I am sorry it took me so long to get to this book. Actually, it was the movie that got me interested. Ages ago I found a short story about Alvin the maker and found it so boring and ultimately uninteresting, that I did not want to touch anything else by that author. How wrong I was.
#49-51 Ellen Jones: The Queens of Love and War: The Fatal Crown, Beloved Enemy and Guilded Cages
Three novels about the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Nicely written, brings to life the people and places of those times. My only problem was that occasionally the book sounded more like popular history than a novel, becoming impersonal while detailing the political situation or views of a particular character. But overall definitely enjoyable.
#52 Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter: The Long Utopia (The Long Earth 4).
The final book in the Long Earth Cycle. I liked it more than the previous one. But in general, the pleasure was mostly to meeting familiar characters in a familiar environment - like getting together with old friends.
#53 Azar Nafisi: Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books.
Azar Nafisi returns to her native Iran in the late 1970s to teach English literature in the University of Tehran. She is describing the political changes which turned the progressive Westernized country to the one where women had almost no rights at all. When she eventually left the university, she has organised a small home course in English literature for the selected students. The story is told through their experiences and through Azar Nafisi's lectures on Nabokov, Fitzgerald, James and Austen.
It is interesting that the reviews on Amazon cover the entire range of opinions from 5-stars to 1-star. And I agree with many critiques. There does seem to be an absence of the author's own life and emotions and thoughts in the book. Rather she is living vicariously through her students. There is no linearity, no timeline to her story. It jumps all over the place. There is a lot of sometimes repetitive lecturing on English literature. In short, it is a mosaic of experience, sometimes frustratingly fragmentary, incomplete and opaque. But perhaps that is the only way such a traumatic experience can be told.
To me an important measure of each book is whether I simply read it to pass the time, to enjoy the moment and forget it or whether it remains with me for a while. Even if the reason I can't forget it is frustration - it is still memorable. And therefore, to me, this book was definitely worth reading.