Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Beauty of a Flower


I recently remembered this short essay I read in Richard Feynman's The Pleasure of Finding Things Out. Feynman (1918-1988) is a Nobel Prize winning American physicist. Read this and I guarantee you'll never look at a flower the same way again. 






The Beauty of a Flower
 
“I have a friend who’s an artist and he’s sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say, ‘Look how beautiful it is,’ and I’ll agree, I think. And he says – ‘you see, I as an artist can see how beautiful this is, but you as a scientist, oh, take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing.’ And I think that he’s kind of nutty.

First of all, the beauty he sees is available to other people  and to me, too, I believe, although I might not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is; but I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time I can see much more about the flower than he sees. I can imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside which also have beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at a small dimension of one centimeter, there is also beauty at a smaller dimension, the inner structure.

Also the processes, the fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting – it means that insects can see color. It adds a question: Does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which shows that a science knowledge only adds to the excitement and mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds; I don’t understand how it subtracts.”

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Withered Arm


I'm not a fan of short stories and I think it's because I love meatier novels that have an enthralling plot or characters that you get too know so well. A much longer narrative is needed for either of these elements to be in place. Short stories usually leave me hanging and wishing they were longer. I haven't read a lot of short stories but one that does stand out is The Withered Arm by Thomas Hardy. It's the story that led me to read and love other Hardy novels including Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Far From the Madding Crowd. In spite of being a short story, The Withered Arm has a riveting plot and character development. In fact, it takes place over a number of years. It's a story of love, jealousy, hate, obsession, the supernatural and witchcraft. All this in just 32 pages.

Set in Hardy's fictional countryside village of Casterbridge in the 1880s, The Withered Arm opens with Farmer Lodge returning home with his new wife, Gertrude. Rhoda the milkmaid, his former lover and the mother of his illegitimate son is envious and curious and asks her son to have a look at the new wife to see what she's like. Because she has borne a bastard son, Rhoda is ostracized by her neighbors and rumors abound that she dabbles in witchcraft. Her jealousy consumes her so much so that one night she dreams of violently attacking Gertrude who apparently has a similar dream of an unknown assailant. Gertrude wakes up with a damaged arm that over time gets worse and becomes more 'withered.' She is soon shunned by her husband who is disgusted by her arm and her obsession with it. Rhoda ironically becomes Gertrude's only friend. Through the years they both try to seek out various cures and finally find one through a conjuror who tells her she has been cursed and there's only one way to dispel it. I can't say anymore because it would be giving too much away. It's an excellent short story and the good news is that you can read it online here.

I hope this will lead you to read more Thomas Hardy because he is rather brilliant. I read this short story together with Mel of The Reading Life so do check out his blog for more of The Withered Arm.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Unit


Imagine a world where people in their fifties and sixties who are childless and unattached, are declared 'dispensable.' These 'dispensables' are rounded up and sent to a unit where they live out the rest of their few remaining years as organ donors to the more indispensable people in society. This is the bleak and horrifying future depicted in the Swedish novel The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist.

Dorrit Wenger has just turned fifty and is forced to leave her home and beloved dog. At first Dorrit is angry and sad but she soon finds herself adapting to her comfortable environment. The unit is beautiful and pristine, filled with lush man-made gardens. Dorrit has her own apartment complete with a living room, bedroom and kitchen. The only reminder that she's not really at home are the cameras in every corner watching her every move. The unit is also filled with the latest sports facilities, restaurants, cinemas, art galleries and theatres. In fact, it has everything needed to make the donors have a pleasant time while they take part in various tests and operations. Dorrit soon gets used to the cameras and meets dozens of people who are in the same situation as her. The enclosed environment of the unit is fertile ground for very deep friendships and even love. Then something quite unexpected happens. I won't say anymore in case you read the book.

The Unit is a page-turner though quite chilling and disturbing in parts.The author's writing is simple yet still quite descriptive. This is a cautionary tale and one that's open to a lot of discussion. It would make an excellent book club choice.

You can check out another review at Bina's blog: If You Can Read This

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - Sunset Park

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.

