Bean's Books and Beyond

Sharing thoughts on books–and sometimes on education and life

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (2016) July 18, 2017

Filed under: Bean's favorites,book reviews,Fiction — Bean's Book Blog: books and beyond @ 3:40 am
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A Gentleman in Moscow is a gem of a book that could be just as easily double as a self-help book about how to live life with a positive attitude despite challenging circumstances.

51YCzUi5OJL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The mere suggestion of the self-help genre would undoubtedly ruin the experience, but thematically, it fits.  This novel about a Russian aristocrat, Count Alexander Rostov, confined to a hotel in Moscow for his entire adult life due to “revolutionary writings” (aka: a poem), offers such beautiful language, Towles transports readers into another world. Through the Count’s eyes and experiences, we see the transformation of Russia, from the early 1920’s to the mid 1950’s–the rise of comrades, the brutality of the leadership, and the humanity of many people. Though the Count is confined to his tiny attic room plus the hotel’s common areas, he creates a world that feels far larger, and much of the time it’s easy to forget he has never left the physical building as the story seems to grow outward rather than inward. He leaves the hotel in so many other ways through relationships, stories, and shared experiences.  (more…)

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***Animal Farm by George Orwell (1946) April 29, 2010

Filed under: Fiction — Bean's Book Blog: books and beyond @ 6:38 pm
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When I read Animal Farm a hundred years ago or so–I don’t remember what grade–I think I got the overall premise of revolution and dictatorship communism, but I’m sure I didn’t fully appreciate Orwell’s message, and I certainly didn’t appreciate his writing.  I was so focused on understanding the book that I had neither the time nor the brainpower to digest his sentence style and imagery.  This time through, I tried to concentrate on how he brings the animals to life and how he creates their personalities.  The first paragraph in which he describes Mr. Jones locking the hen-houses and then lurching across the yard and kicking off his boots before drawing himself a beer is a model of descriptive writing–concise and powerful images that immediately characterize Mr. Jones as an irresponsible drunk who cares little for the well-being of his subjects.  That, in a nutshell, is what rebellions are made of.  Bottom line: if you haven’t read Animal Farm since junior high or high school, I urge you to pick it up and read it again.  You’ll find it a much more fascinating piece of literature, fable, and political commentary than you ever remembered.  (fiction)

 

 
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