Friday, July 30, 2010

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

M:

I'm always very sceptical when it comes to politicians. As a rule I don't trust any of them. The higher up and more known they are, the more I tend to distrust them. Therefore I was also very sceptical about this book too, after all, it was written by a man who's very much involved in politics and has a long way down from his post.

I was pleasantly surprised by the narrative of this book and must admit that Obama is a very good writer. I especially enjoyed the little captions from his own personal life that tied the political themes to real events and made them much more approachable and understandable for the reader. He also gave his own opinions on the matters he was discussing, not just listing the things that are wrong in the socitety. I didn't always agree with him (e.g. I don't think that merit pay is the way to go with school teachers) but I did appreciate that he gave some solutions for the problems.

I did find the book a little preachy in places and a little more 'campaign speech' like than a novel. Also his habit of making a point by asking questions got a little old towards the end: Is the cheap oil worth the costs of war? Will our military intervention lead to a permanent political settlement or an indefinite commitment of U.S. forces? Can our dispute with a country be settled diplomatically or through a coordinated series of sanctions? Will I ever stop asking questions and actually give my opinion on the matter?

The book was written by a man whose sitting pretty high up (not as high as he is now though) and I tend to think that he's probably playing it a little safe, not saying it like it is but so that no one can misunderstand and be offended. Nonetheless, I thought that the book had some interesting ideas, it was well written and easy to read. It was thought provoking and that's always a good sign in my opinion.

So, ii, what's your take on this one? Do you agree with me that this is a book worth reading?

ii:

I too liked this book. Like you said, Obama is a talented writer, but unlike you I liked the questions. That's most probably because I do that too, develop ideas through asking questions. So that didn't bother me at all. And from the very beginning I wondered, could this book have been written by anyone but American, in any society other that the USA? I don't think so.

The thing about books like this is, that they make me want to read more "smart" stuff. Like... history, or economics or politics. And I don't even like politics! The very point Obama highlighted in this book, that there's no easy to apply solutions and right and wrong answers to these issues, is something my patience isn't enough. I want to solve the problem, and I want to do it right now! haha

I did struggle with the chapter on religion, mostly because I don't subscribe to any religion. It annoys me a bit, that whenever we talk of issues of faith and religion and how we need to remember to respect everyones freedom of faith, we're forgetting that not all of us belong to a religion. That too should be respected, the freedom to not have faith. But given the background, that this is a book written by a Christian Democratic politician, he did address the issue in a good way.

Ah yes, the Democratic slant. The "we're responsible for everyone" attitude. It was there, at parts really strong, but then again, he did say so in the beginning. It would be interesting, though, to have a similar (in scope) book written by a Republican. My favorite Marine said once, that there's no longer "fact facts", there's only spin. Meaning that everything in the media is slanted to one way or another. Obama mentioned the same, when he said there's no longer Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Murrow. So why should we expect anything but from an active politician, already planning to rerun (or running for some other office) at the time of writing the book? (See, Madsie, I ask the annoying questions too! Hahaha)

I liked the last few chapters less that the beginning of the book. The chapter on US foreign policy was just too stock full of "American Arrogance". The only notion he gave to international institutions that could take the role of policing the world, such as UN, was when he suggested America should lead them and use them for getting international support to their actions by gaining credibility and the cloak of acceptability through UN approval. That the US should play by the rules not because they're good rules, but because it would be hypocritical for them to ask others to follow them if they're not doing so themselves. Now isn't that just saying "you following these rules benefits us, so we're willing to do what it takes, even follow them ourselves, to make sure you do so"? How about inserting a little humility and respect for others into your foreign policy? How about giving some of that respect you talk of, respect you should have for yourselves the Americans, to the rest of the world? How about admitting that just because Europe needed the help of Americans after WWII to rebuild our economies, we're doing pretty darn good now? (Need I remind you, the current economic crisis was caused by American screw-ups?)