I love Paul Auster and in fact I just bought one of his books today, The Brooklyn Follies. While looking it up in Amazon, I found out that he has a new book coming soon.


Sunset Park by Paul Auster
Release Date: 9 November 2010

From Amazon:
Sunset Park follows the hopes and fears of a cast of unforgettable characters brought together by the mysterious Miles Heller during the dark months of the 2008 economic collapse. An enigmatic young man employed as a trash-out worker in southern Florida obsessively photographing thousands of abandoned objects left behind by the evicted families. A group of young people squatting in an apartment in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The Hospital for Broken Things, which specializes in repairing the artifacts of a vanished world.
William Wyler's 1946 classic The Best Years of Our Lives. A celebrated actress preparing to return to Broadway. An independent publisher desperately trying to save his business and his marriage.
These are just some of the elements Auster magically weaves together in this immensely moving novel about contemporary America and its ghosts. Sunset Park is a surprising departure that confirms Paul Auster as one of our greatest living writers.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Sun Also Rises


I enjoyed reading FiestaThe Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway the second time around. This is a book that's alive with the atmosphere of Paris in the 1920s and the San Fermin festival in Spain. Hemingway drew on so much of his own experiences of living in Paris and his love for bullfighting and it definitely shows in his concise, masculine prose and realistic dialogue.

The story follows a group of expatriates in Europe and their trip to the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain. I think this book is extraordinary not just for its adjective-free writing style, vivid descriptions and its depiction of the lost generation but for all the undercurrents and nuances of unrequited love. It's in essence a love story written by a man and told from a man's point of view and it involves a promiscuous and beautiful woman, Brett Ashley, who falls in love with just about every man she meets. Brett wreaks emotional havoc on the principal characters and most especially on Jake, our storyteller, who loves her with a passion but is ultimately unable to give her what she needs.

Hemingway with a bullfighter in Spain

Here are some quotes from the book:

"The things that happened could only have happened during a fiesta. Everything became quite unreal finally and it seemed as though nothing could have any consequences. It seemed out of place to think of consequences during the fiesta."

"That was morality; things that made you disgusted afterward. No, that must be immorality." 

"Oh, Jake," Brett said, "we could have had such a damned good time together." Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic.  He raised his baton.  The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me. 
"Yes," I said.  "Isn't it pretty to think so?"  

 I read this book together with Claire of Kiss a Cloud and Mark David of Absorbed in Words.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

My Cousin Rachel - Read the Book/See the Movie


"She has done for me at last. Rachel, my torment."

Did she or didn't she? This is the question that haunts the story of My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier. In beautiful prose, Daphne du Maurier spins a tale of jealousy, unrequited love, obsession and murder. Philip Ashley, orphaned at a young age is raised by his much older cousin, Ambrose. Philip is groomed to be the heir to Ambrose's magnificent property in Cornwall. When Ambrose spends time in Italy due to illness, he suddenly meets and marries his cousin Rachel.

"He was like someone sleeping who woke suddenly and found the world...all the beauty of it, and the sadness too. The hunger and the thirst. Everything he had never thought about or known was there before him, and magnified into one person who by chance, or fate--call it what you will--happened to be me." (Rachel recounting how Ambrose fell in love with her)

Months later, Philip receives mysterious letters from Ambrose hinting that all is not well in his new marriage. When Ambrose mysteriously dies and cousin Rachel comes for a long visit, Philip is at first suspicious of his cousin till he falls hopelessly in love with her.

Was Rachel innocent or guilty of murdering Ambrose? The question is not really answered and the reader is left to make up his or her own mind. But whatever the answer, the tension in the book is so intense as we wonder about the truth and squirm as our hero falls further into what we believe is the enemy's trap. As I turned page after page, I was dreading what would happen next.

After reading the book, I saw the film My Cousin Rachel (1952) as part of the Read the Book/See the Movie Challenge hosted by C.B. James. The movie stars a very young Richard Burton and Olivia de Havilland. It received four Oscar nominations including ones for Best Actor and Best Cinematography. A good film though dated in parts. Here are some pictures.




