lit_chick's 2017 Reading (2)
This is a continuation of the topic lit_chick's 2017 Reading (1).
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All aboard for 2017's literary adventures, everyone!
This is my seventh year with our most articulate 75 Books Challenge group. I do not structure or plan my reading at all. My book choices are made on the fly and in the moment. One might say I like to fly by the seat of my pants. This works for me!
I live in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley with my magnificent three-year-old, jet black, feline rescue, Cairo. My thread toppers this year will feature some of my favourite work by Canada's Group of Seven.
A.Y. Jackson, The Winter Road, Quebec, 1921
20. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë
19. Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance
18. The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
17. Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout
16. Lila, Marilynne Robinson
15. Black Seconds, Karin Fossum
14. Home, Marilynne Robinson
13. A Great Reckoning, Louise Penny
12. Mrs Roosevelt's Confidante, Susan Elia MacNeal
11. The Prime Minister's Secret Agent, Susan Elia MacNeal
10. Nobody's Fool, Richard Russo
9. His Majesty's Hope, Susan Elia MacNeal
8. Princess Elizabeth's Spy, Susan Elia MacNeal
7. Here Comes the Sun, Nicole Dennis Benn
6. The Prime Minister's Secretary, Susan Elia MacNeal
5. He Wants, Alison Moore
4. Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson
3. Commonwealth, Ann Patchett
2. Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
1. Circling the Sun, Paula McLain
A Great Reckoning, Louise Penny
“But on the village green itself stood the three tall pines from which the village took its name. Vibrant, straight and strong. Evergreen. Immortal. Pointing to the sky. Daring it to do its worst. Which it planned to do.” (Ch 2)
A Great Reckoning opens in Three Pines to fresh snow, and breakfast of café au laits and almandine croissants at The Bistro. Gamache is reading and coding personnel files. As retirement continues to allude him, he has taken a new post as head of the Sûreté's training academy, and is hell-bent on cleaning up the merde left behind by Chief Superintendent Francoeur. But surprisingly, even as Gamache makes sweeping changes to curriculum and admissions, and dismisses several staff, he keeps on the “most senior and corrupt professor, Serge Leduc” and “the quisling Michel Brébuf.”
Experienced enough not to expect a smooth transition into his new position, Gamache is prepared when he takes up office at the Sûreté's training academy – but not for a murdered professor. Four young cadets who were protégées of the deceased are prime suspects – among them Amelia Choquet, whom Gamache himself recently recruited. Tattooed, pierced, guarded, and angry, Choquet is more likely to be found on the other side of a police line-up – and yet here she is. Still more odd, discovered with the body is a copy of an intricate, old, orienteering map that had been found stuffed into the walls of The Bistro and presented to Gamache as a gift when he started his new job. The investigation soon turns toward Gamache: to his mysterious relationship with Amelia Choquet, and his possible involvement in the crime.
I’m so delighted that Penny has continued to write her Three Pines series. The characters have become old friends, and the quaint village in Quebec’s Eastern Townships is, I think, a place I’d like to retire! Highly recommended, both A Great Reckoning and the entire series.
"The real criminals, the worst criminals, weren’t found off the beaten path. They were found in our kitchens, at our tables. Unspectacular and always human.” (Ch 34)
Glad to see the couch again! I am just gonna take a little nap there...Happy new one!
Just love the thread topper Nancy. Group of Seven paintings amaze! I grew up going to a summer camp on the lake where Tom Thomson died, Canoe Lake, Algonquin Park, Ont. and there has always been a special pull for me. I love his paintings too and the A.Y. Jackson topper is beautiful.
Happy new thread, Nancy!
I like the painting at the top, figurative but leaning to abstract painting.
I just love the art painting in the top, Nancy. Great winter-picture.
I've been tempted to start with Gamache and Three Pine - I actually have the first one as an ebook - maybe after I've gone a little further with the few detectives I'm following at the moment :) I'm quite sure I'll like it. Well, if you want to retire there, LOL.
>4 drneutron:, >5 Crazymamie: Thanks, Jim and Mamie.
>6 PaulCranswick: Glad you like The Winter Road, Paul.
>7 Berly: Make yourself comfortable, Kim!
>8 mdoris: Thanks, Mary. There are so many pieces by our Group of Seven that I just love!
>9 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita, glad you like the painting.
>10 charl08: Thanks, Charlotte.
>11 BLBera: Hi Beth, yes, Louise Penny is wonderful! Have just loved the Three Pines series, and am hoping she writes more!
>12 ctpress: Thanks, Carsten, I think it is a great winter picture, too. Oh, I hope you do start the Three Pines series! So many wonderful characters ... but I know you're following other detectives, too, LOL! Have to keep an eye on all of these detective-types ...
Hi Nancy, happy new thread my dear and I just love your thread toppers, sending love and hugs.
Happy new thread! Glad to see you are still enjoying the Three Pines books!
>3 lit_chick: I'll be reading that one sometime before the new one comes out in August. That's one of the series I'm trying to catch up this year. Almost there since that's the only one left!
>16 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie.
>17 ChelleBearss: Thanks, Chelle. Yes, Three Pines is a great series!
>18 thornton37814: Hi Lori. Oh, joy, I didn't know there was another one coming in August! *runs off to check* ... *I'm back* Having trouble finding anything on book 13 ... do you remember where you read this, Lori?
Oooh. Neat topper! I really must move a trip to Quebec up higher on my list of places to go. I've always wanted to visit there.
