I grabbed this book off my library’s “Blind Book Date” shelf, and its cover promised “four generations = one tumultuous center. Secrets. Loves and los...moreI grabbed this book off my library’s “Blind Book Date” shelf, and its cover promised “four generations = one tumultuous center. Secrets. Loves and losses. Dreams. Heartbreaks.”
Set in Great Britain through most of the 20th century, it provided all that was promised, and even a fifth generation, though as the father of the “first” generation, we didn’t see much of him.
As I write this, I am hard-pressed to recall many specifics of the characters. Let’s see, the first and second generations both went to war. One did not come home. The third generation was born with a disability. The fourth generation was female, but all had names derivative of William. These generations were born, lived, had relationships and children (the last generation is pending), and died (ditto on that). The book was a good read, but read more like a series of overlapping novellas with interrelated characters. It was interesting to see how the challenges of one generation affected the next.
I am glad I read this book, but I cannot give it the top rating. But if you like fiction of this period (1910s through 2000s), and set in Great Britain, you should enjoy this book. (less)
Wicked Company, by Ciji Ware is about as much fun as I have ever had in the 18th century. The novel introduces us to a young Scot girl, Sopie, whose m...moreWicked Company, by Ciji Ware is about as much fun as I have ever had in the 18th century. The novel introduces us to a young Scot girl, Sopie, whose mother is dead, and who works with her father in a bookstore and print shop. The church is not very happy with the bookstore, because it sells books that the church doesn’t consider appropriate. There is also the matter of the etchings. Between the two, the father is arrested and sentenced to prison, where he dies.
Meanwhile, Sophie has met a young man, Hunter, who is a street performer. She introduces Hunter to the local theatre manager, and Hunter rapidly becomes an important actor, as well as dancer, singer, and ultimately manager of theatres.
After the death of her father, Sophie is spirited out of Edinburgh to London, where her aunt has another bookstore, and also dementia from syphilis. Sophie gets the bookstore in order, while also trying to take care of her aunt. Sophie gets printing contracts with a nearby theatre, and that becomes the center of her life. Even when Hunter reappears and becomes a romantic interest.
Over twenty years or so, there are episodes involving Bedlam (an asylum), ocean voyages, journeys throughout southern England, many theatre performances, theft, blackmail, a marriage and some murders, births, and deaths, and more. Much more. Sophie discovers that she has a talent for writing drama, and though it is a struggle to do so, she successfully earns a living doing it.
This is probably a book that is better enjoyed by women, because there is a romantic interest that simmers throughout. But this is not a simpering romance. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy historical novels, particularly those with an interest in the theatre and the struggles of early female dramatists. (less)
I grabbed this book when I saw it had been read by my library's Senior Book Club. I kind of wish I hadn't. Once started, I wanted to put it down, beca...moreI grabbed this book when I saw it had been read by my library's Senior Book Club. I kind of wish I hadn't. Once started, I wanted to put it down, because the writing was pedantic, but I also wanted to find out if everything worked out in the end. In short, it did, though not quite as hoped for.
Very briefly Rosa emigrated to the US from Bessarabia, near Ukraine, in 1922. She went to Chicago, where distant relatives (who sponsored her emigration) put her up and found her a job. Within a week she met Sanya and fell in love. There is a period of dating. Her family objects to this match, because Sanya has never held a regular job and would not be a good provider. Finding a husband who is a good provider is critical. They marry anyway, go to California, and years pass. Two children are born.
Eventually Sanya dies and Rosa is alone. She moves into a nursing home. There was enough provided to allow that.
If you are into romance, or you just need a break from heavy reading, this book is for you. After all, how many silly little books are set with a view...moreIf you are into romance, or you just need a break from heavy reading, this book is for you. After all, how many silly little books are set with a view of the Tetons, especially from the back side. (Note, I live in view of the Tetons.)
The male romantic interest, Dr. Dalton, is a sole practitioner in a small town about 45 minutes from IF, where he seems to spend a fair amount of time delivering babies and checking up on patients. He is the son of a major cattle rancher in this small town of about 2000. He has a heart of gold, which apparently was stolen at a young age by the female romantic interest, Maggie, who is a vet newly released from the hospital where she has been recovering from a leg amputation due to injuries in Afghanistan. She is driving home to escape her life after being rejected by her fiancé due to her injuries. She has a huge chip on her shoulder because of this and because of her injury in general. Besides that, she is in constant pain because she has been overdoing it on her new leg. She can’t be all bad, though, because she drives s Subaru.
In addition, Maggie has a very deep antipathy toward Dalton and all of his family, because she believes that the patriarch of the family cheated her father out of vast sums of money, and that this lead to her father’s death. The elder Dalton is also long gone.
So these two meet up on a dark, empty road on the way to their homes. Dalton is driving home to catch a few hours before returning to IF to check on a patient. Maggie is returning home in defeat. She doesn’t know she is a hero in her hometown. Her car has broken down. Dalton, a good neighbor, stops to help, and gives Maggie that help over her objections. Somehow this type of unwanted help continues over and over, while Dalton falls deeper in love, and while Maggie begins to realize that she may have feelings: Feelings she know she can’t act on because no man would want a woman with a stump instead of a leg, and because she hates everything Dalton.
The end to this story is predictable. We don’t read these books because of the end, but rather, because of the journey. This one is pretty nice. (less)
The lowland is where everything starts. Two young boys explore the swampy area and pools near their home in 1950s and 60s Calcutta. They learn of inju...moreThe lowland is where everything starts. Two young boys explore the swampy area and pools near their home in 1950s and 60s Calcutta. They learn of injustice, and one of them, the daring one, Udayan, becomes a communist, involved in an attempt to violently change the injustices of India. The other, Subhash, a model student, goes off as a young man to Rhode Island to get his PhD.
