I feel I should tell you this right off the bat. We are not playing with this whole winter reappearance thing. It is just wrong that my car can be covered not only with pollen, but snow and ice too. If I am going to have allergy issues, it should at least be warmish out there. Babs B and I are still committed to maintaining the bare leg policy. And now, Erin has joined the sisterhood and is bare legging it too. I have foresworn the winter coat and don’t want to see it again until maybe November. Sweet Ann has decorated the Egg Tree and is ready for Sunday. Even Sally has declared that she is only wearing spring colors from here on out. The message hung outside the SoNo Loft says, “Long Live the Fighters” so it would appear that they would be with us if they knew we existed. So won’t you join us in solidarity? Declare it spring and it will be so! Don’t let the cold, the snow, the sleet and the rest win. It’s spring already! This week we have a dead doctor, winner! winner! chicken dinner!, some disappointment, spies, Boris!, and an Oscar winner. The Playlist? It’s here too.
Let us begin!
Sweet Ann has just finished A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlant. “This is a murder mystery with quite a twist. What makes this novel different is that the victim is married to three women. Dr. John Taylor, a renowned plastic surgeon, is found dead in a Palo Alto hotel. Dr. Taylor and his wife Deborah are not happy after their thirty years together. But rather than divorce and lose her social standing, she comes up with this crazy idea to keep her husband happy and her marriage intact. She has helped him find two other wives who do not know that he is married. MJ is a hippie type with quite the past, Helen is a renowned children's oncologist and there might be another woman no one knows about. This was a fun read. I also enjoyed Ms. LaPlante's previous novel, Turn of Mind which told the story of a woman suffering from Alzheimer's who is being investigated for the murder of her best friend.”
Barbara M is asking questions. “What would do if you won 18.5 million Euros in the lottery? That’s the dilemma the protagonist in My Wish List by Gregoire Delacourt faces. Although it seems like a simple problem, it isn’t really; the consequences are life changing. Jocelyne and her husband of twenty-one years live a rather mundane life in a small town in France. Their children are grown, she runs a fabric shop and he works as a manager in a factory. When she wins the lottery she decides to tell no one except her elderly father who, after having had a stroke forgets everything every six minutes. What she does instead is make a list of how she could spend the money. This is a delightful little novel about change and choice. ”
Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is bemoaning a lack of substance. “When I first started The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger, I was really hopeful it was going to be one of those fun chick lit books that just begs to be read on the beach. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to its potential. Sophie, the main character, is a promising young criminal attorney who gets roped into handling a complicated divorce for the daughter of the firm’s top client. Begrudgingly she takes the case and while her criminal-law approach to the divorce wins accolades from the client and the partners, it leads to tension in the office. To add to her stress, handling a divorce has made her question the choices she has made in her personal life. Written as a series of emails, memos and lots of legal materials, the story ends up getting lost in too much legalese. Don’t get me wrong, I have a fondness for the epistolary style of writing and the author showed promise, but if you were to subtract all of the pure legal jargon (most of which you end up skimming) you really have only enough substance for a short story.
Steph is here this week to tell us about an interesting author mash-up. “Last weekend I read Decoded by Mai Jia and loved it. Jia is one of China’s most famous novelists, but this is his first book translated into English. It’s a fantastic quasi-spy thriller/historic novel of cryptology and genius. The combination means that fans of Amy Tan and John le Carre will find something to enjoy in this one!”
Jeanne is here with only one thing this week. But, I must say that she is very excited about it. “Even if you have already read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, you must listen to it on audio. I borrowed it through Overdrive and David Pittu is BRILLIANT as the young and older troubled Theo Decker, his nerdy friend Andy Barbour, his crazy, but loyal Russian friend, Boris and his savior and extraordinary antiquarian, James ‘Hobie’ Hobart. There are many more characters that Pittu gives voice to in an authentic, entertaining manner that enriches Tartt's fascinating story of losses, loves and deceit in the art and antiques world as lived in New York City, but also Las Vegas, Amsterdam and Maine.”
I always have the best of intentions. Truly. But as my sons will tell you, the DVDs that I usually bring home become coasters for my evening wine and are never even opened. In fact, son Thomas greets all instances of DVDs appearing at home with a requisite eye roll, a voice tinged with disgust and the following statement, ‘Great. Another DVD we won’t watch.’ That being said, Barbara M recently pressed one into my hands, insisted I bring it home and actually watch for a change. And so I recently had the great pleasure of watching Twenty Feet from Stardom which won the Oscar for best documentary. Twenty Feet brings us into the world of backup singers and their very complicated and fraught relationship with fame. I loved the Bruce Springsteen piece in the beginning of the film where he states that the ‘20 feet walk to the spotlight can be complicated.’ Of course it can! Not all of us want the spotlight. A whole lot of us are very content to be twenty feet away from the spotlight doing what we do. But imagine if you will what the Stone’s Gimme Shelter would sound like without the amazing vocals of Merry Clayton. Hardly the same song I would imagine. You really come to admire these ladies and I guarantee that you will be in awe of their gifts. Barbara was right. Take this one home and play it.
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here with The Playlist and some thoughts on one of my favorite Rites of Spring: the reappearance of Mad Men. I do love me some Roger Sterling. “So I gave up watching Mad Men due to my own issues. Yes, it’s a wildly popular TV show. Yes, those things really happened. I just couldn’t get over my own reaction to the sexism that was played out in every episode. Does this make me any less a feminist? I’d like to think not. Then my sweet partner pointed out the number of men vs. women on my playlist this week given the era. I balked, choked, spit, sputtered and showed him the women on the playlist. He was right. There were a disproportionate number of men vs. women. I grew up in the Motor City. I know music. I do. But I’d missed out on some great women who were sharing their voice. This week may we all find our voice as women, men, individuals and people who might otherwise need help finding it. Now, rock on ladies…