THE HOUSE GUN BY NADINE GORDIMER & THE WRONG SIDE OF GOODBYE BY M.CONNELLY (BOOK REVIEWS)

Today I have two books reviews to share with you. I also have an autumn outfit proposal that I have found in the blog archives recently (I don't think I posted it before). I'm planning to do a special post about this denim skirt with DIY floral patches soon so if you enjoy those kind of sustainable fashion posts, stay posted for that. As for the novels I'm going to review, they are both my authors I haven't read before: Nadine Gordimer and Michael Connelly. The novel by Nadine Gordimer ( a South African Nobel prize winner for literature!) impressed me. I definitely want to read more from this author. If this book is anything to judge by, Nadine Gordimer deserved her Nobel prize. On the other hand, the novel by Michael Connelly was alright but nothing special. A typical politically correct crime novel. Scroll down to read my full reviews. 
THE HOUSE GUN BY NADINE GORDIMER & THE WRONG SIDE OF GOODBYE BY M.CONNELLY (BOOK REVIEWS)
THE HOUSE GUN BY NADINE GORDIMER & THE WRONG SIDE OF GOODBYE BY M.CONNELLY (BOOK REVIEWS)

THE HOUSE GUN BY NADINE GORDIMER 4/5

The House Gun is a relatively slow paced psychological novel that opens with a murder case. When I started reading this novel, I was blissfully unaware of anything about this writer, including the fact that Nadine Gordimer is a recipient of a Nobel prize for literature. The cover didn't give me much to work with either, but sometimes it is refreshing to read something without prior research. It gives you a sort of fresh perspective. Based on the cover, The House Gun could have been a crime novel for all I knew. Once I settled into the narrative, I could tell it was not a typical murder story but I like how it kind of starts off as a crime novel. The difference is not only in that it focuses on the question 'why?' more than on 'who?', but in the way it focuses on that 'why?' question. I found the writing style quite captivating in its curiously distant way. Fascinating how the writing both hides and reveals the characters, manages to be both incredibly distant and intimate- all at the same time. I imagine this book will be too slow paced and subtle for some readers to fully enjoy, but I found it to be an extremely satisfying read that kept my attention from start to finish.

What does goodreads tells us about this book? ...The respected Executive Director of an insurance company, Harald, and his doctor wife, Claudia, are faced with something that could never happen to them: their son, Duncan, has committed murder. What kind of loyalty do a mother and father owe a son who has committed the unimaginable horror? How could he have ignored the sanctity of human life? What have they done to influence his character; how have they failed him? So, this is a novel about a man and a women who discover their son is murderer. They have gave life to someone who has taken somebody's life. The horror and the shock creep slowly in them. Is it really possible? If yes, who is to blame? Themselves? Their son? The society?


In many ways this novel has reminded me of American Pastoral by Philip Roth, one of his best works if not the very best. I would say both novels are studies not only of the individual crime committed but also of the society the crime is committed in. In the way the concept of 'American dream' is relevant for understanding of the American Pastoral, so is the 'post apartheid dream' important for the understanding of this novel. When I started reading this novel and saw that it is set in the South Africa of the nineties, I wondered would the country and the period themselves play an important part. Would South Africa be a character (of sorts) in the novel in its own right? The answer to my question proved to be- yes. South Africa plays an important role in this novel. Indeed, South Africa and its politics might be in the background of the story, but they do play an important part in this novel, just like USA does in the American Pastoral.  

Moreover, both novels focus on a successful married couple whose only child has done the unthinkable- taken a human life. The Swede, a successful Jewish immigrant who played basketball and the Miss America, an Irish catholic beauty who married him are a happy couple. How could the product of such love go so wrong? Similarly, Harald a religious (Catholic) but successful business man and his atheist humane doctor wife seem to be the rare thing: a genuinely happy married couple. Harald and Claudia are living the South African dream. Despite not being directly involved in the fight for equality, they were never racist. These two seem to do well in the new post apartheid world, they work in jobs that allow them to help bridge the gap between the races. At any rate, Harald and Claudia seem to play their part in the building of a  new and more equal society. Both couples share something in common- one of them is a believer, the other isn't and this creates a sort of cultural difference between them. How does this affects a child? The daughter of the American couple grows up in a young girl that kills several people in cold blood. Was it truly cold blood or was the young lady insane? Could a sane person do it? Kill in the name of activism? The son of the South African couple grows up in a young man who kills a man. 

