January 31, 2011

Burley Cross Postbox Theft - Review (1 star out of 5)

After 3 weeks (?) I am barely halfway through this book.  I along with others felt reading the book was homework rather than pleasure. We decided to drop it and move on to something else. The lack of narrative (it's an epistolary novel) was one of the reason I disliked it. I also normally like British humour but most of the letters just weren't funny in my opinion.  You know when you watch an old film comedy from the 30's and you mumble to yourself "Did people really think this was funny back then?". It was that kind of feeling throughout. Time to switch the channel. The one star was for learning the word "epistolary".
Overall Rating (*****)

January 21, 2011

Musical "Les belles soeurs" based on Michel Tremblay's play is coming to TO

One of our book club's favourite authors had his popular play "Les belles soeurs" converted to a musical in Quebec a few years ago. The musical continues to be a huge success in "la belle province".  Now a Toronto group is aiming to produce an English version.  I saw the original play in Winnipeg back in the mid nineties.  I loved it but my American co-workers in town for short term Y2K contract work failed to appreciate the humour.  Sometimes I think one has to grow up in Quebec to understand it's culture.  I can't wait to see how the musical turns out.  Here's a link to the French musical touring Quebec http://belles-soeurs.ca/spectacle.php

January 18, 2011

Burley Cross Postbox Theft

Burley Cross Postbox Theft is our January selection. We all wanted something a bit lighter than "Room" to start off the new year.  We're also broke from the holidays and some of us were able to find this in one at our local libraries.

Look for a review in about a month.  What wine to pick?  hmmm maybe a lager is in order to match the British theme.

January 13, 2011

The Imperfectionists

Oh what a treat it was to listen to Tom Rachman describe what inspired him to write this book and how he managed to do it.  The Univ of Toronto's Innis College invited the author for the launch of the paperback version.  He walked in dressed like someone who's lived in Europe for a while. Polished casual wear with sleek leather shoes even though there's snow outside.  Oh and then there's the British accent.  Before he even speaks he's dreamy. 
What's wonderful is when he does reach the podium and speaks after an introduction describing the praises for his first novel (NY Times endorsements,  top 10 books of the year from Macleans, etc), there isn't an ounce of arrogance displayed. In fact it's quite the opposite. There is a man who describes his struggles with career choices, with editorial criticism, with feelings of defeat and endless questioning of his own abilities.  You can sense the work and effort that he poured into this novel and how lucky we are that he didn't give it up.
It was his realization that he was an imperfect journalist that inspired the book and it's themes. The novel revolves around a small newspaper in Rome that experiences the economic and technical challenges faced by all newspapers today. It's a wonderful book and even if you aren't in media you'll appreciate the office camaraderie, politics and business challenges faced by most organizations today.  BTW Brad Pitt bought the rights to it  for film production.

Overall Rating **** (4 stars out of 5)

January 08, 2011

On the Proper Use of Stars

If you like to be transported in a different time but based on actual historical records, than you will like this.  Originally published in French this book recounts the Franklin expedition on both sides of the Atlantic. The book is slated for a movie which I think will do well. Just the words alone lend themselves to elaborate sets, costumes and exotic locations. From powerful Europe to the emptiness of the Artic.  Overall Rating *** (3 stars out of 5)

A Good Wine from France for $15 at LCBO Vintages

I lived in Quebec during the 90's and because of the liqour commission's special relationship with France, it was difficult to obtain Californian, South African and Australian wines. When I moved to Ontario I became hooked on non-French wines. But today I made an exception. A Paris Silver medal ? and for 15$. Why not try it?  It was wonderful and I may stay in this region for a while.

January 05, 2011


So this one was the talk of 2010. One of the top 10 according to the NewYork Times.  I liked how the book scared me. So much so that I had to keep reading and finished it in a weekend.  However I will say that it's not the type of book I enjoy and I wouldn't rush out to get her next one.  The real benefit was I sounded semi "with it" at the Xmas parties because of its popularity.  Members comments ;

"I loved it. The narrative as a 5 year old child was so well done. Incredible!"
"I didn't really get much out of this book.  It felt more like a screenplay or movie script."
"What is real and what is not ? There were a lot of concepts here that I found interesting."

Overall Rating **** (4 stars out of 5)

All My Friends Are Superheroes

Different from anything you've read before. A definite read if you like psychology, temperament studies and human interaction. This book appears to be silly but will actually make you think and ponder for days to come.  A perfect selection for a book club as it promotes a lot of discussion. Apparently a TV series is in the works. Some comments :

"I read it 3 times I loved it so much. And each time it got better and I got more out of it."
"I wrote a piece on who my superhero was after reading this book. It's inspiring."
"I won't be able to attend a party now without trying to name heroes."

Overall Rating **** (4 stars out of 5)


Our second book was the eventual winner for CBC's Canada Reads for fiction in 2010.  I liked the book but for the life of me cannot recall how the other members felt.  It was a page turner for sure and had extremely odd storylines... but not so odd that they are unbelievable.  I don't mean unicorns ... I mean more like Sasquatch believable. 

Overall Rating *** (3 stars out of five)

The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant

Our first selection for the book club.  A translation from the French novel or should I say Quebecois original written by Michel Tremblay.  You'll need an org chart to track the characters for this one. Some comments from members ;
"It's a part of Canadian history that I never knew about."
"I hated it... what is this story about?"
"I loved it... it was so alive and full of humour which reminded me of home in Montreal."
"Very complicated as the structure is not linear however I did enjoy."
"Loved the symbolism describing motherhood, the Quebec political landscape, etc... A cat / dog fight indeed"

Overall Rating *** (3 stars out of 5)