>19 lit_chick: I read on her FB page that she's just finished the first draft of the next book or something.
HI Nancy, Yes there are quite a few movies on right now that I want to see. In my new community the "good" ones last only about a week (and the "bad" ones seem to last forever!!!) and then they are gone so I have to act quickly. We are also members of Film Circuit which has movies every 2 weeks on a Sunday at the local (only) theatre. Wondering if your community has Film Circuit. I will investigate as you might like them.
>20 nittnut: Hi Jenn, Quebec, what I've seen of it, is very beautiful. Woohoo! Thanks for the info on Penny's FB Page ... sounds like Three Pines will continue!
>21 mdoris: Thanks, Mary. Not sure if we have Film Circuit, but I know our smaller theater, the Towne, has special film nights/presentations all the time.
>22 mdoris: I'm liking Home, though admittedly Robinson is not a favourite with me. I wish I could say otherwise. I know Carsten loved this trilogy, too. Oh, well, I always say it would be a boring world if we all liked the same things all of the time.
Hi Nancy, and happy new thread! Ooh, Quebec is so beautiful, though I admit I haven't explored past Quebec City and Montreal. We want to do a longer trip next time so we can get out into the countryside and onto the rivers.
>24 mdoris: Not yet, Mary. I've listed to Gilead, which I didn't care for; am enjoying Home more. Will listen to Lila next ... unless my Maggie Hope audiobook comes in at the library : ).
>25 AMQS: Well, you've hit two of the best highlights of Quebec, Anne! I've not travelled widely in that province either, although we skied there for years when I was growing up in the East. Mont Tremblant is a world class resort.
Hi Nancy! I'm returning to LT after a week of mostly-disconnected vacation. No way can I catch up on all threads, so I'm just going to start fresh from here.
* waves *
Home, Marilynne Robinson
2008, MacMillian Audio, Read by Maggi-Meg Reed
Home takes place concurrently and in the same locale as its predecessor, Gilead – but this time we visit the household of the Reverend Robert Broughton, Ames’ closest friend. Glory Broughton, the Reverend’s eldest daughter at 38, has returned home to care for her dying father. And soon Jack, the long-lost prodigal son of the family, gone for two decades, comes home too – looking for refuge and attempting to make peace with his past, scarred with torment.
Jack is an alcoholic – a bad boy from childhood – who cannot hold a job. Thought he is his father’s most beloved child, their relationship is a most uneasy one: Jack ever at odds with his traditionalist father. He does form a moving bond with Glory while the two care for the aging patriarch – but she is unable to help him in any real way – in spite of his pleas that she help him stay sober.
Admittedly, Marilynne Robinson is not one of my favourite authors, but there is no doubt she can write! These are richly developed characters, particularly Jack, who is unforgettable. I disagree with the publisher’s summary in part: Home is a moving and healing book about families, family secrets, and the passing of the generations, about love and death and faith. I did not find much evidence of healing in the novel, save for perhaps the last quarter of it. But certainly family secrets abound, and it a moving read about love, death, and faith. Recommended.
>19 lit_chick: That's just her normal publishing schedule -- late August, usually the last Tuesday (since that seems to be the day publishers pick for them to release them). I just assumed hers would be out then. Although it looks like the last one came out in July. I guess it's just that we usually order in August which means it is delayed until September because of when tuition money comes in and the annual lease agreement is paid.
I'm glad you enjoyed Home more than Gilead, Nancy - I have a feeling Lila might be even a better read for you - we'll see :) - I liked the audiobook version for that one - and you can then see the other side of Gilead - I need to get to the middle "Home" in the trilogy - a moving read about love, death, and faith - yes, that I expect and look forward too.
Nancy, very glad that you liked Home. It is very interesting for me that she views different pieces of the puzzle.
Hi, Nancy! I'm one who loves Robinson on the strength of Gilead. She's another I must get back to. On the other hand, I've never been able to persuade myself to pick up *3 Pines #4*. I have a copy, so theoretically I'll get to it someday. As you say, our differences keep us interested.
No, I still need to read "Home" - I've read Gilead and Lila, both five star reads - so let's see if it's three for three :)
I must read Robinson's books soon. Doesn't Mark have her for the AAC this year?
ETA She is not included this year.
>34 LizzieD: Hi Peggy, so many readers I follow here on LT adored Gilead. I wanted to be one of them, but didn't turn out that way. I may reread it again one day.
>35 ctpress: Carsten, I'm not a betting woman, but I'm thinking it's very possible you'll go three for three : ).
>36 SandDune: Hi Rhian, sounds like I had some company in not loving Gilead. As I said to Peggy above, I may read it again one day.
>37 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul, you've answered your own question, LOL! Good thing, because I had no idea ...
Hi Nancy, Just thumbed your review!
Many years ago I suggested both Gilead and Home for my RL bookclub. People could choose one or the other as they shared the same story. It was sort of a bomb. I think maybe I was the only one "totally in LOVE" with them. So.... back to my corner. Funny that! But it is wonderful for me to read the responses and LOVE by others on your thread.
I found Gilead a quiet, calm and subtle read. Not too heavy not the old plot, but a very rewarding read. In fact, I kinda loved it. I have yet to pick up anything else of hers though.
I wasn't so keen on either Gilead or Home, but loved Lila. I think it was the religious themes, just had enough of that as a kid, thanks. But I agree she writes beautifully, and seeing how much Obama liked her work makes me want to go back. Maybe...
>39 mdoris: Hi Mary, sounds like your RL book club experience with Gilead was similar to Rhian's. Interesting.
>40 Ireadthereforeiam: Glad you loved it, Megan! You're in good company with so many LT others.
>41 charl08: Robinson does indeed write beautifully, Charlotte. She's not really my thing, but I don't think her talent can be disputed!
My copy of The Light Between Oceans arrived at the library, so I have to read it now! (it costs $3 just to reserve it, as they bring it in from another library). I hope it isn't too light/fluffy.
>43 Ireadthereforeiam: Hi Megan, I hope you enjoy The Light Between Oceans. It was a 4* read for me, but I appreciate that we're all different. Surprised you have to pay to reserve books. There are probably 20 branches within Okanagan Regional Library, which is my branch, and books are transported all the time at no charge. I should say no additional charge because some of our tax dollars support our library, of course.
>44 BLBera: Thanks, Beth : ).
Hi Nancy, hope you are having a really nice Friday my dear and wish you a very nice, relaxing weekend, sending love and hugs.
>46 johnsimpson: Thank you, John, and love back to you and Karen. Have a lovely weekend.
Black Seconds, Karin Fossum
“But now the wall clock in Helga Joner’s house was approaching 7 p.m. and Ida had still not come home. Helga experienced the first prickling of fear. And later that sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that made her stand by the window from which she would see Ida appear on her yellow bicycle any second now ... But Ida did not come.” (Ch 1)
Nine-year-old Ida Joner vanishes, seemingly into thin air, after setting off on her brand new bike one afternoon to buy candy. The police are called in, and hundreds of volunteers comb the neighbourhood and surround area – nothing. Helga, Ida’s mother, reaches her breaking point, and other close relatives follow suit. Sejer struggles to remain reassuring. He knows that when missing children are not found within 48 hours, the result is most often tragic.
Fossum introduces several suspect characters: Willy Otherhals, an auto body tech, well known to police; Emil Johanes, a mentally challenged neighbourhood man; Tomme Skarre, Ida’s first cousin, who is keeping company with Otherhals and behaving furtively around family. But Sejer has precious little to go on. Finally, as the search is called off, he discovers letters that Ida has exchanged with a pen pal in Hamburg – which just might hold a lead. And, at last, the story begins to unravel. Still, even as the case is seemingly solved, something still does not sit right with Sejer: “They considered the case closed. Sejer did not.” (Ch 28)
Black Seconds is a well-written, intriguingly layered mystery. I love that Fossum keeps Sejer so personal. Here, I was taken, again, with Kollberg, his faithful dog – struggling now with old age, but still a part of Sejer’s routine every evening. Novel and series highly recommended.
Such interesting comments on the Marilynne Robinson books here, Nancy. I'm encouraged that you may give Gilead another chance. I loved all three of the books in different ways and will probably read them back-to-back someday. I found it strange that most of the church ladies I read Gilead with didn't care for it. Oh well, like you say, we can't all like the same things.
Apologies to Laura and Helen, whose comments above I missed:
>27 lauralkeet: Laura, so delighted your vacation was rejuvenating. Must explore the Windstar!
>28 HelenBaker: Helen, my experience was the same: enjoyed Home but found Gilead disappointing.
>51 Donna828: Hi Donna, I'm also enjoying the Marilynne Robinson conversation. Presently listening to Lila, and, as I said to Jenn above, I think is the best of the three!
>52 Berly: Hi Kim, I love my Scandi-crime, too!
>50 lit_chick: Karin Fossum would appear on any top ten list of authors Hani prepared, Nancy so she'll be pleased with your 4 star review.
Have a lovely weekend.
>54 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul, apparently Hani has excellent taste in her Scandi-crime : ).
>55 lauralkeet: Hi Laura, for me, the bond between a person and his/her pet is so personal and touching. Sejer and Kollberg fit the bill perfectly on that account. Will look forward to your thoughts on Black Seconds.
Stopping by a few threads to try and get caugt up. I see you have been busy reading and have made a note of Richard Russo's Nobody's Fool. I loved Empire Falls and found the biography of sorts that he wrote for his mom was excellent.... and I cannot remember the title for that one.
..... Oh wait... it was Elsewhere. The memory does work on a Sunday. ;-)
Happy new thread!
So glad to see the positive rating for Home. What a richly textured story of ordinary life! I was not a fan of Lila.... It shows very poorly after reading Home. Just saying in case you are thinking of reading that one.
>50 lit_chick: - I just donated my copy of Black Seconds to a LTL in my neighborhood, because I realized that I haven't read any of the books in the series and really wasn't up to tackling the previous books just to get to the one I owned. Such is life.
Happy Sunday, Nancy.
>57 BLBera: Hi Beth, Laura has been reading Fossum recently too, which prompted me to get back to her. I thoroughly enjoy my Scandi-crime.
>58 lkernagh: Hi Lori, happy Sunday! Good to have another Russo fan on board.
Glad to hear that you enjoyed Robinson's Home. You are spot on with What a richly textured story of ordinary life! We differ where Lila is concerned. I am listening to that one right now and thoroughly enjoying. That said, in terms of great literary characters, I think I prefer Jack to Lila.
I expect someone will very much appreciate the copy of the Black Seconds you donated to an LTL in your neighborhood. Fossum is a fine crime writer.
Black Seconds sounds so good, Nancy. I have several "Sejer" novels as audiobook at my local library waiting for me, whenever I decide to go along with this Scandi-Crime.
