Monday, February 27, 2012
Mini Reviews: Pairing Books with Movies 2
The God of Small Things
by Arundhati Roy
I really wanted to like this one. In fact, when I started the book and it was incredibly slow going, I decided that no matter what, I was sticking with it to the end. At times it felt like I was trying to run on a beach, the faster I tried to read the more exhausting it was. The book is set in India and tells the story of a set of twins, one male, one female and their complicated family.
My problem with the book lies mainly with the structure. It jumps back and forth in the timeline with no real warning. First we learn about the twins as adults, then as kids, then about their mother’s life as a young woman, then about her relative’s childhood, etc. It’s hard to follow where you’re at in the tale and whose story is being told if you have to pick it up and put it down a lot.
The names made it more difficult as well, though that’s not the author’s fault. I wasn’t sure whether some of the names, like Aleyooty Ammachi, Velutha and Estha, were masculine or feminine at first. I figured it out quickly, but it was one more element to juggle.
The novel feels incredibly ambitious. It deals with India’s political climate, the caste system, cultural and ethical taboos, molestation, religion, family dynamics, incest, guilt. I feel like it might have been more powerful if the story was a bit more focused on a smaller number of issues.
I will say that my favorite part of the book was the descriptive passages. The author has a beautiful way of phrasing things….
“Margaret Kochmma’s tiny ordered life relinquished itself to this truly baroque bedlam with the quiet gap of warm body entering a chilly sea.”
…but that beauty wasn’t enough to make it work for me. I’d love to hear someone’s opinion on this one that’s familiar with Indian culture. I wonder if some aspects would have worked better for me if I knew the culture better.
Pair with a viewing of Monsoon Wedding
Black and Blue
by Anna Quindlen
Fran has been the victim of domestic abuse for years. She’s built a life around the lies she tells her family and friends when a new bruise appears. Her husband, a New York cop, intimidates and threatens her into feeling helpless.
Finally, she’s had enough and decides to take her young son and leave. With a new identity and very little else, she starts a new life in Florida. But even a new home and friends doesn’t help her shake the constant feeling of fear she’s grown to live with. Every new stranger talking to her son is suspicious and each wrong number leaves her shaking.
I don’t know why, but I always seem to lump this author into the same group as Jodi Picoult, Anne Tyler and Anita Shreve. I don’t read much from any of those authors, so I tend to confuse them. I think I enjoy Quindlen more than the rest, but I’ve only read a few things by her.
This book made me feel so grateful for the men in my life. My husband, father, brother, etc. are all wonderful men and I have never ever had to live with the fear of being hit. I think it’s easy for people who have never been abused, like me, to wonder why the women stay or go back to the men. This book helped give me a better understanding of their point-of-view and how hopeless those situations can feel. Quindlen did a great job portraying this without painting Fran as only a victim.
I won’t give anything away about the ending, except to say it really surprised me. I was expecting something much more predictable and instead I think it was much more realistic.
Pair with a viewing of Enough and Sleeping with the Enemy