When I first started this book, I really enjoyed it — the alternating viewpoints, the sly digs each young woman got in at her fellow students while proclaiming her own virtues, the different backgrounds of the girls. But somewhere around the 50% mark, the same things I enjoyed at the beginning started to annoy me. When I began to want to reach into the story and slap certain characters upside the head for their sheer pettiness and lack of sense, it was time to set the story down. I didn’t really care what happened to the girls, or their schoolmistresses, or the young man. I figure it was not a happy ending for him, because up to the point I laid the story down for good, he never got his own chapter to speak his piece. I may still watch the movie. This one might be the exception — where the movie is better than the book.
Henry Bright was one of the lucky ones. He came home from The Great War. But he wasn’t entirely unscathed. He has, um, issues. When his wife dies in childbirth, he sets fire to their home and takes off across the countryside with his newborn son, fleeing his wife’s vengeful family and the wildfire he inadvertently caused.
This is one of those library books I must have put on my list because the cover blurb sounded so good. Kudos to the blurb writer, because that blurb was the best thing about this book.
No. The best thing about this book is it’s short.
Okay, it wasn’t really THAT bad. I gave it three stars, after all; it was readable and even enjoyable in a few spots. But I feel like there was a much better book lurking in there somewhere — a book that deeply explored Henry Bright’s trauma and coping mechanisms rather than presenting them in a whimsical fashion. Not that I didn’t appreciate the talking horse, or the goat, or the tree…I don’t know.
I finished this book in just a few hours. I don’t necessarily want the time back. I just wish the time spent had been more satisfying.
A solid action-packed SF tale filled with military hardware and battle strategy. Great stuff for those folks who appreciate naval battles and C.S. Forester/Patrick O’Brian tales. Not so great for those who don’t. Like me.
Okay, I like Honor Harrington and think she’s a great character. She’s especially outstanding in the genre of Military SF, in that she’s a high-ranking military official in charge of a battleship, respected by her crew, and unafraid to make the tough decisions. This story in particular makes the point that Honor being a woman is a hindrance in certain corners of space; the very fact of her femaleness drives a good many plot points hinging on the misogyny and chauvinism of the planet she is charged to defend.
Social commentary aside, I’m still not an aficionado of technobabble about hardware and military strategy. So, while I give kudos to David Weber for his feminism in action, I won’t be visiting Honor in space again.
So, here’s the thing. I know this is supposed to be one of the seminal works of American literature, and blazingly funny to boot. And while I have no doubt Catch-22 will maintain its place in the canon regardless of anything I write, I found the whole thing quite tedious.
Perhaps that was Heller’s point: that war is tedious, that war doesn’t make sense, that the only way for a soldier to survive a war with sanity intact is to develop a sense of the absurd and act on it. But after 144 pages, I knew I didn’t care enough about Yossarian or any other character to follow the absurdity for another 300 pages.
Thus, a two-star rating simply because I didn’t care. No reflection on writing quality. Just bored with content.
Bernardo Greene is a survivor of torture. Michela Ibsen is a survivor of domestic abuse. In The Company of Angels is the story of their respective healing journeys, alone, and then together. Thomas Kennedy’s spare elegant prose touches lightly on their sorrow, their pain, but this light touch reveals the depth of their damaged lives, and the damaged lives of the people who surround them. Bernardo struggles in solitude, opening up slowly, in fits and starts, only to his psychiatrist, and only to retreat once again when he feels he has revealed too much, until a chance meeting with Michela elicits a moment of hope, and this moment is a seed in frozen soil, until the spring when it thaws and pushes its tender shoots out of the ground into the light. Michela, on the other hand, has a lover, has a father, has a mother, all of whom hurt and continue to cause hurt, whether intentional or by happenstance, until her meeting with Bernardo allows a solitary ray of hope to enter her dark existence, and she begins to find her true self beneath the layers of lies she’s accepted as truth. And in the end, no one is too damaged to find some measure of salvation, some measure of peace, even if it’s only for a brief moment of clarity.
This book received through the Early Reviewers Giveaway at LibraryThing.