>60 ctpress: Oh, I like the sound of listening to Fossum's Sejer on audiobook. With the right narrator, these would be excellent, I think!
Lila, Marilynne Robinson
2014, MacMillian Audio, Read by Maggie Hoffman
Set in the small Iowa town, and revisiting the familiar characters of Gilead and Home before it, Lila is a moving conclusion to Robinson’s trilogy.
Abandoned as a toddler, Lila is rescued by Doll, a wily drifter – and the two share a hardscrabble existence made bearable by mutual affection. Illiterate and on the run, they life hand-to-mouth, with nothing to their names but a rough blade for protection. When Lila arrives in Gilead, she steps into the town’s small church, seeking shelter from the weather. A romance is ignited between her and Reverend John Ames, which will completely reshape both of their lives. As the two begin a new existence, Lila struggles to reconcile the hardships of her past life with the gentle Christian life she now shares with her husband.
I think both the strength, and perhaps the weakness, of Lila, is the absolute oddity of the marriage between Lila and Ames. Robinson manages the mystery of their existence expertly, but I found the pairing so odd that it almost defied believability. While I personally did not care for Gilead, certainly Jack Boughton and Lila Ames are characters I won’t soon forget. Both Lila and the Gilead trilogy is recommended.
Oh, you are a trial, Nancy! Your Lila review leads to The Colour Purple! How am I to thumb your review? I've been peeking onto your thread even in my absence. I really hope to be back this evening. Just off with the dog. Just got busy with RL - nothing too exciting - just " the kids " stopping by and William and Serenade off to Iceland , Copenhagen , and Amsterdam over Spring Break and going over their itinerary - and they plan to put their condo up for sale and purchase a townhouse . At one time I thought maybe Dave and I might like to move into their condo - it is right in Steveston Village, but we are not ready to downsize as yet. ( if ever! ) Did some de- junking :) And got a fit bit charge that I set up all by myself! What's next? I take over the computing world?
I travel vicariously via my kids . You are going to warmer climes over Spring Break?
Black Seconds is a fabulous read!
>63 vancouverdeb: Hi Deb, those touchstones, gah! It's fixed, but you're right they are a trial, LOL! Woohoo! You are getting very tech savvy, my friend, buying a setting up a FitBit Charge on your own. That's a lovely holiday William and Serenade (just love her name!) have planned or spring break. They are doing so well for themselves, selling their condo now to move up to a townhouse; it must make you very proud! I am not going to sunnier climes this year, but am going to Halifax for a week to visit my sister, Kim : ).
>64 Ireadthereforeiam: Oh, that's excellent, Megan! I do understand your point about the book structured to cover their entire lives ... and it's not a door stopper, so, yes, there needs to be some detail foregone.
Oh, Nancy, great reading here as always! I loved Gilead, but have never read anything else by Ms. Robinson.
Happy almost weekend!
>66 AMQS: Thanks, Anne, and happy weekend to you, too. It was an absolutely crazy week at work, so I am particularly happy this weekend to take a load off, LOL.
So wonderful Nancy to have plans for a March break to Halifax. Wishing you happy/smooth travels.
I love getting to Halifax to visit my sister! Have fun! If you get a chance, you should go see the Halifax library.
>68 mdoris: Thanks, Mary.
>69 raidergirl3: I'll keep that in mind, Elizabeth. My sister lives in the Annapolis Valley, not in Halifax, but I think we'll do an overnight there for some city-fun ... and also because the flights travelling to western Canada always leave Halifax at o-dark-thirty in the morning; and we won't have the 1.5 drive to the airport.
>70 sibyx: Thanks, Lucy.
Wonderful comments on Lila, Nancy. You make me want to pick up the book today.
>71 lit_chick: We went to Annapolis Royal back in 2008 and really loved it. Is that Annapolis valley? We only stayed two nights, but we all wished that we'd stayed longer. Had one of the best breakfasts ever!
Just jumping in to say "Hello"," Nancy!
I need to get Lila read. I think I own it! Finding it might be problematic though :)
>71 lit_chick: The Annapolis Valley? Which place? I went to Acadia University which is in Wolfville so know a little bit about the Annapolis Valley - well at least, as it was way back when.
>72 BLBera: Thanks, Beth, I think you will enjoy.
>73 SandDune: Hi Rhian, yes, Annapolis Royal is one town within the Annapolis Valley, but there are several others, shown below. So glad you loved it! It is another lovely part of Canada.
>74 Berly: Thanks, Kim.
>75 alcottacre: Hi Stasia, make me smile: I always remember you referring to the black hole.
>76 nittnut: Hi Jenn, happy weekend.
>77 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg, my sister lives in Greenwood. You're certainly in the "neighbourhood" in Wolfville.
>78 lit_chick: Greenwood - that is bringing back a ghost of a memory. Is there a military base there?
My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout
2016, Random House Audio, Read by Kimberly Farr
Publisher’s Summary: adapted from Audible.com
Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn't spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy's childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy's life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.
So, I read and loved both The Burgess Boys and Olive Kitteridge, but Lucy Barton was not at all to my taste. I found nothing tender here between mother/daughter – not even the beginnings of anything tender. What I found was the continuance into adulthood of a dysfunctional, imbalanced relationship, which started early in childhood. Lucy Barton lived her first twelve years in a filthy garage, fettered by poverty and abuse. While it is possible her mother’s attempt to reconnect with her comes from a place of love, she simply lacks the skills to discuss their past for what it was: so instead, she gossips about past neighbours whose marriages have failed.
