Friday, May 3, 2013

April 2013 Reading List

Funny how if I rate a book immediately after reading, I second guess my rating by the time I write about the books I've read during the month. I gave Nicholas Barreau's The Ingredients of Love a 4.0. I enjoyed this quick little French read for its views of the Parisian life (responsible for my coffee and croissant breakfast) and the sweet love story.
Reading this book reminded me my very favourite French book, The Elegance of  the Hedgehog which was referred to in one passage. My second guessing comes because if Hedgehog is a definite 5 - and it is - can Ingredients really be a 4?

Ann Leary's The Good House was the most unexpectedly good read. Hildy Good is the descendant of one of the Salem witch trials defendants. She's a 60-something successful real estate broker in a small New England town, the divorced mother of two ungrateful adult daughters and a lush just out of a forced 28-day stay at Hazelden. She remains sober for awhile and then quietly begins drinking again.
I can't even explain who funny, sad, lovely, poignant, well-written this book is. I gave it a 4.5. I loved it, highly recommend it and will read it again - OR listen to the audio version narrated by Mary Beth Hurt. I wish our library had Leary's other books.

Whitney Otto is the author of How To Make An American Quilt which I loved as both a book and a movie back in the early 90's. Eight Girls Taking Pictures is a novel based on real women photographers from 1917 America to 1938 Germany, Italy and England to 1980's California and how their lives intersect.
I've always had an interest in photography and enjoyed this book from that standpoint as well as how these women had to strive just to be photographers. I gave it a 3.0. I hope/wish my photographer niece, Lorrie, someday has the time to read this book.

Three 2.5 books in April: The Dangerous Hour by Marcia Muller - the female half of the writing team I said I was going to try. Her Detective is Sharon McCone based in San Francisco. May or may not read more of these. Well written, but not great.

Indiscretion a book about how lives are destroyed when one half of a couple has an affair. This Charles Dubow novel of love, lust and deception is very sensual. It received more stars in most reviews than I gave it.

Elizabeth Adler writes very entertaining novels set in exotic locals and peopled by beautiful people. I love her books just for the way they do take me away.  I thought I had read all of her books our library had, but I found an older one, All or Nothing, that I had somehow missed. Rich, smart, beautiful Marla Cwitowitz wants to become a partner in her lover's (Al Giraud) detective agency. A savvy serial killer fakes her own death, implicating an innocent family man. It is up to Al and Marla to prove his innocence and catch the real killer. Very well written escapism.

Only one 2.0 rating - and it's for one of my fave series - the Sister Jane Arnold ones by Rita Mae Brown. I just didn't feel like Ms. Brown had her heart in writing Fox Tracks. I still liked the book, but it seemed hurried, undeveloped and even incohesive at times.

Elizabeth Berg is one of my adopted authors at Gibson Memorial Library. That means every time she comes out with a new book, they order it, I pay for it and donate it to the library and I get to be the first one to read it. Tapestry of Fortunes came in while I was recovering from my stroke. Bud picked it up and brought it to the hospital. Berg is an author who always speaks  to me. I usually glean at least one passage that helps me at a time when I need it, so I was looking forward to a nugget or two resonating with my health situation.

These are some of what I wrote down: "The best things in life have no hard evidence to support them. Hope. Faith. Love."
"I think people see death as the hunter, but it's just the ticket taker, the timekeeper. It's the sound of a record playing in the background. Maybe it's also there to remind us to do what we ought to."

I only gave this book a 4.0 even though it is as beautifully written as all her novels. I think it was because I didn't quite buy into the main character, who had recently lost her best friend to cancer, selling her house and belongings and moving into one room, sharing a big old house with three other previously unknown women. Also, the part of the four of them taking a road trip wasn't realistic to me. I might be able to take a road trip with one other woman if we were really good friends, but four?

Because the stroke was/is a very real reminder of my own mortality, the last line of Tapestry of Fortunes is one I want to keep to refer to:

"Fate is a part of our lives. Another part is choice. But the biggest part is the mystery, the great unknowable, about which we feel so many things, including joy."

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