rainpebble turns ORANGE in January/July

ForumOrange January/July

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rainpebble turns ORANGE in January/July

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Bearbeitet: Mrz. 8, 2014, 10:04pm

I hope to read several Orange books in January & July plus meet kidzdoc's challenge of reading one per month throughout the year.

Oranges: Mmmm; vitamin C is sooo good for you!

Bearbeitet: Nov. 21, 2014, 12:48pm



1. The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler; Long Listed, 2004; (3*)
2. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd; long listed in 2002; (5*)
3. The Seas by Samantha Hunt; Long listed in 2011; (4 1/2*)
4. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson; Long Listed, 2006; (5*)
5. Home by Marilynne Robinson; Orange Prize Winner, 2009; (4*)
6. Annabel by Kathleen Winter; Short Listed, 2011; (4*)
7. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters; Long Listed, 2010; (4 1/2*)
8. The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey;
Short Listed, 2010; (4*)
9. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson; long listed in 2013; (5*)
10. Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier; Long Listed, 2000; (4*)
11. Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter; Long Listed, 2014; (4 1/2*)
12. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Long Listed, 2014; (2*)
13. So I Am Glad by A.L. Kennedy; Long Listed, 1996; (1/2*)
14. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin;
Long Listed, 2011; (2 1/2*)
15. House of Orphans by Helen Dunmore; Long Listed, 2006; (4*)
16. Gilgamesh by Joan London; Long Listed, 2004; (4 1/2*)
17. The Long Song by Andrea Levy; Long Listed, 2010; (3*)
18. Paradise by Toni Morrison; Short Listed, 1999; (2 1/2*)
19. The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini; Orange Award for New Writers, (2009 or 2010); (4*)
20. A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore; 1st winner of the Orange Prize, 1996; (5*)
21. When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant; Orange Prize Winner, 2000; (3 1/2*)
22. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold; Orange Prize L/L, 2003; (4*)
23. Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen; L/L, 2014; (4*)
24. The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison; S/L, 2010; (3*)
25. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett; Orange Prize Winner, 2002; (4*)

The Ghost Road by Pat Barker; Orange L/L, 1996;
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
Property by Valerie Martin
The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright
The Submission by Amy Waldman

My 1st Orange for ORANGE JANUARY:
The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler; Orange Long Listed, 2004; (3*)

I like to read Anne Tyler but I don't really know why. I find all of her books, as I did this one, deeply depressing and she seems to apply a certain kind of futility to the lives of her characters. They go through their lives doing what they think they should be doing but with no zest for or real love of life, just sort of plodding along. I guess her books are too close to what life truly is for most of us and I find that rather bleak. One likes to think that the world at large is full of happy people and to think that "one day I will be there too" sort of philosophy. But is life really all happiness and light? It is not and Anne Tyler writes about those lives with a style all her own and I continue to read her so I guess I appreciate her writing. I will continue to read her for I do find her work fascinating though depressing. Perhaps I will throw in a fairy tale now and then to cheer myself up in between.

Bearbeitet: Jan. 15, 2014, 6:25am

My 2nd Orange of the month:
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd; long listed in 2002; (5*)

The Secret Life of Bees will grab you right from the beginning. I fell in love with most of the female characters in this book.
This is a coming of age story about Lily, a 14 year old growing up on a peach farm with an abusive father. Her mother died when she was quite young in an "accidental shooting" when attempting to leave her abusive husband. Lily saw it all and her father has convinced her that she was the one who accidentally shot her mother. We never learn the real truth about this event.
The story takes place at the time of the newly enacted Civil Rights Movement in the mid sixties. Lily and her black housekeeper Rosaleen flee when they are arrested because of Rosaleen pouring snooce juice over the feet of three white men who are harassing them.
In a series of events that can be nothing short of divine intervention Lily and Rosaleen end up in the charming South Carolina home of three sisters, May, June & August. While Rosaleen bonds with May in the kitchen cooking good old fashioned southern dishes Lily works with August learning the art of beekeeping.
Each chapter of The Secret Life of Bees begins with a charming "life of a bee" fact that relates to the chapter that follows. As the story unwinds secrets of a painful past are revealed but simultaneously a new and happy life is created. You will experience some painful endings as well as some happy and hopeful beginnings. I cried & I laughed over this book.

The Secret Life of Bees is about facing our pasts, accepting them and finding the "mother in ourselves" to move ahead with strength & love. It's about friendships that aren't bound by color or society and ultimately about love. As you read this novel by Sue Monk Kidd it will undoubtedly come to hold a special place in your heart as it does in mine.
I highly recommend it.

Bearbeitet: Jul. 24, 2014, 5:59pm


My 3rd Orange of ORANGE JANUARY:
The Seas by Samantha Hunt; Long listed in 2011; (4 1/2*)

The Seas is an enchanting little tale about a young girl who thinks that she & her father before her are mermaid/merman. The story is one of isolation both by the physicality of it and also of self isolation. The girl keeps to herself and spends a great deal of time at the beach hoping to see her father return to she and her mother. One day while there she sees a young man coming out of the ocean and he is beautiful. She immediately falls in love with him though she is at the tender age of twelve and he is much older. The story moves on from there and is mainly about their relationship.
It is a fast paced fantasy that even an old lady can love. I really liked this little book. It wasn't perfect but then what fantasy is?

