Yes, I have been reading, just not reviewing!
The best books of my fall/winter reading:
What do you do when your spouse dies and the years are ticking by and you are aging and lonely? For Addie Moore, the answer is to take a risk on love. Set in Colorado, Haruf’s novel is a beautiful meditation on love, loss, and aging.
I never read Rust by this same author (although I have it on my bookshelf) and now I am feeling very motivated to pick it up. The Son is classic western historical fiction that follows three main characters in one family and spans decades. Vivid, and arguably “the Great American Novel,” Meyer’s novel is transporting and gives the reader a deeper understanding of America’s violent past and the demise of its Native American peoples.
The companion novel to Atkinson’s Life After Life focuses on Ursula’s younger brother Teddy as he moves through the dramatic days of World War II. It is not necessary to read Life After Life to appreciate Atkinson’s original prose (although reading the first book will certainly add depth to this one). Intelligent and ingenious, this is a book that will stay with me.
Camille Pissarro was one of the greatest artists of Impressionism in the late 1800s. Born in St. Thomas to Jewish parents, he eventually moved to Paris where he made his name. Alice Hoffman’s historical novel recreates the life of Camille’s mother, Rachel. Married off to an older man when she was just a teenager, Rachel becomes mother to this widow’s children, and later has several more children of her own. When her husband dies unexpectedly, his handsome nephew Frederic arrives…and Rachel finds true love, although their marriage is frowned upon, catapulting her and her family into scandal. Camille was Rachel’s favorite son by Frederic – a boy who grew into an artist with amazing vision. Luminous and historically intriguing, The Marriage of Opposites is a book to savor.
Some good reads:
Julia Pierpont’s debut novel opens with a package sent to Deb Shanley from the woman who is having an affair with Deb’s husband, Jack. But instead of Deb, the box is opened by her child, 11-year-old Kate. Filled with hundreds of printed emails chronicling the affair, the box sets in motion the destruction of a family. Tense, occasionally funny, and starring the fictional world’s biggest narcissist (Jack), Peirpont’s novel is mostly successful if not a bit uneven.
Dr. William Petit suffered an unspeakable crime on July 23, 2007 – armed strangers broke into his home and bludgeoned him, then raped, tortured and murdered his wife and two daughters before setting their house on fire. Journalist d’Agostino takes readers into Bill Petit’s life to bring us face to face with loss, grief, faith and recovery. The power of the human spirit to survive horror and then elevate beyond it is a compelling story.
This novel had an interesting premise – two brothers with their own obsessions – one of whom is “slow” and meticulously organizes a universe of insects in the garden shed. Touted as a tight psychological suspense novel, I was ready to be scared. But the secrets in this novel are easy to figure out, and then ending fell flat for me.
There was so much hype about this early novel of Harper Lee’s, that I suspected I might be disappointed with it. Regardless, I picked up a copy to read. Go Set A Watchman takes readers forward into the future of “Scout” as a young woman who is returning to Maycomb, Alabama to visit her father. Much of the novel feels unedited and lacks the depth of the characters which entranced me in To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee explores racism in the South during the 1940s, but it lacks the punch that her Pulitzer Prize winner had. This one won’t be a classic.
Anyone who reads my blog must know how much I love Atwood’s work. I had so much hope for this novel…but I walked away from it feeling disappointed. Set in the future, The Heart Goes Last examines a married couple trying to stay afloat in an economic and social collapse. I believe that Atwood wanted to write a satire – and she does…but the plot is weak and the characters silly and unbelievable. Instead of being horrified by a future controlled by psychopaths, I found myself merely grimacing. Don’t bother with this one.
My last read for this year is in progress – What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan (William Morrow, 2015, 470 pages) is a fast paced psychological thriller that features a mum out walking with her eight year old son…and then he disappears. It is a “who dunnit” and has my attention!