Into the world of #art – #interview with Drema Drudge, author of “Victorine”

Drema Drudge’s deep interest in art led her back to college and it brought her debut historical novel, Victorine, soon to be released on March 17, 2020.

In this interview, Drema provides insights into the life of a female artist in 19th century Paris.

To begin, who is Victorine? 

Victorine Meurent was Édouard  Manet’s self-professed favorite model. In all she sat for about 11 paintings for him. She also posed for artists Alfred Stevens, Edgar Degas, and more.

She came from a poor family, and not much is known about her beyond that she was born in 1844 and died in 1927. She lived with a woman named Marie DuFour for around the last twenty years of her life, presumably as her partner.

Indeed, she did go to art school. Her work was accepted by the Paris Salon on multiple occasions.

Much that history “remembers” of her is lies: that she supposedly died a young, financially ruined alcoholic prostitute. None of that is true. The few things we do know about her show that to be untrue.

An encounter with Olympia painted by Édouard Manet inspired you to write this book. Tell us a bit about this journey to finally writing Victorine

I was primed before encountering Olympia to see the story in paintings by a previous literature class I had taken called The Painted Word. I wrote a short story of Olga Meerson (who modeled for Henri Matisse) which was published by the Louisville Review. Then when I took yet another literature class with the same professor, he put up a slide of Olympia and I sensed that the painting, that is, the model in it, had more to say. I wanted to know what. A novel was born.

Do you paint? Do you have an education in art? 

I do paint a little, but a very little. I am finally allowing myself to learn a bit of technique. Previous to that I didn’t want to learn; I wanted to feel free to play and dabble without judging myself the way I judge my writing.

The only “formal” education I have in art is visiting art museums and reading about it. I get “hungry” for art if I’ve been away from the real deal for too long. But I’ve often wished I had an art history masters. I might get one, eventually.

What was it about Victorine Meurent that caught your fancy and kept your interest until you completed the book (and possibly beyond)? 

In my research on Olga Meerson, I discovered that Olga was a painter, and yet here all anyone remembered her for was her modeling. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that yet another painting was calling to me, and the model in it, Victorine,  was also a forgotten painter. I had to write about her.

The more I researched her, the more I realized there wasn’t much to go on. I couldn’t see how anyone could weave a tale with so little thread, and yet, as a novelist, I had that very thread at hand. If not me, who?

Can I presume that you undertook significant research to write Victorine? How much? Where did it take you? 

My research took me to Paris, first and foremost, its streets, museums, and cemeteries, I tried to imagine Victorine in the City of Lights.

But much of my research was necessarily completed via books, from following in the footsteps of those who had attempted to study her before. There was much rumor, little fact available. I knew that by the records of those who had attempted to find her before.

How long did this book take from the first encounter of Olympia to its publication? What challenges did you encounter? 

I encountered Victorine as Olympia in 2011, and my novel is just now being published in 2020. The first rough draft only took six months to write, but then it underwent some revisions, which slowed it down. When I found an agent, she shopped it for quite a while. In 2019 I was informed that it was finally going to be published, and I was more than ready.

What is the sociopolitical context of this story? Is it critical to this story you tell?

Oh my, yes. Women, and particularly poor woman, of the mid 1800’s in Paris weren’t considered much. And to aspire to be a painter in those circumstances? Almost impossible to achieve. That’s why I quickly realized Meurent must have had an indominable spirit, to have achieved what she did.

Then there was the birth of Impressionism and Modernism hand in hand. Both of these movements fought against the art establishment of their day. Enter Victorine as a stand-in for the art critics as Manet found his voice as a painter (and, most say, the Father of Modernism) as well. I wanted to explore the overlooked influence a model has on a work. As muse, yes, but the additions she makes that the artist cannot exclude, try as (in this case he) might.

How would you describe the relationship between Manet and Victorine Meurent? What attracted her to him, and vice versa? What was she to him, and vice versa?

Many believe they were lovers. I do not. I think they respected one another, eventually, professionally, although their artistic differences are thought to be what drove them apart in the end.

Meurent decided Manet was being too risky while seeking the approval of the Salon.  He refused to stay the expected course but also refused to totally embrace himself. He wouldn’t give up his need for acceptance, which he didn’t receive until just before he died and, of course, after. Meurent literally couldn’t afford to follow her fancy, painting more traditionally than Manet so she could sell her art.

As to what attracted him to her, she dared tell him the truth about his art. Other than the critics, no one dared. Manet was not a man who could handle criticism, and yet art cannot grow without it. I believe Meurent, as his model, managed to be that bridge for him: she was socially beneath him enough that he could disregard her criticism if he liked, and yet the honest artist part of him was able to embrace it. Or that’s my story. I have no way of knowing if that was true.

Meurent and Manet were fond of one another, essential to one another in ways they couldn’t articulate to themselves or others, I believe. You don’t have to see someone every day or every year to know how important you are to their purpose on the planet. I believe they were just that crucial to one another. It wasn’t love. It was something else, something I spent a large part of the novel trying to define.

What is, in your view, Meurent’s inner life?

Meurent’s narrative is a bit performative, so I’m not surprised by the question, and yet if she had been more inner directed aloud, the novel would have been in danger of tilting toward the maudlin. Neither she nor I wanted that!

She lived her inner life on the canvas and in her musings as she painted or was painted. Her life was a work of art, first by others, then by herself.

It wasn’t as if she hid her desires or her vulnerability from the reader. By pointing some things out, she was admitting, gingerly, what she wanted and needed. The main goal of the story, and her goal as narrator, was to bring herself back to history as a painter. It was to show that art can serve as lover.

She could receive and understand art and humanity with a generosity and intelligence that few have.

More than that, I think she’d prefer to keep to herself.

What degree of artistic license did you take with Victorine and the events in the book? 

I did what the book required. I strove to tell the truth, although often the factual truth wasn’t available, so I had to fabricate pieces of the story from the bits I had at hand.

You have chosen to begin the book with Manet and Meurent’s first meeting in 1862, and have tied her to Manet throughout the book until her acceptance into the Salon de Paris. Why? And why this period? 

I quickly realized in my research that Manet played an extremely important part in Meurent’s life. I first conceived her story not as a novel, but more as a series of linked stories (that being the trend at the time) with each story centering on a painting. Since Manet was the artist whose paintings of her were most known, that seemed the place to begin.