Do check out Cornflower's  blog for more on the book My Cousin Rachel.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Unnamed


I hesitated buying this particular book, The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris. The premise of a man who has an unnamed disease that makes him walk non-stop just didn't appeal to me. However, I had read a few good reviews and I was in the mood for a contemporary novel after weeks of Persephones and classics.

Apparently, this is a book that has divided a lot of readers and I understand why now. Tim Farnsworth, a middle-aged lawyer, has an undiagnosed disease that can suddenly compel him to just start walking for days on end. In the freezing cold, pouring rain or any type of weather, Tim will walk until he literally collapses to sleep. The disease starts to affect his relationship with his wife, daughter and his co-workers.

As I read chapter after chapter, I wasn't sure whether to quit or to keep reading. When Tim starts walking and stops, it's never clear whether days, weeks or months have passed. I was starting to get a bit tired of this unnamed affliction, but I just kept reading. I was expecting something to happen..something extraordinary. Just before I reached a hundred pages, a small mystery is revealed. Tim is working on a murder case where he believes the client is innocent. While on one of his walks, he encounters a man who practically admits to the murder. However, in the throes of his 'walking' attack, Tim is unable to stop and learn more from this unknown man. Ok, so I thought the book had just gotten more interesting but it suddenly veered off again to the trials of living with this disease. Jane, Tim's wife, becomes an alcoholic and Becka, his daughter, becomes his caregiver. After almost two hundred pages, I have to say, I lost complete interest and skimmed the rest. I can understand that the real core of the book is about a person living with a disease and how it affects him and everyone else and I guess that's what appealed to those that liked the book.

This book certainly wasn't for me. But do check out Thomas' review at My Porch for a different opinion.

The Lost Man Booker Prize



The winner of the The Lost Man Booker Prize has been announced and it's Troubles by J.G. Farrell. I wrote about the shortlist here . I haven't read this book because I couldn't find a copy but it does sound intriguing.

From Amazon:
"Major Brendan Archer returns from the Great War to claim his fiancee, whose family owns the Majestic Hotel in Kilnalough, Ireland. She is strangely altered, however, along with the hotel, which is in spectacular decline — cats roam its upper stories, the Palm Court is a jungle, and the last guests are little old ladies with nowhere else to go. Outside the formerly grand hotel, the British Empire also totters."

Here is what Rachel Cooke, one of the judges, had to say about this book, "Each time I read it, it seems to grow more wonderful. I'm not sure that there is such a thing as a perfect book, but Troubles surely comes close. No word is out of place, no metaphor over-worked. It is original, wise, and unnervingly prescient. It is sometimes very funny, but this is a humour that only serves to make the book's sadness, which runs very deep, seem all the more profound. And it has one of the best - if not the best - ending of any novel I have read: high drama followed by a soaring epiphany. As I write this, I find myself thinking that I can't wait to read it again."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bonjour Tristesse - Read the Book/See the Movie


Bonjour Tristesse or 'Hello Sadness' reads like a Persephone novel. I think it encapsulates a time in history, this time French, when the world was a bit more carefree but some things were still quite scandalous. I love the way it's written too, from the point of view of an egocentric and selfish adolescent but somehow she isn't unlikable. After all, she's only seventeen and we can forgive her some of her faults. This French classic written by Françoise Sagan in 1954 when she was only eighteen was an overnight sensation in France. The French newspaper, Le Figaro, on its front page, called Sagan "a charming little monster."

Cécile and her widowed father, Raymond,  live a hedonistic lifestyle, partying and having fleeting affairs. They spend the summer in a villa on the French Riviera together with Raymond's current flame, Elsa. The holiday starts of in an idyllic way with the threesome swimming and suntanning. Cécile meets a young man closer to her age, Cyril, and starts a summer fling. Suddenly an unexpected visitor arrives in the person of Anne, an old friend of Cécile's mother. Anne is cultured and intelligent and very different from her father's past girlfriends. Elsa is suddenly replaced and Raymond and Anne announce their impending marriage. Cécile's world is thrown into chaos as she fears her life with her father will never be the same. She enlists the help of Cyril and Elsa to help destroy her father's new found happiness but her plan goes wrong and ends in tragedy.

