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Laytonwoman3rd --2009--Second Quarter

75 Books Challenge for 2009

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Edited: Sep 7, 2009, 10:59am Top

The first thread topped 300, and got a little unwieldy, so this is part two.

Ticker moved to Part 3 Here

60. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
59. The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
58. Homer and Langley by E. L. Doctorow
57. I Feel Bad About My Neck Nora Ephron
56. The Hustler by Walter Tevis
55. The Road Home by Rose Tremain
54. A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
53. The Cold Moon by Jeffery Deaver
52. The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips
51. Home by Marilynne Robinson
50. Property by Valerie Martin
49. Tamarind Mem by Anita Rau Badami
48. The Hero's Walk by Anita Rau Badami
47. Murder in E Minor by Robert Goldsborough
46. To Kill a Mockingbird (audio book) by Harper Lee read by Sissy Spacek
45. Chasing the Bear by Robert B. Parker
44. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
43. The Nazi Officer's Wife by Edith Hahn Beer
42. The View From Castle Rock by Alice Munro
41. I Shall Not Want by Julia Spencer-Fleming
40. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
39. Old Men at Midnight by Chaim Potok
38. In Her Father's Eyes by Bela Weichherz
37. Annie's Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg
36. Secrets of Greymoor (juvenile) by Clara Gillow Clark
35. Serve it Forth M.F.K. Fisher
34. In the Fall by Jeffrey Lent
33. The Mafia Cookbook by Joseph Iannuzzi
32. Catskill Crafts; Artisans of the Catskill Mountains by Jane Smiley
31. Travel Light by Naomi Mitchison
30. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
29. Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz
28. In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead by James Lee Burke
27. Carmilla by Sheridan LeFanu
26. Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway

Here are the first 25 books I read this year

1. Fingersmith
2. Rough Weather
3. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
4. The American Journey of Barack Obama
5. All Mortal Flesh
6. Cold Comfort Farm
7. Tenney's Landing
8. Embers
9. Partners in Crime
10. Giraffe
11. With Malice Toward Some
12. The Maytrees
13. The Innocent Man
14. Bread-Givers by Anzia Yezierska
15. House of Fallen Leaves (Sons of Weostahn) by Holly Wendt
16. All the Poems of Muriel Spark
17. The Mercedes Coffin by Faye Kellerman
18. Coalseam Poems from the Anthracite Region
19. Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
20. Thunderstruck by Erik Larson
21. Soul Songs by C. M. Callahan
22. Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener by M. C. Beaton
23. Night and Day by Robert B. Parker (Ignore the touchstone; there are a hundred or more titles listed under "Night and Day", and I'm not going to change it every time I edit this post.)
24. My Own Country by Abraham Verghese
25. The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

Apr 2, 2009, 8:46am Top

*is a pain* Whyn't you list your reads in the first post with most recent on top? Is not the point that you can see what you read most recently without having to scroll? Cause you gotta scroll to see it if it's at the end of the list.

Apr 2, 2009, 8:59am Top

Welcome to the multi-thread gang, Linda!

Edited: Apr 3, 2009, 6:17pm Top

26. Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway Hemingway's account of his first African safari. The one where he got dysentery, not the one where he survived two plane crashes.

It's taken me three days to compose my thoughts on this book. I think I'm over-thinking it. I enjoyed reading it. It went fairly quickly. I never once thought to myself---"Ernest, you macho jerk", even when he was cursing fate for giving his companion better opportunities for bigger trophies than he was getting. The writing isn't spectacular, but some of it is almost fine. There's a touch of self-deprecating humor on the author's part that surprised and delighted me. Some of the banter 'twixt Ernest and his wife was sweet and endearing, even though I knew what they didn't know yet about how that was going to turn out. I get the feeling that I might have been amused by the man if I had met him when he was relaxed, enjoying himself and not in competition with anyone over anything. Just confirms my long-standing opinion that Hemingway's life was more interesting than his fiction.

Apr 2, 2009, 9:01am Top

# 2 Thsssbbt. (But will do so with second quarter list, nothwithstanding.)

Apr 2, 2009, 9:23am Top

you have created quite a "gathering place" here - good to have many such places to linger and kibbutz

Apr 4, 2009, 4:37pm Top

27. Carmilla by Joseoph Sheridan LeFanu
Before Bram Stoker's Dracula there was LeFanu's monstrous Carmilla/Mircalla/Millarca, a beautiful female vampire whose victims were all young women. A curiosity without the literary quality or psychological impact of Stoker's later work.

Edited: Apr 6, 2009, 8:40pm Top

Here's that list, with Y meaning I've read it, N meaning I have not read it, H meaning I own it and intend to read it. NN meaning I never will.

55 out of 100 read.

Y 1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
Y 2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
Y 3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Y 4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
Y 5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Y 6 The Bible (A goodly portion, at any rate)
Y 7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Y 8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
YH 9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman (Book one only)
Y 10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
Y 11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
Y 12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
Y 13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
Y 14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (Several, certainly not all)
Y 15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
Y 16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
N 17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
Y 18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
NN 19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
NH 20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
Y21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
Y 22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
NH 23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
NH 24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
NN 25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
Y 26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
Y 27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Y 28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Y 29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
Y 30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
Y 31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
Y 32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
N 33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
N 34 Emma - Jane Austen
N 35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
N 36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
N 37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
NH 38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
N 39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
Y 40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
Y 41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
Y 42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
N 43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Y 44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
Y 45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
Y 46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
Y 47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
NN 48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
NN 49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
N 50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
N 51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
Y 52 Dune - Frank Herbert
Y 53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
Y 54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
N 55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth.
N 56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Y 57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
Y 58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Y 59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
N 60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Y 61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
N 62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
N 63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
Y 64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
N 65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
N 66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
Y 67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
N 68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
N 69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
Y 70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
Y 71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
Y 72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
Y 73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
N 74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
N 75 Ulysses - James Joyce
N 76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
N 77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
N 78 Germinal - Emile Zola
N 79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
N 80 Possession - AS Byatt.
Y 81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
N 82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
Y 83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
N 84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
N 85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
N 86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
Y 87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
Y 88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
Y 89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
N 90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
Y 91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
N 92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
N 93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
Y 94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
NH 95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
Y 96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
N 97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
Y 98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
N 99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
N 100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Edited: Apr 10, 2009, 9:51am Top

28. In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead by James Lee Burke A re-read, prompted by having watched the new movie with Tommy Lee Jones (twice) last weekend. This is one of Burke's best efforts, in my opinion. Robicheaux is on a fairly even keel, his family life is stable, his personal demons harnessed and put to good use, his crusade against evil aided and encouraged by the ghost of General John Bell Hood (it works, it really does), and Clete Purcel nowhere in sight. By turns poetic and brutal, as always. Burke can almost make me nostalgic for Louisiana mosquitoes.