Does he kill him in cold blood? That's the big legal question but also a moral one. Both of these individuals, son and daughter of highly functional families, seem to be profoundly unhappy. Indeed, does a happy person take a life? There are many literary references in this novel, the author quotes Dostoevsky on a number of occasions. The father Harald is a reader and so is the son. They try to find answers in the books, the way many of us do. When we try to kill and destroy somebody, literary references in this novel suggest, we are trying to kill ourselves. I wonder if Philip Roth has read this novel and if yes, what did he think of it? If I had to choose a word to describe the nineties, I would have to go with violence. These two novels do reflect the nineties, the feeling on chaos and hopelessness that has crept into our lives back then and perhaps hasn't left since. Some may remember the nineties as a happy time, but when it comes to world politics and reality, the nineties were extremely violent, filled with civil wars and unrest. 

This novel made me ponder about a great number of things, the Western dream of liberty most of all. The conflict of traditional and modern. They teach us that modern liberalism is the holy grail that will save us all, but look at what it has done to the Western societies. Moreover, this novel made me think about the question of faith and liberty. The promised liberty of the French Revolution that lead to unimaginable bloodshed and horrors we so easily discard, the 'justice' that lead to Napoleon wars and violence that spread like circles through Europe. All in the name of liberty, the new, the modern and the better way of life. The dream of justice and equality for all. How seductive such ideas are! I wonder whether the modern atheism isn't a sort of religion in itself.

This young man Duncan lives in a house populated with individuals who indulge in promiscuous behavior they call freedom. But what is freedom truly? What is love? How many people get traumatized because they believe that freedom is indulging our every desire and forever rebelling like children? Duncan is in a relationship with a young neurotic woman Natalie who cheats on him but does that free him from responsibility? Does it make sense to say that it is somehow Natalie's fault as the author herself sometimes (it seems to me) imply? It is true that a mentally ill and destructive person might turn against the very person who is trying to help her, but if Duncan truly loves Natalia why does he stay in such a destructive relationship? Isn't it a bit to convenient to blame her for everything? Duncan is a character I couldn't make sense of not even at the end of the novel itself. He remains forever distant. We do get in his head more and more but at the end of the novel I was still left perplexed. The psychological portrayal of his parents and the examination of their marriage following the shock was excellent, but Duncan himself remains something of a mystery. I felt there was a bit of potential lost there.

The novel's subtle writing is wonderful, but a bit more information wouldn't have hurt it. I kept waiting for some grand reveal, for example the discussion of the letter (in which Duncan informed his parents of a suicide incident he witnesses as a kid in a boarding school) that might have given us the readers more insight. We don't really get an examination of Duncan's relationship with his parents. Was there ever truly one? Or theirs was a highly functioning family that was somehow empty on the inside? In addition, I didn't like the way the victim was treated a bit like a nonhuman entity. I think it would made sense to know more about him, this Norwegian guy Duncan shot in the head. How deep did the betrayal really go? Was the Norwegian really insensitive or did he act with the purpose to hurt? When I finished the book I was left with impression that some things were left unsaid. Normally, I'm a fan of ambiguous writing. I like books that can be interpreted in many way. However, here you couldn't do that in some cases because there wasn't much to work with. Some characters really remained a mystery, especially the victim and the killer. I feel like we should have left this novel knowing a bit more about them.  Nevertheless, this novel is certainly impressive with its examination of love in its many manifestations. The portrait of the parents was masterfully done. Their developing friendship with their son's lawyer and his son's roommate (the one who decides to stick by him) was very touching.  I'm certainly glad I read this fascinating book and I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.
THE HOUSE GUN BY NADINE GORDIMER & THE WRONG SIDE OF GOODBYE BY M.CONNELLY (BOOK REVIEWS)

THE WRONG SIDE OF GOODBYE BY MICHAEL CONNELLY 3/5

The Wrong Side of Goodbye is exactly what it promises to be: an interesting detective story and murder mystery. It offers nothing more, but also nothing less. The writing is pretty good on overall. It is obvious that this is the kind of writer that pays attention to details. I suppose Connelly's experience as a crime reporter helped. Many aspects of the police and detective work described seem authentic and that helped novel seem more realistic. On the other hand, the novel lacked any ambiguity and complexity. Everything was a bit too predictable and PC for my taste.

The Wrong Side of Goodbye is a great book if you want to know who the good and the bad guys are at all times. Everything is very politically correct in this story, up to the point it is easy to see some things. There is no ambiguity here, no complex examinations of the human psyche, just a relatively interesting story. There aren't that many surprises but the story flows easily enough and keeps one's interest. No complains here. The book was exactly what I expected it to be.

