The Bone People

Monday, October 20, 2014

 
The Bone People
by Keri Hulme
★★★

Set in New Zealand, Kerewin is a reclusive artist living alone in a tower by the sea. One day a young mute boy named Simon shows up at her home and soon insinuates himself into her life. Simon’s stepfather Joe finishes out the odd trio of troubled souls. Together they make a strange family of sorts, but the darker undertones in their relationships soon bubble to the surface.

I’ve never read anything quite like Hulme’s style. It’s a blend of narrative, inner monologue, and poetry. Some parts feel like stream of consciousness, in others we hear what someone is thinking while someone else is talking to them. Usually a style of writing that chaotic would really bother me, but somehow all of the distinct elements work well together and create the tone for the whole novel. 

The odd group of characters that doesn’t quite fit anywhere manages to fit together quite nicely. The subject material is tough; child abuse and alcoholism are two of the main issues dealt with in the story. I felt like there were many unanswered questions in the plot and the final third of the novel felt a bit confusing to me.

BOTTOM LINE: One of the most unique novels I’ve ever read. I’m glad I read it if for no other reason than that. I did love seeing Maori culture through a new lens and getting to know Kerewin and Simon. I wish the end had been easier to follow, but the regardless it was a singular reading experience. 

*There is a glossary of Maori words in the back of the book, but it isn’t alphabetized so I couldn’t ever find what I was looking for as I read the book.

Five Years

Friday, October 17, 2014

Happy Five Year Anniversary!
 
We just got back from our own "There and Back Again"
adventure in New Zealand. It reminded me once again
that I'm so lucky to have you as my partner in all of
life's adventures. So much love.
 

Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Under the Wide and Starry Sky
by Nancy Horan
★★★★
 
Author Robert Louis Stevenson was famous for his novels, but little is generally know about the woman he loved. Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne was an Indiana girl that Stevenson met in Europe. The two had an incredible life together and this fictionalized version of it gives readers a glimpse into their world.
 
After reading Horan’s “Loving Frank” I wasn’t surprised to find this book was a full portrayal of a fascinating woman that was well researched. It’s truly Fanny’s story, in the same way “Loving Frank” was about the woman behind Frank Lloyd Wright. Fanny was a writer and artist before she ever met Stevenson.
 
Yet with all that being said, the book also offers a look into the author’s life. A few years ago I visited the Robert Louis Stevenson museum in California because I wanted to learn more about the man behind classics like “Treasure Island,” “Kidnapped,” and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” I knew he struggled with a debilitating illness his entire life, but I never knew about his romance or the rich adventures he had despite his ailments. I was amazed by how easily they moved from one side of the world to another, Europe to California to Samoa, especially during a time when communication was so difficult. Each time the moved they embraced a completely new culture.
 
*SLIGHT SPOILER*
The mental illness at the end of the book felt like it came out of nowhere. All books like this are somewhat hemmed in by the facts and real timelines. Plotting is more difficult because real life doesn’t follow a story arch
*SPOILER OVER*
 
BOTTOM LINE: An interesting book that provides insight into an incredibly talented writer. It’s not a perfect, but Horan has a skill for capturing the spirits of the strong women that are often trapped in their more famous partners’ shadows.