Sunday Salon…16 June

Snip20190515_3I have noticed quite a few book blogs participate in Sunday Salon.  I’m sorry but I don’t know who it originated with. It’s not my idea though.  It is a recap of the week of the blogger where they get a chance to sit with friends, maybe have a coffee in hand and chat about how their week went regarding their interests, mainly books, but also life. I have thought of adding it to my blog so today is the day I begin…

I arrived home from Morocco on Thursday night very jet lagged.  It is a long haul flying to Australia from that part of the world.  I slept off and on for three days and have now emerged quite refreshed. Going from a very high heat to a wintry Tasmania hasn’t helped either.

I will post photos up in the coming weeks but wanted to touch base with people who are interested in life in Tassie.

I managed to read two books during my 25 day tour. I finished off The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan in audio version, mainly on long bus rides as we toured Spain, Portugal and Morocco. I enjoyed this book but if you are one of the few that haven’t read it yet I suggest you read a copy of it and not listen to the audible version.  The audio version uses quite cartoon like character voices in the narration of this story and it grated on my nerves at times. I noticed later on, when reading reviews on Good Reads the same comments were made regarding audible. I should have listened to the sample reading first. I will in future.

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Author Amy Tan

It is the story of four generations of women from China as their lives evolved and followed the youngest generation as she ends up in the United States. It was mainly depicted realistically I thought most of the time. Living in multi-cultural Australia, it is obvious to see how a new generation finds it easier as they have the English language to assimilate more easily. The first generation in a new country has many obstacles to overcome but future generations are the ones who learn the language and cultural ways of the new country. This can create difficulties between the parents and their children as each learn to understand the cultural differences within their own family as this growth develops.

Magda Szubanski highlights this as well in her book Reckoning as her family get used to Australian life  having immigrated from Poland.

The other difficulty I had with the book is the way the narration jumps around. I found it very distracting. I would be well and truly involved in one character’s life then it would switch to another person in another time in another country.  It was difficult at times, especially with an audio book, where I couldn’t flip back through pages to determine whose story was being told.  The great grandmother? The grandmother? The mother?  I would have preferred a narrative from one generation to the next in sequence but after rewinding the book a few times I was able to determine who was speaking.

I don’t think it is a great book as many on Good Reads seem to think but it was an interesting story that held my attention most of the time when I wasn’t being distracted by travel. I may have rated it higher if I were at home, reading comfortably in a chair for a prolonged period of time on a rainy day.

I’ll write about the second book I read on the flight home in a day or so. I enjoyed it much more but it was a completely different type of book. More to come on that soon.

I am happy to be home and it was fun to see my dogs explode in place when they realised I was back.  Even our cats followed me around for a couple of days.  It is now time to enjoy the winter months of Tasmania and look forward to the next journey the end of September. Hope this finds everyone doing well. Camera Penguin

The Joy Luck Club for Travel Reading

I leave for Europe on Friday morning for approximately one month.  I’m catching up with two women friends travelling to Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

I wanted something

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Although I travel with Kindle books I do love this Penguin cover of all of the covers I’ve seen of this book.

big but not too heavyweight to read on the plane and in my hotels.  The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan is a book I have always wanted to read. I remember reading the wonderful book Wild Swans years ago by Jung Chang. What I loved about that book was not only learning much more about China and the politics of the Cultural Revolution but I loved the families involved. I never forgot that book and the Joy Luck Club seems a similar type of novel.

Good Reads describes it as:

Amy Tan’s beloved, New York Times bestselling tale of mothers and daughters

Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who’s “saying” the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. “To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable.” Forty years later the stories and history continue.

With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.Snip20190515_2

Wikipedia describes:

Amy Tan (born February 19, 1952) as an American writer whose works explore mother-daughter relationships and the Chinese American experience. Her novel The Joy Luck Club was adapted into a film in 1993 by director Wayne Wang.

Tan has written several other novels, including The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Saving Fish from Drowning, and The Valley of Amazement. Tan’s latest book is a memoir entitled Where The Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir (2017).[1] In addition to these, Tan has written two children’s books: The Moon Lady (1992) and Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat (1994), which was turned into an animated series that aired on PBS.

