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Showing posts from February, 2010

The Sixth Lamentation by William Brodrick

"When I was a boy, my mother used to say that hell was the painless place where everything has been forgotten." ... "Why?" "Because there's no love. That's why there is no pain." ... "Then what's heaven?" "An inferno where you burn, remembering all that should be remembered."
from page 182
The Sixth Lamentation is William Brodrick's debut novel and the first in a series starring Father Anselm, a monk who resides at Larkwood Priory in England. Brodrick himself is a former Augustinian friar who now lives in Europe with his wife and kids. His debut novel is an engrossing, page turning, twisty mystery.
In the wake of the German occupation of France during the second world war, a group of students calling themselves The Round Table smuggled Jewish children out of Paris to a French monastery in the countryside. Here the children were hidden in the monastery's sister house's orphanage until identity documents for the chil…

Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon

Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon is apparently the latest novel on a theme that I seem to be reading for some reason. It's almost like the death and grief theme all over again except the book I'm reading now doesn't appear to be a part of the theme. Her Fearful Symmetry turned out to be an odd story with a rather complicated family secret revealed in its resolution; one of the themes in Symmetry was identity. The Chaon book follows on the theme of complicated resolution. You cannot fully appreciate the complicated unless you read the book all the way through. Now about half way through the book my wheels started turning about how the main characters were connected as teased in the blurb on the inside of the book jacket. In the end my theory was close to what was revealed at the end of the novel.
Three strands of narrative run throughout the book and mysteries are at the center of all three. It turns the chronology of these narratives is not parallel. My assumption thro…

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Her Fearful Symmetry is Audrey Niffenegger's follow up to her best selling, critically acclaimed (and now a major motion picture! that received mixed reviews), The Time Traveler's Wife. I haven't read the latter, but I recently finished the former. Symmetry received mixed reviews. I was not especially blown away by this book... In fact I spent the last half of it thinking about it and wondering why I felt the pervading sense that nothing really happens, even though clearly--very big, highly implausible--things happen. Indeed, a very big thing happens towards the end and then I thought, I don't really know what to make of this. In the days between finishing the book and posting this review, I've been thinking that the ending was a little bleak, a little cold and a little cruel. The thing is the book is not a supernatural, ghost story at its heart--at least it does not begin that--but it veers far, far into that realm by story's end. I suppose that's w…