The Painted Ocean by Gabriel Packard

The Painted Ocean by Gabriel Packard

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The Painted Ocean

by Gabriel Packard

The book tells the story of a young Indian-English girl called Shruti. The most miserable girl in the world, left by her father, given up to foster care by her mother and truly has no one in the world to care for her. Her so called saviour – a horrible Indo-English girl called Meena, is the queen of the class, a spoiled brat that though comes through at times for Shruti, takes her on a bogus adventure in India during college years. That’s as much plot as I can give without ruining it.
I am very ambiguous about this book: on one hand I was reading it to keep seeing how it concludes and to hope for a good ending… on the other, the story line is so implausible that it angers me. The only reason this has earned 3 stars from me is the fact that it brought out emotions out of me and that I was curious to see it through. Otherwise, I would have given it a much lower score and I’ll explain why:
– The narrative is set out to be juvenile, since the story teller is a young girl, but at some point it started getting on my nerve. Grammatically it’s terrible reading sentences that keep starting with “And” and I just about had it at one point.
– The story line is terrible… It first looked like some kind of a cross-over between “the Beach” and “Slumdog Millionaire”, so I was thinking to myself – okay this had been done in the past, but that could be a fun read. Then the other half of the book is takes a turn to the worst. I cannot even place this in a genre, it goes over memoir,. Thriller, general fiction? young adult? (I hope not!) … where do I place this book? I am still struggling with understanding the wrapped up fast ending, and placing it in real-life context – spoiler alert: if anyone can explain to me how to travel from Asia to the UK with a fishermen’s boat, a GPS and no sailing experience – please send me an email.
– Last, the characters are hollow, the only thing with a sort of dimension is Shruti and her cynical take on things (driven from her bad experience in life), which just makes you want to pity the human race. There is not a single complex, elaborated character that is not scheming or basically is a horrible person.
In conclusion, I suffered through this book. It provoked feelings from me of irritation and sadness, and that is the only reason I gave it a relatively average plus score. I was not impressed with the story nor from the writing, I’m genuinely sorry to say.

 
Women Like Us by Jason Pomerance

Women Like Us by Jason Pomerance

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Women Like Us

by Jason Pomerance

Women Like us is the debut novel by Jason Pomerance. It tells the story of Susan, a chef in her late 30s, whose life’s course had been somewhat re-routed by an unexpected pregnancy and marriage at college age, to Andrew, a privileged law student from a Pasadena “aristocratic” family.
Having divorced, and carried on with their respected lives, Henry their son had been practically brought up by the all mighty Grandma, Edith (Edie) Vale, a control freak, old fashioned Pasadena strong woman, who run her house and family like a tight ship.
When Susan has a midlife crisis and decides to take a road trip with Henry, that’s where our story truly begins… or has it actually begun years and years ago?

Anyone who knows me, knows that this is not my particular go-to genre. Having disclaimed that, I must confess that I could not leave this book alone. The story is intriguing, the characters are deep and complex (you simply want to know more of all the little stories the writer so eloquently throws your way here and there); the rapports between the characters are intriguing (i.e. Susan still being artificially entwined into the family); and the dialogues are witty and full of subtle humour which reminded me a lot of Howard Jacobson‘s writing style.

Give this awesome tale a chance – you won’t regret!

Goodreads Book Page

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Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore

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Birdcage Walk

by Helen Dunmore

I have never read Helen Dunmore books prior to Birdcage Walk and I wanted to thank Netgalley and the publisher on the opportunity to review this amazing masterpiece.

The novel starts with a discovery of a long-lost headstone for Julia Elizabeth Fawkes. Research had resulted with few if any details, save that Julia was an author read by many, and the wife of Augustus Gleeson, a noticeable pamphlet writer of the late 18th century, a time when the French revolution was in its height and the reports of the bloody streets of Paris inflamed the anti-Monarchy British intellectuals such as himself.

When it was apparent that none of Julia’s Writings have survived, Dunmore took it upon herself to revive the old pioneer English woman writer, maybe seeing much of herself in her imaginary character. The story takes place in late 18th century Bristol, when amidst the speculation about war with France, the real-estate market has collapsed – sending the economy, the entrepreneurs and many workers to chaotic desperation.
The story (in Brief) is cleverly told by Lizzie Fawkes, now Mrs Tredevant, Julia’s sole daughter. Having brought up in a liberal house, encouraged to act and think for herself, to be opinionated and never timid, Julia has broken from that suffocating shelter that her family provided to marry a speculate called John Diner, a widower who has made a small fortune by building houses and has now undertook a grandiose project of building the houses overlooking the Bristol Avon Gorge.
As Lizzie discovers that not everything is as perfect as she had convinced herself, we learn about her husband’s jealous character, his endeavours which are slowly but surely going bust, and Lizzy’s warm relationship with her mother and Hannah (their servant and close friend from when she was an infant). The subplot is that of the French revolution, as perceived by random reports that make it in, whether by post or by newspapers, and how differently they are perceived by John Diner and by Augustus and his milieu.

This is an historical fiction, but branding it as such does it little justice. Dunmore has managed to bring life into characters that existed (or some have) in real life, with such intensity that makes you forget yourself, all set into motion from a small script on a headstone!
The shadow of Dunmore’s disease must have entwined this novel in grimness that is leaping out of the pages – but give this novel the true colour of life in England and Europe in the 18-1900s. It is a masterpiece, and I dare say – Dunmore will be missed.