Book Reviews: Maame, Song of Achiles, The Marriage Portrait & My Name is Lucy Barton

Maame by Jessica George

Goodreads blurb: It’s fair to say that Maddie’s life in London is far from rewarding. With a mother who spends most of her time in Ghana (yet still somehow manages to be overbearing), Maddie is the primary caretaker for her father, who suffers from advanced stage Parkinson’s. At work, her boss is a nightmare and Maddie is tired of always being the only Black person in every meeting. When her mum returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie leaps at the chance to get out of the family home and finally start living. A self-acknowledged late bloomer, she’s ready to experience some important “firsts”: She finds a flat share, says yes to after-work drinks, pushes for more recognition in her career, and throws herself into the bewildering world of internet dating. But it’s not long before tragedy strikes, forcing Maddie to face the true nature of her unconventional family, and the perils––and rewards––of putting her heart on the line. Smart, funny, and deeply affecting, Maame deals with the themes of our time with humor and poignancy: from familial duty and racism, to female pleasure, the complexity of love, and the life-saving power of friendship. Most important, it explores what it feels like to be torn between two homes and cultures―and it celebrates finally being able to find where you belong

My take: 5 out of 5. This was a gorgeous book. It’s a hard book to read, but it is an absolutely enthralling book and I think one that needs to be read. It’s painful because her life is painful. She’s a little bit cringeworthy and you kind of want to help her out, help her get through her issues. But that, I think that vulnerability, that rawness, that kind of naivete of the character just makes this book really beautiful. Her googling every problem that happens to her is such a wonderful characterization of her loneliness and lack of circle that its funny yet so rea;. It’s not an easy book, it’s sad, but I think you’ll get quite a lot of out of it.

one of my favorite quotes: regardless of how you behave a lot of things are going to be out of your control because this world was made to test you. /protect your peace in whatever everyway that you can.

Son of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Goodreads blurb: Achilles, “the best of all the Greeks,” son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful, irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods’ wrath. They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice

My take: 4.25 out of 5 I really enjoy these types of books, the even more in depth historical fiction. I liked it a bit less than Circe, which I read last year from her, but I really enjoyed it. The fact that its a gay romance about such a historical fiction is a wonderful take that you dont expect and interesting to see how the relationship is presented and navigated in Ancient Greece. I think these is one of those books that would benefit to read it so much after reading The Odyssey (i read it so long ago in High School) because the comparison and how clever she mixes the narrative would be absolutely great after recent reading. I also love a book that makes me go do research so points for that!

The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell

Goodreads blurb: Florence, the 1550s. Lucrezia, third daughter of the grand duke, is comfortable with her obscure place in the palazzo: free to wonder at its treasures, observe its clandestine workings, and devote herself to her own artistic pursuits. But when her older sister dies on the eve of her wedding to the ruler of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio, Lucrezia is thrust unwittingly into the limelight: the duke is quick to request her hand in marriage, and her father just as quick to accept on her behalf. Having barely left girlhood behind, Lucrezia must now enter an unfamiliar court whose customs are opaque and where her arrival is not universally welcomed. Perhaps most mystifying of all is her new husband himself, Alfonso. Is he the playful sophisticate he appeared to be before their wedding, the aesthete happiest in the company of artists and musicians, or the ruthless politician before whom even his formidable sisters seem to tremble? As Lucrezia sits in constricting finery for a painting intended to preserve her image for centuries to come, one thing becomes worryingly clear. In the court’s eyes, she has one duty: to provide the heir who will shore up the future of the Ferranese dynasty. Until then, for all of her rank and nobility, the new duchess’s future hangs entirely in the balance. Full of the beauty and emotion with which she illuminated the Shakespearean canvas of Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell turns her talents to Renaissance Italy in an extraordinary portrait of a resilient young woman’s battle for her very survival

my take: 4.75 out of 5. I was a little bit hesitant of starting this book because I actually did not love Hamnet. As you’ve learned, if you read my blog post about it, everybody raved about it, and I thought it was a little bit boring. I loved the subject matter, but I just couldn’t get into it. So I came in here with hesitancy.

There was no need, I was blown away. The marriage portrait is absolutely wonderful. A historical fiction beauty. And you all know how lo much I love my historical fiction. I think it mixed historical fiction with crime, drama, and the expectation was so high. Like you knew what was gonna happen and you knew the end, but it manage to keep you hooked in a what if situation i. That’s pretty spectacular. Characters are great and we all wanna live in Florence, circa 1550. This book has a little bit of everything. It has some romance, it has the history, it has the palaces, it has the beautiful dresses. It also has the psychological thriller vibes, mystery , and the very raw aspect of what living in the 1500 as a 15 year old bride could be.

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Goodreads blurb: Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Her unexpected visit forces Lucy to confront the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of her life: her impoverished childhood in Amgash, Illinois, her escape to New York and her desire to become a writer, her faltering marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable. In My Name Is Lucy Barton, one of America’s finest writers shows how a simple hospital visit illuminates the most tender relationship of all-the one between mother and daughter.

my take: 3 out of 5. This book was a little bit of a disappointment. I came to it because I got the third book in the series through Net Galley, and then I realized I should really start from the first one. I got this audio and it had such good word of mouth that I thought I was gonna love it and I didn’t.

It’s not a bad book, it’s just below my expectations. It’s a very moving, but unfocused book. It felt to me like they were trying to pull at my heartstrings, but every time I got attached, like I was jumping to a different location and I just never got the emotional connection to Lucy or her family.

And that is a rough relationship. The whole Lucy & her mother relationship its hard. ITs powerful but it also could have been more.It was hard for me. I just did not get into it. I wanted to, I really did, and I just didn’t. Some of you who loved it please tell me why.

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