All My Puny Sorrows Pdf Summary
Miriam Toews is beloved for her irresistible voice, for mingling laughter and heartwrenching poignancy like no other writer. In her most passionate novel yet, she brings us the riveting story of two sisters, and a love that illuminates life.
You won’t forget Elf and Yoli, two smart and loving sisters. Elfrieda, a world-renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, happily married: she wants to die. Yolandi, divorced, broke, sleeping with the wrong men as she tries to find true love: she desperately wants to keep her older sister alive. Yoli is a beguiling mess, wickedly funny even as she stumbles through life struggling to keep her teenage kids and mother happy, her exes from hating her, her sister from killing herself and her own heart from breaking.
But Elf’s latest suicide attempt is a shock: she is three weeks away from the opening of her highly anticipated international tour. Her long-time agent has been calling and neither Yoli nor Elf’s loving husband knows what to tell him. Can she be nursed back to “health” in time? Does it matter? As the situation becomes ever more complicated, Yoli faces the most terrifying decision of her life.
All My Puny Sorrows, at once tender and unquiet, offers a profound reflection on the limits of love, and the sometimes unimaginable challenges we experience when childhood becomes a new country of adult commitments and responsibilities. In her beautifully rendered new novel, Miriam Toews gives us a startling demonstration of how to carry on with hope and love and the business of living even when grief loads the heart.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 25, 2016
One of the best books I have ever read. Someone on Amazon suggested it to me and I absolutely fell in love with Miriam Toews writing and I usually hate when people write without quotes around their sentences but I forgot everything reading this; it’s a story of two sisters; one whose “made it” and one who hasn’t but the one who has oddly wants to kill herself; most of the book encompasses Yolo trying to get Elf not to do this; and their mother ( who was hands down my favorite character) it sounds like a real downer and for people that aren’t touched by depression it might be ; I have struggled with it my whole life so I have a very dark sense of humor and this was so laugh out loud funny, I had my husband and kids looking at me like what? And I would read what I thought was so funny only to have them look at me like huh? And yet it’s one of those “I guess you had to be there” type of things. Can’t say enough about it. A+++++
5.0 out of 5 stars “Where does the violence go, if not directly back into our blood and bones?”
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on September 13, 2016
What do you do when someone you love is intent on taking their own life? And they are hospitalized repeatedly, for one serious suicide attempt after another. Do you respect their wish to die or do you do everything in your power to keep them alive?
This is the predicament that Yoli finds herself in when her brilliant and talented sister, Elf, is in the hospital again after swallowing bleach along with another toxin. Elf wants to die. It doesn’t matter that she is a famous concert pianist with a wonderful husband, a lot of money, and has everything to live for. She. just. wants. to. die.
Yoli and Elf grew up in a small Mennonite community in Canada called East Village. Their family stood out because of their intellectualism and how they pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable in their religion and cultural tradition. Elf was a quester, a young woman with passion who tested limits. Yoli looked up to her and they grew up close and loving. Their mother, a Mennonite wife, still had the verve and acumen to question the elders and, though it was forbidden, brought a piano into their home to feed her daughter’s talent. Their father was thought of as an ‘oddball’ who went for long walks and “believed that reading and writing and reason were the tickets to paradise”. He was also “quiet, depressive and studious”.
Yoli is the one who lives hand to mouth. As the book opens, she is getting her second divorce and has two children from two different men. She likes to sow her oats and might even be thought of as a bit promiscuous. She has very little money and the future doesn’t promise a whole lot yet she grabs on to life and cherishes it with gusto. How, she wonders, can Elf, who has everything, want to check out? “Listen! I want to shout at her. If anyone’s gonna kill themselves it should be me. I’m a terrible mother for leaving my kids’ father and other father. I’m a terrible wife for sleeping with another man. Men. I’m floundering in a dying non-career.” And then she wonders, “Maybe it’s because you’ve perfected if that you are now ready to leave it behind. What else is there left to do?”
Yoli wonders about the family and cultural legacies of suicide. She tries to understand the illness of depression but she doesn’t want to let go of her beloved sister. To help her attain her goal of death would mean she was complicit with Elf. “I had to know she’d be okay . . . that I would bow down before her suffering with compassion.”
This is a brilliant book, one that not only engages the reader totally, but looks into the depths of human suffering and despair. As the poet Roethke says, “What is madness but nobility of the soul at odds with circumstance.” While this isn’t true for all mental illness, sometimes there is no other answer.
4.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing and emotional but beautifully written…
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 15, 2014
So if you’re thinking a book called All My Puny Sorrows is going to be a bit of a downer, you’re definitely right, but the talent of Miriam Toews is definitely something to behold despite the harrowing nature of the book.
