Free book WINNERS!

The magic of randomness has spoken! Winners of one copy of Love Like Salt each are:

  • Miriam
  • Tess
  • Katie
  • Carolyn O.

Happy days! I’ll be in touch with all of you to get your postal addresses (subject to checking with the publisher to make sure that international shipping is A Thing), or, if you see this before I get to you, please do email your address to me: eleanor.m.franzen@gmail.com.

Congratulations! I hope you all enjoy the book. It is absolutely wonderful.

FREE BOOK ALERT

Guys, guys! I haven’t had enough sleep for three days and I’m buzzing on caterpillar cake (it’s someone’s birthday in the office today) so I can’t think of a smart or subtle way of saying this: I’ve got four copies of Love Like Salt to give away. ONE OF THEM COULD BE YOURS.

To refresh your memory: Love Like Salt is Helen Stevenson’s thoughtful, elegant memoir about her daughter’s illness, her mother’s death, and her family’s years in France. It encompasses music and poetry and the pain of parenthood (motherhood in particular). It’s uplifting and beautiful. It’s perfect for the week after Mother’s Day.

Here’s the first paragraph of my review:

On the day I finished this book, I tweeted about it: “#LoveLikeSalt is just. Oh. I mean. Pergolesi and Marot and France and chronic illness. It’s like it was written specifically for me.” I don’t often, if ever, feel that I’ve captured the essence of what a book means to me in my tweets, but there is always a first time, and that time is now. If I could walk away without writing a review of it, I would, and would point to that tweet as evidence that I have in fact fulfilled my brief, for what more can I say? Music that I know and love, a poet the translation of whose work is meaningful to both me and Stevenson, a country we have built our own fantastical versions of, the burden of ill health: it is all there, it is all expressed generously and artfully, and she broadens my perspective by writing not as a sufferer of chronic illness, but as the mother of a child who is. Reading it brought me closer to my own mother; what also helped in this regard was the interweaving of the story of Stevenson’s mother’s dementia and eventual death. It’s about generation and heredity, for sure, but it’s also about community, solidarity, belonging, and the sense of betrayal when a community you thought had accepted you demonstrates that, really, they don’t.

The rest of the review is here.

Post a comment below, and I’ll pick four names out of a hat at the end of the week. Go on!

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We have a Stone Mattress winner!

The lucky reader is Tarzanman (also winning the prize for Most Amusing Username, so well done.) Congratulations, and enjoy the book—if you post a review of it, be sure to link me to it!

Lovelies who didn’t win, fear not, for I am sure there will be more giveaways to come. Thank you so much for participating! It’s tremendously exciting to watch this blog grow and YOU are helping to make it possible by reading it, which encourages publishers to send me more things.

I’ll have more reviews up for you soon (I just finished A Little Life and feel remarkably positive about it, and I will also soon be reviewing The Tokyo Zodiac Murdersand Naomi J. Williams’s beautiful Landfalls before its publication date on the 22nd.) I also have a Most Thrilling Announcement (well, for a given value of “thrilling”), so keep your eyes peeled for that too.

FREE BOOK: Stone Mattress, by Margaret Atwood

The lovely folks at Little, Brown have teamed up with a bunch of different bloggers to offer you a whole bunch of prizes, along with free copies of Margaret Atwood’s short story collection Stone Mattress, now out in paperback. The first one has already launched, over at The Writes of Woman. And one of the bloggers they’ve teamed up with is me!

Entering is very simple: add a comment below. It can be about Atwood–your favorite book of hers, your least favorite of hers, whether you think Oryx and Crake was an effective dystopia or not, how The Handmaid’s Tale changed your life–or it can be about the fact that you’ve never read her before, or it can just be your name. Anything goes! The winner will be chosen utterly at random, so you don’t need to worry too much about being witty.

Apart from a lovely (signed!) edition of Stone Mattress, the winner will receive a gorgeous yellow Lamy fountain pen, which is apropos, as the excerpt I shall give you is from the collection’s opening story, “Alphinland”–which is about a writer:

The freezing rain sifts down, handfuls of shining rice thrown by some unseen celebrant. Wherever it hits, it crystallizes into a granulated coating of ice. Under the streetlights it looks so beautiful: like fairy silver, thinks Constance. But then, she would think that; she’s far too prone to enchantment. The beauty is an illusion, and also a warning: there’s a dark side to beauty, as with poisonous butterflies. She ought to be considering the dangers, the hazards, the grief this ice storm is going to bring to many; is already bringing, according to the television news.

The TV screen is a flat high-definition one that Ewan bought so he could watch hockey and football games on it. Constance would rather have the old fuzzy one back, with its strangely orange people and its habit of rippling and fading: there are some things that do not fare well in high definition. She resents the pores, the wrinkles, the nose hairs, the impossibly whitened teeth shoved right up in front of your eyes so you can’t ignore them the way you would in real life. It’s like being forced to act as someone else’s bathroom mirror, the magnifying kind: seldom a happy experience, those mirrors.

You have until October 8th to enter. Good luck! (I’m also super nervous because I’ve never done a giveaway on the blog before, so…save me from embarrassment!)