Monday, April 23, 2007

Books read lately

Had a lovely weekend here complete with wonderful weather and time to spend with friends. There was not much time for reading, however...

I've finished recently:

22. When She Was White by Judith Stone - I knew this one would be difficult to talk about. This is the true story of a child born to white parents in South Africa during apartheid who is forcibly removed from school and had her official race classification changed because of her appearance - she appears to not be white. The young girl's name was Sandra Laing and she is in her 50s now. The story itself is horrifying - imagine one day your child is not technically allowed to live with you - except as a servant; you cannot take your child to restaurants and stores you normally do; your child is considered a lesser being. The book itself is well written and well researched. The problem I had was this; from the very beginning of the book it is revealed that Sandra really doesn't remember much from her youth - at least she claims she doesn't. The author repeatedly goes into extensive detail as to why this might be - her memory, or lack thereof, is in itself, a character in this book. Often Sandra's memory does not match other people's memory of the same events. She claims that she doesn't pay attention to politics - in fact had never heard of Nelson Mandela upon his release. It was frustrating because I was reading the book to learn her story but wasn't really getting it. I really had to finally accept what I wasn't going to get from this book to appreciate it. I did learn a lot about apartheid, and the lives of people living with it. It's hard to say this is a book I enjoyed, but I am glad I read it.

23. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill - This was alright for me. This book came up on a few different blogs and I thought I'd try it, even though I'm not much of a ghost story reader. I think if I had read on a cold dreary night it would have put me more in the mood. I thought the book was very well written, Ms. Hill writes wonderful descriptions and gives a great sense of place. I will say the ending was quite chilling, and I had been wondering about the character's first wife....

I currently have 3 books going; the one I am really enjoying and that's gotten me out of my rut is Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impratical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution by Thomas McNamee. More about that later.


Iliana said...

Never heard of When She Was White but that sounds intriguing. I did love The Woman in Black but I do think it's probably a book that would be best read on a cold, rainy day :)
One of our local theater companies staged this book several years ago and I went to see it. Loved it. They did such a good job.

Cornflower said...

I read The Woman in Black at Christmas time in front of the fire, and thought it terrific. Not one to read when you're on your own.
I see Susan Hill has a new ghost story coming out later this year, so that's one to look forward to.

Tara said...

Bookgirl - I love the idea of this book as a theater production!

Karen - I didn't know she had a new book coming out - I think I'll save that one for a cold and dreary night - when someone else is home.