Spring/Summer ReadAlong - Girl of Cardigan

Confession: I finished the book.

But this is not a finished book review.  This is a halfway through book chat, and a chat needs you.  Here are my thoughts to start us off:

Beautiful Ruins Read-Along - Girl of Cardigan

Story: I adore the setting of this novel – I want to be there.  But I’ll admit that this book is slow to grab me.  I enjoyed the read, but found it easy to put it down and walk away – never quite got sucked in.  I tend to love stories that jump around between characters and time periods, but for some reason, this device in this story is keeping me from diving all the way in.  That said, the time period, the setting, the charmingly screwed up characters – swoon.  I want to vacation in this book immediately.

Characters: I love Pasquale.  Love him.  Love the way his name sounds when I say it out loud (who knows if I’m saying it correctly 🙂 ), love his humanity, love that he’s written with some pretty massive baggage and flaws but still reads as noble.  I dig him.  I find myself routing for Claire, just because I want to grab coffee and a bagel with her, and I adore the visual in my mind of Michael Deane, both past and present – Hollywood in all its young ambition and terrifying resistance to age.

Here are my questions for you, and I’ll chime in in the comments:

What is the moment you first connected with the story?  Why?

Which thread is most compelling to you?  Which character’s voice are you hoping to find when you turn the page?

Which thread could you do without?  I find that I don’t care about Burton much, for example, but I dig Shane and his Donner story thread.

What do you love?  What’s getting on your nerves?

Which character do you connect with personally?  Why?

On a scale of 1-5, how many stars would you give this book so far?  I’m a solid 3 all the way through, but you don’t have to agree with me one little bit.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below – if they don’t show up, shoot me an email at girlofcardigan@gmail.com and I’ll go save you from the spam filter.

Girl of Cardigan

  • Reply Tehlor April 4, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    I’ll start! I’m really close to the end now, I’ll probably finish tonight, but I’ll stay at the halfway mark to avoid spoiling.

    What is the moment you first connected with the story? Why?

    I think the biggest issue I’ve had so far with the book is that I haven’t really felt connected to the story along the way. I too love Pasquale’s character, my favorite are the scenes when he’s thinking something big and struggling to get his point across in English, there’s something so heartbreakingly funny about it, and yet sometimes he stumbles on something really profound even in his simple English.

    Overall though I’m finding that there are too many characters for me. They all have good moments and lots of potential but the story feels like it’s stretched a little thin between all of them, I don’t feel like there’s much to dig in and connect to before you’re moving on to something else.

    Which thread is most compelling to you? Which character’s voice are you hoping to find when you turn the page?

    I’m a big fan of Pasquale, and I also really like Alvis Bender. Those threads are my favorite, especially when they intersect.

    Which thread could you do without? I find that I don’t care about Burton much, for example, but I dig Shane and his Donner story thread.

    I don’t love the Michael Deane thread, he strikes me as so smarmy and creepy which I’m sure was the point, but it’s achieved almost TOO well for me. He makes me slightly uncomfortable. Claire and Shane have their cute moments as characters but ultimately I don’t feel like they were developed enough for me to really connect with them.

    What do you love? What’s getting on your nerves?

    I love the description of old 60s Hollywood, all the glamour, all the Burton and Liz Taylor drama, all the underhanded scheming, I feel like I could read a whole book just about that stuff. I also love the contrast between Pasquale’s quiet, lonely little world and the glamor and dysfunction that kind of charges in and changes him.

    In terms of my nerves, I think they just want more meat. the story is entertaining but I find myself frustrated when it’s time to switch times or locations or stories and I feel like there’s more to say about the one that just finished, if that makes any sense.

    Which character do you connect with personally? Why?

    Definitely having some cringey recollections of the great unrequited loves of my life during the Pasquale scenes, that feeling of being out of your depth and powerless to walk away. Obviously I’m settled and married and mothering now but there have been times when I could definitely relate to his feelings.

    On a scale of 1-5, how many stars would you give this book so far? I’m a solid 3 all the way through, but you don’t have to agree with me one little bit.

    I’d probably say a 3 as well, with a few dips into 2 range and a few brief spikes into 4.

