Thursday, June 25, 2009

In Store Reading - Part 1

Reflections on books read in store:

A Thread of Truth, Marie Bostwick
Interesting Topic. At times seemed cliche or soap opery (of course the abused wife was a run away who turned- in this case unknowingly--to stripping only be saved by  a man who appeared charming but is really  a controlling jerk). Liked the camaraderie in the town but the knitting shop which is focused on isn't as exciting as Walker and Daughter from the Friday Night Knitting Club and Knit Two. Why are so many chick lit or women's fictions books focused on knitting?  Not sure I get it.  For the record, my favorite book that involves knitting women is Ann Hood's The Knitting Room.

Baggage Claim by Tanya Michna
I liked reading a portrayal of a female academic (especially a history professor!).  I was easily drawn in by this book and the accounts of the two women in very different stages of life. Not much else to report. This is a thought provoking book.

The Widow Season by Laura Brodie
Sarah McConnell's husband had been dead three months when she saw him in the grocery store..... So begins the story of a young widow who is possibly being haunted by her husband's ghost.  This book is quite the wild ride.  A reader spends the entire story trying to determine if it's the story of a woman grieving in untraditional ways, a ghost story or the story of a man who ran away from his life.  At different points in the book I was sure of the answer and then some new detail  would make me realize I was wrong.  I've truly never read anything else like this novel.  It was full of mystery, and yet it is completely a story about love, grief and human relationships.  Additionally, the author is a talented writer. There is a true literary quality to the novel.  Upon finishing the book, I learned that Brodie has a Phd in English and wrote her dissertation on widows in English literature. According to Brodie's website, her favorite chapter was on husband's who fake their deaths in order to spy on their wives.  This explains a great deal about the unique style of this novel.  While at points I was completely perplexed by the events of this novel, and annoyed by certain passages which lead me to believe one thing was really occurring, only to be totally confused by a further event, I see that this makes the novel special. I tend to ignore paranormal fiction or science fiction, because I like novels that portray real life through a new lens. But I recognize that there is a lot to appreciate about Brodie's ability to write realistic fiction with so many twists and turns.

April & Oliver, Tess Callahan
I love the cover of this novel: the colors just captivated me. The language in this novel captivated me as well. It's a complicated story, and yet it is mostly about two individuals overcoming the events of their childhoods.  The reader deeply wants more for April, as it seems every one has failed her, and her circumstances have led her with so few opportunities. And yet she isn't bitter and angry. I think there is something I need to learn from that.  April and Oliver are in some ways "cousins" as they share a grandmother. Their fathers are half brothers but Oliver's father is not biologically related to the mother who raised him. Thus April and Oliver are not genetically related. This is important as it is obvious that Oliver longed after April during his adolescence.  The book begins with the death of Billy, April's younger brother, who she took care of and loved deeply.  The aftermath of his death leaves April alone, dealing with an abusive/stalkerish ex, a grandmother in declining health and her own grief. Oliver, returns to NY from college in California with a fiance in tow.  He is a law student and a former piano prodigy. April wonders why he isn't using his gifts.  His fiance doesn't even know about his musical talents.  I won't reveal what happens, but I was completely drawn into this book.  The characters are incredibly realistic, and human.  The writing is crisp and artful.  The story is unique from so much of the derivative stories one finds these days.

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