Booking Through Thursday – Better Endings

btt2
Today’s Booking Through Thursday:

If you could change the ending of any book you’ve read, which would it be and how would you change it?

HUGE SPOILER ALERT – I’m talking about the endings of some of the books here that I have reviewed in the past.

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OK now that I’m not going to give any secrets away to people who don’t want them given away… OHMYGOODNESSTHEGREATGATSBYWHATWEREYOUDOINGFSCOTTFITZGERALD?????

Maybe it’s the opera fan in me. But OBVIOUSLY the correct ending here is that Daisy, deeply unhappy and trapped in a loveless marriage, commits suicide, while the men who have loved her and ruined her life stand around sadly.

Other contenders:

Americanah – I’m not a big fan of books where adultery wins out. (see Great Gatsby).

The Bonesetter’s Daughter – an overly twee ending – I suspect this was edited heavily.

 

PSA: Anne #5

So, obviously you’ve all read all the Anne of Green Gables books.

You know that sad bit in the middle of Anne’s House of Dreams (#5 of the 8)?

DO NOT BE READING THIS BOOK ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT WHEN YOU GET TO THAT POINT.

*much weeping*

Providing a public service…

Found on the internet this week…

pregnancy internet

Always glad to be providing a public service. Pretty sure that the download speeds might be bad though.

Anne’s House of Dreams

Anne's House of Dreams

Inspired by Eva, I am re-reading Anne’s House of Dreams (on the Kindle app of my very shiny new phone). Is there anyone who doesn’t love Anne of Green Gables? At one point in my childhood I had 5 copies of AOGG, given to me by assorted well-intentioned relatives; they laboured unloved on my shelves. One summer when I must have been 12 or 13 (?) I suddenly tore through the series; my objections to the first few pages of AOGG were overruled by the next few – and the thousand after that.

And I’m now of the right age to match Anne in her House of Dreams! (have been for a few years, but shhh) The writing is just as delicious as I remembered.

Back to the book.

(also I have my second cold in 3 weeks, despite the flu vaccination since the first cold, and am feeling very sorry for myself)

Thought for the day

Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.

books everywhere(photo credit: unknown; it’s been lurking on my computer for too long)

Richard Flanagan, Booker Prize winner, guest review

Richard Flanagan won the Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North a few weeks ago. The Book Accumulator read it in April and raved about it then, and I have put below a very brief guest review. I’d better get myself a copy!

I judged it a serious contender for the title of the GAN, the Great Australian novel.  I was surprised after reading the Miles Franklin winner that the Flanagan novel missed out (though All the Birds Singing by Evie Wyld was not an unworthy winner of the Miles Franklin).

Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North (2013), a serious attempt to take the title of the Great Australian Novel, as it comes to slippery grips with big themes of suffering, death, love and loyalty, while also depicting the terrible life of the prisoners on the Burma railway in the Japanese prisoner-of-war camps. Disturbing is the hero’s inability to love, even though he has scores of romantic relationships as well as a family, and even though he as doctor and officer is deeply committed to the soldiers under his care and command in the camp. A book that moves at vastly different speeds, often too tediously in parts which needed editing.

Have you read it? What did you think?

All That I Am – Anna Funder – 6/10

“Hans, who was shy speaking to the English, spoke of them as they fitted his preconceptions: a nation of shopkeepers, tea drinkers, lawn clippers. But I came to see them differently. What had seemed a conformist reticence revealed itself, after a time, to be an inbred, ineffable sense of fair play. They didn’t need as many external rules as we did because they had internalised the standards of decency.”

all that i am

(from the blurb) When Hitler comes to power in 1933, a tight-knit group of friends and lovers become hunted outlaws overnight. United in their resistance to the madness and tyranny of Nazism, they must flee the country. Dora, passionate and fearless, her lover, the great playwright Ernst Toller, her younger cousin Ruth and Ruth’s husband Hans find refuge in London. Here they take breathtaking risks in order to continue their work in secret. But England is not the safe haven they think it to be, and a single, chilling act of betrayal will tear them apart.

Often a book seems driven by one of three things to me – plot, characters, or beautiful writing. This seemed a half-and-half study of plot and characters. The plot moved at inconsistent speed (and jumped around – but more on that later), but while we stayed in one place and time, particularly in the early 30s in Germany and then in the mid 30s in London, it was well-crafted and progressed. A level of tension is well-maintained without being exhausting. I didn’t see the plot twist coming at all. I was surprised when it came, who it was that was responsible, and the effects.

I already protested about the back-and-forth perspective, the way we flick from Ruth as an old woman, to Ruth as a young woman during the Nazi years, to Ernst Toller at the start of the war, and back again. I still maintain that Ernst’s story served no purpose at all – it was necessary that some of the information about Dora came through him, but that was really it.

Young Ruth was my favourite character (I suspect this is Funder’s intention); gentle and idealistic, committed and loving. I found Dora more difficult; headstrong, impetuous, strangely unconcerned with consequences. Ernst was sanctimonious and selfish, and Hans was strangely nothing. He was inspired and gregarious as a young man, but he petered out into nothingness in a new country. I loved old Ruth’s observations on Bev (her carer) – a little comic relief in the other timeline.

This is such a depressing book. So naturally I read it on holiday in Rome in the sunshine. But still. I can’t decide whether it needed heavier editing, redirecting, or whether I was never going to like something so dark.

One thing this book did teach me was the experience of living in 20s Germany. At school we only heard about the rampant inflation and needing a wheelbarrow full of cash to buy a loaf of bread; this book managed to convey the joy and freedom and idealism and optimism of the early 20s. No mean feat.

Not bad, and others will enjoy it more than I. But so, so depressing.

Additional info
Copy borrowed from the Book Accumulator quite some time ago. Now finally I can return it. 
Publisher: Penguin, 363 pages (paperback)
Order All That I Amfrom Amazon*
* this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards give-aways and site hosting
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