Three

Title: Three

Author: Annemarie Monahan

Summary: One yellow April morning, a 17-year-old girl asks herself, “Do I dare to eat a peach?” What she decides will send her life in one of three directions.

That morning is long past. Now she is 41.

On one life path, she is Kitty. She’s been happily married for 23 years. Happily enough. Until Faye, her professor, kisses her.

On another path, she is Katherine, a physician. After the death of an old love, she contacts the one lover who still haunts her: a woman who renounced her for God.

On a third, she calls herself Antonia. She’s barely survived the implosion of a lesbian utopian commune, one built on an abandoned oil rig.

Who are we? Who haven’t we been? Have we dared? Three of one woman’s possible lives are about to collide.

Rating: ★★★★★ 5/5

Review: I can’t remember when, where, or how i came across this book, but i’m so glad i did, because i loved it. I was immediately sucked in, instantly fascinated by these three women in their opening chapters and ready to read more.

The chapters alternate between the three women and their lives, sharing their pasts and presents. As different as they all are, there are traits they all share. For example, they are all very observant: Katherine as a doctor, noting symptoms and concerns to easily diagnose the ailment and the patient’s motivations; Kitty as an expert shopper, getting the best bargains and stocking piling while she can; and Antonia as a clairvoyant on a psychic telephone hotline, using her ability to read people so well even over the phone to rack up the longest call times and the biggest pay cheques. I loved all three of them, in their own ways. I was never disappointed when one character’s chapter ended, only happy to dive right into the next.

Although all, originally, the same woman, that peach took them each on different journeys. And despite the fact it is relationships and love that each of them are struggling with in their stories, they are all exploring different aspects of that. Antonia wants to help save the woman she loves from herself as well as a group of well-meaning but self-destructive earth child hippies, but at the expense of herself. Katherine is contemplating lost love, things left unsaid, and the different experiences people have of the same events. Kitty is finally allowing herself to wake up and explore aspects of her own desire she has kept so well-hidden. There is something here everyone should be able to relate to.

The writing is wonderful. It is clever and witty and poetic and meaningful–and i’m still not sure how it manages to be all those things at once, but it does. And it reads so effortlessly that it was simply a joy to pick up. This was a book i didn’t want to put down, but it was also a book i was enjoying enough to want to make it last. I think i managed quite well, finishing at a sedate pace of 10 days. But i still want to be reading it now.

The only place the book faltered was in the final few short chapters, when each woman’s story was, in a manner of speaking, ‘wrapped up’. At this point the writing became overly poetic and lost some of its meaning; it veered from the story and the point a little in an attempt to be sincere and significant, but succeeded only in being vague and inconsequential.

As far as i’m aware this is the only book by Monahan, but it want more of her words. They were, on the whole, perfection.

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Instruction Manual for Swallowing

Title: Instruction Manual for Swallowing

Author: Adam Marek

Summary: Robotic insects, in-growing cutlery, flesh-serving waiters in a zombie cafe… Welcome to the surreal, misshapen universe of Adam Marek’s first collection; a bestiary from the techno-crazed future and mythical past; a users’ guide to the seemingly obvious (and the world of illogic implicit within it). Whether fantastical or everyday in setting, Marek’s stories lead us down to the engine room just beneath modern consciousness, a place of both atavism and familiarity, where the body is fluid, the spirit mechanised, and beasts often tell us more about our humanity than anything we can teach ourselves.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 3.5/5

Review: I don’t even remember how, where, or why i came across this book, but it obviously intrigued me enough to add it to my wish list, because i got it for my birthday a couple of years ago. It was recently moved swiftly up the ‘to read’ list when it was mentioned at a short story workshop i attended. One of the exercises was to take two things that you would generally not mix and write a story about them (which his how i ended up writing about a first kiss at an exorcism!). This is, seemingly, what Marek does with these stories.

None of these stories are about what you expect. My favourite was Cuckoo, i think, because its elusiveness works so well; it has a well-rounded story that doesn’t give all of its pieces up at once. Robot Wasps and Meaty’s Boys are two that also sit strong in my mind. Meaty’s Boys is one of the longest stories in the book, but seemed to fly by in no time at all. It is also the story with the most well-built world. Though the world we glimpse in Robot Wars was fascinating and left me wanting to know more about it.