Edited to correct STUPID spelling mistakes. (I shouldn't post before coffee.)

Apr 10, 2009, 8:29am Top

I agree that this is Burke's best work. I gave up on the series a while after that--too many dead wives, too much recovering alcoholic, too much other stuff. But this book is a jewel.

I had forgotten that it was Hood--who never campaigned in Louisiana, but we can let that go==ghosts are not restricted in their movements! :-)

Didn't know there was a movie!

Apr 10, 2009, 9:50am Top

Robicheaux mentions that Hood doesn't belong there. The movie was released direct to DVD, with no theatrical release. It was pretty fine. Levon Helm played General Hood---just wonderful. And I don't think there could be a better Robicheaux than Tommy Lee Jones, even if he is a bit too old for the part. They moved the action up to the present day for the picture, and so Dave's wife is Bootsie (Mary Steenburgen) and Alafair is still a little girl in 2007, but as you say, we can let some things go.

Apr 10, 2009, 9:52am Top

It's been too long since I read the book. but I do remember the first time he spots them--what a scene! Some of the best writing of that type I've ever read.

Adaptations are adaptations, and you endure the changes. I agree about Tommy Lee Jones.

Apr 10, 2009, 11:12am Top

I agree that this was one of Burke's best and, like you say, none of Purcel's over-the-top antics. I never would have thought of casting TLJ as Dave, but he does seem perfect for the role. Guess I'll get the DVD.

Apr 10, 2009, 11:16am Top

I think the physical resemblance between Jones and Burke is rather remarkable, and aside from his acting talent, it makes him "work", because I've always envisioned Robicheaux as looking much like his creator.

Apr 10, 2009, 11:33am Top

Did I mention that the music is great in the movie as well? Buddy Guy appears as Hogman Patin---not great acting, but he sure adds authenticity to the background music!

Edited: Apr 11, 2009, 7:11pm Top

Sorry Carmilla was a disappointment. Personally, I thought it was a lot more readable than Stoker's Dracula, which really bogs down at times. But Carmilla, a novella. was first published in a magazine. It shows.

Apr 12, 2009, 9:34am Top

I wonder if I'm not a bit jaded by over-exposure to the various vampire tales. Carmilla just seemed a bit thin.

Edited: Apr 12, 2009, 7:25pm Top

1) What author do you own the most books by?
William Faulkner (81, many duplicates, of course)

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
The Sound and the Fury (8)

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
Well, it does now.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
It’s no secret. Jesse Stone

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books
The title is probably still held by Nancy Drew and The Clue in the Leaning Chimney, which at last count I had read 13 times.

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
See No. 5 above.

7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
Hmm.. Nothing springs to mind. OK, having reviewed
my reading over the last year, I’d say it has to be The Burnt House by
Faye Kellerman. Just not up to her earlier work

8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?
At Swim, Two Boys

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
To Kill a Mockingbird, if they haven’t already. If they have, then
Semaphore, by G. W. Hawkes.

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
Don’t know, I really don’t. And I probably still won’t
know when it’s announced.

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
All the King’s Men. It’s been done half-well a
couple times, but they haven’t got it right yet.

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
The Book Thief. I’m sure I couldn’t bear to watch it.

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
Maybe the one where the owl from The Sword in the Stone (Disney version) was trying to force me to eat a mouse…

14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?
Don’t care for the term, as it’s open to so much interpretation,
but for the sake of argument I’ll say Kiss Me, Deadly by Mickey Spillane

15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
Absalom, Absalom, the first time.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
Can’t lay claim to any of the obscure ones.

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
Russians, dollink.

18) Roth or Updike?
Oh god, just shoot me. Oh, all right, I actually did enjoy The Human Stain, so...although it pains me to say it....Roth.

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Not acquainted with either.

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?

21) Austen or Eliot?
Sadly, I’m not qualified to make this choice either.

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
Well, I guess maybe Austen and Eliot …

23) What is your favorite novel?
Tricky. I can pick a top five fairly easily. Just for the moment,
let me settle on To Kill a Mockingbird.

24) Play?
The Glass Menagerie

25) Poem?
Dirge Without Music Edna St. Vincent Millay

26) Essay?
Seriously, who has a favorite essay??

27) Short story?
A Child's Christmas in Wales

28) Work of nonfiction?
Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: A Narrative

29) Who is your favorite writer?
William Faulkner.

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Danielle Steele. She was writing dreck long before Stephenie Meyer.

31) What is your desert island book?
I avoid ocean travel just so I never have to make that choice.

32) And... what are you reading right now?
Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz and Travel Light by Naomi Mitchison

Apr 13, 2009, 10:04am Top

I've seen this somewhere before? Looks better here with the different colors on the titles!

Apr 13, 2009, 10:22am Top

Must find Semaphore!

I wonder if you have ever seen the film of Spillane's Kiss Me Deadly?

Apr 13, 2009, 12:54pm Top

#18. Hmm. I didn't know that Faulkner was your favorite author...

And Danielle Steele? I think Nora Roberts has her by ten miles in the dreck department.

Apr 13, 2009, 1:47pm Top

>20 marise: I have not seen the film. Is it any good?

>21 BrainFlakes: Well, see, my mother-in-law reads Nora Roberts all the time, so I assumed that to be the case, but I never actually sampled her stuff. I did read a page and a half of a Danielle Steele once many many years ago, so feel qualified to diss her.

