Tuesday, May 28, 2013


My Nana is gone. She died Saturday morning. I went to work on Saturday and passed a horrible thing. A deer had been hit by a car and she lay in front of it trying to move but her back legs were crumpled beneath her. Traffic was moving so slowly and I just stared at her face and started to cry. She looked so confused. I called my mother and she told me about Nana.

I am so lucky to have lived so long without really knowing grief. The past week I had been preparing for it, waiting for the phone call. I had thought of what it would feel like and how I would react. It was nothing like what I had thought. I did not think I would feel it so physically.

Thankfully I am surrounded by love and kindness. My coworkers leapt into action and covered shifts for me, while offering support and care. My husband has been so amazing; I do not know how to tell him.

Sunday while my mother and her sisters made arrangements, I prowled around my father's backyard picking at the dirt. I collected snail shells to show my sister. At one point I swore I could smell onions and hunted among the overgrowth until I found little wild ones. I came home with the shells, a stone with a hole straight through, and the jawbone of some little creature. I don't know what I will do with them, but finding them made me not think about things for awhile.

I have been home alone today, trying to process. I did yoga. I made soup. The tea kettle has been singing all day. I took some time and took a nourishing bath after reading Lindsay's post on sacred bathing, with candles, herbs (dandelion, sage, and rosemary), salts, and let them seep into my skin as I watched the steam rise from the water. Baths with herbs make me feel so peaceful, like I am the shore that the sea is drifting weeds onto. I embody divine love at every moment. I am so grateful that I had today to tend to myself.

Tomorrow is the wake. I will spend tonight in my mother's home, trying to offer what help I can.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

a heaviness on my heart

I've been in a haze the past few days. My mother's mother, my Nana, is close to death. I have never lost anyone close to me before and while I know that it is part of life, that we all must die, I am afraid of living through the feelings that come with it.

I have been lucky in life so far. Nana has had cancer twice and has always been full of life. My grandmother had blackouts while driving and a pacemaker put in and still is around to teach me to quilt. My uncle had a brain tumor and walked out of the hospital the day after surgery. My sister had heart surgery at nine months and bounced back with vigor. My mother had her lungs fill up with blood after her hysterectomy and thankfully was saved. I know it is not realistic, but everyone I know has always bounced back - I thought they might always do so.

I do not know how to handle death.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Beautiful Giveaway

If you follow my on basically any social media you know I have been posting about this giveaway this week. Wild Rain of the sacred life of rain is giving away a beautiful piece by Laura of Roots and Feathers. I love this so much and just think it would look beautiful in my new apartment entry way.Today is the last day to enter and I encourage you to throw your name in here! And while you are there please check out the overall blog because I think it is really worth reading.

Not too long ago husband and I thought we had a new apartment in the bag and were packing when we got a call that they had messed up some paperwork and given it to someone else. I was really upset and bummed, especially because of how disappointing our current place is. It is not a good apartment and has tons of maintenance issues that don't seem to be high on the list of priorities for our landlord. I desperately want to be in an area that feels like home and this place just isn't it.

So on a whim I emailed the landlord of what was my favorite apartment in Madison where I sublet for a few months when I was newly single. I just wanted to see if it would be coming available  Within hours I got a response that it would be at the start of fall and that there was a chance we could move in earlier. This place is beautiful, tons of light, hardwood floors and right across from a park. I am elated that we are going to be able to get out of here and into a new place.

Monday, May 6, 2013

fresh breath

I've been thinking about this blogging space. I think that I have left it again and again is because it is so specific. I don't want to be just a book review, I want to talk about how these books connect with my life and what's going on with me. I want to share more. If one day it is a book review and the next it is my thoughts on a video game or the way I felt when looking at a lone flowering tree in the midst of empty farmland then that is what I am going to do. I get so discouraged when I think of girlreads because I am usually blogging about a book weeks after I read it due to my desire to keep to a rigid to do list.

So I'm taking a fresh breath and turning this into what I want for it.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Please Look After Mom

I honestly cannot remember how I came to find Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin, but I am really glad that I did. This book won the Man Asian Prize in 2011 and has been an international best seller.

Please Look After Mom is told in five different parts with four different points of view, all members of the same family. The elderly Mom goes missing in Seoul and her children and husband begin searching for her. Chi-hon is one of the daughters, a writer who had an education that Mom could not have dreamed of. While searching for mom, Chi-hon, and the others, reflect on how they treated Mom over the course of a lifetime and what Mom's life meant to her. There are so many things that struck me about this book.

