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Topic: Shelley and Michelle's May BOM

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Subject: Shelley and Michelle's May BOM
Date Posted: 4/8/2009 4:59 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
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 Shelley and I got together and compared our TBR lists and agreed on a book to read for May.  We're going to read As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann.  This will fit the "New to You Author" category for the HF challenge for both of us. 

If anyone would like to join us, we'd like to have you!  If a few people are interested, we can even break the postings into sections like we did with other BOMs.



Last Edited on: 4/8/09 5:00 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/8/2009 6:53 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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Hello, Ladies ...

Just wanted to give you a vote of confidence on your mission ... I was all set to spend hard-earned amazon.com dollars to get a copy of this book so we could play. But, Mom did a little research and the book is a little 'dark' for us.

However, I plan on following the discussion with great interest ...

Kelly

 

Date Posted: 4/8/2009 9:41 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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Yeah, looking forward to this. I've had it on my shelf forever.  I think Valli once mentioned she had an extra copy, so I asked her for it.  LOL!  Yeah, I'm bold!  It seems to be a favorite around here, and I'm glad to finally have a chance to read it, and read it along with someone else!  Hope some others join us!  Michelle and I have a lot in common and enjoy discussing books here at PBS.  We just figured out today that we even have the same birthday!  Though in different years.  She's eight years younger than me! 

Date Posted: 4/11/2009 9:50 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
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Oh, ladies, you've chosen a super one! I ADORE AMLS--Jennifer W and I had some wonderful chats about it---not sure what it says about me, but the 'darkness' you refer to, Kelly, is exactly why I adore it.

 

Let us know your thoughts as you read, this one has plenty of  items for rousing discussion,

Date Posted: 4/22/2009 3:37 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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Just bumping this as May 1 is approaching and in case anyone is lame enough to plan their reading schedule like me, LOL, you might want to be reminded of this.  I just finished a book and figure I can get through one more in the next 8 days, so I'm going to start one quick.  Anyone care to join Michelle and I?

Michelle - I plan to start ASML around May 1, but that's a Friday and I have a very busy weekend (in a friend's wedding).  I may not actually start until the 3rd or 4th.  Not that we have to read exactly together, LOL, but just to give you an idea.  You're going to Italy in May.  Were you planning on reading ASML before or after your trip?  I'm thinking you won't have a lot of time to actually read on your trip except for maybe the plane ride!

Date Posted: 4/22/2009 4:29 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
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Hi Shelley - I will probably start it around May 1, and if I don't finish it before I leave I'll bring it with me.  I've got a 7 hour layover on the way home, so I'll need something to do!  So, I'll post my thoughts on what I've gotten through before I leave on May 8, then hopefully join up with you to talk about the end of the book when I return, May 18.  You're right that I do NOT plan to read at all while I'm in Italy!  My BF would kill me, I think!!

Date Posted: 5/13/2009 11:07 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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Hi, Michelle (and anyone else out there following along)!  I know you're in Italy right now (and hope you are having a totally fabulous time!!), but I thought I'd get some thoughts down on our BOM!  I'm about 300 pages into it.  I wasn't initially taken with it, and it still hasn't totally "grabbed" me, but it is an interesting and enjoyable read.  I am finding that it has been dragging a bit since Jacob and Ferris arrived in London (okay, after awhile it got to be just plain boring and slow moving), but I'm assured by the Amazon reviews (many of them total raves for this book) that it picks up again and actually becomes a real page turner toward the end - although at least one reviewed expressed disappointment at the ending and the loose ends it leaves. (I'm worried we may never find out what became of the family Jacob left behind.)  Just this morning I read the part where Jacob and Ferris finally "get together," so I sense things may start moving along and getting more interesting again.