One of the many themes in this novel is breaking away from Bloom’s anxiety of influence; that is, learning who you are versus your mentors. Her formation as an artist sprang directly from being able to detach herself from Manet’s studio.

As I read Victorine, it seems Meurent is explaining herself or justifying her actions and motives in relation to Manet and on occasions, Alfred Stevens, instead of the reader (like myself) gaining access to her independent inner world of what drives her. Was there a particular reason for this? 

I don’t know that it was conscious on my part, but it makes sense. Meurent was the object of the male gaze from a child on, with first her father painting her. Part of her cycle of growth was breaking away from being the object. It was a process; she protected herself from them and from us as readers as she went along. I’ll allow it.

It was fascinating to see the maturing process of Victorine, young muse and aspiring artist, to Meurent, accomplished and confident.  I enjoy the triangulation of relationships. Did you decide to do this? Why? 

In some cases I was very aware of the triangulation, such as between her, Manet, and Berthe Morisot, and in other places, not as much. I supposed I am innately aware of the delicious tension inherent in triangulation.

If Meurent is unfair to anyone in the novel, if she has a blind spot, it’s that she underestimates Suzanne Manet. That’s her (professional) jealousy talking. Suzanne’s retribution is my way of showing the reader the truth.

If there is one thing you want the reader to take away from the book, what would it be?

My goal, first and foremost, is to return Victorine Meurent and her contributions to art herstory. If the reader thinks of Victorine not as just a nude on a canvas, but as a living, growing human being who did, in reality, go to art school and make contributions even to the prestigious Paris Salon, I will have done my job. If she lingers with the reader, that’s a bonus for which I surely hope.

Are you working on a new writing project now? And if so, what is it and does it involve art as well?

All of my books are likely to contain art, though I have a loosely connected concept for them: I want to eventually write about all of the arts. Next up, music. I juxtapose the worlds of country music and…Virginia Woolf!

How fascinating! I will be looking out for its release.  Finally, where and when can readers get their hands on Victorine

Victorine’s release is scheduled for March 17, 2020. It’s available for preorder on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Once out, it will also be available on the Fleur-de-Lis website.

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2020 LitWorldInterviews

 

@FTThum #BookReview ‘Nina’s Memento Mori’ by Mathias B Freese

This quote from Gabor Maté comes to mind as I read Nina’s Memento Mori by Mathias B Freese.

“I needed to write, to express myself through written language not only so that others might hear me but so that I could hear myself.”

 

Title:      Nina’s Memento Mori
Author:  Mathias B Freese
Publishers: Wheatmark
Format: Paperback (2019)
Pages:   136
Genre: Non-fiction, Literary, Memoir

 

 

What’s it about?

This is retired psychoanalytic therapist, Mathias B Freese’ memoir of his 2-year marriage to Nina.

I have not read Mathias Freese before and is taken by his unashamed revelation of himself, and in the process, who his beloved Nina was. And this without fear (she is dead and he is old), and without favour (he has no need of this). This book is one man’s expression of love as he bears witness, through memory, to her life. It is a collection of short reflective essays, existentialist in nature and psychoanalytic in process.

I mean no disrespect, when I refer to 78-year old Freese as “old’ as I am aware that “old” is relative and subjective. He himself freely refers to his mortality and what is to come in the memoir.

Freese lays bare his regret and sadness in not loving Nina enough due to his self-perceived inability to express love and to love as well as he should – his “emotional deficits” as he calls them. It is his hope that this memoir would honor his memory of their time together and of the woman that Nina was to him. 

The poignancy and sadness of his story are evident. While there is much exposition, references to feelings and emotions are somewhat lacking in the “I am … “ emotional-kind. It is indeed intriguing to read the workings of a psychoanalyst’s mind. Reading this book is like a game of “hide-and-seek”.

Through the essays, Freese professes his need for “mother”, one who would nurture and guide, and love unconditionally. This he had missed out in his early years and consequently, he claimed this role of child in relation to Nina in desiring and seeking safety and hope. These, she was able to provide in her quiet unassuming manner.

She had understood the trauma of his childhood, as she had been in worse. This was followed by two abusive relationships prior to meeting Freese. The commonality of unloving parents, growing up without proper guidance or care (as expected of parents) nor kindness and love perhaps bound Freese and Nina. (Freud did mention something about neurotic complement in marriage? I stand to be corrected 🙂 ) The manner of how each coped was contrary, Freese in his refusal to conform and is outspoken, while Nina adopted the roles required of her and was quiet.

Though he felt inadequate and not “good enough” as a husband, Freese acknowledged “I was Nina’s final grasp at tranquility, of personal realization after decades of torment. I served a good purpose as the human I am.” Perhaps he did love her and in the way she needed to be loved – not as he thought she would want to.

Is it enough to know that one is needed and served a purpose? It would seem not, as Freese’ narrative is replete with regret, of not giving more to the woman who had provided him with space to be and caring in a manner suited to him. His biggest regret for not bringing her from the hospice to their new home to live out her final days. I found the self-flagellation at times difficult to bear.

Did he see her during their marriage? “When we are in a marriage or a relationship, we fabricate images of the other and live accordingly,” he wrote. I will let you decipher this from Nina’s Memento Mori.

While Freese generously gives in thought and intellect, he characterizes himself as restraint in emotional expression or acts of affection. Yet his affection and love for Nina is undeniable. She is portrayed as an industrious woman who  cared for two children while working as a seamstress while in abusive relationships. He loved her gracious giving of herself, in receiving his love as he chose to provide it, her quiet stillness, her unimposing presence.

What strikes me is despite the frank self-disclosures, there seems to be much that was not said. “At some levels we choose not to recall.” So what has Freese chosen not to recall? Perhaps that his love is received and is enough. Nina felt the love he had for her – he was “on her side” after all.

And tangentially, I wonder if Freese as psychotherapist and writer with a love for words, has found his manner of coping with his stated inadequacy to express his emotions. I will let you decide for yourself, or not.

This book is both an eulogy and an elegy of Nina, to say and express what he did not when they were together. It is Freese seeking absolution.

As a reader, I thank him for his courage and candour.

I hope Freese experience the redemptive power of writing this memoir. As he said, “I know I must change”.

Would I recommend it?

Yes. Heart-wrenching, thought-provoking.

