- Fizzy Thoughts: Recent reads

Recent reads

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I read two books this past week.

First up, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, by Maggie O'Farrell. I will confess to buying this book because I had a coupon from B&N for like a gajillion percent off. As I started to read it, I was feeling conned by the whole coupon thing, because I wasn't too into the writing style, and I found the set-up of the book too confusing. The author jumps around in time and between characters, and I was having a hard time figuring out where I was, and who was who. But after I finished the book it grew on me. It deals with a fascinating, yet depressing topic - women who are committed to psychiatric hospitals for simply not conforming to society's expectations of proper behavior. So for the topic alone, I appreciate the book. I'm still not appreciating the writing style, though.

Next up was The Saffron Kitchen, by Yasmin Crowther, a book I'd walked by many times in Borders. The cover kept catching my eye, so once again I was suckered in by the cover art. This time, it was actually worth it. The book tells the story of Maryam Mazar, an Iranian immigrant with a troubled and mysterious past. As a young woman she was sent to London, where she eventually married a British man and had a daughter. Years later, her daughter Sara follows her mother home to Iran and begins to understand the influence her mother's culture and upbringing has had on both of their lives.

While nothing alike, these two books both touch on how women are frequently victims of societal constraints and expectations. Out of the two books, I found The Saffron Kitchen to be the more readable of the two books. The author did a wonderful job of transporting me to both rainy England and the cold mountain villages of Iran. Her characters were real, while The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox felt more like a quick drive-by of someone's life. Both books are fairly short, and quick reads...I'd recommend The Saffron Kitchen to anyone wanting a taste of Iranian history and mother/daughter/cultural conflict. I'd recommend Esme to anyone wanting a very, very, very brief look at stuffy Victorian morals and how they totally screwed up one person's life.

1 comment(s):

sognatrice said...

I'm a sucker for cover art too! Seem like pretty interesting books that maybe you just need to be in the right mood for. I've really not enjoyed books and then gone back and read them and loved them...maybe someday when your pile is low, you might try that first one again.

The second one sounds like exactly what I'm looking for now; thanks for the recommendation :)

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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