The first book for November, was a book I would never choose to read, it just didn’t appeal. Turn the page book club is about trying new things, including books that you wouldn’t normally read, so I did not (as I was tempted to) put this book at the bottom of the list, I chose it for November.
Wild – Cheryl Strayed
I am NOT glad I chose this book, it was tedious, and I was only a little way into the book when I realised that I wanted out! Like Cheryl though, I did not give up, in fact I took my own little epic journey, ok maybe less epic than Cheryl’s, in seeing this through to the end. Cheryl Strayed hiked the pacific crest trail (or PCT as the book calls it), with no training, no guide, alone, in an effort to find peace, and leave her mistakes behind her. At first I was angry with Cheryl, I mean really? You are going to hike the toughest terrain, through several changes of season with absolutely no back packing experience, and way too much baggage. Then I disliked her self destructive, reckless attitude to life, and to the feelings of those around her, and I thought she was an idiot if I am honest.
I plodded on….and it was a plod! She walked, she camped, ignoring the advice in the guide, and she walked some more, and I waited for the descriptions of the beautiful scenery, and I waited her to stop describing the loss of her toenails… Yuck! I wanted it to be great, I wanted it to shock me by being great, and I wanted something, ANYTHING to excite me about the book. I kept reading, then somewhere, after nothingness, there were other people, some of whom were fabulous. These were the people that Cheryl met at the camps, just off the trail, I cannot remember names, but there were some great characters.
I have to admit that most of the group did like the book, much more than I did, and the true story of a woman overcoming adversity will definitely appeal to many, 1100 miles is a long long way to trek, even when your boots fit, so good for her. I just couldn’t get past the fact that although her story was interesting, it was not well written and left me cold, so cold that I actually did a fist pump when I finished it, so glad was I to see the back of it. The group gave the book an average 3.5* rating, I gave it 2.5* simply because the trek itself was impressive.
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest – Ken Kasey
I chose One flew over a cuckoo’s nest, as I wanted to add a classic in to the mix. I was hoping that lots of people would read it, as I thought the discussion would be great.
Sadly at the meeting, only one person had actually finished the book, and that wasn’t me! I was only 40 pages away from the end, but couldn’t run a discussion on the book, as so many were 1/2 way through and it would have spoilt it. I finished the book two days later, and yes, I cried, I cried hard. I had seen the film years and years ago, and as I read it I remembered it, but that didn’t make it any less stunning, or less emotional. Kasey writes so beautifully, giving life to characters, who have very little life, and pulling you through laughter, anger, sorrow and great sadness with a magnetic story that you just can’t put down.
McMurphy, the hero of the book, who is a new patient at the mental hospital, has attitude, swagger and likes to push the limits, is written so well, Kasey’s wit shining through. The story is narrated by Chief Bromden, who is a wonderful character, he is a huge, mute (by choice, we discover) native american, with a fascinating back story. The chief watches McMurphy, and everyone else and tells us what he sees, what he has seen in the past and how he expects things to turn out in future. One of the best lines in the book, delivered by the chief, is “But it’s the truth, even if it didn’t happen,” perception is everything, and the chief’s perception may be a little twisted, but this is one of the great joys of this book.
The nurse who runs the hospital, nurse Ratched is a dictator, who runs the hospital with a rod of steel, when things are quiet and running smoothly, she is happy, but when anyone challenges her, she is cruel, but eerily calm. The power struggle between McMurphy & nurse Ratched forms the basis of this story, and keeps the reader hooked. The end is perfect, I will not spoil it on here, but it didn’t disappoint in any way. Those of us who read the book, all loved it, we never got round to rating it, but I will easily give it 5* and thank goodness in a month that I had to read Wild, I also had OFOTCN.