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laytonwoman3rd Starts a New Year

50 Book Challenge

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1laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Mar 9, 2008, 2:26pm Top

In 2007, I read a total of 72 books, surprising myself quite a lot. I commented on them here
I'm beginning 2008 with Old Books, Rare Friends by Madeleine Stern and Leona Rostenberg.

Edit: I just browsed through the reading notebook I used to keep (I just wrote down what I read, without comment), and find that apparently I read this book in December of 1998! I have no recollection of doing so. *headdesk*

2mrstreme
Jan 2, 2008, 6:09pm Top

I am looking forward to reading your book list this year too!

3tiffin
Jan 3, 2008, 10:05am Top

laytonwoman, I'm really eager to hear what you think of Stern and Rostenberg - as well as the rest of your list (agree, mrstreme).

4kambrogi
Jan 5, 2008, 2:29pm Top

Can't wait to go through another reading year on your heels, laytonwoman3rd!

5laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Feb 27, 2009, 5:59pm Top

1. Finished Old Books, Rare Friends. This was a very interesting account of the literary sleuthing lives of two remarkable women. Underlying their mutual love of old and rare books was so much knowledge of world history, literature, languages and art that I was often more impressed by their ability to know what they had discovered than by the treasure itself. Imagine picking up a 16th century volume of sermons by Martin Luther, seeing the woodcut portrait on the title page, and having the mental historical resources to suspect that this might be the earliest portrait of Luther in existence.
In addition to being internationally respected collectors and sellers of antiquarian books, the authors were both prolific writers. Rostenberg and Stern each had their own areas of specialization, but they also often collaborated on books about their trade in general, and their own experiences in it in particular. Leona Rostenberg researched and wrote throughout her life on the history of publishing and printing. Madeleine Stern became widely known as an authority on the literary "double life" of Louisa May Alcott, editing several collections of Alcott's so-called "blood and thunder" pot-boiler stories, which she tracked down in their original publications in an endeavor quite worthy of Sherlock Holmes. Having finished this book, the only logical thing for me to do next is to pick up American Bloomsbury, which just happens to be here at my elbow.

2. Hemingway and Bailey's Bartending Guide to Great American Writers by Mark Bailey.
What a hoot. The "Hemingway" of the title is a grandson of Ernest, and he is an illustrator of no mean talent. His caricatures of American authors from Agee to Wolfe are dead solid perfect. Each author is given two pages which include a quote on the subject of alcohol, a short bio, an anecdote about the author's drinking habits, a recipe for a drink that the author was fond of (or one that seems to suit his/her personality), and an excerpt from the author's work, again featuring the subject of alcohol and its intake. Witty, brilliant, and often terrifying stuff. Made me want a whiskey sour, but more than that, it made me want to read a lot of books I don't own

6kambrogi
Jan 10, 2008, 12:51pm Top

These books look like great reads to start the year with, and I am tempted to drop them both in my amazon cart ... but no, really must not! :-)

7carlym
Jan 10, 2008, 5:51pm Top

Hemingway & Bailey's Bartending Guide to Great American Writers looks fantastic! How did you come across it?

8laytonwoman3rd
Jan 11, 2008, 4:29pm Top

Carlym: The Hemingway & Bailey's book was featured in The Reader's Subscription book club---a club I have belonged to for many years, but which, sadly, is now closing its "doors". I did a lot of damage to my budget ordering things from their final mailing (well, I DID have bonus points to redeem...) I am going to miss the club greatly; it was started in 1951 by Lionell Trilling, Jacques Barzun and W. H. Auden. They had a lot of very interesting offerings. One of these days I'm going to try to tag all the books in my catalog that I bought from R.S.--I think I can remember most of them. I'm afraid this club is gone for many of the same reasons the independent book stores struggle so, but God knows I did my best to keep them in business!

9laytonwoman3rd
Jan 12, 2008, 4:25pm Top

3. The Dirty Duck by Martha Grimes My first Martha Grimes. This is about No. 4 in the Richard Jury series. I enjoyed it, but it took me a while to realize I was dealing with characters who had been introduced in another book. I never did learn just what it was about Jenny Kennington... Grimes doesn't fill in background from previous outings. That's OK with me, actually. I don't really like to read over facts that I remember from earlier books in a series. It just meant in this case that I should have started at the beginning. I will now.

10laytonwoman3rd
Jan 13, 2008, 6:00pm Top

4. Winterdance by Gary Paulsen. This book nailed me to my chair for the afternoon, but I felt like I was racing through it pulled by a team of sled dogs running for pure joy. This is Paulsen's story of his naive preparations for, and first experience of running the 1100+ mile Iditarod in 1983. Fascinating, moving, hilarious, terrifying. We should be grateful that a diagnosis of heart disease stopped him from running after his third start; he would either have died out there somewhere, or simply become so obsessed with the race, at one with his dogs, that he never would have written this beautiful book for the benefit of mere humans.

11kambrogi
Edited: Jan 15, 2008, 1:28pm Top

Well said, laytonwoman3rd. This book never called to me ... until now!

12nancyewhite
Jan 15, 2008, 9:53am Top

I hope I'm not overstepping, but I remembered that there was an NPR piece on the Bailey/Hemingway book as well. If you do a search for their names on NPR.org, you can see and hear it. Cheers!

13laytonwoman3rd
Jan 15, 2008, 4:02pm Top

Oh, thank you, Nancy. And welcome to my thread. Stop by any time. I will definitely check for the NPR piece. (My husband works for a local PBS/NPR affiliate.)

14amandameale
Jan 16, 2008, 7:16am Top

Thanks for the reviews - I think the 50 Book Challenge is going places this year.

15laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Feb 27, 2009, 6:33pm Top



5. American Bloomsbury Fascinating multiple bio of the Concord crowd and their intermingled lives (and loves.) Well placed in their historical context, with glimpses of John Brown, Franklin Pierce, Herman Melville and other mid-nineteenth century heavyweights. Full of intriguing and hitherto unknown (to me, anyway) bits of information. Cheever is a little careless with her pronouns and antecedents, but otherwise quite readable.

16bleuroses
Jan 22, 2008, 4:01pm Top

A wave and a cheer for your challenge, laytonwomen3rd!

17laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Jan 31, 2008, 9:52pm Top

6. Dancing to "Almendra" This is an Early Reviewers book. I'll go write a review, and I'll be back!

My review here

18laytonwoman3rd
Feb 3, 2008, 12:47pm Top

7. "T" is for Trespass The latest Kinsey Hillhone adventure. This one is personal. When Kinsey's elderly, crotchety neighbor falls and needs some in-home assistance, his only living relative unwittingly hires a woman who is adept at assuming false identities, making herself indispensable to the helpless, and systematically stripping them of everything of value that they own, including, eventually, their lives. Kinsey catches on quickly, but it's a battle of wits to overcome this wily predator's scheming. Fun reading, with a precautionary message built in.

19laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Nov 5, 2015, 12:42pm Top

8. A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Spark Just what I needed -- a light, yet not frothy, British story of interesting, yet rather ordinary, people who I could care about. And funny with it. Thanks for the recommendation, You-Know-Who-You-Are (plural).

20tiffin
Feb 11, 2008, 7:16pm Top

That sounds right up my alley, laytonwoman. It just seems to go with cold weather. Must look for it.

21aluvalibri
Feb 11, 2008, 8:48pm Top

tiffin, since you like Barbara Pym so much, I am sure you will enjoy Muriel Spark.

22medievalmama
Feb 11, 2008, 10:28pm Top

You know, I don't see many readers of Elizabeth George here. I got totally addicted until I read What Happened Before He Shot Her by Elizabeth George. While the topics may be timely, the book was not only unnecessary but so off-putting I might never read one of hers again.

23laytonwoman3rd
Feb 12, 2008, 7:01am Top

I haven't tried Elizabeth George myself. I know a couple LT'ers who do read her, though.

24sussabmax
Feb 12, 2008, 12:26pm Top

I love Elizabeth George, except for What Came Before He Shot Her. I thought it was well-written, but so sad I couldn't finish it. I am going to cautiously approach the new one that is coming out this year--if it's back to normal, I will get it, because she is a fantastic writer, but WCBHSH was just bleak. And grim. And so incredibly sad.

25tiffin
Feb 12, 2008, 8:37pm Top

gtippit wrote a really good review about WCBHSH, which made me grin.

26laytonwoman3rd
Feb 14, 2008, 1:44pm Top

9. By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie
It's been years since I read Christie at all, and I'm not sure whether I've ever read one of the Tommy and Tuppence adventures before.
In this novel, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford return, apparently by popular demand, after being abandoned by their author for decades, and have aged appropriately. A visit to Tommy's elderly Aunt Ada in an old people's home leads Tuppence off into an ill-advised solo investigation that naturally gets her in trouble, but ultimately leads to a surprising resolution, with humor and suspense nicely blended along the way.

I remember knowing Christie had such a pair of characters, but if I had met them before, I surely would have noted, as I did now, how very much they remind me of the Lockridges' Mr. and Mrs. North. (Who aged, too, but rather vaguely, and not quite in tune with actual chronology.) Pam North's propensity for following a hunch into darkness and danger could easily be defined as "poking into something that's none of your business", which Tommy specifically warns Tuppence not to do in his absence. Jerry North had very little success with such warnings either.

I'll have to try to snag the earlier Tommy and Tuppence adventures.

27dancingstarfish
Feb 14, 2008, 1:52pm Top

#10

nice description, it is added to my long bookmooch list now :)

Good luck on your challenge!

28laytonwoman3rd
Feb 14, 2008, 2:51pm Top

Thanks, dancingstarfish. Welcome to my thread.

29aluvalibri
Feb 14, 2008, 6:22pm Top

I have By the Pricking of my Thumbs, and of course I now feel compelled to read it!
:-))

30ChocolateMuse
Feb 14, 2008, 10:49pm Top

#9: not sure if you know the titles of the other T&T books, but if you don't (or even if you do!) I'll list them:

1. The Secret Adversary set in WW1
2. N or M? set in WWII
3. By the Pricking of my Thumbs as you mention
4. Postern of Fate when they are VERY old. This book is as elderly and vague and wandery as its characters.

There's also another one called Partners in Crime I think (yep, touchstones agree) set when T&T are young but married, so I think in-between the first two. These are short stories, while the rest are full-length novels.

The Secret Adversary was among the first Agatha Christies I ever read, and I adored it. Reading it some years later, I discovered that it's so far on the melodramatic side that I wonder if it's actually a gentle parody of the adventure novel... but it's an excellent read all the same in my opinion (for what that's worth!)

Have fun anyway!

31laytonwoman3rd
Feb 15, 2008, 9:52am Top

Thank you Choco---you saved me some searching. I think I wish there were more. I found Dame Agatha to be quite wry and witty in Pricking. Don't recall thinking so before. I love wry and witty. Maybe I just wasn't tuned in back in my teens, which I think is the last time I read much of her -- mostly Miss Marple.

32xicanti
Feb 15, 2008, 9:57am Top

Ooh, yes, Tommy and Tuppence are wonderful! Their stories are a lot of fun. The aging thing was pretty deliberate, too; Christie eventually regreted how old she'd made both Poirot and Miss Marple, as she wished she'd been able to age along with her detective. (Almost all her books are contemporary to the time when they were written, so she didn't feel she had the luxury of jumping back in time). The Tommy and Tuppence stories allowed her to do this.

33sussabmax
Feb 15, 2008, 2:18pm Top

I love Tommy and Tuppence, too! Such great characters. I need to fish out all of my Agatha Christie books one of these days. I think most of them are stuck in boxes still, waiting for me to get more shelves to put them on (even though I have bought many shelves lately--every time I get a new set, I think I am going to be able to empty my boxes, but it hasn't really happened yet).

34Joycepa
Feb 16, 2008, 4:49am Top

Richard Jury series in order to just after Dirty Duck:

1. Man With A Load of Mischief You meet almost all the regulars here
2. The Old Fox Deceived
3. The Anodyne Necklace Enter Jenny Kensington
4. The Dirty Duck My least favorite
5. Jerusalem Inn

I have reviews on all of these.

