Friday, November 23, 2012

Review: The Sentimentalists

The Sentimentalists
The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Petra sent me an unexpected american thanksgiving present! I've wanted to read this for awhile.

So, I had the weirdest reading experience - the first part of the narration I thought was by a dude - right up until the narrator finds her boyfriend sleeping with another woman. And my mind still tried to assume that it was a bisexual man cheating. Looking back, I don't see anything that made me assume a male narrator, except perhaps knowing that at some point the book was about the Vietnam War. It might have been that there are two kids, and one is the sister Helen, so perhaps I just assumed boy + girl makes sense (in my family we were totally gender balanced in my generation, even cousins.) Who knows.

I liked the book overall - but I wasn't surprised to read that Skibsrud also publishes poetry and I'm not sure I liked the poetic prose as much as I often do. I also went in expecting Vietnam War and you don't even get to that aspect of the book until halfway through. And the symbols - the boat that never sails, the submerged town - they seemed a bit too obvious to me.

And forevermore, I think I'm going to have a harder time picturing books set during the Vietnam war. They all seem to include an element about how oppressive the heat and rain are, and I LOVE the heat of Vietnam. LOVE. And while not fond of the rain, I've now done 7 years in that part of the world with a monsoon, and before that Vancouver and Scotland, so rain, meh.

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