Jan. 11, 2014, 4:16am

My 4th Orange of ORANGE JANUARY:
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson; Orange Long Listed, 2006; (5*)

I loved Gilead. It is written as a memoir from a dying elderly (at least third generational preacher) to his seven year old son. And It is written in a manner that takes one back to about the 1950s. The father, who is narrating, writes in a very calming, soothing way and is attempting to let his son know what he thinks, why he thinks that way and about things that have occurred in his lifetime and the reactions and responses to those occurrences.
The preacher married late in life and had his son even later so he wants to share as much as he can to give his son an understanding of himself as a man. He writes of his beautiful relationship with his best friend (a preacher of another denomination) and of his wife, the boy's mother. He writes to him of his growing up years and he and his father's relationship.
The book is full of God, the Bible, prayer and of a life devoted to God. Yet it is not written in a preachy way at all. I also think it was much more contemplative than religious. If I didn't love the Lord, I think I still would have loved this book because of the way it was written. The author's words simply flow throughout the entire novel. It is one of the easiest books I have read in the last couple of years and perhaps one of the best. It may not make my top ten, but it will certainly be way up there. Marilynne Robinson is a wonderful author. I highly recommend this book to people of all persuasions. The only other book I have read that I can compare feeling this way upon finishing would be Cry, the Beloved Country. There was just something about Gilead that took my breath away.
Do something really kind for yourself and read this one.

Bearbeitet: Apr. 5, 2014, 8:55pm

My 5th Orange in ORANGE JANUARY:
Home by Marilynne Robinson; Orange Prize Winner, 2009; (4*)

I adored Home. Fans of Robinson's Pulitzer Prize winning novel Gilead fell in love with her gentle minister, the Rev. John Ames, and the story he was creating for his son. Set in the 1950's, Gilead is a love letter from the 77 year old Ames to his 7 year-old son. This luminous, tender book was completely outside the realm of what some might expect from a modern best-selling novel. Robinson shattered the mold with Gilead.

In Home, Robinson takes the reader back once again to this quite Iowa town. It is still the 1950's. John Ames still has a bad heart. But he's alive and enjoying life with his young wife and child. Home is not necessarily a sequel. It's more of a companion work and while reading Gilead prior would certainly enhance the reader's appreciation for Home, doing so is not essential.

Home is the story of the best friend of John Ames, the Rev. Robert Boughton and his family. John Ames is definitely part of the story but in a more peripheral sense. These two elderly ministers grew up together. They have argued scriptural fine points for the better part of a century. Rev. Boughton's health is failing now too, much faster that his friend's is declining.

Rev. Boughton's 38 year-old daughter Glory has come home to care for her father. Boughton has been a widower for 10 years. The Boughtons had seven children. Rev. Boughton's favorite child, Jack is the black sheep of the family. He hasn't been home in 20 years. As the story opens they have just heard that Jack is coming home for a visit with his ailing father.

The prodigal son finally turns up. Jack is a man with a mysterious past. He is also one of the most compelling fictional characters I have encountered in quite some time.

Robinson spins her magic as father, brother, and sister play out the drama of this homecoming. Home is rich as gold. Robinson writes with a warmth and assurance that will bring tears to your eyes. Home will resonate with readers who understand the joys and sorrows of being part of a family. Highly recommended.

Jan. 11, 2014, 4:17am

My 6th Orange in ORANGE JANUARY:
Annabel by Kathleen Winter; Orange Short List, 2011; (4*)

I finished Annabel this morning and while I liked it very much indeed......it seemed to wrap up rather quickly for me. Things were unfinished that bothered me but more at home with the parents than with Wayne/Annabel. Treadway's change was rather remarkable but I knew he was a softy all along, just a rather gruff one. This book just pulls one along and keeps you for the long haul with just a couple of hiccups. I think I would give it a solid 4 stars.

Jan. 11, 2014, 4:18am


My 7th Orange of ORANGE JANUARY:
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters; Orange Long Listed, 2010; (4 1/2*)

I hardly know where to start. This one took me in gently, grabbed me and held me throughout. Strangely enough, the character I cared the least about was Caroline. I simply was unable to read her and get into her. I cared about all of the other characters, even the minor ones. Thus, the 4 1/2 stars. Otherwise I would have easily rated this one a 5 star read.
And 'the little stranger', indeed, turned out to be what/whom I thought it to be. It made sense, it fit perfectly........but I didn't like it. Not that I didn't like it in the story. I think it had to be that way.
The story is one of a doctor who comes to the village and in his work, he falls for the sister of one of his patients. Eventually they plan to marry but things occur and continue to occur that keep putting the wedding at bay.
The house of his patient is one of the old 'great houses' and I think the good doctor falls in love with the house as well even though it is in ill repair. Things fall through in the end, literally..............and we are rather back where we began but with our head still in the story.
The entire book is rather a head-game with the characters and with the reader as well. I liked it a great deal and would have loved it if the character, Caroline, had been more believable to me. Still and all it was a wonderful read and I highly recommend it.

Jan. 11, 2014, 4:19am


My 8th Orange of ORANGE JANUARY:
The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey; Orange Short Listed, 2010; (4*)

I was ready for a 'knock your sox off' book when I began The White Woman on the Green Bicycle but I didn't find it to be so. The story takes place in the racially political years of Trinidad and is about a couple who move there from England "for three years" in a job related transfer for the husband. He falls in love with Trinidad, she....not so much.
The story is plotted out in three sections. The first section; the early days .... their move and the wife slowly realizing that chances are pretty good their three years is going to turn into more. She becomes very disillusioned with their lives, the island and her husband. But she has their children and a busy life so she accepts the situation.
The second section; the ending days .... their children are grown and the couple are now in their seventies and still in Trinidad. The wife has become complacent and yet angry at the same time with her husband. She knows they will never leave Trinidad and will die there. The end of this section is the end of the story but not the book.
The third section; the middle years is the real meat of the story and comes at the back of the book. So much happens in this part of the story. The political unrest becomes an unbearable violence toward the whites and Trinidad is now a very dangerous place to be living. The couple both have secrets from one another. He is unfaithful with many women though he adores his wife and she has a secret correspondence (which she never mails off to him) with the Prime Minister or whatever they call the leader of the country. When the husband finds this, he feels even more betrayed than she does when she realizes that he is sleeping with other women.
For me the best part of the story was the interactions of the characters with their servants and the one servant's family in particular. I cared more about them than I did the main characters.
I would not say that this was not a good book, but I think it could have been so much better. All of the concepts are there, the characters are there....they just needed to be drawn out more clearly and be more who they were. Like I said the strong characters were the servants. I won't read this one again and I am very surprised that it got as far as it did on the Orange list. My first disappointment with an ORANGE. ;-)
I have had to reassess this book. Today, some 22 days after reading this book I have to say that it is still resonating in my brain and in my heart. I WILL read it again one day and I have had to change my rating of it from 3 1/2 stars to a 4 star read.