Count me also as a huge fan of Elizabeth George--until What Happened Before He Shot Her. My feeling about the book was that it was well written enough but more of a sociological study which is not what I was looking for. since you knew the ending, there was little tension to the book. I was unable to finish it--and I have reread the series several times if only to enjoy what I consider superb writing.

35laytonwoman3rd
Feb 16, 2008, 7:11am Top

Thanks for the list, Joyce. Since you found The Dirty Duck to be the least of them, I suspect I should like the others a lot.

36Joycepa
Feb 16, 2008, 8:00am Top

Well, that's just my taste, anyway! Others may find it a lot more to theirs. The "villain" sort of got to me.

The series really improves. She's a formula writer, certainly, but her Long Piddleton characters are a stroke of genius, a source of never-failing comedy. I just finished re-reading The Case Has Altered which, as far as the plot goes, is very good, but the subplot in Long Piddleton is hysterically funny. She has an animal rights agenda that crops up in several books which, without being preachy, does provide information.

37laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Dec 15, 2012, 9:13pm Top

Just the name "Long Piddleton" makes me giggle a little every time.

10. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov What a superb novel. Beautifully written, seamlessly crafted, brilliant. It took me a while to get into it, because it's no simple read, and I didn't have a block of time to devote to it. But once I spent a solid hour with no distractions, I was totally engrossed. I wish I could describe it better than this, but fundamentally, it's the story of the devil and his cohorts wreaking havoc in Moscow during the Stalin era. It's satirical, comical, witty and quite philosophical. The "secondary" plot line of Pontius Pilate's personal struggle with the judgment and punishment of Yeshua, incorporated as a novel written by the Master of the title, is a marvelous parallel story. I am going to have to re-read this soon. I'm looking forward to it.

11. Stranger in Paradise by Robert B. Parker. Further adventures of Jesse Stone. *sigh* The return of Wilson Cromartie, "Crow", a ladykiller who wouldn't kill a woman, made this one interesting. (Wonder why Parker names his highly scrupled stone killers after birds? Crow. Hawk.)

12. Sephardi Entrepreneurs in Jerusalem An Early Reviewer book. Full review will be posted shortly.

ETA: My review here

38Joycepa
Feb 23, 2008, 5:20am Top

Have put The Master and Margarita on my list!

39teelgee
Feb 23, 2008, 9:55pm Top

I'm gonna have to re-read M&M, I read it a few months ago and got very impatient with it. Maybe I'll try it again next fall/winter after I retire so I can really spend some time with it. I will also have more Russian lit and history under my belt. It seems to be a lot of people's favorite. Glad you enjoyed it so much, laytonwoman!

40TeacherDad
Feb 23, 2008, 10:04pm Top

just added it to my "wish list" as well -- sounds cool!

41laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Jun 5, 2008, 12:14pm Top

13. Song Yet Sung by James McBride. No touchstones, I see.

This is a novel set on Maryland's eastern shore in the 1840's, when the "gospel train" was running on the underground railroad. It features a number of interesting characters in a rather thin and rambling plot. A slave named Liz Spocott, who was already prone to vivid dreams, begins to see visions of the future after a severe head wound suffered during an attempted escape--visions that include rap music, disaffected youths (black and white), Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech and other historical events. These visions lead her to believe that there is no point in trying to escape to the North, because no peace or freedom awaits there. Most of the action centers around one set of characters trying to get Liz on the gospel train, and another set trying to find and recapture her. The story line really lacked focus, although some of the writing was quite fine. Mainly, this book made me crave fresh oysters...

ETA finally seems the title touchstone is working.

42Joycepa
Mar 4, 2008, 5:08am Top

What a plot--sounds really good! Too bad the writing wasn't quite up to it--you can see the potential.

43laytonwoman3rd
Mar 9, 2008, 12:25pm Top

14. The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat I read this book a few years ago, but it made a much greater impression on me this time. It is a montage of stories about a handful of people affected by events in Haiti during the 1960's, now living in New York at the beginning of the 21st century. The unifying character, a barber whose very American daughter tells the first modern tale in which she learns of her father's true past, is the embodiment of evil for his victims, yet his life holds a more complicated secret about love and redemption. A deceptively quick and easy read.

44kambrogi
Edited: Mar 10, 2008, 6:57pm Top

Hmm, that last one sounds awfully good. She is a writer I have been interested in for a long time, but have not yet read. I am also rather intrigued by all the mystery talk. The only mystery writer I ever read much of was Elizabeth George, and I'm not sure why I was so intrigued by her, but I have several others on my list -- one in particular recommended by you, I think!

I agree that The Master and Margarita is a brilliant book, and I was glad I read it. Alas, it is more the sort I read for growth than for pleasure, as most of the characters and their experiences were too fantastic for me to connect with. (That may have been your problem, teelgee.)

45laytonwoman3rd
Mar 16, 2008, 4:35pm Top

15. Paddy Clarke, Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle
A delightful, moving story of childhood told in a narrative style that at times is almost stream of consciousness, and yet never bewildering; lyrical and lovely, not a bit sentimental; it touches the frightened child that still lurks in my subconsciousness somewhere engaged in the kind of magical thinking that promises "If I stay awake all night, it will keep this bad thing from happening". I thought the ending a bit weak, if inevitable. Highly recommended.

46kambrogi
Mar 17, 2008, 9:14am Top

Sounds delightful.

47ktruh
Mar 18, 2008, 10:01am Top

> 45
I listened to the audio book Paddy Clarke, Ha Ha Ha and the ending was much more meaningful as the narrator changed from the funny and energetic boy voice to the normal voice. The voice change really emphasized what was lost. I can't find the audio book now; I can only find an abridged copy, and I don't remember ever listening to an abridged book, but maybe I did.

48laytonwoman3rd
Mar 19, 2008, 4:40pm Top

I would love to listen to that book being read well...the narrative rhythm was just marvelous. And I can imagine how the ending would benefit from that kind of interpretive reading.

49laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Mar 21, 2008, 5:52pm Top

16. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
Just delightful, laugh-out-loud funny in spots. Feels a bit of a cheat to count it, as it only took me a little over an hour (with interruptions) to read it. But I'm counting it anyway. And now I covet the slim leather-bound edition of Pride & Prejudice found for the author by dear Frank. If you don't know of this book, it is a collection of letters between a writer in New York City and a second-hand book seller in London, beginning in 1949, carrying on through the late '60's. A treat.

50teelgee
Mar 21, 2008, 5:56pm Top

Ahem. I distinctly remember last year when I read the VERY SAME BOOK and said it felt like cheating to count it and YOU said "Was it pages between two covers? Then it's a book and it counts!" Ha ha. Hoisted on your own petard!

Isn't it a wonderful book, though? I'm looking for the Duchess of Bloomsbury too.

51laytonwoman3rd
Mar 21, 2008, 6:58pm Top

I counted it, didn't I???? And I do want to read more of her work.

52laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Jun 19, 2008, 12:33pm Top

17. Dark Harbor by David Hosp A legal/crime thriller; set in Boston; won't make any points with the Chamber of Commerce. Fairly well crafted for a first novel and highly readable, but with a few too many cliffhangers and plot elements. Hosp threw in everything from terrorist bombings and serial killers to Irish street gangs and corruption in high places...he could have saved a thing or two for his second novel.
A good escapist read.

53lycomayflower
Mar 23, 2008, 9:40pm Top

Irish street gangs FTW.

I continue to be amused at how close together our reading pace seems to be.

54tiffin
Mar 24, 2008, 10:03pm Top

laytonwoman, I am so glad you liked The Master and Margarita. It is in the top ten lifetime reads for me. I'm itching to get my hands on 84, Charing Cross Road. You're doing really well so far this year! Steady as she goes. Yarrrr {pirate talk}

55amandameale
Mar 25, 2008, 7:10am Top

Laytonwoman: I'm enjoying your thread very much. Have picked up a few new titles here.

56laytonwoman3rd
Mar 25, 2008, 8:11am Top

#53 Full of win and awesome, that's us!
#54 Oooh...pirates on my thread! Love it.
#55 You're welcome. Glad to see you stopping by.

57kambrogi
Mar 25, 2008, 11:18am Top




58mrstreme
Mar 25, 2008, 1:00pm Top

This has become my new favorite thread. Somebody give him some run - he's looking mighty dry.

59laytonwoman3rd
Mar 25, 2008, 5:42pm Top

The rum's gone.

60lycomayflower
Mar 25, 2008, 8:36pm Top

Yes, but why is the rum gone?

61tiffin
Mar 25, 2008, 9:02pm Top

lycomayflower, I've just had a quick peek at your profile and our desert island reads would be very similar. So if we're going to be stranded, perhaps we could double up on some and therefore take more books? Sorry, laytonwoman, this is your thread. I'll shurrup now.

62teelgee
Mar 26, 2008, 1:57am Top

I'll join you if we can take Johnny Depp along.

63laytonwoman3rd
Mar 26, 2008, 11:48am Top

shurrup, tiffin? Please don't. That would diminish the wonderfulness around here.

64mrstreme
Mar 26, 2008, 5:32pm Top

I'm with teelgee. Deserted island, books, Johnny and a new bottle of rum (since someone already drank the first bottle).... =)

65lycomayflower
Mar 30, 2008, 3:33pm Top

61: tiffin--

Desert island reads FTW! Definitely, when it comes time to pack for the stranding, we'll pool our resources and share.

66laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Mar 31, 2008, 8:09am Top

Ahem...18. Dream Lucky by Roxane Orgill Sorry to be shouting. Just dragging the thread back on topic (not that I object to the other stuff at all, at all). This was an ARC received through LT's Early Reviewers program, and I enjoyed it a lot. Full review is here

67TeacherDad
Mar 30, 2008, 5:41pm Top

I got that one too... 1/2 way through, really enjoying it (especially if you have a little Basie & Ellington & Holiday playing)...

68lycomayflower
Mar 30, 2008, 6:18pm Top

You can't just say "ahem" like that!

69laytonwoman3rd
Mar 31, 2008, 8:09am Top

#68 'Zat so??

70lycomayflower
Mar 31, 2008, 9:04am Top

#69 Bet you don't know what I'm almost quoting.

Incidentally (oh, books what?), can I borry 84, Charing Cross Road at some point?

71laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Mar 31, 2008, 12:12pm Top

#70 'Twill be on its way to you shortly, in place of the tape you tell me you canna watch. And no, I don't know what you're almost quoting. Pfft. I'm a book ahead of you. Go read sommat.

72kambrogi
Apr 2, 2008, 1:19pm Top

You guys are so cute.

73laytonwoman3rd
Apr 3, 2008, 10:41am Top

19. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
Grabbed this and Mary Poppins Comes Back from the library after reading somewhere that the author was horrified by what Disney did to her characters and stories. I thought I ought to re-acquaint myself with the original. Apparently when Ms. Travers saw the movie of Mary Poppins she told Mr. Disney he had to take out all that animated stuff--it was just wrong, wrong, wrong. Of course it was too late for that, so she refused to allow him to make another movie as he had wanted to do, and when there was a stage revival some years later, she would only sign off on it if she was assured that no one who had any involvement in the making of the movie would be associated with the stage production. Tough lady. What I didn't realize was that she wrote several more Mary Poppins books after the movie came out, and that she only died in 1996. Didn't know she was born in Australia either. See what you can learn from reading children's books?

74kiwidoc
Apr 3, 2008, 10:47am Top

But did you think the book was better than the movie, Laytonwoman3rd?? I had heard that the book was not a great read??

75TeacherDad
Apr 3, 2008, 11:33am Top

I read the first Mary Poppins and thought it was hilarious -- more on the biting side than Disney side, that Nanny has a fiesty streak...

76aluvalibri
Apr 3, 2008, 11:46am Top

laytonwoman3rd, you might be interested in Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P.L. Travers by Valerie Lawson.
P.L. Travers was, apparently, not a very pleasant person!
In spite of that, I love those among her books that I have read.