As for the last chapter, the one on family, now that was just pure populism. Vote-fishing at its finest. Or maybe I was just still pissed off after the foreign policy chapter. Of course Obama, like any working parent, struggles with balancing work and family. And the sad fact is that we don't want to hear people who "have it all" (good job, happy family, wealth etc.) complain. But that chapter was just way too sugary. Why couldn't he point out his own experiences on these issues when he talked of social policy and the need for quality teaching for kids and daycares and a minimum wage of parents so that they can actually afford to go to work? When he focused on abortion and problems of unemployment and one-parent households? Then it wouldn't have sounded so much... well, you know the show Extreme Makeover Home Edition? Where they build a house to a needy family? Where you're supposed to go all "aww" at them and cry and feel for them? I call that social porn. And the last chapter, much to my disappointed was more like social porn than affirmative of Obama's dedication to family values and his thanks to his lucky stars for getting a smart wife and pretty kids.

The last two chapters left a... not exactly sour taste in my mouth, but a bit disappointing feeling. I liked most of this book a lot. Not because I subscribe to the liberal ideals of Democrats (I'm more a libertarian myself) but because it made me think, it made me form my own opinions and evaluate (or at times reevaluate) my beliefs of what is right and good and just. And I like reading books like that.

Mads?


M:

Yep, pretty much right with you there, liked it but didn't agree with all of it.

I too had hard time stomaching everything in the Faith -chapter. Like, I sure didn't know that more americans believe in angels than in evolution. And you know I come from a family with very strong sciency background so evolution to me has always been a fact not something you can choose not to believe... I also found the Family chapter was a bit not believable. In public he's all smiles and happy families so to complain about his family situation makes me think he either is untruthful in the book or untruthful in his public appearances with the wife and kids...

This book had loads of interesting thoughts and I'm glad we added this to the list. That said I think I'll give american politics a rest for a while now. Makes me a bit angry, reading ii's thoughts on the foreign policy parts made me remember it all over again and I'm pissed of again, so happy books next please.

We also gained 15 points for The 4 Months Challenge from this one in the category "read a book by an author you've never read before".

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays are a weekly book-themed meme, hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • Be careful of spoilers! Don't ruin the book to others by revealing important plot developments. (So the last words of a dying central character are probably not okay...)
  • Share the title and the author of the book as well, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can look up the book and add it to their TBR list.
Here's our teaser for this week:
As I stand in the elevator, dazed, I realize that a massive winning lottery ticket chunk of my future has somehow found me here in the present, and I start to laugh. I cross the lobby, and as I run down the stairs to the street I see Claire running across Washington Square, jumping and whooping, and I am near tears and I don't know why.
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, page 10

Friday, July 23, 2010

Behold, for I have conquered!

I decided long before we started with this list that I need to read more, there's just too many books I haven't read but feel like I should've. So, a couple of years back I trotted down to my local library and checked out some classics. Including Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I managed to finish the book before it was due back but reading it was more a chore than fun; the book was just plain boring. After this I went on quite happily reading other stuff. About a year ago I was browsing through the classics section at a book store and came across David Copperfield by Dickens for a very low price. I thought to myself, what the hell, might as well give it a go. Man, I sure did not know what I had gotten myself into!

First the book sat on my shelf for quite some time, after all I had some other reading to do before that one. Then, last fall I started with it and last night I finally managed to finish it. I have been struggling through the 745 pages of utter boredom. It was just a battle all the way through: I would read a couple of pages, feel like I wanted to claw my eyes out and switched books, then wait a few days (/weeks depending on how horridly uneventful the read passage was) and tried again. I have to say there has never ever been a book that took more time to finish then this one!

Dare I say it? I hate Dickens! And especially his "masterpiece" David Copperfield. I couldn't have cared less about the characters who were plenty and most of them completely useless. How can it take so many pages to write this story when the main happenings are: my mother died, run away from stepfather, struggled to succeed in life, got married, wife died, got married again and lived happily everafter. I just don't get it. Could someone please explain to me why on earth should I appreciate the works of this guy??

