What I'm Reading

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Am I the last person on this planet to read anything by Margaret Atwood? Probably. I’ll also let it be known right away that I have not seen the tv series, but knowing that it was quite popular it inspired me to pick up The Handmaid’s Tale and give it a go.

To say I enjoyed this book would be a bit of a stretch, but that’s not to say I didn’t find it interesting. Anything regarding a dystopia needs to be absorbed slowly and carefully. First it was understanding how women’s roles changed back to something beyond the times of suffrage, and wrapping your head around that. Then it was getting used to Offred’s narrative and how she floated in and out of the past and present.

There are so many things about The Handmaid’s Tale that I found interesting that I can’t really mention without spoiling it for anyone who lives under the same rock I do and hasn’t read and/or watched the series. I will say that I was captivated by Offred’s story and was curious to see if she would ever find what she was looking for. It was also a shocker to see where Atwood took this hyper-religious, post-apocalyptic world. It was a little creepy in quite a few ways but not in a manner that made me want to stop reading.

Maybe the series is better than the book and offers more insight of the Handmaid’s literal tale, but Atwood’s original work just didn’t hit me the way I thought it would’ve.

My rating: ★★★/5 Stars

What I'm Reading

Pardon me as it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, let alone a book review! I’m going to slightly tweet how I format these posts, mainly by just linking to the book details on Goodreads instead of copying and pasting the entire book jacket. Why? Mainly so you can get straight to the review, but also because formatting can be a pain. Regardless, here goes the following review:

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Oh, how I wanted so much more from this novel. Being a Pulitzer Prize winner, I thought for sure that Less was going to be a page-turner, but alas, it felt more like a bunch of whining drivel.

Less follows Arthur Less as he travels the world in a “woe-is-me” pity party. Boo-hoo, he’s turning 50. Boo-hoo, his ex-lover is getting married. Boo-hoo, his novel pitch tanked. I had a hard time sympathizing for Less, to say the least.

I had a really difficult time staying focussed as things seemed to be everywhere. I skimmed through some paragraphs and I don’t feel like I missed anything significant.

The ending was disappointing and I really wonder how on earth Less (the book, not the character) received such a coveted award.

My rating: ★★½ / 5 stars

What I'm Reading: The Ghost Keeper

From the book jacket:

In the years between the two world wars, Josef Tobak builds a quiet life around his friendships, his beloved wife, Anna, and his devotion to the old Jewish cemeteries of Vienna. Then comes the Anschluss in 1938, and Josef’s world is uprooted. His health disintegrates. His wife and child are forced to flee to China. His closest gentile friend joins the Nazi Party—and yet helps Josef escape to America.

When the war ends, Josef returns to Vienna with his family and tries to make sense of what remains, including his former Nazi friend who, he discovers, protected Josef’s young female cousin throughout the war. 

Back among his cemeteries in Austria’s war-shattered capital, Josef finds himself beset by secrets, darkness and outward righteousness marred by private cruelty. As the truth is unearthed, Josef’s care for the dead takes on new meaning while he confronts his own role in healing both his devastated community and his deepest wounds.

The Ghost Keeper is a story about the terrible choices we make to survive and the powerful connections to communities and friends that define us. Here is a finely accomplished novel that introduces an exciting new voice to our literary landscape.

My review:

I picked up The Ghost Keeper on a bit of a whim. I had a bit of a hard time following the narration at first but once the story really kicked off and I got used to the weaving in and out of the timeline, it was a fairly captivating read.

The Ghost Keeper demonstrates how relationships can outlast a war but at the same time, change so greatly. As we read about Josef and his friend Friedrich we are shown how sometimes our deepest, darkest secrets can eat away at us no matter what we do to try and make up for them.

Morrill uses some beautiful poetry throughout this work, but I wish there was a little bit more to it aside from the various letter back and forth between the characters. If Friedrich’s character was a bit more developed, even, I would’ve been satisfied. Why join the Nazi party but yet, keep his friends safe? What was his reasoning?

After being left with a feeling of underdevelopment, I thought The Ghost Keeper was good, but not quite good enough.

My rating: ★★★½/5 stars