This novel is another in a series featuring a detective Harry Bosch. Goodreads lets me know that it is number #19 in the series. Well, that's a big number. As the novel opens, Harry works both as reserve officer (part time kind of police work) and a PE. Harry was forced to retirement at some point in the earlier novels but he managed to find his place in another police station. The novel actually follows him working on two cases simultaneously. As PE Harry has to find whether an old billionaire has any heirs (the billionaire in question abandoned a pregnant girl as a teenager). At the same time, Harry is trying to capture a serial rapist with the police. I enjoyed getting to know Harry, even if there was very little complexity to him. However, I don't think I will read another book in the series soon. I will reach for this author again only if I feel the need for something super easy to read. Typically, I enjoy books that are a bit more difficult and complex. Still, it wasn't a bad read.

THE HOUSE GUN BY NADINE GORDIMER & THE WRONG SIDE OF GOODBYE BY M.CONNELLY (BOOK REVIEWS)
THE HOUSE GUN BY NADINE GORDIMER & THE WRONG SIDE OF GOODBYE BY M.CONNELLY (BOOK REVIEWS)
That would be all from me for today. If you want more book reviews, you can check out my old posts:
ETC....

THE HOUSE GUN BY NADINE GORDIMER & THE WRONG SIDE OF GOODBYE BY M.CONNELLY (BOOK REVIEWS)
THE HOUSE GUN BY NADINE GORDIMER & THE WRONG SIDE OF GOODBYE BY M.CONNELLY (BOOK REVIEWS)
blazer: second hand, turtleneck: terranova, skirt: old + diy patches, statement tights: old, heels: peko

As always, thank you for reading and visiting. Have a lovely day!

Comments

  1. Some intense fall reads! The first one does sound complex, but then life is complicated and I am sure many parents have questioned "what did I do for this to happen?" Or maybe not. Our lives are busy and we have our own journey. It's surprising these days how many parents are expecting their kids to already be reading by the time they are four or maybe sooner. But I liked that this novel did have a lot of questions for the reader, too. & I liked your question, what would Philip Roth think.

    Beautiful outfit to especially go to a book club in. Of course, these days most like to just go and have wine and chill. Thanks for your reviews!

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  2. Dear Ivana, it is great you found this fantastic look in your blog archive as I really like it! You look wonderful in it and now I'm looking forward to your DIY with the patched denim skirt.
    Thanks for your detailed reviews. The books seem to have an complexe and interesting story. Thanks for sharing!
    Liebe Grüße, Rena
    www.dressedwithsoul.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Che stile Ivana, sempre perfetta! E grazie per i tuoi interessanti suggerimenti in fatto di lettura!
    Kisses, Paola.

    Expressyourself


    My Instagram

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  4. I quite enjoyed of American Pastoral so your comparison of The House Gun to that book has me interested in reading it as it has been awhile since I've read a good psychological novel. With everything going on in the world, I've been mostly into more lighthearted reads or educating myself on race relations. And that is lovely autumn outfit you have discovered in your archives!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, American Pastoral is quite a novel. Thank you. I might repeat this look, I still have all of these items.

      Delete
  5. The House Gun does sound good. And love the shoes and tights - great look :-D

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  6. Adorable outfit, especially the tights. I like Nadine's books. I haven't read this one so thanks for the review.

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  7. I like the blazer with the denim! they sound like interesting books, although they aren't the kind of thing I like to read. I'm very squeamish so crime or violence in a book isn't something I enjoy, haha!

    Hope your week is going well :)

    Away From Blue

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  8. I love Michael Connelly books but I haven't read this one. And that skirt is fabulous!!
    XOOX
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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  9. These sound like great books!

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  10. Nisam čitala ni jednu od ovih knjiga, ali zvuče mi jako zanimljive. Hvala za preporuku, također jako mi se sviđa tvoj outfit. Izgledaš predivno.

    New Post - https://www.exclusivebeautydiary.com/2020/10/dr-brandt-xtend-your-youth-face-cream.html

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  11. Beautiful outfit. I haven´t read that book yet. Thanks for sharing.
    I hope you´ll visit my blog soon. Have a nice day!

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  12. Very interesting review, have to read that book! Thanks for sharing.

