Summer is finally here and with a nice long weekend to look forward to here is what the Desketeers have been enjoying. Or not. You never know with them. This week’s installment features warring family members, beauty walking like the night, dry alcoholics, segregation, ex-pats, and beauty products for weasels.
Let us begin!
Could it be the impending holiday that has Marianne pondering the State of the Family with her latest: “You may know one, you may have one or you may be one. And what is that? A daughter-in-law! If any of the preceding applies to you, you must read Daughters-in-Law by Joanna Trollope. As a mother of four sons and now, four daughters-in-law this book made me look much more carefully at my own family relationships.” Marianne found this charming article on BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13973331 . Read, discuss amongst yourselves and then read the book. We guarantee that you won’t just see fireworks in the sky.
Elizabeth, as usual, has many things going on at once. “So this week I'm reading quite the combination of books. I'm reading the Paris Wife which I absolutely adore. This is the first book I've read since The Help that totally takes me to another world. I don't ever want it to end. I also read She Walks in Beauty, which is a book of poems selected by Caroline Kennedy. It's basically her journey through life as told through this collection of poems. They're broken up into sections according to phases of life, e.g. falling in love, breaking up, marriage, loss and grieving, etc. I'm enjoying Caroline's own anecdotes between sections but I'm a little underwhelmed by the poems themselves. I'll just say it's not wowing me. Lastly, I'm listening to Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods on audio. He returns to the U.S. after living in England for 20 years and decides that the best way to reintroduce himself to our fine country is to hike the entire Appalachian Trial with his heinously out of shape, ex-drug addict/alcoholic childhood friend. It is equal parts terrifying and hilarious. I'm enjoying the book but I can say with certainty that it has frightened me out of any future hiking or camping expeditions. The entire first chapter is a list of traumatizing ways one can die in the wilderness. Need I say more?”
Ann also has much going on: “The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew. It is the story of a family living in South Carolina with their black maid, Mary, during the 1950's. The story is told by the thirteen year old daughter Jubie. The father of the family is abusive towards Jubie and it is Mary who gives her comfort. The father also has cheated against the wife so she decides to take her children and Mary to Florida to visit her brother. Due to racial discord in the south at this time, tragedy strikes Mary which has a profound effect on Jubie. It is a good read but predictable in parts. A Place of Yes 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life by Bethenny Frankel. It is an interesting read if you are a Bethenny fan. She tells her life story and how she used her experiences to turn her business adventures into successes and her personal life into all she wanted. Many of her suggestions are not new but she presents them in an amusing way. I did think her advice would be good for young people starting out in their first jobs, for example to stand out at work and not just stay with "the pack". I also enjoyed Bossypants by Tina Fey as an audio book. This audio book was fun to listen to because Tina Fey reads it. She tells about her childhood, beginnings of her career and her present day life. It was fun and made my time on 95 go quickly, not really, but it was a lot more fun with Tina.”
Abby says that listening to The Paris Wife on audio “has me very excited. It was hearing my wonderful co-worker speak of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast that moved me to read the book, and it sets up the Paris Wife beautifully. WhereA Moveable Feast is Hemingway's take on his time in Paris alongside his wife Hadley, The Paris Wife, while fiction, is an account of his first wife Hadley Richardson. Beginning in her childhood, we learn how she met the aspiring writer. We've not yet been to Paris. This audio has really sucked me into Chicago of the time, rich with details, inner lives, and fountains of Prohibition Era liquor. I usually only get the sensation of thumping in my chest during suspenseful movies (at the end of Silence of the Lambs, my heart was pounding so hard I was convinced the people in the theater near me could hear it and would tell me to quiet down), but the debut novel by SJ Watson had my blood pumping! Set in England, it tells the story of Christine, a married woman who suffers from an unusual form of amnesia. She can hold onto memories during her waking hours, but each day she awakes remembering nothing of the days before. Pursuing treatment, she begins to unlock the mystery of the trauma that cost her so much and explore the woman she was.
Citizen Asha seems, well, almost sedate this week. “I am reading the Love Child by Sheila Kohler. It’s about a woman (named Bill) coping with the loss of her husband as well as a few family secrets. This all takes place while she’s living during the apartheid era in South Africa. It’s a stretch for my usual sketchy novels but I think it will be a great read.” We hope she isn’t coming down with something.
Pat Tone the Leader of Team Tone says "on the recommendation of a patron, I started reading Come to the Edge: a Memoir by Christina Haag. The memoir captures the friendship and five year romance between the author and John F. Kennedy JR. It is lovingly written and the author gives us a rare glimpse into the personal life of John F. Kennedy JR. as a teenager to his early years as an adult. "
Elisabeth of Team Tone Fame is reading In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. "It's a great non-fiction read about the American ambassador in Germany and his daughter during Hitler's rise to power in 1933. You can tell that a lot of detailed research went into the creation of this book, but it reads like a story!"
I read The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai this week. Lucy Hull is a children’s librarian who perhaps cares a bit too much about her young patrons. When she realizes that 10 year old Ian is about to be packed off to an evangelical “re-education” center because his parents feel he is on the fast track to becoming a friend of Dorothy the two hit the road. This is a quick, light, fun read peppered with all sorts of kid lit references, shady Russians, and a lovely little hair care product called Ferret-Glo.
We wish you a lovely long weekend filled with book goodness and an utter lack of Ferret-Glo!