Monthly Archives: October 2013

Book Diva Review: Marie Curie and Her Daughters

mariecurieandherdaughters I am astounded, now that I have finished reading this amazing book! There is so much information within the pages, not only regarding Madame Curie’s incredible endeavors and work ethic, but also illuminations on her family life, from childhood through motherhood.

I was extremely touched by the poignancy in which she showered love, quite often through correspondence, on her daughters. Within those letters the love she had for her daughters shines through, yet the love of her work does also. It was a lot to ask of her children, that they should patiently await her appearance. Yet, somehow her love of them did illuminate their lives in her absence.

Eve felt the absences the most, and was always in a state of yearning for her mother. Irene missed her, but was better able to cope with her long absences. The references throughout the book of her being an absent mother, begs one to wonder what kind of mother she really was. If you ask her daughters, she was a wonderful one, and one who fostered their passions.

Her daughters went on to be distinguished, respected and admired in their own chosen fields. Eve became a journalist, and Irene followed her mother’s science leanings. Eve became an American citizen, while Irene remained in France.

I was enthralled with the scientific details, and enthralled with the steadfastness and devotion that Madame Curie dedicated to her work. The fact that the results of her work, along with her husband’s was never patented, gave me new insight into the humanistic approach of her/their work. She believed the results belonged to humanity, not to her or her husband.

Marie Curie was a woman, who at the time, was in what was known as a “man’s world”. Her laboratory was like home to her. She felt totally comfortable in the laboratory surroundings. She outshone most men in her vision and determination regarding radioactivity. She worked with her husband, and won the Nobel Prize.

After her husband’s death she began an affair with a married man. This became a scandalous situation and their affair was fodder for many rumors, gossip and newspaper articles. Her once effective and illuminating reputation was left at odds. Those who once adored her, ignored her. It was a sad time for her, especially after all that she had accomplished up until then.

Her strength and dedication got her through the worst of times. Her gift to humanity is one that should never be forgotten.

The book has left me wanting to read it again, and I know that once I do, I will view it with more completeness. I applaud Shelley Emling for her research and dedication to this masterful and brilliant book.

I want to thank LibraryThing and Palgrave Macmillan for the complimentary copy. It has been a privilege to have read this stunning book.

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Filed under Biography, Blogrolls, Book Diva's Book Reviews, Family Dynamics, Non-Fiction

Book Diva Review: To Siberia

To Siberia, by Per Petterson is an excellent novel depicting a family within the Danish landscape.

The narrator is a sixty-year old woman who is reflecting on her past, from her childhood in Jutland through her early twenties. Her parents are seemingly uncaring, and often neglectful. Her one area of comfort is her brother Jesper. They both have each other to rely on. They often (due to Jesper) find themselves in trouble with their parents, such as when they followed their grandfather to a local pub, where he ends up in a fight inside the pub. The two are extremely close, and wander the landscape together, sharing quality moments and sharing their dreams for the future.

The narrator is enthralled with Siberia, and wants to move there when she grows up. She loves photographs she has seen of wooden houses, and for her they represent warmth, both emotional and physical. Jesper wants to move to Morocco, it is his ideal situation. The novel is set in the dark shadows of World War II. He eventually does leave Denmark, and becomes involved in the resistance, and lands in Sweden via boat. Jews are on the boat, and it is implied that he has helped them flee. This is how Jews often fled Denmark, with help from the resistance, by sailing to Sweden.

Meanwhile the narrator moves through life, relocating to Stockholm and Oslo, etc. She has a few sexual encounters. She attends the movie theaters in order to escape life’s reality. Her daily routine is humdrum and uneventful. She ends up returning to her childhood home. And, that is the theme or overtone of the book, in my opinion.

Petterson’s metaphor is strong, and demonstrates how people can go through their lives with high hopes and dreams, but in the end, their visions and goals aren’t necessarily fulfilled. His writing is strong, and poetic, bordering on a prose poem. His descriptions and images are quite vivid and we find ourselves wrapped within the pages, reading straight through until we finish the book.

Petterson’s To Siberia is a brilliantly written novel, and a masterpiece in defining family relationships and dynamics. He evokes how unfilled parental goals are often forced upon the children. I believe his message is that
there is not necessarily one specific solution for everything.

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Book Diva Review: Norman Mailer: A Double Life

normanmailer J. Michael Lennon has captured Norman Mailer to the fullest extent possible, in the biography, Norman Mailer: A Double Life. Through his meticulous attention to detail, and his extensive research, he has brought the reader a stark, undoctored, realistic approach to the life that Mailer led, both privately and publicly. There were instances where I wish that Lennon was not so illuminating with is minute word-imagery, but I am aware that those segments are a part of the whole.

In reading the biography, I could see where Mailer was very possessive and protective of his books. If anyone dare to give a negative review of one of his works, he would respond back in a defensive manner, trying to justify why he wrote what he did. He didn’t feel that others necessarily understood the meaning behind the content. He wanted to be regarded as a great American writer. Many critics and readers saw him as such, yet many didn’t.

