Wednesday, October 24, 2012


The title: Passion
The author: Louise Bagshawe
Publication:  Headline Publishing, 2009
Got it from:  The library

After reading so many heavy books for book club, I wanted something light and easy and page-turning.  This book appealed to me because its premise is based on Jane Austen's novel Persuasion.  When Melissa and Will were young, they were in love and wanted to get married.  But Melissa's father, an ambitious Oxford professor, convinced Melissa to break it off.  Heartbroken, Will goes into the army and gets recruited by MI6.  Almost twenty years later, Melissa is an academic with a rather dull life, and Will is a billionaire banker living in Manhatten.  When she becomes the target of a ruthless assassin, Will has to come back into her life to protect her.

I liked this novel quite a bit, and enjoyed it more than the average chick lit fare I've read.  I zipped through the 500 pages of this novel, wanting to see how Melissa and Will were going to escape some pretty harrowing situations.  Although I thought Will's meteoric rise to billionairedom was pretty far-fetched, I could see how the author needed to include it to make their escape from internationally trained killers believable.  I liked that Melissa isn't drop-dead gorgeous and that Will falls in love with her again because of her passion and determination.  The reason for Melissa being targeted (it has to do with her father's research) is kept somewhat vague, but that's obviously not the focus of the story.  This was definitely a fun diversion for a fall evening.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Tiger's Wife

The title: The Tiger's Wife
The author: Tea Obreht
Publication:  Random House, 2011
Got it from:  The library

Whoa.  I can't believe it's been a month since I last posted a book review.  For some reason, I have been really struggling to finish a book recently.  It may be because I've been running two book clubs and the books we've been reading have been super huge.  I don't normally write about my book club books, but I'll make an exception this time.

Describing the plot of The Tiger's Wife is rather difficult.  It starts out in the present-day Balkans, with a young doctor traveling to rural communities to distribute medical care to children.  Her grandfather has just died, and in flashbacks she tells the story of her life growing up with him and the tales he told her about his childhood in a remote mountain village.  The stories he tells have a tinge of fantasy to them, and the two main ones involve a "deathless man" who the grandfather encounters throughout his life, and the tiger's wife.

What I like about this book is that the fantasy element has been left ambiguous.  Certainly the peasants in her grandfather's village growing up were superstitious and believed in folk tales.  What I took from it was that real events occurred (such as a tiger escaping from a zoo and running into the mountains) which later grew to mythic proportions.  There's a lot of push and pull between the folk beliefs of the villagers and the more rational, modern beliefs of the narrator and her grandfather (who was also a doctor).  One of the grandfather's most prized possessions was his copy of The Jungle Book, which he carried with him everywhere, and allowed him to identify the tiger when it showed up in his village (as opposed to everyone else thinking it was a demon, not having seen one before).  The grandfather's stories seem to say that legends make life more interesting, but ignorance has its consequences, as when people turn to folk rather than modern medicine or make a scapegoat out of an innocent bystander (the tiger's wife).

I'm not much of a description person so I struggled with some of the detail of the book, but overall I liked the dream-like, strange atmosphere of the book.  It's almost like reading a modern-day Grimm's fairy tale where you have to prepare for the unexpected.