But then the revolutionary dies, and everything changes. Subhash returns home to find the family distraught, and his brother’s widow pregnant and being treated as a pariah. His parents plan to keep her around long enough to bear their grandchild, and then to drive her off. They never cared for her anyway. Subhash sees an injustice he can do something about and marries the widow, taking her off to Rhode Island.
In reading this book, one really wants this marriage to succeed, the baby to grow up happy and fulfilled with two parents who have learned to love one another. After all, many marry in India hardly knowing one another, and learn that skill. There is love in this book, but not always where you might expect it, and sometimes where, with American sensibilities, you may not want to accept it.
Lahiri writes beautifully. The glimpses she gives us of Calcutta during a period of intense change are astounding. The struggles of live on Subhash, his wife, and his child in Rhode Island are almost tragic. But there is a ray of sunlight.
This book is highly recommended, especially if you enjoy reading books about different cultures. (less)
If I am not mistaken, the author of this book is male, and the book is about the relationship between two identical twins with psychic abilities. The...moreIf I am not mistaken, the author of this book is male, and the book is about the relationship between two identical twins with psychic abilities. The story is told in the voice of the “responsible” sister, who has done her best to give up her powers. The other sister makes a living with her powers.
First, the author, even though he is necessarily handicapped in this, gets both the “voice” and the relationship right. Many authors have a hard time getting gender issues right even if they are writing about their own gender.
Second, though at times in reading the book I wondered if it was just a “day in the life” type book (or in this case, a few months), there are twists that come later in the volume that made it hard for me to put down.
The story starts when Violet (the professional psychic) predicts that a major earthquake will hit their hometown of St. Louis. A bit after that, Daisy, aka Kate, supplies a date, and Vi goes on the Today Show to announce her prediction to the world. While Vi is running around dealing with the fallout of this prediction, we learn a lot about Kate’s life, her husband and two kids, how they met, and other issues she had to deal with while growing up.
As the date for the earthquake grows closer, the people of St. Louis get anxious. Some leave town, skip work, take their kids out of school. And then something happens.
I can’t say any more without spoiling it. I am glad I read it, and I hope you will be too.(less)
Dangerous Women is a collection of short stories, novellas, and novelettes of “genre fiction.” This includes science fiction, fantasy, mystery, histor...moreDangerous Women is a collection of short stories, novellas, and novelettes of “genre fiction.” This includes science fiction, fantasy, mystery, historical fiction, horror, and paranormal romance. This is a massive book: almost 800 pages. The common feature of each story is a dangerous woman.
Overall the stories were good. There are a few real gems in here. And a previously unpublished Games of Thrones novella. Among other things, you will find a school for wizards (not Hogwarts), a violent post-apocalyptic city, a strip club, 18th century France, and a pair of modern sisters trying to figure out what is happening to their mother at a nursing home. Great stuff really(less)
After reading Louise Erdrich‘s The Round House last year, I have been reading everything of hers that I can get my hands on. Most recently that has be...moreAfter reading Louise Erdrich‘s The Round House last year, I have been reading everything of hers that I can get my hands on. Most recently that has been The Plague of Doves, which, though it did not grab me the way The Round House did, is nevertheless a very good read.
At first, I was under the impression that this book was really a series of novellas set in the same town and time. There are connected characters, though different voices in each of the sections. But as the story runs through, it is clear that there is a common narrative, a puzzle that needs to be solved, at least in the mind of Evelina, whose grandfather was among four men lynched when he was young. Her grandfather was the only one to survive. The lynching happened because these four men, all Native Americans, were the first to stumble across a mass murder at a homestead near their reservation.
Erdrich, who grew up in the area of Pluto ND and is part Native American herself, masterfully weaves the relationships amongst the full-bloods, the half-bloods or “breeds”, and the non-Native Americans. The family relationships among the characters become clearer as the story progresses to the great reveal. Her writing is beautiful, and it puts you right there. Though it is a little confusing when she shifts voices and times to give the story varying perspectives.
I recommend this book, which has characters in common with Love Medicine, set years earlier, and The Round House, which comes later. The best of the bunch is The Road House, which won the National Book Award last year. But the others are worthy reads too. (less)
So Big is the baby name that Salina gave her son Dirk, a name that he rejects at 10, yet is fondly repeated as he becomes a man living the life that S...moreSo Big is the baby name that Salina gave her son Dirk, a name that he rejects at 10, yet is fondly repeated as he becomes a man living the life that Salina's father had chosen for her.
It's the turn of the 20th century. Salina was a gambler's daughter, raised with a veneer of respectability, attending the best school in Chicago and associating with only the best young ladies. When asked, her father is in "investing." Then, he is killed at the card table, and at 19 Salina has to make some hard choices. No longer respectable, with only $547 and two small white diamonds to her name, she sets off to a Chicago Dutch farming community to be its school teacher.
This book follows Salina's struggles as a young teacher, wife, and mother. Then she is suddenly widowed, and she takes on her husband's farm and struggles against the travails of the sexism of the day. She is going to give her son the better life she was to have.
This book won the 1925 Pulitzer prize. It is easy to see why, with the beauty and simplicity the writing. In reading this book at the start of the 21st century, it is important too remind oneself that this book was contemporary when it was written. Yet it is still quite readable almost 100 years later, and provides a window into a time in our history that is easy to romanticize. I think of Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence. The author writes of something she knew and lived, which always makes for the best writing.
So Big jumped off the library shelf into my hands because of the Pulitzer prize lable on its spine. I would have passed over it otherwise, and I am glad that I didn't.(less)