Mailer’s competitive edge was highlighted within the pages, and his views on other authors and their novels were not always positive. He felt that the great American novelist of the 20th century had yet to appear. He endeavored to be that author, and his ego convinced him that he was.

Lennon has created a biography that depicts a man who, in my opinion, seems to be floundering. I could see him at odds with his sexual escapades, his divorces, his children and his own opinions of the world and of himself. At odds, meaning his actions and the consequences of them. At times, he appeared to be so full of himself, and his activities and sexual prowess never ceased, at the expense of others. But, more importantly at the expense of himself.

Mailer didn’t seem able to control his impulses, and he let them take over in social and private situations. Even if he could control the impulses, from the material garnered in the biography, I doubt he would have. Sex and women were major factors in his life. For him the events leading to self-gratification were a form of power over another.

He seemed to use his sexual experiences as material for his novels. He enjoyed the self-absorption and the impulses he acted upon, while they were occurring. Afterwards, he often felt that he spread himself too wide, but it did not stop him from continuing his more or less promiscuous behavior. From alcohol and drugs, to sexual exploits, his addictions were many.

Marriage and infidelity were one of his double lives. Becoming a great author and juggling fame and his personal life was another one of his double lives. Author and critic, power play and morals, hardworking and merriment, all of these and so much more are described in the several double lives that Mailer involved himself in.

J. Michale Lennon has brought every aspect of Norman Mailer’s life to the forefront. From the despicable and ugly acts to the kindnesses, we are witness to a man who led a life filled with prolific writings, nine children, six wives, varied emotions, and filled with self-realized consequences for the choices he made.

Norman Mailer: A Double Life is a long book, yet within the pages, nothing is left for us to wonder regarding the context of his life.

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Book Diva Review: New York: The Novel

newyork novel I am an avid reader of Edward Rutherfurd, and have read every book of his. New York: The Novel is an ambitious endeavor, and indicative of the structure and format of his previous novels.

The characters and their familial lines repeat throughout the pages, as they play into future generations of the same families.

I felt that some characters were not necessary to the whole, and that others were too drawn out. The generational aspect as far as the characters were concerned was nice, but I felt that more individuals could have been written about in a more in-depth manner.

The “Master” family and their trials and tribulations could have been dealt with in a lesser manner, in my opinion. I realize Rutherfurd was trying to capture them in all areas of the periods of time, but at times it felt forced, and at other times it felt rushed. A few less pages could have narrowed much of it down to a more realistic approach, I felt. But, still, the descriptives were strong and illuminating, and written with the minutest of details.

I did appreciate the diversity captured within the pages, and the societal standards and mores of the time periods, and how they relate to individuals and their mindsests. Medicine and its antiquated way of curing individuals is explored, as well as mortality due to influenza outbreaks and mortality, especially in children.

From the rivers-upstream and downstream Rutherfurd’s word imagery was magnificent and brilliant in depicting the trips taken by canoe, small boats, larger vessels, etc. He also infused the pages of these trips with astounding word-visuals of nature and all of its enhancements. I could envision everything through Rutherfurd’s masterful use of details and prose. Transporting goods and transportation to get from one place to another, via the river, is described in such a manner that it filled my senses.

Overall, I enjoyed the historical aspect, and commend Rutherfurd on his research. He left no stone unturned as far as his grasp of the eras, and his documentation is strong. There is no doubt that he was steadfast in that area.

I am a native New Yorker, and I have traveled much of the areas and routes described within the pages. Of course, this was in modern times, not centuries past. Through Edward Rutherfurd’s amazing illuminations I could imagine, and see before me, the scenarios he described.

I am glad to have read New York: The Novel. I recommend it on a historical level, more so than for the story line. I would actually give this a 3.5 on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest.

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Book Diva News – October 13, 2013

Bridging the World a Book at a Time

Bridging the World a Book at a Time

I have about 100 pages left to read (out of over 800) in the book, Paris: The Novel, by Edward Rutherfurd.

McDonalds Happy Meals
will be containing books, the first week of November.

L.A. Times Bestsellers List, October 13, 2013.

New York Times Best Sellers list October 13, 2013.

The Goldfinch
, by Donna Tartt looks to be a compelling read.

The year 2017 will see a personal diary published by Alice Walker.

Local Brevard, Florida authors and their books.

Healing art…donations from kid’s book illustrators.

Oldest Jewish prayer book unearthed.


Visit the NPR
for more book news.

Sorry for the update…I had to fix a link.

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Congratulations, Alice Munro!

Brava! Brava! Brava!

Canadian writer, Alice Munro, has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature! Congratulations to her!

Visit this link to read about her, her life and her literary works.

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Book Diva News – October 8, 2013

Bridging the World a book at a Time

Bridging the World a book at a Time

The National Book Foundation finalists will be announced on October 16, 2013. The Longlists are listed on their website, where you can view them.

Check out the listings and see if you have read any of the long-listed books.

I finished reading the almost 900-page book, New York: A Novel, by Edward Rutherfurd. I immediately began Paris: The Novel, by him. It is a lengthy one, also at over 800 pages.

The Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, by Jill Lepore is soon to be on my to-read stack.

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