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Ghosts By Daylight: A Memoir of War and Love Hardcover – 4 Jul 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (4 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140882051X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408820513
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 508,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Janine di Giovanni writes with unblinking courage about war, death, marriage, motherhood, loss, love, redemption, fear -- indeed, about all the world's most pressing risks and dangers. She has seen far more of life than the rest of us, so she knows more than we do --and yet she lays down her memoir with touching and deeply honest humility. Her writing here (as ever in her remarkable career) is a great and important achievement' (Elizabeth Gilbert)

'A profound and beautiful book about the two great human struggles: Love and War. That so much hope could shine through a story of such violence and destruction is testimony to the human spirit and, of course, the breathtaking clarity of Di Giovanni's prose. It is a brilliant book about things that concern us all' (Sebastian Junger)

'Only a writer as tender and intuitive as Janine di Giovanni can offer herself as a witness to some of the world's most barbarous and nightmarish wars while also deconstructing the very private unraveling of a once-beautiful love story. Ghosts by Daylight, just like its author, is brave, heroically and elegantly told, and brutally honest' (Fatima Bhutto)

Book Description

From award-winning journalist Janine di Giovanni a scorching memoir of love and loss

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jim VINE VOICE on 27 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ghosts by Daylight is less a book about war than author Janine Di Giovanni's struggles to adapt to life without the frontline. It is not always an easy read and the author can come across as being just as self-centred and tiresome as she does brilliant and courageous. The book seemingly mirror her flaws and unless one sees it - and in effect her life - in its totality, parts of it can seem overblown. In particular the way in which she writes about motherhood would seem at times suggest that she is the only woman in the world to experience the confusion of emotions that come with rearing children. Indeed I found some of these passages irritating and lacking self-awareness. But then few mothers have spent their lives travelling from the frontline of one humanitarian crisis to another, so who am I to possibly judge?

The most powerful passages deal with life on the frontline, notably in the book's closing pages when she returns to Sarajevo. These sections are too scarce and there is a sense that we are only getting the briefest of glimpses of the horrors she has seen and experienced. And yet we are often left with the sense that motherhood and marriage have been more difficult for her to deal with than mayhem and carnage in warzones.

This is a complex, slightly flawed book but one which probably reflects the life and personality of its author. Certainly it is worth perservering with.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Z de MC on 21 April 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is a scattered-brained mess of a memoir. It talks about the author's experiences of war, and her subsequent life as a housewife/mother in seemingly random flashbacks, in no discernible order. She settles in Paris, then she is in Sarajejevo under siege, then her child is three, then she is pregnant... She must have had an editor but I can't imagine what he was thinking by having the book constructed in such a confusing fashion.

The parts about war are raw, intense, and very good. The parts about love, pregnancy, birth, life in Paris etc are frankly boring and not particularly different than the experiences of most women. I'm sure it all felt very exceptional to the author, but miscarriages, pregnancy, weak cervix, then breastfeeding etc are fairly common, garden variety experiences many of us go through and we really didn't need to know about hers. The way she glorifies Bruno is also quite perplexing - he doesn't sound like a great catch, from the beginning when he courts her while in a long term relationship with another woman, and must have been amazed at his luck when the author started worshipping him as if he were a minor deity.

If she wrote only about her experiences as a war reporter, this would have been a very good book. As it is, it is only a 3-star: "It was OK".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By drlauraciel on 30 Oct. 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is not a book solely about war and it is not a book solely about Di Giovanni's life as a war corespondent. It is a book about life and the struggles that make life what it is. Although not everyone will experience the same emotions, fears, risks, hopes as the author, most everyone can take away some piece of what it means to be alive in this day and time. As a psychologist and a coach who works with many people who strive to make their life meaningful and powerful, I recommend this book as an example of one woman's story of courage, strength, beauty, love and vulnerability. I also recommend this book as a story of being honest about who you are. If you are looking for the details of war, read a different book. If you want a story about living an authentic life no matter what your situation, you will be moved. Beautiful and powerful are the words I would use to describe Di Giovanni's memoir. Bravo
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ian Hunter on 22 Oct. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Through a loosely told chronology, the story flits between present realities and past memories. Both are littered with the horror of war; the civil kind. In essence though, it is about two people caught up in the journalism of war and other conflicts. It's hard enough to be normal in such circumstances. When love enters the picture, it is a wonder that such emotion erupts at all, let alone survives. This story is therefore about such a thing; love in the midst of war and conflict. It is a moving story. I found the structure of the writing slightly irritating; the oscillation between the present and the past. For that reason alone, four stars.

Ian Hunter.
Author of The Early Years, E-Love, E-Dreams, E-World, Three Interludes, Love's Anatomy and Conversations.

P.S. For Ian Hunter, the author and reviewer, page 240 perhaps carries his epitaph: 'people who deeply love each other cannot always live together; this is the real sadness of life'. It is certainly the enduring sadness of mine in this turbulent year, 2011.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ijhodgson on 14 April 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well, just finished this vaguely autobiographical novel, and on the whole I enjoyed the read. The story describes the life and travails of a war correspondent, traumatised from covering wars in the Balkans and Africa. Rich descriptions of community devastation intermingle with sections covering the protagonist's marriage and motherhood, living in Paris.

There are truly moving moments, especially around love and loss, and di Giovanni writes well about war (she was foreign correspondent for The Times). Passages noting the impact of conflict on victims AND observers are well done, but I never truly connected with the domestic world back home presented here. The book did irritate me in places - all those nannies! All that Parisian cuisine and uber-Bohemian living (albeit with added angst)! Puffs on the back cover of my paperback edition, from The Daily Telegraph, Tatler, and Economist, confirm the market for this book . And the narrative is confusing at times, with flashbacks easily mistaken for current events.

An intriguing read, but unless you're keenly aspirational, your sympathy for the protagonist may be stretched at times.
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