Apr 13, 2009, 3:52pm Top

#22. I too can assess an author by reading a page and a half--aren't we amazing, not to mention time-savers?

Apr 13, 2009, 4:32pm Top

Shockingly, Nora Roberts has a lot of good books to her credit. A fair amount of her early stuff is very shallow bodice ripper stuff but I enjoy her later books a lot.

Apr 13, 2009, 4:45pm Top

#22: ok, that had me belly laughing. A page and a half! And I was looking for that name (DS) on my list I purloined from Lyco, so thanks.

Apr 13, 2009, 7:05pm Top

Barbara Cartland, anyone? (and I haven't read wither her or Ms. Steele myself)

Apr 13, 2009, 9:18pm Top

Right! She of the pink everything! Saw her interviewed back in the 70s so picked up one of her books at the library just to see what it was like. I could feel my intestines knotting and have never done that to myself since.

Apr 14, 2009, 8:21am Top

>24 cal8769: OK, Carrie. Would you share a couple titles? Maybe I can raise my MIL's literary standards a bit that way.

Apr 14, 2009, 12:53pm Top

Will do, I'm at work now but when I get home I will give you some that I enjoyed.

Apr 14, 2009, 5:15pm Top

Roberts's will never be considered fine literature but here are a few that I enjoyed. I tend to like her mysteries the most.
High Noon, the In the Garden trilogy, The Chesapeake Bay saga, The Three Sisters Island trilogy, Northern Lights and The Irish trilogy.

Apr 17, 2009, 4:20pm Top

I've got Confederates in the Attic on my wish list. Looking forward to your opinion.

Edited: Apr 27, 2009, 11:17am Top

29. Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz I'll edit with my impressions later --too many Saturday chores awaiting me right now!

ETA: I've had a hard time composing notes on this book. There are a number of good reviews on the site already, and I don't think I have anything to add. This one fairly well sums up my own thoughts. I give it an unequivocal thumbs up---a very good read. I do wonder what might have changed in the last couple decades since the book was written, given that it predates 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the election of an African American President, and such. An update might be interesting.

Apr 18, 2009, 6:02pm Top

I've seen this title a lot, so I decided to see what it is all about - eventually - It's on TBR list.

Apr 19, 2009, 12:32am Top

#32. You ought to wait until Monday to do your review: you'll be at the office then and have plenty of time to write. I mean, why waste your perfectly good free time?

Apr 19, 2009, 10:27am Top

>34 BrainFlakes:. It's scary the way you see right through me. Except, I don't work Mondays, as a general rule, and if I wait 'til Tuesday, I'll probably have forgotten what I might want to say. I'll have you know that when I'm at the office I spend every single second in devoted service to the man who signs my paycheck.

Apr 19, 2009, 10:30am Top


*snort* She does, she does!

Apr 19, 2009, 11:10am Top

#35: Ah yes, this is the one with the superb human relations skills as I recall.

Apr 19, 2009, 3:56pm Top

Of course, she does. When I am on Facebook and notice she is too, she's always idle, so she must be working diligently!

Apr 20, 2009, 3:57pm Top

A week late I watched An Electric Mist this weekend. I thought TLJ was very good but I got no menace from John Goodman. TLJ does look amazingly like JLB, particularly around the eyes. They didn't let Buddy Guy play a full song. Folks make movies for their own purposes. I hope JLB got a nice check.

Apr 21, 2009, 7:19am Top

All excellent points, Bill. Goodman's unfortunate hair was the biggest clunker, in my opinion---it was a distraction every time I saw him. Like Orson Welles' orange skin in "The Long Hot Summer", or Nicole Kidman's nose in "The Hours". Nevertheless, I enjoyed watching the movie.

Apr 21, 2009, 8:12am Top

And here I thought I was the only one who was riveted every time Kidman appeared in a profile shot in that movie!

Apr 21, 2009, 8:17am Top

I kept thinking "Jimmy Durante", and it rather spoiled things...

Apr 21, 2009, 8:36am Top

#42: LOL! I don't have quite that imagination. However, since I intend to watch the movie again soon, I'm afraid the thought will occur...

Apr 21, 2009, 9:02am Top

ok, thanks you loons...I haven't seen The Hours and I know when I do that it will be all about the nose.

Apr 21, 2009, 9:15am Top

"Loons" is a little tame, isn't it?

Apr 21, 2009, 11:33am Top

>22 laytonwoman3rd: Is it any good?

I really don't know how to answer that question. It depends on your sense of humor. ;)

Apr 21, 2009, 12:21pm Top

#44: Listen, it's not us--you simply can't watch that film and miss the schnozz. And yes, I'm now hooked into the Durante theme.

Apr 21, 2009, 2:15pm Top

Good night Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.

Apr 23, 2009, 8:04pm Top

My Gawd, I finally found you. I was so frightened! I didn't know where to turn, I didn't know what to do. Then I get here and have 48 flippin' posts to read to catch up with it all. I'll do that later.
Whew, I am so relieved!~!
Okay, I got that out of my system--------now I can go play catch up.
later babe,

Apr 23, 2009, 8:21pm Top

I just have to say that Nicole Kidman's forehead creeps me out so bad I have to turn my head in the close-ups.
And to all you literary critics out there; Jude Deveroux has them all beat to hell. That's all I have to say about that!~!

Apr 23, 2009, 9:10pm Top

#49 Geez, I wasn't hiding.

Edited: Apr 27, 2009, 11:17am Top

30. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks I've had this book on the TBR pile for some time. I picked it up to read now because of one of those literary coinkidinks that happen to me from time to time. The last book I finished was Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz. I noted in passing (as he mentioned, mostly in passing) references to his wife, Geraldine, in the text. When I finished the book and read his acknowledgments (yes, I ALWAYS do) I found that the first three people he thanked were Geraldine Brooks and two men with the last name Horwitz. AHA!, I said to myself. Wife, Geraldine. First name in acknowledgments, Geraldine Brooks. What do I conclude, Watson? His WIFE is GERALDINE BROOKS. (The mini biography of Horwitz on the cover merely said he lived so-and-so-where with his wife and son. No names.) So I found my copy of People of the Book, read the note on the author, and verified my deduction. Geraldine Brooks and Tony Horwitz are, in fact, married to one another. Since I had her book in my hand, I decided to read it sooner rather than later.

