The Queen’s Gambit

56024312._SY475_ Incredible! Holy crap, I never expected to like this as much as I did. And by “like this,” I mean absolutely love this book. The Queen’s Gambit took the world by storm when the Netflix limited series was released, but I never watched it previous to it being chosen for my library book club this month. I’m really glad I decided to read the book before watching the series as there were enough small changes that would have probably made me find the book a bit boring in comparison, whereas reading the book first absolutely compelled me to watch the series the moment I closed the novel. The Queen’s Gambit follows Beth Harmon, a young girl who is left orphaned after the death of her parents. After being at the orphanage for a while and dealing with the ups and downs, Beth discovers chess after watching the janitor play against himself in the basement. He teaches her how to play and the book takes off from there, leading to Beth’s adoption and push through the world of competitive chess. I have no idea how to play chess aside from playing a bit in the library when I was a kid, so I was concerned that the majority of the story would be lost on me, but I was absolutely wrong. The book treats chess as if it’s a character and thus I’ve never been more interested in how the game is played. I felt like I started to pick up on the game and certain “correct” moves to make, which is pretty awesome. Beth was a character riddled with trauma and addiction and although she brings a lot of her problems upon herself, you still root for her to overcome and succeed. One of the strong suits for me in this novel was the supporting characters throughout, especially Alma, Beth’s adoptive mother. Their relationship was really fascinating to read about and I found myself invested in how these two women fended for themselves without a husband/father figure, which was uncommon in the early 60s. Addiction plays a huge role in this book, from Beth’s obvious addiction to booze and pills, but also to her addiction to chess and her mother’s addiction to alcohol despite illness. Alma really felt like she was what Beth could become if she didn’t straighten herself out, and I loved that juxtaposition. Overall I adored this book and really loved the miniseries as well. They managed to keep most of the central themes of the book and only (mostly) change things that make sense in order to make it a compelling TV show vs a book. A great pick and an excellent book club choice! Title: The Queen’s Gambit Author: Walter Tevis Format: Paperback Pages: 243 ISBN: 9781400030606 Three Descriptors: Character-driven, Atmospheric, Richly detailed Read Alikes: A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill

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