Tag Archives: publisher: hogarth books

Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki

Woman No. 17

Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki

Published by: Hogarth on May 9, 2017
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Author Lady Daniels needs to finish her memoir. And now that she’s separated from her husband, she realizes she may need some help. And that help comes in the form of S., a young artist who is willing to work as a nanny to make ends meet. She connects right away with Lady’s younger son, and Lady’s capable-of-taking-care-of-himself older son, Seth, does not seem to mind her all that much either. But as everyone in the house gets to know each other better, secrets bubble to the surface that everyone hoped would stay hidden. And sometimes the truth can be the most poisonous of all…

I found this to be an enjoyable and interesting read. There’s quite a bit of embedded commentary here on mother-daughter dynamics, both between Lady and S. and between each of them and their own mothers. Add in the interactions between Lady and her two sons, and there might be more here about parent-child relationships in general. And, of course, there is the question of truth and omission of fact. Is it okay to keep information from someone if you think it will protect them or make their life easier? Or is that really up to anyone else to decide besides the person it all affects? And when our secrets are revealed, regardless of how it happens, do we really have anyone else to blame but ourselves?

[Disclaimer: This review is based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher via the First to Read program.]

Shylock Is My Name by Howard Jacobson

Shylock is my name

Shylock Is My Name by Howard Jacobson

Published by: Hogarth on February 9, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

As the name suggests, this is a modern author’s take on retelling <i>The Merchant of Venice</i> for a contemporary audience. I often enjoy Shakespeare adaptations that are done well, so of course I figured I’d check this one out. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as impressed with this one as I’d hoped. Jacobson’s take on the story is confusing, incredibly complex, and difficult to wade through. I’m not sure if he intended it as more of an intellectual take than a literary one, but it came across to me as highly inaccessible in the writing style and overall storytelling.

That said, it is a creative take in comparing the original tale to how a similar situation might play out in the modern world. For the concept alone, I do have to give the author some credit. And that’s why this pulls three stars from me when I probably would have been inclined to rate it lower based on my overall enjoyment and reading of the book.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via BloggingForBooks in exchange for an honest review.]

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

The Vinegar Girl

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Published by: Hogarth on June 2, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Kate Battista knows people can perceive her as abrasive at times. But she’s honest, independent, and isn’t intentionally mean. Everyone just seems to expect her to fit a mold that doesn’t fit. Even the coworker she really wishes would notice her.

Everything comes to a head when Kate’s father presents her with a ridiculous demand. He wants Kate to marry his lab assistant, Pyotr, so he can stay in the country. Kate rejects the proposal outright (How could he ask her that?) at first, but eventually she decides it might not be so bad. She can manage it for a year, right? And it will get her out of her father’s house, where her needy father and sister dominate her life.

Pyotr gets on Kate’s nerves, especially at first. He’s always so optimistic and reads their interactions more positively than Kate intends. But as she gets to know him better, could she discover something deeper? What really makes Pyotr tick? An unexpected event on their wedding day gives Kate the chance to truly see what life with Pyotr would be like. Can she manage it for a year? Or could it even become something that lasts?

I often enjoy modern retellings of Shakespeare plays. There’s something about adapting a classic into a new work that reflects the challenges and realities of today’s society that gets me thinking. Some issues we face as people transcend time. And others change shape but still linger over us regardless of the decade. I have to say that I do like what Anne Tyler did here with The Taming of the Shrew.

If you weren’t a fan of 10 Things I Hate About You (or even if you were), this is probably the story that you needed instead. It’s well-written, dynamic, and paced in a more interesting and realistic way.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.]

The Room by Jonas Karlsson

17830958Title: The Room
Author: Jonas Karlsson (translated by Neil Smith)
Published: February 17, 2015 (originally published in Swedish in 2009)
Pages: 186
Publisher: Hogarth Books
Publisher Link: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.]

When Björn takes a new job with the Authority, he sees himself on the rise.  He was encouraged to make the change by his old boss and he has a plan to make a splash among his new colleagues.  But when he discovers a secret room that no one else is willing to acknowledge, his plans are thrown off–especially when his office mates begin to see his behaviors as bizarre, concerning, and even a bit threatening.  Will he be able to discover the truth of the room?  Will Björn find a way to strike a balance between being productive and giving in to the demands of his coworkers?

As this is quick and easy read, I found myself quickly pulled into Björn’s world.  The story is broken down into short scenes as chapters–almost a bit like journal entries, but not really framed that way–and it allows the story to keep a unique and appropriate pacing and momentum throughout.  There are definitely moments when I didn’t want to like Björn, but just as many when I didn’t want to like is colleagues, either.  The whole idea of “the room” is an intriguing one and there are many layers of metaphor and allegory here that I expect will have me thinking for days.  Highly recommended and both enjoyable as well as thought-provoking.