People of the Book is a collection of stories about men, women and children who played significant roles in the history of the Sarajevo Haggadah, a gorgeous illuminated manuscript that survived centuries of human folly to arrive in the hands of Hanna Heath, a book conservator, in 1996. Interwoven with Hanna's research into the tiny remnants she finds in the leaves of the book---a bit of quill, a fine white hair, a stain, an insect wing, a few grains of salt--are the tales of how the book came into being, how it was repeatedly rescued from those who would have destroyed it, intentionally or thoughtlessly. The book exists, and some of the facts of its history are known, but People of the Book is a novel, and most of it is purely the product of the author's rich imagination. The structure requires some concentration from the reader, as we travel across time and continents, meeting many fascinating characters whose lives we only sample, and whose fates are often left unresolved. It all works marvelously well...until the final modern installments of the story, where things turn a little bit Brown---Dan Brown. Overall, this was a more satisfying read than The Geographer's Library, which suffered from some of the same flaws in the hands of an author less skillful than Brooks. I may even read this one again some day.

Apr 24, 2009, 2:00pm Top

Coinkidinks—I'll have to ask my doctor if those are causing my memory lapses...

I read a review about People recently that said the same thing about the modern installments—they turn Brownish. It seemed to really bother that reviewer, but I'll trust your opinion that they aren't that off-putting.

I'm also glad that you didn't have to do your review on your own precious free time. Now you have the whole weekend for fun, frolic, and whimsy.

Apr 24, 2009, 2:09pm Top

Again--you crack me up Charlie! Do you EVER not pick on this woman?

Awesome review. I have read several reviews on this book but this is the first one that has made me want to actually read the book. Good job!~!

Edited: Apr 24, 2009, 3:14pm Top

The book is definitely worth reading--I guess that was clear, at least to the two of you. The story of Hanna Heath was really just binder, as far as I was concerned, so it didn't bother me overly much that the author short-sheeted it at the end. As for fun, frolic and whimsy, please note that I will spend a goodly share of my weekend browsing at library book sales. Then, if I don't completely throw my back out lugging my purchases home, I will do some yard work, since the weather finally promises to be warm and sunny.

Apr 24, 2009, 9:38pm Top

#52 Thanks for the review of People of the Book. I've had it on my TBR pile for quite awhile as well, and just haven't had a chance to get to it. One of these days...

Apr 24, 2009, 9:38pm Top

Have fun.
Catcha later.

Apr 24, 2009, 10:00pm Top

"brown...Dan Brown" hee hee
Sounds like a good read though.

Apr 25, 2009, 8:40am Top

Brown has a new book coming out in the fall, finally

Edited: Apr 27, 2009, 10:00pm Top

31. Travel Light by Naomi Mitchison

This is a fantasy about a princess whose stepmother ordered her father to have her killed, but was saved by her nurse, who turned into a bear and carried the child off. Halla lived with the bears until hibernation time, when she was turned over to dragons, who taught her to put aside bearish behavior. They also fire-proofed her, and gave her a healthy contempt for heroes like that nasty Beowulf fellow who murdered their friend Grendel and his mother. As short and light as this book was, I should have finished it in a couple hours. On the contrary, however, I struggled to get through it...I fell asleep several times, lost track of the story line (which wasn't complicated, let me say), and couldn't figure out what kind of a time frame the author was using. Near the end, Halla asks a Valkyrie: "How long ago was it, Steinvor, that you came to Dragon Mountain and talked to me?...How many years? Five years? Five hundred Years?...What kind of game has All-Father been having with me?" My reaction, exactly. The story began as an enchanting magical tale, but fell apart badly once Halla re-entered the world of men. I was left wondering, "what was the point?"

Apr 27, 2009, 1:49pm Top

"This is a fantasy about a princess whose stepmother ordered her father to have her killed, but was saved by her nurse, who turned into a bear and carried the child off"

Lol. That sounds HILARIOUS! :))

Apr 27, 2009, 8:44pm Top

#60: I think I will skip that one, thanks.

Apr 28, 2009, 4:19pm Top

Ditto what Eliza and Stasia said.

Are you having lapses, Linda, or is this something Laura recommended? Her reading selections have been somewhat suspect lately...

Apr 28, 2009, 4:28pm Top

Dammit, it had potential. Nobody picks a winner every time, or I'd be off to the casino instead of hanging around here with this wordy-nerdy crowd. ("wordy-nerdy", in case you didn't know, is the literary equivalent of "artsy-fartsy", and is meant in the most affectionate and admiring way possible. And I totally made it up. Just now.)

Apr 28, 2009, 4:36pm Top

@ 63


Apr 28, 2009, 7:34pm Top

@ 63


Apr 28, 2009, 7:59pm Top

You guys are a scream! This is the best thread I've read (okay..I haven't read that many, but still!!). I agree with the Kidman forehead comment #50, but now I am going to have to look at the nose thing. And, totally unrelated, I went to college with Dan...Dan Brown; of course the 007 image didn't really fit him back then. Who knew!

Edited: Apr 28, 2009, 8:21pm Top

"This is the best thread I've read" Yeah, everybody says that. ;>) Welcome, Berly. We do have fun here. (lycomayflower, up there, is my daughter. I don't know why I let her talk to me the way she does.) And I don't believe in guilt by association, so you're OK as regards the Dan Brown thing. But let us never speak of this again.

Apr 28, 2009, 9:29pm Top

@ 68

It's because, deep down, you think I'm terribly clever.

Apr 29, 2009, 7:11am Top

Cute as the dickens, too.