"You were caught off guard. You had never thought of Mom as separate from the kitchen. Mom was the kitchen and the kitchen was Mom. You never wondered, Did Mom like being in the Kitchen?"

We get Mom's life story over the course of the book, told from her children and husband. It is heartbreaking and seems so true. My heart ached for all of the characters in the book, even the ones who had clearly mistreated Mom before she went missing.

"After your children's mother went missing, you realized that it was your wife who was missing. Your wife, whom you'd forgotten about for fifty years, was present in your heart. Only after she disappeared did she come to you tangibly, as if you could reach out and touch her."

This book reminded me a lot of Big Breasts and Wide Hips. While Please Look After Mom is much shorter in length, it is a similar richly dense family story centered on the mother who does anything to keep her family intact. However, Mother from Big Breasts and Wide Hips was more admirable to me in some ways than Mom. But, I really enjoyed Please Look After Mom and highly recommend.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

How to be a Woman (again)

This is a reread from last year! How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran was previously blogged about here, so this will be short and sweet. I reread this book for a book club meeting and was really excited about hearing other's thoughts on it. How to be a Woman remained a great read the second time through. But the day of the meeting I had a pretty bad anxiety day and elected to stay at home watching tv. Not to happy that but it happens. I'm hoping to redeem myself and get to book club next month when we are talking about Bachelor Girl by Betty Isreal.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Crying of Lot 49

Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 is another book that is part of the big 1001 books to read before you die list that I am plodding my way through. I have never read Pynchon before and my only impression of his writing was that Gravity's Rainbow seemed like a very difficult book. But The Crying of Lot 49 is a slim paperback so I thought I could handle it.

Oedipa Maas is our main character, a young married woman who finds herself in charge of executing the estate of a deceased friend, Pierce Inverarity. Unsure about what exactly to do, Oedipa meets up with Metzger, Inverarity's lawyer. Oedipa begins to see a strange symbol everywhere and thinks it has something to do with Inverarity and an underground postal system.

"each death, up till the moment of our own, is miraculous."

The plot is difficult for me to describe because it was difficult for me to follow at times. There is a very long detailed retelling of a play that Oedipa and Metzger see. At times it seems like Oedipa is going crazy over all of these clues without any end in sight. And once I read this:

 "Oedipa wondered whether, at the end of this (if it were supposed to end), she too might not be left with only compiled memories of clues, announcements, intimations, but never the central truth itself."

I had a feeling that Pynchon had summed up the book for me so I just buckled in and enjoyed the ride. For a small book it was very dense but really interesting. Oedipa is constantly picking up on communication patterns and draws them into a web that gets bigger and bigger without getting anywhere. We never get the "central truth itself" but that isn't what this book or life in general is about. It's just the patterns we find in an attempt to make sense of things.

"This is America, you live in it, you let it happen. Let it unfurl."

While trying to describe this book to my husband, all I could come back to was this scene from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Secret Power of Yoga

After reading Yoga Bitch, I thought I might want to read a more serious book on yoga. My local library doesn't have a whole lot of yoga books readily available and so I ended up picking The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman's Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras by Nischala Joy Devi.

The book seemed very accessible to someone who has not read the yoga sutras before. Chapters ended with suggested exercises and meditation guides to reinforce the general message.

What I took away from it was two interesting thoughts. One, the idea that emotions are like weather that goes over our mental landscape, and, like clouds and storms, they will pass on and return in cycles. Two, I have often been taught breathing exercises for my anxiety and usually think about breathing in good energy and breathing out bad energy. Devi encourages complete focus on the positive; that by focusing on releasing negative energy you are giving more power to the negative force in your mind. Instead she suggests both breathing in a positive thought and exhaling positivity out into the world. I found this to be extremely helpful and use it all of the time.

Some of the exercises felt really silly. It's a little hard to explain to your partner why you are staring into a mirror chanting "I am divine" without feeling a bit ridiculous. And all it made me think of was Divine, which I don't think was the intention.

My big issues with the book were that it is clearly, clearly written for upper-middle class women who don't work. The examples were all about how to balance your motherhood and personal space or how to tell a friend that you don't like her dress (Devi says lie about it. Seriously.). None of the examples had to do with what I think of as actual life, at least as I know it. Not one example I can remember had to do with a woman working.