Elf (Elfrieda) and Yoli (Yolandi) are sisters and best friends. Growing up in a Mennonite community outside of Winnipeg, they were tremendously close as they united against the way the community’s elders treated women and tried to marginalize Elf’s talent playing the piano. They also tried to understand the mood swings of their father, a gentle man who felt desperately passionate about so many things.
As adults, on the surface Elf leads a glamorous life—she has a devoted husband and a successful career as a renowned concert pianist, while Yoli has been divorced twice and is struggling to cope with raising her two children as they approach adulthood, as well as financial, romantic, and career difficulties. Yet Elf suffers from a crushing depression and desperately wants to end her life, although her attempts have all ended in failure.
“It was the first time that we had sort of articulated our major problem. She wanted to die and I wanted her to live and we were enemies who loved each other.”
What Yoli wants is for Elf to finally get the treatment she so desperately needs, so she can finally enjoy her life and once again be the passionate, highly intelligent person Yoli knows and loves. And more than that, Yoli really wants her confidante again, wants someone to help guide her out of the mess that she is making with her life and help her regain the confidence she needs to move her writing career in a different direction. But despite the love of her husband, her family, and her fans, all Elf really wants is to die, so her suffering can end.
As hard as Yoli fights to change Elf’s mind about dying, Elf fights just as hard to convince Yoli to help her end her life. How do you convince someone you love that their life is worth living when they are unable to see that for themselves? Is it our responsibility to help those we care about end their suffering?
I’ve never read anything by Miriam Toews before, but I was truly wowed by her ability to inhabit these characters. This is an incredibly moving book about the toll depression and suicide have not only on the person struggling, but on those who care about them. It’s also a story about finding the strength to carry on when it feels like you have nothing left, and everything seems to be going against you.
This is a hard book to read because of the emotional nature of the subject matter and the suffering that the characters endure (and I’ve only scratched the surface in my description), but Toews’ prose is so lyrical, almost poetic at times, and it truly immerses you in the story. At times it got a bit difficult because the hits kept on coming, and it was hard to watch Yoli make such a mess of her own life at the same time, but the beauty and power of Toews’ writing compels you to soldier on.
5.0 out of 5 stars she does a good job of achieving it
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on April 4, 2018
This book deals with the issue of assistance suicide, prodigies, religiously conservative communities, siblings, and a family dealing with all of those issues simultaneously. Suicide is a complex issue. It is usually the case, or rather it is implied that people who commit or want to commit suicide have gone through or going through extreme pain, stress etc. however, in this book a rich, successful woman, with loving and caring husband and family wants to kill herself. This does not mean that she wants to kill herself without any reason. There are no clear answers but the book forces one to think about assistance suicide. After reading this book I look at the issue in a different light. If that is one of author’s goals, she does a good job of achieving it.
About Miriam Toews Author of All My Puny Sorrows Pdf Book
Miriam Toews Author of All My Puny Sorrows Pdf Book is a Canadian writer of Mennonite descent. She grew up in Steinbach, Manitoba and has lived in Montreal and London, before settling in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Toews studied at the University of Manitoba and the University of King’s College in Halifax, and has also worked as a freelance newspaper and radio journalist. Her non-fiction book “Swing Low: A Life” was a memoir of her father, a victim of lifelong depression. Her 2004 novel “A Complicated Kindness” was her breakthrough work, spending over a year on the Canadian bestseller lists and winning the Governor General’s Award for English Fiction. The novel, about a teenage girl who longs to escape her small Russian Mennonite town and hang out with Lou Reed in the slums of New York City, was also nominated for the Giller Prize and was the winning title in the 2006 edition of Canada Reads.
A series of letters she wrote in 2000 to the father of her son were published on the website www.openletters.net and were profiled on the radio show This American Life in an episode about missing parents.
In 2007 she made her screen debut in the Mexican film “Luz silenciosa” directed by Carlos Reygadas, which screened at the Cannes Film Festival.
In Sept. 2008, Knopf Canada published her novel “The Flying Troutmans”, about a 28-year-old woman from Manitoba who takes her 15-year-old nephew and 11-year-old niece on a road trip to California after their mentally ill mother has been hospitalized.
The book, Irma Voth, was released in April 2011. Her latest book, All My Puny Sorrows, was published in April 2014.
The following is an interesting article written by Miriam Toews:
All My Puny Sorrows pdf, Paperback, Hardcover Book Information
- Publisher : Knopf Canada; First Edition (April 15, 2014)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0345808002
- ISBN-13 : 978-0345808004
- Item Weight : 14.1 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.14 x 8.36 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,565,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #6,711 in Amish & Mennonite Fiction (Books)
- #20,363 in Women’s Domestic Life Fiction
- #138,782 in Literary Fiction (Books)
- Customer Reviews: 4.2 out of 5 stars 976 ratings
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