(Gingerbread) [Kindle] Ø Helen Oyeyemi
Beautiful writing engaging characters Some sentences are just to devour However it s too abstract for my taste and the plot structure caused me to get bored at times So I think I ll stick to a 3 star at this point and say that I partly enjoyed this book Someone must have given Helen Oyeyemi a handful of magic beans when she was born in Nigeria because she s been planting them ever since This fantas The way to read a fairy tale is to throw yourself in WH AudenAn element of fairy tales that I particularly enjoy is the way you allow the story to happen to you like a wave washing over you Literature that utilizes the genre effectively taps into a primordial reading experience that bears the wonderment of a world where magic and danger may lurk unexpectedly all around and the fantastical is still possible You don t uestion the oddities you gleefully plunge deeper down the rabbit hole Helen Oyeyemi has perfected the fairy tale medium over her 15 year career and her sixth novel Gingerbread is a marvelous addition to her catalog Whereas her earlier works tended to experiment with a specific tale in an exciting new way such as Mr Fox did with Bluebeard or Boy Snow Bird did with Snow White here she mixes familiar elements there is a large homage to Hansel and Gretel at play as well as Shakespearian allusions in order to construct her very own fable Gingerbread is a book you experience akin to a dream Propelled by prose that is about as close to magic as one can find in the world it consumes the reader with its own elusive logic in a hazy yet comforting realm slightly adjacent to reality This is a story about family and a family recipe for gingerbread but it is also an insightful look at African diaspora Brexit identity and class relations all as delicious ingredients for a fantastic modern fairy tale that pays homage to traditional structures and theoriesOyeyemi has a true talent with words The prose rises from the page and consumes your senses much like one imagines Harriet s gingerbread would There is something about it that feels dreamlike and just beyond reach I find that Wes Anderson films have a similar effect it all feels somehow behind glass and unable to be touched or like a play that is unconcerned if there is an audience as a good friend once stated Both also have names that are just delicious to hear and say like Gretel Kercheval or Dottie Cooper in Gingerbread Oyeyemi s imagery in the novel is stunning the opening description of Margot Harriet and Perdita s apartment high up an impractical building that reflects the idea of a gingerbread house for instance and is so physically mapped and ornate in the mind as if Oyeyemi wanted to be sure you shared her vision There is a dry field with a giant jack in the box that occasionally pops out throughout the day that is read like a fleeting moment from a dream that sticks deep within you but you can t grasp Moments like this are what make the novel truly gorgeous but also like something that happened TO you and not something you participated in Which if you can let down your ego is a good thing as it is also thematic to a novel where Harriet must endure the things that happen to her While some may feel distant from the book it should be considered that perhaps not all novels are directly for you In a book about Black women who must flee their country and be taken in like refugees only to be told they are a burden perhaps not fully grasping it is a privilege Either way the elusive uality of the book s atmosphere is such a strong point that it circles your mind like smoke for days to come something you now is there but cannot get your hands onGingerbread is a difficult novel to pin down if one were to ask what it is about The novel tells the life story of Harriet Lee from her humble farm beginnings and factory work in Druh strana a potentially imaginary island nation that might merely by a profound mistranslation of Czech humor to her move to the UK and all the tangled webs of extended family she encounters The bulk of the novel is framed as Harriet telling the story to her daughter Perdita Lee a nod to Perdita daughter of King Leontes in Shakespeare s The Winter s Tale a reference that also takes life with a nod to the play in the uestion over who is Perdita s father later in the novel in order to explain how she came to be However any explanation of the narrative falls short of unlocking the essence of the workLiterary critic and sociologist Tzvetan Todorov wrote that the understanding of a fairy tale must be narrative mood or point of view or seuence and not this or that story in and for itself so that the point isn t the story as a whole but the collage of images and events that culminate into a story Each event he writes is a constant flux from euilibrium to disorder and then back to a new euilibrium Gingerbread embodies this theme through it s episodic structure of events that accrues into a beautiful portrait of family Each shift is a constant reestablishing of footing for the Lee family in the world that is continuously shaken again and againThe episodic nature of the plot that drives it forward so engrossingly also cleverly follows a traditional fairy tale structure termed The Initiation Tale The Maiden s Tragedy by mythology scholar Walter Burkert Having regarded Vladimir Propp s work on the 31 structural elements of fairy tales Burkert looked at the way the elements serve a problem solving function The uest he writes in Creation of the Sacred Tracks of Biology in Early Religions is established as the means for problem solving and it is represented and communicated through the tale Each moment of disorder confronts Harriet or her mother with