Like I say, I'm enjoying the book, but not immensely, and I'm waiting to be totally captivated.  The weirdness of this book is having the narrator be a somewhat dislikeable character, but I think it's neat how the author set this up.  You want to like this man and automatically are sympathetic towards him because he's telling the story from his perspective, but you find yourself thinking, "Ummm, okay" to him a lot of times.   I was actually totally shocked at the turn of events on his wedding day.  I was so not expecting him to rape and beat his beloved wife on their wedding night - no matter how desperate their circumstances became!  In some ways I am sympathetic toward him and rooting for him to overcome his jealousy and anger issues, but I know that he is borderline psycho (the man hears voices, or "the Voice," for Pete's sake), LOL, and will continue his descent. 

Anyone else reading this besides Michelle and I?

Date Posted: 5/16/2009 10:29 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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Well ,Michelle, I'm almost done w/ASML and am sitting here tapping my fingers, patiently waiting for you to return so that we can discuss.  LOL!  I hope you're having a great time!  The book picked up a bit, and I'm enjoying it more, yet I still find it a tad slow going.  LOL! 

Can I ask the world's most stupid question?  DH and I had an argument about it.  He read about half this book then gave up on it.  He says Jacob is a "big black man," and I disagree.  I know the book refers to him as "black," and it also says that his brother is like a gypsy, and at one point Jacob says he could pass for an "Ethiope" or something like that, but I'm assuming that means he is just dark skinned, gets deeply tan, has black hair and is perhaps of non-English ancestory.  Do you (or anyone) know what Jacob's heritage is? I hate to be so stupid, but DH was convinced he was black, and I didn't think so. I don't think a lot of black people were running around England as basically "free men" in those days.

Date Posted: 5/17/2009 10:01 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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Okay, I finished this last night.  Can I just say that this is the most frustrating book I've ever read?  Could the ending have left any more loose ends?  Egads!  For the most part, I liked it, but I did find it relatively slow going throughout most of the book.  The author just moved at a snail's pace, IMO.  However, the last few chapters really picked up, and it did end up being a page-turner for me.  Then, it just ended.  With Jacob on a boat for America and about 895,000,000,000 unanswered questions.  Where do I even start?

What was the really story about what happend between Zeb and Caro after they left Jacob?

For that matter, was Sister Jane really Caro, or is Jacob's mind just really twisted? Was the baby Jacob's or Zeb's?  Or neither?

Is Jacob that twisted at all? Is he really some overly aggressive individual with anger management issues bordering on psychosis (with the Voice and all) or is he really just a basic human?  I mean who doesn't deal with some psycho tendancies from time to time?

Was there really something going on between Ferris and Sister Jane/Caro?  Or again, was Jacob just totally paranoid?

What happened to Izzy and Jacob's mother?  Or for that matter, what happened to the family the Cullens worked for and the other servants?

What's the deal with Ferris?  Why did he turn so violently against Jacob?  I mean, I can understand his anger/humilation, etc. after their last encounter in London when Aunt was sick, but why did he never sit down and tell Jacob, "No, it's over."  He just kinda' drifted away.

What happened to Aunt for that matter? And good ol' Becs?

And, of course, what happened to the colonists?  Did Ferris die?  What  became of those people once they were beaten and then shepharded away?

Obviously this book begs for a sequel.  Does anyone know if the author plans one?  The book's been out since what?  2004? 

All in all, I liked the book in a way, but in a way I'm just frustrated by it. I guess I like more closure in my books.  There were so many things that kept me intrigued, and I felt a bit let down in the end.

 

 

Date Posted: 5/18/2009 2:19 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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Shelley.  Well. All I can say is that I'm glad Linda & I took this one off our WL! I've been following your posts with interest and am very interested in what Michelle reports after she finishes the book.

My question to you is this: If there is a sequel, will you read it?

And regardless of the answer to that question: Would you read another book by this author?

