Tag Archives: Novel


A review of
The Garden Of Evening Mists
by Tan Twan Eng

published on my sister site,
Entertaining Angels Bookshelf.



Unveiling a Parallel

By Alice Ilgenfritz Jones and Ella Merchant, published 1893.

Once again I find myself adding a book review to my Christian themed blog, before I add it to my book review blog. I add it here because of the comparisons Unveiling A Parallel draws with Christianity.

Unveiling A Parallel is billed as a romance. Some might say it is science fiction, as it is set on the planet Mars. Some would call it feminist literature, if the term “feminist” existed in 1893. I describe Unveiling A Parallel as social-science fiction, that just happens to be set on another planet.

Remember as you continue that Unveiling a Parallel was published more than a century ago. The society in which the protagonist finds himself is still a stratified society, in which there are rich and poor, servants and masters, characteristic of the era in which the story was written.

The reader is not told at any point the protagonist’s name, or how he comes to be on Mars. The story begins at his arrival on the red planet.  It goes on to recount his experiences with the “Marsians” whilst amongst the people.

The Marsian people are humans, who have evolved entirely independently of the humans of our planet Earth. The differences between the peoples are in intellects and social orders, not in any physical aspect that defines a human being.

The traveller’s male pre-conceptions, of how a society should function, based on his patriarchal Earth background in a male dominated society, are challenged from soon after his arrival on Mars.  As he begins to get to know Mars’ people, he finds an egalitarian, equal society where the female of the species is the equal of the male socially and morally, without needing legislation to achieve it.

It is also interesting to see the protagonist’s observations on religion, specifically Christianity, as he begins to come to terms with the “Marsian” society in which he finds himself.

Unveiling A Parallel is not SciFi in the form that readers of such as Asimov, E E Doc Smith or Larry Niven would probably appreciate. It is, to a greater extent, commentary on the differences between societies, that have evolved in different places, under different conditions and traditions.

“You worship the man – the God, if you will, –
instead of that for which he stood.”: – Severnius.

When We Were Orphans

A review of the book by Kazuo Ishiguro.

After reading The Buried Giant, I happened on When We Were Orphans by the same writer in a charity shop, so I thought I’d give it a try too. Most authors I have read tend to have a theme or style running through their books, even when they are not sequels or a series. This was completely a different kind of read to the first of Ishiguro’s books that I read.

Set between the wars, we first meet Christopher Banks a few years after the First World War, about to embark on establishing himself in the world, with ambition to become a detective. In time he will achieve his ambition, but will he solve the mystery that begun in his childhood aged 8, when he lived in Shanghai?

Much of the story is told through Christopher’s memories of his childhood. As children grow, detail fades from childhood memory and Christopher is no exception. This leaves Christopher to try to piece together scraps of his past as he attempts to unravel the mystery of his parents involvement in the opium trade. Don’t worry, this little snippet is not a spoiler as we are informed of it quite early in the story.

Unfortunately, although When We Were Orphans received good reviews and plaudits, I did not find it an easy read. I do not favour stories told in flashback or memory style, and this plot lost me a couple of times. Objectively, it probably deserves its plaudits but I did not enjoy reading it as much as I did The buried Giant.

A Spool Of Blue Thread

A review of the book by Anne Tyler.

A Spool Of blue Thread is the first book by Anne Tyler that I have read, once again a book group choice, not my own. It is a family saga; not a genre I favour or would choose. Judging by the inside back cover, showing twenty books by Tyler, she is quite a prolific author.

The book is in four parts, in addition to the chapters, with the majority of it revolving around Red and Abbey Whitshank and their lives and family in their Baltimore home. In all, the story crosses four generations of the Whitshank family,, from Red and Abbey’s parents to their grandchildren. The last generation Red and Abbey’s grandchildren do not actually have a great impact on the story as it is told.

A well as the people, the house built by Red’s father, Junior Whitshank, has a major presence, becoming almost another player in the cast. It becomes known by the locals as The Porch House, which probably tells you something about it, without giving away any important part of the story.

I’ve already noted that A Spool Of Blue Thread is in four parts, but they are not all roughy the same number of pages. Parts one and two together take up about three quarters of the book, which is unfortunate. At any time in the first two parts I could have put the book down and not picked it up again. Part four is the shortest part of all, and can be whipped through pretty quick, even for a slow reader, like me.

Only part three, about Red’s father and mother, Junior and Linnie Mae, made me want to keep turning the page to see what was coming next. This part although contributing to the book as a whole could, in my opinion, have been told in its own novella that I would really have enjoyed I think.

“It makes you wonder why we bother accumulating, accumulating, when we
know from earliest childhood how it’s all going to end.” – Abbey Whitshank.