"A strange melancholy pervades me to which I hesitate to give the grave and beautiful name of sadness. In the past the idea of sadness always appealed to me, now I am almost ashamed of its complete egoism. I had known boredom, regret, and at times remorse, but never sadness. Today something envelops me like a silken web, enervating and soft, which isolates me." (page 1)

This is a novel about the self-centeredness of adolescence and the pain of growing up. It reminded me of The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley because both contain one shattering event that immediately thrust the protagonist from childhood into adulthood.

I also saw the film Bonjour Tristesse (1957) based on the book, as part of the Read the Book/See the Movie Challenge hosted by C.B. James and I actually found it more entertaining than the novel. It stars the stunning Jean Seberg who I later found out had such a tragic end at the age of 40. The film also stars David Niven and Deborah Kerr. It's beautifully shot alternating in black and white and colour. I loved Seberg's clothes and bathing suits. It's a gorgeous film. Here are some pictures:



Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Book Revisited: The Magus


A Book Revisited is an on/off weekend series hosted here. If you'd like to join the meme, just grab the image above and post about a book you've read in the past that (as far as you know) has had zero or little mention in the book blogosphere. It must be a book you enjoyed and recommend. I understand that it's sometimes not possible to remember everything about a book you've read years ago so just write a brief post and leave a link in the comment section below.


The Magus by John Fowles is one of my favourite novels though I know it's a book that people either love or hate. If you didn't like it please comment anyway, as I'd love to hear why. John Fowles is a brilliant and award winning British writer who strangely enough hardly gets mentioned in book blogs. 

The Magus is about a young Englishman, Nicholas Urfe, who accepts a teaching position on a beautiful but isolated Greek island to escape a doomed love affair. There he befriends Conchis, an eccentric local millionaire who starts to tell him the story of his life. Before long, Nicholas spends every weekend at Conchis' home where strange things start to happen. This is a brilliantly atmospheric book that takes you on a wild ride. Here are some quotes:

"It is not only species of animal that die out, but whole species of feeling. And if you are wise you will never pity the past for what it did not know, but pity yourself for what it did." 

"Girls, or a certain kind of girl, liked me; I had a car - not so common among undergraduates in those days - and I had some money. I wasn't ugly; and even more important, I had my loneliness, which, as every cad knows, is a deadly weapon with women."

"The craving to risk death is our last great perversion. We come from night, we go into night. Why live in night?" 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Recent Acquisitions


Two acquisitions today and both are books I've already read.

Talking It Over by Julian Barnes - I loved this book when I read it over ten years ago and since then its popped into my mind once in a while. My friend Yolanda who's visiting at the moment mentioned it a few days ago out of the blue and that did it! I have to reread this. This is the story of a love triangle told from three different points of view. I wish I could use it as my book club read but there aren't enough copies in Manila book shops.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway - I read this when I was eighteen but I didn't like it. I have a feeling my opinion will change now. I'm reading this together with Claire of Kiss a Cloud and Mark David of Absorbed in Words .

Have you read any of these and what did you think?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Book Club: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time


My new book club had our first get-together last week and I enjoyed it. It was nice meeting new people and it's always fun to discuss a book over a meal. Our first assignment was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. I thought this was the perfect choice for a first book. There wasn't much heavy discussion or debate involved because everyone liked the book.

A Whitbread award winner for 2003, the book is told from the point of view of Christopher, an autistic fifteen-year-old boy who tries to solve the murder of his neighbor's dog. Christopher's investigation soon leads him to uncover secrets about his parents' marriage.

I thought it was insightful to read the book from the point of view of an autistic teenager and to see how his mind worked. Haddon does an excellent job of conveying how literal and logical Christopher's mind actually is. The insertion of mathematical equations, puzzles and drawings adds to our understanding of Christopher's thinking. I thought the book was amazingly clever and I'm surprised at how such a simply written novel in many levels left me with a greater understanding of how autistic people see the world.

