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Books by the Blogger:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

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Authors & publishers:
I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Travers, P.L.: Mary Poppins | Main | Price, Jill: The Woman Who Can't Forget »

Sebold, Alice: The Almost Moon

  

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Little, Brown © 2007, 291 pages
5 stars

Alice Sebold's The Almost Moon starts with a murder, a clumsy, unpremeditated affair that happens almost naturally. It was easy, Helen Knightly tells us in the book's first sentence:

"When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily."

It's a sentence that makes you want to read more. The book continues:

"Dementia, as it descends, has a way of revealing the core of the person affected by it. My mother's core was rotten like the brackish water at the bottom of a weeks-old vase of flowers. She had been beautiful when my father met her and still capable of love when I became their late-in-life child, but by the time she gazed up at me that day, none of this mattered."

One paragraph in and it's clear that you're in for something special.

What follows that delicious opening is the story of how Helen came to kill her mother--the toll that Claire's mental illness took on the family over decades, its unexpected consequences, the mental abuse, the exhausting intensity of Helen's love-hate relationship with her mother. This back story is interspersed with the continuing story of what's going on in the present: what Helen does immediately after the murder (whatever you're thinking, you're wrong), the eventual discovery of the body by outsiders.

That Helen commits murder so clumsily, with only the most amateurish attempt made to cover it up, is a great strength of the book, I think. This is the sort of mess that a real person might make of matricide. And while Helen's behavior after the fact seems bizarre, that too lends the story credence. Who in such circumstances would be fully sane?

While The Almost Moon is not a suspense novel per se, it is certainly suspenseful. What will become of Helen, given the murder investigation and her own feelings of...not quite remorse, is never clear, not until the book's last page. And when it comes the ending is, really, just right. This one's highly recommended.

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Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Comments

1.

I didn't feel the murder was the focus. It seemed to be an exercise in grief. Grief for a life not fully lived. She placed her mother as the responsible one. She reached the last straw in taking care of her and finished her. If you look at it from her perspective, she killed her too late. I think Sebold has demonstrated her theme and mastery as one of sorrow and grief. She revels in it.

2.

Thanks for your comment, Jeff. No, I don't think the murder was the focus, either.

This is the first of hers that I've read. I was quite shocked when I went over to Amazon after posting this review to see that so many people disliked the book. Both because I thought it was very well written and because my ratings for books so often agree with the aggregate of Amazon reviews.

3.

I've heard a lot about this book, mostly bad. It's nice to read a good review of it - makes me want to pick it up!

4.

I really don't understand why the book has gotten such negative press. Very strange.




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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.