Here I Am & The Nightingale: Final Reads of 2016

I have the stomach flu. I’ve been meaning to write up these separate posts for days, but have instead been subsisting on ginger ale and popsicles and general grumpiness. Cue some commentary about a fitting end to 2016.

I did read two novels over the holidays. Jonathan Safran Foer’s Here I Am and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. I have a lot to say about both, but I’m too queasy to muster much, so here’s the abbreviated version for both: don’t bother.

Sure, Here I Am is well written and offers a fully imagined set of characters. But it’s too self-absorbed and claustrophobic. Tedious, too, in the first half as we witness the disintegration of marriage (tedious and also depressing). Much of the time Foer slips into telling us the grandiose principle behind the action, leaving little to be worked out and always feeling like sentences were written to be lifted into an undergraduate thesis.

The Nightingale was a gift from a friend and colleague. There should be a special category of book reviews for those books gifted with the explanation that it is the gift givers favourite book. What can I say except it was not my favourite? Set in World War II it follows two sisters living in Vichy France and their acts of resistance against the Nazis occupation. I read most of it on the plane home from Vancouver and was glad for the airplane distraction. I would say it strays more into melodrama than anything else. It’s a Heather’s Pick, so if you buy it and don’t like it you can return it for free.  Which is not the same thing as me suggesting you should buy it.

Ok. Here’s hoping 2017 is less filled with stomach acid. And other jolly wishes from your devoted reviewer, E.


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Filed under American literature, British literature, Fiction, Reader Request

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