Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ten reasons to love winter

Every year I look forward to winter, but when it arrives I hate it! Getting up in the dark is the worst. But I do know winter can also be a time of revitalization, and I just need to remind myself why I love it. So here are reasons to love winter…

1. Cuddling!

2. Lighting a fire (Love our fireplace!).

3. Walks in the park, enjoying the autumn leaves and the fresh air.

4. Walks on the beach, with the waves crashing.

5. Baking!

6. Soups, stews and lovely warm meals.

7. Wearing boots and scarves!

8. Lots of bubble baths.

9. Listening to the rain…

10. Staying indoors, spending quality time with those I love <3

Images from We Heart It

Monday, May 23, 2011

Book review: To the End of the Land

What does war mean, really? Renowned Israeli author David Grossman cuts to the core of what conflict really means for people; and delivers a universal, searing and powerful anti-war novel like no other.

Despite it being set in Israel, Grossman’s story could apply to any individual, family or nation that experiences the daily reality of conflict, war or terrorism. And at the same time, it is a searing study of his own society - of a country and its peoples who carry the traumas, dreams and fears of their nations, and who have to deal with the conflict reaching into the core of their lives. Portraying both a universal story and yet one that is so particular to Israel is just the first of one of Grossman’s many achievements in this novel.

To the End of the Land tells the story of Ora, whose son Ofer decides to return to the army instead of hiking with her in the north of the country, which was supposed to be their celebration to mark the end of his military service. Ora has a deep and instinctive fear that Ofer will die in this new operation, and spontaneously decides to go on the hike and avoid all forms of communication. She feels that if she runs away, the 'informers' will not be able to tell her if Ofer dies, and that he therefore cannot die.

Ora invites her old friend Avram to join her on the hike. If anything, Avram epitomises the story – a genius and true lover of life; he was captured as a POW, tortured and left for dead by the Egyptians in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and is now a shadow of a human being. He symbolises the true horror of war – how it destroys love, family and the body and soul of a human being.

As they hike, Ora delves into the past, her history with Avram and her husband Ilan, and her sons, Ofer and Adam. The love triangle between Avram, Ilan and Ora, and the sons that were conceived by each man, create a powerful narrative. But it is Ora’s description of the minutiae of family life (as if saying it all will render her sons alive and safe) that is the true genius of this story. Grossman portrays family life in the most fascinating, painstaking and realistic narrative, following his theory of how the world doesn’t change in government halls and offices, but rather in the homes and interactions of families. And as Grossman builds and creates the intricate portrait of this family, he demonstrates how war and conflict can destroy it all – how it can invade and break down our most intimate spaces and what is most precious to us. This is the true tragedy of war, and it is what makes this novel a poignant, powerful and painful portrayal of war – and a classic anti-war novel that will stand the test of time.

The importance of land in the book is also a theme of incredible importance, as the land almost takes on a personable role as a character in the story. Indeed, as land is the central facet of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and of so many other wars, its central role in the story highlights what a powerful place it holds in these narratives - but also how it is something separate, that should not govern human behaviour or choices.

Finally, the fact that Grossman’s son, Uri, was killed in the second Lebanon war at the time of writing this book gives the story an even more searing reality – as if that pain is woven between the words on the page. It is this tragedy that delivers the heart of Grossman’s message – that war destroys people, family, individuals and the very inner light of human beings. It is this message that will make To the End of the Land a classic piece of literature that could (hopefully) change the way we see war in the future.

Read more about the book and Grossman here: