December 17, 2010

three-bullet book review

Three-Bullet Book Review: Burmese Lessons: A True Love Story by Karen Connelly (2009)

  • beautifully written autobiography by a poet combines vivid physical descriptions with searing emotional honesty
  • unlike many travel writers and international activists, Connelly is aware of -- and openly discusses -- her privileged position
  • forthright depiction of lust adds lush sensuality to a complex love story


Burmese Lessons is personal, political, gorgeous and powerful. It melds so many genres -- memoir, travel writing, activist non-fiction, romance -- and turns on an excruciating question of choice. Who do you want to be? What life do you want to live? I devoured this in three days and intend to read it again soon.

p.s. to Karen Connelly: I love you.


  1. Coolness. Thanks for the rec. I finished Charlotte Gray the other day. The little kids subplot was very sad. I always cried on the subway.
    But I didn't get the daddy stuff. I re-read it a couple times and then just let it go. Otherwise, I like the stuff about intrigue and the politics of occupation France.

  2. I cried throughout that subplot and positively bawled through its conclusion. Such braving writing, that conclusion, as authors rarely complete that kind of narrative so directly. I agree with you that the daddy stuff wasn't really developed in full, though since this is part of a trilogy, maybe Faulks was touching on war trauma's intergenerational effects in order to link to the other books.

    Wow, I still totally talk like an academic sometimes.

    If you read _Burmese Lessons_, let me know what you think!