The only 5.0 this month - only partly for sentimental reasons - A Week in Winter is Maeve Binchy's last novel. She died a year ago yesterday, July 30, 2012, shortly after completing her 16th novel. I have read almost all of her novels beginning with the first, Light A Penny Candle in 1982. It didn't hurt that they were mostly set in Ireland, but I loved her upbeat style and the way she had of describing her characters and locations so that you felt you were a part of the story. I will miss not having a new Maeve Binchy book to look forward to.
I read another Karen White, The Beach Trees, set in New Orleans and Biloxi, MS following hurricane Katrina. Julie Holt's best friend, Monica, dies leaving guardianship of her young son and ownership of a beach house to Julie. In addition to reconstructing the house, there are some mysteries to be solved. I'm liking this author and will continue to read her works. I gave this one a 4.0.
When I read that 92-year-old (93 August 17) actress Maureen O'Hara was going to make one of her last public appearances in Winterset, Iowa to honor her friend and co-star, John Wayne, I decided I wanted to read more about this self-described 'feisty redhead'. I've always enjoyed autobiographies and her 2005 'Tis Herself was no exception. Interesting reading about this legendary woman. Rated 3.0.
Have I given any book a 1.0 rating yet? Well, I am now. I began reading Robert M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in the late 70's when it was the de rigueur thing to do. From the bookmark I left in it, I know I got about three quarters of the way through before giving up. When I picked it up again last month, I vowed I would read it entirely. Now, I can only ask myself, why??
According to Wikipedia, "It was originally rejected by 121 publishers, more than any other bestselling book, according to the Guinness Book of Records." It was a slog fest with little, if any redeeming passages. I did it. I read it all. Why-y-y-y?
My other five July reads all rated 2.5 beginning with The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin. The story of how Anne Morrow met and married Charles Lindbergh and stayed with him through thick and thin may have rated higher with me if I hadn't already read all of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's books and found them hauntingly beautiful as well as very telling about her life with Lindbergh.
It has been many years since I did read her books, so I decided to re-read the only one our library had, Gift From the Sea, a short little book of prose about Anne's time alone on Sanibel Island. I know the book spoke more strongly to me when I first read it in the early 70's because of where I was at that time in my life - more than now when I read it from this end of my life period. Yet the same meditative qualities are there - her gift from the sea for all women.
The final three novels by Dorothy Garlock is a trilogy set in Oklahoma during the depression years. With Hope, With Song and With Heart are all about strong women and righteous men looking for love. Or maybe that's righteous women and strong men. Garlock tells good tales with just the right amount of love, longing and overcoming adversity. I liked these because they are set during the depression years. Each novel can stand alone or be read out of sequence, but all the main characters relate to one another. I admire this woman who is about a year and a half older than I am and didn't begin writing novels until she was in her 50's.