I do not recommend, but readers interested in Lucy Barton will find many that have.
Sorry Lucy Barton didn't work for you, Nancy, I hope your next read is more satisfying!
Nancy, interesting your reaction to My Name is Lucy Barton. I loved Olive Kitteridge (maybe it was her feistiness I loved) and have read her subsequent books. I struggled with The Burgess Boys because of the unbalanced horrible brother relationships, the meanness, but I really enjoyed the Lucy book!
Something in books must strike a deep chord for us that creates such a personal response. Look forward to your next reviews!
I didn't love Lucy Barton either, Nancy. Competent wheel spinners but not inspired.
>85 mdoris: Mary, you are spot-on: Something in books must strike a deep chord for us that creates such a personal response. Such was the case with Lucy Barton for me.
>86 AMQS: Thanks, Anne. Having loved The Burgess Boys and Olive Kitteridge, I was really disappointed in this one.
>87 PaulCranswick: Exactly, Paul, well said: Competent wheel spinners but not inspired.
I seem to have missed when you are going to be visiting Nova Scotia?
Annapolis Valley is lovely, especially in spring when all the apple orchards along the highway are in bloom! We lived just outside of Berwick, which is only about an hour or less from Annapolis Royal
Hi Nancy. We are like-minded on your last reads. I also found the pairing between John Ames and Lila extremely odd and missed the tenderness in the mother-daughter relationship in Lucy Barton. Enjoy the spring holiday. Take pictures!
I don't know if I should say I'm glad you didn't like My Name is Lucy Barton - but I'm one of the few who didn't like it either - and for the very reason you stated, the lack of warmth or any tenderness in the relationship and it left me quite depressed.
>89 ChelleBearss: Hi Chelle, visiting my sister during March break. She knows Berwick well. March weather is extremely unreliable, but we'll see what we get. I love to walk at Blomidon, if the weather permits.
>90 Donna828: Thanks, Donna, great minds! Weather permitting, will try for some pictures.
>91 ctpress: Hi Carsten, I actually reread your review of Lucy Barton a couple of days ago. Like I said to Donna: great minds.
>92 ctpress: Thank you for setting us up for GR of The Tenant! Have just been to visit.
Great minds and all that! What! :) I gave Lucy Barton 4. 5 stars and you can read my review, if you can dig it up. There were a couple of quotes that I found that resonated with me - I thought of Lucy and her mother as people who loved one another deeply, but were too damaged to be able to express it.
>85 mdoris: Something in books must strike a deep chord for us that creates such a personal response. Look forward to your next reviews!
As Mary mentioned. So true. Like Anne, I've yet to read anything else by Elizabeth Strout , though I have it in mind.
Ah --- you are the one who inspired my current reading of Home, Nancy. Thank you! I love MR's writing!
I have yet to read Strout, but I finally have a copy of *BBs* waiting for me.
Hope your week is going well!
I hope you have good weather for your March break visit and no travel delays because of snow!
>96 BLBera: Hi Beth, I also noticed the comments on Lucy Barton were very divergent. Good to hear Strout has a new one coming out. I will definitely explore.
>97 LizzieD: Hi Peggy, delighted to hear you are enjoying Home so much! Robinson can definitely write!
>98 Ireadthereforeiam: Hi Megan, don't judge Lucy Barton by my cover, LOL! There are many 4.5 and 5* reviews posted.
>99 Familyhistorian: Thanks, Meg, from your mouth to God's ears!
Off shortly to walk the dog in some slushy snow! I'm so sick of it, Nancy! I hope it is a mix of rain and snow. Ugh.
>101 vancouverdeb: I hear you, Deb. When the Calendar turns to February, I am waiting on July, LOL. Hope you and the Lady Poppy had a good walk In spite of it.
Nancy, perfect description of when the calendar turns to Feb., waiting for July ........ (wishfull thinking here too!) Perfectly said! Funny how the months change their timing.
Stay With Me, Ayobami Adebayo
The Power, Naomi Alderman
Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood
Little Deaths, Emma Flint
The Mare, Mary Gaitskill
The Dark Circle, Linda Grant
The Lesser Bohemians, Eimear McBride
Midwinter, Fiona Melrose
The Sport of Kings, C.E. Morgan
The Woman Next Door, Yewande Omotoso
The Lonely Hearts Hotel, Heather O’Neill
The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry
Barkskins, Annie Proulx
First Love, Gwendoline Riley
Do Not Say We Have Nothing, Madeleine Thien
The Gustav Sonata, Rose Tremain
Walking the dog was not that nice yesterday, Nancy. Even Poppy was somewhat reluctant. A windy , rainy day. I've only read Do Not Say We Have Nothing from the Bailey's Long list. I'll have to look further into the list. Some of the books are not yet available in Canada.
A sunny day today!
>106 vancouverdeb: Hi Deb, I've also only read Do Not Say We Have Nothing. But Beth recently reviewed The Woman Next Door, and this is one I want to read too, along with Hag-Seed. There will be others, but not determined yet.
>107 ChelleBearss: Hi Chelle, ooh, lobster poutine sounds heavenly! Thanks for the suggestion and the link.
I just finished Lucy Barton and was disappointed by it as well. I'm glad to see my own opinions reflected here. If I hadn't heard such good things about the author, I'd probably call it a day on her books, based on this one. It's a shame as my copy is lovely, a beautifully bound hardback with thick paper and an easy to read print. It's a nice book to own, but there isn't much point keeping it around when I didn't enjoy it.