These weird little glimpses into strange quirky worlds are what i love about the best short stories. They don’t all make sense, they don’t all have an underlying message or meaning, and they don’t follow any kind of pattern. They’re mostly just light-hearted gems to while away a few minutes while you’re waiting for the bus. And if a few of them have any kind of depth to them, well, that’s a bonus for those who want to search for it.

I mostly dived into this book looking for inspiration for my own short story writing, and while i did find some of that, i also found doubt and uncertainty. What i found these stories mostly lacking was feeling. I found it easy, once i’d finished a story, to let go of it–to move on. I think that’s perhaps not the feeling i want my own stories to leave readers with, but i write things that are also a little off the wall and i’m starting to wonder… but that’s a whole other post.

The only other problem i had with some of these stories were a few of the male characters, who were off with other women, trying to recapture some bullshit emotions or shit, while leaving their long term partners at home literally holding the baby. I just can’t with these characters, and it makes me side-eye Marek a little that this is obviously so easy a character he can fall into writing.

But yes, silly, weird, and inspired short stories that made me laugh, intrigued, and inspired. Definitely want to read more.

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TTT: Won’t Re-Read

This was actually pretty hard. Generally, if I like a book, I can say that I would (in theory) re-read it. Looking though my list of books, i’ve come to the unhappy conclusion that realistically there aren’t many i’ll ever re-read, because i’ll more likely choose a book I haven’t read yet. But, regardless of free time and priorities, these are books I liked well enough, but won’t be reading again.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
This is first book I remember finishing and thinking, “I really enjoyed that book, but I won’t ever want to read it again.” I think it was just a nice book to get lost in for a while, but was not so interesting that i’d want to revisit it.

Thirteen
This is the second book I remember having that same feeling about as soon as i’d finished it.

Any Carl Hiaasen book
I’ve enjoyed a few Hiassen books. They’re fine as a bit of escapism, but they all suffer from the same flaws. I’ll likely not read any more at all, let alone re-reads.

Life of Pi
I abandoned this book half-read the first time I started it. Not a good sign, I guess. But I finished and enjoyed it on a second go… still wasn’t thrilling enough to be re-read.

Notes from an Exhibition (or any Patrick Gale)
Gale’s books are not my usual type, but there is something I love about his work. I’ll read them as a little light relief between other books… but I don’t love them enough for a second go around.

What Dreams May Come
This book was lovely in many ways, but it had some major, unforgivable problems. I’ve loved the film for many, many years. Why re-read the problematic book, when I could just re-watch the film?

The Godfather
I loved a lot about this book, but the blatant misogyny seriously fucked me off. Another where i’d rather re-watch the film!

Gone Girl
I got sucked into the hype with this one, and while I enjoyed it even more than I thought I would… once you know the twist, what’s the point?

The Handmaid’s Tale
I loved the world building in this book so much, but honestly… it wasn’t actually as terrifying as I had prepared myself for. The world building takes priority over the story, and while that’s its strength in many ways, it makes a re-read highly unlikely.

High Rise
A fascinating idea and a creepy story… but it didn’t meet the hopes i’d held for it. In a different author’s hands i’d re-read the hell out of this story.

Where’s your TTT list at? Link me up in the comments.

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The City Of Mirrors

Title: The City of Mirrors

Author: Justin Cronin

Summary: All is quiet in the world. The Twelve have been destroyed, and the hundred-year reign of darkness that descended upon civilization has ended. The survivors are stepping outside their walls, determined to build society anew–and daring to dream of a hopeful future. But far from them, in a dead metropolis, he waits: Zero. The First. Father of the Twelve. The anguish that shattered his human life haunts him, and the hatred spawned by his transformation burns bright. His fury will be quenched only when he destroys Amy–humanity’s only hope, the Girl from Nowhere who grew up to rise against him. One last time light and dark will clash, and at last Amy and her friends will know their fate.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Review: I went into this book with trepidation. I completely, utterly, five-out-of-five stars loved the previous two books in this series (The Passage and The Twelve), but i had heard of quite a few people really disliking the third and final book. So i cracked the spine with hope in my heart, but fully prepared for disappointment. Either way, i was half right.

This review is, in a word, long. It is also full of spoilers–i couldn’t express my roller coaster of emotions without talking about every damn turn in ride, i’m afraid. So read on at your own peril.