    Kisses,

    https://www.theartofpaloma.com/

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you so much for this recommendations, I love reading but it's true that I have no time for doing it... :( Anyway, I will note your suggestions! Have a nice weekend!

    www.luciagallegoblog.com

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  14. Hello dear Ivana, hope you're doing great!

    Just coming back to the blog after being ill for some weeks, I hope you're having a fantastic autumn!

    Thanks for the books recommendations, being honest this is the first time I hear about these titles so I'm searching for them immediately on Good Reads, as you know this is the place that is helping me a little bit to keep track of my reading habits and of course to discover new titles that can expand the possibilities! I recently finished The Library Book by Susan Orlean, a very interesting chronicle about a fire that consumed Los Angeles library back in the 80s :)

    I also adored the look you picked to shoot this post, it totally gives me the library vibes of a show presented by Gucci, so I imagined you took some inspiration from their latest collection! Really intellectual but cool at the same time!

    Gonna check the other latest blog posts!
    Stay safe!
    Pablo
    HeyFungi

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Pablo for always leaving such informative and interesting comments. The Library Book sounds very interesting. This outfit is a few years old so I cannot say that I was inspired by Gucci for this one. I don't remember what my inspiration was.

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  15. I haven't read either of these authors, so thank you for the intro, Ivana! The first one sounds like a good Book Club book.

    Love that skirt, and looking forward to your DIY post!

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  16. I confess I haven't read any of these authors. I'd heard of Nadine Gordimer, but not the other one, but then again I'm not so keen on crime novels. I do love crime series on television, but not crime novels, isn't that strange? Anyway, I love the sound of Nadine Gordimer's novel, so I'll definitely keep an eye out at the charity shops. I love your skirt, so I'm definitely looking forward to that DIY post. Hope your week is going well, Ivana! xxx

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    Replies
    1. My mother is the same way. She loves crime series but rarely reads crime novels. Nadine's novel is definitely worth a read, beautiful writing paired with a complex story is always a win- win.

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  17. Having A Lovely Day For Sure - Dig That Last Photo - Keep Exercising That Mind With Knowledge

    Stay Strong,
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  18. Liking the sound of the first book, the cover alone would lead me to pick it up and a positive review by The Independent is usually a good sign, its a quality British newspaper! Not a great fan of Michael Connolly, although I've been known to read his stuff if I can't get my hands on anything else.
    Lovely outfit! xxx

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    Replies
    1. Yes, Connolly seems like a predictive writer, I don't think I'll read more of him. Nadine on the other hand is a very skilled writer. I would love to read more of her.

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  19. I always love how thorough your book reviews are! Thanks for sharing :)

    Ekaterina | Polar Bear Style

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  20. Post odličan, svidjelo mi se djelo i kako si stručno opisala. Stil desetka, suknjica i punđa preslatke 😍❤😊.

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  21. Amazing post dear, lovely look, great book

    Kisses
    www.pimentadeacucar.com

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  22. Che bello questo outfit! Mi piace molto la gonna!
    Non ho mai letto questi libri, ma mi ispirano molto!

    The World Of A Vet
    Bloglovin
    Instagram

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  23. Prvi put čujem za ove knjige, ali, s obzirom na to da volim da čitam, a baš si me zainteresovala ovim postom, uzeću ih u obzir. Odlično si ih opisala i istakla šta ti se dopalo, a šta je ipak moglo da doprinese tome da knjige budu još bolje. Divan post. 💗

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    Replies
    1. Hvala ti. The House Gun mi se posebno svidjela. Tu je i pitanje oružja koje je danas aktualno.

      Delete
  24. I haven't had the chance to read much, but am hoping to be able to pick up a few books this month.
    Happy weekend Ivana!

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  25. Nice outfit suits to you.. Interesting book to read

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  26. Thank you for your book review! We always highly appreciate that!
    The Wallet Heaven

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  27. I like the way your floral patches seem to lead down onto the lacy bits on your tights! The turtle neck with the jacket is really cute and with your hair up, looks really chic!
    The books sound interesting, esp the first one, given her credentials- I love a good murder mystery but this seems more! Very cool!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, The House Gun is more than a murder mystery.

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  28. The second book seems so interesting, and your outfit is really so great!
    The flowers on the skirt and the lines on the tights are so romantic accent.
    Thank you for always great inspiration<3

    akiko

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Post a comment

All your comments mean a lot to me, even the criticism. Naravno da mi puno znači što ste uzeli vrijeme da nešto napišete, pa makar to bila i kritika. Per me le vostre parole sono sempre preziose anche quando si tratta di critiche.

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