I purchased A Woman Next Door by Yewanda Omotoso from " Wordery Canada", so eventually it should arrive in the the mail. I did see Beth's review, but it was also one from the list that appealed to me.
Hi Nancy, the hubs and I visited a used bookshop today and lo and behold, there was a copy of Black Seconds. And for just $1.50 I snapped it up.
>105 lit_chick: The Bailey's Longlist is as usual one which has many of us rushing to the stores or the library to catch up on what is listed. As Deb I have only read Do Not Say We Have Nothing and it must be a strong contender. The stores here are not exactly full of the rest of the list yet, although I did spot the Tremain on Friday but couldn't remember whether it was longlisted or not at that time.
Have a lovely weekend, Nancy.
Yes, I'll have a look at The Lonely Hearts Hotel as well. I also read Lullabies for Little Criminals a while back and quite enjoyed it too. I'll have a look at The Gustav Sonata perhaps and I've got a hankering to maybe order Midwinter by Fiona Melrose, but that will have to be via The Book Depository should I " crack" and purchase it. We'll see. Sounds like a nice holiday ahead of you! William and his wife are landing in Iceland in about 3 hours! :) There is not a lot of Wifi around the Island, except for a couple of the cities, so how much I will hear from them, I don't know.
>118 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul, I've also only read Do Not Say We Have Nothing but that will change. Have got my eye on Hag-Seed, The Woman Next Door, and Lonely Hearts Hotel ... and you remind me that I love Tremain and must read The Gustav Sonata. Now, when all of this will happen, that's another story.
>119 vancouverdeb: Hi Deb, yes, Paul just reminded me that Tremain has The Gustav Sonata on the list, and I don't know a thing about Midwinter, but I like the title.
Your son and DIL will have a fabulous holiday! Would love to see Iceland, have heard good things.
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
2016, Random House Audio, Read by Bahni Turpin
“And America, too, is a delusion, the grandest one of all. The white race believes – believes with all its heart – that it is their right to take the land. To kill Indians. Make war. Enslave their brothers. This nation shouldn't exist, if there is any justice in the world, for its foundations are murder, theft, and cruelty. Yet here we are.”
Cora is a third-generation slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Her grandmother, Ajarry, was stolen into slavery from Africa; and she and her mother, Mabel, were born into hell in the southern US. Ajarry is gone now, and Mabel escaped – and was never found – many years before. Cora knows that as she approaches womanhood, her hellish existence is about to become yet more monstrous. With Caesar, a young slave recently come to Georgia from Virginia, she plans her own terrifying run for freedom. But plans go awry almost immediately when Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. She and Caesar manage to find a “railway station” and head north, but they are hunted relentlessly by the demonic slave-catcher, Ridgeway.
The underground railroad is no mere metaphor here – Whithead has created a network of tracks beneath southern soil, on which engineers and conductors ferry escaped slaves. For me, this “ingenious conception” (publisher) is the novel’s weak spot. I could not connect the gravity of slavery and its horrors with a fantastical train, one of whose “engineers” was a child.
The tenacity of The Underground Railroad lies in Whitehead’s portrayal of the legacy of slavery, spanning not only the generations of citizens that worked as slaves – but reaching into present day with a toxicity that continues to haunt US society. I think of the shameful regularity with which white police officers headline current news for shooting and killing unarmed black citizens. “As the years pass … racial violence only becomes more vicious in its expression. It will not abate or disappear, not anytime soon, and not in the south.”
Definitely a worthwhile read. Bahni Turpin is narrator-extraordinaire.
Nancy, i greatly valued your wonderful review and words of reaction to The Underground Railroad. Very well said!
Wonderful review of The Underground Railroad, Nancy!
“And America, too, is a delusion, the grandest one of all. The white race believes – believes with all its heart – that it is their right to take the land. To kill Indians. Make war. Enslave their brothers. This nation shouldn't exist, if there is any justice in the world, for its foundations are murder, theft, and cruelty. Yet here we are.” A powerful quote indeed. I've wish-listed The Underground Railroad, and thumbed.
Yes, Iceland looks fabulous to visit! I've gotten a couple of pictures via Instagram so far. The last picture that I got looks like a moonscape. I think it is a crater near to a volcano there. Tonight they stay in a lovely rustic looking cabin ( but heating and plumbing and a restaurant) but really in the middle of nowhere
Terrific review of The Underground Railroad, Nancy, and I always appreciate a recommendation for a narrator:)
>122 mdoris: Thanks, Mary.
>123 vancouverdeb: Thanks, Deb. I'll be curious to know what you think of The Underground Railroad.
Wonderful that William and Serenade have found some wifi and are making good use of it. Tonight's accommodations sound like just my cuppa.
>124 AMQS: Thanks, Anne. I've always got my ears to the ground for narrators, too.
Nancy--Great review of The Underground Railroad. I've put it on the WL, about five-times over!! Happy Monday. : )
Oh dear, Nancy, no Instagram picture in 24 hours from the contingent driving around the wilds of Iceland. Should I call Icelandic Search and Rescue? ( Yes they actually have that! ;) Just kidding, I imagine one of the " outposts" that they spent the night at did not have cell coverage, though most of Iceland does have cell/ wifi coverage . Next village ( they call it a city ) is a settlement of 18,000. It's the second largest city in Iceland, so it should have cell service. The population of Iceland is only 300,00 and about 200,00 live right in Reykjavik . It kind of shocks me to think of that. I think there are more Icelanders here in Canada. I am glad that William and Serenade are traveling with another couple. I imagine the roads are icy and snowy, and they are partly gravel and one lane etc, so at least if they run into problems, there is a group of them.