Things started out strong. Reuniting with these characters i have followed and loved over the first two books, discovering what becomes of them over the few years since the end of The Twelve, and finding the strings of where this book will take them. I loved it so far. I also really enjoyed the section of the book given over to Zero, Timothy Fanning, our antagonist’s tale of his back story. Told in the first person, he goes all the way back to his childhood, starting college, losing touch with his family and making a new one with his friends. I got lost in his story, and grew quickly fond of these new (and old…) characters. It was super interesting to discover how the virus had come about, and what people’s goals and motivations had been, even years before it happened. This was, however, also where the first crack appeared in my hope, allowing my disappointment to slip in. With Fanning’s history comes the slap in the face that everything–the entire apocalyptic mess–happened because of a love story. That just… annoys me, honestly. A man falls in love, it’s complicated, there’s a tragedy or two, and then he kills everyone. The moral of this story to me? Men are crazy dangerous and women should never fall in love with one.

The next section of the book skips ahead about 20-25 years, with our main protagonists now middle aged, and their children all grown up with children of their own. And honestly, this part… just… dragged. There was too much of the daily grind, people going about their every days, and too many characters i haven’t seen grow up and have nothing invested in. Action and excitement and development was severely lacking, and really i think the book as a whole would have benefited if we had jumped into the story at this part, with short forays back to see how they came to this point. Juxtapositioning the time lines as well as character- and plot-development that way would have kept the whole thing more interesting.

When things did kick off, with the virals finally making a reappearance and everything going to pot, my enthusiasm returned full force and i was ready for the rest of the book to be action-packed and making up for any lull in the narrative. And for a while, it did. The attacks on the city, the ambush, and the mad dash to the Bergensfjord. That was an example of this book’s story at its best, and i didn’t want to stop reading.

Despite loving the story at this point, there were other things i wasn’t enjoying so much. Plot is only a part of what makes a good book–the characters play a hefty part as well. Unfortunately, by this time, some were starting to wear on me. I’ve never been Peter’s biggest fan, but he was so blind to so much and making the wrong choices–i was left with very little sympathy or patience for him. The characters i did like were not in it enough–Greer, Michael, Lore, Amy. And even Amy sarted to frustrate me, when more and more of her love story with Peter is revealed. No matter how you spin it, she’s over 100 years old in the body of a young girl when Peter is a young man, and she’s still over 100 when she’s in the body of a young woman and Peter is a middle aged man. Despite the fact i get no ~romance~ vibes from their relationship at all and it feels entirely forced for the sake of having it–their massive, confusing, and altering age gaps just give me the creeps.

The single biggest disappointment i have with the entire book–the thing that not only failed to land for me, but actually make me rather angry and terribly, terribly sad–was Alicia. She is, hands down, my favourite character. But Cronin’s handling of her, her journey, and her conclusion is… misjudged at best, and just plain disgusting at worst. Her situation and condition is unique. The only person with any kind of understanding of it is Amy, and i loved the relationship Alicia and Amy share because of that (and honestly, i’d’ve bought a romance between them much more easily). Along with that, she went through some truly horrific events in The Twelve, coming out the other side a different person (again), but still with her heart and mind in the right place. In this book, she gets nothing but anger and violence from the people she once called friends, and the people she believed she was protecting for the last 25 years. At first i thought this anger was an initial reaction to people missing and worrying about her–that they would expunge it and welcome her back into the fold. Instead, it seethes and these people Alicia loves and is still trying to protect give no shits about her. She’s then severely wounded by friendly fire and reduced to a cripple for the rest of the book, kept around solely for information that barely gets used or considered. She gets no goodbyes, no validation for everything she has done, and only a single person caring enough about her to hold a conversation and help carry her trauma and her secrets. And it hurts me that she’s thrown away like that in this story.

By the end, and mostly by the time i became too disheartened by Alicia’s treatment, i just… didn’t care anymore. By the time they arrived in New York i was skipping ahead and see what happened. And not because i was so excited or engaged with the story that i had to know what happened and that everything turned out okay, but because i wanted to find a reason to want to keep reading–because i just wanted it over with. I was ready to give up on the last 150 pages, but the time and love i’d poured into the previous books gave me the determination to see it through, with the compromise of skim-reading the final chapters. By that time, though, i cared very little about anything i read.

Throughout the book, Cronin’s way with words shines through. His turns of phrase and imagery never failed, and i underlined with reckless abandon. I’m so happy this remained, even through parts of the book i didn’t enjoy, and even at parts of the book that made me numb with sadness and disappointment.

