Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn wins the "Kay Book of the Year" award

Gone Girl Gone Girl was one of those reads that I didn't want to end, certainly it gets the "Kay Book of the Year" 2013 award (though published in 2012, I read it only this year).

What do I look for in a book that I would aspire to an award by moi?

  • It needs to be unpredictable.  Nothing worse that dragging through a book with no surprises.  Matter of fact, I'm still not even sure how the darn thing really ended, which I'm sure was the authors' intent.  The story takes 3 huge twists, each written as a different section.  The construction is brilliant.
  • I want to live in someone's life that isn't at all like mine.  I was never the spoiled NYC rich girl, and I certainly have never been kidnapped. 
  • Literary cleverness and/or amazing prose is a must, and though this story has more of the clever part and less of the breathtaking prose, the descriptions are very excellent.  For example, consider this most excellent runoff sentence.  "I was tucking her in properly and our faces were close, and her cheeks were a merry holiday-sledding pink, and it was the kind of thing that could never have happened in another hundred nights, but that night it was possible."  Nice?  The words take you away.
  • It needs to be well written by someone with a command of the English language better than my own. 

  • I haven't decided yet if this is chick lit as it is a love story, kind of, and a murder mystery, sort of, with a solid dash of sociopathic and other interesting personalities, and enough turns in the very compelling story to make you dizzy.

    This would be a fun choice for a book club discussion, or a nice present for a mature female friend.  I had read some great reviews, so I purchased it for our annual book club Xmas party exchange in 2012.  It ended up back to me after Y. had finished, and it will continue to circulate among our members.  I am excited to see what they thought of the ending.

    I can't wait to tear into Gillian Flynn's other novels, Sharp Objects (2007) and Dark Places (2010).  I'm hooked now.

    Monday, April 22, 2013

    Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel

    Galileo's Daughter I can't speak highly enough about this novel! It was well researched, and a delight to read.  This book both educates and entertains.  You will learn not only about life in the late1500's and early 1600's in Florence and Rome, but also about the works of one of the greatest scientist the human race has known.  Galileo's life was during a plague (of rodent type)  ridden politically charged time of censorship within a religious based dictatorial government.  The political situations were thick; there were inquisitors, the 30 Years' War (major, like WWII, but confined to Europe), and Pope Urban VIII who cared more for power than the Catholic faith.  Pope Urban VIII was personally insulted by Galileo's writing (with the help of self serving political advisors) which sent him on the path to destroy this gem of science. 

    The title is misleading.  This book is about Galileo Galilei, not Sour (Sister) Maria Celeste, his illegitimate daughter that he placed in a convent at age thirteen.  The author takes you through Galileo's life, sprinkling letters received from his daughter in each chapter.  Throughout their lives they were in continual service to one another, be it through confections, medicines (Sour Maria was an apothecary), repaired clocks, new window frames, or encouragement through correspondence.

    Other delights are the many pictures and the appendix showing a scientific timeline.  Not to be overly grim, but one of my favorite images was the sketch of the plague doctor.  They would strap on a beak, filled with flowers to ward off plague vapors.  Before reading this book, I thought they did this just to look special!

    The Galilei genealogy was something I continued to refer to throughout the reading.  His family played a huge part in his life.  Galileo fell into the roll of the rich grandfather or uncle who continually had family members begging for money (including Sour Maria Celeste) or semi permanent lodging (due to war or life mismanagement).  He had a very generous caring nature, and never did he turn them away.

    Is this a good book club selection? It depends on the book club.  Not every chapter is exciting, so there may be a bit of slogging through to be done.  If you have little interest in scientific experimental discovery, if you are not interested in Renaissance Italy and you perhaps have no interest in astronomy, then you are doomed to hate this book.  However, if the group has some foundations in science or history, then there is much to discuss.

    History repeats itself, and I hear the parallel arguments between religion and science today.  In Galileo's time, the heresy was that the earth is not the center of the universe.  Today, religion and science are still in conflict, only the topic of discussion has changed to the big bang theory or the evolution of man.  The difference is that the pendulum has certainly swung in the interesting direction of science as a religion (which isn't very scientific either).  On the other hand, often the other side will not consider scientific evidence because they feel that it conflicts with their religious beliefs.  They both need Galileo's intersession, where there is room for God and science.