Story set in Shanghai from approx. 1900-1930, two mother-daughter relationships spanning 3 generations. Detailed description of life as a courtesan through good times and bad times. Chinese men have anglicized first names like Perpetual and Loyalty.
A really lovely book about a family just dealing with life’s relationships (Marie, children mainly). Understated, better than McDermott’s book Someone from April.
This is a book about suicide and so it is hard to be perfectly objective but – this is her best book since A Complicated Kindness. Some back story: Toews wrote Swing Low, a non-fiction account of the suicidal death of her father. In AMPS (words taken from a Coleridge poem), the story is fiction but heavily influenced by the suicidal death of Toews’ sister in 2010.
Now for the comments: this is a heart-breaking story, that captures perfectly the inherent conflict between two sisters who love each other, but conflict because one wants to die and the other who wants her sister to live. The inevitability of the progression to the suicide is frightening, despite great efforts by many individuals in addition to the sisters. And finally, the picture of the psych staff is unflattering: indifference and ineffectiveness. Save up your energy for this but it is brilliant writing.
A brilliant story: sad, poignant, about fragility and uncertain realities, and the unsettling grip of mental illness. This book is even better than her previousbook The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
A story of the complicated, often tempestuous relationship between Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife Fanny. The setting is constantly changing in the search for a climate that is healthy, a search that eventually leads to Samoa. (Horan wrote Loving Frank which is also excellent)
A 3-way story: a man who dies accidentally, his wife, and the woman he was having an affair with. It is not so much a story of infidelity but what secrets need to be hidden.
This is a compelling story of relationships: two brothers, husband-wife, and most complicated, child-parents. Typical of most Lahiri’s writing, this story takes place in both India and USA. (Jhumpa Lahiri previously wrote short stories – The Namesake).