My rating:                4 /5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2019 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘The Binding’ by Bridget Collins

 

Title:      The Binding
Author:  Bridget Colllins
Publishers: Harper Collins Publishers Ltd
Format: Hardback (2019)
Pages:   448
Genre: Fiction, Thriller

 

 

What’s it about?

This fictitious tale by Bridget Collins mesmerizes from the start… and I *hated* every moment when I couldn’t get back to it, even as the rest of life called.

It is a tale of two characters whose lives intersect even though they come from different worlds, even when others conspire to keep them apart. It is heart-wrenching and sweet, and surprising. The depth and richness of each of the characters add to this magnificent story of redemption and the inevitability of destiny.

As writers, we write what we are capable of feeling – every sorrow, every gladness, fear and doubt. What if what we write is in fact another’s true story? What if they are stories given to us because they are unwanted and discarded? What if we are in fact binding negative feelings – grief, fear, shame – others choose to forget into a book which we are then entrusted to protect and keep safe? What if unscrupulous binders betray this trust and make it available to others’ reading pleasure or worse?

If you could tell and forsake your deepest and darkest secrets and feelings, so you can forever forget them, would you?

What if you could tell your story, have it bound within a book and never look at it again… thereby relinquishing them forever, would you?

What if you are the binder destined to keep these memories safe? What if the binding is used to serve the powerful and less than noble?

Isn’t it better to remember your whole life? Or only your “good” life?

This is the premise upon which this tale is told. And it allows us to imagine the magic of books and their binding.

Would I recommend it?

A resounding yes. Well-paced and a relatively easy read, “The Binding” kept me turning pages wanting more.

Most importantly, “The Binding” reminds us of the simplicity and that certain innocence of love even in the most difficult of times.

My rating:                4 /5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2019 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘everybody lies: What the internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are’ by Seth Stephen-Davidowitz

I am intrigued by the impact of internet on human lives. This book is about an aspect of it.

Title:      everybody lies: What the internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are
Author:  Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
Publishers: Bloomsbury Publishing, UK (2018)
Format: Paperback
Pages:   338
Genre: Non-fiction, Science, Technology, Psychology, Sociology

 

 

What’s it about?

As Steven Pinker(cognitive psychologist, linguist, and popular science author) states in the foreword, “this is a book about a whole new way of studying the mind” and, I would add, human behaviour.

This book is less about big data science than about the new innovative ways of thinking, of designing, and of approaching the questions we ask of our life.

Stephens-Davidowitz makes his points by regaling the reader with early Big Data collected through Google searches and clicks, predominantly. Facebook also features as with other Silicon Valley data companies.  “everybody lies” gives new and interesting insights into matters such as the effect of assassination of leader on a country’s economy, or going to a great university equates to a better career or larger paycheck.

Stephens-Davidowitz provides a definition of “data” which is no longer limited to numbers or words. For a data scientist such as he, Big Data has four virtues. First, Big Data as “digital truth serum” as people are most honest without an apparent audience leading to honest data on say, sexual preferences or racial discrimination. It provide honest data.  Second, it offers a way to run large-scale randomized controlled experiment through the click of the mouse. Third, Big Data allows us, through the large scale sample, to zoom in on subsets of people and with greater accuracy. Fourth, Big Data provides new types of data.

What’s logical and rational before is no longer enough nor are the experiment results accurate enough. The scope of our sample size has significantly increased withe the internet, so why think small?

That is not to say, as Stephens-Davidowitz points out, that Big Data is the answer but it is a valuable resource which we are ill-advised to ignore. Information is king or queen, and this is truer than before. Social science is becoming real science, Stephens-Davidowitz says. Why? Read the book.

Stephens-Davidowitz encourages us to approach this field with curiosity and creativity when contemplating how we use and manage data. Data however is neither good or evil; it is powerful.  In “everybody lies”, he cautions against what Big Data cannot do and what we shouldn’t do with Big Data.

Would I recommend it?

Reading this book is a pleasurable journey. Highly recommended.

My rating:                 4/5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2018 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘First Person’ by Richard Flanagan

Because I liked the premise of this book by the 2014 Man Booker Price winner, I thought I’ll give it a try.

Title:      First Person
Author:  Richard Flanagan
Publishers: Penguin Random House Australia
Format: Hardback
Pages:   392
Genre: Fiction, Thriller

 

 

What’s it about?

“First Person” is a quiet yet violent  thriller which begins with the protagonist Kif Kehlmann being offered a commission to ghost-write the memoir of Siegfried Heidl.

Heidl is a notorious con-man and corporate criminal awaiting trial. And Kif is a writer desperate for a well-paying job. How hard could it be anyway?

Little does Kif realise he would put his integrity on the line, even his morality and at times, sanity it seems.

The reader is taken on the journey of a man facing a moral crisis, culminating in an act which even Kif could not have foreseen.

Despite the interesting premise of this book, it was difficulty for me to move forth with it. The narrative seems “stuck” and so is the plot. Heidl feels one-dimensional, as I looked for depth and change in the character. Interestingly, Heidl is based on a real-life con artist John Freidrich whom the author interviewed early in his career as a journalist. Perhaps this explains the more intimate and relaxed feel of the book in parts where Kif is present.

The interactions between Kif and Heidl, and between Kif and Ray,  Kif’s friend and Heidl’s gopher, are worthy reading even if they feel surreal at times. Kif ultimately becomes a witness to Heidl’s destruction.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, if you are prepared to see beyond the structural difficulties.

My rating:                 3.5 /5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2018 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘The Amorous Heart’ by Marilyn Yalom

The title was enticing… so I picked up the book.

Title:      The Amorous Heart: An Unconventional History of Love
Author:  Marilyn Yalom
Publishers: Basic Books, Hachette
Format: Hardback
Pages:   277
Genre: Non-fiction, History

 

 

What’s it about?

As the title suggests, this is a book about the history of love, and so much more.

Ever wonder how the heart icon ❤ came to symbolize love? And why is the heart organ linked to love? It wasn’t always so. Of course, this begs the question – what is the meaning of love across the ages?

The earliest depiction of the heart icon is found in 6th century BCE in what is now Libya. Then it was not associated with love but rather a representation of a seed, a sign for contraception. By 6th century AD Persia, it was symbolic of grapes, vines and wine – abundance. It was in the 13th and 14th century that the heart icon came to signify love. How?