Kelly

 

Date Posted: 5/21/2009 12:58 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
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I finished this up last night.  Shelley - I know you've been patiently waiting for me to get back from my trip and finish this up, I know there were points when I was reading it that I would've liked to discuss it, because there were alot of points where I found myself saying, "What?".  First of all, I can understand why alot of people would give this book rave reviews.  There are so many different elements to Jacob's personality - "The Voice", his anger issues, but then also his obvious need since his childhood to feel loved and special which has made him a very insecure adult.  You can see his internal struggle throughout the book, when he is often overcome by "The Voice", which I felt was schizophrenia  That being said, it was a bit dark for me, and did leave alot of loose ends open.  However, the fact that it makes you think about all of the various possibilities in each element of the story also says alot for the author (as evidenced by the many questions that you asked)!

Ferris - that relationship was odd to me, and I do blame Ferris partly, because I think his attraction to Jacob was his darkness.  He seemed to like Jacob's role as his "Master" in the bedroom, but I think that he always liked it when he still felt that HE was the one with ultimate control over Jacob.  Ferris was clearly, in my opinion, somewhat of a control freak - trying to lead Jacob's life, running the lives of those in the colony.  Yet, he liked to play with fire with Jacob's dark side, and freaked out when it got completely out of his control.  If you look at all of Ferris's relationships, he seeked out people in positions of weakness - his passed wife, Nathan, Jacob, and then Sister Jane/Caro.  (If he truly had a relationship with Caro - to your point, it could have been Jacob's paranoia).

I do think Caro was Sister Jane, and the child was probably Zeb's, but to your point - you can't really be sure.  I couldn't figure out the timeline, though.  Didn't she give birth as soon as she arrived at the colony?  Would it have been too long ago from the rape for the child to have been Jacob's?  I don't like how we learned so little about what happened between Zeb and Caro.  Why would Zeb show up at the end and attack them and Caro?  Especially if the child was his?  But I think the great thing about this book is that you always only get Jacob's perspective.  Knowing that his perspective is through that of someone who is a bit mad starts to make you question if things are truly as they seem in the book.

To answer your question about Jacob's heritage: I don't think he is black, but he is darker skinned.  I think his eyes and the baby's were both blue, but he mentioned how the baby had dark coloring like a Turk.

Here is a link to a local website that has discussion questions for hundreds of books.  This may come in handy for future BOMs as well.  Link.  The one question that asks about how the author ties her proloque throughout the story (the fable about the term "As Meat Loves Salt") got me thinking.  Like the King, I think Jacob had this need to have people "prove" their love to him, when he really had it all along.  And those that he thinks "love" him, because they are very open about it, do not necessarily TRULY love him (such as Ferris).  I think he was always questioning his brothers' love, and really those were the people that he should have trusted in the beginning, and they probably would have stood by him.

I do think I would read another book by this author, because now after having written all this I realize how much she did make me think.  The book was written in 2001.  I searched on the internet to find out what she's doing, because it's been awhile without a second book and found that she is working on a second novel set before and during World War II called "The Wilding" due in Feb 2010.

 

Date Posted: 5/21/2009 3:34 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Michelle - Thanks for post your thoughts!  What great insights!  I admit to my frustration over the book over-shadowing everything else I felt about it.  Your comments made me appreciate the author's skill at encouraging the reader to think!  Sometimes, though, I like to think and wonder throughout the book but then be enlightened at the end.  LOL!  I think probably the great question of the book is the true nature of Jacob.  Was he bordering on psychosis or some other sort of problem, or was he just truly an average human, grappling with tendancies a lot of "normal" people have in their nature?  You're right in that the fact that the book is told solely from Jacob's perspective does add to it.  Maybe that's what threw me.  I usually don't mind that (although I've come to enjoy and appreciate books like The Lady and The Unicorn where the story is told by more than one person), but in this case, where Jacob's nature is so questionable, it was a bit frustrating.  However, as you say, that's probably what the author intended and what makes it a very well-written book that gets lots of rave reviews.  We'll have to read together again when we're both around to discuss throughout the book for sure!