I shall now revel in the fact that I finished the stupid thing and I will never have to pick it up again (no, I have no plans for a reread anytime soon). Then I will dress in black and sit on the couch and mourn the hours and days of my life that I'll never get back and were wasted on reading this.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays are a weekly book-themed meme, hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • Be careful of spoilers! Don't ruin the book to others by revealing important plot developments. (So the last words of a dying central character are probably not okay...)
  • Share the title and the author of the book as well, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can look up the book and add it to their TBR list.
Here's our teaser for this week:
I waited until two o'clock in the morning and then, as arranged, made my way, carrying a candle, to the said room, pretending that I'd rung for him several times without result. My accomplice, who acts his parts superbly, put on a little scene of surprise, dismay, and penitence which I cut short by pretending to need some hot water and sent him off to heat it up. Meanwhile, the scrupulous maid was all the more embarrassed because the rogue had improved on my scenario by getting her to strip off to a state of undress perfectly appropriate to the season but hardly justified by the weather alone.

Les Liaisons dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos, page 87

Book snobs?

ii:
Okay, something's been nagging away in my brain for a while now. Am I a book snob? I have difficulties considering someone who reads detective novels and vampire books as a Reader. As in, a serious reader. okay, you may read a lot, and as such are indeed a reader, but an intellectual reader? Noup. I do believe that to be a Reader, you must have read, if only for curiosity's sake, some of the classics, you must know the difference between Russian and French literature, you must recognize the Asian from the American.

Is that snobbish of me?

M:
Here here sisterfriend!! I don't get it either. I do occasionally read detective novels (like Agatha Christie and such) and every once in a while I need some chick lit to clear my head from all thought but I really don't have the need to go around advertising the fact. And I'm not the kind of person who judges a book by it's cover: I have even read the Twilight series. And no, I didn't think much of it, the last book was downright ridicilous. I must admit that the books were slightly better than the movies though. I think there's nothing good looking about Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner looks like a girl with muscles. (I'm waiting for the insults now, go for it: I haven't even started with the "actress" Kirsten Stewart...)

I wanted to start blogging to have incentive to read more classics or books that have an important message or at least a bit more enduring value than your latest Cosmopolitan-recommended-it-next-to-a-Veet-ad stuff. I want to have intelligent discussions about books with people who are well read and actually have thoughts about the stuff they read. I don't need to talk about Confessions of a Shopaholic, it was ok but that's about it, no lasting impression or emotional turmoil.

Is there anyone out there who prefers a classic over the latest craze in books?

ii:
I suffered some emotional turmoil over the fact that there is a fairly successful book series about a character who never exhibits any growth or development whatsoever! (yes, the Shopaholic series.) Granted, I do read the chick-lit on occasion. We all need a detox after all. We all need an occasional break of sorts. It's like eating junk food or fat-assing it on the sofa. Although the latter probably isn't a good example, given the fact that as I accidentally came across my gym bag in my closet just now, it went "who the heck are you??" (But I do have a hola hoop, and it's pretty. And besides the point.)

But yes, we all need a break. It's what you do between those breaks that matters, in my mind. Right? Are you reading chick-lit amids Ha Jin and Némirovsky, or between Grisham and The Nanny Diaries (which I only finished because of the Harvard Hottie)?

M:
Exactly! I think I for sure needed to vent my feelings on this particular matter. I don't even care if people blog about their holiday fluff reading as long as it's done tongue in cheek. But what I don't like, is the fact that it looks like the fluff is taking over. Everyone seems to be reading just the same book over and over again and frankly, I'm getting seriously bored with this! Fingers crossed that this trend will blow over and I get to read reviews about something else besides the adventures of Sookie Stackhouse and Lauren Conrad. *sigh*

ii:
Who's Lauren Conrad?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

ii:
Okay, so Shakespeare. Scary. Which is why we opted for a comedy, instead of troubled Danish princes or such. But still, I have to admit being somewhat cautious starting this, as the language is a bit intimidating.

As it turns out, once you got used to it, however, it's fairly okay. I mean, they talk and talk and talk, but there is a certain beauty in their eloquence. After all, it's Shakespeare.

As for the story, well... it's a flimsy comedy. I don't know if any great analysis can be drawn upon it, it's just for a laugh. My favorite bits? The comments Theseus et al did during the play put together by the craftsmen. Cracked me up!

My copy of the book had these fancy explanatory notes and little introductions in it as well. About how this play is of the "mysterious images of romantic desire". I don't know... can't we just take it such as it is? A funny little piece that kept us entertained for few hours? A late 1500's version of a Meg Ryan movie?

