Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

I will preface this review by saying that I very much admire Curtis Sittenfeld’s work… But Rodham was not the book for me.

In summary, the novel is a ‘sliding doors’ look at Hillary Clinton’s life, and what might have happened had she not married Bill, and instead ‘remained’ Hillary Rodham. Sittenfeld gives Hillary a career as a law professor and a successful life in politics, but these things come at a cost – she has no family of her own, and few intimate relationships.

The story exposes the double-standards between male and female politicians, imposed by the public, the media, and society in general.

…complaints about sexism were perceived as sour grapes. Proof was elusive, situations subject to interpretation. Continue reading

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Know My Name by Chanel Miller is almost impossible to review. It’s the same problem I always have when reviewing memoirs – who am I to comment on a person’s story? And Chanel Miller’s story – brutal, powerful and incredibly insightful – is one that I’m particularly wary about commenting on, because she has had more than enough scrutiny. And yet, she wrote this book. A book that invites thought and demands discussion. Continue reading

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Things I wonder:

  • When Elizabeth Strout first wrote Olive Kitteridge, did she envisage a sequel?
  • And when she started thinking about where Olive’s story would pick up, was it easy to know what she wanted for Olive?

No doubt I could find an interview with Strout about Olive, Again, and these questions would be answered. Instead, I’ve chosen to ponder over Olive – because she is far from an easy character. She’s cantankerous. She’s prickly. And yet we love her. Olive is judgemental. She’s tone deaf. She lacks the emotional insight needed to guide her through tricky times. And yet, her obliviousness to discomfort is precisely what allows her to be a comforting presence at the most unexpected times. Continue reading

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

I used to go to gym with a woman whose family owned a funeral home. I asked her a million questions about it. That wasn’t me being weird, everyone asked her questions.  I think we have a natural curiosity about the process of death. Oddly, another member of my gym group managed a brothel. We asked her a million questions as well. Clearly we were a very nosey group!

Anyway, take what you will from my anecdote – it was the only introduction I could come up with for Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, Fun Home. Continue reading

Three very different memoirs

One Hundred Years of Dirt by Rick Morton, Wham! George & Me by Andrew Ridgeley, and The Fixed Stars by Molly Wizenberg are wildly different books. In fact, the only thing that unites them is that they are all shelved under ‘memoir’.

Morton reflects on his traumatic childhood and the definition of ‘poverty’ in Australia; Ridgely also recalls his childhood, however his included a stable home, music lessons, and his friendship with a school mate who would eventually be known as George Michael; and Wizenberg focuses on the disintegration of her marriage after she realises that her sexuality is ‘fluid’. Continue reading

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

In choosing fiction, my preference is for narratives driven by emotion rather than action – I want to be in a character’s head and to know what they are feeling, as opposed to being a bystander, ‘watching’ what happens to them.

Long Bright River by Liz Moore is very much an action-driven story. It tells of two sisters, Mickey and Kacey, whose lives begin in the same troubled home but then take very different paths . Kacey lives on the streets of Kensington, Philadelphia, addicted to heroin, and doing what she has to do to feed her habit. Mickey also knows the streets of Kensington but that’s because she joined the police force. Although the sisters are estranged, Mickey keeps an eye out for Kacey. When a string of unsolved murders occur – the victims all young women with drug habits – Mickey fears for her sister. Continue reading

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

I accept that some bloggers, whose reading tastes lean toward the more literary end of things, will unfollow me for what I’m about to say…

…but when I watched six seasons of The Hills (yes, that ‘reality’ show with LC and Heidi and Spencer), I was engrossed in the detail – the parties, the holidays, the break-ups and make-ups, Justin Bobby, the workplace dramas. It was all very ‘up close’. And then the last episode happened – had the producers been playing the audience the whole time?! Continue reading

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Okay, next time I mention that I’m planning on reading a thriller can you please stage a ‘reading intervention’?

I won’t go into the detail of You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, short of saying it’s the standard middle-class-women-go-psycho thriller. Continue reading