Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

I’ve finally gotten my stack of books to be read down to three, with “Out Stealing Horses” included. I don’t remember where I got the book, but I think it may have been a gift. No matter, since it had horses in it, I figured it wouldn’t hurt taking up a space on my bookshelves.

But the problem is, I finally cracked the book open and read… and I really can’t stand it.

Now, some people are really into the type of writing style that Petterson (as translated by Anne Born) uses, where the text is almost a stream of conscious thought (prose).  I’m not one of those people. It’s hard for me to follow along and in this case, there’s flashbacks that take you from present to past and in doing so, causes confusion and disrupts the reader’s understanding.

As I said, there are some out there that love that kind of writing style, and if you are one of them, check this book out and tell me what you think. But if you are like me, I would pass on this one. As is, I only got about 20 pages in. Maybe I quit too early, but in reading the book summary on the back cover, it sounds like there wasn’t much more to the story than what I figured out in the first 20 pages.

For those that really want the summary: Trond Sander, an almost 70 year old man, helps his neighbor look for his lost dog in late one night. After moving out in the remote area, the sudden companionship of the neighbor throws Trond back into memories of his younger years with his mischievous friend Jon.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

This book is another that has sat on my bookshelf but never been read. I’d seen the movie a few times, and knew it had to be good because I thought the movie was good. As always, the book was even better.

As I’m sure you all know (because seriously, this book has been out for TWO DECADES!) the novel is the fictional memoirs of a young girl names Chiyo (who becomes Sayuri) who was sold as a young child to an okiya, a geisha house. She suffers the loss of her family and abuse from those in her okiya, but finds hope when meeting a chairman who shows her an act of kindness. She eventually becomes a “little sister” under a great geisha named Mameha, and becomes a great geisha herself. All the while, she hopes that her training will bring her back to the chairman she met as a child, and does all that she dares to follow her own dreams, for once.

It’s a lovely story, and Golden has written it so convincingly (as far as I’m concerned) that several times I caught myself Googling to see if certain names were fictional or not! And because I had seen the movie, as I read I could hear the woman who narrated the movie narrate in my mind. I also really enjoyed the imagery in the novel- it was a good balance between descriptive and concise. Plus, the similes and metaphors were a really nice touch to really portray details in Sayuri’s feelings and environment. For example:

“The walls were covered with a pale yellow silk whose texture gave a kind of presence, and made me feel held by them, just as an egg is held by it’s shell.”

Another thing I appreciated was the conversational narration that reminded the reader of who a certain bypassing character was- as if Golden knew that if he didn’t add that information, the reader would go leafing through the pages to place the name.

Overall, I loved the ability to see through the eyes of Sayuri, and to spot the cultural differences not only in the geisha way of life, but in the Japanese way of life. Even though I had seen the movie and knew where the general story line was going, I got so caught up in the experience with her that many times I didn’t know that I already knew the outcome. It was a very good read, which of course I didn’t doubt, and I’ll certainly be returning it to my bookshelf.

Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah

Jumping right in, this short and sweet novel is about two sisters and a young feral child learning to communicate and trust one another. Ellie, chief of police in small town Rain Valley, is called onto the case when a small child is found with a wolf pup stuck up in a tree. Once rescued, the small child is observed to have serious  scars, animal instincts, and no way to seemingly communicate with those around her. Determined to find the girl’s parents, Ellie calls in her sister, Julia, a child psychologist, confident that she would be able to get the girl to speak about her past. Julia, on the other hand, is shaken to the core after recent events put her at the center of a tragic and scandalized event. Feeling like there was nothing left to lose, she returns to Rain Valley. Once she meets the little girl, she knows that though her confidence is shot, she has to remain strong to heal this girl.

As Julia, Ellie, and the little girl who becomes known as Alice grow closer, they know they would do anything to keep Alice safe.  Magic Hour is a quick and easy read, and though the story line is predictable, it’s keeps the readers attention with the hope for Alice’s happy ending.

 

Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons

I’ll keep this one short because I’m afraid if I say too much, all the plot twists will be revealed! Tatiana and Alexander is the sequel to The Bronze Horseman, one I didn’t realize existed until I started doing a little research after my last book review. I found it online and ordered it, and I think it took longer to ship the book than it took me to read it. It’s over 500 pages, and I couldn’t put it down for about three days.

Now, if you haven’t read the first book, stop right here. Seriously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Still with me? Okay. The sequel follows Tatiana as she figured out how to live without Alexander in America. She and her little boy, Anthony, take up residence on Ellis Island, and Tatiana becomes a nurse, aiding the sick who enter as refugees and captives of the war. All the while, she holds on to the nagging feeling that Alexander hasn’t left her, that he must be alive…. and though she doesn’t quite know it, he is. He’s narrowly escaped death not once, but a handful of times, and he won’t stop holding on to the hope that he will see Tatiana and their baby again.

It’s an epic love story novel, and if you loved The Bronze Horseman, you’ll love reading their final chapters in Tatiana and Alexander.