The Crimson Petal And The White

Michel-Faber-Crimson-Petal-and-the-White1Michel Faber

First Sentence:    Watch your step.

Back of the book:

‘Watch your step. Keep your wits about you; you will need them . . .’

So begins this irresistible voyage into the dark side of Victorian London. Amongst an unforgettable cast of low-lifes, physicians, businessmen and prostitutes, meet our heroine Sugar, a young woman trying to drag herself up from the gutter any way she can. Be prepared for a mesmerising tale of passion, intrigue, ambition and revenge.

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Train Dreams

Denis Johnson

First Sentence:     In the summer of 1917 Robert Grainier took part in an attempt on the life of a Chinese laborer caught, or anyway accused of, stealing from the company stores of the Spokane International Railway in Idaho Panhandle.

Back of the book:

Robert Grainier is a day labourer in the American West at the start of the twentieth century – an ordinary man in extraordinary times. Buffeted by the loss of his family, Grainier struggles to make sense of this strange new world. As his story unfolds, we witness both his shocking personal defeats and the radical changes that transform America in his lifetime.

Suffused with the history and landscape of the American West – its otherworldly flora and fauna, its rugged loggers and bridge builders – the new novel by the National Book Award-winning author of Tree of Smoke captures the disappearance of a distinctly American way of life.

Quote from the book:

All his life Robert Grainier would remember vividly the burned valley at sundown, the most dreamlike business he’d ever witnessed waking – the brilliant pastels of the last light overhead, some clouds high and white, catching daylight from beyond the valley, others ribbed and gray and pink, the lowest of them rubbing the peaks of Bussard and Queen mountains; and beneath this wondrous sky the black valley, utterly still, the train moving through it making a great noise but unable to wake this dead world.

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When the Emperor Was Divine

Julie Otsuka

First Sentence:    The sign had appeared overnight.

I recently read The Buddha in the Attic and something about it bugged me. I felt like it could have been a lot better than it was, but I found plenty to admire at the same time. For that reason I thought I’d give Otsuka another go and read this, her first novel. Seems to me though, if you’ve read one, you’ve read the other. They are very similar in almost every way, the main difference being this book concentrates on the plight of one family, as opposed to The Buddha in the Attic  which tried to encapsulate the thoughts of an entire country. Here we are presented with the story of mother, father, son and daughter and it makes for an altogether more enjoyable book. So yeah, if you’re going to read one of Otsuka’s books, make it this one, but really, there are better books you could be reading…

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