May 18, 2015

El Talmud de Viena - first part

Time passes by and "El Talmud de Viena" is waiting for our comments.

How are you liking the book?

The first part of the novel is an amazing puzzle of characters that get us to know the great variety of protagonists who form the story (and who formed history). While reading how their stories evolve and get interlinked, it is easy to find oneself loving some of the characters, and deeply disliking others. 
As we turn the pages, without almost realizing it, we can feel how one of the worst parts of history is approaching...



Mar 2, 2015

Our spring book is... "El Talmud de Viena", by G.H. Guarch

I think it is our first time with an "only in Spanish" book.
Shall we still keep the comments in English? Whatever your inspiration tells you. 

For now, just go to your favorite bookstore, amazon or shelf, and begin reading the story. Once you start, you will see it is a difficult book to put down.

Suggested comments' schedule coming soon.

Thanks!

Jan 23, 2015

Ghana must go: last part

So I actually finished the book a few days ago, but had it almost finished for a few weeks. I have enjoyed the book, as it makes a radiography of a family, quite dramatic certainly, but mostly sounds real... I was thinking, it is just bit too much the part (ATTENTION BIG SPOILER!!!) where the twins are sent to Nigeria and dark affairs happen with their relatives. This kind of situation for sure happens, but it was kind of excessive for me in the book. They have enough drama, and the twins could have been sent to Nigeria to live with some relatives, and that was already bad enough, being far from their parents and other siblings, no need to add sexual controversy? What do you think?
For the rest, characters were very well depicted, family contradictions amazing and the fact that life brings surprises, nice or less nice, also very well shown. I could relate to the characters in many of their different points of life, and that for sure, make the book worth reading in itself for me.
I wonder how much of this book has an autobiographical component and how much is fiction, as some times, some details, made me think "oh wow, this has happened!!".
I like that the story brings out the different atmospheres, in the USA, richer, poorer, in Ghana, in Nigeria, how difficult life can be for immigrants in new countries, besides their having a good potential, how far can their country be. It was terrible, but I think this is something that happens a lot, the fact that they go back to Ghana once the mother is dying and they don't get there in time. And they were in a position where they could actually make the travel, how many people can't?
I'm intrigued about these cultures and countries, as they say "Africa is not a country", and very curious to know more about Ghana, apparently one of the countries with more potential and where more progress has been made, and Nigeria, the big and mighty full of contradictions and extremes. I would like to see maybe some films, where we can get a little more of this, any recommendations? The movie industry in Lagos is apparently huge, we don't ever get one of those, right?
I know there is a National Geographic report coming out soon, and will try to get it.
So "Ghana must go" is an interesting, dramatic novel that made me thirsty for more current African reads, films...

Dec 6, 2014

Ghana must go: first part

I wonder if you are having the same feeling. I had actually no idea what the book was about, but the title, the cover, somehow made me think that this was going to be a story of hope, progress, maybe adventure. And up to now, I was wrong. Ghana must go has so far presented some family stories, migration, but mostly loneliness and melancholy. So I'm disappointed, cause I wasn't expecting a drama, but at the same time, it is very well written, so well it hurts at times. I still have about two thirds to finish, so the story, maybe hasn't actually started, and it turns out to be what I was expecting, but this is a hard beginning.
There are two things that catch my attention, the relationship of the characters with their houses/ homes (the story with the carpenter and the tree), and the family relationships, so close and so remote. Thoughts?

Oct 19, 2014

The Custom of the Country: final chapters (31 to 46)

Does Undine after all that manipulation, live to a happy ending? I don't think so. If we can extract some conclusions here, I would say, enjoy the day! She is constantly wanting what she doesn't have and as soon as she gets it, ooopsss, something new on sight!
Did you like the end?

Sep 26, 2014

Chapters 21 − 30, "The Custom of the Country", by Edith Wharton

How are you enjoying the book so far? Does Undine's level of ambition and self-centrism still have the capacity to surprise you? What do you think about how the whole divorce and Mr. Van Degen story ended up? Did you feel sorry for Undine…? And what/who else do you think Undine will try to manipulate next to pursue what she thinks is of her right?
The book is certainly full of surprises...

Aug 22, 2014

Chapters 11-20, "The Custom of the Country", by Edith Wharton

Undine's ambition, bad taste, and selfishness seem to be growing as we advance in the book and her life. 
In these chapters, the marriage takes place and the marriage ends. Does it happen too fast, too slow, or do you find it has the perfect pace?
We get to know Undine as a wife and mother, and we see how these "circumstances" don't seem to change much her aspirations and rhythm of life.  
Although the book is a constant critic of the American society it portraits, at one point in these chapters the author provides a direct and explicit analysis of the man-woman relationship and "the customs of the country" through the character of Mr. Bowen. Do you agree with his vision? Do you think it belongs to the old times or do you see something of it in nowadays society? What about his perception of the European marriage?

Looking forward to keep reading your thoughts!

Aug 4, 2014

First part: "The Custom of the Country", by Edith Wharton

Is it me, or this Undine girl we have actually met somewhere? It is amazing how real the characters are! What do you think of her? She is capable of manipulating her own parents, but once out in society she is copying every other "high society" lady... Will she grow and become a more mature person by the end of the book? To me, this smells tragedy!
What about the descriptions of society? Have we made so much progress? New York versus South?
I was surprised to see that the story moved fast, we get the romance and the wedding, and there is a lot of pages still to go! This is no Jane Austen (not I critic, I love Austen) but this is going much farther, reviewing maybe "the customs of the country"...

Jul 21, 2014

We are now reading "The Custom of the Country" by Edith Wharton

Get your copy and join our discussion! Check the schedule tab to learn about the suggested reading timing and to learn how to get your free copy!

Jun 20, 2014

In Cold Blood, third & fourth chapters

Life got busy and I have been postponing too long the wrap up post of our last book together. That, despite the fact that I had finished it some time ago. Not as soon as Mr. J, but long before the suggested schedule times. Once I started, I found it difficult to put it down. 

So, without further ado (and excuses), how did you like the book? 

By now I guess you have already read the interesting, exhaustive, and thought-provoking analysis of Jorge, to which I have very few (or nothing) to add in terms of wrapping up the story. 

I have liked very much the book despite the uncomfortable feeling it left in me every time I closed it and thought about the story, the characters, the fatal coincidences… The third chapter was so far the hardest to read. The confession of Perry with the details of the crimes, the description of the Clutter's fear, their suffering, the absurdity of it all...

In brief, there are two things I kept thinking about while reading and after reading the book:

First, when considering Perry's life and how bad it had treated him, his personality issues and instabilities were somehow "understandable". The bad feelings, resentments, hates.. At times, I felt deeply sorry for him. Having said that, her only alive sister is there to show how you can choose a different way of facing very harsh circumstances. 
However, with Dick is different. He had a normal, nice family, who loved him and took care of him. Does that mean he is intrinsically bad? Was he born with a mean, cruel nature that would show in any case? It seems Perry and Dick are two perfect examples to illustrate the Nature or Nurture? eternal question.

Second, and despite what I said above regarding my own suffering when reading about the Clutter's suffering, and the disgust about the crime and murderers, I still can't believe in the death penalty… That is a too complex and long debate to start here and now, but it is certainly an issue the book brings up. 

What a wonderful book. 
Maybe in the future we can explore more of Capote with Breakfast at Tiffany's?  

Macarena