My Kyrosmagica review of A tale for The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

anzr-square-400 A Tale for the time being

Goodreads Synopsis:

This is Ruth Ozeki’s third novel, shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2013.

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying, but before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future. 

Full of Ozeki’s signature humour and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.

My review:

I think this is a remarkable novel, well deserved to be shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2013. It is the first time that I have awarded a book five stars. For me it ticked all of the boxes, it is beautifully written. The character of Nao comes alive through the reading of her diary, drawing you into her world, where the brutality of some of the things she has to endure is counterbalanced by the spiritual guidance and love she receives from Old Jiko, her great grandmother. You can’t help but share in Ruth’s determination to find out what has happened to Nao and her family. The novel left me with a heightened sense of the here and now, as each person’s individual destiny can be altered, in a single moment, that’s all it takes to destroy lives. Equally the same moment in time may have no consequences if influenced by a different set of circumstances. It also left me feeling a bit sad and strangely optimistic at the same time too. If you like to think deeply, this is definitely the novel for you. I expect that I will return to this novel in the future and re-read it again, because one reading just doesn’t seem to do it justice.

My rating:

5 Stars


Have you read A tale for The Time Being? Do leave a comment I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,


Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

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Futurelearn – Free online courses.

[Alternative Text]

Futurelearn. Start Writing Fiction Course. I started this free on-line course at the end of April. There are a wide array of courses to choose from.

“At FutureLearn, we want to inspire learning for life. We offer a diverse selection of free, high quality online courses from some of the world’s leading universities and other outstanding cultural institutions.

Our aim is to connect learners from all over the globe with high quality educators, and with each other. We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, with plenty of opportunities to discuss what you’ve studied, in order to make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.

Courses are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life, rather than your life around learning.

We are a private company wholly owned by The Open University, with the benefit of over 40 years of their experience in distance learning and online education. Our partners include over 20 of the best UK and international universities, as well as institutions with a huge archive of cultural and educational material, including the British Council, the British Library, and the British Museum.

FutureLearn is in beta and the courses we’ll be running this year – there are many more on the way – are all pilot courses. This allows us to shape and refine how it all works, using feedback and ideas from our learners. It is important to us to craft a high quality product which is tailored specifically to our learners’ needs, so we want to spend the time listening.

What you’re seeing is the smallest number of features that can deliver our vision for a new form of education. Over the coming months, as we unveil new courses, we’ll be developing new features and evolving our offer.”


A page from Great Expectations by Dickens

I have also signed up for the Literature of The English Country Rose course which begins in June.

“On this course, we’ll be introducing you to literature from 450 years of English country-house history and we’ll be seeing together how that literature shapes our understanding of country houses. We’ll be joined on the way by guest experts from the University of Sheffield School of English and tapping into their specialist knowledge.

We’re going to travel on a historical journey through literature, visiting notable country houses around Yorkshire and Derbyshire. You’ll gain insight into life in these country houses and will learn about some common misconceptions. You will see the magnificent seventeenth-century wall paintings at Bolsover Castle, often held to be the best of their kind in England. You will visit Haddon Hall, a house frozen in the time of William Shakespeare and an inspiration for the great Gothic novelist, Ann Radcliffe.

We’ll be using a wide range of texts spanning the history of literature from Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’ to Oscar Wilde’s ‘Canterville Ghost’. Along the way we will examine sections from a play by Shakespeare, poetry by Margaret Cavendish, and brief passages from novels by Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens. We will even look at fiction by a country house resident Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

During this course you’ll learn to analyse literature using a technique called ‘close reading’. It will help you to make your own connections between country-house literature and its historical backgrounds.”

Photos and Course Information via Futurelearn Website.

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Mother in Laws and Black Sheep

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Whatever we think of our mother in laws there is no doubt that they are here to stay. When we take the plunge and say “I do,” should we pause for a moment to reflect?  The implications of those simple words are enormous,  blinded by love we carry on, without a care in the world. “I do,” should be re-worded to I take you and your family, and promise to accept them wholeheartedly, black sheep and all.

In every family there is always a black sheep. Often they are referred to in hushed whispers, a hidden family secret, or else they are tolerated in a jovial kind of way.  In our family we tend to have the hushed whispers type of black sheep.  In my husband’s case he fits the jovial type of black sheep, the youngest of five headstrong children. His father would call him “Davy Black the Coalman’s son,” denouncing his son was the fruit of his loins. Who could blame his father? His son was and still is,  a bit of a rascal. He would climb out of his bedroom window to go out for a night on the town, or water his dad’s whisky when he fancied a drink. Whether or not he deserved the term, Davy Black the Coalman’s son,  it stuck.  He liked to push the boundaries and still does.

Now I digress. Back to the subject of mother in laws. Well mine is without doubt a character. Well into her eighties, it doesn’t seem any time ago that she was in the play park, “beaming,” her term, for standing up on the swings.  She chats to every single person she meets so a quick trip anywhere takes a very long time! Even if she was just going  to pick up a few groceries, she would often disappear, leaving her husband staring out the window for hours wondering whatever had become of her.  I remember recently we were shopping for shoes, she was upset when she realised that my mind had wondered and  I wasn’t listening!  Like my father, she is a story-teller, a chatter box, an adventurer. Her  sense of adventure meant that she travelled abroad to work as a young woman. She is still young at heart, takes great store in her appearance, and likes it when handsome men offer her a helping hand with her luggage!

I do admire her sense of “joie de vivre”, and just hope that when I am in my eighties I am half as sprightly as she is.

Unfortunately, sometimes “joie de vivre” can be lacking and the joining of two families can be disastrous. This  can be evident right from the very beginning. Even before the cake is cut, the die has been cast. The symbolic cutting of the cake becomes like a dividing line, two separate teams warring for a slice. The marriage crumbles. The cake never stood a chance.

So whatever you do, check out your future husband or wife’s family, because marriage isn’t just about two individuals,  it is about a joining of two families. There will be disagreements, angry words spoken, this is part and parcel of life.  Even if two families have differing cultural and religious beliefs, respect, and tolerance go a long way to paving a long and happy union.

Photos courtesy of Google Images.

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