Tag Archives: Book Tour

Review & Book Tour: Goldengrove

Goldengrove
By Francine Prose
Pub. Date: September 2009
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback, 275pp
ISBN-13: 9780060560027
ISBN: 0060560029

The blurb from the publisher:

At the center of Francine Prose’s profoundly moving new novel is a young girl facing the consequences of sudden loss after the death of her sister. As her parents drift toward their own risky consolations, thirteen-year-old Nico is left alone to grope toward understanding and clarity, falling into a seductive, dangerous relationship with her sister’s enigmatic boyfriend.

Over one haunted summer, Nico must face that life-changing moment when children realize their parents can no longer help them. She learns about the power of art, of time and place, the mystery of loss and recovery. But for all the darkness at the novel’s heart, the narrative itself is radiant with the lightness of summer and charged by the restless sexual tension of teenage life.

The Short of It:

An unsettling look at what happens to a family when a loved one is suddenly no more.

The Rest of It:

I’ve often wondered about death. Death that results from illness is quite different than a death that results from an accident or a sudden heart attack. In this novel, Margaret dies suddenly. Her family has no time to prepare themselves for the loss and for Nico, Margaret’s younger sister, it’s as if Margaret is there one minute and gone the next. How does a family deal with such a loss?

As Nico struggles with her grief, she realizes that Aaron, Margaret’s boyfriend is really the only person that understands what she is going through. They form an unlikely friendship which at times seems inappropriate but seeing what these two have been through, and what Margaret meant to them, all I saw were two people in a lot of pain trying desperately to overcome their grief.

Francine Prose does a remarkable job of describing what Nico is feeling and although Margaret was not on the page for long, you definitely get a feel for her personality as these characters look back on their moments with her. Many have said that Nico seems older than her thirteen years. This may be true, but to me she came across as an ‘old soul’ which made her relationship with Aaron a bit easier for me to understand.

As Prose takes us through the novel, Nico sees signs that Margaret is still with her. I’ve always been fascinated by signs. They function as a form of comfort and generally exist to help us through a crisis. Prose does a wonderful job of providing comfort to Nico in the way of signs and whether or not you believe they exist in real life doesn’t really matter, because they exist realistically within the novel.

I had one small quibble with Aaron. At the beginning of the novel, a comment is made which might lead the reader to think that all is not right with Aaron. As I was reading, I kept waiting for that secret to be revealed but in my opinion nothing was revealed. I felt that his actions were motivated by his loss so perhaps I missed something there.

This novel was a very quick read. Once I started it, I could not put it down. The prose was easy to follow and I cared about the characters and what they were going through. This was my first experience with Prose’s writing style but it definitely won’t be my last.

If you’d like to read more about Francine Prose, click here to read her bio.

Check out her Blog Talk Radio interview with Book Club Girl here.

To purchase the book, visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble or an independent bookseller of your choice.

Check out the rest of Francine’s tour stops here.

A big ‘thank you’ to TLC Book Tours for asking me to be a part of this tour.

Review & Book Tour: The Last Dickens

The Last Dickens
Matthew Pearl
Pub. Date: October 06, 2009
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Format: Paperback, 416pp
ISBN-13: 9780812978025
ISBN: 0812978021

The blurb from the publisher:

Boston, 1870. When news of Charles Dickens’s untimely death reaches the office of his struggling American publisher, Fields & Osgood, partner James Osgood sends his trusted clerk Daniel Sand to await Dickens’s unfinished novel–The Mystery of Edwin Drood. But when Daniel’s body is discovered by the docks and the manuscript is nowhere to be found, Osgood must embark on a transatlantic quest to unearth the novel that will save his venerable business and reveal Daniel’s killer.

The Short of It:

A literary adventure of the most enjoyable kind. The Last Dickens is a historical literary thriller that includes a good dose of mystery, lots of bookish references and a smattering of romance all rolled into one.

The Rest of It:

The Last Dickens is a fictionalization that focuses on the unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Although the novel started out a tad slow for me, it didn’t take long for me to get into the story or its characters. As I was reading, I found myself thinking about silent films from the early 1900’s. Why, you ask? Well, the villains in those films were these creepy, shadowy apparitions that appeared out of nowhere. There is much of that in this novel as well. Additionally, the lure of the opium dens and their smoky interiors add to the mysterious air of the novel. Films from that era had to rely on setting and the setting that Pearl paints, draws the reader in.

However, what I really enjoyed were the passages about Dickens himself. Pearl does an excellent job of making Dickens an accessible, compassionate human being. The eccentricities of the author shine through, yet he is a bit softer around the edges…more likable I guess. Earlier in the year I read Drood by Dan Simmons. In that novel, the sections that dealt with Dickens and his American tour seemed a tad tedious to get through. I didn’t find that to be the case with The Last Dickens. Pearl takes the time to focus on Dickens as a man, and not just his readings alone. I felt that this alone helped the reader understand how much this man was loved by his readers.

Another item of importance is that it is not necessary for you to have read any of Dickens’s work. Doing so certainly adds to the experience but The Last Dickens does not require it of the reader. Overall, this reading adventure was well worth the trip and I look forward to reading Pearl’s other works.

Matthew is coming by for another visit on Wednesday, September 30th for a guest post. Be sure to check it out because it will also include a chance to win the book!

If you’d like to read more about Matthew Pearl, click here to visit his website.

To purchase the book, visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or an independent bookseller of your choice. The paperback will be released on October 6th!

Check out the rest of Matthew’s tour stops here.

A big ‘thank you’ to TLC Book Tours for asking me to be a part of this tour.

Thanks to Random House for providing me with this review copy.