Edited: Feb 28, 2016, 11:55am Top

32. Catskill Crafts: Artisans of the Catskill Mountains by Jane Smiley I grabbed this book last weekend at a library book sale, for its regional history potential. I grew up on the fringes of the Catskills, and consider the area one of "my places". I was already familiar with the work of one of the artists featured, Ward Hermann, who was known for his realistic wildlife carvings and paintings, as well as his marvelous and hard-to-come-by book Spans of Time: The Covered Bridges of Delaware County. I found this book to be slightly disappointing, mainly in its lack of decent photographs of the work of the craftspeople being profiled. I don't quite see the point of a book like this without them. Except for an 8-page color section in the middle, which is more landscape than art, the photos are black and white, and without caption. I'm still puzzling over one of them, which is obviously something with a wood grain in it, but beyond that unidentifiable. Some of the author's detailed descriptions of a piece of intricately crafted furniture, or the technique of weaving a complicated plaid fabric made my eyes cross, especially since I wasn't then rewarded with a picture of the resulting thing of beauty. I'm not a fan of Jane Smiley's writing style, having previously sampled her fiction, but her final essay on "The Quilters" made the book worthwhile to me. It's a lovely evocation of an afternoon spent in the company of serene and talented women, absorbed in an ancient and satisfying activity. If only she'd included a picture of a quilt. The book did serve as a jumping off place for me to investigate a handful of these artists further. Some of them have a web presence now (Smiley noted in her preface that at the time of writing, about 20 years ago, she didn't think any of them owned a personal computer.) Just take a look at the paper folding & cutting art of Marcia Guthrie or the woodworking of Steve Heller, for examples.

Apr 29, 2009, 8:43am Top

#70 (and 69) and she has a nice cat

But don't you agree that the mother-daughter relationship takes on a new air when they become adults? Though we still wonder when they did that as we, certainly, don't remember getting older while they grew up! (Mine will be home in a couple of weeks.)

Apr 29, 2009, 9:20am Top

A book about artisans without decent photographs of the work and artists? That would be annoying. AND black and white when they do put them in? Harrumph.

Apr 29, 2009, 10:03am Top

Actually, there were decent photos of the artists themselves, and in some cases they were at work. But the final products got very short shrift.

Edited: Apr 29, 2009, 10:05am Top

#72 "we still wonder when they did that " That's for sure! But I think with mine, I got the first clue around the end of 8th grade when she gave a speech at class day like she'd been doing it all her life.

Apr 29, 2009, 1:26pm Top

With no fooling around, Linda, I find your relationship with Laura both touching and enviable. How lucky you are to have each other.

As far as Smiley's book, I would have found the lack of photographs extremely dissatisfying. I have an interest in Navajo rug-making and books without photos of the finished products would be fairly useless.

Apr 29, 2009, 9:34pm Top

#76: Me too, Charlie. A daughter wasn't to be in my life but I warm myself at the glow given off by relationships like this one.

Apr 29, 2009, 11:55pm Top

I love your sarcastically loving relationship! I share a similar one with mine. She is 16 going on 25 and I am older going on 35. As she grows older and I grow younger, we become closer and closer friends. Alas, she is not a big reader, so we will not share this same banter on LT, so I will just live vicariously through you two. But I digress from books...

Apr 30, 2009, 7:08am Top

Well, aren't you all nice. I couldn't have asked for a better kid---after she learned how to sleep through the night, that is. When she was little, people used to ask if we were "planning another child". I told them "No, we did that once, we did it right, and we see no need to do it again." I haven't changed my mind.

Edited: Apr 30, 2009, 9:04am Top

75 - that's scary isn't it - mine, as you may have read elsewhere, just finished teaching a (Portuguese) lit course that she loved and was saddened for the first time that a course was over - she's so comfortable in her career choice and I am still trying to figure out what I want to be!

78 - love the thought

79 - we did it twice - got my girl the second time (though I don't regret the boy) - we had our trials in the tween stage and things are great now - we're good sounding boards for their woes

May 4, 2009, 7:39am Top

33. The Mafia Cookbook by Joseph Iannuzzi. Yes, I sometimes do read cookbooks from beginning to end. This one comes with "amusing" anecdotes about members of the Gambino family and their appetites, for food, among other things. But the recipes are straightforward and mouthwatering. Many of them call for garlic "sliced paper thin with a single-edged razor blade". Can't get one of those from Pampered Chef.

May 4, 2009, 7:48am Top

#81: I love reading cookbooks and finding new recipes!

May 4, 2009, 10:13am Top

*snort* Pampered Chef singled edged razor blade. that is so funny. I read How to Fix Damn Near Anything and while giggling uncontrollably at the instructions on how to change a fuse in your car, MrCal decided that I was a lost cause!

May 4, 2009, 11:53am Top

Now how did I miss that one? My maiden name is Yannuzzi=and the only reason it's not Iannuzzi was that my grandfather couldn't spell, and when he arrived at Ellis Island, he kept say YAH NUZZI and the (obviously non-italian) clerk wrote it with a "Y".....I will have to get this cookbook for sure!! " Although OBVIOUSLY, he's not a relative" she says timidly...

May 4, 2009, 12:13pm Top

You're lucky only one letter got changed! I have discovered that there is a second cookbook by the same (wise)guy titled Cooking on the Lam. I'll be looking for that one too. And my Pampered Chef consultant (who is also a good friend and my next-door-cubicle neighbor at work) tells me there IS a sort of garlic slicing blade thingie available which protects your fingers and works as well as a razor blade. And she's Italian, too, so I guess I trust her on this.

May 4, 2009, 2:20pm Top

#84: Listen Tutu: if you've got a Mafia relative (I did--he's dead now of natural causes), by all means make the most of it. I used to threaten people with him (he was really small potatoes, fingerling style, in the numbers racket but only I knew that)--worked very well.

Yeah, my mother's family had the same name changing experience. As did I when I was born and baptized. No one could handle the Italian so I wound up officially something else. I had to change my name legally to what I'd been using all my life when I applied for my passport at age 52.

Edited: May 19, 2009, 6:56am Top

A couple busy weekends and working Mondays have slowed down my reading. That, and the fact that I can't bear to come to the end of the book I'm currently lost in. So, I'll post a recipe in the meantime. Billiejean, are you out there? Here's the meatloaf recipe you expressed an interest in:
(This is not for those who keep kosher, or even have lingering reservations about milk/meat combinations.)

