Archive for the ‘Goodreads’ Tag

I JUST POSTED THIS REVIEW OF “HAMNET” BY MAGGIE O’FARRELL ON AMAZON AND GOODREADS   Leave a comment

If I were an English teacher conducting a writing course, I’d assign this book as an example of exquisite writing. Often when reading a novel I’ll skim over the descriptive parts to get to the essence of the story, but here I couldn’t help lingering on the way as I was drawn into seeing, feeling, and hearing the historical time and place. I’d also ask for an analysis of the purpose and accomplishment of the story and I’d look for the answer that the author has drawn me into the time period as if I were living it. I liked “seeing” the streets and the homes of Stratford in that period. I’d also note its relationship to our own pandemic time. And certainly there’d be room for a student paper on the gender biases of the period.

I’d ask for an opinion on the believability of the story. Here I’d be aware that I’d just recently skimmed my way through a tome on the life and works of Shakespeare so I liked the way the author made a sensible story of some of the major questions – most especially why he married Anne (Agnes) and why he was almost never home with her and the children. I liked the way his talent appeared to emerge from him as if he were surprised to find it. Overall I’d be satisfied with her construction of the creatively imagined life.

But I’m not an English teacher, so I’ll fall back on my own experience of teaching psychology. I wouldn’t be assigning the book, but I’d be finding the character development especially interesting when it came to Agnes and Hamnet, primarily in the influence of beliefs of the time. Not the deepest of character developments, but sufficient to the purpose of the story.

I loved this book and gave it to my daughter with the encouragement to read it. Wouldn’t it be neat if we could have posted our reviews next to each other? Oh well, we can’t have it all, and besides, she hasn’t finished it yet.

 

 

Posted January 13, 2022 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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AN OPEN LETTER TO MY FRIEND JOLLIE   16 comments

Dear Jollie,

If I didn’t love you so (and if you weren’t so far away) I’d be throttling you for your well-intentioned comment. “With all those rave reviews, I don’t understand why you’re having a tough time selling.  I do wonder about one thing, tho’.   Could it be the title?   When one reads about the character and content of the story, it becomes completely understandable, but to someone who doesn’t it may not…especially at a glance.”

After All I’ve been through with the title! Remember? It was originally published as “Mrs. Job.” It wasn’t long, though, before it came through loud and clear that people were pronouncing “Job” as if it referred to paid employment. And besides, I left the Ph.D. after my name, so people got scared off thinking it was some heavy academic tome.

I realized the latter point when I gave a copy to Lisa’s neighbor in Williamsburg. She had to read it, of course, because it was a gift she had to acknowledge. And then she was surprised, discovering that it was a good read. “I was afraid to read it,” she said, “because I thought I wouldn’t understand it.” Oh my!

In spite of all that, though, a traditional publisher wanted to publish it. So back at the beginning of 2013 when Doug and I were heading off for a month’s Asia/Pacific cruise they had me terminate my contract with iUniverse, planning to come up with a new name and cover while I was away. In the meantime they provided an editor to work with me, and a copy editor, so Mrs. Job was thoroughly vetted. It took a long time for the copy editor to make his way through it. I had just made my final response to his latest effort when I received a notice in mid-summer, 2013, that they had lost their funding and would not be publishing “Mrs. Job” or whoever she was to become.

So, Job’s wife was essentially homeless (i.e., unpublished, except for leftover copies) from January, 2013 ‘til November 2014. (Almost two years.) That’s a pretty long time for a lady to be without a home.

At any rate, after much discussion with lots of people, I decided to publish it as “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses” taken, as you know, from a quote on p. 50. By the time she hit the presses she had been so thoroughly edited that I rejected the first draft when I found a typo on page 115 and re-did it. Even now, there is a “.com” missing on the ESBN page. Just to prove no one or book is perfect.

To tell the truth, Jollie, with the really great reviews “Mts. Job” had received before and “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses” has received now, I did hope the book might hit the tipping point into great sales. As you point out, it hasn’t happened.

So I won’t throttle you. It’s not your fault.

I did decide to take the advice of a blogger friend and stop sending the message out to the universe that I “need” it to succeed. Sometimes I feel like really retiring and just hanging out with some good books, but instead now I’m focusing on “My Father’s House” and letting Job’s wife find her own way in life.

Well, not quite. Today I listed her on Goodreads. (I just checked. I guess this link won’t take you there until the Goodreads folks have judged it worthy on Monday.) It would be nice if people were to go there and write reviews.

But … nope. Stop that,Mona. I’ll focus on things like getting to choir on time tomorrow morning, and sitting for a while by the fire with one of the many books I have in the works.

Message to the universe: I don’t really “need” for “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses “ to reach the tipping point, so feel free to come by and tip it.

That’s it, Jollie. I love you and miss you, and cherish all the years of friendship.

Mona

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Figs-Pomegranates-Special-Cheeses-Story/dp/0692257888/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416091550&sr=1-1&keywords=figs+%26+pomegranates+%26+special+cheeses

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