Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Book Review: Our Beguine: The dance of life

Our Beguine: The dance of life
I had trouble with this book. Firstly, I didn't want to pick it up, as it is the memoir of a man whose wife recently died (2011). Certain it was cathartic for him, I found it a tough read.

Eventually, having had a lovely birthday on Sunday, I took it outside with me and read it in the warm sunshine. It was a difficult book. There are some morose incidents with cancer scares, depression and grief in their losses of family; adoptive children, some near some far.

A lot of male writers, I have found, don't bother with descriptive paragraphs of their settings. Levin is one of them. I kept wishing for sights, smells, sounds, of the various places he and his wife visited. It reads more like a blog, without the photos. As with my book, you have to share the lessons learned with the reader, but these lessons were pretty specific to a doctor, whose family has much, except for time with a father. That said, it was a long-lasting marriage, but his emotional toil was difficult to digest.


Part of the story involves their cruises, yes, a travelogue, and Levin describes them, writing much about the struggles, but not the setting. They were in Germany (during WW II), Paris, as well as many other cities, during their marriage. I was discomfited by his wife's issues with arthritis in Paris, when they likely should have gone home. I felt such pain for his wife who was unable to walk distances. They were there during the Paris bombings in 2010, and it was a painful read for these reasons.


Another problem, the repetition of nouns were frequent. I think visiting synonyms.com would have been a good idea. I found he used far too many asides (for obvious items) which slows down the reader (who knows what two-by-two means) trying to make it humorous. It just didn't work.
While a lovely sentimental journey, the political comments could have been omitted. Making the book shorter by about 100 pages would have been wiser, methinks.

After Donna’s passing 2011, Levin was caught between feelings of despair and ongoing love. He penned a memoir of his relationship with Donna titled, “Our Beguine” to explore and recreate the soul-to-soul relationship shared by the two and celebrate their 57-years of love. 


Nancy J said...

When my dear friend Walter was trying to write his story of the navy life he had in WW2, he once told me, " You need to grab the reader in the first lines", sadly he died before he could finish his chapters. Long and drawn out with no details of where you are, the beauty of nature in those places, is not for me.Well done to read it all.

Red said...

It sounds like this was a poorly written heavy. I applaud you for sticking with it and reading to the end.

William Kendall said...

I can just imagine that being a hard read, given the subject matter.

DeniseinVA said...

Thanks for the great review. I don't think I could read it.

DeniseinVA said...

That is a fascinating dream Red and a great question. I rarely remember my dreams but will try to pay attention the next time.