Sunday Salon – March 27, 2011

March 27, 2011

Oh what a horrible week of weather we have had here in the mountains of Northern California – snow, sleet, hail, rain, thunder and lightening, ice, and blustery winds. But, if the weather forecast is to be believed, Spring is just around the corner with sunny skies and mid-60 degree temperatures beginning tomorrow. One can only hope.

Last week I talked about how quickly I was blowing through books this month. I probably should have kept my mouth shut, because things really slowed down this week. I did finish Every Last One by Anna Quindlen which left me emotionally drained and devastated…my review will post on March 30th, but I will tell you that this one got five stars from me despite the tears (or maybe because of them). Anna Quindlen is so immensely talented at writing character. If you have not read this book, consider doing so – it is incredible.

I next picked up Conversations in the Cathedral by Mario Vargas Llosa. You might remember I was nervous about this one. At over 601 pages of densely packed prose, it looked daunting…and it was. In the first ten pages a dog is beaten to death, which is bad enough, but then Llosa introduces a huge cast of characters who speak without quotation marks and whose narrative rolls over each other with no indication of time, place or relevance. I found myself confused and annoyed early on, but persevered until just past sixty pages when I finally heaved the book aside in frustration. You can read all of my thoughts on the book here.

I was relieved to delve into a more accessible book after giving up on Llosa’s tome and Separate Beds by Elizabeth Buchan seemed a good choice.  Buchan is an ironic and rather funny author with a very British sense of humor. This novel was a bit meandering and rather slow paced, but Buchan’s perceptive insights into middle-aged marriage kept me reading. I can’t say this was a great read, however (read my review). I don’t know if it was my lack of connection with the characters, or the slow plot, but I was left feeling unsatisfied at the book’s conclusion.

My current read is The Fates Will Find Their Way by debut novelist Hannah Pittard. This novel has an interesting premise: namely, a young girl by the name of Nora Lindell goes missing, and the neighborhood boys left behind find themselves obsessed with what has happened to her. The novel spans decades and follows the boys (and Nora’s younger sister, Sissy) into adulthood. I’m not too far into the book yet (about 45 pages), but the writing is provocative and I am finding myself duly sucked into the story. I hope I finish this one quickly (maybe even today since it is a short book), so watch for a review possibly tomorrow or Tuesday.

Up next in the stacks is a book I have been eager to read for some time, but just now have a good excuse to open it. Bookies Too (a Yahoo book group) will be discussing That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo beginning the first of April. I read Russo’s book Bridge of Sighs back in 2008 (read my review) and appreciated Russo’s careful plot construction and wonderful characters, so I am looking forward to That Old Cape Magic.

As always, there were many books I hoped to read in March that I did not get to – they’ll be bumped onto April’s stack. I hope you have had a great reading month, like I have.

Today, I need to do a little house cleaning…but I fully intend to spend some time with Hannah Pittard later. What about you? Whatever you’re doing today, I hope it involves a GREAT book!

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    • Megan on March 27, 2011 at 09:36

    Conversation in the Cathedral sounds like it may contain just about all of my bookish pet peeves. Guess I’ll steer clear of that one!

    Looking forward to your review of Every Last One. Some of my favorite books are ones that bring me to tears.

    • Gavin on March 27, 2011 at 13:01

    I finished a couple of really good books this week and am now reading Cutting for Stone. Have a great week, Wendy!

  1. Wow, and here I’ve been whining because it’s chilly today. I can’t wait to see your review of Every Last One.

    • Alyce on March 27, 2011 at 18:42

    I hope you get some good weather! It’s been miserably rainy here too, so I would love to see the sun.

    Believe it or not I haven’t cracked open a book today. My in-laws came over for a visit, so I’m just now getting a chance to kick back and think about how I want to spend the rest of the day. I think I’ll read once the kids are in bed.

  2. I’ve been avoiding “Every Last One” but since you gave it such a high recommendation, I might have to take another look at it. I’ll also be interested to see what you think of “That Old Cape Magic.” Last weekend I started it as an audiobook, and … well, that’s probably ’nuff said about that. As I said, I’ll look forward to your review. 🙂

    • Wendy on March 28, 2011 at 05:54

    Megan: I know – it sounds weird to say, doesn’t it, that the books that make us cry are ones we love to much!! The Book Thief did that to me, too…and to this day, it is one of my favorites.

    Gavin:Oh, you have a good one going!! I loved Cutting For Stone – hope you do too!

    Kathy: My review of Every Last One posts on Wednesday 😉

    Alyce: I’ve had days like that! I’ll send sun wishes your way 🙂 Hope you got a chance to settle down and read last night!

    Melissa: Now you have me interested in what YOU thought of Russo’s book!! I should be starting it tonight or tomorrow 🙂

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