Set in the near future, in a totalitarian theocracy which has overthrown the United States government, The Handmaid's Tale explores themes of women in subjugation. The character is one of a class of individuals kept as ‘handmaids’ for reproductive purposes in an era of declining births. The images of emptiness are one of the most striking aspects of this novel-the effect is chilling.
Focusing on a 15 year old runaway, Kafka, and the old man Nakata, whose childhood trauma deprived him of his memory, Murakami weaves these characters towards each other in a magical world where cats talk and fish fall from the sky. None of the characters in Kafka on the Shore is as powerful as the forces of fate that drive them, and none even try to resist.
This is The Great Gatsby for the disillusioned, overworked, economically desperate late-20s readership. Idealistic reporter Gavin loses his job when he includes false quotes to embellish a series of newspaper articles. He reluctantly returns to Florida, where he finds that his friends and girlfriend are involved in a scheme too crazy to be believed, one that cannot possibly end well.
The Russian snow maiden fairy tale was never one of my favorites as a kid, but Ivey makes it lush and irresistible. Set against the harrowing backdrop of the Alaskan wilderness, the story unfolds with a touch of magical realism. There's an emphasis on the real, meaning that the characters behave as believably as one would expect when a girl made of snow comes to life in their backyard.
This is a beautifully written novel about death, culture shock, and enduring xenophobia. It's about sisterhood, favoritism, and duty. It's about resenting your culture and being unable to escape it. It's about the secrets that families keep from the world and from each other. The story is honest and difficult and emotional, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Reminiscent of Huckleberry Finn, Lansdale's character Sue Ellen leads a diverse crew on an exhilarating adventure down river trying to stay one step ahead of pursuit. Her narrative voice is authentic, precocious and honest. Lansdale sets a tone that is beautiful and suspenseful, building up his story and fleshing out his characters into a profound masterpiece.
Let me admit that this was my first Philippa Gregory read. I was very impressed by her writing style, by the level of detail she provided, and by her ability to create suspense despite the general outcome being a forgone conclusion. I love the women she writes--they are complex characters, neither good nor altogether bad, who arouse your sympathies while making choices you disagree with.