M:

I was pleasantly surprised about this one. I was not very excited to get started but ended up reading the whole thing in almost one sitting. And no, not really because it was so good but because it was quite short... Anyways, I did find the language beautiful, very old fashioned of course but I'm always been drawn to historic films and novels due to the eloquence and cordiality of speech.

The story itself. Well, I have to say there's more potential to even more comedy than Shakespeare got out if. Really, all the mix ups with identities and who loves who were righted before the characters really had time to mess up their lives. How boring. I would've thought that the bit when everyone's under the lovespell would've lasted a lot longer since it is the whole point of the play. Instead the random parts of the craftmens play took up most of it. But yea, the best comedic action were definitely the random comments!

In it's defence I have to say, it's old. It was written very long ago and the times have changed. It might not be that entertaining if put on the stage now as it is but I'm convinced that back then it was a funny play and did its bit in entertaining the masses. So well done Shakespeare, you're not as boring as I thought!

ii:

I wonder, though, if this has been made into a modern movie, like so many other Shakespeare comedies. You know, The Taming of the Shrew (The 10 Things I Hate About You with amazing Heath Ledger) or Twelfth Night (with sexy Channing Tatum as Duke Orsino in She's the Man). I mean, surely this one has potential for an update, no??

I feel like this almost counts for the 5 points in The 4 Months Challenge under category "read a chick lit book", but we're going to go with the 15 points for "read any book but read it outdoors" as that's what we did with this one.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays are a weekly book-themed meme, hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • Be careful of spoilers! Don't ruin the book to others by revealing important plot developments. (So the last words of a dying central character are probably not okay...)
  • Share the title and the author of the book as well, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can look up the book and add it to their TBR list.
Here's our teaser for this week:
During my general election campaign for the U.S. Senate, for example, my Republican opponent assigned a young man to track all my public appearances with a handheld camera. This has become fairly routine operating procedure in many campaigns, but whether because the young man was overzealous or whether he had been instructed to try to provoke me, his tracking came to resemble stalking.
The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, page 64

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

ii:

I liked this book. I know I've said that of every book we've read so far, but then again, what did you expect? We did make the list ourselves, after all. But I liked the book, I liked the desperation in it.

The whole abhorrence the Wheelers feel towards the traditional cookie-cutter suburban life struck home to me. Especially the feelings of April, who longed for the life of "the golden people", where everything was effortless and easy. I fully related to that. Yet, what kept it interesting, was that the book was for most part from Franks point of view. And while Frank didn't like the suburban lifestyle any more, he was turning around to it, to a degree.

I think that's because he got away from it, to the work. He started, what with the new work opportunities, to find something to do that interested him, which in turn made the home life seem less of a drag. April didn't have that outlet. She was captivated into the life of a 50's housewife.

The opening of the book was a good introduction of what was to come. The attempt of a play and the following failure of it mirrored the life of the Wheelers. They too tried to do something different, to move to Europe, tried to be something else than who (or what) they were and it didn't work out in the end. Because they were who they are, just like the actors in the play were not actors, but simple ordinary folk.

There are so many levels in this book, that I'm still, few days after finishing it, struggling to summarize it into few clever paragraphs. Maddie, help me out here?

M:

Looks like this is the first one we sort of disagree on! For I really didn't care that much for this one. I wanted to, but I just didn't. And the funniest thing is that it looks like the same reasons you liked this one for are the ones I didn't like. I for one hated the desperate athmosphere and the cynicism and the not being able to communicate with each other.

I guess ii you're having trouble with summarising it because, in my opinion, it was mostly about feeling and atmosphere, the tone of the book. Mostly it was about what was going on in the character's heads. That's why I think it's so hard to say anything really concrete about the book.

I think I might've been able to relate to it more if it was written from April's perspective. Now April to me seemed just a really annoying, whiny and moody, I just didn't get her, or her side of the story at all. Except in the ending. I think the ending was really good. That's where I really got the book and I think it was a great way to end the story, I don't think anything more upbeat or happier would've been believable.