Some might have said she fell. Others, that she flew. Both were true. Alicia Donadio–Alicia of Blades, the New Thing, Captain of the Expeditionary–would die as she had lived.
Always soaring.

Honestly, in my heart this book gets two and a half stars out of five, but i rounded up based on my utter and undying love of the first two books. That love remains undamaged, and once i’ve posted this review i will try to wipe the memory of this book from my mind. For me, the series ends with humanity continuing on its journey to grow and rebuild itself, while Alicia heads off to New York to behead Zero and be the big damn hero she is.

Brighton Bookshops

I recently had a few days away in Brighton, and while researching places to eat and sights to see of course I looked up where all the local bookshops were. Finding the bookshops is what I always do in new places (what self-respecting bibliophile doesn’t?), but this was the first time I thought of documenting visits and sharing it on my blog.

Brighton was awesome, with so many places for this vegan to eat, loads of little alleyways and streets to explore, and some really amazing graffiti art. But this blog isn’t about food, exploring, or pretty walls. It’s about BOOKS, so let’s get to it!

The first bookshop I went in was Brighton Books, located on a wonderful pedestrianised street along with clothes shops and cafés. Once inside the hustle and bustle of the people outside faded away. I had a blissful half an hour browsing the bookshelves, eventually picking out a book of essays by William Golding i’ve had on my ‘to acquire’ list for a while.

Next on my list of bookshops was Books for Amnesty, which was hard to miss as it’s painted bright pink! I loved this colour choice—it makes the whole shop stand out, but isn’t at all out of place in the colourful arty Brighton vibes. Although I didn’t buy a book here, the feeling inside was welcoming and put me immediately at ease. I could have browsed there all day, had they had enough books!

A bookshop that really caught my interest, and was backed up by a recommendation from a Brightonite bookstagrammer, was Colin Page Antiquarian Books. Immediately I could tell it was one of those wonderful bookshops, rammed full of books to get lost in, and that old book smell. It didn’t disappoint. The books are down a mental spiral staircase, and the space is quite and still, almost library-like. Most of the books are hardback, with only a table out front covered with paperbacks. There were also boxes of literary magazines on the floor, including one full of old pulpy science fiction—if I hadn’t been getting the train back, that entire box would have come home with me!

The last bookshop I went in was City Books, which is a typical independent shop selling new and modern books of all genres. I loved it. I saw many books i’d never heard of, but was enticed to pick up, read the back, and have a flick through. It’s exactly the kind of bookshop where I could easily spend a lot of money. On this occasion I limited myself to a single book—City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer. At over 700 pages, it was the best value for my money!

On my last, very early, morning, on the walk to the train station, I passed another bookshop that I had somehow managed to miss! Raining Books wasn’t open at the ungodly hour I passed by, but it certainly looks interesting and fun—I can’t wait to explore it the next time i’m in Brighton!

Have you been to any of these bookshops? Are there any more awesome Brighton bookshops I missed!? Let me know so I can add them to my visit list!

TTT: Forever Re-Read

It’s been a little while since my last Top Ten Tuesday. So long, in fact, it’s since moved from The Broke and the Bookish over to That Artsy Reader Girl. But it’s still going strong, and i’m still popping my head in when I have the time and the topic tickles my fancy.

I have so many freaking books to read that I very, very rarely re-read any. I wish I could. Once i’ve read a book, I only keep books I enjoyed enough to (in theory) re-read… and I keep like 95% of the books I read. So. It’s not for lack of wanting to re-read, it’s the guilt and anticipation over all those awesome books still waiting to be read!

But, if I had endless time, and 10 books I could read, re-read, and re-re-read, it would be these ones.

IT by Stephen King
I already have re-read this half a dozen times. It’s my childhood-becoming-adolescence book, and it will always hold so much of me in it for that reason. I couldn’t not re-read this book again.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
A spooky, but psychological horror. I’ve read it a few times now and it’s fascinating, how it mixes the supernatural and mental health aspects, and how characters are portrayed within that.

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee
A book about books. If i’m re-reading one, it might as well be one about all the books. Though when this book points out how many books I could conceivably read in my lifetime, and i’m wasting that time on a re-read, it’ll make me feel bad.

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
This book is just so bizarre, but so obviously has method and meaning in the madness. It’s definitely one that would age well with each re-read.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (or the entire Wayfarers series) by Becky Chambers
This series is just utter perfection, and I would happily get lost in it over and over and over and… ♥

Why I Write by George Orwell
I devoured this the first time around, finding it educational, interesting, inspiring, and endlessly quotable. A re-read would let me soak it all a little more.

