Tuesday, August 19, 2008

follow up : things done : read The Tenth Circle and The House on Fortune Street

Read both Jodi Picoult's The Tenth Circle and Margot Livesey's The House on Fortune Street. Can't say nothing but wow about the latter. TTC was good, but was a bit too CSIish for me. The plot was predictable: mom's having an affair with one of her college students, dad is a stay home graphic artist with a mysterious past, rebellious teen, somebody gets killed. who dun'nit? I did enjoy the use of second person--very clever--and the characters were developed with such ease it seems.

THOFS was out of sight! It, in my Auntie's words, "raised hell." Characters were so interesting and intriguing you just wanted to stay that fly on the wall and see what happens. Beautifully rendered with craft and wit. Lots of visits and modern perspective on classics. Characters are artists: writers, photographers, dramatists. Male characters are unbelievebly believable, female friendship written with depth. Jaw dropping passages that keep you mesmerized.

Favorite passages from The House:

"I had no idea," said Dara. "From the outside you always seemed so sure you were destined to be together."
"One of us had to be." She gave the frying pan a shake. "I know this sounds arrogant but I used to think there were special cases, and that I was one of them. I'm attractive and I have an interesting life. Sean changed that. Over and over he said one thing and did another. People may make extravagant claims when they first start fucking, but once the novelty wears off, they pretty much revert to type."
"But so you still love him," said Dara, "don't you?" She was startled by the bitterness in Abigail's voice, and by how much she sounded like her old, pre-Sean self.
"Yes, but not in an 'I will go to the ends of the earth, die without you' way. I was right when I thought that was all an illusion, a nice, big middle-class illusion. For a year I woke up most mornings with a quote from Keats running through my head: 'Life must be undergone.' According to Sean" --she stepped back from the stove-- "he believed that suffering is what gives us souls."


People couldn't live without food and air and shelter and money. Romantic love was an extra, nice if it came along, but definitely superfluous to the main requirements of existence.


That evening, she told Abigail that her own despair had helped her to understand that of other people. "It doesn't matter how stupid the reasons are, if you're in the grip of a feeling it isn't stupid. You can't imagine it will ever change."


"One day you can see that someone is perfectly ordinary and the next the same person is brilliant, unique, amazing. Then, if things don't work out, they go back to being ordinary and you can't even remember what made them so special."


Very super-duper-ly recommended: The House on Fortune Street


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