Laytonwoman's Love of Three Oranges 2012
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I have read 5 of the 16 Orange prize winners, including all of the last four. The only other winner currently on my shelves is A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore. I think I may start with that one. I'm aiming for three Oranges in January (hence the title of my thread) and I will choose from these, all of which I have lurking somewhere in the house.
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
Accordion Crimes by Annie Proulx
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
The Little Stranger by Sara Waters
A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
The others on the list all sound really good too.
I haven't read that one by Annie Proulx but I remember thinking the shipping news was a great read many years ago.
Looking forward to reading your thoughts.
This book is most definitely not for everyone, as evidenced by the number of readers in this group who picked it for their first 2012 Orange read and put it down with feelings ranging from disappointment to disgust. I found it quite good, if not nearly the equal of other Mantel novels I have read. It's necessary to let yourself slip into another world, much as you must do with the Harry Potter novels, where the natural laws we all take for granted are superseded by another set of rules that are not at all congenial to those bound by them. Alison Hart is a professional psychic beset by a mangled cadre of "fiends" from the other side; a heartless, thoroughly unlikeable assistant; and a paranoid lot of neighbors who see terrorists and prowlers in every shifting shadow, poisoned soil and noxious plants in every patch of untended garden. We gradually come to understand that much of what torments her from the spirit world has a basis in her own violent and abused childhood, but (and here's where the suspension of disbelief is essential) we are not meant to attribute the earthly presence of her demons entirely to mental imbalance or psychological damage. Along with sharp satire and humor that is, well, beyond black, the book is full of precisely drawn characters both living and passed, who are uncomfortably true to life. Not what I would call an enjoyable read, but one I've completed with great admiration for the author's skill.
I agree with Laura that there were definitely some pacing issues with the development of the story.
Your discussion has gotten me thinking, but has not seemed to nudge me either way. I guess I will continue with my previous just avoid her for now path.
I have just finished Accordion Crimes, which was like reading 4 or 5 books at a time---totally engrossing, but with so many story lines, so many sets of characters, so much detail, that I felt rather like I was reading a Russian novel. The writing, as always with Annie Proulx, just grabs you and won't let go, but just when I'd start to feel invested in one bunch of characters, she'd leave them behind and move on to another, because the centerpiece of this novel is a small green, hand-made, two-button accordion, and the focus of her storytelling is its long life history. I can't imagine the research that must have gone into this novel, as it moves through various time periods, from one immigrant culture to another, embracing food, music, occupations, lifestyles. geographies...all of it feeling absolutely authentic. I loved it and want to start from the beginning to experience it all again.
Finally, a book I also loved, and which I nominate as an Honorary Orange, Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. I reviewed it here.
Typical of my reading plans...I started out quite certain that I would read A Spell of Winter, and it never even came off the shelf (or out of the box, or wherever it may be!).
ETA: Did it! It was available at PBS!