This book traces this evolution in Western culture from ancient times – Plato’s metaphysical idealism of “love” to “Ovidian love…embedded in the flesh, with the “heart” a lofty euphemism for the genitals“.

It traces the narratives of love associated with Eros and Cupid. Does carnality and passion undermine love? Is love pure?

Is heart the locus of love?

Yalom’s research took her from medieval times through Catholic and Protestant traditions (where literature, royalty and religion enmeshed) to literary figures in the likes of Shakespeare and Austen to scientific writings as she laid out the trajectory of love and heart.

“The Amorous Heart” tracks amor (sensual love) and caritas (noble love) across the centuries and tells the story of the origin of the word “romance” to the tales of “true love” where “everything is permitted for those who love” taking it beyond the questions of morals and religion.

It gives an interesting account of the age-old discourse between the religious heart versus the amorous heart when Christianity separated sex and sensual love thus delineating the act for procreation and the passion which gave rise to it.

What does history say of the heart’s ability to love one or more persons? Can it? Ought it? How are heart and love tied to marriage and the place of woman? For it wasn’t always that love is  a desired prerequisite to marriage.

It is interesting for me to discover for example, present narratives of “one’s true love as one who brings out the best in us” and the notion of “unconditional love” are not modern concepts. They can be traced to the songs of the troubadours of 12th and 13th century France, Spain and Germany who professed the same.

This impressive book provides a story of the social evolution of the iconography of the heart, of the sexes in relation to our capacity to love; it serves to demonstrate our natural instinct for love and erotic expression.

Would I recommend it?

A fascinating read of a phenomenon we take for granted and for which we believe we are entitled – love.

Highly recommended for curious minds.

My rating:                 4/5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2018 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘The Soul’s Expression’ by Amy Alston

Historical romance is a guilty pleasure of mine… so when I was offered this book for an honest review, how could I refuse…? And in time for Valentine’s Day 🙂

Title:      The Soul’s Expression
Author:  Amy Alston
Publishers: Kindle Unlimited
Format: ebook
Pages:   NA
Genre: Fiction, Historical Romance

 

What’s it about?

The Soul’s Expression is set in the late Victorian era.

Katherine Forrester was coerced into a marriage by her parents, and due to her fears, her marriage has not been consummated.

Her patient husband, after nearly a year of marriage is not so patient anymore.  Her mother-in-law pressures her into seeing a psychiatrist for her “troubles” and Katherine suspects she will be diagnosed with hysteria and locked up.

In a bid to protect herself, she  decides to cooperate fully with her psychiatrist, and unwittingly embarks on a journey of self-discovery and sexual awakening.

Then she encounters a situation that she has not ever anticipated. With her life in danger, who will she turn to?

How will this end for a woman with no financial means, nor power or legal status to defend herself?

Will love indeed conquer all?

Would I recommend it?

Yes, for historical romance readers and those sufficiently curios to venture to this genre. It is a quick and pleasant read.

My rating:                 3 /5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2018 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘Insight: The Power of Self-Awareness in a Self-Deluded World’ by Tasha Eurich

I have a particular interest in self-awareness, so reading this book is for pleasure and professional purpose.

Title:      Insight: The Power of Self-Awareness in a Self-Deluded World
Author: Tasha Eurich
Publishers: Macmillan
Format: Paperback
Pages:   357
Genre: Non-fiction, Psychology, Self-help

 

What’s it about?

Author, Tasha Eurich, begins with a lament on  the self-delusion of today’s people, identifying blindspots to how well we know ourselves.

An organizational psychologist by profession, Eurich claims self-awareness is THE meta-skill of the 21st century for success. In a world of operating in the shallows and privileging opinions of the external world, self-awareness separates the achievers and mediocrity.  She referred to studies which showed self-awareness to be lacking despite claims by many leaders to the contrary. The “cult of self”, Eurich states, prevents us from approaching with humility and self-acceptance to truly seeing ourselves.

Insight expounds what insight is, referring to internal self-awareness and external self-awareness, and strategies to survive in a unaware world. Eurich differentiates insight from introspection, stating that introspection does not a self-aware person make. “Thinking isn’t knowing” as a heading to one chapter says.

Being self-aware, or having insight of ourselves, helps us make better decisions in aspects of our lives.

Insight puts forth that no one will ever be entirely self-aware. It is an ongoing process and one which  requires us to let go of the search for absolute truths.

This book feels like a self-help book and yet at times, disguising itself as a theoretical text, or vice-versa. On occasions, the flow is interrupted by anecdotes from Eurich’s professional life.

Would I recommend it?

Yes. It is an interesting read on how we delude ourselves, in our personal and professional lives.

For those who want to better engage and relate with others say, within their organizations, this is a worthwhile read.

 

My rating:                 3.5 /5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2018 LitWorldInterviews

Contemporary poetry I commend to you

I have been reading poetry lately, not the Whitman, Cummings or Oliver but of contemporary poets, many of whom shared their creations first on social media before making it to traditional publication.

Who hasn’t heard of New York Times bestselling author, Rupi Kaur with Milk and Honey (2014),  her debut collection of poetry and prose collection of poems, and the recent The Sun and Her Flowers (2017).  Both books address the ebb and flow of life – triumph and loss, joy and hurt, trauma and healing – in essence tracing the universality of the human condition.

Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey

Then there is the works of Lang Laev, born to Cambodian parents in a refugee camp in Thailand and raised in Sydney. She is the author of 5 collections of poems and prose, the most successful being Lullabies (2014) and Love and Misadventure (2013).  Her other collections include Memories (2015), The Universe of Us (2016) with Sea of Strangers due 9 Jan 2018.  As you may guessed from the titles of her books, Lang Laev‘s poems traced her journey in family, love and loving again. I thoroughly enjoyed her writing – her quirky sense and approach to everyday happenings.

Lang Laev, Memories

Incidentally, Lang Laev now lives in New Zealand with her partner, Michael Faudet, also a poet. I discovered Michael’s work Bitter Sweet Love (2016) separate from Lang and it was a fascinating realisation that they are partners-in-crime 🙂  Michael Faudet‘s poems and prose are confronting and verge on the sensual and erotic.  After all he does have a curated erotic Tumblr. On the personal front, Michael Faudet is a mystery in that while he is everywhere on social media, little is known of this Kiwi poet and artist. His other works include Dirty Pretty Things (2014) and Smoke and Mirrors (2017) which is on my wishlist.

