Cathleen Schine’s She Is Me

Impressed by one of her previous novels The Love Letter that was adopted both by a Hollywood movie as well as a Japanese film, I picked up She Is Me from the library. I must have read The Love Letter some ten years ago so I was eager to find out if She Is Me is as good.

When I read a book, I usually try to look out for something fresh. In a way, the narration changes from the grumpy grandma Lotte, to mother Greta who never complained leaving the people around her having to anticipate her needs, and finally to Greta’s daughter Elizabeth who has a son Harry and insisted to stay out of marriage.

Grandma Lotte was dying of skin cancer and Elizabeth has quited her job as a professor and took up screenplay writing in order to stay with her grandmother. To Elizabeth, marriage is the cause of adultery because if there is no marriage, there is no such thing as adultery.

As Lotte’s health was deteriorating and Greta was diagnosed having colon cancer and have to undergo treatment, it is when the whole depression of death sinking into readers’ minds. Greta’s falling in love with another woman and Elizabeth’s affair added drama to the whole novel and I especially like the question raised: where does privacy end and secrecy begins?

I enjoyed the novel. Not a page turner I must say and I suspect even if I have read Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary” – Elizabeth was supposed to write a modern script based on that – I would not have gained much out from it.

Towards the end of the novel, it was mentioned that passion is pointless. Or is it?

Milan Kundera’s Ignorance

I am a huge fan of Milan Kundera, a Franco-Czech novelist. His recent novels “Slowness” and “Identity” left me wanting for more. This short novel Ignorance was published in 2002 and it was only recently I have managed to read it. While “Slowness” took us for a tour of a parallel stories that happened simultaneously in the past and at present in the same physical space and “Identity” allowed us to witness a love story whereby one person started to lose her identity, “Ignorance” reminded us how unreliable memories are and two persons though shared the same experience may not have the same memory. In “Ignorance”, Milan Kundera describes “Nostalgia” in the most details fashion sharing with us what nostalgia really means through the origin of languages, through great work by writers in the past, through his personal point of view, and through the very story he told.
“Ignorance” is not an easy read. It is a book worth reading time and time again.

Requiem of Ling Sing (A Deadly Secret) by Jin Jong

I have read novels from Jin Jong since young. His great work has helped to shape my character and every time when I reread his works in various time of my life, different emotions resonance from within me. His work is complex and I have yet to find any novel in any language that can be as engaging as his work. Sad to say, he has only written 12 stories (36 books in total) and has decided to retire from writing Wuxia (translate: martial arts heroes) novels on the year when I was born (1972). Click here for Yin Yong’s fan site.
I don’t recall I have read this particular story by Jin Jong. I must have given it a pass because it is just a story with one book (usually each story comes with four volumes). Today is Good Friday and I have finished the book in one day. Throughout my reading, I was trying to pinpoint the success ingredients of Jin Jong’s work. Perhaps it is due to the fact that his work was used to be published in the newspaper daily and with limited space, you really have to make each daily dosage as engaging as possible by delivering one small plot as well as enticing the readers with another.

As I reached the end of the book, I realized that the success ingredients are more than that. The highest level of art form is when the characters inside the book have come alive. Be it as you love them to death or hate them to death, you laugh and wipe with them.

Undomestic Goddess – A Good Read

Some people call it “chick-lit” (literature for chicks) but I do find it a very good read. Something I can sort of relate to (life of a professional) and had a good laugh from page to page. After I finished reading it, Cynthia took over, finished in one of two days, then passed it to her mother. I enjoyed it so much that I visited a bookstore and grab all her Shopaholic series. Trust me, it was not easy to carry 5 chick-lits to the counter. Author’s name is Sophie Kinsella. Hope you will like it too.

Related Entries: Remember Me By Sophie Kinsella – A Calculated Risk That May Or May Not Work For Some, Can You Keep A Secret?, and On Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic & Baby