77marise
Apr 3, 2008, 12:05pm Top

As I recall, Mary Poppins was not always a very pleasant person, but it has been half a lifetime since I read those.

78laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Apr 3, 2008, 3:57pm Top

I understand why the person who created Mary Poppins was not happy with the movie version. Although she is a bit sharpish in the movie, she's plainly meant to be loveable; that's not true in the books. I'm well into the second one (which is where I will stop), and I think it is written better than the first. There are no sweet and funny creatures so far in these books--to the contrary, many of the animal characters seem slightly sinister. In fact, there are a lot of humans who give me the creeps, too. I just read a chapter in which a smiling, sweet-talking old man and his playful great-grandchildren turn out to be kidnapping Jane to keep her in the frozen past of a scene painted on a china bowl. Then there is the old lady in the sweet shoppe who breaks off her fingers and feeds them to the children (of course, they turn out to be peppermint sticks, or barley candy, and the fingers magically grow right back, but EWWW!) The stuff of children's nightmares. I'm also noticing some interesting parallels in the chapters between the two books. One chapter in Mary Poppins is entitled "Mrs. Lark's Andrew", and it's about a neighbor's little dog. In Mary Poppins Comes Back there is a chapter entitled "Mrs. Andrews' Lark", which is about Mr. Banks' frightful old nanny (Mrs. Andrews) and the songbird she keeps caged. "Bad Tuesday" in MP deals with a day Michael was very naughty; "Bad Wednesday" in MPCB has Jane acting out and getting in trouble for it.
That's the kind of thing that's keeping me reading the second one.
I confess to having a great fondness for the happy silliness of the movie Disney made. I think Tim Burton could do something quite different with these stories, but I'm afraid he'd be lynched if he tried it now.

79kiwidoc
Apr 3, 2008, 4:57pm Top

Mary Poppins is one of the defining movies of my childhood - especially as I only watched three my entire childhood until teen years (the other two were 'The Sound of Music' and 'Born Free')

I always thought Bert was such a wonderful man - so much fun.

80lycomayflower
Edited: Apr 3, 2008, 5:35pm Top

I recall liking the Mary Poppins book I had as a somewhat wee thing, so it must not have been that bad. And you know I was more easily freaked out than the average wee thing. Perhaps it is more frightening to adults?

Is the copy of Mary Poppins you read my copy? The purple one with the cover taped back on and the illustration for "Bad Tuesday" of Michael kicking the maid in the shins?

81aluvalibri
Edited: Apr 3, 2008, 5:37pm Top

Is the copy of Mary Poppins you read my

Oh Oh!!!! Here goes the "book possessiveness"!

82marise
Apr 3, 2008, 7:12pm Top

For Christmas 1964 I received 2 record albums and a 45. One album was the soundtrack to MP that a well meaning relative sent. The other album was Sonny and Cher's "Look at Us" (their first) and the 45 was the Beatles "She's a Woman/I Feel Fine." Guess which I gave to my little brother?

83laytonwoman3rd
Apr 3, 2008, 9:44pm Top

#80 No, Sprout, it isn't your copy. I didn't know that was still around here. I got both books from the (ahem) children's library. Although that illustration is in there.

84TeacherDad
Edited: Apr 4, 2008, 1:46am Top

there are original and revised editions of Mary Poppins, I guess Michael's bad day was extra mean and malicious in the first version, as well as containing racial stereotype references (no, Mary Poppins is not a racist)...

85laytonwoman3rd
Apr 4, 2008, 7:14am Top

#84 I noticed that the one I was reading said "Bad Tuesday" was a "revised" version. Wonder when that was done. Now I will have to hunt out my daughter's old copy and see about that.

I'm finding it very intriguing that this is the book that's sparked such a lot of discussion on my thread...

86TeacherDad
Apr 4, 2008, 11:20am Top

sorry, "wantonwoman" for knocking your challenge off track...

I've gone back and searched the boys' bookshelves for old Richard Scarry books after seeing somewhere they updated for more enlightened times... put some males in the kitchen and women into careers, traded Indian headdresses for chef's hats...

87laytonwoman3rd
Apr 4, 2008, 11:32am Top

Don't apologize, Teach. That's what makes this so much fun. I'm afraid most of the childhood favorites in our house are boxed up in the attic, and digging into that treasure trove is not on my schedule for a while!

88laytonwoman3rd
Apr 5, 2008, 4:06pm Top

20. Mary Poppins Comes Back by P. L. Travers More of MP's odd relatives, magical shenanigans and surreal adventures. Patterned quite closely after the first book, this began to feel somewhat formulaic by the end.

89laytonwoman3rd
Apr 14, 2008, 8:34pm Top

21 A Drink Before the War Dennis Lehane's first novel, the beginning of a series of PI adventures of Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. Great vacation reading--good characters, clear action, plotting original enough without being fantastical. I look forward to reading some more of these.

90laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Apr 17, 2008, 5:45pm Top

22. N or M? by Agatha Christie. Tommy and Tuppence save England from the Fifth Column. Full of red herrings, and the two of them knowing stuff we aren't told about. Fun to read just the same.

91laytonwoman3rd
Apr 27, 2008, 11:54am Top

23. The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff. This one is more of a diary, rather than a collection of letters like 84, Charing Cross Road. Just as delightful. Makes me desperate to go to London.

24. A Fountain Filled With Blood by Julia Spencer-Fleming No. 2 in the Russ Van Alstyne/Clare Fergusson series. I'm enjoying these a lot. The plot lines are good, the main characters are real people, and the tension/chemistry between them is handled as well as I've ever seen it done. So far sustained perfectly through 2 books. It bothers me just a little that we haven't yet met Linda Van Alsytne, and know so very little about her. I'll be reading No. 3 before the summer is over, I'm sure.

92laytonwoman3rd
Edited: May 5, 2008, 7:45am Top

25. Fifth Business Excellent. More later.

93kiwidoc
May 14, 2008, 1:23am Top

Hello laytonwoman - we are in the gathering place introducing ourselves. Hope to see you there....

94laytonwoman3rd
Edited: May 17, 2008, 2:21pm Top

26. Consider the Oyster by M.F.K. Fisher This was a delightful read. Part natural history, part cookbook, part social commentary. And again, I crave oysters.

95laytonwoman3rd
Edited: May 29, 2008, 5:49pm Top

27. A Dog Among Diplomats by J.F. Englert
An Early Reviewers book. The second in the series featuring Randolph, an overweight, sentient dog detective. Full review will be posted in the near future.

ETA: My full review is here

96laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Aug 3, 2008, 2:13pm Top

28. Franklin and Lucy by Joseph Persico

This was an ER book, by an author who is already known to me for Roosevelt's Secret War; and for My American Journey, Colin Powell's autobiography in which he "collaborated". Persico is reader-friendly in his writing style and I enjoyed this exploration of Franklin Roosevelt's many relationships with remarkable women.
A full review will follow.

ETA: Just re-reading my thread, and realized I never added the Link to my review. So, there, I've done that.

97laytonwoman3rd
Jun 1, 2008, 5:21pm Top

29. The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne

Before Winnie the Pooh, Milne wrote this detective story for his father. It features an amateur detective who, in character, owes much to Sherlock Holmes, and who recruits his own Dr. Watson when he drops in on a mysterious murder at The Red House. It was fun to read, as the interplay between "Holmes" and "Watson" was witty, but it offered almost no challenge to the reader's detecting skills, and suffered from the "culprit tells all and fills in the blanks" syndrome. A good enough way to read away a lazy afternoon.

98laytonwoman3rd
Jun 5, 2008, 12:18pm Top

Just reviewing my own progress, here. I'm a bit off last year's pace, probably due to traveling a lot in the last couple months, and not taking my usual Mondays off in between trips so work wouldn't get totally out of control. And I still need to review Franklin and Lucy...get on it, woman.

99kambrogi
Jun 5, 2008, 12:33pm Top

Good work, even with vacations, LTW3. You and I are next-in-neck, I think.

100laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Jul 8, 2008, 11:36am Top

30. At Swim, Two Boys
What a beautiful book altogether. Every character is perfectly drawn, set and completed in this excellent novel. Call it gay lit, or Irish literature, a bildungsroman, or a historical novel, it is Literature with the big "L". It explores the nature of love, of patriotism, of honor, of family, of history, within the context of the Irish independence movement, just before the doomed Rising of Easter Monday, 1916. It ends as you know all along it will, and though it's hard to accept, it's quite right, too. The language is so lovely, I wanted to roll around in it the way a cat rolls in nip.

101lauralkeet
Jun 17, 2008, 11:38am Top

I wanted to roll around in it the way a cat rolls in nip.
Great choice of words! I read this ages ago and remember liking it a lot too.

102marise
Jun 19, 2008, 10:40am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

103laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Jun 19, 2008, 12:04pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

104marise
Jun 19, 2008, 12:22pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

105kambrogi
Jun 20, 2008, 7:57am Top

Beautiful review, Linda. It is already in the wishlist, but I may need to just go ahead and get it at the library.

106laytonwoman3rd
Jun 28, 2008, 4:28pm Top

31. The Book Thief I avoided this book for a while, because I hate to read "what's hot". I suppose I expect to be disappointed. Why my reaction should be any different when the buzz dies down, I don't know. Maybe I just feel I can approach a book with a more open mind if everyone isn't talking about it. But sometimes, the hype is warranted. The Book Thief wasn't a "read", it was an experience. I had to get up this morning, and finish it quietly alone, because I knew the ending was going to wreck me. It's a rare book that makes me cry, and quite often it is set in World War II if it does. I suspect if they ever make a movie of this one, I will not be able to watch it. But I would not have missed reading it---it is amazing. I will gather some thoughts into a full review in a little while.

107mrstreme
Edited: Jun 28, 2008, 4:40pm Top

"The Book Thief wasn't a "read," it was an experience".

I couldn't agree more. I still think about this book, and I read it probably 18 months ago. I am glad you liked it too.

108laytonwoman3rd
Jun 29, 2008, 12:47pm Top

32. My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather
Quick, satisfying read about a woman who gave up everything for love.

109lauralkeet
Jul 2, 2008, 9:16pm Top

>107 mrstreme:: what she said ... powerful book.

110laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Jul 3, 2008, 1:27pm Top

33.Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
Oh, how deliciously sharp is Barbara Pym's beady little eye! Although this book is set in a less-than-fashionable district of London a few years after the end of WWII, "excellent women" are apparently the same everywhere, because I have known and observed just such characters as she draws running church bazaars, Sunday Schools and rummage sales in Northeastern PA. I did dare to hope for a while that our Mildred might find the gumption to want something more for herself, but that would have made this a different book entirely. This was my first Barbara Pym, which I picked up because of recommendations from some excellent women of a different sort. I'll be looking for more of her books.

111lauralkeet
Jul 3, 2008, 4:46pm Top

Oh, I am so glad you loved this book! I sense another Pym-ophile in the making!

112tiffin
Jul 3, 2008, 7:26pm Top

Huzzah! Pym 'r us!

113aluvalibri
Jul 5, 2008, 10:27pm Top

YAYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Another Pym-ite!!!!!!!!

114amandameale
Jul 8, 2008, 7:41am Top

Interesting reviews. Good to read, bad for my "must buy" list.

115laytonwoman3rd
Jul 8, 2008, 9:27pm Top

34. Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain (How did I happen to read two books in a row with a main character named "Mildred"???)

This is one of those noir classics I've had on my radar for years. Found it at a used book sale recently. Although it is a vintage edition (1946), and its pages are uniformly brown, it had obviously never been read all the way through, for a number of pages in the last third of the book were not completely cut. It has the movie tie-in dust cover featuring Joan Crawford and Ann Blyth.