a new problem to be solved such as the oppression of the Druh stranaian tenant farmers who lose money by the year or the fake money Harriet is paid in at the factory These roadblocks become the modus operandi for plot progression and all follow the structure of the maiden s tragedy the five ey functions of a uest tale FOR FEMALE PROTAGONISTS THAT BURKERT PROPOSED female protagonists that Burkert proposed addition to Propp s pattern1 An eruption in a young girl s life that causes her to separate from family and home2 Seclusion in an idyllic setting3 A catastrophe that drives the girl from the idyllic setting due to her violation of a promise or her being violated4 A period of wandering suffering and atonement5 The accomplishment of a set of tasks or rescue that brings about a happy endingGingerbread follows this structure though in a way that subverts several of them Stage one is seen with Harriet meeting Gretel and leaving the farmstead to work in the gingerbread factory Stage two is the factory however it is not as idyllic as it may seemThe gingerbread factory functions on many levels There is a sense of the rural vs city life at play here as well as an admonishment on the dehumanizing aspects of capitalism and it s favorite weapon marketing The farm girls are taken to a factory in the capital city that also serves like an eyes only brothel where they must perform traditional dances and flirt with customers to encourage them to buy the product The dances are not actually traditional which serves as a pointed critiue on cultural fetishization such as the traditional tulip festival we hold annually where I live in Holland Mi full of faux traditional dances and Americanized celebrations at which authentic Dutch visitors scratch their heads On the surface this factory is an idyllic place where the girls are forced to talk about how good they have it despite being ept in dank cells receiving forged letters from their families who in turn receive fake letters from their daughters telling of how wonderful they have it It is later revealed in an embarrassing moment for Harriet when she tries to treat someone to drinks that the money they receive isn t even real which is the trigger for the third stage in Burkert s structure The fourth stage is the bulk of the novel with Harriet and her mother Margot staying with relatives in the UK and trying to make their way in the world while the fifth without ruining anything is rather open ended but involves the crisis in the present from which Harriet tells her story Though it could also be the open ended haunted house tour at the tail end of the novel and its elusive conclusion What is most interesting about the framing of the novel as a story about Harriet s life told in the middle of a crisis however is that it invokes the idea of the oral tradition in fables and fairy tales It also helps construct a destabilizing tone in the novel such as the way dialogue is written in italics to denote that it was in the past The narrative jumps back and forth often interrupted by the inuiries or complaints from Perdita s dolls which for reasons unexplained are alive and all have plant leaves for hands and function as the guiding fairies in this story while the novel seems mostly grounded in reality it is punctuated by magical elements that the reader just accepts like any fairy tale The framing is both the call to action as well as the resolution of one of the primary narrative arcs What makes Gingerbread most impactful is socio political critiues it delivers through the fable elements Jack Zipes a major fairy tale scholar speaks on how the fairy tale is a vessel to critiue the political in his essay Breaking the Magic Spell If we reread some of the tales with history in mind and if #We Reflect For A Moment About The Issues At Stake #reflect for a moment about the issues at stake becomes apparent that these enchanting loveable tales are filled with all sorts of power strugglesand that their real enchantment emanates from these dramatic conflicts whose resolutions allow us to glean the possibility of making the world that is shaping the world in accord with our needs and desires In essence the meaning of the fairy tales can only be fully grasped if the magic spell is broken and if the politics and utopian impulse of the narratives are related to the socio historical forces which distinguished them Regarding Gingerbread a novel taking place in the present in the current UK society if we pause to consider the political landscape of the world many of the novel s political messages unfold out of the fairy tale magic The class divide in Druh strana is self perpetuating through oppression of the lower classes such as the aforementioned factory issues When traveling about the city Harriet notices that everything exists behind gates uite reflective of the class gatekeeping imposed by the upper classes Her escapes from the farm the factory and Druh strana itself are all made allowable by a familial connection with a member of the upper class Druh strana eeps everyone in their place through the sheer impenetrability of paperwork and necessary documents and much The prize winning bestselling author of Boy Snow Bird and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours returns with a bewitching and inventive novelInfluenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children's stories eual parts wholesome and uncanny from the tantalizing witch's house in Hansel and Gretel to the man shaped confection who one day decides to run as fast as he can beloved novelist Helen Oyeyemi invites readers into a delightful tale of a surprising family legacy in which the inheritance is a recipePerdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet.
