This week we have some Gypsies, charlatans, a Valley Girl, a little lubrication, some dead friends, and some Mexico. Mexico Maine that is.
Let us begin!
Barbara M. had left Paris and is reading Gypsy Boy by Micky Walsh. “It is an unromantic look into the life of a British Romany. It is raw, eye-opening, brutal and compelling.”
Citizen Asha is working her way through a major tome. “I am reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It's taking me a bit to push through the novel, as the copy that I bought is over eight hundred pages, however, it is amazing. Magick is no longer relevant, or if it is, it is being used by charlatans for monetary gain. Someone has to step in and take control.” And make no mistake. The Citizen could just be the girl for the job.
Pat S. weighs in with White Girl Problems by Babe Walker. “Essentially, Babe is a Valley Girl on steroids-with all the attendant issues that involves. A product of the excesses of Beverly Hills and an indulgent motherless family, Babe sashays from Barney's to Brown University-barely breaking stride. Her intense self interest in all things 'Babe' is a riot. Perfect for beach reading, or teenage girls-who may or may not miss the fact that this is a parody.”
The Lovely Priscilla is reading and recommending Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller. “You will never look at that bottle of olive oil in your cabinet the same ever again! This is the remarkable history of olive oil which has been used as a beauty product, as a medicine and in religious practices. Delve into the globalization, fraud, deception and crime of this amazing oil."
Marianne reports that she is working her way through Emily, Alone by Stewart O'Nan. “This quiet book follows the everyday activities of Emily Maxwell, an eighty year old widow who lives alone in the home where she and her husband raised their children and spent most of their married years. Her children are grown and have moved far away and many of her close friends have died. Now this is Emily's time alone. While this could be a depressing time of life Emily finds joy in her new found independence and the author shows us in very sensitive prose that life can be filled with joy at any age. My book group is reading this book right now and I can't wait for our discussion.”
I am in love with Monica Wood’s memoir When We Were Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico Maine by Monica Wood. It’s 1963 and Monica’s beloved father has just died from a heart attack on his way to work in the town’s paper mill Can Monica's Mom and her three sisters survive this personal and economic tragedy? The language here is gorgeous and the story is compelling. It is due out in July.
There is something for just about everyone this week! Either come on in and see the Book Goodness or reserve your copy on line. We'll let you know when it's ready to be picked up!
This week we have involved readers, Paris (you know you missed it last week!), a gatekeeper from Da Bronx, a He who is really a She, white shoes before Memorial Day (horrors!), kid lit, and a new phobia.
Let us begin!
Marianne wants everyone to know about The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey. “I read this as an advanced readers' copy and really did like it. The author's reinvention of the Jane Eyre story held my interest while in some parts I did have a hard time believing that people would revert to such evil and antiquated tactics in modern day England. After I finished I passed it on to a friend who thoroughly enjoyed it, but took great exception to all of the comparisons to 'Jane Eyre.' She felt the story really stood on its own. In fact she was so unhappy about it she emailed the publisher and asked the firm stop advertising the book as a modern 'Jane Eyre.' Now, that's what I call an involved reader!”
I am sure it will come as no surprise to those of you out there keeping score that Barbara M. is back in Paris. In her mind anyway. “I'm reading Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman about the differences between French and American child rearing as seen through the eyes of an American living in Paris. Druckerman is sometimes repetitive but the book is interesting.”
Pat T. has just finished reading "Fairytale Interrupted: A Memoir of Life, Love and Loss by Rosemarie Terenzio. “In this memoir the author shares her five years as John F. Kennedy JR's personal assistant, confidante, friend, and the overall gatekeeper of his personal and business affairs. She was the tough Bronx girl from a struggling Italian family who landed this plum job that changed her life forever.”