Henry's Cranberry Meatloaf

1 1/4 lb. ground meat (I favor a combination of pork, beef and veal, but plain hamburger is OK too.)
1 med. onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
1/3 cup milk
2 - 3 Tblsp. sour cream (I always use 3)
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. Oregano (a little extra on the herbs doesn't hurt anything)
1 tsp. salt
Ground pepper

Mix above ingredients thoroughly (preferably with your hands, impeccably clean. *nods to Julia Child and Paula Deen*)

In bottom of loaf pan, spread 2 Tblsp light brown sugar. Spread 1 cup Whole cranberry sauce over sugar. Shape meat mixture into loaf and place in pan.

Bake in pre-heated 375 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. Turn out upside down.

May 18, 2009, 9:41pm Top


May 18, 2009, 10:00pm Top

L..woman....where were you earlier today when I made meatloaf for dinner? This sounds fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

May 19, 2009, 6:58am Top

#89 Probably hunched over a deposition transcript, preparing an index for use at trial, tutu. Work is interfering with my life just now!

May 19, 2009, 7:36am Top

Ah yes--work, the curse of the reading class.

May 19, 2009, 7:47am Top

Thanks so much for the recipe. It sounds wonderful. I have a special love of cranberries going back to cooking with my mom when I was young. I had never thought of mixing beef and pork for meatloaf before, but I will try it now. :) Hope you have a great day!

May 19, 2009, 7:59am Top

#91 Too true, Joyce, too true.

#92 You might check your meat department, billiejean. Many of the markets around here sell the three meats in one package (not mixed together, but in three separate little piles so you can judge the ratio. I think 1/2 beef, 1/4 pork and 1/4 veal is ideal.)

May 19, 2009, 8:16am Top

Hey, what is this??????????
Cooking class over here????
I think I want in too. My husband would be sooo impressed if I started cooking again. hehe

May 19, 2009, 8:50am Top

My guys will try anything, but my girl??? But she does like cranberry sauce.

Edited: Sep 8, 2009, 9:32am Top

34. In the Fall by Jeffrey Lent I didn't want to come to the end of this excellent story, which begins with a wounded Union soldier meeting the runaway slave who nurses him back to health, and ends with their grandson, a sixteen-year-old boy who sets out to learn the secrets of his ancestry, but finds something much more important--the secret to himself. Setting, character, plot---all incredibly fine. I need believable characters and a good story, but I am first and foremost a connoisseur of Place in novels. This one took me directly to the woods, hills, farm buildings and back roads of my childhood, complete with smells and tactile sensations. The man knows the inside of a long-used barn, and his descriptions of early morning are magical. The family saga is rich and compelling, moving from a Vermont farm boy who brings a black girl home as his wife; to their son who leaves the farm for the underworld of whiskey running, where he not only passes for white, but dismisses the entire subject of race from his life; to HIS son whose quest for a Faulknerian truth wraps up the novel. I want to find a first edition hardback copy of this book and place it on the shelf next to Absalom, Absalom!. It's really that good.

May 20, 2009, 7:45am Top

I've read good things about this book, Linda, but your review is convincing. Really excellent.

May 20, 2009, 8:09am Top

I'm trying to systematically get caught up on threads (a daunting task.) I'm checking in on you Linda and enjoyed reading the posts that made me laugh.

I am the mother of two daughters. They both bring such joy to me. Some of the teenage years were rough, but now that they are adults, there is a deeper level of closeness.

May 20, 2009, 8:32am Top

This book sounds terrific. I added it to my wishlist.

May 20, 2009, 9:30am Top

This one is buried somewhere in my stacks. I'll be trying to dig it out now.

May 20, 2009, 9:58am Top

That is one strong endorsement for this book, especially coming from you. I'm adding it to the wishlist right away.

May 20, 2009, 10:52am Top

I don't feel I've done the book justice, even so. I didn't even mention the scene that made me cry. A book almost NEVER does that, and I didn't see it coming. It was no big plot development, just a little human moment, but I've never read anything more perfectly done. And this was his first novel. Astounding.

May 20, 2009, 11:14am Top

Wow...I knew if I waited, a fellow LTer would come along and help me find a good historical fiction for my second 999 challenge. I'm getting filled up with medieval europe, and this will be a great change of pace. I just checked and my local library has it available. Amazing! Thanks for the terrific review.

May 20, 2009, 11:14am Top

Sounds great, thank you for the recommendation!

May 20, 2009, 3:25pm Top

Sigh...adding In the Fall to the TBR pile. I really enjoyed your review.

May 20, 2009, 4:24pm Top

I tried to get this at BookDepository right away, after reading your review. Sold out. Probably because of this review!

May 20, 2009, 8:33pm Top

This is what I love about LibraryThing. I followed the link to In The Fall and discovered that my nephew owns a copy. No need to bother with the library! I can read it at my leisure! It sounds great.

May 20, 2009, 10:39pm Top

Your description of In the Fall is magical. Another one of your reads is now added to my tbr pile.

Thanks for your excellent review.

May 21, 2009, 8:16am Top

OK, I'm beginning to feel the burden of responsibility for this book, now...some of you are bound to find it less thrilling than I did. I read an LT review of one of Lent's later books where the reader hated it, seemingly for many of the reasons that I loved In the Fall. I actually did go internet hunting yesterday, and was lucky enough to score a signed first edition of the book, purported to be in fine/fine condition...for $7.00.

May 21, 2009, 10:53am Top

My TBR lists, that's plural, keep growing and I never catch up, but that is a good thing. One can never run out of good things to read.

Edited: May 21, 2009, 10:15pm Top

Sounds like one I would fall in love with and read semi-annually. Do you have those? Hmmm, I wonder if all of us do. I liked how you wrote your review Linda. Rather straight and to the point and if the is a "Faulknarian truth" in there it has got to be good, if not great. Thanx for the rec.