My book club loved the book. Surprisingly, one of our members seemed so knowledgeable about autism in general. She later revealed that she has a family member in the autism spectrum. It was fascinating to hear her own personal experience and she suggested for us to see the film Temple Grandin starring Claire Danes. I'd never heard of  this film or of Temple Grandin, an autistic doctor of animal science who invented a system to slaughter cattle in a more humane manner. I've since seen the film and it was intriguing so I do recommend it if you're interested in this subject matter.

 Claire Danes as Temple Grandin

At the end of our meeting, we asked every member to rate the book out of five. I gave it four stars. Though I enjoyed this book and thought it was very unique, I only give five stars to favourite novels or perfect ones. Our next read will be The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, a book I've already read and loved! I wonder what my book club will think of it.

After that, it will be my turn to host so if you have any more suggestions for book club reads please keep them coming. I'm thinking of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, a book I'd love to reread and I think it would  generate a lot of discussion. But I also wouldn't mind doing The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, Talking it Over by Julian Barnes, or something by Paul Auster. Hmm, what do you think? Meanwhile the hubby stayed up all night reading Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese. I haven't read it yet, have you? He says it's excellent so far. Ah...so many choices. If I only host once a year, which one should I choose?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

To Bed With Grand Music


To Bed With Grand Music by Marghanita Laski is not an easy book to review but I felt I just had to write this in time as Persephone Week ends today. I found this book compulsively readable but I completely disliked the main character of Deborah. Usually, it's hard for me to read a book with a character that's so unlikable but surprisingly enough I still found the book very engaging and I credit it all to Laski's brilliant writing.

The book is set during the second world war. Deborah has been left at home in the country with her young son while her husband is stationed in Cairo. Bored with her life at home, Deborah takes a job in London and starts to sleep around with men just for the fun of it. As time passes, she spends less and less time with her son and more time in London. Soon her standards are lowered and she sleeps with just about anyone for free dinner dates, presents and what-nots. She even goes so far as to sleep with a good friend of her husband who's back on leave....and just for him to buy her a bag! I found Deborah more repulsive as the book progressed and in a way I couldn't wait for it all to end. I'm glad I read it though and it was certainly an insightful read. I had no idea there was this whole sub-culture of women left behind during the second world war who indulged in such philandering. I guess Laski wanted to convey how war affected everyone. War can destroy not just the men who fight the battles but the women left behind.

Friday, May 7, 2010

How Cool Is This?


I just have to post this as I'm absolutely thrilled! This is such a lovely surprise for me and so serendipitous since it's also Persephone Week.

I found out from Hannah at Hannah Stoneham's Book Blog, that my blog has been mentioned in the latest Persephone Biannually! This is high praise indeed. While reading her post, I was at first speechless and then exclaiming "Oh my god, oh my god..." while my husband was looking over at me and wondering what was the matter. During the last few weeks, I've read posts of some of my favourite bloggers mentioning that they've been quoted in the Biannually. Since I live in the Philippines, my copy gets sent to my mother-in-law's house in Holland. I had no idea if I was quoted or not, nor did I expect it. But of course I did indulge in wishful thinking.

Claire from Paperback Reader later emailed me the link to the reader's comments page. I got another shock when I found out I was quoted not just for one but for three books: Little Boy Lost, Consequences and Miss Buncle's Book.

Here's the link: http://www.persephonebooks.co.uk/readers_comments.asp

Thank you to all of you at Persephone and thank you to Hannah and Claire for letting me know about this. Thanks also to Thomas at My Porch . I borrowed his scanned picture of the Biannually to use in this post. Thomas is also one of the lucky bloggers who was quoted in this edition for his review of The Priory.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Discovering Persephone Books


I've read a lot of posts this week about how readers discovered Persephone Books so I thought I'd share my own experience.  I think this was back in 2005 or 2006 when we were living in Hong Kong and I wasn't aware book blogs or Library Thing existed. My next book read would always come from browsing through Amazon. I loved the feature of List Manias or "So you'd like to..." and that's how I came across Persephone books. Somehow readers who enjoyed many of my favourite novels would also list Persephone books on their book lists. I was intrigued by the beautiful grey covers and the fact that they were rediscovered novels from the first half of the twentieth century, an era I've always been interested in.