The story is compelling---a woman wronged by her husband, who had also lost his profitable business to the aftermath of the stock market crash, throws him out, and finds a way to "make it on her own". (Cain likes to toss phrases like that around, and always frames them with quotation marks.) Although Mildred has a lot of gumption, she is no judge of character, and is repeatedly disillusioned by the people she chooses to trust. She turns her flair for cooking and baking into a phenomenally successful business, but cannot figure out how to do the same for her personal relationships with men, or with her own daughter. The dialog is frequently wretched. I don't think Cain ever met a 14 year old girl; he certainly never listened to one talk. Despite that, the characters come alive, and the book is well-crafted. L. A. Confidential without the crime.

116laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Jul 14, 2008, 2:37pm Top

35. The Painted Veil by Somerset Maugham
comments reserved for discussion elsewhere.

117laytonwoman3rd
Jul 14, 2008, 2:40pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

118laytonwoman3rd
Jul 14, 2008, 2:40pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

119laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Jul 14, 2008, 2:42pm Top

36. Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Third of the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne adventures. This one was wonderful, with its historical mystery tied to current events. It's very tempting to pick up the next one immediately...

120laytonwoman3rd
Jul 17, 2008, 9:21pm Top

37. There are Jews in My House by Lara Vapnyar A collection of short fiction about ordinary Russian people in various time-and-place settings. Excellent character sketches. Except for the title piece, I liked these very much. "There are Jews in My House" was well written, but its story just peters out, leaving the reader with questions that detract from what I think the author was trying to do. The rest of the selections, however, worked for me on all levels.

121laytonwoman3rd
Jul 19, 2008, 2:52pm Top

38. Aiding and Abetting by Muriel Spark
Who's scamming whom, and which preposterous imposter is a killer, and who will find the real fugitive Earl of Lucan (or is he dead?) and who is more afraid of having the past revealed--the hunter or the hunted? Farcical, bloody and blackly humorous. Not, however laugh-out-loud funny, at least in my opinion, as promised by some reviewers.

122laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Jul 28, 2008, 12:41pm Top

39. Sharpshooter by David Madden

A surprising look at the Civil War from the perspective of a man trying to process his own experience many years after the fact. Willis Carr was the product of a Unionist family in East Tennessee. At age 13, he was caught up in a war he did not understand when he followed his father and older brothers on a mission to burn railroad bridges. Captured and offered a choice between joining the rebels and being sent to prison in Tuscaloosa (“The very name sounded like the end of everything holy.”) Willis chose the Confederacy, and became a sharpshooter. The first third of the book is Willis’s first hand account of his experiences in various battles, from the sharpshooter’s nest in the tower of Bleak House overlooking the Kingston Pike and the Tennessee River during the siege of Knoxville (chilling because I recently visited that tower) through the horrors of Devil’s Den at the battle of Gettysburg, to guard duty at Andersonville Prison, where he first learned to read and write -- in Cherokee -- from a black prisoner. The remainder of the book chronicles his quest, later in life, to sort out his memories, fill in the gaps, and find out “what really happened” during the war by retracing his steps and talking to other survivors along the way. More introspection than action; thoughtful exploration of the mind of a soldier, the importance of physical and temporal perspective, and the fallibility of memory. Quite a remarkable read.

123tiffin
Jul 28, 2008, 9:06am Top

I think at this rate you are going to exceed 50 by quite a bit, lw3!

124laytonwoman3rd
Edited: May 25, 2017, 11:03am Top

Yes, I expect to hit 50, even 60, with no trouble. But I was hoping to meet last year's 72 total, and I'm not sure I will accomplish that.

40. The View From the Ground by Martha Gellhorn This is a collection of Gellhorn's magazine articles from various political hot spots around the world. There are a few selections from every decade from the 30's through the 80's (which Gellhorn called "infuriating and shabby"), with each section concluded by a 1987 retrospective piece authored just for this volume. How I wish I could have met this remarkable woman. Her style is open and informative; her focus always on the people affected by political upheaval more than the politics itself. These essays are much more than simple factual reporting; Gellhorn never leaves the reader in doubt about her assessment of leaders from Harold MacMillan to Margaret Thatcher, from FDR to Ronald Reagan, Franco to Fidel; or of official policies affecting poverty, protest, or privacy. Nonetheless, the fairness of her approach to each subject is obvious in her writing. Gellhorn witnessed the liberation of Auschwitz; attended the Nuremburg trials and the trial of Eichmann in Israel, the HUAC hearings and the Senate Select Committee Hearings investigating charges against Joseph McCarthy ; she lived in France, in London, in Africa and Cuba; she travelled everywhere and interviewed displaced persons in Czechoslovakia, striking miners and their families in Wales, Palestinian refugees in Gaza, young communists in Poland; and experienced what we would refer to as reverse racism in a small town in Haiti. Her observations are priceless. History should be taught from perspectives such as this; it makes for engaging reading, provokes thought, and raises the consciousness.

41. Pressure is a Privilege by Billie Jean King An ER book. Nothing much to say about it; motivational speaking between the covers of a handy little volume. I will have to put together an actual review, but not today.

My review here

125deebee1
Aug 4, 2008, 4:06am Top

Book #40 sounds like something i would have to read. i'm a big fan of journalistic writings and essays especially from an alternative view (people affected rather than the movers themselves). i agree with u, history will be better taught if perspectives such as this are considered. adding this to my list...

126carlym
Aug 4, 2008, 9:49am Top

I "won" Pressure is a Privilege, too, but haven't received it yet. I hope she has a few interesting things to say!

127laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Aug 5, 2008, 11:39am Top

42. Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin First in a detective series that has been recommended to me. I like the character of Rebus. Will probably read another, although it seemed this one ended somewhat abruptly. I also prefer my detective stories not to place members of the main character's family in jeopardy to serve the storyline. That element was somewhat more plausible in this instance than in others I have read, but it always seems to me a cheap way to build the tension.

128laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Aug 5, 2008, 12:17pm Top

43. Eudora Welty's Photographs This is not a book you "read" in the usual sense. But I picked it up and got totally lost in it, devouring every one of these extraordinary black-and-white photos taken primarily in the 30's and 40's in Mississippi, but including a smattering from other locations. I yelped with delight to discover a picture of Hildegarde Dolson, Richard Lockridge's second wife, in one of the group photos. I also recognized at least two of the pictures as having been used as cover art on other books I own. This one and this one

129laytonwoman3rd
Aug 10, 2008, 6:04pm Top

44. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Wonderful. From time to time I found myself wishing for something fine and lovely to happen to somebody in this book, but then Olive would come along and make some feisty pronouncement that made me laugh out loud. I kept expecting to see her sitting in my living room, looking at me with a critical eye, when I put the book down. She is a character I won't soon forget.

130mrstreme
Aug 10, 2008, 7:02pm Top

I am reading this book too - only 100 pages to go. It's a profound novel - love the characters!

131laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Aug 12, 2008, 6:57am Top

45. Angel by Elizabeth Taylor. No, not THAT Elizabeth Taylor. Excellent character study of a totally self-absorbed "Edwardian" novelist who unaccountably inspired great loyalty in a number of people who saw her flaws and loved her anyway, through thick and thin. I'll be on the lookout for more of this author's books.

ETA: Sorry. Bold banished now.

132teelgee
Edited: Aug 11, 2008, 11:52pm Top

I've read a couple of her books and LOVE her writing! I have another on the shelf that keeps beckoning me. Haven't read Angel yet.

ET stop screaming.

133laytonwoman3rd
Aug 12, 2008, 6:58am Top

I'm hoping to find Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont--saw the delightful movie adaptation, and now I want to read the original.

134aluvalibri
Aug 12, 2008, 7:05am Top

laytonwoman3rd, most of her books are Virago Modern Classics. Are you going to become an "avid" Virago fan too?
;-))

135laytonwoman3rd
Aug 12, 2008, 9:55am Top

This one was a VMC, aluvalibri. I think I am coming down with the "bug"...

136christiguc
Aug 12, 2008, 10:03am Top

We'll just slowly reel you in. . .

(Paola--now is the time to pounce!)

:)

137laytonwoman3rd
Aug 12, 2008, 10:07am Top

Trust me, Paola's already exerted undue influence on me about Viragos!

138aluvalibri
Aug 12, 2008, 10:32am Top

he he he he he......that's me!

139teelgee
Aug 12, 2008, 10:58am Top

I loved Mrs. Palfrey - saw the movie first and the book was just great. I've been looking for a VMC copy of it (not the movie tie-in!), so we may have to arm wrestle for it!

140aluvalibri
Aug 12, 2008, 11:37am Top

Difficult to come across, Terri, AND expensive too!

141teelgee
Aug 12, 2008, 12:00pm Top

:o(

142lauralkeet
Aug 12, 2008, 1:03pm Top

I have a Dial Press edition (black cover) of Mrs. Palfrey, which was not expensive ... so there's hope Terri!

143laytonwoman3rd
Aug 12, 2008, 2:16pm Top

What does Paola call "expensive"?

144aluvalibri
Aug 12, 2008, 2:46pm Top

Any Virago above 20 dollars.
I have seen copies of Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (the green cover) for over 50.
Unfortunately, prices are going up, even for Viragos I managed to buy for a few dollars.
I guess it depends on market availability and demand.

145laytonwoman3rd
Aug 12, 2008, 3:37pm Top

AH...then I have been wise to jump on one I just found at abebooks. It's the black cover, not the green one, but not the movie tie-in. Much less than $20.00, including shipping.

146teelgee
Aug 12, 2008, 3:52pm Top

ack.

147laytonwoman3rd
Aug 12, 2008, 4:00pm Top

You snooze, you lose. {:P

148aluvalibri
Aug 12, 2008, 5:21pm Top

That is VERY good, Linda!

149lauralkeet
Aug 12, 2008, 8:13pm Top

I'm not sure what I paid for my black cover edition but it was less than $10 for sure. Welcome to the Virago collecting madness!

150laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Aug 12, 2008, 9:27pm Top

6 new ones arrived today, thanks to an e-bay SCORE.
Nearly doubled my "collection." Check out my catalog in a few minutes if you want to see what I got.

ETA: They are all in now. And, amazingly, LT is telling me I have three Virago's that no one else has! It lies---I just spot checked one of them, Liana by Martha Gellhorn, and now I find it says 27 members own it. I didn't think that could be possible.

151teelgee
Aug 12, 2008, 9:21pm Top

Yup, she's hooked.

152aluvalibri
Aug 12, 2008, 9:22pm Top

After Hobart, it was bound to happen.....

153marise
Aug 12, 2008, 9:33pm Top

>150 laytonwoman3rd: I know I have the Naomi Mitchison and when I go to your library, it says you have the only one.

A great haul, btw. Congrats on joining the club!

154laytonwoman3rd
Aug 12, 2008, 9:45pm Top

I just combined the Mitchison---as well as the Gellhorn and one other. For some reason it was treating each of those 3 books as unique to my library, but it's all good now.

155laytonwoman3rd
Aug 16, 2008, 3:41pm Top

46. Pears on a Willow Tree by Leslie Pietrzyk Better than I expected, but not quite as good as it could have been. Four generations of women, beginning with Rose, a Polish immigrant, and ending with her great-granddaughter, Amy explore how to relate to one another, and to their common ancestry; how to hold on to the past, and how to let it go. We know there are men in these women's lives, but as in the second generation's orderly American homes, they are always in another room somewhere. This isn't their story. The viewpoint changes from one woman to another as the novel proceeds; most of the time this works very well, but occasionally, especially at the beginning, it was difficult to remember which voice I was listening to. One section where Amy, on holiday from her job teaching English in Bangkok, struck out alone on a sightseeing jaunt seemed glaringly out of synch with the rest of the novel, although it could easily stand alone as a very effective short story. Several of the chapters were previously published as short fiction, but this one, it seems, was not.

156laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Sep 1, 2008, 2:18pm Top

47. The Burnt House by Faye Kellerman A disappointment. I've always enjoyed spending time with the Deckers--Kellerman usually provides a nice balance between the police procedural aspects of her story and the personal lives of her characters. Neither element works well in this one. An old crime and a new one are both brought to light by a plane crash, and the coincidence that joins them together is just too much. Peter Decker spends most of the book getting on and off airplanes, or trying to calm irate relatives who think they are either being brushed off or harrassed by the police. He's exhausted, and the reader is tired of it. Plot developments seem to happen where the reader is not, later being revealed by one character filling in another on recent findings of the investigation.
On the personal level, the interaction between Peter and Rina is perfunctory, and while I have always respected Rina's faith and commitment to religious observance, in this book she comes across as just plain preachy. Finally, as I often notice in series fiction such as this, The Burnt House shows almost no evidence of editing. I think certain authors become "untouchable" at about the same time they may be getting too comfortable with their recurring characters, which leads to a muddled over-long novel like this one.

157laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Aug 30, 2008, 10:29am Top

48. Amy and Isabelle Another fine novel from Elizabeth Strout. At least as good as Olive Kitteridge, with just as many perfectly drawn characters, and more of a story line. Some of the scenes in this novel will stay with me a long time; I feel as though I have already seen the movie. Strout's talent lies in nailing the way real people speak to each other, and in understating the drama of an ordinary life in such a way that we realize there truly is no such thing. *

ETA:
*No such thing as an ordinary life, not drama. But you knew what I meant, right?

158teelgee
Aug 29, 2008, 10:37am Top

I have this one on deck -- I planned to wait until Orange January to read it, but might not be able to wait that long.

159marise
Aug 29, 2008, 12:15pm Top

Another one for my wishlist!

160amandameale
Aug 30, 2008, 9:31am Top

Me too.

161carlym
Aug 30, 2008, 9:43am Top

156: Peter Decker spends most of the book getting on and off airplanes . . . . That made me laugh!! (And that does sound boring.)

162mrstreme
Aug 30, 2008, 4:17pm Top

I am so glad to hear another wonderful review of a Strout book. I can't wait to read more from her, especially after loving Olive!

163wildbill
Aug 30, 2008, 4:33pm Top

Re: 150, I find that often when I add a book LT will say that no one else owns it. Then one minute later 87 people own it. Takes a little while to catch up I guess.

164aluvalibri
Aug 30, 2008, 6:52pm Top

Out of sheer luck, I found a copy of Amy and Isabelle today, at my favourite used bookstore, for the exorbitant amount of........$1!!!!

165mrstreme
Aug 30, 2008, 6:56pm Top

#164, aluvalibri - that was an excellent find!

166marise
Aug 30, 2008, 6:56pm Top

May I be so lucky, aluvalibri!!!

167aluvalibri
Aug 30, 2008, 6:57pm Top

I wish you all this kind of luck!

168englishrose60
Aug 31, 2008, 6:52am Top

Well done! aluvalibri.

169laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Sep 3, 2008, 10:47am Top

Look at the party that's been going on here---and I missed it! Well, that's because I was reading
49. The Family Markowitz by Allegra Goodman.
Goodman has a similar talent to Elizabeth Strout's--you can hear her characters speaking out loud in your head as you read. I absolutely loved Kaaterskill Falls when I read it last year. I'm glad I read that one first, though, because I might not have moved on to it if The Family Markowitz had been my introduction to Goodman. Even though Markowitz is well-written, with brilliantly realized characters based on the same sharp observations that worked so well in Kaaterskill Falls, I did not enjoy this one nearly as much. There is not one character in it that I would like to meet; most of them have no idea how to get along with one another and they are all looking to pick a fight at any given moment, even during preparations for daughter/grand-daughter/niece Miriam Markowitz's wedding. There's just so much passive agressive behavior and outright hostility I can handle, even in a fictional setting. The book left me feeling as irritated with the Markowitz family as they seem to be with each other...that itself, of course, is a mark of the author's talent. But it's a relief to be through with them and to realize I don't have to invite any of them to my daughter's wedding, should such an event come to pass.

ETA: ACK! Edited to remove a trespassing apostrophe.

170Joycepa
Aug 31, 2008, 3:36pm Top

Great last comment, Linda.

171TrishNYC
Edited: Sep 1, 2008, 6:10pm Top

I echo your thots on The book thief. I had never heard of it until a friend of mine from the UK gave me a copy. So I went in with no preconceived notion and I was stunned. With alot of writing these days lacking in originality, it was refreshing to read a book that was so profound, sweet and just all round magnificent. But I totally get what you mean about people raving about a book and that turning you off the book. Much of the time, I am disappointed when I eventually read the book.

By the way what were your thots on The painted Veil? I saw the movie and loved it. The scenery was just breathtaking. Did you see the movie?

172laytonwoman3rd
Sep 1, 2008, 6:46pm Top

Trish: I was ultimately disappointed in The Painted Veil. It was an engrossing read, but I think it promised something more in the way of depth and insight than it ever delivered. I have not seen the movie, and I can imagine that it could be visually delightful. I may seek it out just for that reason. The ending of the book was a total fizzle for me---I wonder if they changed it for the movie.

173TrishNYC
Sep 4, 2008, 12:14pm Top

Having never read the book, I believe that they did change the ending of the movie. I remember hearing somewhere that they gave the movie a "happier" ending.

Mmmh...your assessment of the book makes me really not want to read it. My first instinct when I see a movie and find out that it was inspired by a book is to search out the book. When I heard that this movie and book did not have the same ending, I totally did not want to read the book. But overtime, I began to soften to the idea of reading the book but your description further makes me not want to read it. Too many satisfying books out there.

Thanks for you assessment.

174laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Sep 18, 2008, 10:58am Top

50. Intruder in the Dust by William Faulkner

William Faulkner rarely gives us a character easily described as “admirable”. But in Intruder in the Dust, we meet Lucas Beauchamp, a black man whose integrity, strength and moral soundness we simply must admire. He is the focus of the mystery that forms what plot there is in this novel. After being discovered standing over the dead body of a white man, with his recently fired Saturday pistol in his pocket, Lucas is assumed to be the killer of one of the Beat Four Gowries, a seriously bad lot. Enter 16-year-old Charles “Chick” Mallison, who had an enlightening encounter with Lucas when he was 10 or 11 which he has never forgotten, and which has left him considerably unsettled in his mind about Southern culture, race, and his own place in the society he’s about to inherit. Lucas sees Chick and the boy’s uncle, the overeducated lawyer Gavin Stevens, as his only hope of proving the he did not shoot Vinson Gowrie. There follows a grim, nearly farcical, round of grave openings and closings as Chick and his accomplice, Miss Eunice Habersham, attempt to uncover evidence that will prevent either the townspeople or the Beat Four crowd from lynching this man who is the source of so much of his own angst. Faulkner introduces elements of the bildungsroman, as Chick moves through days and nights without sleep or food, (taking pains to avoid his mother who he assumes would stop him in his tracks) on a quest he doesn’t even fully understand, We actually see surprisingly little of Lucas, but what we do see is very revealing. He is composed, resigned to placing his fate in the hands of a confused boy and an old woman, but somehow above the commotion stirred up by his arrest. For anyone who questions Faulkner’s stance on race relations in Southern society, this book has many of the answers. Like all of his work, it gets better every time I read it.

51. To Darkness and To Death by Julia Spencer-Fleming Number 4 in the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series. The best one yet, to my mind. This is so carefully and tightly plotted the overlapping stories of several characters fit together perfectly. Full of coincidences that make absolute sense, and never strain the reader's belief. I inhaled it.

175Joycepa
Sep 9, 2008, 6:08am Top

I'm curious, Linda--why "comments reserved"?

#51: I've read so many good things about this series. I have the first two, I think, on order.

176laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Sep 9, 2008, 7:13am Top

Because I was tired, Joyce! Just not up to putting a coherent comment together on this complex little novel. It will come. (Probably should have said "deferred", rather than "reserved", which suggests some reluctance or hesitancy, I suppose.)

177koalamom
Sep 9, 2008, 7:20am Top

Have you ever thought of doing a 100 Book Challenge or do you like the smaller increments?

I am almost half way to my 50 and I only started recording in July - maybe I should heed my own words?

178Joycepa
Sep 9, 2008, 8:15am Top

(LOL) I can relate to being too tired to do reviews! I hate to tell you how many books are sitting on my review shelf. And yes, I'd want my wits about me to review Faulkner.

179laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Sep 9, 2008, 12:15pm Top

#177 100 is too much like a Challenge!! Last year I read 72 books. I use this more to keep track of my reading than to push myself to read more. I just like to know how I'm progressing, and it's a great place to record my thoughts. I don't want to make reading a duty! (AND I'M NOT RETIRED, LIKE SOME PEOPLE!)

#178 If I don't do them within a couple days, it's hopeless. I simply can't gather my thoughts at all once I've moved on to something else.

180koalamom
Sep 9, 2008, 12:35pm Top

Ah, reading is never a duty (though I have read a few books that felt like that), reading is a pleasure or a way to be pleasured (is that a word?).

I never counted them until now. See what you did for me by recommending LT!

Besides being retired only means I don't go out to a special place and work 9-5. I actually think I had more time when I was working 9-5 (or 8:30-4:30, in my case).

181Joycepa
Edited: Sep 9, 2008, 8:23pm Top

Is that a slam, Linda? This business about retired--is that a SLAM, Linda????? Just because some of us got out alive doesn't mean you have to get--well--nasty.

182teelgee
Sep 9, 2008, 8:57pm Top

She's just jealous - and by the way, I have 52 days left to my retirement. Not to rub it in or anything.

183laytonwoman3rd
Sep 9, 2008, 10:06pm Top

It's not a slam--Terri's right. I'm absolutely GREEN with envy. I can't even retire from the stupid bowling league secretary job I've had for the last 7 years. I managed to get someone to agree to take it on at the end of last season, and now she's recovering from surgery and can't do it "yet". We'll see if she comes back at all. I spent most of this evening revising the By-Laws, completing the membership applications for the new season, and entering data into the score-keeping program. All for approximately $12.00 per week. Gotta love it.

184Joycepa
Sep 10, 2008, 8:12am Top

Gawd, and I think I have it bad trying to keep up with transcribing 16 years of rain data! At least that's a finite task.

185koalamom
Sep 11, 2008, 3:26pm Top

That's OK. I can put up with it. I am enjoying my retirement, I think?

She might like it too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

186laytonwoman3rd
Sep 18, 2008, 10:59am Top

#174 Thoughts on Intruder in the Dust now available, for those of you who were eagerly anticipating same. ;>)

187Joycepa
Edited: Sep 18, 2008, 6:14pm Top

Excellent, Linda, really an excellent review.

I've just added the first 4 of Julia Spencer-Fleming's series.

And, I should add, the book of Eudory Welty photographs. all came today.

Correction: I added THREE, not four, of her books. Ye gods, I can't even count any more! Aaagh.

The Welty book is stunning.

188koalamom
Sep 18, 2008, 4:17pm Top

I picked up a volume that contains The Hamlet by Faulkner today at the library. At the end (I always check to see how many pages I am dealing with not to find out the ending) it says end of Volume I. Is there a sequel to this novel?

189laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Sep 18, 2008, 9:08pm Top

The Hamlet is the first book of the Snopes trilogy that includes The Town and The Mansion. It took Faulkner something like 25 years to publish "Volume 2". There is a Modern Library edition that contains all three novels. Maybe that is what you have?

190laytonwoman3rd
Sep 18, 2008, 9:31pm Top

#187 Thank you, Joyce. It took me a while, but I find that even after a third or fourth reading, if I don't write something down, a lot of what I gain from a book leaves me. I'm conducting my own little seminar for me here!

191BrainFlakes
Sep 18, 2008, 9:41pm Top

Regarding #174: ". . . the overeducated lawyer Gavin Stevens . . .". Is that a PC term for a lawyer now? (snort).

I like your review better than mine, so maybe I'll negotiate to buy it from you--but in pennies only.

192laytonwoman3rd
Sep 19, 2008, 7:13am Top

And I suppose you'll want a receipt...

As for Gavin Stevens, I only meant to refer to him specifically---I work for lawyers, and I find a good many of them to be undereducated.

BTW, I liked your review.

193koalamom
Edited: Sep 19, 2008, 8:36pm Top

Actually, the library has a set of his books where each volume contains works done during certain years. The one I have is for 1936-1940 with The Hamlet being the last in the volume. I spotted The Town and The Mansion as separate books and they are also, I assume, in the set that contains the book I took out.

