ink_splotch: (boblende latter under din hud [glæde])
[personal profile] ink_splotch
I have turned in all my work, done my exam and caught up on sleep and I feel fabulous. The kind of fabulous that you really should be able to bottle so you can always remember feeling this way even when you're bogged down with papers, applications and exams.

Today, I plan to continue the relaxation I started yesterday and take my best girl out for coffee and cake, while dressed in a very spiffy dress (the dress is important. It is adding to my general fabulousness, you see), after which we shall head to mine for reading. Reading is emphasized because it is the kind of reading that is not in the least bit related to my degree programme. This is very exciting, you see.

(Hee, Gemma just looked over my shoulder and went, "You are not allowed to use the expression 'best girl' in real life. Ever.")

Anyway, during yesterday's relaxation-a-thon, I finished People of the Book, which people insist on comparing to the Da Vinci Code. Which I suppose it is a bit like. You know, if Dan Brown had done research, taking a creative writing course, had an editor, and decided to write a historical novel about book conservation instead of a thriller about religious theories everyone already knew about. Which is to say it is nothing like The Da Vinci Code and reveiwers need to shut up and stop using comparisons in their reviews.

Anyway, the book itself. I had some issues with it - I found Hanna's family issues less interesting than the author, and I'm still not sure how I feel about the final twist - but it is so, so worth reading if you have even the slightest interest in religion, European history or books. Or indeed, museums and people. It is told by Hanna, who is hired to restore the Sarajevo Haggadah, and through the clues to it's history that she finds in the bindings, we get flashbacks from the book's history - and with it, the history of muslims, jews and christians in Europe. The flashbacks are brilliantly vivid; I was constantly struck by how easy the worlds were to visualize. But they are also good stories, and most of them feature strong women, which I love. Geraldine Brooks also writes a good, subtle love story; it's never the focus of any of the narratives, but it's there and it feels like one more aspect of the characters' lives, rather than the point of them. Many of the flashbacks are quite short - about 50 pages, or so - yet, while you are left wanting more, it's not in a bad way; instead I was left intrigued and ready to imagine for myself what happened to the characters, which I take as a mark of a good book.

It is preachy at times - it can hardly avoid it, being about religion - but I think it mostly avoids cliches and definitely avoids being condemnatory, so even in the final twist, you have sympathy for all the characters and understand their reactions. Very much reccomended!

Now, however, I am really craving a book about inter-faith relationships. Nothing dramatic - no Romeo-and-Juliet retellings, or books that feature insane religious families (I stumbled over the latter particularly often, and while I understand that they're sometimes realistic, they're also way too common) - but just a book where two people deal with the fact that they have different traditions and rituals and how they compromise and get through this. Hmmm.

However, I think I'll end up reading Michael Chabon's Summerland next, and then probably Lillian Faderman's Naked in the Promised Land. I have missed this SO MUCH, you guys.
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