In the end I would not really recommend this book. I'm sure there are better books out there about connecting yoga to your life. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tolkien: A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings

I'm forever drawn to Tolkien related things, either for myself or any of the guys in my family, I have a bunch of the old paperbacks and this one was a recent addition to the shelf. My father read all of the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) and the Hobbit out loud to my brothers and I when we were small kids. Also fewer kids. So these characters have been with me pretty much as long as I can remember. Which means that my level of being weird over them is pretty high, and I can understand that not everyone cares that much about whether the LOTR is allegorical.1

Tolkien: A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings by Lin Carter reads like an academic essay from the days where you couldn't write an essay on Twilight for college.2 It is a delightful piece of nerd nostalgia that I really enjoyed, even if a great deal of it doesn't seem to be about LOTR.

Some history of Tolkien's writing years are given, but mostly the focus here is the LOTR. The book covers several chapters of summary of the trilogy, and it actually makes for interesting reading, if only to see what Carter chooses to leave out or talk about too much. Also you can cringe when he says that Eowyn is Theoden's daughter and not his niece.3 There is also a lot of speculation about the Simarillion and what that would further explain, since the book had not been published yet.

The later half of the book seems to be a history of the Epic Tale.4 There are many descriptions of ancient epic heroes fighting the gods to save the world that Carter puts forward as the stories that made possible LOTR. While I enjoyed learning about many of them, I'm not certain that Carter is putting forward anything too radical. It mostly seems like he is just giddy over finding so many things that seemed to inspire Tolkien. And I admit that seeing a list of names that includes my favorite dwarves is from a copy of the Poetic Edda is pretty damn cool.

I say read this if you both really like Tolkien and reading about writer inspiration. A good read, but not a must read.

Another reason why I read this book is because my husband, brothers, and my father are all rereading the LOTR together and meeting up after each book to talk about them. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!5

1. No.
2. Don't look at me, I wrote about Harry Potter.
3. I guess Carter probably didn't have LOTRwiki to help him out. But come on!
4. Eurocentric Epic Tale.
5. Who else is excited that I learned how to make footnotes?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Yoga Bitch

During the past few months I have been doing a lot of yoga. By myself, using a book from the library that has series of sequences to go through. One of my big goals this year is to actually go to a yoga class regularly. I grabbed Yoga Bitch by Suzanne Morrison because it seemed like a fun memoir written by someone who wasn't too caught up in the spiritual aspects of yoga.

I really enjoyed this book. Morrison is easily relatable to me, a little confused about what to do with love and life and a bit too attached to her family. She goes to yoga and is won over by her quest for spiritualistic rituals and awe of her teacher. Morrison travels to India on a yoga retreat to learn to teach yoga as well.

What I love most about Morrison's journey is that she is never completely sold into everything she's being sold. Especially when they start off by strongly suggesting drinking your own urine as a cure-all for everything.

"My awakening of my kundalini shakti, I mean, my God, is there anything more embarrassing than saying, "I've awakened by kundalini shakti?" It sounds like next I'm going to invite you to join me in a wheatgrass enema."

Yoga Bitch really worked for me much more than I expect Eat, Pray, Love would. If you like yoga or just good memoirs about looking for meaning in your 20's. 

Friday, February 1, 2013


Part of my reading goal for this year is to read more non-fiction books. I have a feeling most of them will have to do with feminism so be prepared. Grassroots, a Field Guide for Feminist Activism by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards was mentioned in a few magazines and other books I have read in the past few months so I thought I better check it out.

I have felt a little stuck with my personal activism lately and thought that Grassroots might kick me in the pants a little bit. It can be overwhelming to see problems in the world and have no idea how to do anything about them.  While not providing a clear one-two-three to-do list for activism, Grassroots does give a plethora of examples for the different ways women around America bring feminism to the world. Baumbardner and Richards end the book with a sum up of what their activism looks like and provide a 46-page appendix that points out great ways to get involved or just get more information.

Reading this book I found comfort in the fact that little acts are given almost more importance that big huge actions. It is really important to just do what you can as often as you can, weather that is going door-to-door for a cause you care about, sharing a good book with a friend, watching a movie with your mom, or any number of things. Grassroots did a great job of reminding me that the little actions I do mean something. And it gave me a huge list of people, organizations, and books to look up.

I really wish that I had had this book in high school and should I ever get a niece, she better expect to receive Grassroots (or some updated version of it) from me.

