Dihiba's 100 in 2009

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Dihiba's 100 in 2009

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Bearbeitet: Feb. 16, 2009, 12:24pm

Hi - just joining this group. I was with the 75 group last year and as I made it to 123 I thought the 100 would be a good fit.
Here is my list for 2008 of my picks and pans
(from a total of 123):

Best Fiction (in order of preference)

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor
Such a Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry
On Green Dolphin Street by Sebastian Faulks
Larry's Party by Carol Shields
The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Saturday by Ian McEwan
The Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg

Murder Mysteries (no particular order)
Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson
All the Colours of Darkness by Peter Robinson
Not in the Flesh by Ruth Rendell

Non Fiction (no particular oder)
A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
Deadly Persuasion by Jean Kilbourne

Worst reads - Fiction (worst first)
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
The Wars by Timothy Findley
(I read other bad books but did not finish them - these two I managed to get through!)

Around Ireland in Low Gear by Eric Newby

Murder Mystery
Jemima Shore's First Case by Antonia Fraser

Book I was most sceptical and cynical about its veracity:
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Bearbeitet: Mai 27, 2009, 8:27am

First book completed in 2009:

(1) October by Richard B. Wright. Not to be confused with another writer by the same name, Wright is a Canadian writer who was received acclaim for his novel Clara Callan. I have since read 3 other books by him but none have them have lived up to Clara.
October is about a man in his 70's who has to face death - but not his own. James is a professor who goes to England to visit his ill daughter and runs into Gabriel, an American who he knew briefly as a boy in Canada during WWII. Gabriel asks a favour of him which James goes along with. The book keeps flipping back and forth between their time together in Perce, Quebec in 1944 and the present.
The narrator, to me, gets in the way of the story, as I never really warmed up to him. At times Wright paints him with skill, at other times it seems to fall flat. I never got to the point where I felt much empathy with James. Sometimes he irritated me but generally I didn't feel much.
Wright is a good story teller and writes very well, so I won't stop reading him.
In 1980 I attended a wedding in Perce (Gaspe, Que., surely one of the most beautiful spots in North America) and was chuffed to have Wright mention that lovely little Anglican church very early in the book. It weirdly evoked a time in my past - newly married, no kids... ah, Life... Wright does really write about Life, so that was appropriate!

Jan. 7, 2009, 6:29am

(2) Swan Song by Edmund Crispin.

Murder at the opera, mayhem and confusion - poison or not? It's all here, in Crispin's inimitable style. Published in 1946, some interesting comments about Hitler and the recent world war.

Jan. 7, 2009, 10:15am

Nice selection of reads for 2008. Also good to see you on the 100 forum. I followed your reading on the 75 group last year.

I like Carol Shields books but have never heard of Larry's Party, I will have to check that one out.

Jan. 9, 2009, 7:45pm

I had a quick look at your library - I think you would like Larry's Party. One reason I liked it is part of it covered my growing-up era. Another, Shields' writing style.

(3) The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.
Normally I wouldn't have read this, but my guy brought it back from the US with him last month and he liked it a lot. It was interesting - I knew basically zip about Chicago and about the same about the World's Fair of 1892 so it was interesting from that point of view. Larson must have done a tremendous amount of research (it's non-fiction)
and for the most part, it's interesting. Strangely, the bits about the Ferris wheel seemed to interest me the most!
I read the largest portion of this today while waiting to have my car fixed. What a great way to get some reading done!

Jan. 9, 2009, 7:53pm

Thanks for posting your picks and pans. I certainly agree with your first two fiction pics, which are both excellent reads.

Have starred your thread to follow your progress, dhiba.

Jan. 9, 2009, 10:01pm

Thanks kiwidoc, for your comments.
One reason I like this group is that is smaller and I can read everyone's thread, and not miss anything!

Jan. 10, 2009, 12:03pm

I really liked the way Bernard Cornwell writes. I saw him at an author's reading two years ago. He is very entertaining as a speaker.

Jan. 10, 2009, 1:37pm

I have only read one of his Stonehenge, but I think I will like the series I am just starting - about King Alfred, the Viking raids, etc., as I like that period of history. I want to read more historical fiction this year - including Sharon Kay Penman and Margaret George.

Jan. 12, 2009, 5:44pm

4. 1215 by Danny Danziger and John Gillingham. History, about England in the year 1215, when King John signed the Magna Carta. Not as good a read as 1066 but still some interesting stuff.

Looks like I'm on track for 100 - if I keep this pace up!

Jan. 12, 2009, 11:23pm

Just wanted you to know I am checking in on your thread every now and again, Diana.

Looks like you have made a good start to your reading year!

Jan. 19, 2009, 4:50pm

5. The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell. This is his first in a series of books about King Alfred, set in the late 800's. Mainly about how he fought off the Vikings (Danes). I thought it was quite good, but a lot of battles, i.e. blood and gore, which didn't thrill me a lot. I wish he would cut back on that and add more plot.

6. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. A YA book which I only read because I am teaching it. OK, good for its purpose, but not something I would read for my own personal pleasure.

Jan. 19, 2009, 4:51pm

I have started A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry and so far am enjoying it a lot. Will be very busy this week with end of semester, but hope to read at least a few pages each night!

Bearbeitet: Feb. 16, 2009, 12:21pm

7. Notes from a Big Country by Bill Bryson.

Laughed myself silly.

Read this 4 or 5 years ago under the title I'm a Stranger Here Myself and didn't realize it was the same book but I had forgotten most of it anyway, so it was just as enjoyable (at least I think so!) the second time around. Or perhaps the US version is not the same as the British/Canadian version. Anyway...hilarious!!

Jan. 21, 2009, 8:41pm

I just picked up Notes from a Small Island hope it's as funny. I got it in audio form so that I could listen to it when my husband and I take a trip to South Carolina. He's not a big reader, he liked John Mortimer's Rumpole series and Sherlock Holmes but there's only so many of those. So I'm hoping to find another type of book that he might like..

Jan. 22, 2009, 12:32am

#14: I still love Bill Bryson, too. Any further thoughts on bribing him to write about Canada?

Jan. 22, 2009, 7:12am

Yeah...I'd even provide him with a place to stay - however, Ottawa is not a funny town. He'd have to travel beyond this place!

Jan. 24, 2009, 1:45am

#17: Maybe you could serve as tour guide? Bet that would be a fun trip!

Jan. 24, 2009, 8:15am

8. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler. Interesting study of the Tull family from the 1930's to 1970's. Tyler shows us a dysfunctionality which she doesn't dress up with moralizing. I come away from her books feeling that yes, we are all flawed, but that doesn't cancel us out as human beings, and most of us are worthy of respect, admiration and love despite our flaws.
However, I did find it hard to warm up to the eldest son, Cody Tull. He was a snake! But very human in his own way.

Jan. 24, 2009, 10:21pm

I think Tyler has a knack for creating real characters. I read 'Homesick' last year and really enjoyed it.

Jan. 29, 2009, 5:17pm

9. Tooth and Nail by Ian Rankin. An early one in Rankin's series on Insp. Rebus. This time Rebus is in London helping find a serial killer.

Jan. 31, 2009, 8:27am

Diese Nachricht wurde vom Autor gelöscht.

Jan. 31, 2009, 9:05am

Thanks, citizenkelly.
My objection to Newby's book was that it was just... boring! I visited Ireland around the time he did - on that basis I thought it would be more interesting.
I have 2 or 3 other Newby books - will give them a try. I always like to give an author another chance!

Jan. 31, 2009, 9:15am

10. Dark of Fell - by Reginald Hill. Generally I don't read two murder mysteries in a row, but I needed something skinny enough to finish quickly.
Dark of Fell turned out to be a good choice. Published in 1971, it is surprisingly modern (one of the main characters is bisexual and the other, his close friend, is hetero), despite the absence of cell phones and computers.
Extremely well crafted and well written (writing has to be in the English DNA), this was Hill's first novel.
It had me interested from start to finish.
It is a bit male-oriented - the hetero main character at one point has three women panting after him (one is his estranged wife) in a 24-hour period. He beds two of them, even though he is sufferieng from injuries, near-starvation, and extreme anxiety. Well...they do call it fiction.

Bearbeitet: Feb. 4, 2009, 7:03pm

11. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry Excellent, wonderful, awe-inspiring, heart warming and heart breaking.
Am sure this will be in my top 5 for 2009.
Four lives in India intertwined - love, hope, death, despair, tragedy.
Highly recommended to all.

Feb. 4, 2009, 7:08pm

dihiba - A Fine Balance is one of the books I really really want to read ASAP. I have never heard anything bad about it.

Feb. 4, 2009, 7:09pm

I'm with you kiwi, its on my list for February!

Feb. 4, 2009, 8:01pm

The book has a LOT of detail and a lot of dialogue - not an intricate plot, but lots of small items about the characters, and lots of things happen to them. It has a very political background, but really not a lot about it - i.e. it doesn't detract from the story about the people - the books is full of interesting people.
Mistry is very easy to read - I have read Tales from Firozsha Baag and Such a Long Journey and they are both wonderful.

Bearbeitet: Feb. 5, 2009, 9:16am

12. What We Keep by Elizabeth Berg. Berg is usually a quick read, with good insights. This novel is about two sisters, now in their late 40's, who meet up with their mother 35 years after she left the family. An interesting read for any woman who is a mother or daughter. I guess that just about covers all of us females!

Feb. 7, 2009, 10:11am

13. B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton.

Bearbeitet: Mai 27, 2009, 8:31am

14. The Republic of Love by Carol Shields

This book explores the backgrounds, including the past loves of Tom and Fay, including the backgrounds and loves of their families and close friends. Extremely detailed, Shields addresses the "myth" of love - the mermaid being a mythical creature makes an interesting topic of Fay's life work. Sheilds' observation that love is a republic, not a kingdom, and is democratic and potential to all of us, was an interesting one. She also observes that today it is permissible to talk about jobs, money, acquisitions, sex, but love is not really discussed. (The book was written in 1992 but it still applies seventeen years later.) Although at times I found the details a bit mind-numbing, and the descriptions too ever-present, over all I liked it a lot.

Bearbeitet: Feb. 11, 2009, 11:58am

I read The Republic of Love many years ago. Did you know that a film was made of it? Have you seen it? I saw it about five years ago at an Irish film festival. I was intrigued to see how the story translated onto film but ended up a little disappointed. It's always good to see Canadian film support its own though!

Feb. 11, 2009, 3:50pm

I really liked The Republic of Love- it was my introduction to the work of Shields.

Feb. 11, 2009, 4:34pm

No, I didn't know it was made into a movie! I will check my public library and see if they have a copy.

This was my second Shields book - I did prefer Larry's Party which seemed more focused. I have a few more of Shields' in my TBR pile, now affectionately referred to as "Behemoth".

Feb. 12, 2009, 3:46pm

15. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. This book turned out be quite a bit better than I thought it would be. 15-year old German boy has an affair with a woman in her thirties. *Spoiler alert* - she is a former SS guard and eventually goes to prison. There was a lot of guilt in this story - in fact, it is all about guilt and about the choices people make.
I find the Holocaust topic so overwhelming now in its scope, even 70 years on - and it has been so media-drenched that is it possible to even deal with? It also makes me think about other genocides which seem to get much less coverage. Why?
I am not sure if I want to see the movie, but would be curious to know how they interpret this book.

Feb. 12, 2009, 8:38pm

Are those rhetorical questions? Because this is something I think about, too, and I have two theories as to why the Holocaust gets so much coverage, and protestations of "never again", and then other genocides (Rawanda, Darfur) pop up and get less attention:

1) To the best of my knowledge (and I'm not a historian like you, so please correct me if I'm wrong!) it was the only state-sponsored and state-sanctioned plan to murder a group of people based on their race in recent history (and I'm using "race" here because that is what the Germans considered the Jews to be, and I know it isn't accurate, maybe "ethnicity" is better? I'm sure I'm revealing a great deal of ignorance here and again, anyone feel free to smack me down). So that is a huge deal. I'm under the impression that more recent genocides are conflicts between different tribes or ethnic groups. They take turns seizing power, but they aren't an elected, stable government deciding to take out a section of the population.

2) the cynic in me points out that Holocaust victims were largely white people, and the less-covered genocides involve largely non-white people. To the media, I think, things that happen in Africa or southeast Asia are nowhere near as important as things that happen in Europe. I mean, look at media coverage of missing kids. Children disappear all the time, and each case is awful and tragic and wrong, but who does the media cover? Pretty little blond girls.

Sorry to hijack your thread, dihiba. You just asked a really important question, and I felt compelled to share. What is your take on the relative media coverage of different genocides?

Feb. 12, 2009, 9:34pm

I'm going to weigh in on these questions tomorrow!
I have to visit the Land of Nod now : ).

One more book to record:
16. The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark. This was a startling little novella - a couple of hours to read, at most. Very weird. Like Spark's other books, also very compelling.
Lise goes abroad and is murdered. The book details her last day before her death. None of the characters in the book actually seem to speak to each other, but rather AT each other. There is an air of insanity throughout.

Bearbeitet: Feb. 28, 2009, 10:14am

17. The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie. I find it amazing that a book published in 1928 is still very readable. I wonder how the bestsellers of our time will hold up in 2090?
Typical Christie - Poirot, handsome but bad men, attractive and intelligent women, flighty girls, jewels, a train, and a murder.
My Agatha Christie handbook says she hated writing this book - it sounds like it was done on publisher's orders. Ah well, she still did a good job.

Feb. 14, 2009, 8:40am

my TBR pile, now affectionately referred to as "Behemoth".

I love it!

Bearbeitet: Mai 27, 2009, 8:33am

18. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill. This is a great story - Aminata (also known as Meena) is kidnapped in what is now Mali, Africa and sold into slavery in Charleston, South Carolina. She is then sold again and goes to New York City where she leaves her owner - after the American Revolution she leaves for Nova Scotia as a Black Loyalist. She later becomes a settler at Freetown, Sierra Leone. The book begins with her final stop of London and ends there after she tells her life story.This book is published as Someone Knows My Name in the U.S.
Lawrence Hill is a Canadian writer of American parentage, the son of a black father and a white mother. He has written a novel that is both plot and character driven. I have a few minor criticisms with some historical facts (which he admits he has taken some liberties with) and that some of the everyday language actually belongs to the 20th and 21st centuries, but these are small criticisms (a copy of Jonathon Green's Cassell's Dictionary of Slang would be good for anyone writing dialogue).
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the slave trade, black history, or triumph over adversity.
And in case you like trivia, Lawrence Hill is the brother of singer/songwriter Dan Hill.

Feb. 17, 2009, 7:26pm

19. Second Honeymoon by Joanna Trollope. Been reading this one on the treadmill for a while now and decided it was time to just finish it! Crises in a London family of grown children and parents - Trollope's usual satisfying look at the foibles of ordinary folk.

Feb. 18, 2009, 8:32am

>41 dihiba:: I picked this up a few weeks ago from a charity shop - you'd recommend it then?

Feb. 18, 2009, 8:34am

Yes, it's just a good read,nothing too heavy, but the characters are interesting and reflect real life.
Esp. good if you are a parent or young adult in the same place in life.

Feb. 19, 2009, 2:27am

#40: My daughter Catey has that one home from the library right now and is enjoying it. I have dibs on it next and am really looking forward to reading it. I hope I enjoy it as much as you did, Diana.

Bearbeitet: Feb. 19, 2009, 8:14am

Stasia, I think you will love it!
Hey, I have a daughter Katie too...

Bearbeitet: Feb. 19, 2009, 4:36pm

20. King Solomon's Carpet - I must say I do not *love* all of Ruth Rendell's books but this one, under her alternate writer's name of Barbara Vine is excellent. A cast of misfit characters, living in London, come together - but the central character is the London Underground subway system - and the story revolves around it. She includes little historical pieces about the Underground, that are written by one of the characters, Jarvis, who while obsessed by the Underground, unwittingly brings the people together. This, of course, being Rendell, leads to death and other horrible things. This book had me enthralled from start to finish.

Today I found Old Filth at Value Village! I could hardly believe it - having just heard about here on this group - and there it was. Of course I bought it!
I also picked up 26a by Diana Evans. The cover says it won the Orange Prize 2005. Has anyone read it?
I was within a few miles of Pres. Obama today as he visited our fair city, but he decided against dropping in at the gym to say hello!

Feb. 20, 2009, 2:36am

Look forward to your thoughts on Old Filth having just read and loved it myself.

Feb. 20, 2009, 5:17pm

(21) Sicken and So Die by Simon Brett.

A British murder mystery of the cozy style - a little slow to start but a fun quick read. Charles Paris is an actor of no great success either in his personal or professional life. While acting in an unusual production of Twelfth Night he begins to suspect foul play.

Feb. 23, 2009, 12:21pm

(22) Felicia's Journey by William Trevor.
Trevor's book The Story of Lucy Gault was in my top 5 for 2008 but this one really misses the mark. I found it creepy and often tedious. I just wanted to give all the characters a good shake.

Feb. 24, 2009, 8:07am

(23) Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee. A quick read by the author of Desirable Daughters (recommend), this one was much more violent. Mukherjee, originally from India, has a style that is at times grating in this book, with a mix of India and the US not blending very well. The main character, Jyoti (aka Jasmine, Jase, Jane) could have been explored in much more depth, with less emphasis on the violent incidents - after all, murder, rape, suicide, murder, suicide, adoption, illegitmacy, abandonment, etc. are a lot to cram into a 214 pp book without some numbing. The book did keep me interested until the end, though; Makherjee is a good story teller. For more humour, read Desirable Daughters!

Feb. 24, 2009, 10:23am

Diese Nachricht wurde vom Autor gelöscht.

Bearbeitet: Feb. 24, 2009, 10:54am

Thanks citizenkelly for the information on the books you mentioned - I will keep The Lizard Cage in mind. Coincidentally on the weekend I read a review of a book concerning a love affair Elizabeth Bowen carried on for years with Charles Ritchie, a Canadian diplomat. I haven't read anything by Bowen, but am intrigued now!

Feb. 25, 2009, 7:35am

(24) Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell - a very quick read, extremely interesting, Gladwell examines the reasons why success comes to certain folk - a combination of birth month/year, what's going on in the world when you come of age, and your opportunities. The chapter on the pilots was fascinating, as was most of the book. Gladwell's style is breezy and easy to read, but he could use a grammar checker and in one case, a fact checker.

Feb. 26, 2009, 7:02pm

(25) What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw! by Agatha Christie (alternate title: 4:50 From Paddington)
I do like Miss Marple. Her friend Elspeth McGillicuddy sees a murder on a train and it goes from there. Two more murders and then it's solved. Classic Christie.

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 14, 2009, 7:50am

(26) Sotheby's: Bidding for Class by Robert Lacey. An interesting look at the history and practices of one of the world's great auction houses. I used to go to a lot of small town auctions - sounds like Sotheby's customers are pretty much the same - just better dressed and can drop a bundle.

(27) The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg. I'll give Berg credit for not writing the same book over and over - but this one was up and down for me.
About the first year of a woman's widowhood - sometimes amusing but often just not quite hitting the mark of catching my full interest. The fact that I started it on the treadmill last summer and went back to it recently may have something to do with that!

Feb. 28, 2009, 10:19am

Re message (40) - the title of this book The Book of Negroes was taken from the actual name of the account kept by the British when the Black Loyalists left NYC for Nova Scotia. The ledgers contained names and descriptions. The British had offered freedom to anyone who joined their forces. If I remember correctly, one ledger is in Halifax, one is in Washington, and one is in London.
- Free historical info. from your resident History teacher!
(I guess for PC reasons the original title didn't fly in the US.)

Feb. 28, 2009, 12:53pm

#55. I just purchased The Year of Pleasures last week. I have never read an Elizabeth Berg book although I own three, somehow they just keep getting passed over for more interesting looking books. I probably should do something about that.

Feb. 28, 2009, 9:22pm

dhiba - re message #52

I think the book you are referring to is Love's Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie - which is the letters and diaries of these two over a half decade until she died. They had an ongoing long-distance love affair - despite both being married (out of sync).

If you are a Bowen fan, you may enjoy the insights of her private life. I quite enjoyed it - although parts were a slog. I thought Ritchie was a bit annoying at times.

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 2, 2009, 1:35pm

(28) Why I Hate Canadians by Will Ferguson. A sometimes humourous, often caustic, but always thought-provoking look at what Canadians are. No navel-gazing about identity, this book examines all sorts of issues. As a former Anglo-Quebecker, the chapter on Quebec separtism, etc. really got to me and then I had to calm down : ).

Mrz. 3, 2009, 9:40am

> 55 I usually enjoy Elizabeth Berg's books but didn't really get into The Year of Pleasures either. It was definitely the book, Diana! :)

Lene, I'd suggest starting with one of her other books..

Mrz. 3, 2009, 5:18pm

I thought The Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg was just great - it ranked #10 on my 2008 list.
Well, I guess we can say she's not predictable!

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 4, 2009, 9:21pm

(29) Nice Work by David Lodge. A great read, humourous and fun, the characters were engaging and sympathetic. This apparently is the third in a trilogy, but they can be read on their own.
Feminist literature professor "shadows" a Managing Director of a factory in England and they both learn a lot about themselves in the process. The ending was a bit "movie-ish" but forgiveable.
In parts it reminded me a bit of Richard Russo's The Straight Man but I would have to reread it that to make sure.

Mrz. 6, 2009, 5:14pm

(30) Betrayal by Karin Alvtegan. Swedish author. Lightweight, quick read, creepy people doing creepy things. Not an author I will read again.

Mrz. 10, 2009, 8:48pm

(31) The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell
The second in the series on King Alfred - same assessment as I gave the first of the series back in January - lots of blood, guts, and battles. I will read the third in the series, but I will wait a month or two!

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 11, 2009, 6:27pm

(32) The Sibyl in Her Grave by Sarah Caudwell
A murder mystery in the cosy vein, I found this book very difficult to concentrate on, the style and plot were rather convoluted - the author's strength lie in her dialogue and the letters she uses as a narrative device, but it all seemed a little farfetched and the insider-trading angle did not interest me in the slightest. There was also a lot of "is he/she straight or gay?" and that just annoys me, as it seems a little cute and unnecessary.
I may give her another try, as there are elements of her writing that I liked.

Mrz. 12, 2009, 1:24pm

(33) To Sir, With Love by E.R. Braithwaite - published in 1959, this is the account of Braithwaite's experiences teaching in an East End London high school around 1950. A black man, he tells of the prejudice he faced, but most of the book is about the challenges of urban high school teaching.
I saw the movie 3 times when I was 14 - it really made an impression on me - Sidney Poitier gave a brilliant performance. I think the movie was actually better than the book.
A couple of observations - it was published in the USA and I think there was some editorial license taken (he portrays American race relations as pretty good) and his evaluating his female students (i.e. their attractiveness) is just not on these days - and downright icky in places.
I have had current and recent experience in teaching in multi-racial urban schools so I did find the book interesting - but pretty tame by today's standards.

Mrz. 13, 2009, 12:23pm

(34) Voices in Summer by Rosamunde Pilcher
A light romance, set mostly in Cornwall, England among the fairly well-heeled and country set. Pretty predictable but Pilcher is a good writer, and you can't help but be drawn in, even if in many ways it's unrealistic, but isn't that romances are??

Mrz. 20, 2009, 7:36pm

(35) Dave Barry is not Taking This Sitting Down by Dave Barry. Very funny, perfect for cheering oneself up with very little effort other than reading.

Mrz. 21, 2009, 9:40am

(36) The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy. The rise and fall of Michael Henchard (should be subtitled "His Own Worst Enemy"). It's been 35 years since I've read this book and at that time it was reading for a course. I am proud I tackled it on my own without the help of a professor but the latter would have been nice to have sitting next to me as I read it again. (I admit, I had the Coles notes handy). I have the DVD of the 1979 BBC production on order at the library and will be eager to see how they handled it - Alan Bates is in it. I just watched Bleak House, the recent production, and it was excellent.

Mrz. 25, 2009, 7:29pm

(37) A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve. A rather complex book, concerning a group of men and women who graduated from a private school in Maine in 1974 and re-unite in Dec 2001 when two of them marry at the inn of another. The bride and groom had a relationship in high school and then met again at the 1999 reunion.
The book examines the complicated lives and relationships of the group. At the same time, one of them is writing a novel about the Halifax explosion of 1917 - Shreve is obviously drawing parallels to9/11 which had only just happened. (as a teacher of Canadian history, I was intrigued that Shreve had used this in her book, as few Americans know about it).
While Shreve is not a literary heavyweight, her books are well crafted and keep me interested. She stretches herself as well, writing different types of novels, some set in the present, some in the past.

Bearbeitet: Mai 27, 2009, 8:40am

(38) Skinner's Rules by Quintin Jardine. This was the first I've read by Jardine, so a new police prodedural series for me. Skinner works in Edinburgh (wonder if he ever runs into Rebus) as head of CID. Unlike Ian Rankin's Rebus, Skinner is tall, strapping, good-looking and widowed rather than divorced. While lots of manly things go on, such as swearing, drinking, and occasionally physically crippling or killing bad guys, Skinner seems a little more polished than John Rebus. Skinner even has a steady lady-friend who becomes his wife at the end of the book. Wow. The plot was fairly complicated, but my tiny little brain managed to follow most of it. I am already into #2 of the series (I think he's written 19 - yikes!).
Well, enough of this lollygagging, I have to go wash some floors.

Mrz. 28, 2009, 8:56am

#71: I have never heard of Quintin Jardine, but he sounds like an author whose work I would like. I will see if I can find a copy of Skinner's Rules. Thanks for the recommendation.

Aren't Saturdays meant for lollygagging?

Mrz. 28, 2009, 11:14am

Yes, alcottacre, they (Saturdays) are. And the more lollying and less gagging---the better.
Seriously, I think I am going to have to seek out Jardine myself. Sounds like good rainy day reading and Scarpetta only lasts so long.

Mrz. 28, 2009, 12:33pm

I have a feeling Jardine might be hard to find in the USA. I feel generous. I'll give the first two of the series away to anyone who's really into police procedurals and wants to sample QJ.

I've been lollygagging too much as I am "resting" (unemployed) currently. Also 2 of my kids have decided to move back in for a while so I should at least do a superficial cleaning. : )

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 28, 2009, 7:39pm

>72 alcottacre:: Stasia, my lovely local warehouse book sale usually has copies of Skinner's Rules - but unfortunately this month's was today and I missed it! I'll have another look next month just in case you haven't found one by then...

PS edit to say: Diana, so sorry about the unemployment - hope you're able to enjoy a bit of the lollygagging at least.

Apr. 1, 2009, 12:28pm

(39) The Fallen Curtain and Other Stories by Ruth Rendell - just okay, not Rendell's best - prefer her full length novels.

Apr. 1, 2009, 9:22pm

(40) Skinner's Festival by Quintin Jardine - second in the Bob Skinner series. Lots of awful things happen in Edinburgh - how can Skinner keep this up for 17 more books! Very entertaining but glad it's just fiction.

Apr. 7, 2009, 8:16am

(41) Skinner's Trail by Quintin Jardine - third in the series. I was disappointed with this one - way too confusing - too many characters running around doing unfathonable things in several countries. Also, Jardine doesn't seem to know much about new mothers/nursing mothers. But I will continue with the series, but will give it a rest for now.

Apr. 7, 2009, 6:41pm

(42) Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg. A short, fast-paced and very readable book about a group of women, one of whom is dying of cancer. I do wish Berg had written more on the pre-cancer relationship of Ruth and Ann, Ruth being the one with cancer - Ruth is a great character and quite funny. I could see this being a movie. It did get a bit gooey toward the end but considering the subject matter...

Apr. 8, 2009, 11:44am

Elizabeth Berg is a wonderful writer of and for women. I suppose there may be men out there who would also enjoy her work. She is one of my favorite authors and I also liked Talk Before Sleep although it is not (by far) one of my favorites by her. Open House was excellent . I guess we are both Berg fans.
I also have enjoyed everything I have read of Anita Shreve's.
You have good taste!~! Read on.

Apr. 9, 2009, 4:53pm

(43) Exit Music by Ian Rankin. The last (supposedly) of Rankin's books about Det. John Rebus of Edinburgh. Rankin's writing is, I admit, superior to Quintin Jardine's (see above) and his characters are more interestingly drawn. I only found this story mildly confusing and that was only about one situation - the rest of it I followed easily. A nice send off for Rebus - I would like him to continue a series with Siobhan Clarke but it probably won't happen.

Apr. 14, 2009, 8:33am

(44) Family Portraits edited by Carolyn Anthony. I've had this book for about 7 yrs and took it off the bookshelflast week with "that" admonition - either read it or donate it. I started reading and ending up very engaged. The book consists of a collection of 20 essays by writers on family members - a real mix of good and bad, some a little cloying, others very realistic. The writers included Margaret Atwood, Louis Auchincloss, Joyce Carol Oates, Mary Higgins Clark, etc. Admittedly the majority I was not familiar with, and a few I had not even heard of. Nevertheless I read them all and got something out of every one of them.

Apr. 15, 2009, 9:05am

(45) Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Novel about two female cousins, who grow up together as impoverished gentility in India. Mainly focuses on arranged marriages, Indian customs, and the relationship of the two girls. I wouldn't give it high marks -an okay read, somewhat dramatic, somewhat superficial, but an interesting subject.

Apr. 15, 2009, 7:47pm

(46) Do You Speak American? by Robert MacNeil and William Cran.
No, I speak Canadian English. According to this book, I have deduced Canadian English will be less like American English in years to come. But the authors do not go into that - they are only concerned about American English. The book is described as a sequel to The Story of English written 25 years ago and made into a TV series which was excellent. Unfortunately, it is not really a sequel if it only deals with US English. I was a bit disappointed - the book spends a lot of time on youthspeak (my term) and the authors say youthful slang is often gone within a few years - so why devote so much space to it? They also make arguments about the increasing casualness about the written language -that this is good. I dunno : ).
I know language is a constantly changing organism, but while this is fine for oral language, I think we do need more formal written language.
Easy to read, but kind of like junk food - you are compelled to gobble it up, but don't get much satisfaction or nourishment from it.

Apr. 15, 2009, 7:47pm

(46) Do You Speak American? by Robert MacNeil and William Cran.
No, I speak Canadian English. According to this book, I have deduced Canadian English will be less like American English in years to come. But the authors do not go into that - they are only concerned about American English. The book is described as a sequel to The Story of English written 25 years ago and made into a TV series which was excellent. Unfortunately, it is not really a sequel if it only deals with US English. I was a bit disappointed - the book spends a lot of time on youthspeak (my term) and the authors say youthful slang is often gone within a few years - so why devote so much space to it? They also make arguments about the increasing casualness about the written language -that this is good. I dunno : ).
I know language is a constantly changing organism, but while this is fine for oral language, I think we do need more formal written language.
Easy to read, but kind of like junk food - you are compelled to gobble it up, but don't get much satisfaction or nourishment from it.

Apr. 20, 2009, 2:58pm

(47) Dave Barry's History of the Millenium (So Far) by Dave Barry.
Funny look at events, mostly American, but he does bring in world events as well, right up to a couple of years ago. Barry's look at the world is off-center, but so is the world.

(48) Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah an often heart-wrenching autobiography of a woman who was born in Shanghai before WWII - one of seven children, she grew up wealthy but emotionally abused. Her family eventually fled to Hong Kong and she went to the medical school in the US, where she married (2x) and settled in. Not a happy life, but she seems to have found some semblance of a life by leaving her family behind.

Apr. 20, 2009, 3:33pm

I always loved Dave Barry's columns, and his year-in-review ones especially. He's so funny.

Apr. 20, 2009, 5:54pm

I really enjoyed the History of the English Language series that was on TV and narrated by Melyn Bragg, dhida. That was fascinating and would be a very hard act to follow.

I think I might not take up the MacNeil book after reading your review.

Apr. 20, 2009, 8:57pm

Yes, I think that was a different series, very different approach, would like to see more of that one. The original Story of English was just wonderful and I want to reread the book. Another thing, Do You Speak American? was very short too, could have been meatier.
An interesting book that I am slowly going through right now is Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hallett Fischer. Fischer shows how the culture of the US (again, America only means the future US here) grew out of the four early groups who came from England, Scotland, and northern Ireland into the eastern/southern states. By extension, I can see how the culture of Ontario grew out of those early settlers (Loyalists) from New England, NY, and PA. The reason I mention Fischer's book is that he also talks about language and dialect and how it evolved into American English.

Apr. 23, 2009, 3:40pm

(49) Crime in Question by Margaret Yorke.
This is the second I've read by Yorke - she doesn't write typical police procedurals or cozies - there is no mystery about the crimes in this novel. Good psychological study and moves right along - she creates compassion for the perps as well as the victims.

Mai 2, 2009, 6:00am

(50) Aiding and Abetting by Muriel Spark. I don't know how Spark does it, but she comes up with the most interesting ideas for her novels. This one is based on the Lord Lucan case (true case - "Lucky" Lucan was the 7th Earl in his line, mostly impoverished because of a gambling habit - in 1974 he murdered his nanny and attempted to murder his wife - he was never found and it was thought that he lived abroad and was supported by friends). Spark main character, a German Paris-based therapist has two patients who claim to be Lucan. The therapist also has a secret in her background. Throughout the novel there is a recurrent theme of blood.

Bearbeitet: Mai 27, 2009, 8:45am

(51) True to Form by Elizabeth Berg. This is a sequel to Berg's Never Change about 12/13 year old Katie who moves from one place (Texas) to another - think it was Missouri. It really is a coming of age story. Berg does quite well portraying a on-the-brink-of-adolescence girl - albeit a very bright and insightful one. In this book Katie betrays a friend, which is interesting to have the protagonist do a lowly thing. Katie does suffer for it. She also has to face a couple of other adult issues. I liked this one better than the first.

(52) A Voyage Long and Strange
by Tony Horwitz. Non-fiction. Horwitz is making a journey (literally) to discover the true roots of American history by exploding the myths.
Not being brought up on American myths, but having some knowledge of the colonial days, I realized I knew just about nothing about the Spanish involvement in North America (not covered in Canadian history).
Horwitz traces Coronado and De Soto's trips around the US South.
He then moves on to Virginia and Massachusetts. He explodes all the myths about American Thanksgiving (the first T. in NA was actually celebrated in Canada's north by the explorer Martin Frobisher) and points out that the Puritans would not have had much of a celebration, as they did not even celebrate Xmas - Thanksgiving being a feast day in the Anglican church, it would have barely been acknowledged by the Puritans. (Did you know that the term Pilgrim was not used by them, but was adopted in the 19th century?!)
Horwitz does cover the Vikings in Canada, and some of the Spanish in the Caribbean (couldn't avoid it re Columbus) and Mexico but completely ignores the French in eastern Canada and the US Midwest.
This P***ed me off royally. His whole premise of the book is to examine these myths, and then he does a typically American (sorry folks) thing by just ignoring what doesn't fit into the American myth.
The French in NA had an extremely important part to play (and no one can say they didn't make a viable permanent settlement in the harshest area of the continent the Europeans plonked down in) and were part of the reason for the American Revolution.
Horwitz is also trying to be Bill Bryson (part of the narrative is his own journey to these areas) but falls far short - he is rarely funny. Snarky is not funny. He seems to seek out weird and hickish people and present them as typical while in a subtle way making fun of them. Making fun of the myths is okay, but not individual people.
An interesting read from the point of view of challenging historical myths, but as a work of history, needs some tweaking.

Mai 12, 2009, 3:50pm

(53) The Taverner's Place by Caroline Harvey. Joanna Trollope is one of my favourite "woman's authors" in that she writes novels about women and families and she comes across as being very fond of her characters, warts and all. She also writes as Caroline Harvey, and this was my first try at a Harvey book - which are historical novels, rather than modern stories.
This was a long book, 700 pp, about a titled family in England's west country. It covers several generations. It had a bit of a slow start but I did get into it and wanted to find out what happens to the family members. It ended with the beginning of WWII.
Not a deep book, just a good story, but well written, well paced, and with enough variety that it held my interest. I will definitely read more of her Caroline Harvey books.

Mai 15, 2009, 10:59am

(54) Albion's Seed by David Hackett Fischer.
Although it took me 6 weeks to read this 900 pp tome (while I was reading other books), it was well worth it and absolutely fascinating. It deals with the "four British folkways in America". He follows the settlement of the four main British groups in the US - the New Englanders, the Virginians, the Delaware Valley folk, and the Back country people. All these groups came from different parts of England, and in the latter case from the Borders - northern England, southern Scotland, and Northern Ireland (who were really displaced southern Scots). He traces their dialects, politics, religion, architecture, social customs, marriage customs, child-rearing practices, and so on. He paints a picture of four distinct groups whose origins reach far back into English history - even into Saxon times and the influence of the Vikings. He examines political leaders (all but two of US Presidents - although the book was written pre-Clinton and of course, pre-Obama - he does cover the Bush background for Sr.) are predominantly from one or two of these backgrounds (the two without were Martin Van Buren and John Kennedy). At the end of the book he also briefly traces American political history and how these folkways have influenced America today. The areas with the highest murder rates were settled by back country folk who brought their murderous ways with them from the border areas of Britain. The more moderate northeast was indelibly stamped by the early Congregationalists in New England - much less violence, much less tolerance for fueds, etc. Even though New England is no longer heavily British in ethnicity, those early folkways have survived, as they have in the South, the back country, and the Delaware Valley (and wherever those folks migrated to).
Although he does not get into the Loyalists, much of English Canada was first settled by Loyalists, mainly from New England and the sparsely settled NY state - strong Yankee territory. Our tolerance, strict gun-control laws, liberal policies are a legacy of those early settlers.
Social history has always fascinated me and unfortunately, it has been overlooked by "serious" historians, who seem to think political wrangling is much more interesting! I recommend this book to anyone interested in US history, social history and British folkways.
Fischer's writing style is easy to read.
This book was mentioned in Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers - I've forgotten the context but I;m glad my library system had one in stock!

Mai 15, 2009, 11:43am

That was a great review and I popped right over to my online library source and am now 2nd on hold for it. I was actually surprised they had it. It sounds like something most Americans should read as it encompasses a lot of our heritage within.
Thanks for turning us onto it.

Mai 15, 2009, 12:04pm

You're welcome! I went to his author site page and noticed he's recently written one on Samuel de Champlain, very instrumental in the development of French Canada and the French presence in NA. I was hoping to reserve it but there are about 100 people ahead of me!! I'm dying to read it - I might have to pay full price for this one.
I think Fischer's got the right idea for how history should be taught in schools. As a hs history teacher I know that it can be dull - social history makes more sense to more people and from the political stuff is much more understandable. One case for educating Canadian kids in a different way is the separatist movement in Quebec - a lot of social history goes into that kettle of fish!

Mai 15, 2009, 12:04pm

You're welcome! I went to his author site page and noticed he's recently written one on Samuel de Champlain, very instrumental in the development of French Canada and the French presence in NA. I was hoping to reserve it but there are about 100 people ahead of me!! I'm dying to read it - I might have to pay full price for this one.
I think Fischer's got the right idea for how history should be taught in schools. As a hs history teacher I know that it can be dull - social history makes more sense to more people and from the political stuff is much more understandable. One case for educating Canadian kids in a different way is the separatist movement in Quebec - a lot of social history goes into that kettle of fish!

Mai 15, 2009, 5:20pm

(55) A Palm for Mrs. Pollifax - by Dorothy Gilman - a cozy mystery - haven't read any of Gilman's - she's a good writer. Mrs. Pollifax is an endearing character, like Miss Marple but with a little more physical daring. Mrs. P works as a secret agent for the US and in this book is in a clinic in Switzerland looking for plutonium.

Mai 18, 2009, 10:14am

(56) Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy. I think I have outgrown Binchy, or her recents are just not what they used to be. She is usually a good comfort read but I found this one just sluggish and felt her own heart wasn't in it.

Mai 18, 2009, 1:45pm

I have always wanted to enjoy Maeve Binchy because she is a very popular author and is well read. I have tried many of hers and for whatever reason I am always bored. I don't know what it is about her writing, but it just kind of puts me to sleep. So you aren't the only one who feels as you do.
Enjoy your day.

Mai 18, 2009, 2:31pm

I first got onto Binchy about 9 years ago - I did enjoy some of them - I thought the plot of The Glass Lake was interesting. I guess over the years she's just about said anything she had to say and now she is just writing for her publishers or habit, or whatever! I've had the same issue with other writers - Jodi Picoult comes to mind - I just won't read anymore of hers.

Mai 18, 2009, 11:16pm

You know, Diana, one of the wonderful things about reading is that it "grows" us continually. So perhaps she has remained the same and you have simply outgrown her. Hmmmm.

Mai 20, 2009, 1:06pm

(57) In the City by Joan Silber. A few years ago I found a book by an author I didn't know called Household Words - by Joan Silber. When I read it I was very impressed - Silber is not very well known, much to my surprise. I find her writing to be very spare, very straightforward, and her characters are not completely likeable at times. What this adds up to is realism - Silber does not trot out hackneyed cliches, etc. If you like people stories, but want something a little different, try Silber!
This story is about Pauline Samuels who leaves her immigrant parents' home in NJ to live in Greenwich Village. This happens between 1924 and 1926. We see Pauline's coming of age - and yes, our grandmothers and great grandmothers did have love affairs! Pauline moves in with her boyfriend for a short time. She also leaves her family in NJ behind. There is no tidy ending to this story but it leaves you thinking about where her life will go.
Silber is one author I will actively look for in the future.

Mai 22, 2009, 8:12am

(58) Skinner's Round by Quintin Jardine - fourth in the Skinner police procedural series. This one concerns murder on a golf course, a tournament, and an old Scottish story that stretches back to the late 1500's. The latter intrigued me the most. The ending was interesting but dragged on a bit long. Also the actual golf playing bits I could have lived without - they are only interesting to those who know the game.

Mai 25, 2009, 4:17pm

(59) Murder Unprompted by Simon Brett. Brett writes in the cozy-mystery genre but in no way are his books badly written or an insult to my huge (ha ha) intelligence. This one is another in the series about Charles Paris, basically a failed actor who's middle-aged, has a drinking problem, and is estranged from his daughter, and would like to get back with his wife, who he left about 20 years before. There's a lot of funny clever stuff here and I have a stack of Bretts to read. Not literature, but a light read that does not bore to tears.

(60) A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews - time for some CanLit. At times I laughed while reading this book, but overall it was pretty bleak. Nomi, the 16 year old narrator, is funny and sharp and sad and confused. She lives in a small Manitoba town, a Mennonite community. The writing is very good and the story is compelling. My criticism comes with the way it jumped about and the basic lack of focus. YES, I know this is the creative process - but I do think there needs to be a core to a story. Deserving of praise for its originality. This book was an award winner, winning several here in Canada.

Mai 27, 2009, 8:25am

(61) Off With His Head by Ngaio Marsh. I'm glad I gave Marsh another try because I did enjoy this one a lot. Marsh wrote from the 30's into the 60's - and she also was highly instrumental in establishing Shakespearean theatre in her homeland of New Zealand. Marsh's Scotland Yard detective is Roderick Alleyn - this series are not police procedurals in the modern sense but are extremely well written - this one concerns old morris dancing and mummery in the west country (there's even an eerily similar twist that was in the book Skinner's Round that I read last week). Her portrayal of the locals and the local gentry is wonderful - 94 yr old Lady Mardian is a scream.

Mai 28, 2009, 4:25pm

(62) The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith - the fourth book in the charming, whimsical, and gently humourous series about Precious Ramotswe and her No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. I hope I get to see the television series and I hope that it does justice to the books! Precious is one of those rare characters you wish was a real person.

Mai 30, 2009, 7:44am

(63) Blood Lines by Ruth Rendell. Short stories, the first one starring Detective Wexford, and I thought I had read all his stories!

Mai 31, 2009, 5:56pm

(64) Blood Lines by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. Honestly, I did not plan to read two books with the same title back to back! I simply decided to read the CHE I;d had the longest. Whoo woo woo. Coupled with some weird dreams I had last night...
Anyway, this is another in Harrod-Eagles series about Det. Bill Slider who works in London. Somewhere between a cosy and a hardcore police procedural, C Harrod-Eagles is a clever writer - and I think this one is the best of hers I've read so far. Slider's seem to be all connected to orchestras (his girlfriend is a musician). He's also very likable - his assistant, Atherton, is the foil being a womanizer, slick, etc.