Michael Faudet, Bitter Sweet Love

Michel Faber is another poet which I stumbled across in a Sydney book store, his book Undying: A Love Story (2016) that is. Award winning author of 9 other books, this is Michel Faber’s first poem collection written while accompanying his wife through her journey from diagnosis to her passing from cancer. Heart wrenching and entirely beautiful, they chronicle love and despair, anger and sorrow.

Michel Faber, Undying: A Love Story

Finally, an insightful gift Neon Soul (2017) by Alexandra Elle.  The author writes with a rebel spirit, her poems speaking of healing  and positive affirmations, instead of pain which fueled much of contemporary poems.

Alexandra Elle, Neon Soul

There you are, five poets worth checking out. especially  if you are looking for something different and/or accessible.

Enjoy!

~ FlorenceT

© 2018 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘Awaken A New Myth’ by Karen La Puma

I was provided a complimentary copy of this soon-to-be published book in exchange for an honest review.

Title:          Awaken A New Myth: Goddess Warrior on the Hero’s Journey
Author:        Karen La Puma
To be published:     Soul Source (10 Jan 2018)
Format:          Paperback
Pages:             204
Genre:           Non-Fiction – Spiritual

 

 

What’s it about?

“Awaken a New Myth” is the first of 10 spiritual books (A Toolkit of Awakening Series) Karen La Puma has written after nearly 3 decades as an astrologer, hypnotherapist, reiki master and spiritual counsellor.

Weaving the work of Carl Jung, particularly of the Collective Unconscious and archetypes, and Joseph Campbell, in his mythological exploration of the hero’s journey, Karen La Puma proposes a new way of being.

“Awaken a New Myth” entreats readers to discover our light, to have courage to take this journey of discovery. It is premised on our belonging together as a greater Whole. The book is divided into 4 parts (Overviewing the Journey, Answering the Call, Appreciating the Positive and Discovering Purposeful Living) which mirrors the 12 stages of Joseph Campbell’s mythic structure of the Hero’s journey, the journey though taken embodied as the Warrior Goddess.

The abstract language La Puma used can be inaccessible to readers new to the spiritual path, predominantly undefined terms except for the Glossary towards the end.

The use of italicized words and capitalized abstract nouns (eg. Archetypes, Source, Essence, True Nature, Love, Divine, Being) are distracting and confusing, as I attempted to fully grasp their meaning as La Puma intended them. Perhaps it is La Puma’s intention to leave her message abstract and open to her readers’ subjective interpretation?

Awaken a New Myth is a book of ideas, rather than a theoretical exposition. It is a book with heart, and to engage the mind, greater depth is required. Nevertheless, La Puma puts forth her model of the “Goddess Warrior Magnetically Creating the Hero’s Journey” as the “answer for these quickening times, because we now have the ability, the map, and the keys to awaken and co-create a better world”.

Despite the language perhaps more suited to those already on spiritual and mythical paths, the message is a call to live authentically with a willingness to step up to our best self.

As a self-help book, Awaken a New Myth poses many reflective questions to guide readers on the Warrior Goddess’ Hero Journey which readers dedicated to the practice will find insightful answers, and for whom this resonates, a new way of being.

 

My rating:                  2.5/5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2018 LitWorldInterviews

@FTTHUM #BOOKREVIEW ‘HOMO DEUS’ BY YUVAL NOAH HARARI

The sub-title “A Brief History of Tomorrow” caught my attention, and as my daughter said, “of course! You are a nerd”.  🙂

Title:          Homo Deus:  Brief History of Tomorrow
Author:        Yuval Noah Harari
Publishers:     Vintage Arrow (3 April 2017)
Format:          Paperback
Pages:             400 pages
Genre:           Non-Fiction – Literary

What’s it about?

What is the meaning of life?

What is the purpose of life?

What compels human evolution?

What motivates human society?

What is the future of humankind?

Yuval Noah Harari attempts to answer these questions and provides, as indicated in the sub-title, a possible future based on human history. It is a book about an apocalyptic future in which technology plays a major role.

Harari is a history professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, whose widely-acclaimed 2014 book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” plotted the history of human activity. “Homo Deus” (literal translation to Latin, man-god) is thus a sequel, if you like, to “Sapiens” in charting what the future will hold.

Harari is quick to qualify his hypotheses, that should this book enlightens and thus changes the future away from the trajectory which he predicts then he has done his job. Ominous, doesn’t it?

It is Harari’s proposition that for this century, humans’ search for meaning will be directed at playing God – to create new life forms and as intelligent designers of our own Utopia – that is to achieve bliss, immortality and divinity. This is contrasted with historical human activity geared towards merely meeting our basic needs of overcoming sickness, hunger and war.

“The entire contract [between humans and modernity] can be summarised in a single phrase: humans agree to give up meaning in exchange for power.” And for this, there will be a price to pay.

Against the backdrop of rapid technological advancement, Harari suggests we will live in the age of data-ism, in which our faith in data and algorithms will be sacrosanct, as our faith in God was. And with the accelerating rise of technology and machines, long-term future is not imaginable nor predictable. Thus, his initial qualification.

The book does not envisage the end of humanity, rather humanity as we know it.  It perhaps serves as a warning against mindless and unconscious reliance on technology and data, and it begs the question: which would you choose – consciousness or intelligence?

And let me end with this – quoting Harari:

The rise of AI and technology will certainly transform the world, but it does not mandate a single deterministic outcome. All the scenarios outlined in this book should be understood as possibilities rather than prophecies. If you don’t like some of these possibilities you are welcome to think and behave in new ways that will prevent these particular possibilities from materialising.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, especially to readers interested in alternate or different perspectives,  and willing to explore diverse conceptions of human civilisation.

My rating:                  4/5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

@FTTHUM #BOOKREVIEW ‘BRAVING THE WILDERNESS’ BY BRENE BROWN

I wasn’t sure what I would find – a good reason to read any book 🙂 . And then I cried. Not to worry, you may not as the propensity to break into tears is subjective.

Title:          Braving the Wilderness: The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone.
Author:        Brene Brown
Publishers:     Penguin Random House UK (Sept 12, 2017)
Format:          Paperback
Pages:             194
Genre:           Non-Fiction – Spiritual

What’s it about?

