Posts Tagged ‘WWI’

18th May
2010
written by Steph

I am not exactly what you would call a war fiction fan – generally in bookstores while browsing, whenever I pick up books that mention the words “Holocaust” or “WWII” on their back cover, I roll my eyes and put the title swiftly back on the shelf.  It’s not that I don’t think these topics aren’t something that deserve attention in fiction, it’s more that I think they’ve been getting too much attention in fiction. Seriously, the next time you got to a bookstore, keep track of how many books you pick up that somehow involve a character being plagued by some kind of WWII wound of any kind and you’ll see what I mean. Of the various wars, I would definitely say WWII is the one that’s been mined the most by authors in terms of plot devices, but of course there are myriad books on WWI, the Vietnam War, and the American Civil War as well. This saturation of war fiction means that as a reader, I’m extremely selective regarding which titles I will actually pick up and read.  I find that if I look at enough of these books in succession, they all start to sound the same, which is not really what you want as a reader (or a writer, I’m sure), so it takes something special for a book to separate itself from the bunch. (more…)
1st February
2010
written by Steph

My review for the February issue of BookPage is now up!  I made a conscious effort to mix things up and read something other than the regular "quirky, indie fic" fare I normally devour and review.  So instead I read The Postmistress by Sarah Blake - a sweeping saga revolving around 3 women just as World War I is about to reach its apex in terms of devastation and scope. I will say that the basic premise of the novel is that this is the story of a postmistress who decides not to deliver the mail (and all the moral quandaries and ramifications of such a decision), but I didn't really feel that was the true heart of the novel I read, merely a sliver of a much richer story.  I hate when novels have flaps with synopses that are misleading or place the wrong emphasis on certain plot points!  I don't normally gravitate towards fiction that is so overtly marketed towards women, nor would I consider war fiction one of my passions, but I did really enjoy this novel, in large part due to the writing, which I thought was a cut above much of what is published nowadays (though at times I did feel that perhaps coherency was sacrificed for poetry).  I thought The Postmistress was a powerful meditation on loss and how we naturally seek to impose meaning and structure on our world, especially in the face of chaos and destruction. To read more of my thoughts on this, you can read my full review here. [Note: I received my copy of The Postmistress for free, but irrespective of this, I would have rated it 4 out of 5 on this blog.]
29th December
2008
written by Steph
Pardonable Lies

I’ve mentioned before that one of my literary vices is mystery novels set in England, generally during the turn of the 20th century.  I’m by no means a know-it-all Agatha Christie fan, but I devoured a bunch of her books when I was a young teen, and have recently made it my mission to eventually read all of her books in chronological order (note: I have not yet decided whether I will pick a particular detective, and go through all of his/her adventures before picking a new one and starting afresh, or legitimately just reading them all in order, featured detective be damned!).  I never would have thought that murder could be so soothing, but for me, detective novels in the style of Agatha Christie are the ultimate comfort read.  I haven’t really delved too far into the mystery genre, as I tend to focus on reading “serious” literature, but one good contemporary author I’ve found is Jacqueline Winspear who has created the intrepid “Psychologist & Investigator”, Maisie Dobbs. (more…)