Human Acts by Han Kang ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Astonishing. This is the only word I have about the true story that’s unfolds in Han Kang’s Human Acts.
Astonishing that this brutal massacre happened in our recent history(1980).
Astonishing that so little has been said or written about these crimes against humanity.
Astonishing that the South Korean government still to this day will not acknowledge the truth about it.
Astonishing that I spent four weeks in South Korea a couple of years ago and yet until Reading this book I had never heard of the mass killings, slaughter and human rights atrocities that occurred in the city of Gwanju in May 1980.
North Korea is certainly a topic in our daily news and I have in the past recommended the amazing book The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnston which sheds some light on life in that hermit country. But to be more informed, enlightened and astonished please read Human Acts. South Korea has its own skeletons in the closet and we should all be aware. Shameful.
And were back! It’s been a few weeks since we had a Reading Wednesday. Those first couple of weeks walking The Camino I was so tired each evening I didn’t read at all! But I’m feeling great now and enjoying both the walk and some great books including;
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway ⭐️⭐️⭐️
So, here is the deal. I was on a waitlist at the library for The Paris Wife without having any idea what it was about. So it wasn’t until my turn came to read it that I realized it was about the first wife of Ernest Hemingway, Hadley. A really well written fictional novel based on real people and factual information and told beautifully in the voice of Hadley who is “The Paris Wife”.
By sheer coincidence the story play prominently not only in France but in Spain in many of the towns I have been in during the past few weeks. So needless to say I found it all perfect timing and a great read.
By the end of the book, I knew I had to Segway into Hemingway’s breakout novel The Sun Also Rises because so much of what happens and nearly all of the characters in The Paris Wife were HEmingway’s inspiration for that book.
I have only read one Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea, and Hemingway’s spare writing style can take some getting used to, but I enjoyed the book and particular the settings and Spanish scenes about Pamplona and the fiestas in the 1920’s.
It was such a good fit for me at this particular moment.
Hadley Richardson, Hemingway’s “Paris Wife” was married to Hemingway before he became legendary, but clearly played an important role in the development of his talent. Hadley and Ernest had one son (Ernest would have three more wives and three more sons) named Jack, whose daughters were Margaux and Mariel Hadley Hemingway.
I definitely now want to read A Moveable Feast, Hemingway’s story depicting those years in Paris, which was published posthumously after his suicide in 1961.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchette ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’ve missed writing Reading Wednesday the past wo weeks. It wasn’t because of walking the Camino (although please see note below). I started two books and just couldn’t get in to either one. So I didn’t finish. It happens sometimes.
But then I picked up Bel Canto by Ann Patchette and I fell into the world this book creates. A beautiful story – another great accomplishment by Patchette.
Loosely based on the Japanese Embassy hostage crisis in Lima Peru in 1996, this story follows the lives of both the terrorists and the hostages during a four-month hostage situation that includes among the hostages a famous opera singer.
Patchette has a great talent for creating characters you fall in love with, feel sympathy for and hope for- and this includes the terrorists. Certainly not what you think is going to happen in the beginning when the terrorists storm the embassy.
This book may make you stop and think – Everyone has a story you know nothing about.
I have enjoyed other Patchette books (most recently Commonwealth) and find her to be a great American author.
Five stars for Bel Canto.
Note – for the next 4-5 weeks I am walking the Camino de Santego. I hope to read along the way, but I’ve been so tired so far each evening I have not. So Reading Wednesday will most likely be sporadic.
The Orphan Train by Cristina Baker Kline ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I waited a long time on the library waitlist to get this book on Kindle. About six months. Wow. I figured it must be good – and well yes. The wait was worth it.
A very sweet story with a very interesting storyline about a factual historical aspect of our nations history I had never heard of. The Orphan Trains that brought Orphan children from New York to the Midwest. Between 1854 and 1929 some 250,000 children were transplanted, some successfully into living families but others not.
Kline’s story follows two main characters, 91-year old Vivian and 17-year old Molly, who at first seem to have absolutely nothing in common. But a beautifully written tale of love and loss, family and friends and survival unfolds as she takes the reader back and forth between present day Maine and depression era Minnesota.
I really enjoyed the characters, the historical facts, the plot and the writing in The Orphan Train. Five stars.
The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Sometimes funny, often sensitive and frequently messy, New Yorker staff writer Ariel Levy takes you through her personal story of love, life and loss.
A compellingly written true story, Levy’s honesty and candor regarding the challenges of career, the loss of a child, loving an alcoholic and all the other messy bits we face as we navigate our time on earth is beautifully told.
I think women will identify with Levy more than men, although some men will get it too. The telling of the tale is what works here, even if you don’t agree with Levy’s lifestyle or choices, her writing is brilliant.
I couldn’t put it down. Four stars.
The Mountain Between Us ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
By Charles Martin
Martin has several books to his credit. It this is the first of his I have read. The Mountain Between Us is a story of survival in multiple ways.
A snow storm prompts Dr. Ben Payne to hire a charter flight out of Salt Lake City to hopefully get him home where he has patients who need him. He invites Ashley who he has just met to join him, knowing their cancelled flight is going to make her miss her own wedding.
But shortly into the flight and over a mountainous and inhospitable terrain the pilot of the flight has a heart attack, dies and they crash land in the middle of nowhere.
This page turner is a well written story of human survival not just on the side of a mountain, starving and injured, but in life full of love, tragedy and loss.
I did not love the ending, but I did enjoy this book very much and couldn’t put it down. Four stars for The Mountain Between Us.
I’m having so much fun in Slovenia I’m a couple days late with Reading Wednesday. My apologies!!!
Twist of the Knife by Becky Masterman
I am not usually a crime novel or murder mystery kind of girl. But this book fell onto my “to read” list as a result of a Best of 2017 article I read. And I am very glad it did. I enjoyed it very much.
I have not read anything else by Masterman but she seemed to have a good handle on police work and FBI details, except at times some of the story seemed to have a few too many coincidences. But I’m okay with that in a novel.
The story or an innocent man on death row for the murder of his family 16 years before becomes a bit of a wild goose chase as the real killer is sought out by a collection of police professionals, each with their own stories, backgrounds and mysteries. Told from the point of view of retired cop Brigid Quinn the story is a page turner and well written.
I did not realize until after reading this book there are earlier Brigid Quinn stories (two others), but you do not need to have read them to both understand and sympathize with this character and the police work she is thrust into, all while also caring for her ailing parents.
Somewhat violent, but always well written, I enjoyed A Twist of the Knife by Becky Masterman very much. Four stars.