Here's another book marketed as a novel that is actually a collection of linked stories or a novel in stories. The book addresses the struggles of women over the last century, and how conflicted and unsatisfied women are today despite the struggles of their mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers. Although Walbert's writing is impressive and I enjoyed the stories each on their own, the way in which they were linked fell flat. The stories jump back and forth between characters, setting and time in a confusing way.
Despite it being called a "novel" on the cover, this book is a collection of linked stories that all take place in Echo Park with the some of the same recurring characters. I heard great things about this book and found much to admire, but it fell short of my expectations. The part that fell the most short, was that I wasn't always clear what was happening--not because of the magical realism, which I could more or less go with, but because the narration was jumpy.
I wanted to like this book--I love foreign settings--but I had a hard time getting through this book because I didn't understand much of the dialect in pidgeon English. It felt authentic (except for the story in Benin--wouldn't they be speaking a Beninese language?) but made it hard to figure out what was going on plot-wise.
A fantastic book. Each story is so rich you feel like you read an entire novel afterwards.The stories have recurring themes but are not linked in any obvious way. All of the stories feature fathers or one kind or another, and most have a troubled father-son relationship at its core. Many also feature doctors or medical problems; some have international settings (Murray is a doctor who worked in the developing world). I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes the short story form.
These stories are beautifully crafted; each one is a gem. I had to pause between each one to digest it. Although Olive was a prickly character, and not particularly likeable, it was hard not to get pulled into her world and empathize with her vulnerabilities.
I was drawn to this book by the African setting and once I started I couldn’t put it down. I loved how the multiple viewpoints allowed me to see each of the five recurring characters not just in terms of how she saw herself but how others viewed her. An overriding narrative arc follows two of the characters as they deal with the fallout of a crime, and that arc comes full circle, bringing the book to a satisfying conclusion. Each story can stand on its own, but the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.