Despite her success, Tan has also received substantial criticism for her depictions of Chinese culture and apparent adherence to stereotypes. (Hmmmm…We’ll see.)

I downloaded a Kindle Read/Listen copy of this book and began it a couple of days ago. It has already drawn me into it a bit. As I seldom sleep well on a plane,  I look forward to settling on my long flight with my headphones and tablet, ready to disappear into another realm.

This book was developed into both a play and a film also, neither of which I have seen. I’ll let you know what I think of this once I finish it.

I hope to put up a few travel photos and stories of my trip to Spain, Portugal and Morocco.  I will be more focused on photography than book stores but if I come across anything interesting about either I will be sure to save and hopefully share it.

I do find travel exhausting and night time often has me stretched out on a lovely hotel bed with my tablet, books and reviewing the day’s activities. I don’t like television in hotel rooms as at the end of the day I prefer silence.

I return home about mid June. Stay tuned and hopefully I’ll produce a few things on this blog but it will be basic as I’m not taking my laptop and my tablet does funny things with photos on Word Press.

PS-  Penguin is leaving the page tomorrow and getting in the suitcase to share the experience. I will send photos of him as it is always fun to travel with a Penguin.

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Looking forward to snuggling in my case.

Holiday by Stanley Middleton- 1974 Booker Prize winner.

From Good Reads:

Snip20190401_1HOLIDAY

I have only recently finished reading this book. I heard about on a blog post on Booker Talk some time ago. (Read her review here.) I remember the review appealed to me so I ordered a copy from Abe Books.

From Good Reads description:

Edwin Fisher is on holiday at the English seaside – but this revisiting of childhood haunts is no ordinary holiday. Edwin is seeking to understand the failure of his marriage to Meg, but it turns out that her parents are staying at the same resort – whether by accident or design – and are keen to patch up the relationship. As the past and his enigmatic wife loom larger, deeper truths emerge and the perspective shifts in unexpected ways. This is an extremely subtle story, a consummate portrait of English provincial life told with all Stanley Middleton’s artistry and depth of feeling. It was joint winner of the Booker Prize in 1974. Review quotation: “At first glance, or even at second, Stanley Middleton’s world is easily recognisable…The excellence of art, for Middleton, is an exact vision of real things as they are. And because he is himself so exact an observer, his world at third glance can seem strange and disturbing or newly and brilliantly lit with colour.” (A.S. Byatt).

(From web page Brief Biographies).

The author, Stanley Middleton was British born in 1919 and died in 2009.  He attended schools in Nottingham, England. He had a military career during the second World War serving in the Royal Artillery and Army Education Corps. 

He wrote many short stories and novels with characters mainly being drawn from the middle classes. He enjoyed studying people whose lives had stopped in a middle of a crisis and analysed how they dealt with it. 

Snip20190401_2He wrote about the complexity of the human characters and this comes through in this book. He didn’t believe novels needed to be intense stories but but he certainly created obstacles in the way of his characters. He then devised ways of getting through the issues he raised.

I have only read this one book by him but would not hesitate to look at others he wrote.

I really enjoyed the writing in this book. I thought it was excellent. There were many times when I felt I was standing beside Edwin as he walked the beaches and chatted to the locals.

The story takes place over one week’s time but it seems a much longer period of time. The story goes back and forth from his early marriage days to current days as the protagonist is struggling with a current separation and ‘where to’ from here.

The characters are not always likeable, especially his wife.  I just didn’t see what he saw in her but then as the reading continues the reader understands a physical attraction to her and hope for future changes. Relationships are definitely not straight forward and this book is an excellent example of that.

The interference of his in-laws is aggravating too but many of us married people can understand this happens.  Sometimes trying to sort out marriage issues is impossible to do by oneself. 

I kept reading because I really wanted to know if all of the issues were going to be resolved satisfactorily.  Nothing in this book is tied up neatly.

If a you enjoy a leisurely read where the characters breathe onto the page and you care about them then this book is for you.  

This book shared the Booker Prize along with The Conservationist, by Nadine Gordimer in 1974. Snip20181102_18

(I will add it to my Century of Books which I add to over time very, very slowly.)