A TBR reading month again. Not that successful in terms of reading the books that were actually on my tbr since we went to Germany for a few days and I took the tablet and some ebooks with me. And there was a new release which I normally not buy but who could have resisted the new Zafón novel?
The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton //
Started in February but finished in March. I read The Luminaries last year but her debut novel is something completely different. A high school is rocked by an affair between one of the students and her teacher. While her younger sister tries to go on with her life, the acting school in town chooses the affair as the topic of their yearly student play. The writing is experimental. The reader never quite knows whether events actually happen or are just imagined by the characters. It takes the phrase „All the world’s a stage“ to a new level by using the characters as actors/narrators/authors in/of their own stories.
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov //
The devil visits Moscow and plunges the city into a nightmare. That’s about it. A whirlwind of dark magic drives the characters into madness and flight from the city, culminating in a satanic ball. From the text at the back I figured that the Master and Margarita would fight against the devil which was not the case. That made the whole novel more or less without a conflict as there was no hero for the antagonist. Couldn’t fulfill my expectations.
The War of the Newts by Karel Capek //
When humans find a species of newts in the South Asian Pacific, the world is changed. They exploit them as workers and start to conquer the sea, making more land for humanity to inhabit. But the newts start to evolve and after a few decades, power structures are turned upside down. An interesting satire written about the world slightly before the second world war. It shows how humanity can enslave and corrupt another species to the point that they fight back. Human hybris and greed will become it’s demise. Certainly a different dystopian novel from what I’ve read lately but the writing style itself was not grabbing my attention enough.
Blauschmuch by Katharina Winkler //
A short novel about a young woman from Turkey and the horrors she encounters in her marriage. The book has been praised by a lot of book bloggers but I can’t say the same, unfortunately. Filiz marries Yunus without the blessing of her father and instead of the promised move to Austria, she is forced to live with him and his mother as their slave. And even the move to Germany is not lifting his grip over her and their three children. The novel is relatively short and flies through her life with Yunus and the things that happen to her. For me, it was slightly dissappointing in that way since I would have liked it to go a bit more into depth. And the use of Blauschmuck (blue jewellery) as a term for the bruises used by all of the women has just agitated me. It seems like a term of endearment rather than shame or anger or any other emotion that I would have thought more appropriate. The reactions of some of the non-muslim people in the novel also angered me and didn’t really make sense. Why would you give her money to send her back to Turkey where she will be without any help, money, or security?
Die Stadt der Lichter (The City of Lights) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón //
The fourth and last installement in Carlos Ruiz Zafóns Barcelona series and again magical realism at it’s best. Alicia Gris, a secret agent in Francos regime, is the main character in this novel and she is send to Barcelona to find the minister Mauricio Valls who has disappeared under strange circumstances. During the war he had been the director of Barcelona’s infamous Montjuic prison and it seems he has a dark connection to the family Sempere and their friends. Although the novels don’t need to be read in order, The City of Lights is a great finale to the series as it goes beyond the time of the regime and into a brighter future. Alicia is not the most likeable but certainly a very strong-willed main character and the story itself is gripping and made it really hard for me to put the novel down. I never quite realized before how long Spain had been in the grasp of the Franco regime after WW2. If you’re interested in the combination of magical realism, a little bit of suspense and horror and Spain in WW2, I would highly recommend the movie Pan’s Labyrinth.