First I must say that as soon as I have time, I must replace my shelf "Books set in Canada" with separate shelves for each province, and perhaps the tFirst I must say that as soon as I have time, I must replace my shelf "Books set in Canada" with separate shelves for each province, and perhaps the territories as well. Louise Penny's books, set in Québec, have such a sense of place that they could not be set in Ontario, British Columbia, or the Maritimes. Once again in The Cruelest Month, the almost-fairy-tale village of Three Pines is the setting for a murder case and Gamache and his team return to solve it. But besides the murder -- which at first looks like something supernatural -- Gamache is dealing with the continuing blowback from what we might call an Internal Affairs case that occurred before the first book in the series. Whom can he trust among his team and his colleagues? This mystery was, for me, harder to solve than the murder of Madeleine Favreau in Three Pines. I was pretty sure who the murderer was, but the continual harassment of Gamache and his family had one surprise for me at the end. Gamache is a bit of a philosopher and fits well in Three Pines, where nearly every character has something important to say about life, art, or love. I came late to the enjoyment of Louise Penny's work, and that's a good thing because I still have nine books left to read. Very highly recommended....more
I have only been to two of my college reunions, the 40th and 45th, so this book about the (one year late) 30th reunion of a class just ahead of mine aI have only been to two of my college reunions, the 40th and 45th, so this book about the (one year late) 30th reunion of a class just ahead of mine at a college not unlike my own was one I thought I'd enjoy, and it fit the prompt "A book with a month or day of the week in the title." The class in question is 1969, the college a thinly-disguised Macalester, and the reunion takes place in July 2000 because one character screwed up. The characters in July, July are and are not like my own classmates. Very few have any children, and those who do do not seem to think about them much. What many of O'Brien's characters do seem to think about a lot is their college romances, or romances they wish they had had, and the reunion becomes a venue for their attempts to rekindle those romances. (I've known of two people who reconnected with someone at their high school reunions and married them; neither ended well.) There was also a lot more excessive drinking than I've encountered.
Tim O'Brien was drafted immediately after his graduation from Macalester in 1968. His experience in Vietnam has been a central theme of most or all of his writing, and the character who goes to Vietnam and loses a leg there is the best part of the book, I thought. There was a touch of magical realism about the description of his wounding which reappears throughout the book, which was a refreshing change from the rather prosaic lives and thoughts of the other classmates.It was interesting to me that nobody of the principal characters, or even those just alluded to, had lived a very alternative life. Yes, there is the troubled woman who has two (simultaneous) husbands, and the woman who is a Lutheran missionary; but when I look at my and my husband's classmates, many of them seem to have lived much more interesting lives than O'Brien's characters. That's why I only gave this book three stars, although it held my interest and was well-written. I just couldn't care that much about these rather dull and often whiny people. Your results may differ....more