Thursday, February 19, 2004

I really tried not to compare Tracy Chevalier's The Virgin Blue to her Girl With A Pearl Earring, to give the former a fair chance, but now that I've seen the movie of the latter, this is a difficult thing to do. I'll have to read her third novel before I make a definite judgement of her writing, but I find it very hard to believe that The Virgin Blue came from the same author who produced the magic of Girl.

Chevalier's first novel has a complicated plot, with two stories from different eras weaving together, their heroines somehow mysteriously connected. It's a little too complicated. It's not quite a love story, nor yet a ghost story, nor yet a history, but rather hovers among the three without settling on one plot. The author didn't give herself enough leeway to tie up all the loose ends, so that there's much that is left unexplained, which, especially in such a story as this, is highly annoying. None of the characters were in any way likable, and most of them were particularly unpleasant. Worst of all, their cruel and immoral actions seemed to come out of nowhere--for the most part they were unexplained, random, and unresolved. I found it a disturbing book, and almost didn't finish it.

Later, on a positive note, I'll post about the lovely, lovely movie of Girl With A Pearl Earring...

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Back to the desert. Boy, do I like humidity! I never thought I would, having lived all my life in severely dry climates, but curly hair, moisturized skin, and pampered lungs are certainly things I could get used to. And I don't think I have ever had a more relaxing time than those ten days on Kauai--it was such a luxury to know that we never had to do anything we didn't want to! We did get in a lot of hiking, all over the beautiful island, and spent quite a bit of time on various beaches, but mostly we read. It was wonderful. Odious, of course, hurried through his books much faster than I through mine, so that we had to make an emergency run to Borders; however, he did NOT read all of Heidegger's Being and Time--I TOLD him he'd want beach reads, not nasty German philosophers. Ah well.

So I read the last book in the Farseer trilogy, Assassin's Quest, on the plane to Hawaii, which I think was a bad idea. I was so moved by it, so lost in that world, that coming back to this one was a dreadful wrench and horrible disappointment. I have not felt like that since The Deed of Paksenarrion--the lose and injustice of being torn from that world back to this one is a tragedy hardly to be spoken of. I am not easily moved to tears, yet I wept at the closing of the door, and at my helplessness to aid the people who suffered so and were not rewarded with the happiness they sought and deserved. There aren't many books about which I say this, and few of them are fantasy, but Fitz and Burrich and the Fool and Kettricken and Nighteyes are my friends. I don't know any higher recommendation that that.

I had taken the first two books of the following trilogy (The Tawny Man), and Odious breathed down my neck to read them next (he'd read the Farseer books previously); fortunately the third came out just a few days after we both finished those, and we raced to a bookstore to obtain it. The story continues after fifteen years of Fitz's self-inflicted exile, and brings the lives of all the characters to a conclusion I never would have thought possible. Again I wept for them all and felt lost coming back to this world. These are books that have gained a permanent place on our shelves--or they will when we finally get around to putting up a new bookcase.