Last week I read:
Der Fürst des Parnass by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (my review here)
In 'Der Fürst des Parnass' (En. 'The Count of Parnass'), Zafon tells the story of the creation of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the creation of one of Spain's most famous work, Cervantes' 'Don Quixote de Mancha'. Along the way, we meet one of the first members of the book-loving Sempere family and the terrifying Corelli.
The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman (my review here)
Coney Island, 1911: Coralie Sardie is the daughter of a self-proclaimed scientist and professor who acts as the impresario of The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a boardwalk freak show offering amazement and entertainment to the masses. An extraordinary swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl,and a 100 year old turtle, in her father's ""museum"". She swims regularly in New York's Hudson River, and one night stumbles upon a striking young man alone in the woods photographing moon-lit trees. From that moment, Coralie knows her life will never be the same.
The dashing photographer Coralie spies is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father's Lower East Side Orthodox community. As Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the mystery behind a young woman's disappearance and the dispute between factory owners and labourers. In the tumultuous times that characterized life in New York between the world wars, Coralie and Eddie's lives come crashing together in Alice Hoffman's mesmerizing, imaginative, and romantic new novel.I loved both of them but to my own shock I have to admit that I preferred Alice Hoffman's novel.
This week I'm reading:
Gone Are The Leaves by Anne Donovan
Feilamort can remember very little of his childhood before he became a choir boy in the home of the Laird and his French wife. Feilamort has one of the finest voices in the land. It is a gift he believes will protect him...Deirdre has lived in the castle all her short life. Apprentice to her mother, she embroiders the robes for one of Scotland's finest families. She can capture, with just a few delicate stitches, the ripeness of a bramble or the glint of bronze on a fallen leaf. But with her mother pushing her to choose between a man she does not love and a closed world of prayer and solitude, Deirdre must decide for herself what her life will become. When the time comes for Feilamort to make an awful decision, his choice catapults himself and Deirdre head-first into adulthood. As the two friends learn more about Feilamort's forgotten childhood, it becomes clear that someone close is intent on keeping it hidden. Full of wonder and intrigue, and told with the grace and charm for which Anne Donovan is so beloved, Gone Are the Leaves is the enchanting story of one boy's lost past and his uncertain future.and
If On a Winter's Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino.
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler is a marvel of ingenuity, an experimental text that looks longingly back to the great age of narration--"when time no longer seemed stopped and did not yet seem to have exploded." Italo Calvino's novel is in one sense a comedy in which the two protagonists, the Reader and the Other Reader, ultimately end up married, having almost finished If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. In another, it is a tragedy, a reflection on the difficulties of writing and the solitary nature of reading. The Reader buys a fashionable new book, which opens with an exhortation: "Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade." Alas, after 30 or so pages, he discovers that his copy is corrupted, and consists of nothing but the first section, over and over. Returning to the bookshop, he discovers the volume, which he thought was by Calvino, is actually by the Polish writer Bazakbal. Given the choice between the two, he goes for the Pole, as does the Other Reader, Ludmilla. But this copy turns out to be by yet another writer, as does the next, and the next.
The real Calvino intersperses 10 different pastiches--stories of menace, spies, mystery, premonition--with explorations of how and why we read, make meanings, and get our bearings or fail to. Meanwhile the Reader and Ludmilla try to reach, and read, each other. If on a Winter's Night is dazzling, vertiginous, and deeply romantic. "What makes lovemaking and reading resemble each other most is that within both of them times and spaces open, different from measurable time and space."
I've been trying to finish Calvino's novel for ages now because I keep on picking up others despite really enjoying it so this week it's my mission to finish it!
This week I had three books come to me.
LORE: Tales of Myth and Legend by Brinda Berry, Karen Y. Bynum, Laura Diamond and others
THIS IS AN ANTHOLOGY OF NOVELLAS. A collection of six folklore retellings that will twist your mind and claim your heart. SHIMMER: A heartbroken boy rescues a mermaid... but is it too late to save her? BETWEEN is about a girl, a genie, and a ton of bad decisions. SUNSET MOON: Eloise doesn't believe in Native American magic--until the dreamcatcher spiders spin her down an unknown path. THE MAKER: An incapacitated young man bent on revenge builds a creature to do it for him. A BEAUTIFUL MOURNING: The story of a Maya goddess torn between duty and love, and the ultimate sacrifice she must make to achieve true happiness. THE BARRICADES: When a human girl risks everything to save the life of an Eternal prince, will their feelings for each other change the world they know, or tear it apart?and
After Before by Jemma Wayne
After Before is an intimate and beautiful novel about three women whose lives interweave: Emily - a Rwandan Genocide survivor, Lynn - a terminally ill woman in her early 60s and Vera - a young woman struggling to come to terms with her troubled past.Spanning cultures and ages, the novel explores the universality of guilt, regret, and grief.
This year is the 20th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, and the novel gives a moving insight into the personal atrocities experienced at the time. Jemma researched the book through first hand interviews with a Rwandan Genocide survivor and reading War Crime documents.
From the Author:
The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes by David S. Atkinson
Don’t you hate it when you may (or may not) be trapped endlessly in a Village Inn with your ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend, coincidentally your ex-best friend? That’s the kind of day Cassandra is having. In a homogenized world that is left mostly empty so everyone can feel comfortable, The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes explores the fictions we tell ourselves and the fictions we tell ourselves about the fictions we tell ourselves.
I'm excited for all of my reads! How about yours? What are you reading this week?