You would be certified as having lived under a rock if you have not heard the name “Brene Brown” – a research professor at the University of Houston, Texas and author of numerous bestselling books. Her TED talk “The power of vulnerability” is a must-watch.

“Braving the Wilderness” is Brene Brown’s latest book investigating the landscape of connection and belonging in our human experience. To what or whom do we belong? What is true belonging? Why is connection necessary? The sub-title “The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone” gives away the premise of the book – that it is takes courage and we must stand alone to belong.

As with the saying, you cannot truly love others until you truly love yourself, the same applies to true belonging. Brene Brown calls this “belonging so fully to yourself that you’re willing to stand alone”, “a wilderness – an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching”. Supported by immense research data, anecdotal ad personal stories, “Braving the Wilderness” posits that until we brave this wilderness, we cannot arrive at true connection with and belonging to the world.

This is a deceptively simple book to read, using inclusive language that connects and in her own voice, Brene Brown provides a blueprint, practice she calls it, contained in the acronym B.R.A.V.I.N.G. to traverse this wilderness.

This book open doors to greater insights, and a lover of alternate perspectives in particular will love this book.

Speaking her truth and giving readers the space to find theirs, this book is not a self-help book. Rather it is a book encouraging us to think for ourselves, to be ourselves, to embrace the humanity within us, in these times of polarised opinions and dysfunctional connections. It urges its readers to find their own wilderness, though “the price may be high, the reward is great”.

Would I recommend it?

YES.

Though as I said you may not cry, this book is sure to spark a recognition within you, a truth which will cause you to explore the life you live. Approach with curiosity.

My rating:                  4.5/5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘the first thing you see’ by Gregoire Delacourt

Scarlett Johansson attempted though did not succeed in getting this book banned.  Intriqued? Read on.

Title:          the first thing you see
Author:        Gregoire Delacourt (translated from French by Anthea Bell)
Publishers:     Weidenfeld & Nicholson (August 11, 2016)
Format:          Paperback
Pages:             245
Genre:           Fiction – Contemporary; Romance

 

What’s it about?

This is a quirky book of the plight of being famous at first glance. But it is more than that. It speaks of love and loss, of our need to be seen for who we are, especially by our loved ones.

“the first thing you see” is about a handsome unassuming motor mechanic living in a French provincial town, a man with little experience of the world beyond this town, a man whose young life is beset by tragedy.

Then one morning, a movie star turns up at Arthur Dreyfuss’ front door and his life is changed. But she is not what she may seem. Jeanine Foucamprez is after all suffering from an identity crisis. How and why did she choose Arthur?

Arthur and Jeanine are lost, both traumatised by the presence of unloving parents. Yet with each other, they re-discover their lost innocence. Their faiths in the purity of love are restored.

New encounters, or at least those that seem important, always have that effect: you don’t feel sleepy, you never want to sleep again, you want to tell the story of your life, all of it…, and then that hope – you wish you had always known each other, so that you could embrace and love each other, knowing why, with confidence…

How sweet is this?! But there is more…  This is a story of love with a twist, though somewhat easily detected.

Delacourt’s eccentric references to celebrities, movies, and poetry make this book a fun romp through the entertainment industry, both French and American.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, an entertaining quick read.

My rating:                  3/5

 

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 19.52
  Paperback USD 7.7.4
 Bookdepository  Paperback  GBP 4.48
 Booktopia  Paperbook  AUD 16.90

~ FlorenceT

 

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘Sarabande’ by Sarah Hina

This book is captivating!

Title:          Sarabande
Author:        Sarah Hina
Publishers:     CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (January 10, 2017)
Format:          Kindle, Paperback
Pages:             372
Genre:           Fiction – Contemporary; Romance

 

What’s it about?

“Sarabande” is a story of two people navigating through their lives, bound by their pasts which they must reconcile in order to have a chance at a future they want.

Colin Ashe is a man losing his identity. He suffers from epilepsy which is triggered by music. His anxiety surrounding the possibility of unexpected occurrences keeps him away from a job he loves, and costs him the respect of his wife and potentially the love of his son. Then Colin digs up a box buried in his backyard some twenty years ago by a then young girl.

Anna Brawne is now a renowned cellist, committed to music and Bach. She had buried the box with its secrets to maintain a connection to the one place she calls home.

This box forges a link between her and Colin, creating an intimacy which is the catalyst for the events to follow. With the death of her mother, Anna broke free from the bonds of expectation, only to encounter Colin’s desperate attempt to hold on to his.

Where does integrity lie, in the this age of online connection? Is emotional intimacy enough to sustain a life longing to be complete? Will love redefine the measures of a real life?

What fate awaits Colin and Anna?

Would I recommend it?

Yes, Sarabande is a beautiful love story of triumph and love. I could not put it down and I’d bet neither will you.

And I cannot resist – here is Yo-Yo Ma’s interpretation of JS Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 (Sarabande).

My rating:                  4.5/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 1.55
  Paperback USD 13.95
 Bookdepository  Paperback  GBP 15.62

~ FlorenceT

 

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘The Museum of Modern Love’ by Heather Rose

These words – “A novel inspired by Marina Abramovic” – on the cover of “The Museum of Modern Love” were all the reasons I needed to read this book.

 

Publishers:     Allen & Unwin  (2016)
Format:          Kindle, Paperback
Website:        www.heatherrose.com.au
Pages:             284
Genre:           Fiction – Contemporary

What’s it about?

“The Museum of Modern Love” by Heather Rose traces the soul of Arky Levin, a film composer. Arky is separated from his wife, Lydia. She has asked him to keep a promise.  And he does. So why is he troubled? In his restlessness, he wanders into the MOMA and sees Marina Abramovic in The Artist Is Present.

The novel spans the 75 days in which Marina performed between the months of March and May of 2010. It goes through the seven phases of a project, as identified by Marina, being:

  1. Awareness
  2. Resistance
  3. Submission
  4. Work
  5. Reflection
  6. Courage
  7. The Gift

So it is that the lives (as projects) which intersect Arky and Marina’s eventual encounter are changed.

This is a story of love, and how we perform love every day.

Love accounted for so many things. A series of biological and chemical interactions, A bout of responsibility. An invisible wave of orality that had been romanticised and eternalised. A form of required connection to ensure procreation. A strategic response to prevent loneliness and maintain social structures.