The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham
One of my favourite Wyndham books, and one I pick up now and again to re-read certain sections of. I could never, ever tire of my main woman, Phyllis Watson.

The Passage (or the entire Passage triology) by Justin Cronin
An epic, brick of a book that I gave five stars to and had so little to dislike about… if i’m going to be re-reading books over and over, there are so many more interesting little details to be picked up from longer books.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Another long one—this one I simply got lost in. I wasn’t even that bothered about the story. I just loved the journey, and it is happily one I would take again.

King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
Although part of a series, I find this book has a perfect arc of a narrative. The two timelines, how they connect, the twists and turns and just… satisfaction in the entire book. I’d love to enjoy that multiple times.

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The Outward Urge

Title: The Outward Urge

Author: John Wyndham

Summary: The ‘outward urge’ was a factor in the Troon inheritance. Successive generations of Troons, looking up at the stars, heard the siren voices that called them out into space. And, as the frontiers of space receded, there was usually one Troon, if not more, out there, helping to push them back.

The five exciting episodes related here deal with the parts they played in the building of the Space Station, the occupation of the Moon, the first landing on Mars, and the trouble about Venus and the asteroids.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Review: John Wyndham is one of my favourite authors. My absolute favourite, if you ask me on decisive day. I even recently got a John Wyndham inspired tattoo ♥ I’ve not read all his books yet; i’m taking them slowly, because there are only a finite number. It’s been a while now, though, so i thought i’d pick this one up.

This book has five stories set across 200 years, linked by the development and exploration of space, as well as by the Troon family. It is common for Troons to have the ‘outward urge’–that is, to explore space, to go further, to know what else there is out there. And so the Troons are at the forefront of every spaceward progression these stories explore. The first British space station, the first landing on the moon, the first Mars landing, the first Venus landing… I love that Wyndham uses a family to connect the stories. They are more intrinsically linked this way, yet still independent, with so much time passing between them.

The first story had me sobbing by the end of it, despite the fact it was pretty clear what was going to come. For the first story to hit me like that left me already so invested in the rest. I love that while we meet the first Troon, heading to help build the space station, he is a young man, but when we meet his moon station commander son in the second story, he is 50 years old. It’s so clearly not the same story or character development in each chapter; they each have their own heart and meaning. I loved them all, but the first and the last were stand out for me. The Mars landing was a very close third. Just… they’re all brilliant!

A few stories had some wonderful quotes and meaningful concepts. Wyndham explores that side of science fiction so, so well–the philosophical alongside the technological. I was underlining and dog earring quite a bit, and i love it when a passage strikes me so close to my heart that i have to pause in my reading to take a note of it. One of my favourites was this one:

Odd, he thought, in a kind of parenthesis, that it should need the suspicion of human hostility to reawaken the sense of the greater hostility constantly about them.

I would have given this book five stars in a heartbeat, if it weren’t for one glaring omission. Something that, for Wyndham, is surprising and disappointing. The lack of female characters. Every single Troon in this book, and every single space-bound non-Troon main character is a man. It could be argued that, writing in the 1950s, Wyndham was writing more in line with his era. BUT a) that’s never stopped Wyndham before, and b) the stories are set 40-240 years into the future, give me a god damn spacewoman! So yeah, the omission of decent female characters has irked me, but i also know how bloody good Wyndham is for including wonderful women elsewhere, so i won’t hold a grudge–this time.

In summary, I still love Mr Wyndham, but i’ll need a female-strong book from him next. And to be fair, that wont be for at least six months…

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Friday Face-Off: Stairs

I had planned to keep up and take part each week with this meme, but some how time got away from me. It’s definitely something i’ll jump into when i can, though! This was originally created by Books by Proxy, and Lynn’s Books has since taken up the torch!

This week the theme is book covers featuring a staircase, and the first and only book to spring to mind which would likely have covers featuring one was The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan. At first i struggled trying to find a variety of covers with steps, but in the end i had too many, having to cut the number down from 11 to 8! They’re quite a mixed bunch this week!

I own none of these covers–my copy does not feature stairs–but i’m liking quite a few of these!

The first is a Dover Thrift Edition and i always love their covers. This is no exception. It feels classic, it fits the mystery/crime/thriller genere of the book and i really like it.