In other news, happy February! Is everyone ready for Galentine's Day?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Big Breasts & Wide Hips

Big Breasts & Wide Hips by Mo Yan was one I had been waiting for a while on library loan. Mo Yan won the Nobel last year and seemed to be the talk of the town and I hadn't read anything by him. This book is huge, and kind of intimidating, but trust me it reads a lot easier than something like War & Peace. It takes some doing to read this book in the office break room without getting weird looks. But the pay off is worth it for me, I could have read another 400 pages.

"In the brief history of Northeast Gaomi Township, six women have been transformed into Fox, Hedgehog, Weasel, White Snake, Badger, and Bat Fairies, all result of love denied or a bad marriage; each lived a life of mystery, earning the fearful respect of others. Now a Bird Fairy had appeared in my house, which both terrified and disgusted Mother."

Big Breasts & Wide Hips is the story of a family, primarily the women of the family. Mother is the main character I would say, as opposed to the narrator, her one and only boy-child Jintong. Mother grew up in the 1900's in a rural Chinese village where her feet were bound and tradition revered. Then the revolution turned things upside down and Mother married the butcher's boy. She has eight daughters, all by different men, and finally, finally has a boy. Mother is abused by her in-laws, raped often, and endures crushing poverty to try to keep her family together. Tons of horrible, horrible things happen to a lot of people in this book, so if violence is not your thing, be warned.

Jintong grows up with the biggest breast-fascination ever and does not eat solid food until he is well in his teens. Every woman's breasts hold his attention and he even gropes a few of his sisters at times. Because he is the boy, and thus the important one of the family, he is babied by all of them and grows up to be useless.

"Mother was rooted to the spot like a pine tree and I was a knot on the trunk of that tree."

We see the family adapt to the times, the girls grow and rebel and marry. War, occupation, peace, none bring lasting happiness to the family. Time passes all the way through to the post-Mao period in China, but to me the history was a bit confusing at times. Granted, I take that as my fault as I know very, very little about Chinese history.

What the book is about is a family, the same way that 100 Years of Solitude is about a family. While reading Big Breast & Wide Hips I kept noting how much it felt like 100 Years. The magical elements of telling a rich and detailed story about all of the people who affected the story of your family.

"Are women really wonderful things? Maybe they are. Yes, women definitely are wonderful things but when all is said and done, they aren't really 'things'."

This is one is the best book I have read yet this year.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The First Sex

Alright so, I found this book for a quarter and couldn't really find a reason not to buy it. A 70's feminist book about how women use to run the world written by a librarian  And boobs on the cover? Sign me up.

The First Sex by Elizabeth Gould Davis raised a lot of interesting thoughts, but you could really, really tell you were reading something written in the 1970's. Gould Davis often referred to the "American black" as below white people and seems to be a poster child for the Man-Hating-Feminist. She paints people and society in unbelievably broad strokes, and her message is that women are peaceful and wonderful rulers and men are basically shit-covered animals.

But, if you can get around that with a roll of your eyes and continue, she has more to say. Using a lot of references that I am certain are out-of-date, she posits that well before any record of our history, there was a society of highly evolved people and had already developed sea-faring ships and made scientific advances that would be forgotten from the world until our Galileo came around. This society was peaceful, environmentally friendly, and mostly vegetarian. It was pretty perfect, and all run by women. But those pesky men, dragging their knuckles outside of society came in and ruined everything and has, ever since, been doing his best to punish women for it.

Almost instantly I knew I could not take this book seriously. While I thought was she was saying was an interesting theory, and her reasoning seemed intriguing, I do not think that anything she says stands up on her account. I felt like she didn't fully explain her research a lot, not mentioning dates or just making blanket statements.

"It was brought law and order into a chaotic world by curbing and taming the beast in man and thus making civilization possible.'

The most interesting parts to me where were Gould Davis would get into evolution of the mythology and religion of the world. I was raised reading the Bible and I personally look at it as an interesting book that people wrote to make sense of the time they lived in, so my feelings were not hurt when Gould Davis tells us that Christianity was made up by women-haters. She expands on pagan mythology and how so many things line up with modern Christianity that for me was the best  part of the book.

The overall message I got from this book was that humanity doesn't seem to know even a fraction of anything, even about ourselves. There is so much out there we will never know, such as the mystery behind the Piri Reis map. The map is a very, very accurate coastline of Antarctic  that was copied from older maps. The problem with this is that parts of that coast line were suppose to be buried under ice sheets. How did those people make a map like that?What kind of ruins might be buried under the Antarctica soil? I've never even thought about Antarctica having soil under all of that ice, in my mind it was just one big ice cube and the Fortress of Solitude. Seriously though, it would be fascinating to know what those ruins (if they existed) could tell us. But that is just a small point in this very large book. And I do not really trust Davis Gould as a source on the matter.