Jan. 11, 2014, 10:36pm

YAY! Belva has started a new thread, and even if it's "Hello Kitty," I have to love the topper!
What good reading you have been doing this month!!!!! I loved, loved, loved both The Seas and Gilead for greatly different reasons. I'm gad that you did too. Maybe you should have stopped there? I haven't read *Bicycle*; I don't even own it; you have made me feel quite complacent about those two facts!

Jan. 11, 2014, 11:16pm

You are doing very well! Wow, I can't believe how many Oranges you've read already.

Good collection here and I agree about Gilead - writes in a very calming, soothing way - this book put me to sleep! I know I am in a minority, but I couldn't stand this book.
Keep going rainpebble!

Bearbeitet: Jul. 24, 2014, 6:00pm


My 9th Orange of ORANGE JANUARY:
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson; long listed in 2013; 5 stars; (a reread for me)

When I first read the plot line of Kate Atkinson's Life After Life I immediately wondered how Ursula Todd would come back to life. Would it be like the movie Groundhog Day with all the frustration that came with not being able to escape the loop? Would she be aware of what was happening? Would other people be aware of what was happening to her? No matter how many possibilities I envisioned I was still surprised by the way Kate Atkinson crafted this plot. She wrote this story with such ingenuity and originality. It was never simple nor trite. I think that every time I feel déjà vu in the future I will think of this book.
Much of the story took place in London during the Blitz of WWII. These pages were frightening and heart wrenching. I could not put this one down once I began it. Atkinson gives the reader a very vivid view of war. She allows us to see its enormity and how distressing and wearing it is for all involved.
Life After Life is beautifully written and reads like a classic. Wonderfully complex, it's a story you could read over and over and always find something new and fresh. I loved this story and know that it won't be long before my next read.

And it wasn't.

Bearbeitet: Feb. 3, 2014, 2:31am

>11 raidergirl3::
raider, I will still be your friend even in the face of adversity. LOL!~!

>10 LizzieD::
But Peggy, *Bicycle* was a 4 star read for me. I couldn't get that book out of my head for days and so I had to go back & bump it up. :-) And I am so happy that you like *Hello Kitty*. I did it just for you, you know. hee hee

Jan. 29, 2014, 8:18pm

O.K. I'll maybe read *Bicycle* if it ever comes my way through PBS. Meanwhile, I'm excited that you were even more taken with Life After Life than I was. I have to say that it should have won Orange, and I'm depressed that it didn't.
Maybe I need to *Hello Kitty* a little longer.....

Feb. 5, 2014, 12:26am

I think I have chosen my Orange for February. Kate Grenville's The Idea of Perfection is the only Orange Winner I have yet to read & it is sitting on my shelf so I will be reading that one this month to meet Darryl's challenge of an Orange a month.

Bearbeitet: Jun. 15, 2014, 5:47am

I thought I would follow Nickelini's lead and list my TBR Orange books languishing on my shelves.
Charming Billy by Alice McDermott; L/L; 2000;
Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald; L/L; 1997;
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood; S/L; 1997
Disobedience by Naomi Alderman; L/L; 2006
The Most Wanted by Jacquelyn Mitchard; L/L; 1999
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri; L/L; 2004
Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller; L/L; 2006
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood; S/L; 2004
The Colour by Rose Tremain; S/L; 2004
The Dark Room by Rachel Seiffert; L/L; 2002
Old Filth by Jane Gardam; S/L; 2005
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood; S/L; 2001
Scottsboro by Ellen Feldman; S/L; 2009
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan; L/L; 2011
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters; S/L 2002;
Secret Son by Laila Lalami; L/L; 2010;
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver; S/L; 1999;
The Remedy by Michelle Lovric; L/L; 2005
The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville; Winner; 2001;
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern; L/L; 2012
Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund; L/L; 2001
The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer; L/L; 2008
The Birth of Love by Joanna Kavenna; L/L; 2011
The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan; S/L, 1996
May We Be Forgiven by A. M. Homes; Winner; 2013;
NW by Zadie Smith; L/L; 2013;
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver; S/L; 2013;

I guess I have enough Oranges to keep me busy this year but you all know how it is. When that list comes out, so do our 'must haves. :-)

Bearbeitet: Jul. 24, 2014, 6:00pm


My 10th Orange of the year:
Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier; 4 stars; My Orange for February & a reread; Orange L/L; 2000

