Laytonwoman's Love of Three Oranges 2012

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Laytonwoman's Love of Three Oranges 2012

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Dez. 6, 2011, 4:44pm

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

Dez. 6, 2011, 7:30pm

Oh, if I got to vote...........I would definitely vote for A Spell of Winter.......a wonderful book and the 2 Waters. I loved them both too.
But that vote (other than the Dunmore is a little biased because I've not read the other three. lol!~!
I hope you love whatever you choose to read Linda.

Bearbeitet: Dez. 7, 2011, 5:50am

Oh hooray, I hope you'll read Beyond Black! It's on my list ... did Jill say she was going to read it too? I can't remember. But I love it when there are others reading the same Orange book.

Dez. 8, 2011, 7:42am

Yep, I'll probably be reading Beyond Black too!

Dez. 9, 2011, 9:02pm

Beyond Black was the first of Mantel's books I read, loved it. I hope you all enjoy!

Dez. 10, 2011, 10:56am

Well, I guess there's quite a consensus about Beyond Black, so I'll put it near the top of the pile.

Dez. 27, 2011, 1:11pm

Sounds like a lot of people will be reading Beyond Black so I am curious to see what everyone thinks of it as I haven't read it yet. The only book on your list that I have read is The Little Stranger. I look forward to following your Orange reading!

Bearbeitet: Dez. 29, 2011, 3:12pm

Gotcha starred Linda and will be eagerly looking forward to your reads and comments. Loved The Night Watch, The Little Stranger and I do believe that A Spell of Winter was my very favorite Orange last year. Can't wait to get going!

Jan. 2, 2012, 5:17am

Hi Linda, if The Night Watch is anything like The Little Stranger it might be hard to put down. I've made a note to myself to only start a Sarah Waters novel on a weekend, trying to get up the next day for work after being unable to put a book down is just too hard on my system, besides that I just want to keep on reading it the next day, if I didn't finish it that night ;)
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.


Jan. 2, 2012, 5:11pm

I have sailed through 100 pages of Beyond Black today, and I am hooked! Mantel is just amazing.

Jan. 2, 2012, 6:10pm

I know not everybody enjoys Mantel, but I enjoy her work; I haven't read this one, but I'm looking forward to it! The Dunmore is still on my TBR stack too, but not for this January.

Bearbeitet: Jan. 2, 2012, 6:23pm

I think Hilary Mantel is amazing (Oh, I said that already, didn't I?)---she seems to reinvent herself in each book I read.

Jan. 2, 2012, 9:51pm

>10 laytonwoman3rd:: Hmm, that's interesting. This appears to be a polarizing book!

Jan. 2, 2012, 10:06pm

Well.... now I am intrigued to track down a copy just to see which side I am on...... maybe later this year or for Orange 2013!

Jan. 3, 2012, 7:13am

#13 She certainly never writes the same one twice.

Jan. 3, 2012, 8:08am

I am also reading Beyond Black and finding it very good. I'm over halfway now. It's an easy read!

Jan. 4, 2012, 6:11am

Stopping by to say hi! I've got A Spell of Winter on my shelf, but instead I'm enjoying The Siege by the same author. Enjoy Orange January!

Bearbeitet: Jan. 9, 2012, 8:26am

OK, final thoughts on Beyond Black, having finished it over the weekend.

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.

Bearbeitet: Jan. 9, 2012, 10:16am

If Beyond Black was written by someone else, what would you have thought about this book? Just curious. =)

Jan. 9, 2012, 10:19am

That's an interesting question, Jill. I'm not sure I can answer it. I'm fairly sure that my assessment overall is not based on who the author is, BUT I think the fact that Mantel wrote it kept me from giving up when it got boggy in the middle. I assumed she was going somewhere, and I decided to stick around to see where. Ultimately, I'm glad I did. But if it had been an author unknown to me, or if I hadn't read any of Mantel's other books, I can't be sure that I wouldn't have said "no more for me" at some point, just as Laura did.

Jan. 9, 2012, 11:33am

Well, I think you answered it well enough! In my own review of Beyond Black, I think I cut Mantel some slack because, well, she's Hilary Mantel. And obviously brilliant. Just curious what others thought. =)

Jan. 9, 2012, 1:11pm

I cut Mantel some slack, too. I really wanted to like the book, and still feel bad that I didn't.

Jan. 9, 2012, 1:21pm

I have not read any of Mantel's books yet, although Wolf Hall is sitting on my self. I have been reading such mixed reviews of all her works here and on other threads. On the one hand, I am anxious to see for myself what is what, while at the same time, I don't want to read a book that I might struggle with, at least not at the moment.

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.

Jan. 9, 2012, 6:06pm

The discussions on Beyond Black were enough of a debate to make me order the book (from the used book store)! I am looking forward to reading it for myself and seeing what I think and which side I favor!


Jan. 9, 2012, 6:20pm

#24 Well, I'd call that a good debate, then!

Jan. 9, 2012, 8:05pm

>18 laytonwoman3rd:

Excellent review. Beyond Black was the first book by Mantel I read, and I really was in two minds as to whether I liked it or not. A reread later and I'm certain I like it, I'm just not quite sure why... as you say, it can't be described as enjoyable.

Jan. 30, 2012, 9:13pm

So, summing up my Orange January, I read Beyond Black, reviewed in No. 18 above; I read 100 pages of Swamplandia! and gave up--I didn't like the characters or find them particularly interesting; I didn't think the writing was anything special; and I thought the story, up to that point, was something of a mess.

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!).

Jul. 13, 2012, 7:25am

Well, here we are nearly half way through July, and I haven't read a single Orange book. Truthfully, until the last couple days, I haven't even thought about reading an Orange book. Life has me by the scruff of the neck right now, and I'm reading somewhat desperately just to escape for a plan at all. I haven't been able to keep up with the threads here, and that makes me sad. HOWEVER! I think I may pick up The Night Circus before the month is out.

Bearbeitet: Jul. 13, 2012, 10:55am

Linda, sorry for your extra-business, but I'm always interested to see what you think about books, and your last ones have me itching to read. I guess I'm going to have to find a copy of Accordion Crimes - I'm sighing with a grin.
ETA: Did it! It was available at PBS!

Jul. 13, 2012, 3:18pm

The Night Circus is a nice way to close out July. Hope you can find time for it!

Bearbeitet: Jul. 31, 2012, 7:48am

I did finish The Night Circus, and while I found the magical parts delightful, I felt the story line was weak and awkwardly put together. A brilliant idea, not quite fully realized. I reviewed it here.

Dez. 14, 2012, 8:27am

Just stopping in to recap last year's Orange reading. Of the books listed in post 1, I read two, Beyond Black and Accordion Crimes, and Pearl-ruled a third, Swamplandia! My plan for January is to revisit that list, and maybe to read Song of Achilles, which my daughter has kindly lent to me. I think I will start a new thread for 2013, just because it should SAY 2013, shouldn't it?

Dez. 14, 2012, 10:14am

Yes, it should say 2013! Can you believe it's almost here???