Welcome to the Valentine’s Day edition of You Are What You Read! Every year we do a little display celebrating the darker side of the holiday with a little humor. We like to call it Forever Alone. If you can’t get into the library to see it in all its glory, the list is here. Enjoy! It’s been another rough week of weather. We all know who is to blame. Phil, we still aren’t fans and we probably never will be. We have 35 days until spring. This doesn’t seem like a long time but when it’s this rough it can feel forever. This all being said the good news this week is that my walk to the train at night is now light, with sunset just finishing up on my home end. Look, if it all gets too awful get some primroses and put them in pretty little pots around the house, make sure when the sun is out, you are too even if it’s just for a baby bit. Get together with friends. Don’t shut yourself up. Of course, it would be helpful if these friends have a place in Florida. February can seem like the longest month but we can do this People! 35 days! Soldier on! This week we have Africa, betrayal, Tennessee, a forgotten island and a beloved brother.
And if music is the “food of love” how could we not have The Playlist!
Let us begin!
Barbara M is reading Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller which is getting a lot of positive staff buzz. Here is what she thinks. “This is a powerful heartfelt memoir about the breakdown of the author’s twenty year marriage interspersed with vivid recollections of her coming of age in Zambia in a family afflicted with alcoholism and mental illness. The title refers to a South African saying which means ‘getting out while the going is good.’ Fuller’s way out was to marry an American and eventually move to the United States. Unfortunately, it did nothing to help her escape neither her chaotic childhood nor her own demons. This is Alexandra Fuller’s third memoir and I think her best. Her exquisite writing, her insights into her family’s dynamics and the imagery of Africa make this a wonderful, funny, and fascinating read. “
Pat T is enjoying some escapist reading this week. “The War of the Wives by Tamar Cohen is a great book to take in your ski/beach bag this week if you are going away for the February break. Selina and Lottie Busfield never met until the unexpected death of their husband, Simon. Needless to say, their lives are turned upside down with the news of his death and the discovery of his betrayal. Selina's lifestyle is in jeopardy as she deals with the emotional turmoil of her three children. Lottie is overwhelmed with the realization that her life has been a lie, she has no money and a teenaged daughter who is acting out. When the worst that can happen has already happened what do you do? Their stories are told in alternating chapters with an unexpected twist towards the end!”
The Always Delightful Pat S has finished one of my favorites so far this year, The Undertaker’s Daughter by Kate Mayfield. “As a reader with a soft spot for memoirs, I was very anxious to settle down with The Undertaker’s Daughter. Mayfield begins with her family’s move to Jubilee, Tennessee in the early sixties when she was five and her father has the opportunity to open his own funeral home. The family lived above the shop, and Mayfield is beguiling as she writes of her younger self exploring the world of the dead because it gives her a chance to spend time with her adored and dashing father. We are introduced to her family as she first sees them, the father handsome and charming, the mother strict and humorless, the older sister a bully and the older brother a vague presence. The small town that is Jubilee comes with a cast of characters found in every small southern town; the eccentric Miss Agnes, the black housekeeper Belle, the formality laden bridge parties her mother hosts and a list of church related activities which would bore most of us to death. The tale meanders as she grows up and begins to see her family more clearly. Her father tortured by his time fighting in WWII is also an alcoholic and serial philanderer, her mother is desperately trying to hold the family together through thick and thin, and sister Evelyn is battling serious mental illness. The town begins to feel smaller and smaller as Mayfield grows older, struggling against the stifling confines of racism which loomed large-even in this time of desegregation. While the story is well written it can feel strangely bland.”
Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is back with her latest love. “As I said in my last review, I loved The Magicians by Lev Grossman, the first installment of the trilogy about the adventures of Quentin Coldwater and his magician friends. This week I am reviewing the second book in the trilogy, The Magician King, and it did not disappoint. Just as in the first book, it is full of vibrant characters, grand adventures, and incredible imagery. To get you quickly up-to-date: Quentin and his friends have taken up the official roles of kings and queens of the magical land of Fillory, where everything seems to be perfect and they live the lives that they always imagined. But Quentin, a discontented type, feels something is missing and volunteers to seek out a long forgotten island on the edges of Fillory. Julia, one of the queens of Fillory joins him. Together they discover that nothing is as it seems in Fillory and there is a lot more to lose than they had bargained for. A big part of why I loved this book is because it dived into Julia’s backstory. Grossman is a master storyteller. He knows how to paint a dark and turbulent fairyland. Again, this isn’t a children’s book, if anything, it is darker and grittier than the first but in a lot of ways I enjoyed it more."
I am still sort of reeling from A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson. This is the latest installment in the story of the Todd family from Life After Life. Atkinson takes the life of beloved little brother Teddy through World War II and into the end of the 20th century. Just like Life this is a genius of a work. You fall in love with Teddy and Ursula all over again and marvel at the lives you are being shown. At times heartbreaking and others hilarious, a lot of us feel that this may even be a better book than Life After Life. We are hopeful that this is not the last we are going to hear about the Todd family. This one comes out in May.
Here is DJ Jazzy Patty McC from the Frozen State that Shall Not Be Named with some final thoughts on this weekend’s festivities. Take it away Pats! “ I’d like to offer my public service announcement for this Valentine’s Day edition of You Are What You Read. Please tip your server generously. Last year I talked about my time spent in the trenches of the service industry and how much we dreaded this ‘holiday’. Seriously, all the folks who don’t appreciate their partners on a regular basis take them out on this day, buy them flowers then impersonate a master sommelier and tip their servers poorly. Don’t let this be you. Cherish those you love on a regular basis and tell them how much you love them frequently, maybe hourly if you’re the passionate type. Show your love to your loved one, just don’t stiff the staff.”