And I have to say that the last few sentences sort of turned me around into liking the book. I just loved Mr. Givings and his hearing aid. Brilliant!!

ii:

I think I sort of didn't need for it to be from April's perspective, because for one, we've seen these "desperate housewife of the 50's" -stories (The Hours, for one) and for two, because I really related to her. As you know, Mads, that would have been my worst nightmare too, so in a way I was able to "fill in the blanks" when it came to how April felt and thought with my own emotions.

The last sentence was a gold nugget! It was funny, and yet it gave a final summary on the life of these people. You got along fine with your life, as long as you blocked out some, and lived in this self-imposed denial of the world around you. You just didn't pay attention.

Revolutionary Road was, in my mind, a book that touched upon some really painful and controversial, yet everyday issues, in a beautiful way and avoided preaching and also taking sides. It was left to the reader to draw up their own conclusions and make judgement, should such be necessary.

I really did like this one.

And I liked the fact that this got us 5 points in The 4 Months Challenge, under the criteria "read a book that's been made into a movie".

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays are a weekly book-themed meme, hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • Be careful of spoilers! Don't ruin the book to others by revealing important plot developments. (So the last words of a dying central character are probably not okay...)
  • Share the title and the author of the book as well, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can look up the book and add it to their TBR list.
Here's our teaser for this week:
He rather enjoyed having dinner alone in town and taking walks through the city at evening before catching the late train. It gave him a pleasant sense of independence, of freedom from the commuter's round; and besides, it seemed a suitable practice for the new, mature, non-sentimental kind of marriage that was evidently going to be their way from now on.
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates, page 333

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Four Month Challenge

The hot thing in book blogs is Challenges. Someone comes up with a cool set of rules and invites people they know and don't know to complete the reading task. Ours is a challenge, of course. Or it could be "read a book by authors with names starting with each letter of the alphabet". Which, come to think of it, is also covered by our list. Damn, we're good.

Anyhoo, we found this cool challenge by Martina at She Read a Book, and decided to take part. We're anxious to see how many points we can gather. So from now on, for the next four months, we'll be adding labels to books that fit the categories listed in the challenge and keep count of the points we have. 250 is the maximum available, surely we can get to 100, right?

The catch is, again of course, the we both have to read the books in order for them to qualify.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Suite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky

M:
I was so not excited about this book. It looked heavy and long and it's about World War II, sounds fascinating... Boy, was I wrong! I loved it! There were a lot of characters but all felt real, interesting, different and how the characters were linked together was not awkward or artificial at all. The story flowed nicely, the descriptions were beautiful and even though the book was more of a collection of moments and depiction of the time and peoples lives, the story itself also kept me interested and always wanting to know what happens next. The only negative, or sad rather, thing about the book is the fact that we never get to know what happens to all these peoples. Némirovsky never got to finish her work and this book is only two first parts of a five part novel.

And Némirovsky herself! How on earth have I never heard of her before?? Her lifestory and how this novel came to be is so tragic and yet she was so courageous and amazing. Her story, to me, is even more impressive than Anne Frank's! Némirovsky started Suite Francaise during the second World War. She was (after having finished two parts of the book) taken to a concentration camp in France and very soon after moved on to Auschwitz. In the end of the book there was a touching collection of correspondence related to her life, especially letters written by or to her husband after she was taken away. He didn't understand that being taken to a concentration camp means you're not coming back, but kept sending letters trying to get his wife back. No good deed goes unpunished and he was also sent to Auschwitz and straight to the gas chambers. Nèmirovsky's two little girls survived the war (even though their story is also filled with hard ship and impressive survival moments) and they had, while fleeing from their home, taken their mother's notebook with them as a memento. Reading the notebook was too painful so it took decades before one of them read the notebook and realised it contained an actual book.