Tracy Chevalier’s novel, The Girl With a Pearl Earring, was a captivating story, a blend of history and fiction, inspired by a famous painting. Set in the 1600s 16 year old Griet is sent to work for a successful painter of the time, Vermeer. During the course of her apprenticeship, her master takes a romantic interest in her as she does him. Chevalier creates an amazing plot for the picture and creates a story that captures the reader although she never fully develops her characters’ feelings which detracts from the romanticism of the story.
The story that the author creates using this beautiful picture is one that shows an incredible amount of creativity. Chevalier imagines a story behind the painting that is sometimes referred to as the “Dutch Mona Lisa”. Even though no one knows who the girl in the painting is Chevalier is able to envision a romance about her. She invents a love story that crosses class lines as well as religious lines in a rigid society. The author portrays beautiful imagery for the reader. She describes the paintings making the reader feel as if they are right before them. Griet describes a woman in one of the paintings: “She wore a mantle of rich yellow satin trimmed with white ermine, and a fashionable five point ribbon in her hair.” The reader can imagine this woman’s elegant clothing with ease and can easily become mesmerized by by the descriptiveness of the novel.
Although the characters in the novel are interesting and cleverly drawn they lack depth of feeling and their motivations remain hidden from the reader. While it is easy to understand a few of the characters the two main ones, Griet and Vermeer, are never fully exposed. The reader is never told in any depth what Griet feels and thinks and Vermeer remains a mystery. At the end of the novel immediately after Vermeer finishes the painting of Griet Chevalier decides to end the story. Griet runs out of the house when Vermeer’s wife Catharina, sees the painting. There is no explanation of how Griet changes from this experience or what she truly feels. That left this reader with many unanswered questions.
The Girl with a Pearl Earring was an interesting mixture of history and fiction. Chevalier is successful with her imagery and with the plot of the story. However she could have improved the novel by adding the exquisite detail that she used in the plot and imagery, applying it to the characters. The novel, even with those negative points was quite successful for this reader. I simply wanted more.

Bearbeitet: Apr. 5, 2014, 9:37pm

The first ones I want to read off the list are:
Americanah, 2*
Eleven Days, 4 1/2*
The Undertaking and most probably
Still Life with Bread Crumbs.

Mrz. 15, 2014, 9:29am

Americanah is fabulous! Thats got my vote so far.

Bearbeitet: Apr. 5, 2014, 9:39pm

Oh yeah! I am really forward to that one and have been in queue at the library for what seems like forever so I guess it has a very large following. I can't wait.
I did, however, pick up Eleven Days at the library today so I will begin that when I finish my current book, One of Ours.

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 23, 2014, 4:48am


My 11th Orange of the year: Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter; long listed, 2014 & my Orange of the month for March: 4 1/2 stars

Eleven Days is the story of a single mother, Sara, her thoughts & what she went through after being notified by the Feds that her son, Jason (who was part of the elite Military Special Operations) had gone missing. He was due to be discharged but was called back for one special mission. Now he is missing and she is going through her days waiting.
The military have in place any and all support. They have gone to the greatest lengths to make all they have available to her, even unto having a serviceman who went through the lengthy elite schooling, training programs & missions with Jason, to stay with her. This is a good thing as she doesn't think to eat or sleep but for seeing Sam go through these motions. She gardens, goes for long runs and waits.
The story goes back to when Sarah met & became involved with David. A man 30 years her senior involved in the government but she never really knows for sure in what capacity and it doesn't seem important. She is exclusive to him but isn't sure if he is to her. He comes & goes as his work allows. They never speak of a future together and it always feels okay to her, this relationship. Then she becomes pregnant. Suddenly her work 'on the hill' , she edits books and articles for important people 'on the hill', is being done at home. Most of those she works for know & care about David & thusly, they care about Sara. David leaves her before the baby comes but is at the hospital for the birth and is a very proud father.
Sara ponders David's selfishness & his arrogance but she still cares and does not become entangles with anyone else. She doesn't know if David does or not. When they talk they do not discuss such things. Usually they discuss their son, Jason, and David is very good to send money & to see that they always have what they need.
Jason's father dies of a heart attack while working at an overseas embassy when Jason was 8 years old. David provided Jason with 4 godfathers and they all remain in his life throughout his formative years and beyond.
Then the story moves ahead to Jason deciding what he wants to do & where he wants to go to school. Without his mother's approval he decides that what he feels he must do, what he really wants to do, is to apply to the Naval Academy. He is accepted and does very well. Then he goes through the years of special training and one day he begins going on missions. He and his mother share special code words when they write & when he calls her so that she knows he is really okay.
The description of his training is marvelous. For a first novel, Lea Carpenter has an exceptional way with words. This book was a real page turner for me & I appreciated it so much. I was unable to put it down. If this is the only book that I read off the Bailey's Prize long list this year, I am already satisfied. I found both the story and the background information fascinating.
I highly recommend this book & gave it 4 1/2 stars. I would have given it 5 stars if the author had chosen to end it sooner. I think that by adding the "END EX" Carpenter removed some of the empowerment of the story and it is a powerful story.

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 24, 2014, 9:05pm

Getting ready tonight to begin my 12th Orange of the year: Americanah, off this year's long list. I love this author and am excited to read a third book of hers.

Mrz. 22, 2014, 12:45pm

From your TBR pile, I've read:

Alias Grace
Oryx and Crake
The Colour
The Blind Assassin
The Poisonwood Bible

and I'm 1/3 the way through Fingersmith

All of these are 4 or 5 star reads.

Mrz. 22, 2014, 1:07pm

Oh yea!~! Thank you Joyce. I am glad to hear that. Though I have read some of her books and have a great deal more, Atwood always intimidates me a bit until I get into the book. Kingsolver has the same effect on me. Strange, eh?
I hope you are enjoying Fingersmith. I have read three of Waters' books and loved all of them.

