The plot is a simple one: Ursula Todd is born, and dies. She is born again, and dies again. And again, and again. The novel takes us through her many...moreThe plot is a simple one: Ursula Todd is born, and dies. She is born again, and dies again. And again, and again. The novel takes us through her many lives, and her feelings of déjà vu. The novel's characters remain essentially the same, and yet their circumstances are altered. It was fascinating.
The flaw in the narrative is this: how can her life have any meaning, when it is erased each time she dies and is reborn? That aspect was frustrating (once I caught on), but the stories of her lives offered some compensation.(less)
Macon Leary, a travel writer, hates to travel. Frankly, he hates anything that disrupts his routine. But when his wife leaves him, a year after their...moreMacon Leary, a travel writer, hates to travel. Frankly, he hates anything that disrupts his routine. But when his wife leaves him, a year after their son is killed, his routine is destroyed. Tyler guides us, with humor and kindness, through Leary's life as he moves back in with his unusual siblings, hires the quirky Muriel to train his dog, and wonders if he could ever make a decision for himself. This book just makes me smile.(less)
This book deserves a serious review, but, it's been sitting on my table for months, and I think this is going to be as good as it gets. If you read no...moreThis book deserves a serious review, but, it's been sitting on my table for months, and I think this is going to be as good as it gets. If you read no further, know that this book is worth reading.
After September 11, three women came together to write a children's book that would highlight connections between their faiths - Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. They quickly realized that they had much to learn about each other, each other's faiths, and even their own faiths. This memoir followed their shared discussions, their crises of faith, their spiritual growth, and their deepening friendship. It was not a quick read, but it was interesting and informative (I was happy to stumble across a copy at the library's used book store, so I could stop renewing my borrowed copy).
Not only do the women learn about each other's faith, but they find their own understanding deepening. For instance, Priscilla struggled with anxiety, and the events of 9/11 only made it worse. She told of a family trip during which she visited an exhibit of paintings by the Canadian artist Emily Carr.
On the wall of one room, a plaque described the era in which her work was completed, amid the chaos of two World Wars and the Great Depression."The papers are full of horrible horrors," wrote Emily Carr. "And the earth is so lovely."
The earth is indeed lovely, I realized. Including New York city.
And so I decided to take a leap of faith. Life is, after all, a series of leaps of faith. Falling in love and believing that I will grow old with my husband is a leap. Losing a parent and believing I will recover is a leap. Giving birth to children and letting go as they grow, hoping they will lead safe, happy lives is a leap. Living in a world of chaos, believing good will prevail over evil, is a leap.
Ranya not only shared her Islam faith with Priscilla and Suzanne, but worked to find herself a place of comfort in her faith. She observed, "... read in its true spirit, freed from political agendas and liberated from its service to the flawed human heart, Islam, I had come to learn, could be a beacon for true enlightenment, progress, development, and security. Moreover, if Islam regained that voice, it would help to disarm those radical groups who abuse the Quran and interpret it in a way that fits their own political agenda and violent designs."
As I read this book, I remembered an experience I had, a month or so after 9/11. A friend from church knew a Muslim woman, through shared events at their daughters' school. The two of them arranged for women from both our faiths to meet for lunch one day. We spent some time learning basic principles from each faith - finding much in common - and then mingled together for a potluck lunch. I was so grateful for that chance to reinforce my understanding that there is good in all of us - that it is better to include than to exclude - that we are more alike than we are different.
This book, to a great extent, conveyed the same message.(less)
An interesting read, about six women who helped each other deal with their widowhood. Ignoring the "stages of grief" (which theory, apparently, is a f...moreAn interesting read, about six women who helped each other deal with their widowhood. Ignoring the "stages of grief" (which theory, apparently, is a fallacy), they instead set out to move forward. I enjoyed reading of their experiences and growth, although by the end, the book was dragging a bit, and I found I hadn't really connected with the characters much (which, I suppose, is not unexpected, not being a widow myself).(less)
Robin Sloan's latest novel, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, is a winner. It is not classic literature, it is not a brilliant mystery, it is not a su...moreRobin Sloan's latest novel, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, is a winner. It is not classic literature, it is not a brilliant mystery, it is not a suspenseful thriller.
It is simply fun.
Clay Jannon, looking for work, stumbles into a job working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. It doesn't take him long to recognize that this is not your standard bookstore - the stock is limited, the clientele few and far between. This doesn't consider, of course, the unusual books in the back part of the store, and the unusual customers who show up to quickly exchange one unreadable book for another.
Clay is determined to figure out what's up. He calls on his roommate's creative skills and his girlfriend's Google connections. He uses data visualizations and cardboard scanners. He calls in favors from a childhood friend who has become a wealthy entrepreneur. He learns of an ancient fellowship, and meets its quirky members. He turns to an archaeologist and the curator of a knitting museum (!) to locate missing artifacts.
And, with a mix of technology and friendship and books, he solves the puzzle.
There are flaws in some of the logic, and the story requires a few leaps of faith, but this book was a wonderful romp, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The puzzle's solution is lovely - but I don't want to spoil your read, so I'll keep that to myself.
I read Julia Glass's Three Junes some time ago, and it was a splendid read. I hoped that The Widower's Tale would be equally enjoyable, and it was. Th...moreI read Julia Glass's Three Junes some time ago, and it was a splendid read. I hoped that The Widower's Tale would be equally enjoyable, and it was. The tale concerns Percy Darling (the widower), his two daughters, his grandson, and an assortment of other characters.
Percy has been widowed for thirty years, and is sliding into a contented retirement. As events unfold, we learn about his deceased wife, and watch the shifting dynamics of his family. We see Percy inexorably pulled back into the community he has managed to avoid. I liked the character development - and the characters themselves - and the feeling of being a fly on the wall of this family.
The book wasn't quite as good as Three Junes, but I recommend it nevertheless as a good read.(less)