When Lydia said, “[g]o and write. Make wonderful music. Know that I love you. Have no regrets” then shouldn’t Arky do what she has prescribed?

That is what Arky believes, until he is compelled to discover love’s true gift. And this compulsion is through the art of Marina, whose performance in the MOMA demonstrated the power of connection and the magic of “being seen” by another, beyond the material visibility that is reflected through the context of this novel – the New York rich and celebrities who came to sit with Marina.

This is a story of courage, Arky’s and the participants in “The Artist Is Present” with Marina; people at the crossroads, like Jane, who observes the performance then leaves wondering,

Had it been enough to sit on the sidelines? Had she somehow missed an opportunity for something life-changing, some act of courage?

The courage to not succumb to the should and ought of this world, to face the uncertainty of beginnings.

This is a story of connection – to our past, to each other in the present, and to the future. That we hold the history of us and humanity within us. How we are shaped by the convergence of our past, present and future.

Now, day after day, he looked into the human face, painted with curiosity, and he saw the abyss of history within a human heart. Everyone was its own beaten, salvaged, polished, engraved, carved luminous form.

A connection to our raison d’être – of being open and available to that which calls to us, soul-deep, and honouring it.

All that they are is stored up loud and insistent inside them. But what does it take to be an artist? They have to listen. But do they listen? Most people are filled up with a lifetime of noise and distraction that’s hard to get past.

If Arky’s life is a project, what is the gift? His to receive or to give?

Would I recommend it?

“The Museum of Modern Love” won the 2017 Stella Prize.  A thought-provoking and enjoyable  book definitely worth checking out!

My rating:  5/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 13.29
Bookdepository Paperback GBP 13.49
Booktopia Paperback AUD 20.95

~ FlorenceT

 

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘The Scent of You’ by Maggie Alderson

For me who’s struggling to see how five months of 2017 is nearly over, I took a mental break and reached for “The Scent of You”.

 

Title:          The Scent of You
Author:        Maggie Alderson
Publishers:     Harper Collins
Publication date:  1 April 2017
Format:          Kindle, Paperback
Website:        maggiealderson.com
Pages:             512
Genre:           Fiction – Contemporary; ChickLit

 

 

What’s it about?

“The Scent of You” is Australian author Maggie Alderson’s 10th novel. It is a story of loyalty and of letting go, of following your heart or your head, and the conflicts within.

Hippolyta Masterton-Mackay, Polly to her friends, is a mother to Lucas and Clemmie, both of whom are away at university. She is also a successful blogger, an initial hobby which is now work, and a yoga teacher.

Polly is daughter to Daphne, a glamorous model at 85 years of age and living in a posh retirement home. Though she was quite emotionally absent from Polly in her younger days, Daphne now seems to have great insights into the dilemma her daughter is facing. The dilemma – Polly’s husband has vanished after declaring his need for space. What is Polly to do?

It is through her perfume blog in which she wrote of how scents evoked memories, and vice versa, which causes her to chance upon Guy, a gifted perfumer making a break in the world of scents. Guy quickly became one of her inner circle, but could there be more?

Around the same time, Polly reconnects with an old school friend, Edward, with whom she had shared an innocent kiss on the beach. Chum, a nickname for Edward, visits his stepfather at the same retirement home in which Daphne resides. And before long, Polly and Chum are taking long walks in the country, familiar and comfortable with each other’s company. Is familiarity a better choice than the excitement of Guy?

As Polly grapples with her bewildering situation of lost husband and emerging relationship, she is supported by her yoga students, Shirlee in particular.

What will Polly do? Will Polly take this opportunity to realise who she wants to be?

Would I recommend it?

“The Scent of You” is light and entertaining, a worthy beach holiday read. Or read anywhere really.

This book is filled with warm characters, lovable and flawed. Pick it up and enjoy!

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 3/5
Made Me Think:                   2/5
Overall enjoyment:               3.5/5
Readability:                           3.5/5
Recommended:                     3/5
Overall Rating:                  3/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 11.18
 
 Booktopia  Ebook  AUD 14.99
 Paperback  AUD 25.50

~ FlorenceT

 

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘From a Paris Balcony’ by Ella Carey

My birthday isn’t here yet, but I have just finished “From a Paris Balcony”, a gift from a dear friend. Here’s what I think of it.

Title:          From a Paris Balcony
Author:        Ella Carey
Publishers:     Lake Union Publishing  (October 11, 2016)
Format:          Kindle, Paperback
Website:         www.ellacarey.com
Pages:             290
Genre:           Fiction – Contemporary

 

What’s it about?

“From a Paris Balcony” tells the stories of two women from two different centuries, both lost. Louisa Duval (nee West) longed for freedom and independence in conservative 19th century Europe, while Sarah West longed for the husband and family she would now not have.

They are bound by a devastating death, Louisa’s through suicide. To escape the pain in her life, she fled to Paris on a personal mission to discover the story of Louisa, her great great-aunt’s death after discovering a letter written to Louisa’s husband, Henry from one of Belle Epoque Paris’ notorious courtesan, Marthe de Florian. Guided by her instinct, Sarah searched for answers as her path crosses that of Laurent Chartier, an acclaimed artist who seems to be on his own private journey.

Will Sarah find the answers she is searching for? Did Louisa?

The women’s lives ran parallel in their attachment to their ideals and the future they wanted. Will they dare to embrace the lives they have, instead of the lives they wish?

Other than the romance, “From a Paris Balcony” highlights the conflict and hypocrisy of morality, class and norms in late 19th century Europe, particularly Paris and London. It also brings the issue of gender inequality to the fore.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, and enjoy it. There are whimsical and reflective elements to this book, and few could escape the romanticism of the City of Light.

Now I wish I was back there 😉 !

 

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 3/5
Made Me Think:                   3/5
Overall enjoyment:               3.5/5
Readability:                           3/5
Recommended:                     3.5/5
Overall Rating:                  3/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 4.99
  Paperback USD 6.32

~ FlorenceT

 

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘Burial Rites’ by Hannah Kent

A book which I earmarked to read for some time. Finally, I did.

burial-ritesTitle:          Burial Rites
Author:        Hannah Kent
Publishers:     Back Bay Books, April 2014
Format:          Kindle, Paperback
Pages:             311
Genre:           Fiction – Historical, Literary Fiction

What’s it about?

