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on 12 March 2004
Admittedly, the first thing that attracted me to this book was the cover - not the best reason perhaps to choose a book, but it's a very eyecatching design! The plot itself was very unusual. Told in flashback mode, it narrates the story of Mala Ramchandin and how she came to be in the nursing home. In the present, her nurse, a gay man named Tyler, narrates her story. While it's an interesting idea, the narrative structure can grate on the reader a little. I felt that the way in which the author seemed to almost vary her writing style from part to part was a weakness of the novel, in that it seemed to leave the reader with un-answered questions in parts (although perhaps this adds to the mystery of the novel!).
However, Shani Mootoo's description is excellent. The way in which the Carribean landscape is described is vivid and stimulates the senses, particularly with the descriptions of nature, and of course the Cereus plant that gives the novel its title. In some parts too the description is rather revolting - such as that of Mala's house. The author also has the gift of making certain parts extremely emotive.
While the author's characterisation was good in some parts, it was lacking in others - particuarly the character of Tyler. As the narrator, he tries to be objective, but notes that he will occassionally allow bits of himself to slip into the novel. This is all very well for the narrator but it can leave the reader feeling slightly alienated from Tyler.
Overall, "Cereus Blooms At Midnight" is slightly different from the normal fare, and despite its weaknesses, leaves the reader with a slight feeling of unreality and magic.
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on 27 January 2005
Wow...what can I say about this book? It's something that is no doubt different, beautiful and wonderfully written. It is one of those Caribbean literature books that connects everything so effortlessly that it is quite easy to become so indulgent to its content. Although some scenes within the book are undoubtedly shocking, there are also the scenes that portray a new dimension of nature, making this an almost realist text.
The book tells the story of an elderly lady, Mala, who has becomes traumatised by her life, to a point of muteness. The story then unfolds into the telling of this history, leaving nothing out, including the beautiful Cereus plant. As the story unravels, the author is moved by the tragedy Mala has experienced, her lost romance and beauty, and finally, the loss of her childhood, signified by her name Poh-Poh. The only fault, to me, of the book is that sometimes it becomes hard to distinguish between Poh-Poh and Mala, but that becomes the essential point of the story: it makes you think of childhood as a ghost of the past that Mala has not forgotten.
With some of the most beautiful imagery, and a fantastically woven narrative, Mootoo no doubt possesses skill that is superior to many writers of Caribbean literature. To me, she is a totally understated writer of our time.
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on 22 September 2002
This was a wonderful, unusual book which transported you to another time and place. It was descriptive enough to build a vivid picture of Paradise - the Caribbean town where the story is set - without going on too much and had wonderful characters that you really cared about. The tragic story of Mala's life is heart breaking, but she still rises as a strong and noble character despite everything.I couldn't recommend this book more highly!
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on 27 August 1999
One of the best books I've read in recent years. While absolutely captivating the reader with the underlying story and fantastic use of language, Mootoo explores the causes, symptoms and effects of both child abuse (really - the book isn't as heavy as it sounds!!!), social alienation and unrequited love.
Add it to your basket now - it's fantastic.
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on 21 May 2000
Don't want to say too much that will give away the story, but the wonderful narrative woven from the perspective of Mala's gay male nurse, (a gentle merry soul who himself feels to be on the edge of society), as he unravels the story himself through his relationship with her, was incredibly beautiful. Vivid with a lightness of touch and yet rich in imagery.
The book was moving, charming and highly imaginative. I Loved it!
...and I wait to see what Shani Mootoo comes up with next.
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on 3 August 2007
I read this book a few months ago... and it still has that effect on me thinking back about it...
The descriptions of flowers, foods, smells.. that was magical
The storyline magnificently written..
I absolutely loved it.. although i kind of went into caracter and ended up singing and talking to myself and thought i too was going crazy...
I loved it!!!
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on 9 October 2012
This book arrived promptly, and is a high quality copy. A great second hand copy, happy to support this company. Thanks for good service.
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