(edited because my keypad cannot spell)

May 22, 2009, 8:01am Top

#111 I re-read a good many things, or at least parts of them, every couple of years---Faulkner, To Kill a Mocking bird, All the Kings Men, Walden, Gardner's On Moral Fiction

And may I just interject a wee rant about the touchstones. To Kill a Mockingbird wouldn't come up until I made mockingbird two words. WRONG. All the King's Men wouldn't come up until I took out the apostrophe. WRONG. (But do note that the actual titles, when they do show up, are CORRECT.) The first thing that comes up under "Walden" is "Walden Two" by B. F. Skinner. SO WRONG.

May 22, 2009, 8:56am Top

>112 laytonwoman3rd:: Nice to find a fellow grammar fanatic here.

Edited: May 25, 2009, 2:07pm Top

35. Serve it Forth (Art of Eating), by M. F. K. Fisher Another (actually the first) of M. F. K. Fisher's entrancing collections of vignettes about food---the gathering, preparing, eating and enjoying thereof. This one includes some food history, and it's fine.

May 25, 2009, 5:01am Top

#96 & 114: I am adding both of these to the Continent. Thanks for the recommendations!

Edited: May 25, 2009, 2:07pm Top

Stasia, if you haven't read Fisher before, I think you'd like Consider the Oyster better than Serve it Forth. They're both very short, but I think the later title is a better read.

36. Secrets of Greymoor by Clara Gillow Clark The continuing adventures of Hattie Belle Basket, the "hill hawk" sent by her father to live with her wealthy grandmother. When hard times descend on Grandmother Greymoor, Hattie loses her private tutor and must try to make friends at "common" school. She has a little trouble with the truth, and wrestles with some moral dilemmas as only a 12-year-old can. It all works out in the end, a little too neatly, but that could have been improved upon simply by introducing a particular character to us earlier in the story. Hill Hawk Hattie and Hattie on Her Way were better stories than this. If you have 10-13 year old readers in your house, check those out. My review of Hattie on Her Way is here. Willie and the Rattlesnake King is a good one too.

May 26, 2009, 5:33am Top

#116: Thanks for the tip, Linda. I added Consider the Oyster to the Continent as well.

Edited: Jun 18, 2009, 5:38pm Top

37. Annie's Ghosts by Steven Luxenberg This was an Early Reviewers' copy and I will be composing a full review shortly.

ETA Link to my review

Jun 2, 2009, 2:23pm Top

Hi- I picked up Sound and the Fury today from the library, my second Faulkner.

Jun 2, 2009, 2:59pm Top

Oh...good for you, Sharleen. Let it flow over you the first time. It truly rewards a second reading. (I hope that doesn't discourage you.)

Jun 2, 2009, 9:49pm Top

No, sometimes you can see things a second time that are missed the first time.

Edited: Jun 4, 2009, 4:57pm Top

38. In Her Father's Eyes by Bela Weichherz
This is an odd sort of book. In 1929, when his daughter Kitty was born, Bela Weichherz began keeping what we would call a "baby book"---recording the child's weight, eating and sleeping schedules, and developmental milestones on a weekly basis in notebooks. The family were Slovak Jews, although not observant, living in Bratislava, and the reader knows from the outset that they will not survive the coming horrors. This should make the narrative poignant, if not heartbreaking. Unfortunately, I couldn't warm up to Papa OR Kitty, and most of the book left me with that feeling you have when an acquaintance can't talk of anything but her child's latest "cuteness" or the excruciating details of her potty training. I cringed to read of the child being punished for not eating, for wetting her pants (at 2 1/2!!) and for being too nervous to go to sleep on a long trip. In spite of observing that Kitty didn't "do well" (suffering recurrent rashes, stomach problems and weight loss) in their summer-long visits with relatives in the country, the family packed her up and took her back there year after year. Kitty's manners as she grew older, at least as conveyed to us through "her father's eyes" left much to be desired, and she seemed to learn very early to use her affections as a tool to manipulate adults. My empathy for all the victims of the Nazi madness runs very near the surface, but I realize I would not have liked every one of the 6,000,000 people who were exterminated in Europe during the Holocaust. Still, I was disappointed to find myself so unsympathetic to Kitty and her parents in the years when they were ignorant of the fate that awaited them. I was drawn to this book because it promised a glimpse of pre-war life in Slovakia, a country I yearn to know better. (One set of my great-grandparents emigrated to this country from there in the 19th century.) But I did not learn a lot about that life, beyond what little girls wore and ate, from this work. As Kitty grows older, the narrative changes character drastically, and for 1941 and 1942 it becomes more revealing of the political changes in Central Europe that impacted the lives of Slovakia's Jewish population. Papa related these changes almost dispassionately, after losing his job and home, and being separated from his wife and daughter. "The official word is that all of the conscripted men and women are leaving as pioneers to prepare for the resettlement of the entire Jewish population of Slovakia. All Jews who leave Slovakia lose their citizenship...In that I have a work permit...I anticipate that I will not yet be affected. But in that people are often taken randomly, I have to be continuously alert...I have only one wish: that we can go together with Kitty and Mama. Esti {Mama} is weak and afraid. She can't take care of herself. For her age, {12!} Kitty is strong enough that she could go, but one would prefer to stay by the side of one's child in such a difficult situation." (Curly brackets and italics are mine.) This is the final entry. Chilling.

In Her Father's Eyes was translated from the original German by Daniel Magilow, a professor at the University of Tennessee who has spent time as a post-doctoral fellow at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The best parts of this book are his introduction, and his chapter notes, all of which were extremely enlightening on the subject of Slovak history. How Bela Weichherz's notebooks survived his deportation and death is not known, but they remained somehow in the hands of family members. As a sociological document they are priceless. As general reading material, I do not recommend them.

Jun 6, 2009, 9:06am Top

I finished The Sound and the Fury last night. I didn't want to put it down when I finished the third section. I find Faulkner difficult but compelling - I had to finish it even though I was confused by it. I'm still not sure where he was going but I am not unhappy that I read and finished it.

Jun 6, 2009, 11:09am Top

*claps enthusiastically* I'd say that's an excellent response to a first reading. I'll bet if you let it percolate a while, you'll find yourself wanting to go back to it. It might be five years from now, but that's OK.

