Books I've read

Sandra's book montage

The Catcher in the Rye
The Great Gatsby
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Romeo and Juliet
Lord of the Flies
Little Women
A Tale of Two Cities
Memoirs of a Geisha
The Lovely Bones
The Secret Life of Bees
Under the Tuscan Sun
The Da Vinci Code
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Hobbit
The Golden Compass
Pride and Prejudice
The Time Traveler's Wife
Jane Eyre
The Notebook

Sandra's favorite books »

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Some recent reading

I feel like I have done nothing but read recently - how brilliant is that?   I thought I should share my thoughts with you because some have been wonderful.

Okay - in no particular order:

I bought this because I had just finished Red Hook Road (see a bit later).  It's a story about a former public defender turned stay at home mother who is currently uneasy about her choice to stay at home and pregnant with her second child. Her child is rejected from the most prestigious pre-school in LA and the same day the principal of the school is murdered in a hit and run. Our heroine, Juliet Appelbaum, decides it wasn't an accident & starts to investigate.
It's an easy read I think.  Waldman writes well and I found Juliet to be quite endearing although her husband probably makes life a lot easier for her than he should.  This is the first in a series of 7 books and I shall certainly try the second.

I bought this on holiday, partly because I didn't want to carry her new hardback novel back in my luggage.  It's the story of four friends who graduated from Smith College and their lives in the few years after that.  I quite enjoyed it, the characters were reasonably realistic.  Sullivan includes a theme of sex-trafficking and I'm not sure that works particularly well within this book.  I'd be interested to see what you think.  The ending is a little cliched but I don't think that is too awful.  You are going to get exactly what you expect if you read this book but I don't think that is a bad thing.

This is the second Sarah Addison Allen I have read.  I wrote about The Girl Who Chased The Moon a few posts ago and raved about that.  Garden Spells is the first novel she had published and, although still magical realism, is much more realist other than a moody tree who likes to get its own way.  The Waverlys have lived in a small town in North Carolina for generations and now Claire Waverly lives in a big house and runs a catering business which takes advantage of the herbs and flowers in the garden to alter people's moods.  Claire's drifter sister Sydney returns to the town with her young daughter and, with the help of the art professor who has just moved in next door, proceeds to make Claire's life a lot less routine.  This is a lovely book, there is reference to domestic violence in Claire's life but that is dealt with (possibly a little too easily).  The characters are likeable and if you like stories set in small towns with a small amount of magical realism I think you will enjoy this.   I've just ordered another of her books, The Sugar Queen.

This was another holiday purchase.  A young couple, John and Becca, get married in a small coastal village in Maine.  John's family live there all year round but Becca's family are 'summer people'.  Then a tragedy occurs and the book covers the next few years and how the families cope.  I think that the two mothers, Jane and Iris are quite annoying, particularly Iris but Matt and Ruthie are much more likeable.  One of the pleasures of this book is, I think, the wider cast of characters.  Iris's father, a world-famous violinst who escaped the Holocaust but not it's effects is very interesting and I loved the village librarian and her wisdom.  I don't think you will be surprised by the plot but Waldman writes well and makes you care about the characters. 

I wasn't sure I would like this book or if it would be a case of 'Emperor's New Clothes' but I very much enjoyed the way Egan wrote. Each chapter is inter-connected and tells you something about a character who is in someway connected to the two many characters - it's a bit like a Venn diagramme. In one chapter the character provides us with footnotes and that reminded me of Kiss of the Spider Woman, in another the character uses power-point in a really inventive way.  Each of the chapters is almost like a short story and sometimes you are not sure who is narrating for a little while and then you can fit them into the overall 'story family' and narrative time-frame.  I found many of the characters likeable and those that weren't were either amusing or ridiculous.  She writes in an inventive way and I can't recommend this highly enough to you.

I have to tell you I loathed this book.  I found it overwritten - I won't just tell you what to think, I'll tell you three times!  I had to read this for the Modern American Novel course and I will not be reading it again.  The protagonist, Swede Levov, appears to be leading the perfect American life, but it's 1968 and his daughter has decided to rebel.  By the way that might make the book sound more exciting than it really is.  If you like Philip Roth you'll probably like this and plenty of people on my course do but I won't be looking to spend some time discussing it with you.

I read this for the Jane Austen course and it was a lot more pleasurable than American Pastoral.  This is the story of Fanny Price and how she comes to live with her relations at Mansfield Park.  Many people dislike Fanny, she's a bit of a prig,but I didn't mind her at all.  This is excellent Austen I think - most of the characters need to learn something to find happiness (or not) and there is her usual sly humour. In the background is the issue of slavery and Antigua the source of family wealth is mentioned six times which I find interesting.  I wouldn't say it's as enjoyable as Pride and Prejudice or Emma because I don't think it is as amusing as either but I think it is interesting and well worth reading if you haven't already.  And it's not just for girls!!!

I don't really know what to say to you about this book other than try and read it.  It's an amazing story about de Waal's Jewish ancestors, the Ephrussis and how they rose to prominence and riches in 19th and early 20th century Europe.  Unfortunately two branches of the family chose to make their homes in Paris and Vienna and so as the twentieth century progresses you know that it's not going to turn out well for everyone.  De Waal writes really well and makes the story about art (particularly the Netsuke collection of which the hare is a member) and people rather than dwelling upon the anti-semitism the family experiences.  This book stayed with me after I finished reading and made me think about assimilation - how it has to be a two way agreement and protection which in the case of the European Jews was clearly not the case.  Please, please try and read it - I think you will find it as affecting as I did.

Well I think that's enough for now.  I'm currently reading Palladio by Jonathan Dee so I'll update you on that shortly.

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