her fellow sisters are preparing the body for burial they discover quite the sight– she has a giant snake tattoo running from her shoulder all the way down the length of her body. The explanation of the sight is the story of Sister Lucrucia– formally Alessandra Cecchi, a rich cloth merchant’s daughter from Florence, Italy during the Renaissance time period. The history part was very interesting for me as i have studied this period from an art point of view but hardly knew anything about the politics. It was a time where the famous Medici family had briefly lost their power to a fanatically religious monk called Savonarola. He did not approve of the luxurious way of life that families, such as Alessandra’s, were living and forced the people to burn their luxury items, including books and some irreplaceable Renaissance Art (The Bonfire of the Vanities). Alessandra had a passion for art and the family’s painter that would eventually get her into some trouble. She was forced to marry an older man in order to save her character but he was not all that he appeared to be! The mystery ended up being a good one so i won’t spoil it and will say no more of the story. One thing that this book did do (that makes some not like historical fiction very much) is place the main characters in the path of every famous real person of that time period. Whereas i don’t usually mind that so much, in this one when I found out who Alessandra’s painter/lover was I actually had to shout “OH PLEASE!!” to no one as I was driving in my car listening!

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake – Aimee Binder

2 stars. On her 9th birthday Rose discovers that she can taste other peoples’ emotions in the food that they prepare. The chocolate-lemon cake her mother serves her for her birthday is so full of longing and sadness that she almost gets sick. Sounds intriguing, right? Well, nothing happens but wining and weirdness after that! She pisses and moans for like 15 years as she “tastes” her mother’s affair (ew), pines for her brother’s best friend (no chance), wonders where her brother routinely disappears to when he is depressed (he can turn into furniture– ya really!) and tries to become closer to her father (who has some kind of “hospital power” that he is either too scared or too selfish to explore). In the end, after surviving on processed, factory, junk food (so that she doesn’t have to taste the feelings), she begins to work at a French restaurant where the owners/chefs are emotionally balanced enough that she allows them to to teach her to cook. She begins to be able to to eat food that she has prepared and therefore, presumably, is on her way to getting in touch with her own emotions. I say weird for the sake of being weird!