The second is simple with some great negative space. I really love the design, but the colour choices are a little too stark for my tastes.

The third one i like. It has the negative space, but with more interest and more to draw the eye. The colours and shadow are less–but not entirely devoid of–bleak. But the steps in the book are nothing like the steps show here, and that’s a bit rubbish.

The fourth one i like a lot. The colours really give it a spy/crime/thriller feel, i love the patterned colour and negative space, i love the simple representation of steps. This one hits it all for me.

The fifth is, honestly, the token terrible cover. I mean… it looks like a self-help book or a book about how to get into heaven. It’s horrible and hilarious.

The sixth is a Thai cover, and while not my favourite, is quite interesting. I like what it’s trying to do, i think. It has the vibe of the Dover Thrift cover, but done with a photo and MS Paint.

The seventh looks like a cheesy romance novel set in an old country house and it could not be further from the actual book. It would be funny, if it wasn’t so awful!

The eighth one i really like. It’s simple, but interesting. I like how unfussy it is, and i like the feet in the image. But it suffers in the same way third one does. They are nothing like the steps in the book, and the whole cover feels a bit too modern.

It is no surprise my favourite cover is number four. The colours, the negative space, the patterns… it has all the things i love in a book cover. Which is your favourite? If it’s the fifth one, you will have to find yourself a genuine self-help book!

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The Vegetarian

Title: The Vegetarian

Author: Han Kang

Summary: Yeong-hye and her husband are ordinary people. He is an office worker, she is a dutiful wife. Their marriage is interrupted when Yeong-hye, seeking a more ‘plant-like’ existence, commits a shocking act of subversion: she refuses to eat meat. Thus begins a disturbing and thrilling psychological drama about taboo, desire, rebellion and fantasy.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Review: It was the title that drew me to this book. I’ve been vegetarian for about 15 years, vegan for the last 2, so a book called The Vegetarian that was getting people talking and was proving popular remained on my radar long enough to peak my interest.

The book is about a woman–Yeong-hye–but told in three acts from the point of view of three other people. The first part is from the point of view of her husband, and details the point at which she stopped eating meat and the immediate aftermath of this. I found this part to be the most interesting, honestly. Yeong-hye’s husband is a selfish, abusive piece of shit, but he is also the closest person to her. He witnesses her daily routines, her unique quirks, and the most subtle changes in her as they happen. He is also the most insecure of the three narrators, and is therefore, i think, the most observant of the people around him–Yeong-hye, her family, and his own colleagues.

The second part of the story is told from the point of view of Yeong-hye’s brother-in-law. He is just as selfish and abusive as her husband, but i think in a much, much more self-centred way. He sees all his actions as necessary in order to create his work, which is the only thing driving him. He doesn’t have the insecurities Yeong-hye’s husband has, and although is aware of other people’s feeling and expectations, doesn’t truly care about them. This leaves him more free to do and take as he pleases, and makes him much more dangerous.

The third part of the book is told from In-hye’s point of view. She is Yeong-hye’s sister, and the wife of the brother-in-law. This part was my second favourite. In-hye is a more sympathetic character. Growing up with Yeong-hye she has similar experiences in life and cares very deeply for her sister. She’s the only one left supporting Yeong-hye, and is starting to really understand what Yeong-hye has been going through. It’s the concluding part of the story, where threads come together and questions are answered (or left intentionally unanswered). While it wasn’t as plot-driven as the other parts of the book, it was the most analytical, and interesting in a unique way.

There is a lot left open to interpretation in this book. Character’s motivations–Why did Yeong-hye stop eating meat, stop eating, want to become one with nature? Why was her brother-in-law so inspired by and obsessed with the Mongolian mark? Why did In-hye carry so much guilt and understanding for what her sister was experiencing? Actual facts–What exactly did Yeong-hye dream? Was Yeong-hye as mentally unwell as people assumed? Did In-hye hold as much of the thread on her own sanity as she thinks she did? And general meanings–Were Yeong-hye’s actions merely a way for her to take control of her own life and make her own choices? Was the brother-in-law a sexual deviant or a misunderstood artist? Did In-hye ultimately understand her sister’s plight, or was she simply projecting her own?

This book is fascinating in a lot of ways, but almost unreachable or inexplicably distant in others. I feel that although this book didn’t make a huge impact on me initially, it’s definitely left me with many questions and may be a story that stays with me for a while, making me think and consider things in new ways. I am definitely interested in reading more of Kang’s work.

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