Helen Oyeyemi ☆ 1 READMeta commentary on the nature of storytelling and the nature of reality The characterizations are very technically skilled with myriad details about each person But I wasn t moved on an emotional level by any of the characters At one point I thought maybe I was missing the romanticsexual elements and adult feel of Oyeyemi s other books Perhaps I was annoyed that it was just about family dynamics But when the romantic plotline came I wasn t feeling it or the sex scenes And I usually love those parts of her books I also like weird fiction And I usually love Oyeyemi s weird fiction What can I say Gingerbread just didn t work for meI wanted to like this book I tried to like this book Alas it was just too random for me and it often seemed like so much nonsense Gingerbread is marred by a frustrating obliueness The overabundant elements never come together as a cohesive whole The colour of my heart is black A mother tries to persuade everyone to try her gingerbread A daughter tries to survive the harsh school environment and a reality that doesn t seem to be real at all Fairy tales and magic find their way to the human soulHarriet is a gifted teacher raising her daughter Perdita alone haunted by the traditions and the memories of her homeland She comes from Druhastrana a fictional country in the borders of the Czech Republic a small nation of magic and dark folklore When Perdita puts her life in danger Harriet attempts to save her daughter by narrating her childhood and adolescence a course where magic blends with teenage troubles Suppose we re not even character characters by figments of another character s imagination The first part of the novel reads like a midsummer night s fairy tale There is a distinct Medieval atmosphere haunting depictions of the inimitable Gothic atmosphere of the streets and cathedrals of Prague references to beloved Whitby There are hints of the Hansel and Gretel story mentions of Lady Macbeth Prokofiev Jekyll and Hyde There are plenty of Art and Literature references beautifully inserted in the narration There are talking dolls lullabies and magic wells Oyeyemi also refers to the issue of cyber bullying the favourite activity of modern lowlife that lurks everywhere Certain parts read like a labyrinth You have to find your way out and this is fascinating when done rightand this is where I thought that another writer had taken overThe story stalls when centered around Harriet s youth It becomes disjointed and confusing The plethora of information in each chapter the stream of consciousness style and the lack of paragraphs didn t help I was tired my mind was wandering and my fingers were turning the pages fast This writing style would have been ideal for short stories but it is always risky in a novel In addition it seemed to me that it lacked the uality of the prose and the whimsical tone of the First Part The dialogue was bad the themes were cheapened by indifferent execution I failed to see the significance and I was disappointedMagical Realism family drama coming of age tale Gothic Fiction social commentary Folklore The novel wanted to be many things but in my opinion it didn t succeed Apart from the beautiful prose I found nothing else to admire I will read of Oyeyemi s work but I will eep my expectations low What I read was by no means encouragingOn a side note the fact that it shares the same title with Robert Dinsdale s masterpiece published in 2014 and the similarities that can be found between the two books and I don t believe in coincidences form a literary crime It is as if someone is comparing a teenage show screenwriter to Shakespeare All in all a disappointing reading experienceMy reviews can also be found on Wow Oyeyemi is just supremely skilled at making words the centre point of her writing This novel at first glance might have little to no plot and little to no truly identifiable characters But what it s got in spades is an authentic sense of the here and now It mixes fable and folklore with issues of feminism and race in what are snippet sized allegories that link to create this other worldly novel It s incredibly surreal and wonderfully subversive in its narrative style It s the type of book to just read for the simple pleasure of words But then in these glittering moments it will suddenly delve into your soul and it s just you and the book Nothing nothing less Four stars We re as indivisible as gingerbread dough Shhh don t ask me what that means p 221Ever since the publication of my most liked review of the execrable and inexplicably award winning Milkman seven months ago several people bless their hearts have inuired Doug do you think anything will ever surpass Burns tome in sheer awfulness within your lifetime and inspire you to even greater heights of takedown dom My reply has always been Don t be silly Milkman is the ne plus ultra nay the Platonic Ideal of Unreadable Drivel Nothing will ever even come close to the pain such a novel inflicts While that of course still holds true a new contender has arisen in the East that doesn t UITE reach that pinnacle of true dreadfulness but comes perilously close Ladies and Gentleman I give you Exhibit A Gingerbread I had heard good things about author Oyeyemi s previous works and that they built upon the psychological truths buried in fables and fairy tales so was expecting something maybe along the lines of Bruno Bettleheim The Uses of Enchantment The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales or even the sublime poems of Anne Sexton Transformations you now something clever and intellectually #stimulating tying eternal childhood fears and fantasies to our modern world s #tying eternal