Friday, December 31, 2010

December Reads II

Of the four books I managed to read the last half of December, I believe Julia Glass's The Widower's Tale was the one I enjoyed the most.
I had read Three Junes for which Glass won the National Book Award in 2002 and liked her writing style. She writes about everyday objects, places and gestures in a way which hints at the larger dramas in the lives of her characters.

Percy Darling is a recently retired seventy year old librarian living in a small town in Massachusetts - a 'fashionably rural suburb of Boston'.
He and his wife, Poppy, purchased the 250 year old house and barn forty years ago. He raises his two daughters there as a single parent after the drowning death of his wife when the girls were small.
His quiet retirement changes drastically when he agrees to allow his barn to be turned into an expensive, progressive preschool. No longer will he be able to take his daily nude swims in the pond.
One of Percy's best friends is his grandson, Robert, a Harvard premed student aiming to follow in his mother's chosen profession. Percy's relationship with his daughter, Trudy, is less friendly and more complicated. The same is true with his other daughter, Clover. She has recently left her husband and two children in Brooklyn and come home for a sabbatical from her husband and motherhood.
Glass artfully weaves several social issues, including health-care coverage, eco-terrorism, illegal immigration, divorce and gay marriage into the everyday lives of her characters. When Robert's friendship with his roommate leads to one act which will alter his life forever, it is his grandfather who helps him put his life back together as well as his own.

Cain His Brother is Anne Perry's sixth William Monk novel. I continue enjoying these Victorian London psychological mysteries. I was quite please with myself for "solving" a significant part of the plot early on - something I did not know for sure until the very end of the book.
There are at least nine more William Monk books for me to look forward to, then I think I will sample Perry's Thomas and Charlotte Pitt mysteries.

The Spider's Web by Margaret Coel is the first book I have read of her Wind River Mysteries set in the modern day Wyoming Wind River Reservation. This is the fifteenth book in the series. I doubt I will go back to try and read them all. The book is well written and the area is one I have long been interested in. It is probably just that I have been a Tony Hillerman fan too long and am not ready to replace him.

And, finally, we have Michael D'Antonio's A Full Cup - the story of 'Sir Thomas Lipton's Extraordinary Life and His Quest for the America's Cup'. I have to confess I bought this as a Christmas gift for a certain sailor in my life, but decided I had to read it first. I hope he enjoys it as much as I did.

Other that enjoying Lipton tea lo' these many decades, I knew nothing about the man behind the label. This is a fascinating read about a self made man and the global empire he constructed. In addition to learning new facts about Lipton, I also learned more about the people he was friends with - the Astor's, Vanderbilt's, Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt and Prince Edward.

I love history and D'Antonio makes it very enjoyable reading. Our library has his book, Hershey, about the famous chocolatiers. I plan to read it soon.

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