If you are interested in reading about feminism's roots, as I clearly am, then read this one just so you can endeavor to never, ever sound like this. If not, then skip it.

Side note - it took me about half-way through the book to realize that the title must have been a response to Simone de Beauvoir's book, The Second Sex.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Awakening and Selected Stories

Book number two for 2013 is The Awakening and Selected Stories by Kate Chopin. I came to Chopin the way most people do, by reading "The Story of an Hour" multiple times in school. A professor of mine who taught the short story went on a bit of a rant about how much he did not think The Awakening was worth reading and so I avoided it for a long time. But it is a classic, and is one of the first big feminist novels, so I dove in. Plus it had been denounced at publication for being too erotic so that also pulled me in.

Edna Pontellier is a young woman, not very satisfied with her marriage or motherhood. She spends her summer at a large resort off the Gulf of Mexico with other well-to-do families and there begins to realize that there is a world outside of her marriage. She is determined to take her life into her own hands, and goes about arranging her life as she pleases. The consequences of her actions bear down upon her heavily, but once her eyes are open to a new way of living she cannot go back.

"She had all her life long been accustomed to harbor thoughts and emotions which never voiced themselves. They had never taken the form of struggles. They belonged to her and were her own, and she entertained the conviction that she had a right to them and that they concerned no one but herself."

The writing is beautiful, evoking ghost stories and paralleled to Jesus Christ even, which is explained in the introduction by Sandra M. Gilbert of this edition. Instead of betrayal by a friend, it is society that betrays Edna, and she rises above it, called on by a higher power. Gilbert posits that Edna's story is the retelling of Aphrodite/Venus, set in contrast to the Jesus Christ story.

I've seen this book get a lot of flak because Edna basically leaves her kids behind (at their loving grandmother's) to forward her own life. Frankly I think that is a shame. Edna is laid out as "not a mother-woman." She tries to keep up the emotions that society expects her to have of her children, and she does love them in her way, but she cannot be one of the women "who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels." Not all of us women are born to be mothers, and Edna did not have any choice in the matter. She did the best she could but she did not have to sacrifice her spirit just because she had children.

I have to say  that I don't quite understand my English Professor's dislike of this book. But then again, he really liked Moby Dick. For me, The Awakening was a wonderful read, and should be taught just as much in schools.

The selected works were also very good, but frankly I was reading for The Awakening. "The Story of an Hour" remains one of my all time favorite short stories, just under three pages and perfect.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Dare Me

Dare Me by Megan Abbott did not seem like the kind of book I would normally pick up. High school cheerleaders running wild until they get a new coach just doesn't pull me in. Normally. At least that's what I told myself when I picked this one up from the library.

Beth is the top girl while Addy, our narrator, is her loyal second in command. When their new coach comes in and whips the girls into a race for perfection, Addy is torn between pleasing the coach and staying on Beth's good side. After a local suicide, the team is confronted by the cops and Addy has to quickly decided who she stands with.

I was not on a sports team in high school, so the world Abbot paints is not super familiar to me. I was a wayward youth who would jump up from deep slumber at the sound of a text message much like these young ladies. What I noticed most was how much the book made me feel like an angsty high school girl again. Not exactly how I want to feel but I was enthralled with the book. Dare Me hardly left my hands once I started.

Abbott really impressed me. She conjures up images of the cheerleaders working themselves into a rabid frenzy before a game,whooping like banshees, shrieking veelas tearing apart a locker room flinging their bodies into the air before the crowd.

What I loved most about Dare Me is that for a novel about teen girls, all of the male characters (of which there are few) are pushed to the very edges of the story. As for parents, they are even further out, left to stray notes and small, unimportant memories.This book is all about the relationships between Addy, Beth, and Coach Colette French (are you kidding me with that name?).

I'm really glad I picked this book up. I tend to get stuck in older fiction and it is great to read something new this engaging. First book of the year!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Gigi and The Cat

As I am sure you can tell I am a huge Colette fan and picked up Gigi and the Cat while I was on holiday in Texas.

Gigi is one of Colette's best known pieces, what with that movie that won 9 Oscars and all. I haven't seen the movie but I clearly I need to. Gigi is a beautiful short story of a young woman (emphasis on young) who is brought up by her two aunts to be a woman of the world. She learns how to become a desirable mistress to a rich man. But Gigi decides to play by her own rules when it comes to the dashing Gaston Lachaille.