Bearbeitet: Jul. 24, 2014, 6:39pm

My 12th Orange of the year & my Orange for April:
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Long Listed, 2014; (2*)

I won't even attempt a proper review on Americanah because there are so many lovely ones on the book page. I will say that I am a minority in that I didn't care for this book. I loved Half of a Yellow Sun & Purple Hibiscus by her but this one did nothing for me. I found myself even dreading to pick it up and was so disappointed by that.
First I wanted to love it. Then I wanted to like it and in the end I just felt sad that I had failed this writer of two of the most beautiful books I've read in recent years and spent days attempting to read a book that I found I couldn't like. The characters did not draw me in. I was not fascinated by their circumstances. I could not even find the American/Nigerian comparisons interesting. It was just a big flop for me & I feel guilty about that.
Perhaps my head has been immersed in too many Great War stories & couldn't pull itself from them. IDK. I do know that I will find something to read today that will carry me away.
I am sorry Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for I have loved your writing and you have been an inspiration to me.

Bearbeitet: Jun. 15, 2014, 3:33am


My 13th Orange of the year & my May Orange:
So I Am Glad by A.L. Kennedy; Orange L/L, 1996; (1/2*)

I attempted So I Am Glad by A.L. Kennedy. The inside jacket cover states: "Jennifer Wilson is by vocation a disembodied voice, a radio announcer hiding from her life in a job that perfectly suits her constitution by allowing her to remain audible but invisible, protected by an invincible wall of anonymity." I should definitely agree with that. I didn't care for the way it was written nor did I care for the story line. I am not a prude but eventually I applied the Pearl Rule. Was simply unable to complete this book.
I am amazed that it is on the 2014 Orange/Bailey's Long List; absolutely amazed.

Apr. 6, 2014, 3:20pm

I'm hearing many good things about Eleven Days - many are predicting short list for it. Glad you enjoyed it, and now I'm looking for it.

I liked Americanah, but it was no Half of a Yellow Sun. I can see why it was nominated, but I agree about the characters, esp the boyfriend. He was a real drip! I did like it until she returned to Nigeria, so the ending fell flat for me.

Too bad about So I Am Glad; it's an old book though, right?

Apr. 8, 2014, 2:08am

>29 raidergirl3::
Yes, raider. It was long listed in 1996. My all time favorite Orange won in 1996: Helen Dunmore's A Spell of Winter. I read very little contemporary fiction and when I do they are generally highly recked to me or they are Oranges. It's rare for me to dislike an Orange but has happened in the past two years. IDK....

Bearbeitet: Jun. 15, 2014, 6:56pm

My 14th Orange of the year:
June's read of The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin; Orange, L/L, 2011; (2 1/2*)

Baba Segi is obsessed with the inability of his fourth wife (just his newest acquisition; he still has the other three) to conceive. For two years he had been 'pounding' her & still she has not become pregnant. By his other wives he has three sons and four daughters.
Each wife seems to know her place within the hierarchy of the household and as long as they stick to that, things seem to run rather smoothly. But this fourth wife brought in is instantly but innocently a thorn in their sides. None of the three accept her and she is treated quite abominably. The children follow their mother's leads and are also fractious with her.
This then, is the basis for Lola Shoneyin's novel. She seems to not take enough time for the events of the story; in the mind of this reader. There is a lot of talk regarding Baba Segi's body functions which after the first couple of times could have been lightened I thought. Baba Segi rotates the nights spent with each wife with the extra night belonging to his first wife.
And as it says in the title this is indeed a story of his wives. Who does the cooking, the cleaning, the mending, etc. There seems to be no place for the newest wife.
For me Baba Segi got what he deserved in the end when he finds the truth of events within his little family. And I guess that I didn't understand the culture within the story. It was difficult for me to wrap my head around most of the characters, adults & children alike. Though there a few laugh-out-loud occurrences in the story, all in all the effort I spent reading it didn't feel worthwhile at the end of the day.

Bearbeitet: Aug. 2, 2014, 12:59am


15. House of Orphans by Helen Dunmore; Orange, L/L, 2006; (4*)
16. Gilgamesh by Joan London; Orange Prize L/L, 2004; (4 1/2*)
17. The Long Song by Andrea Levy; Orange Prize L/L, 2010; (3*)
18. Paradise by Toni Morrison; Orange Prize S/L, 1999; (2 1/2*)
19. The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini; Orange Award for New Writers, 2009 or 2010; (4*)
20. A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore; 1st Orange Prize Winner, 1996; (5*)
21. Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris; Orange Prize L/L; 2002; (4*)
22. Gillespie and I by Jane Harris; Orange L/L, 2012; (2 1/2*)
23. Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller; Orange L/L, 2006; (3 1/2*)

Bearbeitet: Jul. 24, 2014, 6:02pm

My 15th Orange of the year and my 1st Orange for ORANGE JULY:
House of Orphans by Helen Dunmore; Orange, L/L, 2006; (4*)

"My talisman, preserve me,
Preserve me through the days of persecution,
Through the days of remorse and distress:
Thou wast given to me on a day of sorrow."

When Eeva's Marxist revolutionary father dies, proclaiming that he has wasted his life, she is sent to the 'House of Orphans' in the Finnish forest far from her home in Helsinki. She leaves behind her childhood friend Lauri and a life of studying at an old card table while "people came and went" and urgent political meetings were conducted - including one in which a murder may have been planned and then, afterwards, carried out.

The main action of this novel begins in Finland in 1901. This is the Grand Duchy of Finland, part of the Russian Empire, and following the February Manifesto of 1899, undergoing further "Russification" under the orders of the Tsar and the Governor General of Finland, Bobrokov. The House of Orphans, under the guarded care of Anna-Liisa, prepares its children for service. When Eeva is placed in the house of the Swedish Dr. Eklund, she begins to find herself again. She begins to belong to herself again. She was almost content working for the doctor though she was lonely at first as his home was located in the forest out of the village with no neighbors. Her only company was Matti, the aged gardener who lived in a hut on the property, the good doctor and a woman who came in to take care of the 'good' china. Yet she yearned for the days of her friendship with Lauri and her life in Helsinki.