Citizen Asha is oddly enough, reading something almost normal. “I am currently reading Albert Nobbs by George Moore. I wanted to see the movie but was unable to, so I thought I would read the book. It’s set in Dublin, Nobbs is a waiter with a secret; he is actually a she. The novel is filled with great sadness; she’s abandoned by parents, fearful of men, and has bouts of depression. A great read, now I am anxious to see the movie. “
Abby reports that she is “enjoying Heart Of A Killer the latest mystery-light from David Rosenfelt (outside of his regular Andy Carpenter series). While he raises interesting legal points in this novel, he manages to incorporate humor and a nice touch of humanity. When a mom convicted of murdering her husband asks to be permitted to donate her heart to her ailing child, her case goes out pro bono to Jamie Wagner, a Harvard trained desk jockey at a white shoe law firm. Questions about the original murder case begin to get explored as Jaime's best strategy appears to be getting his client out of jail so she can then end her own life to save her child. Looking forward to seeing how this one ends.
Jeanne is taking a class on Kid Lit for her MLS. She says that, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret took my breath away! “ The rest of us in RA who have seen the movie release this week can understand her love for the story.
A friend of mine, Laurie W. (aka The Rye), insisted I pick up a copy of “Sometime I Feel Like a Nut: Essays and Observations by Jill Kargman. The chapter on what she is afraid of is totally hilarious because honestly? While I can totally relate to not feeling entirely comfortable around clowns and mimes, she has now totally sold me on being wary around vans too. This one is lots of fun.
There are some old favorites and some new friends waiting for you on the shelves this week.
This week surprisingly there is no Paris (I know!) but we do have Scotland, Pakistan, stunning loss, horrendous crime, perplexing behavior and some lunatics.
Let us begin!
Barbara M. has left Mother Russia and is now reading Gillespie and I by Jane Harris. “An elderly woman, Harriet Baxter, is writing an account of her acquaintance with the artist Ned Gillespie in the late 1800s in Scotland. It reads like a Victorian novel and I'm completely mesmerized by the story. Harris' writing is beautiful and I love the atmosphere she creates.”
Ann is working on American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar. “This is a very interesting book about a young Muslim boy, Hayat, living in America with his immigrant parents in the Mid-West. He has no religious upbringing until his mother's friend Mina flees Pakistan to live with his family. She introduces him to the Quran which he becomes obsessed with and believes in its strict interpretation. Hayat has to live with the decisions he makes but it will cost his family and Mina many hardships. This was a thought provoking read.”
Pat T. says, “I have just started reading The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. The story is told in two parts and the first part reads like a coming of age story about Tony, his school friendships, his first girlfriend and a loss that stuns all the classmates. I look forward to reading part two!”
Abby is working her way through Defending Jacob by William Landay. “This book about a prosecuting attorney father defending his son (hence the title) when he is accused of a horrendous crime has been getting a lot of buzz. And while I am enjoying it, I am not quite getting what all the fuss is about. It's a solid mystery with a bang up ending that doesn't quite rise to the level of a great read.”
Citizen Asha felt compelled to read the following: “I was fascinated by her story so, I thought I would read Once Upon A Secret by Mimi Alford. In the book, she gives an account of how her affair with President Kennedy started as well as what happened afterwards. After reading it, I am perplexed by her behavior. I’m not sure if Mimi is aware that she actually had an affair with Mr. Kennedy because as she says, “I was just keeping him company when he was wife was away.” Hmm. That’s an interesting take on adultery.
I am enjoying Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall. When Iris Dunleavy, plantation wife, dares to question her husband’s treatment of his slaves she is put on trial for insanity and finds herself exiled to Sanibel Island to a lunatic asylum. Here she meets a fascinating assortment of characters but none more compelling than the shell shocked Confederate Ambrose Weller. When they fall in love they realize that they can never have a life together and must escape. But what really waits for them on the “outside”. This one is due out in April.
Top Ten Hardcover Bestsellers from the New York Times for the week of May 26th.
This week we have an evolving relationship, a trip to Iceland, some problems that just might turn into a stalking, love, Paris (of course! We always have Paris!) and two fabulous women named Muffie and Ali.
Let us begin!
