Tag Archives: Book Club Reading List

Review: Kindred

Kindred

Kindred
By Octavia Butler
Beacon Press, 9780807083697, 2004, 264pp.

The Short of It:

Not your typical science fiction read.

The Rest of It:

Dana and her husband Kevin find themselves in a unique situation. While celebrating her 26th birthday at their home in California, Dana becomes dizzy and then disappears before Kevin’s eyes. In an instant, Dana is transported to a Southern plantation. Her mission is apparently to save the white child who is drowning in front of her but this simple act of kindness earns her a shotgun pointed at her face when the plantation owner believes her to be the cause of his boy’s condition, not the other way around. As a black woman, Dana quickly realizes that if she doesn’t watch herself, she could end up enslaved along with the other slaves on the plantation.

This novel uses time travel to tell its story. Each time Dana goes back, Rufus, the young boy she saved is a little bit older and more like his father every day. Although Rufus makes disappointing choices which often result in a beating for Dana, she somehow feels a connection to him. And then when Dana’s husband Kevin enters this strange world along with Dana, things become much more complicated as Kevin is white, and the people of this time period don’t believe in a marriage between a white man and a black woman.

This is a strange story. I was immediately pulled in by the premise but it continually felt wrong to me and no explanation is given regarding the events in this story. We never learn why Dana has been called to return to this time. There is a short mention of ancestors and it is implied that Rufus is family. I suppose you don’t really need an explanation for the story to work but I was looking for one.

Butler does a good job of depicting plantation life and expressing the horrors through Dana’s eyes. If you’ve maxed out on slavery books this one might be one for you to try because it’s very different and hey, it’s science fiction.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Dutch House

The Dutch House

The Dutch House
By Ann Patchett
Harper, 9780062963673, September 2019, 352pp.

The Short of It:

A dark fairy tale of sorts told in a very modern way. Beautifully written and filled with flawed characters.

The Rest of It:

When Cyril buys a beautiful house for his wife, Elna, he believes it to be the most romantic gesture a man can make towards his wife, but what The Dutch House represents to Elna, is a lifestyle that she can never rise to, one of wealth and opulence. Coming from a convent, her needs are few, or so it seems but after years of living in the house and trying to raise her daughter Maeve and her son Danny, she abandons them for India to work with the poor.

This abandonment is devastating to Maeve and Danny but what ends up being even more devastating is their new stepmother, Andrea. Suddenly, Maeve and Danny are forced to rely on one another and the insular world they build to protect themselves from reality, affects them down the line and impacts their relationships with others.

This was not a perfect book. Some things could have been explored more fully but as I was reading it, I felt the presence of that house. This is an excellent example of a house portrayed as a character in the story. It’s pulsing with life even when lives are falling apart. It’s immune to decay, which isn’t the case for the families who have lived inside it. To some, it’s glittering and beautiful and grand and to others, it’s imposing and intimidating and a reminder of what could never be. I LOVED this aspect of the story. So much conflict in these characters and so much to ponder.

I only keep books which I have loved or ones which I think could be re-read and loved again over and over and The Dutch House falls into that category. I highly recommend it.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.