This Week, I Read… (#19)

41 - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

#41 – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré

  • Read: 5/516 – 5/7/16
  • Provenance: Library (paperback)
  • Challenge: ReadsTheBooks 2016 Reading Challenge
  • Task: Read the book then watch the movie
  • Rating: book – 2/5 stars; movie – 4/5 stars

DNF @ 15%. This book was impenetrable to me. The sheer weight of spy jargon and Cold War era British idiom was crushing–I was reading paragraphs several times to pull them apart and still not really getting it.

Which is a shame, because the prose I did understand was lovely. There just wasn’t enough to keep me going.

This two-star rating is not an accurate reflection of the quality of the book for more advance spy-genre lovers; I only dabble, and I tend not to like them much anyway. This is strictly a measure of how much I enjoyed it, which is to say, not much.

The movie, on the other hand, stripped the story down to its vital components, leaving behind everything that confused me in the book. The cast was amazing and the acting marvelous. The cinematography was impressive (though I can’t say “beautiful” because ’70s-era London is portrayed as downright grimy, which suits a spy movie), and the score. The score. It was phenomenal.

Because I didn’t finish the book, I didn’t know the identity of the mole when I watched the movie, and man, the reveal was fantastic, and my mind flicked back over all the foreshadowing, and I was thrilled to have missed it. Does that sound weird? It does, but it’s a sign of how well subtlety gets the job done.

42 - Prodigal Summer

#42 – Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver

  • Read: 5/7/16 – 5/11/16
  • Provenance: Owned (hardcover)
  • Challenge: PopSugar 2016 Reading Challenge
  • Task: A book that takes place during summer
  • Rating: 5/5 stars

This was the book I needed after two two-star reads. (Thank you, TBR Jar, for giving me a good one.)

I’ve never read Kingsolver’s work before, though I do have the incredibly famous The Poisonwood Bible on my TBR shelf–I picked both books up from the same library sale, I just ended up reading this one first.

I was enchanted. There’s no other word for it.

Prodigal Summer is deliciously slow-paced, rich in language and dripping with wonder, even reverence, for nature. This story celebrates nature from the high mountain forests straight down to the farms and apple orchards.

42 detail

[The artwork on the inside covers.]

The three interwoven story lines are all engaging on their own, centered on interesting characters brimming with idiosyncrasies, and in the end when they’re tied together, it feels satisfying, not forced. (And there were clues all along, if you’re good at spotting them. I got some, but I’m sure I missed others I’ll pick up someday in a reread.)

While I gave this five stars, I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone–it’s character- and conversation-based much more than action, and anyone who doesn’t want to spend paragraphs learning about moth life cycles and coyote pup-rearing and Amercian chestnut blight…well, give this one a pass.

But if you’re a tree-hugger, nature-lover like I am, definitely read it.

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