This heartbreaking story of a woman’s life journey in early 19th century Iceland gripped me from page one.

Burial Rites is a fictionalised story of a true event – In 1828, an Icelandic servant named Agnes Magnúsdóttir was convicted of killing her employer and another man, then burning their bodies. Hannah Kent’s take, as she explained, was “to supply a more ambiguous portrayal” of a woman who has been seen as a “witch, stirring up murder”.

There is no happy ending, and it is no surprise. But this book is not about finding out what happens at the end, but a study of Anna Magnúsdóttir’s life leading to her execution.

The Icelandic setting of unrelenting cold and unforgiving rocky terrain, is perfect backdrop to this story of poverty and a woman’s place within it. A young girl growing up without love and care, spurned and betrayed by those she depended on, Anna’s shame is writ large in her name, and by all that followed her survival.

There was no prison in Iceland then. So when Anna was convicted of murder, she is sent to live with District Officer Jon Jonsson; his ailing wife, Margret; and their two daughters to await her execution. A young clergy, Assistant Reverend Thorvardur Jonsson (‘Toti’) is sent to Anna as a spiritual guide to prepare her for the fateful day.

Reverend Toti initially did not understand the story Anna told, listening through his naïve and blinkered view of the world. But he finally did. And as Anna’s story unfolds, I the reader am confronted by questions.

What makes a person culpable for her actions?

What does it mean to undertake voluntary act? Who is responsible?

How much of our stories are constructed by what was told about us?

How much of us is truly seen and understood?

Would I recommend it?

A solid account. An engaging story. Highly recommended.

 

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5
Made Me Think:                   3/5
Overall enjoyment:               4/5
Readability:                           4/5
Recommended:                     3.5/5
Overall Rating:                  3.5/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 7.47
  Paperback USD 6.00
 Bookdepository  Paperback  AUD 18.00

~ FlorenceT

 

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘The Dinner’ by Herman Koch

Interesting premise, as I read the ‘blurb’ on the back cover. So here goes.

the-dinnerTitle:          The Dinner
Author:        Herman Koch
Translator:    Sam Garrett
Publishers:     Atlantic Books, UK (August 2012)
Format:          Kindle, Paperback
Pages:             320
Genre:           Fiction – Contemporary; Literary Fiction

What’s it about?

‘The Dinner’ is Dutch author, Herman Koch’s 2nd book published in 2009 and translated to English in 2012. It has been adapted for film (US), to be released in 2017 starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney. I for one will be watching it. Why? Because the book is intriguing, and I do want to see if it has been translated well to screen and how the characters are portrayed in the film.

The plot appears simple. Two couples – brothers and their wives – meet at an upmarket restaurant for dinner. There is an issue about their children that must be discussed, but obviously such a difficult topic to speak of that they miserably avoided it through 2 courses and various interruptions.

So what is this “important matter” that must be discussed and resolved?

Internal monologue of Paul Lohman, the protagonist, offers readers insight into the psychological state of a younger sibling, never quite living up to a successful older brother, with a chip on his shoulder and repressed anger.  And through his lens, there is the arrogant older brother, Serge, the defiant yet helpless sister-in-law, Babette; and his loving and supportive wife, Claire who is most importantly his ally as against the other couple.

This story ultimately is about what people, and parents, will believe to protect their own psyche and as a defence to love. It provides a slice of the human condition – how we lie to ourselves and what we do when our very existence, as we know it, is threatened.

The story is told in a pace causing annoyance was necessary; the discomfort and unpleasantness evoked in me is testament of how well-written this book is, and portending the reluctance of the characters to name and acknowledge the “important matter” – the almost calm and matter-of-fact manner which belies the undercurrents of tension, fear and malice.

What are their motivations? Or their responsibilities?

Does it matter if the desired outcome is achieved?

How will it end for everyone concerned?

Would I recommend it?

An intriguing book definitely worth spending time on.

 

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 4/5
Made Me Think:                   3/5
Overall enjoyment:               4/5
Readability:                           4/5
Recommended:                     3.5/5
Overall Rating:                  3.5/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 8.47
  Paperback USD 8.92
 Bookdepository  Paperback  A$11.10

~ FlorenceT

 

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘Grind’ by Edward Vukovic

When approached by Vukovic for an honest review, I could not refuse as I am an avid coffee drinker. The book cover is enticing, and in itself, pip my curiosity. Coffee grind reading…?

grind-coverTitle:          Grind
Author:        Edward Vukovic
Publishers:     CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (February 2, 2016)
Format:          Kindle, Paperback
Website:         www.edwardvukovic.com
Pages:             398
Genre:           Fiction – Contemporary

What’s it about?

The story is a microcosm of the world at large, bound by the aromatic substance, coffee.  This is an entirely enjoyable and intelligent book, weaving multi-faceted characters through each other’s lives culminating in a powerful resolution.

We have Ziva, a young migrant woman, intelligent and trapped in a world of poverty. Infused with a talent for coffee-grind reading, she lives by her heightened ‘instinctive’ sense.

There is Simon, an angry direction-less man feeling victimised by life and its injustices; the only valuable thing in his life that which he thought could not be taken from him – his special coffee.

And Isaac, pub owner and a man atoning for his sins as he only knows how – the daily overcoming of the temptation of a former vice.

What of Michel, a homeless man by choice, oddly noble man avoiding his past and seeking in his own way to make amends.

Danielle, the young girl with a mentally ill father, bound by circumstances yet still hopeful for a better world.

Masterfully crafted by Vukovic, their lives intersect and will be forever changed, each character finding redemption.

I cannot help but associate the title ‘Grind’ with a different meaning, the grind that is life for the characters, each with a burden to bear. Will it lighten, I wonder…?

Would I recommend it?

Absolutely. ‘Grind’ draws the reader into the lives of its characters, reminding us that we all have our privates selves, that it is a priilege to be let into that private world.  We are the same – doing the best we can in our world – no matter the texture of our story; and interconnected – our actions have impact on others .

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 4.5/5
Made Me Think:                   3.5/5
Overall enjoyment:               4.5/5
Readability:                           4/5
Recommended:                     4/5
Overall Rating:                  4/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 2.95
  Hardback USD 18.95

~ FlorenceT

 

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews