Saturday, May 29, 2010

She Is Too Fond of Books: What I've Been Reading Lately

I haven't written a post about the books I've had on my nightstand, in my pool bag, or in my hands in the last few weeks, so it's time for an update.  I've been reading a lot lately, and unfortunately, I can't review these selections as thoroughly as I might otherwise do, since I want to get the information out there as expediently as possible.

I just finished Lee Smith's Fair and Tender Ladies, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Last year, I'd highlighted this recommended title in Gladys Hunt's Honey for a Woman's Heart and put it on my list.  I am so glad I did.  An epistolary novel, Fair and Tender Ladies is the life story of Ivy Rowe, a woman living in Appalachia in the early to mid-twentieth century.  Smith, who grew up in Virginia, has perfectly captured the voice of her characters, the particular mountain dialect of the region.  I'm seriously considering making this book my suggestion for my book club.

Another book I relished is The Summer Guest, by Justin Cronin.  Cronin tells the story of a family who owns a fishing camp in Maine through several different characters' points of view and also jumps back and forth in time, two devices I particularly appreciate if done well.  And here they are done very well.  This was a selection from my book club, and everyone liked it very much, which is quite a recommendation!  On the whole, this book is wonderfully satisfying.

I heard about Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War on "The Writer's Almanac" on NPR and immediately picked up a used copy of my own.  Parts of this book I enjoyed and parts I did not.  Despite having taken several American History courses in school (ahem), I know little about World War I, so I was quite taken with the parts of this novel that took place in France during the war: trench warfare, the horror of the noxious gas, the tunnelers, the battles themselves, etc.  All of this was shocking and riveting.  However, the subplot of Wraysford's granddaughter living in 1970s London was an unnecessary diversion; I felt that entire part could have been excised without damaging the main narrative at all.  Still, I am glad to have read this novel; I haven't stopped thinking about it.

A big thanks to Jeanne at A Peaceful Day for pointing me to Hamlet's Dresser, by Bob Smith.  What a fantastic book this is!  I am in awe of Smith's dedication to bringing Shakespeare (with his presentations deemed "the Shakespeare") to senior citizens.  And what an interesting life Smith has led.  He writes beautifully of the power literature, namely Shakespeare, had over his painful early years, and how it empowered him and literally saved his life.  This book is also in the running for my book club recommendation.

I still have several others to review here, but I've run out of time.  Other duties call!  So I'll post more later.

What are you reading this summer?

1 comment:

  1. Just loved The Elegance of the Hedgehog. One of my favourite books ever...

    No, she is not TOO fond of books.


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