Meanwhile Thomas, the good doctor, has his own questions to answer. Is he more free than Eeva, even with his big house and servants? Condemned to a solitary life after the death of his wife, and still dealing with the consequences of an affair with a friend of his daughter's, he delivers babies and makes herbal remedies from lemons and nettles. Despite the actions of his friend Lotta and his daughter Minna, he begins to fall in love with Eeva.

When Thomas asks Eeva if she would like to write a letter she naturally writes to Lauri and soon they are reunited. But this poses more questions. In Helsinki Lauri and his new friend Sasha prepare for revolution, and plot the murder of Bobrokov. Eeva does not like that Lauri looks up to Sasha and that he is involved with this plot. Nor does she want to be sucked into something that she does not believe in.

"The wooden marker already looked worn with age. The earth had closed up again over his body. He was there beneath her, actually beneath her. Her father, who had carried her so often on his shoulders.
'You didn't waste your life,' she whispered into the earth."

This novel, part love story, part tragedy, part profound political meditation, shows that Helen Dunmore is back in dazzling form. Her prose as always is exquisite. And she never seems to 'overdo it'. Dunmore is particularly skilled at aligning the domestic with the political. She uses the detail of the past to create a narrative that is complex and contemporary. She is one of my favorite current day writers and I highly recommend this book.

Bearbeitet: Jul. 24, 2014, 6:02pm

2nd Orange of ORANGE JULY:
16. Gilgamesh: A Novel by Joan London; Orange Prize L/L; 2004; (4 1/2*)

I loved this book. I came to care about all of the characters and I couldn't wait to see what was coming up around the corner with Edith and her son's travels and travails looking for 'the papa'. The writing is beautifully done and this reader did not want this one to end.
I am not going to review the book as Dee has done it so beautifully on the book page. But I too, found it to be everything I desire in a read. So well done and the characters were so interesting. Loved the part with the handicapped singer; just so colorful; a truly wonderful book. Read it.

Bearbeitet: Jul. 24, 2014, 6:02pm

3rd Orange of ORANGE JULY:
17. The Long Song by Andrea Levy; Orange Prize L/L; 2010; (3*)

This story, The Long Song by Andrea Levy, is interesting, even fascinating at times. That proved to be the problem for me....at times. It is about Miss July, (Marguerite as she came to be called by her mistress), a slave in Jamaica on an elite plantation during the days of excess, the days of the Queen freeing the slaves, the days of the freed slaves revolting and the days of the failing plantations. Miss July is a very interesting character and if the book had chosen to stay on the task it began, I think it would have been much better but it chose to go off in different directions that I found distracting. Characters would be introduced that you liked but then came to disrespect. Miss July was always the same and I liked her a great deal. My biggest gripe comes at the end of the book when it goes into her son's journalism and I just pretty much got bored with the whole thing by then, but for the fact that I knew we would come back to Miss July. And we did.
I reluctantly recommend this book. I think some will really like it and some not. I am just below the middle of the graph and gave it 3 stars. I scored it that high for the hope that I found within it and for the first 4/5 of the book.

Bearbeitet: Jul. 24, 2014, 6:02pm

18. Paradise by Toni Morrison; Orange Prize S/L, 1999; (2 1/2*)

Non-linear and filled with many characters, some of those having multiple names, don't expect Paradise to be a casual Sunday stroll in the park. About a third of the way through I stopped struggling & let myself simply experience the novel. I stopped trying to make sense of it and just read it. That did make it easier to read though I NEVER find Toni Morrison's books easy to read. If one enjoyed the book I would think it would require more than one reading. I didn't & so I won't be reading this one again.
Although emotionally and beautifully rich in Morrison prose as always, her novels require patience & thought, an open mind & a willingness to just let her lead you where she will without having attempting to understand how or why.
I must say however, that the more of Morrison I read the less I enjoy/appreciate her work other than for the lovely prose.

Bearbeitet: Aug. 2, 2014, 12:42am


5th for ORANGE JULY:
19. The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini; Orange Award for New Writers, 2009 or 2010; (4*)

When I finished The Boy Next Door I found myself to be a bit awe-struck. I liked and enjoyed parts of the book but I appreciated the entire book. For the most part it is a rather harrowing story of a family during the eighties through the late nineties in Rodesia/Zimbabwe. I recommend it to some of you but not all. It is not an easy book to read but once into it, the story moves along very fast and I found myself unable to put it down except when I had to, as when we had family and friends here today for a BBQ. Even then, I came in for a couple of hours to read. It kept me awake last night...... not just to read. It literally kept my mind whirling and unable to rest. I cannot imagine living through anything even similar to this.
It is a novel so it is fiction, of course. But we know that things of this nature literally happened there and are yet happening. My heart goes out to the people of Africa so often and I ache for them. This is Irene Sabatini's debut novel and while it wasn't perfect, it was an unstoppable read. I predict Sabatini to be a literary force to be reckoned with one day.

Jul. 16, 2014, 9:32pm

I have Gilgamesh pending so I am glad it's a good one! I am in the middle of MaddAddam right now but will try for a few more Oranges before the month ends.

Jul. 16, 2014, 10:49pm

You are some great reader, Belva! I am valiantly trying to finish Americanah --- I have another 20% to read and would adore to get through it tomorrow. Like you, I'm underwhelmed. Doesn't anybody edit this woman???? At least I found stuff to think about in Ifemelu's blogs, but now I have her back in Nigeria. I think Suzanne nailed this one: well written chick lit.

Jul. 18, 2014, 3:00pm

>39 LizzieD::
Agreed Peggy.

Jul. 19, 2014, 7:34am

Strong work, Belva!

Jul. 21, 2014, 7:36pm

Thanks Darryl.

