Story Society Saturday December 2016: The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery

Welcome to December! I’m so excited to see the snow! On Facebook…from Florida. I know that’s an old joke. I enjoy it. Indulge me.

Story Society and Book Club is a Facebook page run by Booktender Gypsie, who is delightful by the way. My favorite thing on the page is Caught In The Act Of Reading, which is a photo series of people and the books they’re experiencing. Definitely head over to the page and give it a look (after reading this post, of course)! 

Each month, Booktender Gypsie recommends a new book to be read during the month and welcomes thoughts, quotes, and general comments about the book selected. 

This month’s recommendation is: The Lives of Elves by Muriel Barbery

Goodreads Synopsis:

A moving and deeply felt homage to the power of nature and art by one of the world’s most beloved authors.

Do two young girls have the power to change the world? Maria, raised by powerful older women, lives in a remote village in Burgundy, where she discovers her gift of clairvoyance, of healing and of communicating with nature. Hundreds of miles away in Italy, Clara discovers her musical genius and is sent from the countryside to Rome to nurture her extraordinary abilities.

Who are the mysterious elves? Will they succeed in training the girls for their higher purpose in the face of an impending war? Barbery’s The Life of Elves is the story of two children whose amazing talents will bring them into contact with magical worlds and malevolent forces. If, against all odds, they can be brought together, their meeting may shape the course of history.

Seven years after the publication of her international bestseller, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery returns with an inspiring novel about finding the divine in the domestic, about the quest for enchantment. With its cast of unforgettable characters, each fighting to preserve the idea of an enhanced life, The Life of Elves is a luminous novel about art, nature, dreams, the power of love, and how imagination can help us build a bridge to a better future.


My Favorite Quotes:

Page 56:

True faith, it is a well-known fact, has little regard for chapels, but it does believe in the communion of mysteries, and with its unworldly fusion of beliefs, it crushes any temptations that prove too intolerant. 


Page 118:

What was healing, in the end, if not the making of peace? And what was living if it was not for love? 


My Review:

The Life of Elves is written so poetically that it took me a bit of time to get into it. The flow of it is almost dreamlike. I enjoyed reading through it, though I’ll admit that the story goes in circles quite a bit.

I got the feeling that the characters had a great deal of depth, but it’s almost like the author holds back on some of that because the main two characters are children. We don’t really get to see very much depth to any of the characters aside from Clara. This kind of bothered me but it added into the dreamlike feel of the storytelling style.

The world is built up just enough that we can get a hazy mental image of where Clara and Maria are but, again, the edges blur as they would in a dream. While it was interesting to read something and experience it as I would a dream, I have to say I prefer a more immersive feel when I read.

Overall, I rate The Life of Elves 3 out of 5 bookworms. 

Don’t just take my word for it. Order The Lives of Elves from Barnes & Noble in the US, Waterstones in the UK, or your locally owned bookstore and enjoy it for yourself!

For more information about Muriel Barbery and her work, visit her website.

Want to join the Story Society and Book Club? Booktender Gypsie recommends a new book on the 25th of each month. Head on over to the Facebook page and give it a Like so you’re sure not to miss it!

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Story Society Saturday November 2016: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

Story Society and Book Club is a Facebook page run by Booktender Gypsie, who is delightful by the way. My favorite thing on the page is Caught In The Act Of Reading, which is a photo series of people and the books they’re experiencing. Definitely head over to the page and give it a look (after reading this post, of course)! 

Each month, Booktender Gypsie recommends a new book to be read during the month and welcomes thoughts, quotes, and general comments about the book selected. I have been reading the book each month since August but have decided that as Story Society is one of my favorite pages (I look forward to the recommendation all month!!), it deserves its own day so I’m going to try to get the post up on the first Saturday of each month.

This month’s recommendation is The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

Goodreads Synopsis:

Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy’s funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist—even if they don’t understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that’s almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend’s memory. 

All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life. But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town. Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a warm, witty book about friendship, stories, and love.


My Favorite Quotes:

Page 145:

Books are fantastic and probably come into their own in a cabin in the woods, but how fun is it to read a fantastic book if you can’t tell others about it, talk about it, and quote from it constantly

Page 197:

She placed the two books on the counter in front of Gertrude. “You might as well take both,” she said as she went back behind the counter. 

“Two more?” May asked with something like dread in her voice. 

“Damn it,” said Gertrude. “I’m not going to be able to sleep for days.”

Page 316:

It was funny, she thought, how often we stuck to the safe path in life, pulling on blinders and keeping our eyes to the ground, doing our best not to look at the fantastic view. Without seeing the heights we had reached, the opportunities actually awaiting us out there; without realizing we should just jump and fly, at least for a moment. 


My Review:

I’ll start off by saying this is only the second book about books I’ve ever read. The world of Broken Wheel is so well developed that I felt as though I had picked up and gone to Iowa. So much so that I often found myself confused at my actual surroundings, which made for a few good laughs with my family. 

The characters were developed in a way that’s slightly different than other novels I have read. Much of that development is done through the involvement of a character who is in the book and yet isn’t. It’s very creatively done to say the least. The characters themselves are well developed enough that almost any of them could be a main character in the story. 

The story unfolds rather gracefully, like a flower blossoming in the spring. A little of the story comes to life at a time until you’re left with a glorious bloom of a novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end.

Overall, I rate The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend 4 out of 5 bookworms.

Don’t just take my word for it. Order from Amazon US or Amazon UK and enjoy it for yourself!

For more information about Katarina Bivald and her work, visit her website.

Want to join the Story Society and Book Club reading? Booktender Gypsie recommends a new book on the 25th of each month. Head on over to the Facebook page and give it a Like so you’re sure not to miss it!