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This week at The Review we had a bit of a theme going on: topics that for most of us tend to be unexplored; with the writing and reading of these books (and others like them), the subjects get out into the open for people to either investigate, marvel over, make discoveries about or even work through. Indeed, some sides of life are not so sweet and it can take not just effort--owing to hard-to-access resources or a deep reach into our imaginations--but also the courage to grapple with events that are part of the reality we sometimes shy away from discussing.
We made a bit of a start into some of that this week: first with a novel that places a woman--and a mother at that--in a role we don't often hear about; then somewhat of an adventure-cum-examination of our own past by having a backwards glance with prehistoric fiction, with contemplations of where and how we connect to this era. And finally a look at another favorite character from a beloved set of legends, told to us from a perspective and vantage point that for quite a long while was bypassed.
Not all readers will necessarily agree with the possibilities, conclusions, ideas, sentiments, sensibilities and so on presented in these three novels, and that's perfectly alright. However, the explorations, be they rich and rewarding or troublesome and even sometimes divisive, help keep our minds and spirits open to the growth and magic all around us, waiting for when we are ready.
Anna starts us off this week with a novel about a woman who dares to--for better or worse--depart from the role society--also for better or worse-- most definitely has certain expectations of. "This is a book about a mother who abandons her children because she has to find something to fill the expanding void inside of her. It is also about a mother who is so dependent on her adult child that she is incapable of fully letting go, alternating between leaping to the beloved child’s defence and cruel, heartless put-downs. Most of all, it is a poetic description of a woman who breaks away from her everyday existence, trying to find real meaning and passion in her life.
Ms Lee has created a cast of complex, credible characters. Virginia, Twilah, Greg, Virginia’s ex-husband – they’re like most of us, people with flaws and qualities, people struggling to get their lives together. Sometimes, the characters react in ways that grate on me, and yes, there are moments when I intensely dislike Twilah, when I am tempted to kick Greg’s sorry butt, but Ms Lee is not out to judge; she is simply painting people as they are: complex, irrational and vulnerable."
Varying circumstances, perhaps, but not too different to the rest of us, eh? Read the rest of Anna's review and see what you think.
Rob takes us back just a wee bit further when he examines via Richard Sutton's novel, competing groups of people who definitely have very set ideas about each other. "The clan are hunters and gatherers living in a dangerous world. They have to contend with predatory cats with huge knife-like teeth and have an uneasy truce with the Great Cave Bears who they fought with long ago in order to claim the cave as their own. Lately however, a new and more dangerous enemy has entered the valley below. They are men, but not like the Clan.
Mr Sutton has done a great job in creating and describing the Neanderthal culture and society, at once similar yet different to our own. I found myself completely absorbed by the story, with its undercurrents of racism, ethnic cleansing, fear and ignorance of the “other". Personally I found the idea that the mythology of trolls, with their coarse features, could be an ancient folk memory of earlier hominids a wonderful notion."
It's a lot to absorb, though given the similarities between their troubles and those of our own time, not entirely foreign. You'll not want to miss the rest of this fabulous review, as Rob also tells of a difficult choice to be made, one that will capture your heart and make you want to learn how it all plays out.
Currently there is a drawing for a FREE copy of Troll. Please follow the link above for details and to comment.
Lisl rounds out the week with a novel that takes place in a magical time, an era in which the very environment was mystical, though a great deal of political, personal and spiritual shifting occurs. Against this historical backdrop is a coming-of-age story of Gwenhwyfar--Guinevere for many of us-- and re-discovered tales of her life growing up and becoming the queen she later does. "Born into fifth century Wales, the young Gwenhwyfar, presented to us by her older self, is at this time eight “sunturns”; she reveres her parents but still recognizes the divisions existing between them as her mother has embraced the new religion.
As the young girl comes of age at Dinas Emyrs, she certainly faces her share of trials, told to us in language filled to the wondrous brim with poetry and magic. Pruitt’s sentences are so fluid readers not only move from one scene to another many pages away without realizing how far they’d travelled, but also do so as part of the story itself, indeed, as part of their surroundings. 'I dug into my soul,' Gwenhwyfar confides, 'resisting his pull, as if I were digging my toes into sand so as not to get swept out with the tide.'"
There's no telling what sort of spell it is Pruitt weaves about us, but if you wish to capture the magic, click here for the rest of the review.
Currently there is a giveaway for a FREE, autographed copy of The Dragon's Harp. Please follow the link above for details and to comment.
Need another blast from your past? (At least one week ago!) Click here to re-visit last week's Sunday Wrap Up or, if you are a new visitor, welcome and please enjoy all the great titles we have here at The Review!