Persephone Books are not available in Hong Kong nor in any other part of Asia (correct me if I'm wrong) so I decided to order one from Amazon. I was hard pressed to choose which one as they all sounded interesting. I finally settled on Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, probably the obvious choice for a first-timer. I confess though that it languished on my shelves till late 2008 which is when I finally read it. Though it isn't one of my favourite Persephones, I enjoyed it enough to make a new order for three more books: Mariana, The Shuttle and The Far Cry. All of them were wonderful...in fact, much, much more than Miss Pettigrew, and since then I just haven't stopped. I sometimes feel like I'm the only Persephone reader in Asia and I wonder if Nicola has plans to distribute them here. I've enjoyed introducing Persephones to friends, some of whom have searched in vain for them in major bookstores in major Asian cities. It would certainly be wonderful to go to my favourite local bookshop one day and see a Persephone there.

How did you discover Persephone Books and which ones are your favourites so far?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fidelity



Fidelity is a heart-breaking and intelligent novel written in 1915 by Susan Glaspell, a largely forgotten Pulitzer prize winning author and playwright. 

The story follows the life of Ruth Holland, a woman who leaves her small midwestern town with her married lover and the repercussions and consequences that occur afterwards. Eleven years later, Ruth returns home to tend to her sick father. Though years have passed she still faces the censure and snubs of her former friends and neighbors. Ruth finally starts to reflect on the decision she made years earlier. Was it worth giving up her family and friends to marry a man she believed she loved? What is ultimately more important, love or society?


Fidelity is unique because it's a novel about marital infidelity that focuses on 'the other woman.' What her emotions are, what she has left behind to run away with a married man. Returning to Freeport, Ruth realizes how much she has actually given up, how much she misses her family and her friends. The love she now has for her lover is not the same as it was eleven years before. From an all-consuming affair it has now settled into a companionable relationship although sad at times for the lack of children and the difficulties of being shunned by society for 'living in sin. Ruth's separation from her lover while visiting her hometown gives her an opportunity to reflect on her life choice and whether it was the right one after all.

This is not a fairy tale novel. It is so realistic in conveying the emotions of everyone involved including Ruth's friends, family, her lover's wife and especially of Ruth herself. Susan Glaspell's message is 'to be true to oneself.' and that is what the word 'Fidelity' refers to in the title of the book. This is a very powerful novel. It's hard to believe that it's been out of print for so long and it's wonderful that Persephone Books has resurrected it for a new generation of readers.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

They Were Sisters

 (endpaper of the Persephone edition of They Were Sisters)

Persephone Reading Week has begun! This is all set to be a wonderful reading event hosted by Claire at Paperback Reader and Verity at  The B Files  from May 3 to 9. 

Most Persephone readers would say that Dorothy Whipple's best novel is Someone at a Distance, however, my choice would be They Were Sisters (1943). It was my first experience with Whipple and it still remains my favourite even after having read most of her books. I think my next favourite would be Because of the Lockwoods (reviewed here) which is still out of print. They Were Sisters is a beautiful novel that follows the lives of three sisters who have three very different husbands. Three different choices and thus three different lives. Lucy marries William, her best friend and has a happy and peaceful life though without children. Vera marries Brian, a boring man who worships her but finally drives her to have extramarital affairs. Charlotte marries Geoffery, a horrible bully who emotionally abuses her turning her into a depressed alcoholic. The children of Vera and Charlotte soon pay the price for their parents' unhappy marriages and Lucy becomes the only adult they can depend on.

Though this is a domestic story, it's a page-turner. I couldn't stop turning the pages to find out what happened next in the sisters' lives. Whipple, as usual, does a fabulous job of turning a story about ordinary lives into a gripping and compelling narrative. I didn't want it to end! Although it was written in 1943, the human emotions, trials and tribulations of her protagonists are so contemporary and could still happen today.

Whipple's writing is engrossing plus it feels so effortless and that's exactly what I love about her style. Her prose is pitch perfect and beautiful in its simplicity. This is a wonderful read that I can't recommend highly enough.
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