I will have to put these two titles into my "I Want to Read That" posting for future reference.

I have to admit I am having a little trouble with the book - my classicsphobia reeling its ugly head again - but I will perservere and finish the novel and reserve the others for a later time, that is, I'll return the book to the library when I am done with this title.

194laytonwoman3rd
Sep 19, 2008, 11:40am Top

Ah...you have the Library of America volume. Those are very nice.

195Joycepa
Sep 19, 2008, 11:42am Top

I have a number of Library of America volumes, and they are, as far as I'm concerned, treasures. 3 volumes of Steinbeck, 2 volumes of lincoln's speeches, i volume each of Grant's and Sherman's memoirs. they are beautiful. beautiful books, a pleasure to hold in one's hands and read.

196marise
Sep 19, 2008, 12:29pm Top

I grab a Library of America volume whenever I come across used or remaindered copies! I agree Joycepa, treasures!

197laytonwoman3rd
Sep 19, 2008, 3:46pm Top

I have quite a number of them, too. All the Faulkner novels, Frost's poetry, 2 volumes of American Noir crime novels, 2 volumes of WWII reporting, Carson McCullers, 2 volumes of Tennessee Williams, Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, Saul Bellow, Zora Neale Hurston...a couple others.

198Joycepa
Sep 19, 2008, 6:45pm Top

Looks like I have a little bit of catching up to do! :-)

199laytonwoman3rd
Sep 19, 2008, 9:07pm Top

I forgot Thurber, John Muir, and Kate Chopin. But who's counting??? They are indeed an absolute pleasure to hold and to read. And those ribbon markers...*sigh* Some of mine originally belonged to my father-in-law, so they are doubly special to me now.

200marise
Sep 19, 2008, 9:23pm Top

Ok, if we are counting: 6 vols. Twain, 2 vols. Dawn Powell, 1 ea. Dos Passos, Howells, Sara Orne Jewett, Sinclair Lewis, Hawthorne, Wharton, Geo. Kaufman & co, de Tocqueville and Muir.

201Joycepa
Sep 20, 2008, 7:03am Top

You know, I had no idea that the Library of America had such a diversity of works. I remember looking at the list and thinking that there was a lot that could have been there but was not. maybe I was looking at an old listing i don't remember at least 4 of your volumes, marise. And it was some time last year that I checked, since I was so thrilled by the first ones I got--by accident, I might add, from amazon. At that time, I had no idea how beautiful this particular collection was.

Yes, the ribbon markers. >sigh> indeed.

202koalamom
Sep 20, 2008, 11:33am Top

I like the ribbon. I didn't have to find a book mark. And it makes it so intellectual like!!!

I find the Faulkner to be nice to read for awhile and then I have to put it down and do something else. Last night I ended up picking up Stork Naked, a Xanth novel and not what I'd call a heavy tome to read at all, at all.

So I am working on three books and I just got a note saying my Amazon order with Brisingr is on its way and I'll want toread that before Scott comes down the first weekend in October so he can have it.

Am I taking up too much of your posting space, Linda, or is this becoming another "gathering place"?

203laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Sep 20, 2008, 5:16pm Top

The nice thing about "space" here is that there's an endless supply of it. Don't worry at all.

52. Maigret and the Wine Merchant by George Simenon It's been many many years since I last read a Maigret detective novel. I enjoyed this one very much, even though there was very little sleuthing needed by the Inspector or the reader, and the culprit was easy to recognize immediately upon being introduced. The investigation was more about "why" than "who". Absorbing.

53. The Belhurst Story by David J. Sakmyster
Interesting bit of local history about a "castle" overlooking Seneca Lake in Geneva, NY, where my husband and I have stayed on several occasions. Written, incidentally, by a nephew of koalamom, who generously lent this book to us. It was completed before the recent expansion of the Belhurst Castle into more of a resort, and so preserves the spell of the place as we came to know it. This is how we remember it.




I'm not sure I'll ever want to visit it with this grand new hotel attached. I think the character of the place has to have changed.



204teelgee
Sep 20, 2008, 3:57pm Top

except when your thread is over 200 ! ;o) watch out for the Thread Police!

205laytonwoman3rd
Sep 20, 2008, 5:20pm Top

I think I might just risk it---I have a friend or two on the force! Or maybe I'll just keep adding to message 203 and hope for very few comments?

You know, until I edited that last post, there weren't any pictures, and the thread seemed to load pretty fast. This is one of the reasons I haven't started the practice of adding the covers of books I read to my thread. I like that, but it does slow things down.

206koalamom
Sep 20, 2008, 6:31pm Top

I see that you finally added David's book. Glad you liked it.

207laytonwoman3rd
Sep 20, 2008, 8:42pm Top

Read it in one sitting. Fascinating. But we never saw or heard a ghost there. I don't know whether I'm happy or sad about that!

208laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Sep 25, 2008, 5:26pm Top

54. Are You Somebody? by Nuala O'Faolain
I can't quite put my finger on what I found missing in this memoir. I think it may have been intended for an audience of which I am not a part--mainly women, of a certain age, with a background similar to the author's. I caught the longing for love, and the profound sadness of O'Faolain's young life, raised in a "small" Irish family of 9 children, with a mother doomed by her circumstances and a father for whom his wife and children were barely acquaintances. I've heard this truly desperate tale before. Somehow O'Faolain's telling of it failed to move me...UNTIL she began describing, in the afterword, the reactions of her readers to the book, and the affect those reactions had on her. The author came alive for me then, in a way she had not in the memoir itself. Clearly at the time of its publication, this book resonated with a lot of Irish women. For that reason, I will grant its importance. But I don't particularly recommend it.

209laytonwoman3rd
Oct 3, 2008, 7:11pm Top

55. Maurice by E. M. Forster This is a novel about an English man discovering and embracing his homosexuality in a society where school boys routinely had "crushes" on one another, but frank and open same sex relationships were illegal. Forster wrote this novel in 1913; he never attempted to publish it during his lifetime, although he did give it to selected friends to read. It was published by his estate in 1971, shortly after his death. I'm afraid this book suffered from its reputation, for me. I expected more of it than I found in it. I acknowledge its importance, but reading it felt like a duty. I had issues with the style; there was a bit too much dated jargon (Forster recognized this himself in a note written in 1960) and I tripped over several sentences that just didn't convey any meaning to me. I couldn't raise much sympathy for Maurice, didn't like him or his lover, who I couldn't help viewing as just a bit of "rough trade". Critical comparisons to Lady Chatterley and her gameskeeper don't quite work. That relationship was much more fully developed than That of Maurice and Alec. Although Forster is praised for giving us a story in which we're meant to understand that these two men will live happily ever after outside of the strictures of "class", I don't buy it. Just what will keep a gameskeeper and a stockbrocker interested in one another after the honeymoon is over, if neither of them can work, and they can't associate with their families or make friends, and the law would have them in the dock if their relationship were known? What are their common interests? What will their daily life be like? Maybe I'm too practical, or have read too much, but giving it all up for love rarely works, even in fiction. Forster stopped writing just where the tale was likely to get the most interesting---if he could have shown us how this relationship might prosper, now that would have been worth reading. I thought he might have sent Maurice off to the Argentine with Alec, rather than have Alec stay behind in England. Having no familiarity at all with the Argentine of the early 1900's, I would have been prepared to accept their happy future more readily in that case.

210Joycepa
Oct 3, 2008, 7:41pm Top

Good critique.

211lycomayflower
Edited: Oct 4, 2008, 10:52am Top

@209: Bah! You're an old poop. ;-)

212aluvalibri
Oct 4, 2008, 10:57am Top

Oh! Such disrespect from young people!!!!!!
:-))

213koalamom
Oct 4, 2008, 11:08am Top

But they do it so well.

Actually when I took a Young Lit course while in Alabama, I used my daughter to critique my papers. It had been a long while since I'd written a paper for a teacher. she was very amused and very helpful. I only used her aid for a couple of papers before I finally felt I could actually do it on my own, but I was glad for her help.

My daughter and laytonwomam3rd's are best friends, by the way.

214laytonwoman3rd
Oct 4, 2008, 11:25am Top

#211 But I write a good critique!

#212 Where did I go wrong with her?

#213 Wow. Brave of you to let Sarah read your papers. I'd have taken my chances with the professors first!

215brusselsbook
Edited: Oct 7, 2008, 2:07pm Top

Message 174: laytonwoman3rd
50. Intruder in the Dust by William Faulkner
I have also been reading this book this summer, but for the first time. I loved it, although it was not always easy to read.

216aluvalibri
Oct 4, 2008, 5:19pm Top

koalamom, I know that your daughters are good friends, and I was joking. Actually, I think it is pretty nice when daughters actively participate to their mothers' activities (such as being part of LT, for example.)

217koalamom
Oct 4, 2008, 7:05pm Top

i figured you were joking. i was saying that they do tease us moms so well! i think it comes with the package!

218aluvalibri
Oct 5, 2008, 3:52pm Top

I think so too, my dear. My own children tease me mercilessly!
:-))

219koalamom
Oct 5, 2008, 4:15pm Top

But we have become friends now that they are grown - it's nice!!

220aluvalibri
Oct 5, 2008, 8:47pm Top

Yes, I can already see the change in my daughter (soon to be 21), who gave me a lot of problems as a teenager, and is now realising that, after all, Mom is not that bad.

221amandameale
Oct 6, 2008, 8:57am Top

Interesting reviews LWT. Very enjoyable.

222laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Oct 13, 2008, 9:25pm Top

56. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry Full of the heartbreak, poverty, tragedy and perfidy I've come to expect from Irish literature. At least as a 100 year old woman looking back, Roseanne McNulty does remember childhood happiness, never mind that she had her father, her husband and her son all taken from her, and has spent more than half of her lifetime confined to an "asylum" for the mentally ill. As we see her, recording the main events of her life, she seems far from insane. As we learn her story, both from her memory and from the investigation done by Dr. Grene, the superintendent of the mental hospital, it seems remarkable that she retains any coherent faculties at all. I loved the way this book was constructed, and how Roseanne's life story slowly rose to the surface like a developing photograph. It's difficult to discuss specifics without bringing in spoilers, which would...well...spoil it. Excellent use of recurring symbols, and parallel situations. Yes, you can see the ending coming long before it's all spelled out. But I had no objection to that at all.

ETA: First literary appearance I've found of one of my new favorite words, learnt from another LT'er --- "gobsmacked".

223BrainFlakes
Oct 8, 2008, 9:21pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

224laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Oct 13, 2008, 6:46pm Top

57. Swan Peak Dave Robicheaux's further adventures with good and evil. Burke's writing hit some poetic highs in this one, but it had the usual dose of brutality as well, and just a bit too much of the author indulging his inner philosopher/preacher--I found myself shaking the book and muttering "Get on with the story, Jim, please". Burke also changed POV from first person Robicheaux to omniscient author and back multiple times. Although he has done that before, particularly using third person narrative from Clete Purcel's perspective, this time it was more pervasive and distracting, I thought. After Tin Roof Blowdown, I was relieved to find that Burke does apparently still believe in redemption and that some people are better than they know themselves to be. But I keep hoping for Dave to find some peace, and for Clete to finally self-destruct. Because that's where their lives ought to be trending, and it might be time for them to get there.

58 The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Try saying that ten times fast.) I gave myself the gift of doing next to nothing except reading this book today. Warm and beautiful, heart-breaking and hilariously funny---just perfect balm for the soul. I'm going to recommend it to at least four people who don't visit LT.

225kiwidoc
Oct 13, 2008, 5:03pm Top

Linda, interesting to read your reaction to the memoir of O'Faolain.

I have tried to enjoy Nuala O'Faolain because of some rave reviews, but truthfully never understood her appeal.

226laytonwoman3rd
Oct 13, 2008, 6:47pm Top

Yes, and yet I went and bought the second installment of her memoir at the library sale this weekend...I still think I must be missing something.