Bearbeitet: Jul. 25, 2014, 9:33pm

6th for ORANGE JULY:

20. A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore; the 1st Orange Winner, 1996; (5*)

This book is too beautiful for me to review so I will just share some of my thoughts. How easily I see that this book had to win the Orange Prize. What a wonderfully drawn story.
A Spell of Winter is an exquisite story of an illicit relationship between siblings. The thought may make one go "ewww", but this book is written so tastefully and beautifully that I do not think I can recommend it highly enough. It is quite possibly going to be my # 1 read of the year.
I cared about all of the characters although there were very few main characters. There were things that occurred that I anticipated and also a lot that surprised me. I liked the way Dunmore wrote about plants, fruits, etc. I love
being able to smell a fresh pear when I read about one.
I loved the way the book was written and to me, it read like a Virago. I can't wait to get my hands on more books by Helen Dunmore. I hope she has a very long list of books that she has written.
And I wish that I could give A Spell of Winter more than five stars.

Bearbeitet: Aug. 2, 2014, 12:43am


7th for ORANGE JULY:

21. Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris; Orange Prize L/L; 2002; (4*)

I was absolutely fascinated by this book. Strange, as I did not care for her book Chocolat very much at all. But this book has almost all of the elements that I look for in a but perfect read. A little dark, a little light; some drama, some playfulness; strong characters, weaker characters who can be manipulated, a heart break, a love story; I think you get my drift.
This story takes place in war time France (of course) and brings to a village a woman, who spent half of her childhood here under a different name. There are mysteries and reasons why she does not wish the villagers to remember her or her family from her early years here. The story goes back and forth to her youth with her mother and 2 siblings and then to the current day. It is told in the first person of the woman and then of the young girl of her childhood.
It is a great story and so very well written.

Bearbeitet: Aug. 2, 2014, 12:44am

8th for ORANGE JULY:

22. Gillespie and I by Jane Harris; Orange L/L, 2012; (2 1/2*)

This was quite a strange book in that I quite liked the first half and could barely abide the second half of the book.
The story is about a spinster London lady who decides to visit Scotland, the fatherland of one of her parents. She befriends and is befriended by a family living near her and spends a great deal of time with them. They have two young daughters, both very different from the other. Strange things begin to occur withing the household of her friends and finally the horrific kidnapping of one of the daughters comes about.
Here is where the story got dicey for me and I shan't tell you any more as I wouldn't wish to ruin it for anyone wanting to read the book.
The best thing about this book for me is that it is on the 2012 Orange Prize long list. I found it not to be very well written and the second half I found to be exceptionally boring.
Another good to fair story poorly written, I guess would sum it up for me. I gave it 2 1/2 stars and guardedly recommend it.
I am sure those of you who follow the Orange will wish to read it and I hope the majority of you enjoy it more than I did. It took me five days to read the thing and that is an anomaly.

Bearbeitet: Aug. 28, 2014, 1:30am

23rd Orange on the year & 9th for ORANGE JULY:

Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller; Orange L/L, 2006; (3 1/2*)

I thought this to be a brilliant novel in many ways. It's also frightening as it begins with a with the death of a husband and parent. Miller wrote this first part so well that I physically felt a loathing sense of doom.

The novel is set in the wine country of the Napa Valley in California of the 1980s. The story is drawn against the this backdrop. The stories within the novel are written exquisitely and lives are lived and torn apart. I thought the book to be quite good but in the end it got away from the author in a way that was disheartening for this reader. It turned out to be a roller coaster of a ride.

Aug. 28, 2014, 1:42am


24th Orange of the year:

When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant; Orange Prize Winner, 2000; (3 1/2*)

I really liked but didn't love this book. Read it in one sitting. I loved the story; thought the writing could have been a bit better. Some of the characters I quite liked; others I wondered why they were even there. I liked the main character and could understand, at times, her wishi-washi-ness. I did not, however, understand why she allowed that couple to basically abduct her and remove her from Tel Aviv and take her back to England or wherever. I liked the description of her marriage and think a lot of marriages are actually like that. I also loved that she returned to Tel Aviv when she was able to upon the death of her husband. I will most likely read it again because I loved the story-line so much. And I definitely am going to creep into clueless's library and see what books they followed this one up with. I recommend When I Lived in Modern Times to those (like myself) who are truly interested in the cause of Israel becoming a nation in it's own right and I gave it 3 1/2 stars.

Aug. 28, 2014, 8:12am

Hunh, I gave it the same rating but to be honest, don't remember all that much about it.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 2, 2014, 7:48pm


22. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold; Orange Prize L/L, 2003; (4*)

My September Orange/Bailey's read

"Inside the snow globe on my father's desk, there was a penguin wearing a red-and-white-striped scarf. When I was little my father would pull me into his lap and reach for the snow globe. He would turn it over, letting all the snow collect o the top, then quickly invert it. The two of us watched the snow fall gently around the penguin. The penguin was alone in there, I thought, and I worried for him. When I told my father this, he said, "Don't worry, Susie; he has a nice life. He's trapped in a perfect world.""

