I enjoyed "The Middle Place" and so when I went backpacking and wanted to download a book to my phone, I chose this one. Good choice! It's kind of amaI enjoyed "The Middle Place" and so when I went backpacking and wanted to download a book to my phone, I chose this one. Good choice! It's kind of amazing why I should be so interested in Kelly Corrigan's family, but chalk it up to her writing talent that keeps me interested.
Where "The Middle Place" was about her dad, this book is more about her mother, who told her that her dad was the glitter, but she (her mother) was the glue that held the family together. This is about the third book I've read recently that involves a fractious mother-daughter relationship. While Kelly was growing up, her mother was the disciplinarian, the dependable family manager, the role model, who (Kelly thought) had absolutely no sense of humor. "Children should be seen and not heard, and preferably not seen much." When Kelly became an adult, she was disappointed in the amount of mothering she received.
At the beginning of the book, Kelly has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She is rather shocked that her mother doesn't hesitate at all, and flies to the Bay Area to help out. Kelly tells her mom she's been thinking a lot of Ellen Tanner. So most of the book introduces us to the family of Ellen Tanner, a woman Kelly never met.
Flashback to 1992. Kelly is about 24 years old, recently graduated from college, and found a deal for a year-long, round the world experience. "Things happen when you leave home." Her itinerary gives her 5 months in Australia, but she needs to find a job to earn some money. After the more glamorous prospects don't pan out, she very reluctantly accepts a job as a nanny for a widower and his two children. The wife, Ellen Tanner, died of cancer. Most of the book is about those 5 months, and the lengths Kelly went to to befriend the family, and how much she learned about her own mother during that time.
All in all, a very charming book about how Kelly was enlightened to look at her mother in a totally different way. She discovers that women aren't just one person -- they're many different people, depending on the situations they're in, and the company they're with. What really struck me was Kelly's description of her glittery, bubbly relationship with her dad as a gift her mom gave her, and how she was determined to give the same gift to her own daughters.
I guess I'm a sucker for book about fractious mother-daughter relationships, and how, over the course of time, the relationships evolve to each's gratification by the end of the book....more
I listened to the audio book in 2 installations as I was driving down I-5 with my daughter. Reese Witherspoon did a fantastic job of doing the narratiI listened to the audio book in 2 installations as I was driving down I-5 with my daughter. Reese Witherspoon did a fantastic job of doing the narration, and giving each of the characters their own distinctive voice.
I wanted to experience what caused such an uproar when the book was published: "What?!? You can't make Atticus Finch a RACIST!" Knowing I was in for that, I was very pleased to discover that Harper Lee could weave just as entertaining a tale as she did with "To Kill a Mockingbird." I was enchanted by the fact that this book was really 50 years old, and Lee chose not to publish it for that long. Just like "To Kill a Mockingbird," I loved the title of this book. It comes from the book of Isaiah in the Bible: "For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth." A brilliant title.
The book centers on Scout -- now called by her proper, adult name, Jean Louise -- and her return to Maycomb, AL after living in New York. She is aghast at the racism and segregation she sees, and is heart-broken at how her father and one-time almost-boyfriend are included in it. The book features lots of flashbacks to Jean Louise's childhood, and lots of fun characters in addition to the Bigger Than Life Atticus. Jean Louise's aunt Alexandra and uncle Jack are a hoot, at least the way Witherspoon voiced them.
I'm not sure if I'm quite satisfied with the ending of the book, but then again, maybe that's the point. As I'm originally from Minnesota, and have lived in California for 30 years, I'm not at all familiar with life in the South -- maybe this is an accurate depiction of the way it really is, and concerned citizens and Christians really should be unsettled with the way things are there. Slavery ended over 150 years ago, but all we need to do is pick up a newspaper to realize that relations between blacks and whites are still far from satisfactorily settled. ...more
**spoiler alert** I really thought I could handle this book. I wasn't afraid of 19th century literature -- I loved "Uncle Tom's Cabin." I visited Sale**spoiler alert** I really thought I could handle this book. I wasn't afraid of 19th century literature -- I loved "Uncle Tom's Cabin." I visited Salem, and saw the actual House of the Seven Gables. Who isn't intrigued by the story of the Salem witch trials? I liked a movie I saw of "The Scarlet Letter." So I thought this would be an enlightening and entertaining book for me.
Unfortunately, I REALLY had trouble with Hawthorne's style of writing. On the positive side, the language he uses to describe characters' looks and feelings is probably the most lovely and descriptive of anybody I've ever read. But it goes ON AND ON AND ON! Pages and pages go by before anything really happens.
Hawthorne introduced the house to us with Colonel Pyncheon, who basically steals the land on which he builds his mansion from the grandson of one of the witches hanged during the trials. The grandson, of course, isn't pleased and curses the house. The Colonel dies unexpectedly and in the prime of his life, in the house.
Fast forward a few generations. Now the occupants of the house are Hepzibah Pyncheon, an old spinster with a scowl that Hawthorne describes about a hundred times. Her crazy brother Clifford also keeps to the house. Hepzibah has issues, and is afraid to leave the house. Enter Phoebe Pyncheon, a young cousin from "the country," who arrives like a breath of fresh air. (Many pages describe the effect of Phoebe's arrival on the house and its occupants.) Phoebe makes everything better, then leaves to return, temporarily, to the country.
Hepzibah is not well off, but her cousin Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon is. Jaffrey thinks that Clifford holds the key to a long-lost piece of paper that will prove that the Judge is heir to lots of land to increase his fortune. Hepzibah tries to protect Clifford from the Judge.