Ann is working on, “American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar. I am just in the beginning of this story but I am hooked to see how the relationship between young Hyat is going to evolve with his mother's friend Mina. As a college student he is now telling a friend why he blames himself for what happened to Mina when he was younger. “
Marianne says” I've just read Operation Napoleon, a new (at least to us in this country) novel from my favorite Icelandic author, Arnaldur Indridason. While I really don't think it's up to his police procedurals featuring Inspector Erlander, it certainly had me reading into the night. The author's description of Iceland's landscape is so central to his novels that it becomes a character in its own right. For a change of pace I always enjoy a bleak, dark and fast-moving thriller. “
Citizen Asha worries us yet again this week with her pick, White Girl Problems by Babe Walker. She says “because let's face it, I can totally relate. That being said, it is the most hysterical thing I have read in a long time. Poor Babe is a vapid, self-centered, fashionista who has lots to say about the world around her. Did I mention that I want to be her friend? I even look at her blog, does that make me a stalker? I hope not because she makes me so happy. “ Babe, our advice to you is to run. Run like the wind.
Pat T. states “Since we celebrated Valentine's Day this week I found the perfect book to read as I was shelving it on Main Street - All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps by Dave Isay the founder of Story Corps. StoryCorps is a oral history project and the participants record, share and preserve the stories of their lives. In this book, the storytellers reveal their stories of falling in love: remembering a loved one; and finding love unexpectedly. The most poignant story was from a woman who honored her husband who died in 9/11 and then she tragically passed away in a plane crash a few years later.”
Barbara M. is back in Paris , in her mind anyway with this selection: “ I’m reading Tatiana de Rosnay’s new book, The House I Loved and in spite of its flaws I don’t want it to end. It’s set in Paris during the 1860s when Haussmann was modernizing the city and as in her other books it involves a secret.”
I am in love Ali Wentworth’s new book Ali in Wonderland: And Other Tall Tales Ali’s memoir about growing up as the daughter of the fabulous Muffie Cabot who was Nancy Reagan’s social secretary. This book literally can have you laughing so hard you are crying one minute (the chapter on the family’s nannies is worth the price of the book. Trust me.) and the next you are really feeling for Ali during her darker periods. But through it all Muffie is there with her ultimate sense of WASP Suck-It-Up, No Wallowing Allowed and a toasted English muffin with tomato. And don’t tell Asha but I want them to be my friends too. But they are real and I promise no stalking.
This week we have some more greatness, a broken hip, divorce, some self exploration, toast in a boat, Wall Street shenanigans, a Prince, dementia, and some seriously creepy writing.
Let us begin!
Barbara M. says, “Undaunted by its size I’m still reading Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie and it just keeps getting better and better. Massie’s writing makes the era come alive. “
Ann has just finished reading How It All Began by Penelope Lively. “Charlotte, an elderly woman, breaks her hip and that has repercussions for many people in her life including her daughter, her daughter's boss and his niece. It is fun and poignant at the same time, quite an enjoyable read.”
Citizen Asha is reading The Postmortal by Drew Magary. “What would you do if they found the cure for longevity? Would you take? The novel follows the post-cure life John Farrell who was once a lawyer but when cycle marriages are introduced he leaves that to become an “end of life specialist.” Apparently, since no one is dying the population is increasing, and the divorce rate is now 100%. Who would have thought that would happen? “As an aside I just want to put out there that Asha is young and innocent. She will learn in time.
Abby ponders the following: “Do you think before you leap? Think before you speak? Become revitalized by solitude? Actually look forward to an evening alone with just you and a book? In a world that values the gregarious and extroverted; Susan Cain's book Quiet; The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking explores the mighty tools of introverts. The book presents an interesting opportunity for self-exploration and empowerment.”
Pat T. checks in with the following: “After reading Making Toast: A Family Story by Roger Rosenblatt I knew I wanted to read his newest book Kayak Morning: Relflections on Love, Grief and Small Boats. In this book, Rosenblatt has taken up kayaking in hopes of finding solitude as he attempts to come to terms with his grieve over the sudden death of his 38 year old daughter two years ago. He laments that "they do not tell you how to live in this world without your daughter" and yet as he moves forward in his kayak, as well as in life, he knows that Amy lives in his love for her.
Pat S. has two reads that are very different from each other. “Bond Girl by Erin Duffyis a new light and very entertaining take on Wall Street. If you liked The Devil Wears Prada, you should enjoy this one as well. Young college co-ed gets first job in a big firm on the street! The reality doesn't quite match the dream. Moves right along-perfect for that February island vacation.”
