Tuesday, September 13, 2011
A friend invited me to join her book club in January, and I've been enjoying attending the monthly meetings ever since. In November, I'm hosting book club, which means I get to pick out the book we read. Exciting! Nerve-wracking! What book do I pick? This is an eclectic group, and from what I've experienced reads a variety of books. But I want to pick one they enjoy. And one that's good for a discussion. I'm leaning toward picking a book I've already read myself (don't want to accidentally pick a lemon), and I have a top choice in mind. But there are so many things to consider! I'm putting too much pressure on myself I think.
This is the first book in the Maisie Dobbs mystery series set in 1930s England. It was recommended to me by a friend, and I'm so glad. It has a lot of things I love: historical setting, great characters, and an intriguing mystery. It's a quiet book, and kind of somber in some ways. The characters are still reeling emotionally from the first World War, and in this first book we are given some back story that took place during the war itself. Yet the story never became gruesome or maudlin; and overall, the tone wasn't depressing. The mystery itself had a classic British mystery feel to it, but I also liked the fact that the book was about more than the mystery and also about the characters themselves. So it was like two stories seamlessly woven into one. I'm looking forward to reading more about Maisie and Billy and Maurice and Lady Rowan. Bottom line, read this if you enjoy mystery or historical fiction.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Sweethearts, by Sara Zarr
This is a short book, but it packs such an emotional punch. As children, Jennifer and Cameron are picked on and ignored and bullied by their peers; but they have each other. A traumatic event ends up separating the two for a while, but years later they are brought together again. They must confront their shared history, the different paths they've taken, and figure out where to go from there. It's beautiful and heartbreaking; a look at love in an untraditional way. Zarr is so good at creating characters and stories that just burrow right inside of you.
Big Stone Gap, by Adriana Trigiani
Set in the mountains of Virginia in 1978, Big Stone Gap is the story of Ave Maria Mulligan. Ave Maria is content in her life, a life full of work and friends and community involvement. Until one day she receives some news that shakes her whole world and causes her to question everything about herself. This isn't a fast-paced story, but it doesn't drag either. There's a sense of simplicity and unhurriedness. I enjoyed the sense of place that the author created. And while normally I don't like "life-crisis" type of stories, Triginani managed to create a story free from the melodrama I often associate with that kind of book. Plus, the book was about more than just Ave Maria's crisis, it was about the town and the mountains and the people who lived there. It's about family and love and frienship.