The Woman Next Door came into my library today. I won't pick it up til tomorrow, so I think I may start on The Chilbury Ladies Choir.
“As the years pass … racial violence only becomes more vicious in its expression. It will not abate or disappear, not anytime soon, and not in the south.” Good review Nancy - and good thoughts on a problem that won't go away. The quote reminded of the Netflix documentary "13th".
>129 vancouverdeb:, >131 vancouverdeb: Good to hear you didn't need to call in Icelandic Search & Rescue, Deb! Would love to see Reykjavik: the setting of so much great Scandi-crime. I'm watching an Icelandic series right now on Netflix called "Gabriela." It's excellent!
Your library was fast to get The Woman Next Door to you so soon. Not familiar with The Chilbury Ladies' Choir, so must look that one up.
>130 ctpress: Thanks, Carsten. I'm going to need to see if Canadian Netflix has "13th" ... *I'm back, and it does! onto my Netflix list!* Appreciate the recommendation.
Nancy, can you please give more info about "Gabriela" that you are watching on Netflix. I couldn't find it!
>133 mdoris: Apologies, Mary, DUH moment for me. The show is called "Case." It's the main character who is Gabriela. I hope you watch it!
Thank you, thank you Nancy. I will go and add it to my list. It sounds good.
Just checking in, Nancy. I don't have brain enough to respond to your fine review of *RailRoad*. The literal underground did work for me, but I certainly can't defend my position tonight! You know I'm a sucker for well done magical realism.
Have such a wonderful trip! And stay warm!!!
Great review and quote from Underground Railway, Nancy. I have that one on the shelves and should get to it soonish.
Have a fabulous trip to Nova Scotia to visit your sister. I imagine your in a frenzy of packing etc .Do you have a cat sitter? Cairo is going to miss you . Enjoy your time away. I've started into The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso from this years Women Lit Longlist and I think I can recommend it. I'm only on page 60 or so, and not a difficult read at all. Somewhat humorous. I've finished The Stone Angel and loved it! I just have not decided on any comments as yet.
>121 lit_chick: oooh. Sounds like you quite liked it. I aim to read it one day.
>140 vancouverdeb: Thanks, Deb. Slept late this morning: I'm just burned right out, so the holiday is perfect timing. Taking a red-eye to NS, so I don't leave home until 4:30 PM this afternoon. But yes, I'll soon be in a packing frenzy, LOL! My neighbour is looking after my sweet little Sir. I wanted to take him with him, but it's just too far for a first-time flight.
Glad to hear you enjoyed The Stone Angel on a reread and that The Woman Next Door is a rec.
>141 alcottacre:, >142 Ireadthereforeiam: Hi Stasia and Megan! Enjoy The Underground Railroad.
>143 ChelleBearss: Thanks, Chelle.
Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance
2016, Harper Audio, Read by J.D. Vance
Publisher’s Summary: from Audible.com
From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America's white working class.
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis - that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over 40 years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.
I thoroughly enjoyed Hillbilly Elegy from several points of view: sociologically, educationally, and personally.
Sociologically, the novel is an intimate portrait of a social class in decline. I am a firm believer that no number of textbooks can explain the reasons for such a decline as can one who has lived it first-hand. And certainly, a true account of what that experience feels like must come from “inside.” Vance writes: “Americans call them hillbillies, rednecks, or white trash. I call them neighbors, friends, and family.” Both as an educator, and personally, Vance’s exploration into his Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and the decades-long affect such trauma has on children was invaluable. Again, no textbook can explain or enlighten as can one who has lived the ordeal. Highly recommended reading!
-“I want people to understand how upward mobility really feels. And I want people to understand something I learned only recently: that for those of us lucky enough to live the American Dream, the demons of the life we left behind continue to chase us.”
-“social mobility isn’t just about money and economics, it’s about a lifestyle change. The wealthy and the powerful aren’t just wealthy and powerful; they follow a different set of norms and mores. When you go from working-class to professional-class, almost everything about your old life becomes unfashionable at best or unhealthy at worst.”
-“We do know that working-class Americans aren’t just less likely to climb the economic ladder, they’re also more likely to fall off even after they’ve reached the top. I imagine that the discomfort they feel at leaving behind much of their identity plays at least a small role in this problem. One way our upper class can promote upward mobility, then, is not only by pushing wise public policies but by opening their hearts and minds to the newcomers who don’t quite belong.”
-“whenever people ask me what I’d most like to change about the white working class, I say, “The feeling that our choices don’t matter.”
-“For kids like me, the part of the brain that deals with stress and conflict is always activated...We are constantly ready to fight or flee, because there is a constant exposure to the bear, whether that bear is an alcoholic dad or an unhinged mom … I see conflict and I run away or prepare for battle.”
Quick pop in, Nancy! Excellent review of Hillbilly Elegy . Thumbed and that is one I need to get to reading. The Stone Angel was a first time read for me, but I did read The Stone Diaries a couple of years ago - both good old Can Lit. I'm halfway through The Woman Next Door. It came in from the library, along with Autumn by Ali Smith and The Orphan Train by Christine Baker Cline. It seems like it is feast or famine from the library. Have an excellent holiday!
