Saturday, March 29, 2014

Review: All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Canada (April 15 2014)
  • Sold by: Random House Canada, Incorp.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00GL3OJ4I

Book Description

Miriam Toews is beloved for her irresistible voice, for mingling laughter and heartwrenching poignancy like no other writer. In her most passionate novel yet, she brings us the riveting story of two sisters, and a love that illuminates life.

You won’t forget Elf and Yoli, two smart and loving sisters. Elfrieda, a world-renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, happily married: she wants to die. Yolandi, divorced, broke, sleeping with the wrong men as she tries to find true love: she desperately wants to keep her older sister alive. Yoli is a beguiling mess, wickedly funny even as she stumbles through life struggling to keep her teenage kids and mother happy, her exes from hating her, her sister from killing herself and her own heart from breaking.

But Elf’s latest suicide attempt is a shock: she is three weeks away from the opening of her highly anticipated international tour. Her long-time agent has been calling and neither Yoli nor Elf’s loving husband knows what to tell him. Can she be nursed back to “health” in time? Does it matter? As the situation becomes ever more complicated, Yoli faces the most terrifying decision of her life.

All My Puny Sorrows, at once tender and unquiet, offers a profound reflection on the limits of love, and the sometimes unimaginable challenges we experience when childhood becomes a new country of adult commitments and responsibilities. In her beautifully rendered new novel, Miriam Toews gives us a startling demonstration of how to carry on with hope and love and the business of living even when grief loads the heart.

About the Author

 Miriam Toews (pronounced taves) was born in 1964 in the small Mennonite town of Steinbach, Manitoba. She has published four novels and a memoir of her father, and is the recipient of numerous literary awards including the Governor General's Award, the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award (twice), and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. In 2007 she made her screen debut in the film Luz silenciosa. She was nominated for Best Actress at Mexico's Ariel Awards for her performance.

My Review

 I really enjoyed Miriam Toews' (pronounced toes in Plattdeutsch thank you very much - see above in About the Author from Amazon) debut novel A Complicated Silence, I really did not enjoy this novel very much. While it is very well written I found the story to be rather repetitive and depressing. Can later generations still be affected by the massacres their ancestors lived through in Russia one hundred years ago? Does an ethnic group have a monopoly on being sorrow filled? Most Mennonites that I know did not bring their sorrows with them...they brought a drive to be successful all while playing down their successes to others. I see a will to live not a desire to wallow in sorrows. It is obvious that Ms. Toews clings to the negative results of growing up in a Mennonite family in a Mennonite community instead of embracing what is good....the joy found in music and worship. 

Time to read something light where people have quirks that are endearing instead of annoying. I think I'll pass on Miriam Toews going forward.


1 comment:

  1. A very interesting and nice blog.
    Greetings from Portugal

    Paulo Gonçalves