Oh, a question.  So you think the group of men that attacked Caro/Sister Jane right before the colonists found her included Zeb?  Did I miss that?  The timeline threw me as well.  I couldn't believe that little time had passed since Jacob and Caro parted ways.  As I mentioned, with the slow pace of the book, it seemed like years.  Another frustrating thing was how Zeb seemed to be stalking Jacob in a way (it mentions how, when Jacob initially found him, Zeb knew where Jacob was living and Zeb even questioned Jacob's relationship with Ferris), but then after they met and talked in the tavern, Zeb disappeared.  It seems to me that Zeb, after having gone to the trouble to find Jacob, would've wanted more contact with Jacob.  For what reason, I don't konw.

Kelly - I thought I had answered your question, but I don't see my post!  I would definitely read a sequel to AMLS, simply to find out (hopefully) the answers to my many questions!  I'm not sure about other things.  The book Michelle mentioned the author is working on doesn't appeal to me, based on the limited information Michelle found, simply because more recent HF (like the time period around WW2) isn't really what I like. 

 

Date Posted: 5/21/2009 3:51 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
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Well, you know, I thought I remembered Zeb being in the group but I wasn’t sure why I thought that, so I went back and took a look.  Here’s the quote that gave me that idea, “The horseman suddenly looked up.  Light from the burning straw showed me his creamy, handsome face and his eyes were level with my own.  They were full of a cruel ecstasy and it seemed to me that he saw me, and smiled in recognition, as who might say, Brother”.  When I read that, I got in my head that Zeb was one of the horsemen, but now I am not really sure!  I agree that it is odd how Zeb completely dropped out of the picture after the one time Jacob saw him.

Date Posted: 5/22/2009 11:24 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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Oh, okay.  I was thinking you thought he was in the small band of men who apparently attacked Sister Jane right before she was taken in by the colonist.  You're saying he was part of the large group that came in and destroyed the colony.  Gotcha'.  I must have missed that, but I went back and re-read it, and yes, definitely sounds like Zeb - unless, of course, that was Jacob's paranoia.  After all, could Zeb really have seen Jacob hiding in the woods?  LOL! 

Date Posted: 9/4/2009 10:34 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,219
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I'm going to add a thought or two here, belatedly. I finally finished this book and even though I don't consider my self an expert on book reviews, I know what I like and what I don't like.

Personally, I ended up not liking this book. Shelley, I agree with your comments about all the loose ends. I don't believe that Jacob was black and I don't think Zeb was in the group that routed out the colonists (creamy complexion doesn't sound like him). I think this book was a mess. The author seemed to throw in just about every psychiatric condition one could find in the DSM lV (diagnostic and statistical manual for psychiatric conditions) - little bits and pieces of each: personality disorders, intermittent explosive disorder; PTSD - you name it. Jacob was far too organized to be schizophrenic.

We don't know what happened to ANYBODY in this book. They were mentioned, described and interacted with our anti-hero and then they just disappeared - did she not know how to bring any of that to closure?

I did enjoy her descriptions of the household lives back then - I thought that was well done. The same holds true for describing life in the New Army.

I may have more opinions on this as time goes by - I just finished the book last night. I will never read another one of hers again. Well, that's my thought and I'm sticking to it!!!

Date Posted: 9/4/2009 7:55 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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I missed this thread when y'all launched it. Thanks for resurrecting it, Jeanne.

Like Colleen, I loved the book. But I'm a sucker for dark themes and disturbed characters.

I disagree that Jacob was schizophrenic. I believe he gradually progressed to madness (psychosis) by the end of the book.

Ferris didn't strike me as so much of a control freak as an idealist. He got his dose of reality when Jacob lashed out in frustration, and it scared him witless.

I enjoyed the historical background very much and have since read other books that took place during the same time period. But the author could have place this theme into any setting and I would have liked it.