  • Reply Sara F April 5, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    I, too, have finished the book. It took about 4 late-night reading in bed while I waited for my husband to get home from his swing shift.
    What is the moment you first connected with the story? Why?
    I’d say it was when Pasquale showed up at the Hollywood office is when the book “hooked” me and I finally had that sense of “what happens next”, a real anticipation that had been lacking for me in the first few chapters.

    Which thread is most compelling to you? Which character’s voice are you hoping to find when you turn the page?
    I found myself most compelled by Dee’s story–the one after Italy, while she was raising Pat. And I liked their dynamic–as dysfunctional as the two were together.

    Which thread could you do without?
    I gotta say, I wasn’t a fan of the Donner story. I also have a hard time seeing where Shane and his movie plot fit into the overall theme of the book.

    What do you love? What’s getting on your nerves?
    I loved reading about the developing friendship between Pasquale and Dee in Italy.
    I am not a fan of how quickly the book goes from thread to thread. I feel as though not enough attention is given to each of the storylines.

    Which character do you connect with personally? Why?
    Probably Dee. I mean, I’ve never been in her predicament, but I relate to her strength and to her desperation. Her vulnerability really intrigues me.

    On a scale of 1-5, how many stars would you give this book so far?
    I’ll give it a 3. There are parts where I’d give a 1 or a 2, but parts where I’d give a 3 or a 4. So, 3 seems like a good middle ground.

    • Reply Sara F April 5, 2014 at 9:38 pm

      Yeah, I’m not so good with html. My answers were not supposed to be bold….

  • Reply Monique birt April 13, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    So I definitely responded to this but it seems my iPad doesn’t like me very much. Anyways I have been so thankful you did this Karyn since I have been craving a book club for some guided reading options but have yet to find one or find time to start one.

    What is the moment you first connected with the story? Why?
    I really am drawn into books with multiple story lines. I like how one story will leave you hanging for a moment to jump to someone else. The imagery has been fun In This book for me. I have enjoyed getting to know all the characters. I wouldn’t say I really have connected with it so far but it is a fun read. I guess if I had to say though when Pasquale met up with that girl in Rome and you found out something new about his character I had an ever greater sense of empathy for him.

    Which thread is most compelling to you? Which character’s voice are you hoping to find when you turn the page?
    Pasquale for sure. I think that everyone agrees on that one so far. He seems so kind and has such big dreams which I admire. I am interested to get to know Shane a bit more. Also, another reason to love Pasquale, who doesn’t love a sweet old Italian man who has traveled across the world to find a mysterious dream woman from deep in his past? I’m curious to find out more about dew also. I’m about halfway I believe.

    Which thread could you do without? I find that I don’t care about Burton much, for example, but I dig Shane and his Donner story thread.
    Not sure who burton is, maybe I missed that name somewhere. I really don’t like michAel deane. The intro scene to his character I feel was almost a caricature of old Hollywood people. But it was just such a pathetic visual in my mind and as I learn more about him the less and less I like him. He seems the villain to me.

    What do you love? What’s getting on your nerves?
    I love the different stories not only spanning countries but time. I really love learning someone’s history so the setup of this book is amazing to me. I really enjoy that. So far not too much getting on my nerves. It is an easy read that I can enjoy while being at home with my daughter.

    Which character do you connect with personally? Why?
    Personally I would have to say Shane. He is this huge dreamer who just needs a break in life. He has a lot to offer I feel but has been dejected time and time again. My husband and I have been through some tough times from some deaths and loss of jobs and church homes so I understand feeling your dreams and ideals being suppressed. I am so proud of him when he insists on giving his pitch. It made my heart happy.

    I would say a solid 3 I don’t totally love it but it is entertaining and interesting to read!

    Thanks again Karyn so enjoying this. I hope we do more!

  • Reply Simone April 15, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    Hi!

    I’m not going to catch up with you on this book… Could you announce the next book early for slow pokes such as myself? I’ll make sure I buy it at least and then get started while you guys wrap this one up.

    :0) Simone
    (in Montreal… and I’m getting a friend who recently moved to BC and another friend who’s about to move from here to California involved! So it’ll be my way of reading and also keeping in touch with them! Thanks!)

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