“Prince Philip: A Turblulent Early Life of the Man Who Married Queen Elizabeth II is a riveting biography of the ' man in the shadows' to the Queen of England. While he survives a childhood which only just stops short of Dickensian in description, it does explain why she and her solid family links were so appealing to him. As well, it gives an excellent historical narrative of the English monarchy in the 20th century. It is very interesting reading.”
Jeanne, who has been felled by a mighty and awful cold, chimes in with the following: “I just finished Bill Warrington's Last Chance by James King who happens to be from Wilton. It's not the great American novel or even the great Fairfield County novel, but not bad for a debut. Widower and former marine, Bill Warrington who has always been a take charge, no nonsense guy, realizes he is developing dementia or Alzheimers and has an idea of bringing his three estranged children together for group redemption while he still has the chance. He manages to take his 15 year old granddaughter on a misguided cross-country trip (with the granddaughter driving!) to a place his kids will remember from their childhood. The granddaughter/grandfather exchanges are often humorous and spot on. The book is rife with dysfunctional relationships, anger and angst, but King writes with humor and empathy about complicated feelings. A quick read that may ring all too true.”
I am LOVING the new Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl. For those who are unfamiliar Gillian is an RA obsession. If you like dark, creepy fiction with a serious twist Gillian is your girl. Gone Girl introduces us to Amy and Nick Dunne. It begins as your classic Dateline NBC story. Wife disappears and the husband seems oddly cool about it. Perhaps too cool. But remember this is Gillian Flynn. Things are about to get a whole lot darker, creepier and weirder before all is revealed. This comes out in June so in the meantime check out her previous books, Dark Places and Sharp Objects. And we can’t help but wonder if Gillian’s husband sleeps with one eye open. Because he should. He’d be a fool not to.
This week’s offerings bring us a precocious lad, an Empress, a type of obsession or perhaps an obsession of type, a little sweetness, a little murder, a little love and the end of the world.
Let us begin!
Pat T. reports that “In anticipation of seeing the newly released movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close I have just started reading the book by Jonathan Safran Foer. The story is about a young boy's loss when his father dies in the World Trade Towers on September 11th and his search throughout New York City to unlock the clues of a key his Dad left behind. The young boy is smart, precocious and his quest is an outlet for dealing with his grieve and loss.”
Barbara M. is “reading Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman, Robert Massie’s wonderful biography and I’m loving it so far.”
Abby says, “Before reading Just My Type by Simon Garfield, I had a passing interest in fonts and design. Now, I have a mild obsession. Type is everywhere. One man who tried to live a day without Helvetica ended up having to become a recluse with no access to media or mass transportation to avoid the omnipresent font. The histories of some fonts are filled with scandal and thievery, as in the case of when IKEA changed its signage and catalog font from Futura to Verdana, tempers flared. One downside to this book: I now have a hard time selecting fonts due to the added burden of knowing more about them. Show me a list of fonts, and over thinking sets in following by brief decision-making paralysis. A very fun read!”
The Lovely and Delightful Priscilla has enjoyed a recent staff favorite The Good American by Alex George she feels that, “This is a sweet story of Frederick and his wife Jette immigrating to America at the turn of the last century. It made me laugh and cry.”
Marianne weighs in with A Lonely Death by Charles Todd. “This American mother-son writing team has a lock on the British police procedural especially dealing with the aftermath of WWI. This is their 13th novel featuring Scotland Yard Inspector, Ian Rutledge who himself has to cope with PTSD and the relentless voice in the back of his head. Once again, this book kept me glued right up to the last page.”
Asha is reading something relatively normal. “I'm listening to Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James and it is fantastic! I adore Pride and Prejudice, so it is nice being able to revisit characters that I have come to know and love. “
I am really loving The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. This is not the sort of thing I enjoy normally, but Walker's way with a story has me hooked! Julia is an 11 year old who is not only navigating the rocky way of adolescence but the fact that the world has slowed its spin and is dying. Walker is an amazing writer who totally remembers what it feels like to on the cusp of something big and can totally imagine something big we can only hope would never happen. This one comes out in June.
Have a great weekend!