Monday, March 21, 2022

Book Reviews: Recitatif; Toni Morrison and The Invisible Life of Addie Larue; V. E. Schwab

Recitatif; A Story; Toni Morrison
Penguin Random House Audio - 2022
(1 hour and 54 min - narrated by Zadie Smith and Bahni Turpin - excellent)

This short story was originally published in 1983 and, it was the only short story that Toni Morrison ever had published.

What we know from the introduction of this short story by Zadie Smith is that this is a story about two young girls - one is black and one is white. We are left to decide the race issue for ourselves.

The story opens in the 1950s when two girls, Twyla and Roberta,  meet at St. Bonaventure's home for children at the age of eight. The two are roommates and we learn that their mothers are unable to care for them.  We learn that Twyla's mother Mary is a dancer who works at night and, we gather that Roberta's mother may be in an institution for some sort of mental illness.  The girls spend four months together but, that time together is significant and will impact their future lives.  When the women cross paths a few times as adults, it was interesting to read about their interpretations of an incident that occurred during their short time together.  

I was happy I tried this short story, it gave me a lot to think about and I liked that the reader got to learn about how their lives turned out as adults. The narration was excellent as well.  Honestly, I think I would have preferred that the fairly long introduction about race and stereotypes was omitted or shortened, it seemed to detract from the actual story.  I liked making my own decision about the race of these women as well.  Worth Reading!

Rating - 4/5 stars

Tor Books - 2020 - Book Group Read

This book was selected as our March book group read.  It is definitely not the type of book that I would have chosen on my own. First the time period - the story begins in 1714  when Addie is 23 and plays out over some 300 years.  Protagonist Addie Larue makes a deal with the God Luc hoping to avoid marriage and a more traditional life in her hometown.  She is granted infinite life until she agrees to relinquish her soul to him. Little does Addie know she will be forgotten by everyone she crosses paths with while alive.  

The story follows two timelines - through the present day being 2014.  I had a love-hate relationship with this book.  The writing was very good but, at times felt a tad repetitive.  I enjoyed the many wonderful quotes to be found throughout as well (my rating reflects this). I'm just not a fan of fantasy/magical realism or romance and this had all three. There were also more than 15 characters in this book and, although the audio was lovely (read by Julia Whelan) I had to switch to print in order not to drive myself crazy. I liked how art was significant to the story and, I did not realize the significance early on. My 4 star rating is based on how clever the story was; I loved how Addie did manage to leave her mark on the world. 


Quotes

“You see only flaws and faults, weaknesses to be exploited. But humans are messy, Luc. That is the wonder of them. They live and love and make mistakes, and they feel so much.”

“He always liked learning. Loved it, really. If he could have spent his whole life sitting in a lecture hall, taking notes, could have drifted from department to department, haunting different studies, soaking up language and history and art, maybe he would have felt full, happy.”

“He assures you that you’ll find your calling, but that’s the whole problem, you’ve never felt called to any one thing. There is no violent push in one direction, but a softer nudge a hundred different ways, and now all of them feel out of reach.”

“There is a rhythm to moving through the world alone. You discover what you can and cannot live without, the simple necessities and small joys that define a life. Not food, not shelter, not the basic things a body needs—those are, for her, a luxury—but the things that keep you sane. That bring you joy. That make life bearable.”

Rating - 4/5 stars

10 comments:

  1. Oddly enough, I've only just watched a Youtube video where The Invisible Life of Addie Larue was mentioned. The commentator didn't like the book, was bored because he found it too slow, but reading those quotes I wonder if it might be my kind of thing. I do like magical realism and romance and don't mind slower books if I know about it beforehand. I will think about it.

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    1. It is the kind of story that you can get a bit lost in while (sucked into the story) while reading. I'd be curious to read your thoughts if you do try it.

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  2. Sounds like a couple of good ones.

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  3. Nice quotes from Addie LaRue! I liked it a little less than you, but agree that the audio narration was well done and the story is creative. How did your book club like it? Good discussion? My group was split. Some loved it and others didn't.

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    1. Our meeting is tomorrow but, I won't be attending. I will contact my friend to find out what they thought.

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  4. I think I'd enjoy the first one since I loved the Morrison books I've read, but I'd pass on the second.

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  5. Recitatif was very good. I skipped the intro and went right to the story, honestly!

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  6. Both of these sound good. I get overwhelmed when I read about MORE good books. I have so many already!

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  7. I listened to the Morrison short story as well ... and decided to do Zadie Smith's intro afterwards which worked, but you're right it's a bit long. I'm still wondering about the Addie LaRue -- it's not exactly in my usual category either.

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