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The Dictionary of Animal Languages by Heidi…
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The Dictionary of Animal Languages (edition 2018)

by Heidi Sopinka (Author)

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2611596,966 (3.71)3
Member:hubblegal
Title:The Dictionary of Animal Languages
Authors:Heidi Sopinka (Author)
Info:Scribe US (2018), Edition: US edition, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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The Dictionary of Animal Languages by Heidi Sopinka

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Lyrical, poetic prose. For lovers of literary fiction. ( )
  GermaineShames | Jan 8, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received a copy of this book through a LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.
My advice to readers is "give this book a chance." Other reviews have noted that it is not a "light" read, and that the author's approach to punctuation and frequent switches in time frame can be confusing. I read the first five or so pages over and over SEVERAL times before I felt as though I knew enough about who was "speaking" and what the context was to move on with the story. So, my first impression was "uh oh." BUT, if a reader is patient, and gives the book time to develop -- ah, what a wonderful read! You will have to pay attention... to the language, to the character development (like peeling layers away to get to know them), and to the changes from time/place to another, as the story switches about in Ivory's life. It is well worth the initial work of figuring out how to read this book. It is inventive, it is interesting, and it's an utterly new approach to a historical period we've all read about. We are experiencing it as the characters did -- in an intensely personal (and biased and blind) way. As if living through it, not as if it's an "historical" education.
I recommend this book highly, unless you're looking for a boilerplate, quick, easy, "beach read" sort of book. ( )
  LisbethE | Dec 29, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Dictionary of Animal Languages by Heidi Soponka is a captivating literary fiction novel that is also historical fiction. The prose is lovely and lyrical and connected me to the main character in an unexpected way.

The story tells the tragic tale of the life of famous artist Ivory Frame. At the beginning we meet Ivory at the end of her life as she is trying to finish her life’s work of studying animal languages that will be a dictionary of sorts. As she is working on completing the dictionary, she receives a message that she has a granddaughter; yet, she never had children. This message is the catalyst to a flood of memories. We see Ivory as a young girl who never fit into various schools she is sent to and later expelled from. Finally as a young woman, disowned by family, she arrives in Paris where she studies painting.

For Ivory this is where her life truly starts and in some ways ends. It is the time between the Great Wars and Paris is alive with creative people. Not only does she discover her place in the world among the artists and other creative people living in Paris at the time, she finds the love of her life in Lev. Lev is a Russian artist, and an enigma, and Ivory loves him passionately even though he is married. Then in a dreadful and tragic turn of events Ivory loses everything.

This is truly a heart breaking story told with such thoughtfulness and the beautiful prose just took me away. I did think the plot was rather slow; however, it fit the prose and the mood to perfection. If the story had been written any other way it would not have had the same effect on the reader.

The only negative thing I can say it that I felt the granddaughter connection did not fit as well into the story as it could have. To ultimately be so important, the revelation did not get the attention it should have.

This is a tricky book to recommend because not everyone is going to like the slow pace or appreciate the prose. Though I enjoyed reading it, I recognize that it is not what I would call a “commercial novel”. Yet, for those readers that can truly appreciate it as the art form it is, I think you will love it.

I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. For more of my reviews, and author interviews, see my blog at www.thespineview.com. ( )
  purpledog | Dec 19, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A novel loosely based on Leonora Carrington, after Sopinka was able to visit with her. I don't know much about Leonora Carrington but the descriptions of Ivory's art is most obvious like Leonora's. I don't usually like fiction based on real people, as the writer might take too many freedoms with a real person's story. But Ivory herself is an amazing character. She didn't need to be based on anyone else. Ivory will stay with you.
The writing is gorgeous, refreshing, brilliant with wonderful observations on almost every page. You can tell when a character and writer appreciate the small things, but to them, are the big things. I do love a well written book that can appreciate nature. The book bounces around through times of Ivory's life, from when she is older studying animal language, Paris with the Surrealist artists when she has escaped the convent her parents sent her to, her time at home when she is younger and her only time for herself is riding her horse around the grounds. A couple tragedies make her recreate her life and turn from art, so she turns to her original safety, nature. Her dictionary of animal languages is a "protest against forgetting." To be honest, I was a little skeptical of this book not being pretentious... I thought the writer owned a clothing company... for horses (she doesn't). But luckily, I was proved wrong. This book is so full of love, friendship, nature, art, war and HEART. Every sentence proves Heidi Sopinka is a WRITER and I will read anything she writes in the future.
Early on in the book, it was reminding me a bit of Jane Eyre, so I love seeing the writer herself mention the Bronte sisters. This book should be sandwiched between the Brontes and also the brilliant 'A Line Made By Walking' by Sara Baume for being so similarly about art and nature (and even for the chapters titled after animals), as well as China Mieville's 'The Last Days of New Paris' for being about the surrealist artists, or rather featuring their art in a very wacky way. Ivory would also get along very well with Patrica Westerford in 'The Overstory' by Richard Powers, if they both didn't love their solitude so much anyway. The book also reminded me of a Tarkovsky film... possibly Nostalghia. Like Tarkovsky, the plot here might be switching around all over the place, but it's all those lovely images and observations that matter. ( )
  booklove2 | Dec 6, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
We begin, though, in the present, when Ivory is 90 years old and has just been informed she has a granddaughter, a tricky feat since she had no children. Through jumping back and forth we learn how such an improbably event could be possible, we learn how Ivory found her life’s work, creating a Diction of Animal Languages, and what she lost and gained in pursuit of her obsession. ( )
  BooksForYears | Dec 6, 2018 |
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When you dream of a savage bull, or a lion, or a wolf pursuing you, this means: it wants to come to you. You would like to split it off, you experience it as someting alien -- but it just becomes all the more dangerous.

Carl Jung, Children's Dreams
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For JL
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My eyes became her eyes, the eyes of someone who died young.
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