227kiwidoc
Oct 14, 2008, 4:20pm Top

I think it must be a cultural recognition thingy 'cos our highly regarded erudite Irish LTer loves her. I didn't finish it.

228almigwin
Oct 14, 2008, 4:28pm Top

I absolutely loved Nuala O'Faolains autobiography. I pitied her struggles with relationships, but I loved her writing, and her honesty.

229kiwidoc
Oct 14, 2008, 4:38pm Top

Well there you go, LW the 3rd. Another very erudite reader liked it. I think it needs a re-read.

230laytonwoman3rd
Oct 14, 2008, 5:26pm Top

I've sent it off to teelgee. Will be interested to see what she thinks of it, when she gets around to reading it. Maybe I'll like the second book, My Dream of You, better.

231tiffin
Oct 15, 2008, 7:08pm Top

58! Good for you, LW3! Can you send some of that inspiration and determination my way?

232amandameale
Oct 18, 2008, 8:05am Top

I enjoyed O'Faolain's first book. I think it's the memoir which almigwin is referring to.

233laytonwoman3rd
Oct 20, 2008, 6:14pm Top

59. The Haunted Bookshop There was a lot of book love in this novel, but little else to recommend it. It began as a cosy with delightful characters, set in a used bookshop in the Brooklyn of post-war 1918, but the story line degenerated into implausibility, centering around a highly fanciful bombing plot meant to take out President Wilson on his way to the Paris Peace Conference.

234laytonwoman3rd
Oct 25, 2008, 3:51pm Top

60. Stalin's Children by Owen Matthews
A fascinating family memoir intertwined with 70 years of Russian history, this book details the lives of the author's parents--a Welsh academic and a Russian girl orphaned by Stalin's purges, and the author himself--a London-born journalist and war correspondent currently living in Moscow and Istanbul. I will be doing a more complete review, as I begged a free copy from the publisher for that purpose.

235Joycepa
Oct 27, 2008, 8:00am Top

Waiting for the review! :-)

236aluvalibri
Edited: Oct 27, 2008, 8:06am Top

I have it too, LT3, and on the base of your opinion I will dig it up from the TBR mountain and read it soon.

237laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Oct 27, 2008, 11:02am Top

61. Liana by Martha Gellhorn I was most pleasantly surprised by this novel. A moving story of a young mulatto girl taken as a mistress, and then married by a wealthy white man on a French Caribbean island cut off from the rest of the world by World War II. It's really the classic Pygmalion tale in an exotic setting, very well told. Despite the cluelessness of the men who decide Liana's fate without consulting her wishes, their characters are not entirely unsympathetic. Sometimes, they ALMOST get the notion that their creation has feelings, although what to do about that is beyond their comprehension.

A quote: "Two men came in one day with a five hundred pound mako. It was amazing that two men in a skiff, using a handline, could have fought and killed that monster...He loved to fish too; he knew that beautiful harsh wonder of a man in a small boat alone on the sea." This book was written while Gellhorn was married to Hemingway, but about 10 years before the publication of The Old Man and the Sea. I smile wickedly.

238Joycepa
Oct 27, 2008, 6:18pm Top

Love it, just love the Hemingway connection.

239laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Nov 22, 2008, 7:24pm Top

62. Timbuktu by Paul Auster This might have made a good short story. Told from a dog's point of view, but not by any means narrated by the dog. It had a beginning, a middle and an end. Almost too obviously, it had a beginning, a middle and an end. Short as it was (181 pages) it went on too long, and there just didn't seem to be any point to it. I hate to disagree with Salmon Rushdie, who apparently loved it, but I don't see this as anything extraordinary. I already know what things look like from a dog's perspective, and so does anyone else who has lived with and loved one. I think Auster might have been capitalizing on his name with this one.

240laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Nov 22, 2008, 7:24pm Top

63. The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies This story is all about the big issues of courage, loyalty, honor, freedom, identity-- and the Welsh hills in World War II are a perfect setting for exploring them. Not only is the enigmatic Rudolph Hess being held in isolation somewhere out there by the British (was he on a secret mission, or did he defect? Is his amnesia real, is he sane enough to stand trial?) but a small nationalist Welsh village comes face to face with the war when a POW camp is constructed nearby to hold German prisoners captured in France during the D-Day invasion, and British soldiers become regulars at the local pub. I began to get a bit bogged down about 2/3 of the way through, feeling that the story line had stalled, that characters and events were mighty predictable, but then it did pick up again. The writing is very good, although with perhaps a bit too much telling and not enough showing. I never quite took any of the characters to heart --they were all believable, but rather flat, somehow.

241laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Jan 20, 2011, 6:54pm Top

64. The Wedding Group by Elizabeth Taylor Another of Taylor's delicious novels of manners and ironies, this one set in the English countryside of the 1960's. Fun.

242laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Oct 30, 2010, 10:36am Top

65. The Final Solution by Michael Chabon Chabon takes a stab at adding to the Sherlock Holmes canon, by giving us the great sleuth in advanced retirement, lured out of his self-imposed bee-keeping isolation to help solve a murder and the disappearance of an intriguing parrot. The detection required would have been no challenge at all to Holmes in his prime, and presents very little to the failing octagenarian he has become by 1944, but Chabon is a fine story-teller, and this was fun to read. In an NPR interview, Chabon stated that he would hope people who picked this up to read it because he wrote it would be moved to read or re-read Conan Doyle's stories and discover what a good writer Doyle really was. "He was in touch with powerful, painful, deep stuff, and it comes through even within this rather tidy framework of the Victorian detective story." Hear, hear. I mean to re-read some of Sherlock's adventures myself in the near future.

243laytonwoman3rd
Nov 10, 2008, 5:37pm Top

66. The Brontes Went to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson Although this book did make me chuckle from time to time, it really wasn't my cup of tea. In my teen years, my good friend Ruthie and I had a routine of nonsense that we could banter back and forth with for hours; anyone eavesdropping on our conversations would have thought we were certifiably nuts, and would have made no sense of it whatsoever. We populated our private world with characters from radio programs, books and movies, quoted comedy routines at odd moments, and seamlessly mixed fact with fantasy. The feeling I had much of the time while reading this book was that I was on the outside of just such a private conversation, chock full of inside jokes I wasn't party to. I remember it being so much more fun than this.

244BrainFlakes
Nov 10, 2008, 7:22pm Top

I'm sorry that the book was disappointing, but it's still a great title!

Charlie

245aluvalibri
Nov 10, 2008, 7:43pm Top

lw3rd, wouldn't it be time to start a new thread?
:-))

246judylou
Nov 11, 2008, 12:43am Top

laytonwoman, I had Auster's Timbuktu in my hot little hands yesterday, but then I talked myself into putting it back. Probably a good thing?

247laytonwoman3rd
Nov 11, 2008, 1:03pm Top

#246 Judy, I just don't know...I see from the reviews that other people were really taken with this book. I come from a family of people that are often very foolish about their pets---assigning human thoughts and feelings to the poor beasts, putting words in their mouths, etc. I should have had a sympathetic response to a book written from that point of view, then, you would think. But it fell flat for me, somehow. It did make me give my own dog an extra hug and snuggle, though.

#245 Having trouble loading, Paola? I really thought I'd hold out for the end of the year, but if it's too too slow...

248aluvalibri
Nov 11, 2008, 1:06pm Top

No, Linda, I was just kidding. You know how the Thread Police 'plunge' on the poor "overmessagers"........;-)

249laytonwoman3rd
Nov 17, 2008, 10:03pm Top

67. All the Little Live Things by Wallace Stegner Stegner's eye for "all the little live things" around him is as keen as Annie Dillard's, or Barbara Kingsolver's. Some of those live things are gophers, some are weeds, some are hippies, some are mushrooms...but the most alive of them all is a dying pregnant woman whose brief appearance in the life of Stegner's main character, Joe Allston, challenges his resolve to withdraw from both pain and pleasure, into a "twilight sleep" where there are no emotional demands, and where non-involvement serves to blunt the grief he has determined to put behind him. This is a complex novel, emotionally troublesome at times, full of literary allusions, and the symbols roll and tumble over each other. Despite the title, a good bit of what is being explored here involves death. Like Allston's cat with its gruesome offerings, Stegner has left us a gift on the mat, which we are meant to examine, and admire with a shudder.

250laytonwoman3rd
Nov 22, 2008, 2:16pm Top

68. Our Spoons Came From Woolworths by Barbara Comyns This book begins and ends with Sophie Fairclough telling her life story to her friend Helen, and we know from the first paragraph that it will end happily. It's good to have that knowledge in mind while reading her tale of love gone stale, dreadful poverty, sickness and sorrow. But Sophie tells that story in such a matter-of-fact fashion, from the sunny other side of the troubles, that it almost feels as though it all happened to someone else. I enjoyed this Virago Modern Classic very much.

251kiwidoc
Nov 22, 2008, 4:28pm Top

Great reading, LW the 3rd. I really enjoyed The Final Solution as well, and have to embarrassingly admit that I have not read a single Conan Doyle book.

252laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Nov 28, 2008, 6:33pm Top

69. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri As usual, I'm way behind the reading curve with this highly acclaimed novel. (How odd that it contained a very similar description of birth to the last book I read. This kind of coincidence seems to be happening to me a lot in my reading this year.)
Excellent writing, fascinating family tale, switching viewpoints periodically to give us glimpses of the "foreigner" experience from various perspectives. The protagonist, Gogol, is nearly always "The Other" as most of his social interactions seem to be related either to his parents' Bengali community contacts, or his current female companion's friends and family. He never really accepts his own name, and on the threshold of adulthood he changes it, thereby drawing a distinct line between two worlds...the one he grew up in, populated by people who know him as "Gogol", and the other by people who met him after he became "Nikhil". Only after several failed romances, and the departure of his parents does he begin to explore who Gogol really might be. Highly recommended.

253lauralkeet
Nov 28, 2008, 8:44pm Top

I loved this book, too. The film was also well done.

254BrainFlakes
Nov 28, 2008, 8:46pm Top

This is a coincidence for me: for the last half hour I have been corresponding with a friend of mine in Bombay—she is beside herself with worry, fear, and anger at the chaos and carnage going on in her "hometown."

I am putting this novel on my to get list.

255laytonwoman3rd
Nov 28, 2008, 9:59pm Top

Yes, what's going on in Bombay is terrifying. I hope your friend and her family are safe, and that talking with you is helping her cope.

256amandameale
Nov 29, 2008, 7:22am Top

Thanks LWT. You've saved me c.AUD$25 with your review of The Welsh Girl.

257laytonwoman3rd
Nov 30, 2008, 12:28pm Top

70. Untidy Murder by Richard and Frances Lockridge The Lockridges at their best, except for the general absence of cats in this one, which features Dorian Hunt Weigand in an excellently feminist story line. This is one of the few Lockridge titles I had not read before.

258lycomayflower
Nov 30, 2008, 2:05pm Top

All right, cut it out! ;-)

259laytonwoman3rd
Nov 30, 2008, 3:18pm Top

Ssssshhhh...the yelling! I'm trying to read.

260koalamom
Nov 30, 2008, 4:06pm Top

Absence of cats - how can that be?

I just finished reading Dewey and I am still teary. Fortunately it was time to give Aslan his dinner, so I was distracted.

261laytonwoman3rd
Dec 6, 2008, 7:33pm Top

71. At Risk by Patricia Cornwell I've given up on her Scarpetta series. I think. But this featured a different cast, was lighter, more "who dunnit"-ish. Written originally as a serial in The New York Times magazine, it zipped right along, with interesting characters, a plot that made sense, and clues enough to figure out who the bad people were in good time. I enjoyed it. A one-sitting read, unless the dog has to go out in the middle of it.

262tiffin
Dec 6, 2008, 8:12pm Top

Hah! Another person with the dog interruption factor. Love it!

263BrainFlakes
Dec 6, 2008, 11:06pm Top

That explains why your dog is so vicious: she has to wait around for you. My dogs have their own personal doggie door, so I guess I'm ahead of you in one category, Jones.

