This book fills #11 in the reading challenge–a book that intimidated me. For some reason, I’m not into period books during this season of my life. I remember reading plenty of them in years past, but I just haven’t really been drawn to them recently. As a result, even though EVERYONE was talking about this book last year, I had pretty much zero interest. I was sure it would depress me, I wouldn’t get into it, and I wouldn’t finish. For these reasons, I labeled it as “intimidating”.
So here are my quick thoughts. Like everyone said, it is BEAUTIFULLY written. The descriptions are poetic and simply delicious, for lack of a better word. The narrative is carefully crafted and interwoven over several years and characters but neatly connected at the end. Did it depress me at times? Certainly. It’s a book about war. Depressing is not a deep enough word for what war does to humanity. Did I get into it? Yes. Did I finish? Yes.
Did I think it was amazing? Not exactly. It’s the sort of book that you should relish in. You should enjoy the beautifully written descriptions and the careful themes that are brilliantly present through every chapter. For me, it was a bit slow. I didn’t want to indulge in these things that require indulging. My consumption of this book was sort of like wolfing down a $30 teeny tiny dessert at a fancy pants restaurant. One of those things you should take small bites of and relish and enjoy carefully, follow-up with a sip of coffee, and then carry on to the next. Instead, I was on a race to finish this book before my library rental came up. I knew that if that rental ended, and I had to wait to get the book again, I likely wouldn’t borrow it again and it would remain unfinished. I simply needed to know what happened to the characters, so I cheapened this beautiful book. I don’t regret it, but I acknowledge that I didn’t enjoy this one the way it was meant to be enjoyed.
All that said, I think a big part of why I did this was because it was a book that made my heart heavy, and at this point in my life, I really read to escape. This is not where I wanted to escape to. I don’t want to escape to the scary places, places where I’m fearful for my daughter. Places where I put her in the role of the vulnerable characters and desperately want to protect her. I want to escape to lighter, fluffier, and “safer” places, even if they are completely unrealistic.
Regardless of my own need to escape to a fantasy land where everything is safe and happy, this book really is very good. It’s as good as everyone says and certainly worth the read.