Book Review: Lovesong by Alex Miller

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Summary

Strangers did not, as a rule, find their way to Chez Dom, a small Tunisian cafe in Paris. Run by the widow Houria and her young niece, Sabiha, the cafe offters a home away from home for the North African immigrant workers at the great abattoirs of Vaugirard, who, as with Houria and Sabiha themselves, have grown used to the smell of blood in the air. When one day a lost Australian tourist, John Patterner, seeks shelter in the cafe from a sudden Parisian rainstorm, a tragic love story begins to unfold. – from the blurb

My Thoughts

I came to this book with a slight bias, as I have been an Alex Miller since reading two earlier novels of his – Coal Creek and The Passage of Love. This book, as I expected, didn’t disappoint at all. This is my second read of this novel. I love Alex Miller’s style of writing and his characterisations. Passages of writing in this book are extremely beautiful and slowed down my reading, as I was compelled to read them over and over.

“John was the quiet type … Except when he was telling me his story. Even then there was something quiet and private in the way he spoke about himself and Sabiha; as if he was telling himself the story; going over it to find its meaning for himself. Looking for something he’d missed when it was happening to him”.

I felt empathy for the main characters, as their inner dialogue made me understand their turmoil. I didn’t love every character, but it was the author’s writing that had me form my opinions. I did have a love/hate relationship with some of the characters, but that only added to my enjoyment of the story.

This story is more than a love story. It’s also about power, struggle and loneliness and how they affect a love story. It is also a story within a story, which I found compelling.  This novel stayed with me and had me thinking long after I had finished reading it.

I read the hardcover version of this book. It is a beautifully presented book and will have a permanent position on my bookshelf. I’m sure I will read it again in the future for the beautiful writing.

Published 2009, by Allen & Unwin. Hardcover, 354 pages

Recommendations

“Miller belongs with Gunter Grass, Ismail Kadare and JM Coetzee. He is essential reading” – The Australian

“Alex Miller is one of our most profound and interesting writers” – Australian Book Review

Awards

New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award for Christina Stead Prize for Fiction & People’s Choice Award (2011)
Miles Franklin Literary Award Nominee (2010)
Prime Minister’s Literary Awards Nominee for Fiction (2010)
The Age Book of the Year (2010)
Australian Book Industry Award (ABIA) Nominee for Literary Fiction (2010)

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


About the Author

Alex Miller

Alex Miller is one of Australia’s best-loved writers, and winner of the Melbourne Prize for Literature 2012. He is twice winner of Australia’s premier literary prize, The Miles Franklin Literary Award, first in 1993 for The Ancestor Game and again in 2003 for Journey to the Stone Country. He is also an overall winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, in 1993 for The Ancestor Game. His fifth novel, Conditions of Faith, won the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction in the 2001 New South Wales Premier’s Awards. In 2011 he won this award a second time with Lovesong. Lovesong also won the People’s Choice Award in the NSW Premier’s Awards, the Age Book of the Year Award and the Age Fiction Prize for 2011. In 2007 Landscape of Farewell was published to wide critical acclaim and in 2008 won the Chinese Annual Foreign Novels 21st Century Award for Best Novel and the Manning Clark Medal for an outstanding contribution to Australian cultural life.  Miller  is published internationally and widely in translation. 

Have you read this book? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought of it. I promise to reply to all comments left.

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T: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger #atozchallenge

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted

Summary

This is the extraordinary love story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty six, and were married when Clare was twenty two and Henry was thirty. Impossible, but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. In the face of this force, that they can neither prevent nor control, Henry and Clare’s struggle to lead normal lives is both intensely moving and entirely forgettable. – blurb

The Time Traveler's Wife

My Thoughts

When I read that first sentence in the summary, I couldn’t wait to get my head into this story. I read this book when it was first released in 2005. This debut novel is so good and unputdownable, even on the second reading. I’m not a lover of romance, but the author has written this book to be romantic and sentimental, but definitely not mushy or sugar sweet. 

The story does jump around a bit, between narrations and time frames, but I still found it to be an easy to read and not at all annoying, as some books can be that have changes in dates in their storyline. 

Even though, the premise of The Time Travellers Wife is unbelievable, and even absurd, I found the book to be totally believable. At first I found it difficult to get into the story, but as soon as I worked it what was happening, I couldn’t put the book down. I was convinced that it was possible for the events to occur. The love story was beautiful and tragic all at the same time.

The themes of love, passion, destiny and fate were all thrown in together to create this beautiful and unforgettable story.

Recommendations

“At it’s core, The Time Traveler’s Wife, is an old-fashioned love story. A terrific book…..startlingly original.’ – Observer

“Niffenegger exploits the possibilities of her fantasy scenario with immense skill: no wonder this novel has spent weeks on the bestseller lists. This is one of those books that makes you want to eat it up from start to finish”

“Pick up Niffenegger’s book, and you’ll experience the visceral thrill, that only a few novels provide. An elegy to love and loss” – Independent on Sunday

Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the author

Audrey Niffenegger

Audrey Niffenegger (born June 13, 1963 in South Haven, Michigan) is a writer and artist. She is also a professor in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Columbia College Chicago. Niffenegger’s debut novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003), was a national bestseller.

Her Fearful Symmetry (2009), Niffenegger’s second novel, is set in London’s Highgate Cemetery where, during research for the book, Niffenegger acted as a tour guide.

Niffenegger has also published graphic and illustrated novels including: The Adventuress (2006), The Three Incestuous Sisters (2005), The Night Bookmobile (2009), and Raven Girl (2013). Raven Girl was adapted into a ballet by Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor and the Royal Opera House Ballet (London) in 2013.

A mid-career retrospective entitled “Awake in the Dream World: The Art of Audrey Niffenegger,” was presented by the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington D.C.) in 2013. An accompanying exhibition catalogue examines several themes in Niffenegger’s visual art including her explorations of life, mortality, and magic.

Published 2004 by Vintage Books
Softcover, 539 pages

Have you read The Time Traveler’s Wife?  If so, I’d love to hear if you enjoyed it as much as I did. I love it when we have a conversation and promise to reply to all comments.

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