Great review of Hillbilly Elegy. Just thumbed it and so glad that you liked it too. i was impressed with it!
Have a wonderful time away and hope you get to recharge those batteries.
>145 lit_chick: Another one I need to read soon. Thanks for the recommendation, Nancy!
Happy weekend :)
>146 lauralkeet: Thanks, Laura. Sitting in Calgary airport waiting for connection.
>147 vancouverdeb: Thanks, Deb. I loved The Stone Diaries, too. good old Canadian lit indeed. Yes, always feast or famine at my library, too. In fact The Gustav Sonata came in yesterday, but I left it there. Another time. Expecting to have a very quiet visit with my sister: just what I need right now.
>148 mdoris: Thanks, Mary. Desperately needing to recharge right now, and looking forward to a quiet week with Kim.
>149 alcottacre: Always happy to help my friends out with bullets, Stasia!
Hi Nancy (at last!!) Have a great time in Nova Scotia and post some photos.
Am loving catching up on your thread. I bought Hillbilly Elegy a couple of weeks ago so am happy to see you giving it 4 stars. And I'll avoid Lucy Barton... have yet to read even Olive Kitteridge!
I bought the Gustav Sonata last year and hope to read it some time this year.
Great review of Hillbilly Elegy. I also really liked it. I felt some connection to his story, although my g-grandparents came out of the Ozarks in Arkansas rather than Appalachia. They went west and became farmers, as did their children, but their grandchildren got university degrees. Sometimes it takes several generations, but it seems like leaving is key. Which, as Vance says, causes other problems.
Have a great time in Nova Scotia, Nancy. I hope the weather is kind and you get to see all you want to see.
Hi Nancy, have a great time in Nova Scotia my dear, sending love and hugs.
>153 nittnut: Jenn, thanks for sharing some of your own personal history. I like what you've written here: it seems like leaving is the key. Which, as fences, causes other problems.
>154 Familyhistorian: Thanks, Meg. Not much sightseeing happening this time, just a quiet visit with my sister.
>155 johnsimpson: Thanks, John. Hugs back to you and Karen.
I found In This Grave Hour , the latest Maisie Dobbs at the bookstore, Nancy! How exciting is that? And in softcover too! :) Enjoy your week of down time. Flew West Jet did you, the competition! :)
>145 lit_chick: I thoroughly enjoyed your review, Nancy. That one isn't available in Malaysia but I will look out for it on my travels.
Have a great weekend.
Vance writes: “Americans call them hillbillies, rednecks, or white trash. I call them neighbors, friends, and family.”
Great review and great quotes, Nancy. I've bought the book and look forward to read it. Seems like required reading in these Trump-times....
Hope you're enjoying some good relaxing days with your sister.
>161 lit_chick: So wonderful that you are getting some relaxing visiting and times in Nova Scotia. Enjoy!
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë
Helen Graham, the enigmatic new tenant of Wildfell Hall, has a dark secret – but not the one circulating amongst local gossips. Gilbert Markham, who falls for the young “widow” will be shocked to realize her truth, which is revealed to him through her dairies. Mrs Graham has fled with her young son, Arthur, from a cruel marriage. Her writings tell the story of the physical and moral decay of her husband, his alcoholism, and their marital breakdown. In order to be spared the unbearable pain of watching her son be raised in his father’s image, Helen has done what was unimaginable to the Victorian woman and has fled both husband and home. Under an assumed name, she travels to a location that remains secret from all but her brother.
Not surprisingly, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – a hard-hitting critique of the position of Victorian women in society – shocked contemporary readers. Both critics and readers alike were stunned by its coarseness. Truthfully, though I am not a stranger to the plight of Victorian women, the novel still retains its power to shock, or in the very least disturb. A most memorable passage on a “confiscation of property”:
"My painting materials were laid together on the corner table, ready for to-morrow’s use, and only covered with a cloth. He soon spied them out, and putting down the candle, deliberately proceeded to cast them into the fire: palette, paints, bladders, pencils, brushes, varnish: I saw them all consumed: the palette-knives snapped in two, the oil and turpentine sent hissing and roaring up the chimney. He then rang the bell.
'Benson, take those things away,’ said he, pointing to the easel, canvas, and stretcher; ‘and tell the housemaid she may kindle the fire with them: your mistress won’t want them any more.'" (Ch 40)
But I do not wish to leave prospective readers with the impression that all is gloom and doom in The Tenant – such is not the case at all! Other central themes in the novel include the power of faith, forgiveness, repentance – and “the infectious theme of love.” (Ch 51) Highly recommended, particularly to lovers of Victorian classics.
An excellent review, Nancy!It sounds like a fascinating read. Thumb. I'm glad you are getting in so much time to read.
Great review Nancy. I liked your summary of the themes of the power faith, forgiveness, repentance and "the infectious theme of love". All good stuff!
>165 lit_chick: fantastic review, Nancy. I read Tenant ages ago and your review brought back some fond memories.
Excellent review, Nancy. You've really captured and condensed the heart of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I was fairly sure you would enjoy the read.
As I said I've come to enjoy it more with each new reading - also come to understand it's importance as a piece of art that not only entertain, but also enlighten and challenges the prejudices of that period in history.
>172 ctpress: Thanks, Carsten, and much appreciation for suggesting and setting up the group read. Thoroughly enjoyed! Love what you have to say about the importance of classics: not only entertain, but also enlighten and challenge the prejudices of that period in history. I was interested to know that The Tenant steadily improved for you over three readings ... I can see that.
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