264tiffin
Dec 6, 2008, 11:56pm Top

Vicious? Jones? I don't follow.

265Joycepa
Dec 7, 2008, 4:49am Top

#261: I remember reading sections of that serial when it appeared in the NY Times and thinking it had potential.

266BrainFlakes
Dec 7, 2008, 9:55am Top

#264: Sorry about being cryptic, tiffin. Linda has been kidding about how vicious her sweet Sheltie is on my 50 Book Challenge thread. And I'm kidding about "keeping up with the Joneses" because I have a doggie door and Linda doesn't. Basically, it's all about bad comedy.

267tiffin
Dec 7, 2008, 11:17am Top

I'm with you now...thanks for the explanation, brainflakes. It followed after the comment about my dog, so I got befuddled.

268laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Dec 7, 2008, 11:48am Top

Well, tiffin, as I understand it, your dog is almost as vicious as mine.

269tiffin
Dec 7, 2008, 1:31pm Top

GUFFAW!

270Joycepa
Dec 7, 2008, 2:45pm Top

Sorry but none of these brutes can hold a candle to that vicious attack Labrador, Fred--pictured at his most threatening on my profile page.

271tiffin
Dec 7, 2008, 4:39pm Top

Try to relax, Fred. You're looking awfully stressed.

272laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Apr 15, 2009, 4:12pm Top

72. Gellhorn by Caroline Moorehead. Excellent biography of Martha Gellhorn, war correspondent, novelist, world traveller. Gellhorn was a fascinating woman, never happier than when she was in the thick of things, observing and describing world-changing events. She never got the hang of ordinary living, was bored or unsettled without a war to visit. As a journalist she abhorred what she referred to as "objective bullshit", believing that there was a right and wrong side to every conflict, and that it was her job to separate the bastards from the decent people. Although she had many close friendships with both men and women over the years, she could be terribly unkind if she perceived a lack of loyalty, or if someone failed to continue to stimulate her. Her romantic attachments routinely ended badly, and her relationship with her adopted son was a disaster until very late in her life. A fascinating woman, from this distance. I doubt that I would have been comfortable in her presence. The book is well written, suffering slightly from the common biographer's failure to know what to leave out---a little too heavy on relatively minor details. Recommended reading.
(Not in my library)
And I have now reached the total number of books I read in 2007, with three weeks to go in 2008!

273lauralkeet
Dec 11, 2008, 8:31am Top

have now reached the total number of books I read in 2007, with three weeks to go in 2008!

Congratulations, LW3! I too read 72 in 2007. I've read 77 so far this year, but 5 of those were DNF (did not finish). While I keep swearing I'm not reading for quantity, I admit a certain sense of satisfaction at beating last year's numbers.

274tiffin
Dec 11, 2008, 10:05am Top

Brilliant, lw3! And good Gellhorn review...made me want to read it.

275marise
Dec 11, 2008, 11:40am Top

I second your recommendation of Gellhorn, lw3. She was a facinating, if prickly, woman. I have her book Liana on my TBR shelf.

Congrats on surpassing your 2007 total!

276koalamom
Dec 11, 2008, 11:51am Top

72 is great and you still have time (if that's possible during Christmas) to best it

I'm up to 66 since July but then I do have more time to read - sometimes. remember you got me into this.

So, when's your "little one" coming home? Mine should be here the 19th. The other one, who's closer, isn't sure yet!

277laytonwoman3rd
Dec 11, 2008, 12:03pm Top

>276 koalamom: Tuesday is what she's aiming for, although she may bump it a day either way, depending on weather. Sarah C. is in town for a while too, so they're hoping to get together. There will be silliness, I imagine.

278koalamom
Dec 11, 2008, 9:18pm Top

sounds good - that'll give my Sarah some distraction and get her out of the house

279laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Dec 21, 2008, 12:12pm Top

73. The Blood-dimmed Tide by Rennie Airth. One of the overrun books my MIL's neighbor (who works for a distribution center, or something) gave her a couple years ago, which ended up on my shelf. Turned out to be a very good suspense read. Scotland Yard investigates a serial killer loose in the countryside between the two world wars. Interesting perspective on the whole "profile of a psycopath" thing because of the time-setting. Also it's always eye-opening to read about British coppers who go after the bad guys virtually unarmed and then anguish over breaking a child-killer's wrist in the course of apprehending him.

Second in a series featuring retired Scotland Yard inspector John Madden.

280BrainFlakes
Dec 21, 2008, 1:51pm Top

You have exactly 10½ days left to reach 75 books, and the same amount of time to make this a 300 message thread. No pressure, of course; just tell your family that Christmas is cancelled this year because you have to read.

And congratulations on beating last year's 72.

281laytonwoman3rd
Dec 21, 2008, 2:14pm Top

Evil man....for less than a nickel, I'd cancel Christmas as it is...

282lauralkeet
Dec 21, 2008, 3:34pm Top

I can't help you read faster, but I can help you reach 300 messages !!! 18 to go ....

283koalamom
Dec 21, 2008, 6:22pm Top

I'm sure that you have plenty of time to read enough books to make 75 by the end of the year - not much going on right now, is there?

Have the cat and dog had enough of each other yet?

Best to lycomayflower, if I don't see her.

284Joycepa
Dec 22, 2008, 5:14am Top

John Madden? A retired Sctoland Yard detective? What, did he get a second career as a footbal coach for the Oakland Raiders and a third one as a football commentator?

busy guy! :-)

285lycomayflower
Dec 22, 2008, 9:07am Top

re 281: STOP THAT. *grabs the Ghost of Christmas Present's torch and shakes it vigorously over your head*

286Joycepa
Edited: Dec 22, 2008, 4:12pm Top

Aha--the daughter checks in. Can we lay bets on this one?

287laytonwoman3rd
Dec 24, 2008, 10:35pm Top

She's jealous because I'm trouncing her in the Challenge (and at Parcheesi, too!)
74. A Murder for Her Majesty by Beth Hilgartner YA fiction, recommended by the brat in #285. A nifty little story about a girl masquerading as a boy in a cathedral choir, with intrigue and suspense regarding the murder of her father. Set in Elizabethan England, but you'd really never know that from the text, except for a passing reference or two to the Queen by name. Not really "historical" fiction.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!

288lycomayflower
Dec 25, 2008, 9:30am Top

@ 287: I dispute "trounced." On both counts.

289koalamom
Dec 25, 2008, 9:54am Top

Hey, only one more for 75, Linda. Hope the five of you are having a wonderful Christmas, just as the five of us are, though one of us is being skittenish.

290koalamom
Dec 25, 2008, 10:29am Top

Scott got me a copy of Steinbeck Novels 1942-1952. Should keep me busy for a while and fill out half of one of my 999 categories all by itself!

291laytonwoman3rd
Dec 26, 2008, 10:46am Top

>290 koalamom: Ooh...I love the Library of America omnibuses. Although I already have everything in that volume, I'm still covetous...

292BrainFlakes
Dec 26, 2008, 11:26am Top

#291 What's this about on the bus??

I'm thinking seriously of digging into Flannery O'Connor's LoA volume for 2009.

293Joycepa
Dec 26, 2008, 11:44am Top

#292: You mean LofA has her compelte works? Aaagh!! I have a paperback volume of her complete stories already! I'd spring for the LoA volume, but at this point, my To Be Bought lists (note plural) are going to beggar me as it is without adding duplicates in one fashion or another of what I already have.

Oh, and LW3? About Margaret Maron--be sure to read the very first in the series, Bootlegger's Daughter--it's a gem and sets the tone for the rest of the series.

294BrainFlakes
Edited: Dec 26, 2008, 12:44pm Top

Joycepa: Believe it or not, her one LoA volume was published in 1988. I guess we're not too far behind the times. Its 1300 pages contains her two novels, all of her short stories and essays, and about 300 letters. $22.00 at Amazon, just in case you're interested.

Edited for HTML brain deadness today.

295Joycepa
Dec 26, 2008, 1:26pm Top

BrainFlakes: yes, I guess 20 years is not that bad, right? :-)

I suppose I could justify the book because I only have her complete short stories, NOT her novels or essays and not a single one of her letters, either. And I love LoA books--they are treasures.

$22.00, hmmm? I suppose I cold rent Fred out as a cow chaser or something.

296laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Dec 30, 2008, 5:45pm Top

Thumbs UP for LOA's Flannery O'Connor: Collected Works I'm just sayin'...

297BrainFlakes
Dec 26, 2008, 1:52pm Top

Joycepa: Is Fred that wild-looking beast on your profile page? If so, he needs to chill out, maybe take a doggie tranquilizer . . .

298Joycepa
Dec 26, 2008, 2:49pm Top

BrainFlakes: 'Fraid so--the most hyper, anxious, jittery, needy Lab on record....

LW3: you're really no help, you realize.

299laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Dec 30, 2008, 5:46pm Top

That d**d touchstone is wrong. I swear it was right when I put it there. Fixed it.

300BrainFlakes
Dec 30, 2008, 6:23pm Top

Uh, I believe you're talking to yourself, LW3. Take a nerve pill, lay down for awhile, and your touchstones will work themselves out.

301laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Dec 31, 2008, 7:22am Top

Charlie, you made me laugh out loud. My grandmother always talked about taking a "nerve pill". I was an innocent kid at the time--it was years later that I realized she had been referring to a tranquilizer. I have been mumbling to myself a lot lately---too much company, too much cooking, too little sleep, too little reading time. *sigh*

302laytonwoman3rd
Dec 31, 2008, 7:46am Top

75. How to Cook a Wolf by M.F.K.Fisher Having cooked almost everything BUT a wolf in the last two weeks, I felt this was a most appropriate read to close out 2008. Found it in my stocking on Christmas morning...so Santa really does look at the Amazon wishlists! Actually, the wolf referred to in the title is "the wolf at the door", and the book is all about how to keep him on the outside of it---how to feed yourself well and pleasingly in hard times. It was written during World War II, and slightly revised 9 years later with bracketed comments about how things had changed, or what the author would now do differently. It isn't really a cookbook, although there are lots of recipes in it. It's more a guide to looking at circumstances with an adventurous eye, to avoid a siege mentality. Fisher's writing always pleases me. As it is New Year's Eve on my side of the planet, this quote from the chapter entitled "How to Drink to the Wolf" seems fitting: "If you happen to be unencumbered by childhood's scruples and maturity's sage ponderings, you will have gone to a great many cocktail parties in your time and will have decided, ...that they are anathema. They are expensive. They are dull. They are good for a time, like a dry Martini, and like that all-demanding drink they can lift you high and then drop you hideously into a slough of boredom, morbidity, and indigestion. When you reach this point of perception...there is but one step more. Then you will decide that from now on you'll drink as you please, and with whom, and where, and how...and what."

May you all find a congenial companion or two with whom to raise a glass of your favorite celebratory bevvy as you bid farewell (or good riddance) to 2008. See you next year, when I'll be posting in the 75 Book Challenge thread here: Laytonwoman ups the ante for 2009

CHEERS!

303BrainFlakes
Dec 31, 2008, 2:02pm Top

I love that quote, Linda because it's twue, it's twue!

Congratulations on making 75, and thanks for making 2008 a better reading year for me. It's just too bad that I cannot attend your cocktail party tonight.

Wishing you a great, or at least better, 2009,

Charlie

304Joycepa
Dec 31, 2008, 3:50pm Top

Oh, great quote, Linda!! And so true. Going to lift something tonight while watching a movie with, no doubt, our 68 lb lap dog (yes, she's 68 lbs) helping out. think it'll be the quintessential tropical drink, gin and tonic (we forgot to get champagne).

then again, it may be that other quintessential tropical drink, fresh orange juice straight from the fruit from our tree. Whatever strikes.

Happy New Year, one and all. 2009 has to be better if only because it has January 20th in it. ;-)

305tiffin
Dec 31, 2008, 11:44pm Top

Great quotation, Linda, and I heartily agree. *lifting glass of water and toasting 2009, which is just peeping over the horizon*

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