November 25, 2009 by Reader's Connection
As of this posting, Southport´s November book discussion is still coming our way.
Macomber returns to Seattle’s fictional Blossom Street . . . for a hopeful tale of four widows . . . Separated from her husband after he refused to have a baby with her, Anne Marie felt certain they would reconcile–until he suddenly died. Lillie Higgins lost her husband in the same plane crash that claimed the husband of their daughter, Barbie Foster. Elise Beaumont entered widowhood after cancer claimed her husband. Together, the four make life-fulfillment wish lists. With Elise’s prodding, Anne Marie decides to fulfill one of her wishes–do good for someone else–and becomes a “lunch buddy” to an at-risk third grader. Anne Marie, meanwhile, must deal with the reappearance of her adult stepdaughter, Melissa, who always held her in disdain. Elise mainly serves as a catalyst for Anne Marie’s journey, but there is plenty of focus on Lillian and Barbie, who find purpose in unexpected and difficult relationships. — Publisher’s Weekly
Now on to December:
Certain books can turn you around. James Hillman’s Re-Visioning Psychology changed the way I thought about the human soul; Benjamin DeMott’s The Imperial Middle changed the way I thought about class; and Jerome Rothenberg’s anthology Technicians of the Sacred changed my ideas about what poetry could be. One Hundred Years of Solitude didn’t really turn me, but while I was reading it my hair changed color, from a graying strawberry blond to (according to my excitable neighbor guy across the street) a lustrous black with phenomenal highlights. My fingernails, though frequently dirty, are radiant, and glow in the dark on the birthdays of my sons. I have Garcia Marquez to thank for my habit–testified to by my husband–of singing in my sleep and drawing our otherwise hostile cat up into our bed.–Odanka Levonette
Mary Ann Shaffer’s novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society will be discussed twice in December: on Thursday, December 3rd, at 10:30 a.m., at the Warren Library; and on Tuesday, December 15th at 10:15 a.m., at the Lawrence Library.
In January 1946, London is beginning to recover from World War II, and Juliet Ashton is looking for a subject for her next book. She spent the war years writing a column for the Times until her own dear flat became a victim of a German bomb. While sifting through the rubble and reconstructing her life, she receives a letter from a man on Guernsey, the British island occupied by the Germans . . . So begins a correspondence that draws Juliet into the community of Guernsey and the members of the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Named to protect its members from arrest by the Germans, the society shares their unique love of literature and life with a newfound friend. Seeing this as the subject of her next book, Juliet sails to Guernsey–a voyage that will change her life . . . this is a warm, funny, tender, and thoroughly entertaining celebration of the power of the written word.–Library Journal
It has been years since the orchid-growing eccentric Nero Wolfe has been outside his beloved home. Stout’s sixth novel in the series finds Wolfe in upstate New York with Archie Goodwin where he must endure poor food, uncomfortable chairs, warm beer, and three dead bodies. A family feud over the fate of a prize bull (send him to the stud farm or a steak house) plus tacky publicity stunts and blackmail all fit into the situation, told from Archie’s point of view.–Library Journal
The Shack, a novel by William P. Young, is another two-timer. It will be discussed on Monday, December 7th at 7:00 p.m. at the Wayne Library; and on Monday, December 14th at 6:00 p.m. at the East 38th Street Library.
God is a plump African-American woman with a broad smile who knows Her way around the kitchen; Jesus is a Middle Eastern man sporting jeans and a tool belt; the third component to the trinity is a wiry-looking woman who “was maybe of northern Chinese or Nepalese or even Mongolian ethnicity” . . . A bare bones description of the plot to William Paul Young’s novel, The Shack, sounds more like a Monty Python skit than a serious story. And after getting turned down by 26 different publishers, no novel could have seemed less destined for success. However, this little book is packing a huge wallop with millions of readers around the world, and sparking a great deal of controversy along the way. Some Christian theologians have attacked it as heresy. Others are singing its praises from the pulpit. It all makes Young, a former office manager and hotel night clerk from Gresham, Oregon, grin as broadly as his depiction of God does.–BookPage
Philip Gulley’s memoir I Love You, Miss Huddleston, and Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood will be discussed on Thursday, December 10th at 1:30 p.m. at the Irvington Library.
Some kids were evidently not unhappy growing up, but they can still get pretty good childhood memoirs, especially if they are honest about exaggerating. Quaker pastor-author Gulley (the Harmony series) writes a low-key Hoosier who’s who in this memoir set in Danville, Ind., where youthful acting out takes the form of hurling tomatoes and detonating cans of bug spray. Danville includes Quaker widows aplenty, pals named Peanut and Suds, an arthritic and deaf police dog and a mousery that provisions Indiana’s homegrown pharmaceutical manufacturer, Eli Lilly. Gulley has no shortage of material, and the teenage years naturally bring an attack of hormones that prompts pathetic, doomed crushes. We even manage to learn a few facts about the humorist, such as that Gulley grew up Catholic. His chief object of fun is his youthful self, which takes the edge off his views of other characters from his youth . . . –Publishers Weekly
After retreating from a family tragedy to a house tucked away in the New Hampshire woods, 12-year-old Nicky and her father are thrust back into the world when one wintry afternoon they discover an abandoned newborn outdoors. How they deal with the reality of the baby’s mother, who shows up at their house, and the detective who is hellbent on putting the pieces together is narrated by a now-adult Nicky looking back at her past. Shreve’s latest books (All He Ever Wanted; Sea Glass) have taken historical settings rich with the detail of past customs and language; this is a different sort of tale, not as lush or complicated. But the simplicity of the story and tone, as well as the interesting inner thoughts of an adult looking back and relating a childhood turning point, makes for one addictive read.–Library Journal
Billingsley’s latest chronicles the devilishly rude awakening in store for Houstonite Nina Lawson after she wins $8 million in the lottery. Not only are family members she hasn’t seen in years itching to share the loot, but her fianc, Rick Henderson, starts counting on his piece before the check’s in the bank. Things get even more complicated after Todd, Nina’s ex-husband, ends up not being an ex; turns out his hoochie mama girlfriend, Pam, spent the divorce filing fee on a Fendi bag. Pam urges Todd to wrangle a chunk of Nina’s dough, and he agrees, though with a near-reasonable motivation: to get his ailing Grams a new heart. The ensuing slapstick is fast moving and hilarious as Billingsley ponders how Nina’s impulse to do the right thing gets her in trouble–and yet, somehow, love (and God) provides–Publishers Weekly
Ellie Hathaway is a successful but disillusioned defense attorney who needs to get away from the often guilty people she has been defending in court. She flees Philadelphia for Paradise, PA, the small town where she spent idyllic childhood summers. Shortly before Ellie arrives at her aunt’s house, a young Amish girl is accused of murdering her newborn son in her parents’ barn. Ellie’s aunt, who is related to the family, believes that the girl is innocent and asks Ellie to defend her. The judge orders Katie to be released into Ellie’s custody, and Ellie reluctantly moves onto the dairy farm that Katie’s family operates while she prepares her defense. Picoult (The Pact) offers an interesting look into Amish culture and beliefs and the effect they have on various people.–Library Journal
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