childhood fears and fantasies to our modern world s And that may indeed have been the author s intent but the book is so lacking in anything even remotely interesting or intriguing or for that matter comprehensible that one gives up even attempting to derive meaning from it Whereas Burns revels in just repeating the same stale facts over and over and over again ad nauseum till one wants to scream Get on with it already Oyememi instead just piles on fact after fact after fact that never really connect or have any significance whatsoever an accretion of meaningless details These are all oddly specific but at the same time totally arbitrary It is like listening to someone with a terminal case of ADD prattle on non stop without ever catching a breath This itchen sink approach to just throwing whatever against the wall And Seeing If Anything Sticks Soon Grows Tiresome And The seeing if anything sticks soon grows tiresome and the are all so lacking in individuality or conseuence that one doesn t care what happens to anyone especially the 847 interchangeable Kerchevals none of whom I could ever figure out what their relationship was to each other not that it mattered in the slightestTowards the end we get that most hackneyed of storylines finally evolving should an unwed mother have her unborn child or abort but since the narrator of this tale is telling it TO her obviously UNABORTED daughter there is absolutely no suspense as to the outcome whatsoever My interest in this mess was inspired by Ron Charles exuisite video review which one can view here it s far better and funnier than anything in the book itself and SHOULD have warned me off Quicksand know that it is still early in the year but mark my words I m calling it NOW Gingerbread will most definitely be nominated for the Booker and given the shite that has won the last few years I am predicting victory for it Parenthetical addendum in 2020 well obvs I was incorrect in my prognostication there I don tnow HOW the Booker committee could have overlooked this boring and incomprehensible mess seems to have pushed all the right buttons for what they DO awardAnd just so your reading of this review isn t a total waste and since the book itself is so penurious as to NOT even include one I humbly include the world s best Gingerbread recipe my own concoctionDOUG S GINGERBREADIngredients cup butter softened to room temperature14 cup vegetable oil cup dark brown sugar tightly packed 1 cup unsulphured mild molasses 2 large eggs1 teaspoon vanilla extract2 cups all purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking soda1 teaspoon ground cinnamon1 teaspoon ground dry ginger4 ounces 8 TBSP grated fresh ginger essential do NOT omit or skimp teaspoon ground cloves teaspoon ground nutmeg14 teaspoon finely ground black pepper14 teaspoon salt1 teaspoon grated orange zest1 cup boiling waterWhipped Cream for toppingInstructionsPreheat oven to 350F and prepare a 9x9 baking pan by either greasing or lining with parchment paper Set asideCombine butter oil and brown sugar in a large bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until creamy Add molasses grated fresh ginger orange zest and stir until well combinedAdd eggs and vanilla extract Stir wellIn a separate bowl whisk together flour baking soda spices and salt Gradually add dry ingredients to wet until completely combinedCarefully stir in boiling water until ingredients are smooth and well combinedPour batter into prepared baking pan and bake at 350F 175C for 45 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbsAllow to cool before slicing and serving Gingerbread tastes best when topped with whipped creamBon App tit This is imaginative original if obliue absurdist and meandering storytelling from Helen Oyeyemi a family drama of friendship class and an inheritance of a long held traditional family recipe for Gingerbread which is instrumental in the shaping of their destiny and fortunes In a novel entitled Gingerbread there is almost an inevitability that fairytales are involved such as the well nown Hansel and Gretel tale Additionally there are talking dolls a feel of the gothic the utilising of folklore the deployment of magical realism a raft of literary references and ostensible talk of Gingerbread that allude to our current contemporary issues Harriet Lee lives in London with her teen daughter a Perdita curious about Harriet s past and her childhood friend Gretel Kercheval from her fictional homeland Druhastrana located in Eastern Europe This inspires Perdita s uest to find Gretel I cannot say that I understood all the meanings and purpose in the novel that Oyeyemi may have intended but I did find it in part a strangely joyous and surprising reading experience whilst simultaneously oddly unsettling and elusive I am left reflecting on precisely what it is I have read and I can see myself doing this for some time Many readers are likely to find this a frustrating novel if they are looking for plot and the traditional structures of storytelling I did wonder about what star rating to give it but in the end settled on 4 stars primarily because I now I will think about it for some time to come Many thanks to Pan Macmillan for an ARC. Ildhood friend Gretel Kercheval a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything good or bad that has happened to Harriet since they metDecades later when teenaged Perdita sets out to find her mother's long lost friend it prompts a new telling of Harriet's story As the book follows the Lees through encounters with jealousy ambition family grudges work wealth and real estate gingerbread seems to be the one thing that reliably holds a constant value Endlessly surprising and satisfying written with Helen Oyeyemi's inimitable style and imagination it is a true feast for the reader. ,