Thus begins The Lovely Bones. Susie is a young girl of just fourteen years when she is taken, raped, murdered and dismembered. Instincts tell her father who committed this crime against his child whose body is never found. He goes to the police with his suspicions and though they investigate the man they need evidence which they are unable to find.
One would think this a difficult book to read but this reader did not find it so. It is told from the perspective of Susie, the victim, who is in heaven. A heaven such as I, who believe in heaven and hell, have never envisioned. It is rather a casual place and Susie's enjoyments on earth are also her enjoyments in heaven. And Susie can see and hear what is happening on earth, within her families and others, even her murderer. But she doesn't spend all of her time in this way. There are times when those remaining on earth feel the presence of Susie near them.
As Susie tells her story the horror of it does not become negligible but she tells it in a way that one can accept and move around it and remain within the story. Not just the event.
This is the story of how a family deals with and yet cannot deal with the tragic loss of a beloved child. And Sebold tells this tale in a masterful way very different from those you have read on like subject matter.
The climax of the book may not be what you expect, need or desire. But it suits what comes before.
This is my second Sebold read. I am only saddened that there is only one more currently out there to read. I highly recommend The Lovely Bones and rated it 4 stars.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 28, 2014, 4:45pm


23. Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen; L/L, 2014; (4*)

This is a story of second chances and the chances arrive when they are most needed. Rebecca Winter's life has taken a nose dive from being a well off and famous photographer to a has been with no money in her bank account and the bills keep piling up.
Rebecca decides to rent out her New York City apartment and rent a cottage in the middle of the woods which is not beautiful by any means but its location outside a small town changes her life.
This small town has its share of quirky character's. MO MO the clown, Tad, the owner of the tea room, Sarah, and the roofer Jim Bates become her friends. Each one of these characters become entertwined with Rebecca's second chance and magic happens to them along with lonely stray dog who comes to stay.
Rebecca takes the dog and goes for long walks in the woods every day. And every day she comes upon something that she wants to photograph. Soon she is as ever driven as that photographer she once was in New York, but different. People are as taken by her new photographs as they once were with her collections. But she is not taking these photos for the money or for her fans. She is taking them for herself. However, here again, magic happens.
And it isn't often that you get to read a novel with the protagonist in her 60s. Younger people always think that they will have life figured out by the time they reach this age. This novel shows that women at that age are still struggling to be what and who they want to be.
Though I am a huge Quindlen fan I didn't expect to enjoy this particular book of hers. I loved her One True Thing and this one couldn't be any more different from that one if she had planned it that way. But surprisingly I found myself really enjoying this read for what it was.

Okt. 20, 2014, 7:08pm

I quite enjoyed Still Life with Bread Crumbs. Quiet and retrospective, but female perspective.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 28, 2014, 5:15pm


Another Orange for October:
24. The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison; (3*)

This book, while good, did not meet my expectations but I am a romantic at heart and the story was thwarted at every love line in the book. Perhaps that is as the author meant it; that nothing is forever and that while we have it we should appreciate it even if it is the hope of love.
The story begins as the children of London are being evacuated to the countrysides about London prior to and during the blitz. Our main character Anna is one of these children and is removed to an estate called Ashton Park, a lovely estate with ponds, wooded areas and lots of greens for the children to run and play. The estate is owned by Thomas (whose legs are paralyzed from contracting polio) and Elizabeth Ashton. It is turned into a school with dormitories for the children. Once over their homesickness, the children come to love Ashton Park. The owners, teachers and staff are all very nice and accommodating.
As the story moves on our Anna becomes privy to some of the secrets of the house. One being the true relationship of the owners. This follows Anna throughout her life, affecting her own marriage and life. This is the part of the book that did not ring true for me.
Although we all pine for what may have been usually we get on with our lives. Anna seems to have gone through some of the motions but forever lived with that emptiness.
Like I said, I did enjoy the book. I would not have ended it as Ms. Allison did and I am very surprised that this book was short listed for the Orange Prize in 2010. I gave it 3 stars.

Bearbeitet: Dez. 3, 2014, 2:05am


My November Orange for kidzdoc's Orange/Bailey's Challenge:
25. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett; Orange Prize Winner, 2002; (4*)

A novel of love, intrigue, an attempted coup, a massive taking of hostages by terrorists who planned to kidnap the President of this South American country at this event but he did not attend. So they took all of the guests hostage.
The book is beautifully written, the characters are grown well, the story is good; all things that make a good book possibly great.
There are important people at this party. One of them a premier Opera Soprano. As time goes by she begins singing for the group of hostages and terrorists daily. Things change the longer the hostages are held. They lose much of their fear and animosity toward the terrorists. The terrorists relax in their vigil but no one attempts to escape. There is much interaction between the hostages and the terrorists. And when the end comes, as it must, the hostages are overcome by the carnage and weep for their kidnappers.
It does end on a surprising high note which left me with raised eyebrows but this is a very good book and deserving of the Orange Prize. I rated it 4 stars and highly recommend it.

Bearbeitet: Dez. 31, 2014, 4:08pm

My December Orange for kidzdoc's Orange/Bailey's Challenge:
26. The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini; Orange Award for New Writers, 2009 or 2010; about Africa;

Bearbeitet: Dez. 31, 2014, 4:10pm

26. The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini; Orange Award for New Writers, 2009 or 2010; about Africa; (4*)

I finished The Boy Next Door just moments ago and am yet a bit awe-struck. I liked and enjoyed parts of the book but I appreciated the entire book. For the most part it is a rather harrowing story of a family during the eighties through the late nineties in Rodesia/Zimbabwe. I recommend it to some of you but not all. It is not an easy book to read but once into it, the story moves along very fast and I found myself unable to put it down except when I had to, as when we had family and friends here today for a BBQ. Even then, I came in for a couple of hours to read. It kept me awake last night...... not just to read. It literally kept my mind whirling and unable to rest. I cannot imagine living through anything even similar to this.
It is a novel so it is fiction, of course. But we know that things of this nature literally happened there and are yet happening. My heart goes out to the people of Africa so often and I ache for them. This is Irene Sabatini's debut novel and while it wasn't perfect, it was an unstoppable read. I predict Sabatini to be a literary force to be reckoned with one day.

Dez. 3, 2014, 10:01am

I have totally fallen off the Orange bus...if I read any in 2014, it was by chance, not design. But I don't think I managed even one. I was concentrating on the American Authors Challenge this year. I do hope to do better in 2015. At least I know where the thread is now!