I enjoyed the historical aspect of this novel about Eleanor Roosevelt’s intimate relationship with journalist Lorena Hickok, but I didn’t much care foI enjoyed the historical aspect of this novel about Eleanor Roosevelt’s intimate relationship with journalist Lorena Hickok, but I didn’t much care for the writing. I found the interpretation of the relationship overly sentimental and maudlin, and at times forced. Part of the problem, I think, is Albert’s choice of using Hickok’s first person viewpoint, which characterizes Eleanor at the beginning of their relationship as weak, unhappy, lonely, and needy. The middle of the book sags, when Hickok mostly whines about Eleanor finding little time for her due to the needs of her children and her horrendous schedule as First Lady. More interesting is Hickok’s work as a reporter for FERA (Federal Emergency Relief Administration) when she discovers the abject poverty of so many Americans during the Depression, including coal miners who earn $2.08 for ten hours, but then are docked $2 by the company store for fuel for their lanterns. The pace of the novel picks up during the war years, and there’s an interesting afterward about Hickok in later life. This novel is extensively researched and the bibliography at the end invites further reading. Both Lorena Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt were extraordinary figures who made great strides for women in a man’s world. ...more
One of the two best true-crime books I've ever read. Capote called it a novel, but I would say it's creative nonfiction. He weaves a tapestry of highlOne of the two best true-crime books I've ever read. Capote called it a novel, but I would say it's creative nonfiction. He weaves a tapestry of highly-developed characters, the slayed innocents, the criminals, and the lawmen who brought them to justice, allowing the reader to feel sympathy for them all. There are many threads to this painstakingly-researched, detailed story, but Capote's telling is smooth and connected. The writing style never distracts from the narrative, and the narrator, Capote, is virtually invisible. I never wanted to put down this book, and when I did, it was constantly on my mind. A literary masterpiece. ...more
In 1962, when this novel was published, there was no such genre as YA horror in which it comfortably fits. I’m surprised it is not better known and moIn 1962, when this novel was published, there was no such genre as YA horror in which it comfortably fits. I’m surprised it is not better known and more widely read by teen readers. This highly-original page-turner includes suspense, imaginative living, mental illness, isolation, and a vicious hate crime as two adolescent girls, Merricat and Connie, and their elderly Uncle Julian deal as best as they can with the aftermath of their entire family dying one night six years ago of arsenic-laced sugar. Connie has been proven innocent of the crime, but then who could be the murderer? ...more
Baxter is a master of fiction-writing. His word choice is often stunning. He sometimes writers against epiphany which may be baffling to some readers.Baxter is a master of fiction-writing. His word choice is often stunning. He sometimes writers against epiphany which may be baffling to some readers. The novella "Believers" was at times slow-going but definitely worth it. Fiction writers: study this dude. ...more
If there were six stars, I'd give them. This is a wonderful set of stories that reads almost like a novel. Strout is as good as Monroe, Smiley, Tyler,If there were six stars, I'd give them. This is a wonderful set of stories that reads almost like a novel. Strout is as good as Monroe, Smiley, Tyler, and Atwood. ...more
The barber’s wife is a nurse, Mayme Holloway, who is known to practice medicine both inside and outside the hospital of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, during thThe barber’s wife is a nurse, Mayme Holloway, who is known to practice medicine both inside and outside the hospital of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, during the hard, lean years of Prohibition. Mayme dabbles in midwifery, removes a burst appendix on a man’s kitchen table, and attends to the bullet wounds and gonorrhea of one of her and her husband’s friends, the notorious Pretty Boy Floyd. Nichols’ lyrical novel is vividly rendered in historical realism, including the fact that the poor people of the Cookson Hills viewed the bank robber as a Robin Hood-like folk hero, as the Woody Guthrie song “Pretty Boy Floyd” suggests, and were indeed willing to hide and protect him, despite the tempting thousand-dollar price on his head.
Mayme’s motive for patching up Floyd is friendship, but it’s unclear why her colleague Dr. Joseph Stern gets involved. Perhaps he feels his Hippocratic duty binds him to aid the infirmed without judging their character, or it could be his attraction to Mayme herself. When she takes him, blindfolded, to Floyd’s hideout, they engage in a rowboat ride that requires Mayme to adapt her clothing. “She turned her back to him while she reached up under her dress to unhook her good mesh stockings, giggling as she struggled to free the back two hooks, her hands reaching back through her legs.” With that detailed description, the sparks fly. There’s rising sexual tension between Mayme, a young married woman whose husband seems to have lost interest in her, and Joe, the alluring, doting surgeon. Despite the machinegun at his side, Floyd seems genteel compared to Luther Cookson, who demands Mayme and Joe’s medical services at gunpoint. The corpses of lawmen and outlaws stack up, with Mayme and Joe caught in the crossfire, doing what they can to save lives on both sides, while bonding in their clandestine trysts.
Mayme is gutsy and can think on her feet. When the deputy sheriff finds evidence that she and Joe are aiding criminals, she spins a grizzly stillbirth tale, grossing him out and distracting him from her guilt. There’s not a chink in Dr. Joe Stern’s shining armor and Mayme is also probably too good to be true, but the reader will root for them both, eagerly turning the pages to uncover their destiny in this rollicking romantic thriller. ...more