Daily Archives: July 6, 2008

Bookworms Carnival – Edition #13 (Relationships)

Edition #13 Hosted by Jenn

This month’s theme for the Bookworms Carnival is Relationships (and not the Harlequin Romance type). There are many types of relationships: sibling, parent-child, spouse, lover, friendship, business. I’m probably missing some. I prowled my personal library and discovered several books I’ve read which revolve around friendship. I love books with this theme – especially friendships between women which are often filled with ambivalence, extremes of emotion (anger, sadness, joy), comfort and meaning. Most will agree that if you have one true and loyal friend in your lifetime, you are doing well. I’ve been lucky to find several friendships which I continue to treasure – each one unique and special to me.

Below are some book selections which I think capture the essence of female friendships. Clicking on the picture of the book will take readers to Amazon to learn more about the books.

Author Elizabeth Berg writes books about friendship better than many writers. And for that reason, she has become one of my favorite authors. Talk Before Sleep, published in 1994 is the story of Ruth and Ann – two friends who face a crisis which tests their friendship. The book highlights the strength of unconditional love and the joy and sadness which comes from loving another person. This book made me laugh and cry. It is a tender and honest look at women’s friendships.

I discovered two new authors this year: Meg Waite Clayton and Marisa de los Santos. Both of these talented women write about friendship.

Clayton’s novel, The Wednesday Sisters, revolves around five women who bond one summer in 1968 and eventually form a writer’s group. The novel is brilliantly executed – a story with heart and substance which brought me to tears. Clayton captures the essence of women’s friendships without being sappy or overly emotional. For more of my thoughts, read my review of this book.

Belong to Me, written by Marisa de los Santos and published this year (following her very successful debut novel Love Walked In) also tackles the theme of women’s friendships. de los Santos has a rare skill – she makes you care deeply about her characters, to climb inside their shoes and feel their joy, sadness, doubt, and fear. The characters in Belong to Me first appeared in Love Walked In…and I would recommend reading the books in order (although I didn’t do that!). To read more of my thoughts on this book, read my review which I published here on my blog in March of this year.

Helen Hooven Santmyer wrote “…And Ladies of the Club” at the age of 88. I’ve read this book three times – remarkable given that I rarely re-read a book even once. The novel spans several decades – from just after the Civil War to the threshold of the New Deal. It follows the lives of two women in a small Ohio town who are part of the Waynesboro ladies’ literary society. This is a book which goes beyond friendships and explores the impact of history on the lives of its characters. Santmyer’s novel is huge (more than 1000 pages) and yet the book is a breeze to read. Deeply satisfying on many levels, this wonderful epic will resonate with women.

Sunday Salon – July 6, 2008

July 6, 2008

The last time I posted for the Sunday Salon on June 22nd, I wrote:

This morning the lingering smell of smoke from lightening strikes drifts on the morning breeze. There is probably nothing that evokes fear more to a Northern Californian (living in the mountains) than the smell of smoke. The news is reporting that no fewer than 75 fires were sparked by lightening in the forests of Northern California yesterday – So we are wary and alert today…but, still I will find some time to relax with a book.

My words proved to be eerily prophetic. Later that afternoon two wildfires took off very close to our home, putting us on evacuation alert for a week. You can read my posts on that here and here and here. That and participation in the 24 Hour Read-A-Thon kept me from posting last week. But, my life is back on track now…so with no further ado, let’s settle down and talk books.

Since my last Salon post, I finished Life of Pi (read my review). Thank you to everyone who left comments about their impressions of this book. I found it slow to get into, but it grew on me as I continued to read. It is a deep, thoughtful book – and one I felt I couldn’t completely appreciate being under the stress I was under last week. It is a novel I will probably re-read at some point.

Thanks to the Read-A-Thon, last week I also finished Comfort Food (read my review), The House at Midnight (read my review), Springtime on Mars (read my review), and Down River (read my review). Of those, I can highly recommend Springtime on Mars (a wonderful short story collection by Susan Woodring and published by a small, independent press) and Down River (this years Edgar Award winner and a great suspense-thriller with some edge of your seat psychological tension). John Hart’s first novel was published to high praise and I haven’t yet read it…but I will now. Did any of you read it?

This week I slipped between the pages of People of the Book by the Pulitzer Prize winning author Geraldine Brooks. I bought this book when it first appeared in bookstores and it has lingered on my TBR mountain for several months. But the Bookies Too Yahoo Group chose to discuss Brooks’ novel this month, so I finally picked it up. And I’m happy I did. The amount of research which went into the writing of this novel is evident – and the story was one I immediately latched onto. My review is now posted. If you haven’t read this one yet, I’d encourage you to do so.

My current read is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver – a book I’ve heard about over and over again. Believe it or not I have never read a Kingsolver novel before. I’m 100 pages into this chunky book and growing attached to the narrators: a mother and four daughters who arrive in the Congo in 1959 as missionaries. I am quite enjoying the voice of Adah who was born hemiplegic and mute, but who sees the world in her own unique way. Here is a passage I’ve already marked which not only highlights Adah’s individuality and the scenery of the Congo, but also demonstrates Kingsolver’s gift of language:

Sunrise tantalize, evil eyes hypnotize: that is the morning, Congo pink. Any morning, every morning. Blossomy rose-color birdsong air streaked sour with breakfast cookfires. A wide red plank of dirt – the so-called road – flat-out in front of us, continuous in theory from here to somewhere distant. But the way I see it through my Adah eyes it is a flat plank clipped into pieces, rectangles and trapezoids, by the skinny black-line shadows of tall palm trunks. -From The Poisonwood Bible, page 30-

Isn’t that gorgeous writing? I’m looking forward to hunkering down with this book today. Despite its size (more than 500 pages), I don’t think it will take me long to finish it.

Have a wonderful day of reading, fellow Sunday Saloners. See you next week!