This week I have been thinking about the nature of Lost and Found. Sometimes you lose things and it’s perfectly fine if not downright welcome. Lose ten pounds? Sign me up! But lose your temper or your sanity? Not so good. It would appear size is not a factor when we lose things. You can lose a needle in a haystack or one of those annoyingly necessary earring backs, but you can also lose a jet over an ocean and this week it would appear a circus lost some elephants. Last week it looked like we had finally found spring only to lose it again this week. The same is also true of finding things. Find some trouble? Not so good. Finding your bliss? It can be as elusive as that aforementioned needle but a wonderful thing when it happens. What are Sweet Ann’s Words of Wisdom this week? “Lose the blues and find the good!” Duly noted, Ann. As for spring, I am happy to report that we wrote our check for our CSA Shares this week. This has to mean that we are just that much closer to warm sun and blue skies. This week we have a RHONY, two friends, disgrace, a dinner, quarantine, Chicago, Papa H, and of course The Playlist!
Let us begin!
Caroline takes time out of her crazy schedule to share what she’s reading when she’s not here or being the mother of twins. That she can get anything read at all is a miracle to me. “To quote Phaedra Parks, 'Everybody knows...' Everybody knows I never met a Bravolebrity book I didn't like. But let's be honest - some are better than others. Thankfully, Carole Radziwill's new novel, The Widow's Guide to Sex and Dating, is well worth the read, due in large part to the fact that she was actually an established author before she was a Real Housewife of New York City. Her celebrated memoir, What Remains, recounted her life as a journalist and her husband's battle with cancer. The newest NYC housewife, Kristen, recently described Sonja and Ramona as her ‘crazy drunk aunts.’ Well I think it's safe to say that The Widow's Guide to Sex and Dating is the crazy drunk aunt of What Remains. Quirky, fun and compelling, you won't want to put it down. At least not until Housewives comes on.”
Sweet Ann has just finished My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. “This is the first novel in a trilogy that will follow two friends, Elena and Lila from childhood to old age. It opens with the adult son of Lila calling Elena to inquire if she knows where his mother is. Elena begins to reflect on her childhood shared with her best friend Lila in the early 1950's in a small Italian village just outside of Naples. Both families are struggling financially after the war and are attempting to raise their families the best they can. The girls are quite competitive in their relationship in the early years of grade school but as they enter junior high their lives will take different paths. Elena is often jealous of her beautiful friend and Lila often covets Elena's life. This is a very interesting well written novel. As a reader you are drawn into a time when women were not allowed to have opinions and their fathers and brothers could rule their lives. This novel was translated from Italian and I have to say I was glad the novel contained a list of the families in the village in the beginning. I am looking forward to beginning the second novel, The Story of a New Name.”
Steph is in the middle of something. “This week I have been making time to read The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara, because I am loving it so much. This book has been piquing my interest as it keeps advancing in the Tournament of Books, beating books that were personal favorites. How could any book defeat our beloved Life After Life in a head-to-head competition? Well, I haven’t finished it yet so I can’t say which is better, but this book is certainly a contender. This debut novel is disguised as a disgraced professor’s memoirs, written from jail after he’s found guilty of molesting one of his children. With nothing to do but reflect on his life, he writes about his youth, time in medical school, and how he stumbled into the secrets of immortality while working with an anthropologist to learn more about one of the last undiscovered cultures in the world. He sends his writing piece by piece to one of his only protégés, who has not abandoned him, and whose presence is made evident by a series of footnotes, alternately explaining and defending the man he still reveres. The effect is spectacular: an incredibly well-written story which is clearly going nowhere good, the tension ratcheting up with every page. I keep crossing my fingers for the train to get stuck in a tunnel so I get extra reading time! I’ll report back next week.
Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is working an interesting take on Lost and Found. One of her topics involves finding, the other involved decided loss. I’ll let her explain. “Food, food, and leprosy…that pretty much sums up what I have been reading this week. I have been in a food rut so I turned to our Home section for inspiration and found Weeknight Wonders by Ellie Krieger and The Chew, What’s for Dinner. Both offer a wide array of recipes but of the two books I prefer Weeknight Wonders. Krieger’s recipes are simple but flavorful and the few I have tried out have been big hits. The Chew, What’s for Dinner is a bit basic but has quick and simple recipes laid out in an appealing and easy to follow manner. While I think this would be the perfect book for a novice cook or a college student, I certainly would use some of the recipes in a time crunch. Moving on to leprosy…I just started Moloka’i by Alan Brennert and I am thoroughly enjoying this historical fiction novel. Recommended to me by a patron, the book is about Rachel Kalama, a seven-year-old Hawaiian girl who contracts leprosy and is taken from her family and sent to the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka’i. Devastated by the cruel and abrupt separation from her family, and terrified by new surroundings and constant reminders of the devastating disease she carries, Rachel must carve a new life for herself. “
Laura is enjoying a book that has been a Staff favorite for a while now. “After Visiting Friends, by Michael Hainey is a well-researched quest by the author to find out more about the death of his father who was a larger-than-life newspaperman of the Chicago Sun-Times in the 1960's. It starts with the story told to him since he was six years old: which he did not quite believe: that his father died of a heart attack in the middle of the night, alone on a street in the city of Chicago after having visited friends. Hainey uncovers lies and deceptions by family and friends. It is a story of protection at all costs. But who is really being protected?”
I have a confession to make. I am reading a book that I love but I almost didn’t pick it up. I really liked The Paris Wife and thought that all that needed to be said about the lives of Hadley, Papa H, and Pauline Pfeiffer had been said and we could move on now. But when I read the reviews from the UK that used words like ‘intoxicating’ , ‘breathtaking’ and ‘sublime’ I knew I had to take a peek. Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood is all of those words and it is making my commute a joy. What makes this really wonderful book different is the how Wood begins each of the four sections (one for each wife) with the moment that the current wife knows the next wife has won and Ernest is lost to her. The author has done an amazing job providing each of the women with distinct voices and personalities. I have just begun Part IV with Mary sorting through Ernest’s papers after his death. It will be interesting for me to see if Wood renders Death as Papa’s final bride. This one comes out in May and you are going to not only want it in your beach bag but for your book group come the fall.
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is in da house with these final thoughts Lost and Found. Take it away Patty! “What’s been lost is sometimes found. Isn’t life at times like that? We lose keys, airplanes and socks in the dryer or at least that’s the narrative we tell ourselves. We lose things because we have things. We compare and contrast because we’re human. We sing, dance and create because we can and maybe that’s more important than stuff or things. Now go forth and find something. Find truth, beauty or love in a picture book like the wonderful book Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers. Sometimes the meaning of life is right in your hands.”