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Breath and Shadows (Ballantine Reader's…
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Breath and Shadows (Ballantine Reader's Circle) (vuoden 2000 painos)

– tekijä: Ella Leffland

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
751279,148 (3.75)1
Breath and Shadows is about three pairs of people who live in widely separated periods of time -- the late 1700s, late 1800s, and late 1900s. These people, as gradually becomes clear, are three generations of the same family, none of which has any knowledge of the other two. But there exists down through these far-flung generations a meshwork of cause and effect that reverberates all the way into the present. The interrelatedness of these three pairs of people, the twining of their destinies, is the core of the book. Though the novel takes place in three different centuries, it is rooted in such timeless attributes as social mores, class and money, as well as in historical events such as the battle at Leipzig, where Napoleon was crushed, and the ruins of Berlin in 1945. These events are woven through the private lives of the characters, among whom are a lonely and young officer, a sculptress trying to find truth in the stone she works with, a man terrified of flying who forces himself to fly constantly, a woman who embodies the ineffable bond between an animal and a human being, and others responding to their world, their natures and their needs. It is a novel about the attempt of human beings to know the past, to know one another and to know themselves. It is about love, loss, sexual passion, human perception and the possibility that the search for goodness may be an act of insanity.… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:countrymouse
Teoksen nimi:Breath and Shadows (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
Kirjailijat:Ella Leffland
Info:Ballantine Books (2000), Paperback, 336 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):
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Breath and Shadows (tekijä: Ella Leffland)

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Breath and Shadows is the second of Ella Leffland’s books I’ve read (having read and reviewed Rumors of Peace just a couple of weeks ago), and I have to say that I find her command of the language — not to mention her characterization and setting — virtually without peer. If Rumors of Peace was a consummate coming-of-age story, Breath and Shadows is a consummate multi-generational family story. I frankly can’t say enough good things about either of them.


Just as I ranked Rumors of Peace right up there with Carson MacCullers’s Member of the Wedding, I’d now have to give Breath and Shadows (given its structural organization) equivalent ranking with Michael Cunningham’s The Hours.


And having just read and reviewed Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Notes from (the) Underground, I can unabashedly state that Ella Leffland’s Thorkild (“Hr. Counselor”) is equally as heinous as the principal (unnamed) character of Dostoyevsky’s novella. What makes Ms. Leffland’s Thorkild doubly interesting, however, is the complete conversion of his character (to that of a doting father) during the hallucinatory stages of his late-life insanity.


A bit of a non sequitur, but a trenchant observation nevertheless from Philip (who, ironically, owns a large business in photographic equipment): “(t)he clicking of cameras wherever you went, as if people thought that by recording every moment of their lives they verified their existence, when in fact they’d been handed a substitute for looking inward and remembering. A frenzy of mechanical duplication. An endless production and consuming of images. A crime against authenticity. A mindless, flooding fraudulence of bits and pieces” (p. 222).


Although this rumination is entirely in keeping with Philip’s mental state at the time he develops it, I suspect the germ of it is also Ella Leffland’s — and I couldn’t agree more as I watch people in droves click, click, click their cell phones like so many mindless sycophants recording the myriad non-events that pepper their empty lives.


And the thoughts of another of her characters, Paula, as Paula considers a painting in a small Swiss church on Christmas Eve are, if not necessarily also Ms. Leffland’s, really quite amusing: “(h)er thoughts wandered. She looked at a painting of the Annunciation on the wall beside her, dimly lit by one of the small candles. It was not very good, a humble little country cousin of Van Eyck’s masterpiece. She tried to see beauty in it, even though she did not believe in the Annunciation, and even though she herself would have been furious if, as an unsuspecting young girl going about her daily tasks, she had suddenly had a divine pregnancy thrust upon her. The nerve. The gall. It should be called the Presumption” (p. 231).


One of the particular strengths Ms. Leffland exhibits in this novel, given the time lapse of a century between each of the three generations, is a consistency and accuracy of thought, speech and action with the time at which her characters lived. As a reader, you can be easily transported across centuries by the deftness of Ms. Leffland’s pen, and nothing she describes or puts into the mouths of her characters ever sounds anachronistic.


I suspect Ms. Leffland is a cat lover. Why do I think this? The following is just one of many examples: “Olaf has lain down on the carpet of moss. From the rocky little spring there issues a limpid murmur. Overhead the beech trees rustle with the passage of birds, whose calls filter down through the greenness. He stretches his knobby spine and tucks his paws under his chest, and for a while he sleeps. Then his pale green eyes open, and he lies there waiting. His good, his uncrumpled ear flicks from time to time. He waits for a sound, a scent, a touch” (p. 303).


The conclusion of these three stories is, well, Scandinavian — and appropriately so to a body of earth that sees no sun rise above the horizon for six months out of the year.


Bravo, Ms. Leffland! Brava Lella.

RRB
08/13/14
Brooklyn, NY

( )
  RussellBittner | Dec 12, 2014 |
ei arvosteluja | lisää arvostelu
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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Breath and Shadows is about three pairs of people who live in widely separated periods of time -- the late 1700s, late 1800s, and late 1900s. These people, as gradually becomes clear, are three generations of the same family, none of which has any knowledge of the other two. But there exists down through these far-flung generations a meshwork of cause and effect that reverberates all the way into the present. The interrelatedness of these three pairs of people, the twining of their destinies, is the core of the book. Though the novel takes place in three different centuries, it is rooted in such timeless attributes as social mores, class and money, as well as in historical events such as the battle at Leipzig, where Napoleon was crushed, and the ruins of Berlin in 1945. These events are woven through the private lives of the characters, among whom are a lonely and young officer, a sculptress trying to find truth in the stone she works with, a man terrified of flying who forces himself to fly constantly, a woman who embodies the ineffable bond between an animal and a human being, and others responding to their world, their natures and their needs. It is a novel about the attempt of human beings to know the past, to know one another and to know themselves. It is about love, loss, sexual passion, human perception and the possibility that the search for goodness may be an act of insanity.

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