(65) A Child in Time by Ian McEwan. What a book. This one will have me thinking for days. Stephen loses his 3 yr. old at a supermarket - the book mainly covers his life two years on for a year or so. McEwan touches on themes of loss, madness, childhood, and birth. There's even a little time travelling. The book is not about the couple trying to find her, or the police investigation. It is about how they adjust to the lost, and how Stephen connects with his own childhood, and then moves forward to the future.
McEwan's writing style is not for everyone, as he is demanding - you must pay full attention, and his prose, while straightforward, is subtle and full of imagery and despair. If you have read Atonement or Chesil Beach and liked them, you will appreciate this one as well.

Jun. 2, 2009, 5:53am

(66) Until the Real Thing Comes Along by Elizabeth Berg. Another quick read by Ms. Berg, This one is probably the funniest of hers I have read but the topic and sub topics are serious - the main character was immature in many ways but still endearing. Plot revolves around having a man, pregnancy, parents, etc. Patty wants to have marriage and children and it just doesn't happen and she's in love with her gay friend.

Jun. 3, 2009, 5:35am

>65 dihiba: so glad you enjoyed A Child in Time Diana. I read it not long after I had my first child so all of the scenes around the supermarket were super-charged for me. Really an amazing book. I've been trying for ages to get hold of Kevin Brockmeier's The Truth About Celia, which sounds like it covers similar topics - have you read that one at all?

Jun. 3, 2009, 5:45am

No, I haven't but I will be on the look out for it. I am still thinking about A Child in Time - my 3 are young adults but it's still a topic that strikes terror. Just a nightmare for parents.

Bearbeitet: Jun. 5, 2009, 4:24pm

(67) Everything She Thought She Wanted - by Elizabeth Buchan. Buchan tells two sepearate tales in this book - one set in the present and one set in 1959, Both concern women and the choices they have to make. Well crafted and well written. My only objection is the Americanization of the book - this was a US version of a British book (can't recall the British name - at times the British English just isn't right (Mommy, fifth grade, e.g.) but this is a minor criticism.
I really liked the ending to this book - clever and a good way to tie the two stories together.

Jun. 5, 2009, 4:23pm

(68) Hickory, Dickory, Death by Agatha Christie. Typical Christie, with Poirot - 3 murders in a boarding house, I didn't guess the ending.

Jun. 5, 2009, 7:19pm

Hickory, Dickory, Death,
now that sounds like a fun read. Was it? I love some of these names.
Did she write Mousetrap? hee hee just answered my own question. love touchstones when they work!~!
later girl.

Jun. 7, 2009, 11:39am

Yes, it was a fun read. Also published as Hickory, Dickory, Dock - the boarding house is on Hickory Road in London. Most of the inhabitants are students and many are foreigners.
I believe Mousetrap was a stage play, not sure if it started life as a book.

Bearbeitet: Jun. 8, 2009, 12:53am

You are correct. Mousetrap was a stage play. I took my elder daughter to it when she was in Jr. High and we both just loved it. There were a lot of high jinx going on throughout and it was quite entertaining. It just popped into my mind as I was reading your post.
I've not read Christie for a long time and had forgotten what fun she can be. I will be on the look out for Hickory, Dickory, Dock

Jun. 9, 2009, 10:05am

(69) The Sea by John Banville.
First of all, I almost gave up on this book about one-third through, but I'm glad I finished it. Banville's style takes getting used to - on every page he used 1 or 2 words I was not familiar with, which of course, hurt my pride and made me feel dumb : ).
Awarded the Man Booker Prize a few years ago, this book tells the tale of a recently widowed man, probably around 60, who returns to a childhood holiday spot where he faces some demons from the past.
The protagonist is not very lovable but he is interesting in his flawed way and at times, downright funny and wry in his observations. He seems to have lived in a restrained manner.
If you like literary writing where not a whole lot happens, but there are a lot of underlying currents, and time-hopping from past to more recent past to present, you'll like this book. If you like sentamentality and neat endings, this won't do it for you.
Not long, but takes a while to read, with dense prose and not a heap of dialogue.

Bearbeitet: Jun. 16, 2009, 10:34am

(70) No New Land by M.G. Vassanji
Vassanji is another Canadian writer of Asian background with a lot of talent - joining the ranks of Anita Rau Badani, Rohinton Mistry, etc. This is one of his early one's - a family of East Indian background leaves East Africa and settles in Toronto in the 60's. It is primary about Nurdin Lalani, a middle-aged man coming to grips with the difference that is Canada and the changes that happen within his family and his own life. I also recommend The In-between World of Vikram Lall by the same author.

Jun. 16, 2009, 10:39am

(71) Friends, Lovers, Chocolate by Alexander McCall Smith. The second in his Isabel Dalhousie series, set in Edinburgh, this was an entertaining story but I found it a bit implausible. The fact that Isabel is a philosopher by avocation is interesting (she is independently wealthy and does not have a regular job) but her ruminations would probably annoy those who like a lot of action and/or feeling in stories, rather than thought. The premise of this story was cell-memory (hint - someone who's had a heart transplant seems to be having visions that would belong to the donor) so it goes into an SF area without really going there. I'm not sure I understood the resolution. Oh well, it was an okay read, anyway!

Jun. 19, 2009, 6:03am

(72) A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler. After discarding three books that I just couldn't get through, I was happy to immerse myself in this Anne Tyler book. This one was about the delightful Barnaby Gaitlin, who's a bit of a loser with a heart of gold. So unusual for a first-person narrative of a male, written by a female. There are many mini-vignettes of characters, from Barnaby's dysfunctional family, to the mostly elderly clients he works for, to his new girlfriend. Nothing in his life is simple, even though it appears to be on the surface.
The books doesn't have a neat, tidy ending but you end up thinking Barnaby will find his way to some kind of contentment.

Jun. 19, 2009, 9:08am

Wasn't this a good one? I quite enjoyed it when I read it. Tyler can often times be a downer for me, but I love her style of writing and when I hit on this one, I just went: Yes!~! Because she is so good that I will even read a book I don't enjoy just to get the flavor of her words.
I like your review of A Patchwork Planet and I am glad you enjoyed it.
catcha later gal,

Jun. 19, 2009, 12:22pm

Bye all - I am heading back to the 75 list where I was in 2008.