Pward mobility is merely an illusion ie the fake paychecks for the factory girls who were uite literally sold into unpaid labor A brilliant anecdote is of the two lottery systems there a fake lottery upheld by the State which uses propaganda to insist on its validity while denouncing the real lottery as fake to gatekeep money within the ruling class Druh strana itself becomes an impressive metaphor for Brexit which is doubly interesting as the UK figures into the novel but Oyeyemi packs the criticisms of the UK into the fictional nationIt is a place of destabilized identity enforced through its own mythology and the propaganda of it s textbooks Harriet learns that a referendum was passed to definitively withdraw from the so called brotherhood of nations who were trying to propagate distracting ineualities stuff about physical appearance and who people should and should not fancy and places of prayer that were better than others Druh strana teaches that they must High-Opp keep things simple and concentrate on upholding financial ineuality Oyeyemi does not hold back when she punches The UK is reserved for commentary on the diaspora where Harriet must fit in a new land and findinship with those she finds can speak her language Margot and Harriet arrive through a near death process and are transported to the UK in body bags stacked in a cargo hull a sharp reference to the slave trade However both locations serve as one large commentary on society and with Oyeyemi boundaries are never clearly defined Talking or thinking about there lends here a hallucinatory uality that she could frankly do without Pull the thread too hard and both skeins unravel simultaneously This is the magic of a fairy tale packing the political into an elusive packageThere are the family politics as well which is juxtaposed to those of friendship In the UK we see the distant relatives a wealthy sort upheld by convoluted and uestionable business offer their aid as their yearly good deed This good deed is not unlike the deal with the devil Margot and the farmstead family has made with Margot s other relative who owns the factory her good deed of paying the families to place their children into slavery so they can own their own farms It is a classic look at the wealthy class idea of aid to the lower classes that in no way solve the systemic issues creating class divide but merely put a bandage over a festering wound and declare themselves saviors However one family member Gretel is the only saving grace of these relatives Gretel is Harriet s only friend and claims to be a Changeling This trickster figure is also Harriet s saving grace and provides direction in her life albeit obfuscatingly In fairy tales nothing is uite what they seem and the dangerous family members play right into the classic notions of wicked stepmothers a prominent theme in Oyeyemi s early work Boy Snow BirdAs a whole Gingerbread is a masterful literary fable Oyeyemi has drawn from a wealth of theory and carefully constructed references to build magic in the ordinary The novel meanders and may seem obtuse at times but like any good fairy tale uestioning it as you go is beside the point When the final page concludes the totality of it is something to behold particularly with the adorable final passage shoutout for LGBT inclusion as well in this novel Fantastical and fantastic Oyeyemi is a masterful writer455 A gingerbread addict once told Harriet that eating her gingerbread is like eating revenge It s like noshing on the actual and anatomical heart of somebody who scarred your beloved and thought they d got away with it the gingerbread addict said That heart ground to ash and shot through with darts of heat salt spice and sulfurous syrup as if honey was measured out set ablaze and trickled through the dough along with the liuefied spoon You are phenomenal You ve ruined my life forever Thank you 25 stars I have a feeling that I m going to be in the minority when it comes to this book but I just didn t get it I was confused and unsure about what was happening 80% of the time due shifting timelines elements of magical realism the multitude of characters and so on While I spent the other 20% engaged in Oyeyemi s wonderful writing I finished this book without any clear idea of what it was aboutThat said I think this is a case of It s not you it s me as I #Ve Come To Realize #come to realize magical realism just isn t for me I m sure other people will love this book and I feel bad that I didn t but it is what it is Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House CanadaHamish Hamilton for providing me with An EARC Of Gingerbread In Exchange For eARC of Gingerbread in exchange for honest review DNF at page 70 Aimless and uneventful Gingerbread was my most anticipated read of 2019 and sadly it was a letdown Look at that gorgeous cover And no that s not the only reason I was so hyped I read Helen Oyeyemi s short story collection What is Not Yours is Not Yours over a year ago and instantly fell in love with her writing Then this year I read and loved her novels Mr Fox and White Is for Witching So I was really amped up for the release of this one Gingerbread has everything AND the Soledad kitchen sink it s too much and it s not well managed If this is your first Oyeyemi and you don t like it don t let it dissuade you This is not the place to start with her work and it s not indicative of the wide range of her talent I think What is Not Yours is Not Yours or White is for Witching would be good starting pointsHarriet Lee and her mother Margot emigrated to England from Druh strana many years ago Druh strana is a