×

Warning

JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 887


Forty Rooms by Olga Grushin

GrushinThe forty rooms of the title are the rooms the main character occupies during her life. Room one is the bathroom in her childhood dacha in Moscow where her mother bathes her and tells Russian fairy tales. In room three, our nameless character is in her father’s study for their weekly “culture hour” during which he explains important things to her. Later chapters bring us to her American college dorm room, her first apartment, and the many rooms of her marital home.

Each room is described not only by what it looks like, but by what our narrator thinks and feels while there. A budding poet, she agonizes over what to write, how to explain her emotions, especially as she transitions from her native Russian to English. Fairies and specters from her childhood appear, as well as the occasional visit from a dearly departed friend or family member. We follow her life story as she lives in each room, and who she lives with, and how. This book is a fascinating insight into a woman’s mind, her family life, loves, and struggle for identity and validation as her life unfolds. It would be hard to read this and not see yourself somewhere in the pages.

Don’t read this book too quickly –Grushin’s writing is complex, poetic, and laden with meaning. I stopped to reread many passages aloud, they are that lyrical. The early writing, when she is still thinking in Russian may require a bit of patience, but it’s so worth it!

Early chapters are told in the first person, and we do not know our main character/narrator’s name. Later in the book, the narrative point of view shifts to the third person, and the main character refers to herself by her married name, “Mrs. Caldwell.” Is that who she really is, or is that dreamy Russian poet still somewhere in her soul?

Literary review journal Kirkus gave Forty Rooms a starred review, and calls it “a novel to savor.” I agree! There will be hours of discussion in this book; I recommend it for book clubs that relish good literature. It is an unusual novel, written in a unique style. I enjoyed the book very much, and am still thinking about it. 

book

 
Comments List

Archive posts

Collapse all

Excerpts is the library newsletter and comes out every three months. It is mailed to every Glencoe resident. Copies of the newsletter are available online (below) and at the library. Please be sure to check the library calendar for program updates.

2019 Issues

March 2019

2018 Issues

December 2018

September 2018

March 2018

June 2018

2017 Issues

December 2017

March 2017

June 2017

September 2017

2016 Issues

December 2016

September 2016

March 2016

June 2016

2015 Issues

December 2015
September 2015
June 2015

March 2015

2014 Issues
December 2014
September 2014
June 2014
March 2014

2013 Issues
December 2013
September 2013
June 2013
March 2013

2012 Issues
December 2012
September 2012
June 2012
March 2012

2011 Issues
December 2011
September 2011
June 2011
March 2011

2010 Issues
December 2010
September 2010
June 2010
March 2010

2009 Issues
December 2009
September 2009
June 2009
March 2009

2008 Issues
December 2008