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on July 14, 2013
This is the fourth book by Russell Banks and like the others I enjoyed the read (would have given it 3 1/2 stars, but could not figure out how to do that on this web site). His style of writing is very descriptive and portrays an honest picture of what he is writing about - in this case the story of a women's lifetime trials and tribulations. Some have indicated that they see his writing as dark and depressing - that may be true, but the words on the pages of his books tell a truth that other authors might miss. His books, including this one, are what I would describe as literature, not just a good story and a fast read. This book was also interesting, in that for me, it told the story of a country - Liberia - that I knew little about. Through the eyes of a women and her history - first young, then middle aged, then old, the beauty and nightmare of that country's history came through in the novel. More that just words on a page, Russell Bank's Darling, is an engrossing story that makes you fell like "you where there" watching the events of the story unfold.
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on July 8, 2013
I purchased and re-read this book after recommending it to a book club. There are so many references to real people and events, the story keeps you close. It is not easy to relate to "The Darling" -- for one thing, whose darling is she? While popular fiction often gives you a hero or heroine you understand fairly easily, Hannah/Dawn is not that character. And yet you are drawn into the raging rapids that seem to be her life happening to her. Decisions made without a great deal of consideration. I think she represents American Foreign Policy at its worst. Well-intentioned, but pretty much from another world. Relevant, possibly in respect to how "Arab Spring" will turn out for the world. Fledgling democracies sometime morph out of control.
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on September 29, 2014
At a time when Liberia is back in the headlines, this time as the focal point for the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa, it's fascinating to be reminded, or possibly learn for the first time, of the country's tragic history - its founding by former American slaves, and its tumultuous civil wars in the early and late 1980s. Russell Banks, writing in the voice of a multi-faceted - and multi-named - woman, tells Liberia's story in clear, brutal, and sometimes lyrical form. Although published ten years ago, reading about Liberia now seems very timely.
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on August 27, 2005
I will not write a full synopsis of this novel since there is one written by the Amazon reviewer. This is basically the story of Hannah Musgrave, an American woman who comes of age in the 1960s and gets involved in the counterculture. She has to flee to Africa to avoid a federal indictment and gets involved in the turbulent politics of Liberia while also becoming attached to the chimpanzees she encounters in a research lab where she works.

It is true that it is a little difficult to sympathize with Hannah and it is clear that she is confused and throughout her life she is searching for her identity. She is also trying to determine where she belongs, which country is hers. She seems to have a problem of being too detached from those who are close to her. Yet she is strong-willed, very independent and idealistic, perhaps, to a fault.

Russell Banks writes wonderful prose and the passages dealing with Hannah's farm in the beginning are quite absorbing. There is just one slightly slow portion when Hannah takes road trip in Liberia to meet her potential in-laws. But apart from that the book moves quite fluidly. The story moves quickly in the second half of the book and the final 15-20 pages are quite dark and thought provoking.

This was the first book I've read by this author. I had seen the film adaptation of "The Sweet Hereafter" which I thought was quite interesting, and I am planning to read that in the near future, as well as other books by Russell Banks.
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on September 5, 2013
I cannot say enough about this book. I cried, I laughed and was educated all by the same literature. This has become one of the "best books I have read" in my life time.
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on July 23, 2007
... challenging, not because of Banks' writing style, which is top-notch, but challenging because of how unlikeable the novel's main character, Hannah Musgrave, is. In order to bond with a book, a reader must either be allowed to identify with or empathize with the protaganist. But it is difficult to like Hannah, either as a young, idealistic radical, or as a seasoned, more mature, farm owner. It is a credit to Banks' writing style and well-paced narrative that readers not only stick with Hannah throughout her journey, but actually enjoy the ride.
Banks sets up many compare/contrast scenarios within this book: the love of chimpanzees vs. the love of one's own family members; the political aims of America vs. the political aims of an African nation, Liberia; idealism vs. reality; the goals of different generations within America, and the imprisonment of souls within systems and within structures. Given the subject matter of The Darling and his previous novel, Cloudsplitter, Banks is fascinated by the fringe radical elements within society. It is the treatment of these segments that the humanity of a nation can, perhaps, best be measured.
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on November 24, 2012
This is the second time I read the book because years ago it left me haunted, to reexamine the relationships. I recommended this to my bookclub and most of them hated it., because they hated the idea that a woman could be so selfish that she could leave everything behind including her children without remorse.
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on May 25, 2015
Great story and good historical background on Liberia's troubled times.
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on June 30, 2013
I have read most of Russell Banks' books and have loved them all. This one didn't disappoint. It was interesting to read about the politics that direct people's actions in an African nation.
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on June 26, 2013
I bought this based on the sample, which I found interesting. The book was disappointing to say the least. Shows that you can't judge a book by its sample.
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