To me, the book was all about opposites: hope and despair, good and evil, sanity and insanity. Its ending on a dark note is a moral statement, I think. Perhaps in the same vein as Lord of the Flies. Kept me on my toes reading it.

Oh, and Shelly, it was me who sent you my extra copy. (: (I don't mind sharing reps with Valli, though. LOL!)

Date Posted: 9/4/2009 7:56 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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I missed this thread when y'all launched it. Thanks for resurrecting it, Jeanne.

Like Colleen, I loved the book. But I'm a sucker for dark themes and disturbed characters.

I disagree that Jacob was schizophrenic. I believe he gradually progressed to madness (psychosis) by the end of the book.

Ferris didn't strike me as so much of a control freak as an idealist. He got his dose of reality when Jacob lashed out in frustration, and it scared him witless.

I enjoyed the historical background very much and have since read other books that took place during the same time period. But the author could have place this theme into any setting and I would have liked it.

To me, the book was all about opposites: hope and despair, good and evil, sanity and insanity. Its ending on a dark note is a moral statement, I think. Perhaps in the same vein as Lord of the Flies. Kept me on my toes reading it.

Oh, and Shelly, it was me who sent you my extra copy. (: (I don't mind sharing reps with Valli, though. LOL!)

Date Posted: 9/4/2009 8:00 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Genie - Oops!  Got my HF buds mixed up!  Thanks again for the copy!  LOL!

Date Posted: 9/4/2009 8:42 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,219
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Whew! This is the second book I've read that I would say had a dark theme and was very disturbing. Cripe, I don't even read animal books anymore because they are so disturbing to me! Perhaps being the psych RN at the Denver City Jail for 10 yrs caused me to veer away from "disturbing" as much as possible!  No, as I said earlier, Jacob was no schizophrenic, but I think he was definitely a dependent personality disorder (among several OTHER personality disorders that he possessed).

i have absolutely no problem with the theme, but I'm still trying to figure out if there was really a PLOT! Was this author just trying to get a reaction? Quite frankly, I think that she got lost in her own book and really didn't know how to bring any of this to a conclusion. I don't mind having issues to think about, but just throwing in fillers and odds and ends of psych diagnoses to show everybody how much you know about the subject (when you really DON't), doesn't sit well with me.

I love a good mystery and I can definitely differentiate between evil and mentally ill. Many people have a problem with the fact that some people are evil. We would much rather have them be "sick" so we feel that there is a cure! There is not always a cure. In this book, I think that the author tried to combine EVERYTHING and that just didn't work for me.

Ferris was a homosexual who (dare I say it?) bit off more than he could chew. He wanted a romp and what he got was a thrashing. I have to hand  it to this author that she finally portrayed him as someone who could see where this was going, albeit a little late. In spite of how she tried to portray Jacob as human, I believe he was evil. The VOICES he thought he heard were probably his warped conscience.

I will say, that after being retired frim the psych field for many years, this book brought it all back - guess some things never die! I'm not trying to discount anyone else's opinion - just giving mine!

Date Posted: 9/5/2009 8:06 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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Ferris was a homosexual who (dare I say it?) bit off more than he could chew.

OMG! Gasp. Choke. (Catches breath.) ROTFL!

I dare say I wouldn't read this kind of book either if I worked, or had worked, with the mentally ill. That's why I don't read legal thrillers or any book about a lawyer. ... Not that there's a connection between lawyers and the mentally ill. ;-)

What you say here: "In spite of how she tried to portray Jacob as human, I believe he was evil. The VOICES he thought he heard were probably his warped conscience." is why I think the book was a moral statement. That, to me, was the plot. Not a plot, per se. But a thesis. She sees society in the same way as William Golding did more than 50 years ago.

It's definitely not a book for everyone.

Date Posted: 9/5/2009 9:50 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,219
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Good points, Genie!  I agree that this book is not for everyone, although it is thought provokimg,