Minor characters are the Daguerrotypist Holgrave, and Uncle Venner, a friendly, poor farmer neighbor. Things finally started happening a little quicker around chapter XV (out of XXI), when the Judge is also done in by the house. But Hawthorne mercilessly teases us for pages and pages -- is the Judge dead in the chair, or why is he not moving?
Any normal person with similar tastes in literature as I would have put down this book after the first few frustrations. But I'm goal-oriented, and kept soldiering on. I won't be reading any more Hawthorne!...more
**spoiler alert** "Promise Me" is not the strongest of Evans's books. The main character, Beth's, life has really taken a dive. She thought her marria**spoiler alert** "Promise Me" is not the strongest of Evans's books. The main character, Beth's, life has really taken a dive. She thought her marriage was strong, but a co-worker at the dry cleaners where Beth works finds a note from a lover in the pocket of Marc's pants. So he's a cheater! Beth kicks him out of the house, but agrees to let him back in. Her attempt to come to forgiveness is mostly for her daughter Charlotte's sake, and because she knows that it will help her heal from the hurt also. But just when she plans a romantic dinner and is planning to ask him to move back home, Marc doesn't show up until the next morning, drunk, telling her he has cancer. He moves back in, Beth nurses him along, until he dies.
Beth's little girl prays for "someone to take care of YOU, Mommy." Enter Matthew. Is he an angel? How is it that he know so much about Beth, never having met her? What's with his slip-up "I love it when you make that!" the first time she shares her homemade granola?
Towards the end of the book, Matthew finally solves the mystery that he's from 18 years in the future, when he promised his dying wife -- Charlotte! -- that he'd take care of Beth. That didn't make sense to me, because by that time Beth has been married a dozen years to Kevin, and shouldn't need someone else to take care of her. Oh wait! Maybe even he didn't understand that he was actually an answer to a prayer his wife offered when she was 6 years old. Huh?
So after Matthew and Beth fall in love -- of course BEFORE Matthew tells her that his dead wife was her daughter -- he finally fesses up, and says shoot! He wasn't supposed to fall in love with her! But he did. She did. So by this time he's got 10 months left until he has to go back to the future. Whirlwind travel time! Paris! Italy! And on Christmas Eve, they part.
Fast forward 18 years. Matthew and Charlotte come to Beth and Kevin's for Christmas dinner. Beth takes Matthew up into her bedroom, closes the door, and throws herself into his arms, where he returns the embrace! Pretty weird.
So maybe I should have rated "Promise Me" lower than four stars. But Richard Paul Evans writes so WARMLY, and kind of makes you GLOW inside, so that even those of his books that are more clunky are still nice to read....more
**spoiler alert** My daughter told me this was the required reading book she enjoyed the most in high school. My husband and I will be seeing the play**spoiler alert** My daughter told me this was the required reading book she enjoyed the most in high school. My husband and I will be seeing the play based on this book in San Francisco later this year. So with all that, I thought I should read the book, as it obviously has a following.
Actually, I'm a bit disappointed. The author's handling of the protagonist, whose disability is never named (autism? Asperger's?), is very honest and sensitive. Most people, when they see an autistic person react to a stimulus by screaming or punching, would probably fade back and avoid the situation. The author does a fine job of explaining this reaction from the point of view of the person acting out. It sounds pretty logical. I also loved the descriptions of how certain things made Christopher feel safe. We all want to feel safe, but I guess for someone suffering from autism, the stakes are so much higher, and a feeling of safety is imperative.
I was disturbed by how Christopher's parents were portrayed. His mother seemed very self-absorbed, so the reader almost can understand why Christopher's dad wants Christopher to believe that she's dead. But he's a very scary person, even to a healthy reader. He yells and swears at his son (okay, maybe only a saint would be able to remain calm 100% of the time when dealing with an autistic son). But his casual admittance "I killed Wellington" and then expecting Christopher to think it's okay to go back to living as he formerly did with Dad? Unbelievable. That was a gruesome murder of an innocent pet -- the guy should be locked up.
So I think what saves this book is all the drawings and descriptions of what's going on inside Christopher's head. ("I had to do maths to calm down.") He undertakes a very brave quest to go find his mother, and his success in that endeavor makes the reader want to stand up and cheer, even though it doesn't result in the start of a life of sunshine and roses for Christopher....more
I LOVED "Still Alice." Jodi Picoult has an endorsement on the front cover that we should "clear our schedule because you're going to feel the same wayI LOVED "Still Alice." Jodi Picoult has an endorsement on the front cover that we should "clear our schedule because you're going to feel the same way" about "Left Neglected." Lisa Genova did not disappoint! She may have a PhD in neuroscience, but she is a very gifted author. I laughed, I cried, I was totally absorbed by this book. Genova took on a brain injury in this one, like she took on Alzheimer's in "Still Alice." I loved that both books featured a fractured mother-daughter relationship that improved and blossomed over the course of the book. And funny!! It's utterly amazing the way Genova can take a very serious subject like loss of lifestyle due to a brain injury and find the humor in it. Her power with words is amazing. A couple of examples:
(Sarah): "Honey, tell me everything you see in here." Bob lists verbally what he sees. "Is that everything?" "Pretty much." "Okay, now what if I told you that everything you see is only half of everything that's really here? What if I told you to turn your head and look at the other half? Where would you look?" "I don't know." "Exactly."
And when Sarah tries to snowboard for the first time after her accident, her instructor Mike says "Great, Sarah! How does it feel?" How do I feel? I feel like Mike hurled a huge rock through the glass wall of my preconceptions, hitting it dead center, shattering my fear into a million glittery pieces on the snow around me.
If I see another Lisa Genova novel as I'm browsing at book sales, I will grab it up in a heart beat....more