The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
Five words from the blurb: Leningrad, sisters, siege, love, spirit
A few years ago I read The Siege, an amazing book about the siege of Leningrad. At the time a few people suggested that The Bronze Horseman was even better. I struggled to believe that anything could top the perfection of Helen Dunmore’s book, but I was curious enough to give it a try. Unfortunately I was right. The two books are very different in style and if you prefer lighter reads, focusing on romance, you’re sure to love The Bronze Horseman.
The book started well, with the introduction of a family living in Leningrad. All the characters were well defined and the two teenage girls, Tatiana and Dasha, were immediately engaging. Unfortunately as the book progressed I became increasingly frustrated with it. The war seemed more like a convenient plot device, capable of removing people from each other at exactly the right moment, than the serious subject it should have been. The plot focused on romance and I felt the horrors of war were glossed over. After about 100 pages I realised that I no longer cared what happened to the characters and I abandoned it.
Recommended to fans of light romance novels.
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
Five words from the blurb: family, America, heartbreak, fate, together
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie has been getting a lot of positive press recently. Oprah is a big fan and positive reviews are everywhere. Unfortunately I found the book too fragmented and so abandoned it after about 80 pages.
The book centres on Hattie, a black woman who migrates to Philadelphia in the hope of a better life. Hattie is just a teenager when she gives birth to twins and battles to keep them alive. Each subsequent chapter is then told from the view point her other 9 children. This means that the book feels more like a collection of short stories and, apart from the occasional mention of Hattie, there was nothing to link the chapters to each other. I found it impossible to connect with the large number of characters and there was no momentum to carry the story forward.
The first chapter was outstanding, but I’m afraid the rest of the book was unable to live up to this early promise.
Recommended to those who enjoy short stories.
Herzog by Saul Bellow
Five words from the blurb: mind, thoughts, raging, letters, survive
Herzog has been mentioned in the press a few times in recent months as it is being recommended as a treatment for depression. I happened to own a copy (mainly because I liked the title!) and so decided to give it a try.
Herzog is in his early sixties when his second marriage breaks down. In an effort to cope he decides to write letters (most of which he never sends) to a large number of people, both living and dead.
He was an interesting character, but after a while I found his letter writing tedious. His confused, meandering thoughts bored me and there wasn’t enough plot to entertain me. I can see why this is a classic, but it was too slow for me.
Recommended to those who like bleak books without a plot.
Have you read any of these books?
Did you enjoy them more than I did?