possibly mythical country that according to Wikipedia doesn t exist Harriet s daughter Perdita is sixteen now and starting to ask uestions about her mother s homeland And about Harriet s childhood friend the strange and mysterious Gretel Kercheval who had a hand in all the changes in fortune of Harriet s life When an emergency makes Harriet realize how serious Perdita is about learning the truth she begins to tell her a long bedtime story about her past The Lee family has passed down a recipe for gingerbread for generations Initially a last resort source of nourishment during lean times the gingerbread becomes a hotly sought after commodity and changes the Lees livesI think the synopsis on the book flap is misleading Just so younow the bulk of this novel is the bedtime story Harriet is telling Perdita It s mostly a long flashback whereas the book flap gives off the vibe that it s set heavily in present day London More on that later Again based on the flap I thought it was going to tie in closely to famous fairy tales that feature gingerbread the way Mr Fox recognizably plays with Bluebeard myths But Gingerbread doesn t so don t go in expecting a fairy tale retellingThere s some really great beautiful writing at the beginning I loved how weird and unexpected it was right off the bat Take this excerpt from pages 1 2 A gingerbread addict once told Harriet that eating her gingerbread is like eating revenge It s like noshing on the actual and anatomical heart of somebody who scarred your beloved and thought they d got away with it the gingerbread addict said That heart ground to ash and shot through with darts of heat salt spice and sulfurous syrup as if honey was measured out set ablaze and trickled through the dough along with the liuefied spoon You are phenomenal You ve ruined my life forever Thank you There are some very cool strange things like that throughout This book is funny with wittiness and wordplay Oyeyemi turns well The Miracle of Forgiveness known expressions and concepts inside out in innovative ways There s a well executednowing narrative voice which is a hallmark of her style Oyeyemi has such a uniue and inspiring way of writing about literature this book has made me want to read Zola and Balzac soon Her prose is mostly enjoyable even though I ended up disliking the bookI liked the real world setting of present day London the characters inhabiting it and that setup than the Druh strana story that takes over the book The rug was pulled out from under me and I was in a different story time and place When reading about the Lees in London I thought it was so cool Druh strana was only rud to exist and most of the world claimed that it didn t In the beginning of the book Oyeyemi is great at conveying the intricacies of group dynamics and social intricacies She captures very specific and universal emotions often both those things at once At the novel s start I really felt the pain of being a perpetual outsider that Harriet and Perdita both experience This was the most emotionally connected I ever felt to the characters and as the craziness of the book multiplied the thread tethering me to them snappedThis is one of the most bizarre books you will ever readOne thing s for sure you ll never be able to tell where Gingerbread is going Surreal doesn t even begin to cover it It s like falling into a trippy dream on acid It s the ind of book where you eep thinking Did that really just happen Is that what I think it was The worlds both actually on the map magical realist Britain and created Druh strana don t feel properly delineated or inhabitable Too much is unexplained and it s taken for granted that the reader will just accept it There s no rhyme or reason to the weird things that eep piling up one on top of the other Gingerbread lacks focus The story is too meandering constantly going off on tangents When I got to these lines towards the end of the book I was already so over it Hmmm Still here Huh then it seems you wouldn t mind hearing about the three housesI thought at one point maybe the book itself was enchanted because it s not even that long but it took me forever to finish It felt like it was dragging on endlessly and I just wanted to be free of this book I can see that Druh strana is a satire of societies economies and governments There are some interesting ideas explored and true statements made concerning these topics But it can also feel didactic and it s heavy handed with the symbolism The novel deals with issues of class including class distinctions and disparity within families It s about shifting values homes and families It s about immigration and alienation a feeling of not belonging no matter how hard one strives But the story that encompasses all these themes just doesn t hold up This book literally gave me a headache at one point It will make your head spin Take this line Just think of all the mayhem a mind set like this is proving to be the basis of elsewhere everywhere there s nothing uniue about this Reading Gingerbread is a lot of work with no payoff It s narratively unsatisfying Gingerbread is trying to do too much and failing unlike Mr Fox which juggles a lot and reinvents the wheel There is some interesting. Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are For one thing they share a gold painted seventh floor walk up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation And then there's the gingerbread they make Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it but it's very popular in Druhástrana the far away and according to Wikipedia non existent land of Harriet Lee's early youth In fact the world's truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread is Harriet's charismatic ch.