A good read

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Stone Diaries

This was our Reading Club book choice for February and to be quite honest,I never really warmed to this book. It's a chronicle of Daisy Goodwill Flett's life starting from her extraordinary birth, her idyllic childhood in Canada, relocation to US in her teens, her brief marriage in her twenties, moving back to Canada to marry again the man she grew up thinking of as an uncle, raising her family, a brief career as a journalist and finally moving back to the US to die in her old age.
There is nothing remarkable about Daisy or her life, indeed it is so ordinary that is almost commonplace. Perhaps that is why, I never quite got into the story. Because I was always expecting something to happen and it never did!
However, there are quite a few quirky figures who populate Daisy's life - an obese mother who dies during childbirth, a father who builds a memorial to his wife and become obsessed with it, a father-in-law who quits Canada for the Orkney islands in his sixties , a place he left in his teens for Canada, and then goes on to live for another six decades, Mrs. Flett, a neighbour who raises Daisy as her own child while walking away from her husband to set up home in a different town...there was no shortage of colourful characters in a story about a girl whose life, oddly seemed to have none of it.

The Confessions of Max Tivoli

We picked this book in our Reading Group as our book choice for January and I finished it in 1.5 days flat! It's an easy read with some fantastic turn of phrases peppered throughout the narrative. But before I talk about the style, let me give you a brief plot summary. It's the story of Max Tivoli who suffers from a rare (and I guess fictitious) disease that makes him age young! So, Max is born as an old man and dies as a toddler. Why toddler and why not new born, you may wonder. But to answer would be giving away too much.

The story is narrated in first person and that gives you an idea of what a character Max is. He is engaging, lively and often self-deprecatingly funny. You feel sorry for him but at the same time can't help but laugh at his predicaments. Especially when the woman he fell in love with as a young man (when his appearance is that of an old fellow) treats him as her son years later (when he has grown young to be a toddler and she is now a mature lady). In all, The Confessions of Max Tivoli is a compelling read by a master story teller.

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