Monthly Archives: September 2014

Review: Therese Raquin

Therese Raquin, by Emile Zola, is a compelling and intense read. Each word is positioned to evoke emotion in the reader.

Therese Raquin was brought to live with her aunt Madame Raquin, and her cousin Camille, son of Madame Raquin. They eventually marry, a marriage of convenience and monetary means. The marriage is a lackluster one, in part, due to Camille’s frailness and overbearing mother.

Along comes Laurent, a coworker of Camille’s, and herein lies the beginning of the end for the four main characters. From the moment Laurent enters their lives, life as they know it is not the same.

The story line in Therese Raquin is a testament to horror, evil, individual disintegration, and the study of psychological impact and temperament regarding one’s actions. Morals are a thing of the past, and the present is filled with tortuous moments, from morning until evening, in the lives of Therese and Laurent.

And, for this reader, the words evoked a variety of emotions. From an adulterous affair to murder, this novel is infused with amazingly brutal word-images. The word imagery is gripping, and filled with vivid visuals that left this reader riding a roller coaster of emotions. The starkness and bluntness is not sugar-coated in any aspect. Zola incorporates the destructiveness with minute and vivid details that left this reader almost gasping for breath, at times.

Zola was, in my opinion, ahead of his time in depicting domestic violence (emotionally, physically and mentally), and its affects and effects on those who have contributed to the horrible circumstances, and those on the receiving end, of the main characters in the novel. The darkness, the guilt, and how the guilt torments the murderers is exhibited in depth.

It is a difficult read, in many aspects, especially with the no-holds barred vivid word imagery. The visuals enhance the story line, and I feel that without the horrific and often grizzly depictions, the story would be bland, and not profound, regarding the psychological study of the two main characters. No minute detail was left out.

Emile Zola’s sense of humanity, its goodness and its evil, is incredible. He was a master writer, and the novel, Therese Raquin, is a defining novel in that respect.

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The Butterfly and the Violin

The Butterfly and the Violin, by Kristy Cambron is a story focusing on the Holocaust and a particular painting. The story bounces between pre-World War II, events occurring during World War II, and the current time period.

A painting of a woman, hair shorn, holding a violin, is the glue that bonds two specific individuals together, as they try to find out information regarding the painting, and locate the owner of it. During their research, they become deeply attached to each other. Each person has their own past, their own secrets they are withholding.

Unfortunately, the story did not speak to me, or have me gravitated to like any one particular character. I felt the modern day characters were weak, not realized and did not feel any attachment to them, and I thought they were lacking in substance and depth.

Their superficiality flowed throughout the pages. The relationships that develop, which include a young child, do not seem to be realistic, as to occurrences, within the relationships. The ending was extremely disappointing, and left me devoid of a final conclusion.

Some Holocaust-related truths were infused within the pages. Events and modes of operation were depicted, along with visuals that the reader could “see” before them. In that aspect, the word imagery was defining. Unfortunately, that information is colored by the novel deviating from the story, about one third into it, to include an overtone that over powers the Holocaust issue.

What I thought was going to be a serious novel regarding the Holocaust was more of a novel with loose ends, a novel not for readers who want an intense Holocaust story. The Butterfly and the Violin, by Kristy Cambron, in my opinion, would be better served as a book for teenagers and young adults (early 20s).

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Review: Provenance

Provenance, by Ronald Florence, is an interesting look into two books that affect the lives of men and women through the centuries. Fiction is infused with history within the pages of Provenance, which contains the story of two factual books.

From the Aleppo Codex, or Aleppo Crown (medieval Hebrew Bible) to a woman’s book of prayer, the characters portrayed within the pages exhibit realized individuals, each with their own story to tell, and each with their own religious concept, within the realm of their environment.

Provenance reads like a story of intrigue, a detective story and a story of greed and goodness. The individuals involved in the holding of the Crown of Aleppo transfer it thousands of miles, from Egypt to Provence, Aleppo to Israel to Brooklyn, in a tapestry of life. Florence depicts life, customs, daily dealings, and history in depth.

Background details of life are portrayed with lovely prose and with clarity, within the centuries. The novel contains historical data and testaments that contribute to a mysterious concept of lives lived, and lives struggling to keep hold on the Crown.

The pages are infused with Jewish history, rituals and with a love story, as well. At times the prose is mystical and surreal sounding. That does not detract from the story line.

I felt the fact that the women’s book of prayer being interwoven within the pages diminished the strength of the story line of the Crown of Aleppo. I would much rather have it been a story written strictly for the Crown of Aleppo, alone, although I liked the aspect of the book of prayer for women. I think the Crown of Aleppo story could have stood on its own, and possibly a novella written on the prayer book.

I did enjoy reading Provenance, by Ronald Florence, though, and thought it was an intriguing story.

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Review: The Provider

The Provider, by Evelyn R. Marshall, is an extremely insightful novel, filled with much to ponder.

Rosa Galperin, a nineteen-year old who has emigrated from Russia. She was chosen out of all of her siblings to live in Chicago with her aunt and aunt’s family, a family whose children constantly mock Rosa and make fun of her aspirations.

Rosa is filled with dreams, the typical immigrant dream of getting rich. But, along with that dream she also desires something else, something that her family members and friends can not understand. She desires love.

While others strive to find a man who is an excellent financial provider, Rosa strives not only for that, but also for love. She will work hard to succeed, but within that environment, she needs the emotional attachments.

Along comes Sanya Voronov, much to the dismay of her family. They can not understand her affection and attachment to him. He has nothing as far as financial stability, but he adores and loves Rosa. He will strive to provide the monetary comforts that she yearns for. But, with each new endeavor, he falls and his status, in the eyes of Rosa’s friends and family, is diminished. She is the one who is constantly working and providing the funds necessary for their survival.

Sanya wants to be successful, but with each undertaking something occurs that causes him to fail. Many of the men in his life admire his conviction to try his hand at what he wants to do, even with his failures. The women in Rosa’s life do not comprehend why Rosa stays with him through thick and thin.

Marshall is masterful in encompassing the eras in the novel, beginning with 1920. The reader is taken to the time periods, with all of the interactions of daily life, clothes, household items, architecture, working conditions, and societal and economic demands. She paints complete pictures of the immigrant experience, and how their dreams are often shattered. She details quite vividly immigrant life in Chicago, through all of the hardships involved.

Marshall has infused the pages with vivid word-imagery, and prose filled with emotional content. She sets the foundation for what providing means in terms of financial stability and/or love. She leaves the reader to question or think about what it means to provide.

Rosa was the main bread winner in the family. Often there were times she wanted more, like her friends obtained. But, her friends were only interested in monetary gain, and items they could show off or flaunt to others.

Whenever she had those thoughts, she thought of Sanya and the deep love he held for her, and her love for him. He provided for her on an emotional level, and provided what she needed…love. Theirs was a love that lasted through the years. In her eyes, what more could she have asked for. Sanya died a man loved by his wife and children, and died thinking he was a failure. But, he was not a failure in Rosa’s eyes, because his success lied in his devotion and love for Rosa.

The Provider, in my opinion, is a book that is educational, as far as the immigrant experience, assimilation within time and place, and a novel that Marshall has written with brilliance and sensitivity.

I highly recommend The Provider, by Evelyn R. Marshall to everyone.

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Filed under Blogrolls, Book Diva's Book Reviews, Family Dynamics, Historical Novels, Literature/Fiction