The Forgotten Waltz … a review

This was the third book I picked from last year’s Orange Prize shortlist and I have had mixed feelings about this book, that has been described as ‘achingly brilliant’. Now, it has been the longest time since I read any form of romance, so it was a refreshing read. And brilliant it was, initially, the story of the author’s affair with a married man. What is great was that sometimes people write about their thoughts and they write the ‘correct’ thing, the ‘right’ thing. They write the things that people want to read. Well, Anne Enright does none of that. She writes the things that a woman in love actually thinks, actually feels, not made up stuff. So, she writes of the wrong emotions, and that’s refreshing.

It is a fairly short read, shorter than books usually are these days. But, nothing really happens, you know. I mean, they sort of end up together and there’s the daughter Evie and stuff, but you know the point where life catches up with people and make them do/say the right things? Well that point never comes. So, although a poignant read, the plot is pretty bad. There is expression but no imagination. So I’m not entirely sure if i would or would not recommend this book. There you have it then!

The Song of Achilles … a review


This was the second book I picked from last year’s Orange Prize shortlist. This was the book that eventually won the last and final Orange; it was highly recommended to me too. It is a lovely book, themed around the battle of Troy. Now, so far, my opinion of such books has been that of slow, tedious reads reads, which I only get through because the history behind them is so incredible. In this area, Madeline Miller is a genius! The language is lucid, the dialogue simple. She has truly brought Greek history to the 21st century effortlessly and beautifully.

Another thing that I must mention is font. Yes, typeset, I fuss over these things because I have been a technical writer. The font she uses, and there’s a note at the end about it, is Baskerville. It is large-ish without being bulky and is very easy to read because of its spacing. Anyway, so in Greece, Achilles and Patroclus become friends. Patroclus is an exile from his father’s land and a companion to Achilles. As the boys grow up, their friendship deepens into a bond of a strange nature, almost one without a name or meaning.

But when Helen is kidnapped by Troy and held captive, the boys must go to war, and with the prophecies that they know of, of half-man half-God Achilles, this does not seem to be the best proposition. They don’t have a choice at sixteen and as they go to the gates of Troy and being the long hard tireless journey of war, everything that they hold true of each other will be tested.

War is futile. It beings nothing but agony, pain, and even when it is over, it leaves behind scars, wounds, and dull pains that haunt people and never go away. All of civilization is made on the foundations of war. We cannot escape our past. This is what I am always left with after a war themed book. This book is a must read and I can easily see why it won.

Quote: “The ship’s boards were still sticky with new resin. We leaned over the railing to wave our last farewell, the sun-warm wood pressed against our bellies. The sailors heaved up the anchor, square and chalky with barnacles, and loosened the sails. Then they took their seats at the oars that fringed the boat like eyelashes, waiting for the count. The drums began to beat, and the oars lifted and fell, taking us to Troy.”

State of Wonder … a review

Ann Patchett’s book was my first read from last year’s Orange Prize shortlist. Patchett has won the Orange Prize earlier for her fourth novel, Bel Canto. Naturally, the fact that she had made it to the shortlist again impressed me and I decided that of the 6 books in the list, I would pick this one up first. So. State of Wonder opens up with an employee of a drug company being stubborn and not staying in proper touch with them. She is in the Amazon researching a fertility drug by studying the Lakashi tribeswomen, who are known to be fertile lifelong.


In order to find out about her progress and what she’s up to, the company sends another employee Anders, the news of whose death reaches the director Mr. Fox and Marina Singh, out lovely protagonist. Now, Anders’ wife refuses to accept the news of his death, that comes via a terse and little worded letter from the camp and begs Marina to go find out, and well, find him. She’s that convinced!

Marina has enough issues of her own to deal with. And, as you may guess, there may be something happening with Mr. Fox that she isn’t quite sure of. Now, the reader is taken into the depths of the Amazon with Marina. Some very interesting characters are encountered en-route. The head researcher Dr Swenson is a huge enigma, as are most of the doctors that work with her.

We meet children and trees, magic mushrooms and pregnant tribeswomen, cannibalistic neighbour tribes and snakes. There are surgeries and hair braids, strange rituals and habits. In some ways, it vaguely reminded me of The Hungry Tide, but that was a much more impressive read. The book is very complete, very meticulous, very thorough. However, it lacks a spark. I read through it too comfortably, easily putting it down when I needed to, easily picking it up again from where I left off – a very convenient book. It didn’t come up in my dreams or stay with me after I finished it; in that it lacked something.

Maybe that’s why it didn’t win the prize.

Quote:  “Hope is a horrible thing, you know. I don’t know who decided to package hope as a virtue because it’s not. It’s a plague. Hope is like walking around with a fishhook in your mouth and somebody just keeps pulling it and pulling it.”