Friday, November 14, 2008

Review of Fifth Business

I thoroughly enjoyed my first Robertson Davies experience. My book club decided that we needed to get over our fear of Canadian authors, so this book was suggested by one of the two Canadians in the club. Considered a classic, Fifth Business tells the story of Dunstable 'Dunstan' Ramsey, following him from his small-town Ontario town through WWI and his career as a school teacher.

Fifth Business was a terrific book, not only because Robertson Davies is such a good writer, but also because the characters are so rich and well defined. Davies created dynamic and complex characters, without over-writing them, and for the most part, his story arc was very engaging. There was only one part about half-way through where I felt the story lagged, but it was momentary and picked back up within 40 pages or so.

Davies is known for his interest in Freud and Jung, and his familiarity with analytical concepts emerges throughout the novel, particularly with respect to characters' relationships with their mothers. I found this refreshing, and was impressed by his ability to write about emotions and behaviors of individual characters in a way that was not forced.

What I liked most about this book was the 'voice' of the novel - it was honest, often funny, but mostly sincere.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Review of The Memory Keeper's Daughter

I picked up this book at the airport in Amsterdam because I wasn't feeling very well and wanted something light and easy to read as a distraction. The Memory Keeper's Daughter was not a very good book, but it was not so horrible that I put it down (although you should know that I rarely put a book down -- it has to be REALLY bad). Anyway, this book was neither written nor edited particularly well. She also couldn't stop describing everyone as 'angry' -- but then everyone was so damn repressed (which I guess can go hand-in-hand with being angry). To her credit, the story was compelling enough that I wanted to find out what happened at the end. But I skimmed my way through most of the second half.