on beauty

Title :: On Beauty
Author :: Zadie Smith
Completed :: Feb 18 2008
Challenges :: 888 Challenge : 1001 Books
Rating :: 3/5

On Beauty centers around two families one settled in the US and one in London who later moves to the US. Both families are tied together in a net of dislike, misunderstanding and well basically men just being pompous jerks! Both fathers are academics in the same field with different points of view on almost every topic but both are guilty of a sin that disrupts both families. The story unfolds as each family tries to get a stronghold on their beliefs, their identity and together they try to rise above the difficulties of life that lie before them.

For some reason I found it difficult to get into this one. I'm not sure if it was because I took it to Egypt with me - and I never seem to get much reading done there - then sort of lost interest when I got back. Plus when I got back there were so many other books that I wanted to read that I just couldn't be bothered. Once I did get into the book I thought it dragged a bit. Overall it was a good story but I think it could have been told in a shorter amount of space i.e. 100 pages less than it was. There were good moments that I was able to relate to. In one particular scene Zora is being pestered by her mother to help around the house, and the "living here for free" argument came up. This one I know!

"You live in this house, you have to help out with family stuff," said Kiki, getting down to fundamentals in order to defend a decision whose unfairness she had already privately registered. "That's the deal. You don't pay any rent here."

Zora brought her hands together in penitent prayer, "That's so gracious, thank you. Thank you for letting me stay in my childhood home."

In another scene Jerome reflects on what it's like to have such a large age gap between siblings. My sister and I are 5.5 years apart. I think I felt the age gap more though when I was in high school and first in college when she just seemed so much younger. Now I don't notice so much anymore.

They were both nodding a lot. Sadness swept over Jerome. They had nothing to say to each other. A five-year age gap between siblings is like a garden that needs constant attention. Even three months apart allows the weeds to grow up between you.

But it is so true, too much time gone by makes it difficult to keep those bonds for some reason. It probably doesn't help either that my sister and I are night and day!

I thought my mom could relate to this scene when Jerome's mother decides to do a bit of spring cleaning in the storage room and is trying to deal with Jerome's boxes of childhood things. Made me think of all the blue tubs I left behind shoved into a closet, my life boxed up, waiting and taking up space.

"Jerome, here is your past. It is not for me, your mother, to destroy your past. Only you can decide what must go and what must stay. But please, for the love of God, throw away something so I can free up some space in the storeroom for Levi's crap."

Other Thoughts ::
: a girl walks into a bookstore
: you're next - reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link!

. listening . stockholm syndrome . muse . absolution .


posted by Ashleigh @ 14:31,


At 19 May 2008 at 21:13, Blogger Katherine said...

I read this book; the link is here:



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    ashleigh (ash'lė) n.
    1: egyptologist; currently living in the uk attempting to obtain a phd in egyptology, hoping in the end there will be a job.
    2: literary; reading to escape reality, to improve conversation, for inspiration.
    3: crafter; crocheting and needlework, creating heirlooms, keeping the world warm.
    4: dreamer; head in the clouds, full of fantasies, wishing to be someone else, somewhere else.
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