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Gin and Tolstoy (Summer 2018): Book 1

(9 Posts)
KeithLeMonde Sun 01-Jul-18 17:28:45

Discussion thread for group 1, book 1

tobee Thu 05-Jul-18 22:48:05

This is mine btw!

I chose it because when I read it recently it reminded me of why I did A level English Literature!

Also it's very short which I thought might be appreciated. smile

KeithLeMonde Mon 09-Jul-18 18:15:43

This was a totally new book for me and not one I would normally have picked up, so thank you Tobee for choosing it.

She's a wonderful writer, and I'm glad I have read this - it was very powerful. I can't pretend that reading it was a fun experience - both the utter bleakness of the subject matter and also the stream of consciousness style, which I always find a bit hard work.

There are many parallels you could find between this book and others which have been commercially and critically more successful - Ulysses (that ending, anyone?), The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, and others (I'm kicking myself now as there was a book that kept coming to mind while I was reading but now I'm writing this and I can't think what the book was - I'll post again when I remember). One modern book which I've read recently which I thought was similar in some ways was Conversations with Friends - the heroine's self-destructiveness and the way that inanimate objects seem to collude with her in it.

I have to admit I am hoping for something a bit more cheerful next month smile

tobee Mon 09-Jul-18 20:57:30

No, sorry it isn't a fun read. I just find myself fascinated by women living on the margins of society.

I did wonder about whether it was too much but went for it anyway.

KeithLeMonde Thu 12-Jul-18 09:52:59

The Bell Jar was the other book it reminded me of. I'm struggling to put into words exactly what I found in common between these two, along with the Rooney.... It's a kind of disassociation, so the narrator is the main character but is also looking at them from the outside. They hurt, they are wounded, and yet they are numb. Such a true way to write about depression.

Badtasteflump Wed 22-Aug-18 11:40:48

Well I have just finished this book. I hope it's ok to say I found it a really difficult read - I found it hard to get through to be honest. Not because I didn't find it interesting enough; I did. But I found it really depressing. I had never read anything from that author before and thought her writing style was incredible - she really nailed the way the character is completely miserable and goes through some awful events, but is numbed to the horror of her own life. It made me really sad actually - maybe I'm just oversensitive!

I too am hoping for something more cheerful next time! I think it made it worse reading about absolute darkness and giving up of any hope, whilst sitting in the blazing sun in my garden eating chocolate... blush

diamantegal Mon 17-Sep-18 20:24:43

Just finished this, and I'm going to be honest - this is why I didn't enjoy English Lit A-level. Books like this are just too clever/contrived for me - I can appreciate how well written it is, but I don't enjoy reading it.

That said, this is what the book swap was all about - I want to be challenged, and I was. The side of Paris that was described in this book is so different to the Paris I know as a tourist, and I thought that was very well done. But overall I struggled with quite how bleak it was - I wanted Sasha to turn things around and at the same time, didn't like her enough to think she deserved it (although I do appreciate she'd had a pretty tough life - but I didn't think that part resonated as much as it could have done).

But thank you - this is certainly something I would never have picked up and I definitely found it an interesting read. I just think all the reviews on Goodreads and the like showed me how much it went over my head!

tobee Thu 06-Dec-18 23:27:55

That's a shame, @diamantegal . However, I think you gave it a fair review, as you experienced it.

I have to add, although I enjoyed English lit, I wasn't very good at it, and probably missed half the layers too!

Interestingly, I have your book this month wink

diamantegal Thu 06-Dec-18 23:33:44

LOL - it's quite different! Feel free to get your own back in the review...

But as I keep saying, this is the point of the swap. I did it to read different books - some I enjoy, some are more hard work. But I don't regret reading any of them.

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