Month: March 2015

The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar

Posted March 31, 2015 by Taryn in Reviews / 0 Comments

The Story Hour by Thrity UmrigarThe Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar
Published by Harper Collins on August 19th 2014
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Contemporary Women, General
Pages: 352
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon

The Story Hour mostly alternates between the perspectives of Lakshmi and Maggie. Lakshmi is a 32-year-old Indian immigrant who is isolated and unloved by her domineering husband. Her life in America has been limited to her husband’s small grocery store and restaurant and she has no life independent of her husband or any money of her own. Lakshmi is devastated when her only “friend,” a regular customer who is kind to her, tells her that he is moving to California and she attempts suicide. She survives and ends up under the care of Maggie, a 55-year-old African-American psychologist who is also married to an Indian man. Lakshmi has prejudices and is distrustful of Maggie at first, but she slowly warms to the her when Maggie stands up to Lakshmi’s husband on Lakshmi’s behalf. As Maggie treats Lakshmi, the lines between the professional relationship and friendship quickly get blurred. This books deals with culture, racial & class differences, the similarities we alls hare despite those differences and forgiveness of ourselves and others.

On the surface the two women could not be more different, but as you learn about their pasts you can see how many similarities they share. The different paths that Maggie and Lakshmi’s lives take after the climax struck me especially, particularly after it becomes clear that the advantages that Maggie has in life will not help her situation, whereas Lakshmi’s life improves despite the lack of advantages. No matter what fortune or misfortune we are born into, love is the great equalizer. We are also all equally capable of screwing our lives up!

The writing is nice and I thought that a section about Maggie’s final tryst was especially poetic. My favorite part of this book was Lakshmi’s story arc and her stories about childhood in India. The book really makes you understand how isolating it would be to move away from your family to a completely different country with a completely different culture. Lakshmi’s story is told in broken English. I thought that style was grating at times, but it probably comes off better in audio than in writing. When she was struggling to communicate, I found it a very effective device in showing the isolation she must have felt.

I did not like Maggie’s sections as much. It was painful watching her make mistakes that you knew were going to have severe consequences. Her romanticization of Peter, the object of her affection, was cringeworthy. When she started the “earthbound creatures” speech to her husband Sudhir, I felt so much secondhand embarrassment! I am glad he stopped her, before she could finish it! She just wasn’t very self-aware or introspective when it came to her own life.

I listened to this book via audio. The narration was nice, although I thought the raspy vocalization of Peter was so grating.

This novel was very slowly paced. I felt like I had to force myself to get through this novel. I did start getting more interested in the last 2/3s (8 hours in!), when Lakshmi’s big secret is revealed and Maggie experiences the consequences of her professional breach and infidelity. There were still a lot of questions in the end. I don’t always need answers, but when I slog through something I feel like I earned some closure! Although I didn’t really enjoy this novel, I think it would be a great novel for a book club because it does provoke much discussion.


All the Light We Cannot See

Posted March 24, 2015 by Taryn in Reviews / 0 Comments
All the Light We Cannot See

“We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as a microscopic electrical swarm. The lungs the brain the heart. Forty […]

Manage Your Day-to-Day by Jocelyn K. Glei (Editor)

Posted March 22, 2015 by Taryn in Reviews / 0 Comments
Manage Your Day-to-Day by Jocelyn K. Glei (Editor)

Manage Your Day-to-Day is composed of 20+ short essays divided between four topics: Building a Rock-Solid Routine, Finding Focus in a Distracted World, Taming Your Tools, and Sharpening Your Creative Mind. Each section is concluded with a helpful list of the key actionable items. The essays are brief and many of the pages are just […]

A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison

Posted March 8, 2015 by Taryn in Reviews / 0 Comments
A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison

“And it was all ancient history now, anyway. Of course it is upon the rubble of ancient history that the present stands.” I liked this book. It deals with themes forgiveness (especially of self) and the mistakes of the past affecting the future. I wasn’t always anxious to pick it back up, but it was […]

The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, Ph.D.

Posted March 1, 2015 by Taryn in Reviews / 0 Comments
The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, Ph.D.

“Psychologically speaking, conscience is a sense of obligation ultimately based in an emotional attachment to another living creature (often but not always a human being), or to a group of human beings, or even in some cases to humanity as a whole.” The last few books I have read featured sociopaths and/or narcissists, so this […]