Home Recommended Reading Workshops About RSS

Posts Tagged ‘Amsterdam’

US: A Novel ~David Nicholls

Monday, October 20th, 2014

“I had always been led to believe that getting older was a slow and gradual process, the creep of a glacier.  Now I realize that it happens in a rush, like snow falling off a roof.”  (I am advised not to use a quote from this copy because it is not a final copy – I did anyway- there were so many good quotes it was difficult to pick one.)


US is all about what a man is thinking; not just any man but a proper English Gentlemen who is very smart and has worked as a chemical engineer for a very long time.  US is also a love story of Douglas and Connie’s 24 years marriage and just what Douglas is contemplating about how he arrived at who he is presently and who he is becoming.  Douglas is contemplating so much about his love and life that he knocks down a row of “bikers” bikes, books a room in a boutique bordello for his family, and swims with stinging jellyfish.  There is that delightful British humor which just delights this reader and Douglas’s vast ability for a good pun.

Connie is an artist and painter and works at an art Museum in London.  When Douglas and Connie were married Connie stopped painting.  Together they lost baby Jane a few hours after giving birth and shared life for seventeen years with son Albie who is about to move on to University.   The family is making a Grand Tour of Art to give Albie an adventure and knowledge about the great works in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain.   Connie several days before the Great Tour sits up in bed and says, “I think our marriage has run its course. Douglas, I think I want to leave you.”  Douglas and Connie decide to think about this course of action after the tour.  Douglas wants to strengthen their bonds of love with his wife and son on the tour.   Change is very difficult for Douglas and he has the same hopes and dreams he has been protecting and holding on to for twenty four years.  US is a wonderful read and I am sure I am going to read this book again.

tlc logo TLC Book Tours  sent me a copy of this book to review through a new e-book source for me – Edelweiss.   It is an unproofed, uncorrected copy of the book, which will disappear off my Kindle before this review is posted on PW.  I was so pleased to read this book, loved the humor and the story and thinking  happening, and even the trip and discussions of paintings that I am going to purchase this book so I can read it again in the future.  I was so reassured that an engineer could figure out his emotions, talk outside the rules, love, and could change, I found laugh out loud hope in this story.  I believe many of PW’s readers will enjoy this book and this story about change and love.

My best recommendation about this book if you are middle age and thinking about the future – Read US

David Nicholls in the Guardian, “I didn’t want to write a dodgy disappointment”
From Nicholls thought about ONE DAY:

“I worry sometimes that I’m a bit moralistic; always writing about men who are learning to grow up, not be so self-absorbed, selfish or badly behaved. I wonder if that’s dull and liberal and wimpy? I should probably write something that celebrates wickedness. Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/d/david_nicholls.html#BLKTLPofKmGZqHZv.99

Related:
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry 
Walter’s Muse
Unfinished Business
Freedom

THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS: A Novel ~Elizabeth Gilbert (New York Times Bestselling author of EAT PRAY LOVE)

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014


On Facebook, Audible.com offered me a free copy of THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS.   I was delighted because I wanted to read this book even before it was published as I truly relish Gilbert’s writing voice.  The precision and language usage I always find awesome, it transports me, my reading skills improve and I find challenge which pushes me to better analysis and understanding.
I have been reading Gilbert’s stories for a long time, as a friend of mine discovered her cowboy stories in a men’s magazine and he passed them along as he knew I would like her style.   I have not been disappointed.  I am sure I could write 500 words about the writing.  I will say Ms. Stevenson the reader of this audible book was just so skilled also and it allowed me to recover from a small surgery while keeping my eyes closed and my ears attentive.    The book is over 500 pages, and that was a perfect recovery time.

Alma Whittaker was born in Philadelphia on her father’s estate just a few days into the 1800s.  Her father Henry Whittaker began life as a poor man in England who worked in a garden as a tree pruner.  He had a business sense and he learned Botany from the earth and the plants and the skills of others. He was determined to be wealthy and was quite an entrepreneurial fellow.   He found a strict Dutch wife who would have this newly wealthy man who was also a Botanist and together they forged a path into the Age of Enlightenment with determination.  Alma’s father began one of the first Pharmaceutical companies based on plant medicinals.  Their home was a laboratory for guests and wisdom and all the new found science and knowledge.  The education of Alma was rigorous and futuristic.  Alma became a Botanist in her own rights, delving into the norms of evolution and changing minds.

The story reveals all the changing mores of this time period.  The Quaker Movement against slavery and their new schools, the beginning fight for women’s rights, the preparation for the industrial revolution, the rise of public education, the changing religious traditions, and the scientific exploration and explosion of ideas are all explored.  Books were more readily available and more printers established publishing houses.  Because Alma was isolated on her family’s estate, she showed us how the world was changing with each venture forth with fresh vision and appealing analysis.  We are taken to Peru, South Seas islands, and then back to Europe; the end of the story finds Alma about 95 and living in Amsterdam with her Mother’s younger brother.  An historic saga, or an adventure story I am not sure if I need to classify this work as anything more than a great reminder of history and discovery.  THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS was a marvelous read and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes exquisite writing and complete story telling with lots of details.

This novel was the perfect way to start a year of reading and reviewing.  The history provided the historic back story to 4 more books on my review list. I was better prepared to read these other stories and understand the context of the shared time periods and appreciate what the 19th Century provided to the global evolution of human kind, opened the door to medical breakthroughs and paved the technological outreach of today.   The format of an audible book was perfect for me to use while driving or healing, although I was frustrated with not being able to go back and make notes, underline, and find a beginning quote for this review. I hope all of my daughters will read this book and maybe I can persuade one of my book groups; the length makes it prohibitive.

Thank you to Audible.com  for sharing this book with me.  THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS is an excellent read.

Related:
Committed
The New Men
Margaret Fuller
The Idea Factory