I'm lost for words infront of the writer's tragic faith and after knowing what happened to her, the story of Suite Francaise, for me at least, is even more amazing. The book is actually written while all this was happening. Maybe that is why it feels so real, because the writer was living it while she was writing the story. She describes everyone as people first, nationalities, goodness or evilness, everything else comes second. The first part of the book introduces a ton of new charaters and only has a few chapters on each, but the reader still gets a good idea what the characters are like. Even though the first part is sort of shattered, the story still stays intact and flows nicely. The second part of the book goes deeper into the characters (and introduces some new ones as well) and I really got into the book in the second part. Still, it really saddens me that I never get to know what happened to Jean-Marie (one of my favourites from the first part) or his parents and if the young German never meets Lucile again. Throughout the book it managed to stay so real, it was never over the top, yet not boring, it described in detail when need be and moved on fairly qickly when appropriate. Némirovsky herself aspired to write a five part novel, something along the lines of War and Peace. And even though I will happily confess never having read any Tostoi or Dostojevski (I tried once, it was just looong and booring, but I will try again some time, promise!) I really wouldnt've mind reading another three parts of this novel.

This book really made an impression on me and even more so after getting to know the writer's story. Made me feel all insignificant, shallow, evil and weak in comparison. I hope our list contains more books that are as inspirational as this one. And as nice to read, not too heavy (I am kinda shallow and flighty from time to time) yet still thought provoking. I also think that this book demonstrates well why we should keep on with our project and read also those books we're not 100% sold on before hand; I would've never chosen this book on my own and I would've missed out on a very significant reading moment. So thanks Ii for choosing this book for our list, I owe you one!

ii:
Okay, okay, this one's on me again. Well, sue me, I have a life, and I had to go be all brilliant and amazing and smart in the meantime. But I finished the book, eventually. (Btw, I haven't read the above bit yet, there's some first impressions I want to get off my chest first, so...)

I finished the book, but not the war. This story ended in the middle of it all so bad that it hurts. Usually I'm not a fan of WWII stories, be it books or movies, for several reasons. One, they're all so bleak and depressing. Two, you know how it's going to turn out in the end (well, except for Inglorious Basterds). Three, it's always so clear-cut, you're either good or bad, there's no gray area. And four, we've seen it all before so many times.

But I liked this book! And I really really wish there had been more.

Okay, I'll read what Mads wrote above, and then continue.... Okay, yeah, you owe me one. But, I also owe myself one, as this book was on my list simply because "the name rang a bell, should be a so-called important book or something".

Mads mentioned the first part being shattered, and I agree. I guess the jumping around from one character to a group of others made it difficult for me to get started on the book, as I was reading it sporadically and had trouble keeping track on the characters first. I must say I preferred the second part, where the story kept more or less within the same group of people.

I found the whole affair of Lucile and the German officer a bit hard to swallow at first. I realize this is probably because my view of the events are from the post-WWII world where Germany is the evil and France (the Allied forces) the good and thus it was, at first, difficult for me to see behind the uniform and look at the man inside it. Just like it was for the people in the village, and all of France, I'm sure.

Némirovsky was able, in my mind, and of course I have no realistic image of what it could have been like, to portray the confusion people experienced at those times. When you were forced to see the human in the enemy because you shared their everyday life and they shared yours. And I think that's because she was writing Suite Francaise during the war, as opposed after it.

There were few moments that stuck with me in particular. The relationship between the German and Lucile was one, especially the moment where Lucile, eventually, had to take sides perhaps for the first time. She had been able to rationalize her indifference to the war for a long time (compared for example to the reaction of her mother-in-law), she was detached. But when she chose to help Benoît, she actively chose a side in the war. She was now acting for France, and against the Germans. Maybe her choice was even more profound given her warm feelings towards Bruno, at least in her mind.

I also wasn't able to shook the scene where Philippe, Father Péricand, was killed. Or the man with the porcelain figurines, dying in a hit-and-run. These scenes felt like a symbol on the arbitrariness of war. It wasn't just the soldiers getting killed, and it certainly wasn't in any justice-like manner where the bad get what's theirs and the good prevail. War is no Disney movie. Bad things happen to good people.

A Marine from the Iraq war commented on the confusion on the ground during the invasion in 2003 with "it's the nature of the beast". The deaths of Philippe and the porcelain-man whose name I can't remember reminded me of that quote. War is this beast that tears things off the ground, leaves by-standers wounded and causes havoc and fear in those it merely passes. Némirovsky told us this through the small snippets in the lives of everyday people.

I wish she'd gotten the chance to write the rest of the story.
But maybe, given all the above, this is the rest of the story. Hers is the rest of the story. Unjust, heart-breaking and arbitrary. And such a terrible loss.