The Cat had my full attention in a way that Gigi did not. The title character in this piece is Saha, a Russian Blue cat that has a creepy soul-connection with her own Alain. Alain's new wife has grown jealous over the cat, while Alain wonders who his heart really belongs to. All three are living in a 9th floor apartment while their new home in renovated and the close quarters lead to dramatic outbursts.

"But at the age when he might have coveted a car, a journey abroad, a rare binding, a pair of skis, Alain nevertheless remained the young-man-who-has-bought-a-little-cat."

I think what detached me from Gigi was the lack of insight into Gigi's motives. Colette is at her best when she is in a character's mind, which she does well with Alain in the Cat. But all and all this book was lovely read that finished off my 2012 year of reading.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


From what I can tell, Caitlin Moran is the loudest feminist from the UK writing at the moment. She writes for The Times and tweets constantly. Her first book, How to be a Woman, was a New York Times Bestseller. It was also much loved by me.

So for Christmas I was thrilled to open Moranthology up. A collection of Moran's articles from The Times about all sorts of things, from the importance of libraries, the awkwardness of growing up poor, the absence of women writers featured in the news media, and two pieces about Downton Abbey. Hitting all of my buttons there, Moran.

I tore through the book in less than twenty-four hours. The pieces are all short and pithy and very often made me almost pee from laughing. I think this would be a great book for anyone to read. It's very current in that I  feel weird reading a book uses the word Tumblr and discusses events like Micheal Jackson's funeral and the latest royal wedding.

Moran is the kind of woman I want to be. She's funny, smart, stupid, dorky, and has great hair. And, because I too was a chunky poor kid who spent a lot of time at libraries, I think we'd get on pretty well over a bottle of wine.

"I think that, at the time, I thought that if I looked at people - particularly boys - long enough, I would somehow work "it" out. That I had no idea what "it"was, of course, is one of the hallmarks of adolescence. If I'd been forced to put money on what "it"might be, it sadly would not have been, "Whether my life would be immeasurably improved if I stopped wearing a bathrobe, tried to be normal, and bought a cost, instead." I was, as you can see, quite hopeless."

There is a lot of drama over Moran in the internet world. She seems to talk fast and loose about her view of the world and has a huge following of people who pick over what she says. And sometimes she says things very poorly or even just wrong. But she seems like a normal person in that she (usually) knows when this happens and does her best to make amends. Most of my knowledge of any of this comes from Helen Lewis.

This book would be a great gift for any mom, sister, friend, or stranger with an interest in pop culture and a sense of humor.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Wide Sargasso Sea

I love re-tellings of classic stories, especially when they have a different point of view than the original. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books and spoiler alert - crazy Bertha Rochester really needed her story told. Wide Sargasso Sea is told mostly through Anoinette's point of view, growing up in the Caribbean in the years before Rochester comes and sweeps her right up into his attic.

She lives in Jamaica, where she and her family do not fit in with anyone. Her mother's husband is dead and leaves Anoinette , her mother, and her infant brother alone in a mansion. The freed slaves do not respect her family and the white colonials avoid them. Eventually, after another marriage, the house is burnt to the ground and the little brother dies. The mother, who always favored the son over Anoinette, is driven into grief and locked away from society. CAN YOU TASTE THE FORESHADOWING?

"(My father, visitors, horses, feeling safe in bed - all belonged to the past.)"

Antoinette is under constant fear and relentless stress in her young life and is given a brief respite in a convent until her family arranges a marriage for her. We switch to some point of view from Rochester himself, that dreamy hunk of a man. He marries Antoinette because as a second (poor) son, he needs to marry someone with money. However, this is not a great match as we know. Rochester finds out about Antoinette's mental illness background and turns into a giant drunken jerk who for no real explained reason, starts calling his new wife "Bertha". Antoinette, who is so deeply connected to her homeland is dragged away to England and shut out from the world by a man who outright hates her.

"Above all I hated her for she belonged to the magic and the loveliness  She had left me thirsty and all my life would be thirst and longing for what I had lost before."

I'd go crazy too.

I found the book a bit confusing at times with the switching of the point of view and was left wanting more from Antoinette and less of Rochester. But the writing style is lovely and I am interested to read some of Rhys other works.

Side note - HAPPY NEW YEAR! Has anyone set any reading goals for this year? I plan on trying for 105 this year. One down and 104 to go! Wheeee!