I finished the book, Medicine River by Thomas King. The book had been on my "to read" list for many years and at last I can now say that I have finished it and it is no longer on my mind. My mind does remind me from time to time of things that I have not done. I found the book to be a satisfactory enough read but I wasn't overly impressed by it. Perhaps my expectations were too high as I'd long been thinking about it. The book is not so long and is written in an easy, conversational style which made me read it more slowly. I read it as if I was hearing the characters in the book speaking.
What distinguishes this book from many other books I've read, is that it was written by a Native American author of Cherokee, Greek and German-American descent. The setting of the story in the book is a reserve in western Canada, probably because the author lived and worked in Lethbridge, Alberta for many years. Those of you who live in Canada may have see the television movie based on this book. I think that it is good to be exposed to more Native American writers but I don't think there are that many of them.
After finishing that book, I read, The Empress, written by Shan Sa. Shan Sa is the pen name of Yan Ni, who was born in Beijing, China, and later moved to France with her father in 1990.
Her novel is based on the life of the Empress of China, Empress Wu, the only reigning female in the history of China (c.625-705). The book started and ended rather interestingly, with the Empress telling the story of her own birth and death. The rest of the book was a bit disappointing to me. I was a bit taken aback by the amount of debauchery attributed to that time period. But if you are interested in the history of China, female leaders throughout history, and early history of China, then this book is loaded with detail.
In the notes at the back of the book the author says,
"Empress is the encounter of two Chinese women, myself and Empress Wu. I came to Paris in 1990 at the age of seventeen. Coming from post-Cultural Revolution China to Paris, this city of luxury and lust, I felt the shock and suffering that my heroine experienced when she entered life in the Forbidden City.
The historical research took three years, and I made several trips to China to explore the regions where the Empress had lived."
I think the following quote from p. 317 of the book sums up the story quite well.
"Time passed. The wheel of fortune turned. Skills vanished in the flames of war, and men no longer knew how to build palaces tall enough to touch the clouds. The Tatars streamed in from the deserts and the steppes, one dynasty followed another. Women abandoned the arts and bound their feet. Emperors continued with the Mandarin competitions I had instigated and still used the urn of Truth I invented. But I had become a symbol of a corrupt woman. The Annals told how I had strangled my daughter so that I could ascribe the crime to Empress Wang. Misogynistic historians accused me of poisoning my son Splendor who contested my authority. Novelists invented a life of debauchery for me, attributing their own fantasies to me. With passing time, the truth became unclear, and the lies took root."
It is difficult for me to know how much of the personal details of the Empress were true and how much was the author's imagination. The quote from the book leads me to think that much was the author's imagination. However the author's notes suggest that the tremendous detail about the cultural aspects and ceremony of the times are based on historical facts.
My next book is The Help, which has already been made into a movie. I am also going to finish People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.
I've also been in touch with my blogging friend, Fred Alton, whom some of you know. He has encouraged his readers to read the Bible in one year. I've always read the Bible but I don't think I've ever read it from cover to cover, or in one year though it's been something I've wanted to do for some time. Fred has given me some good tips and this reading project fits in nicely with my goal of studying the Bible.
I'm making good progress on my reading goals for this year.
What about you dear reader. Have you set any reading goals? Have you read either of the books in my post or the Bible from cover to cover? I'm interested in your thoughts on these books or about your experiences with the Bible reading.