Saturday, December 21, 2013

This Charming Man by Marian Keyes

This Charming ManThis Charming Man by Marian Keyes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was telling my daughter-in-law recently how I give all the books I review either three, four, or five stars, because I don't finish the ones I would rate as one or two. This Charming Man nearly fell in that latter category. A great deal of time was spent developing the stories of Lola, Grace, and Marnie. Grace wasn't in bad shape, but the other two women were hard to take. Lola and Marnie were both struggling in their work because they were in such bad psychological states they couldn't do basic tasks. There were also other reasons why I wasn't enjoying the book. Paddy de Courcy, who was the title character, wasn't in it very much and all the other male characters seemed horrible. I thought Marian Keyes must hate men.

Then the book took a few turns and I found it well worth reading. One of the men whom I had seen as abusive turned out not to be violent but instead was supportive to his wife until he was forced to make a hard choice. I sympathized with him rather than hating him. Other male characters began to appear who were decent people. Circumstances allowed Lola to change her life long enough to get to a better place emotionally. Meanwhile Marnie's situation was explained further, so although her life continued to spiral down, I could appreciate why.

This novel has one of the best descriptions of alcoholism I've ever read. It shows the disease in detail from the point of view of the alcoholic and also from the points of view of the people who love her. It also covers the victims of domestic abuse in a way that helped me understand why some of the women stay in their situations. After reading the way Keyes covered these two issues, I was able to understand the weaknesses of the victims and appreciate their strengths.

Lola's chapters were written in a strange, journal voice I found annoying. Most of the pronouns were dropped, along with words such as the and a. After I got used to it, I could ignore the style. But I still believe it was a bad choice, one that detracted from the novel.

This Charming Man isn't an easy read, but in the end it's well worth reading.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

A Storm of Swords by George R R Martin

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

George R. R. Martin has created a world of adventure, love, sex, and violence, then filled that world with so many interesting, unique, and complex characters it's hard to keep track. Nobody is safe in these books. They're filled with unexpected surprises that come when we're least expecting them. Up to this point, A Storm of Swords is the most surprising and most addicting novel in the series.

Two complaints I have with the first three volumes of A Song of Fire and Ice are as follows: The first is that nothing seems to resolve. The characters seem to be in a downward spiral that keeps getting worse. Many readers like this style, but I would rather see something resolve at the end of each volume, something to allow me to breathe. The second issue is the amount of time the characters spend traveling from one place to another. With A Storm of Swords, the first issue is still there. So is the second, but about halfway through the story takes off and there are few words wasted on marching.

Prior to this novel my favorite character was Arya. I still looked forward to her chapters, but in this book her story seemed to take a back seat to characters such as Tyrion and Jamie Lannister and even, surprisingly, to her sister, Sansa. Although Sansa doesn't seem to take control of her destiny as much as her sister does, her fate kept me turning pages.

I haven't seen the third season of the HBO series, which should follow A Storm of Swords, but I'll be ordering the DVD set soon. It will be fun to see this plot brought to life on television. As for the next book, I plan to read it but only after a break. Like I said before, I need time to breathe.

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