Jun 6, 2009, 8:17pm Top

thank you, thank very much - *bows deeply*

Jun 6, 2009, 10:18pm Top

#122. A long review for you, Linda, and a very good one, but I suspect I will pass it up. I too have much more Faulkner to do, and I'm about to start Requiem for a Nun--quite different, but still Y. County.

Jun 6, 2009, 11:46pm Top

I've read The Sound and the Fury three times and it gets better each time. (And I am not a regular "rereader" of books I've read). I'm glad you liked it.

Edited: Jun 9, 2009, 8:49pm Top

39. Old Men at Midnight by Chaim Potok Three longish stories in which Ilana Davita Chandal (Dinn) serves as the catalyst for memory at various stages of her life, first with a teenage Holocaust survivor, then with a Jewish KGB interrogator who has defected to the US in the mid-1950's, and finally with an ailing war historian having trouble completing his memoirs. In each case, the men find it possible to bring forth memories they had buried, consciously or unconsciously. What this means to them, or to Davita, is not clear, and there are stylistic elements* within these stories that I do not understand. But there is emotional power in them, and those memories will stay with me.

ETA: * The first story, entitled "The Ark Builder" begins with Davita as an 18 year old tutoring a young man traumatized by his experiences at the hands of the Nazis. He barely speaks, and her job is to teach him English. As the story progresses, Davita encourages the young man to talk about his past, which he eventually does---in perfectly flowing English prose. There is no in-text acknowledgment of this discrepancy, and when his remembrance is finished, he again speaks to Davita in halting broken English.

In the final story of the collection, Davita is a middle-aged well-known author. She moves into the house next door to an elderly couple, who know her reputation. The husband is struggling to complete his memoirs, having found that he cannot drag forth any meaningful memories of his early life. He meets the very attractive, youthful Davita, who is working in her garden, and he is immediately drawn to her. Only later does it occur to him that she should be much older than she appears; that, in fact she is much younger, trimmer and more attractive than the photo of her on one of her recent books. Then one night he catches a glimpse of her at her writing desk through her lighted window, and what he sees is a frowsy, grey-haired, overweight woman--in fact, the image from the book jacket. Throughout the story, Dr. Walter meets the sexy youthful version of Davita repeatedly, and just as often sees the older, more realistic time-worn version at a distance. Again, a jarring story element that is never resolved, and one that I haven't been able to process.

Although Davita is the unifying presence in the three separate stories, she is mostly a mystery to the reader...very little of HER comes through, and at the end we don't even know what physical description to trust.

Jun 9, 2009, 2:23am Top

#128: I have never read anything by Potok. I think I will give that one a try. Thanks for the recommendation, Linda.

Jun 9, 2009, 6:54am Top

I would recommend starting with The Chosen, Stasia. I think that is Potok at his best. I really did find a couple elements of the first and last story in Old Men at Midnight bewildering. I debated whether to go into more detail, and I think I've decided it wouldn't spoil anything, so I'm going to edit my entry when I have a few minutes.

Jun 9, 2009, 2:23pm Top

#130: OK, I will see if I can find a copy of The Chosen then. Thanks, Linda.

Edited: Jun 9, 2009, 8:29pm Top

>I so agree with Linda. The Chosen, The Promise and My Name is Asher Lev are his best, I think. Potok has a wonderful way with words and writes very meaningfully. I think you would really like The Chosen.

I've not read this one Linda and I think I need to. It sounds very good.
Thank you for another great review.

Jun 9, 2009, 9:30pm Top

Sounds like I have to add Potok to my list! Thanks.

Jun 10, 2009, 3:00am Top

#132: Thanks for the input, Belva!

Jun 16, 2009, 8:45am Top

40. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro As my daughter was packing to leave after a recent visit with us, she pulled this book off the shelves in her old bedroom (where I keep much of my TBR overload), plopped it in front me and said "Read this". Of course, I've been meaning to, for years. So under direct orders, I did. I can't for the life of me figure out why this book is so compelling, or how Ishiguro made his main character so utterly real, but I couldn't put it down. I struggled through the prologue, which I found tedious and belabored, but with several high recommendations behind the book, I continued reading, and somewhere around page 30 I realized I was hooked. There is nothing obviously striking about the prose itself, and the story line is minimal...just a framework from which to hang Mr. Steven's musings about himself and his past. Mr. Stevens is an English butler of the old order, and he is painfully conscious of the fact that, in the second half of the 20th century, his kind may be facing extinction. He has lived a life based on service, on suborning his own opinions and denying the existence of personal feelings. Throughout a road trip across the English countryside he wrestles with memories, defending his former employer's lapses of humanity and rationalizing his own seemingly heartless behavior. Running under it all is a glimmer of hope that a meeting with former housekeeper, Miss Kenton, may hold promise of a different sort of future for Mr. Stevens. I join the legions of LT'ers who give this book high marks. To quote my daughter, "Read this."

Jun 16, 2009, 10:08am Top

Great review...it's been on my TBR list for a while now, but it's getting pushed up higher.

Jun 16, 2009, 11:43am Top

That was a great review! I am hoping to read this one soon.

Jun 16, 2009, 1:02pm Top

#135: OK, I will - if I can locate my copy!

Edited: Jun 16, 2009, 1:18pm Top

The film that was made based on the book, The Remains of the Day, is very good.

Jun 16, 2009, 3:02pm Top

The Remains of the Day is on my immediate TBR - I hope I like it as much as you do!

Jun 16, 2009, 7:41pm Top

I'm also guilty of having had this on my tbr for too long. I shall also move it up. I'd like to see the movie also.

Jun 16, 2009, 9:09pm Top

Thanks for all the kind words--I'm surprised there are so many here who haven't read Remains yet. I figured I was among the last hold-outs. I saw the movie years ago, but have put it in my Netflix queue to watch again soonish. It will fill a slot in my 999 challenge too, as I have a category for books made into films.

Jun 17, 2009, 12:10am Top

#142 That's a cool idea for a category (books made into films). And, no, you are not the last hold-out. Just moved it up my TBR list. Thanks!

Jun 17, 2009, 9:56am Top

Congratulations on your "HOT REVIEW" of The Remains of the Day. And deservedly so, I might add.


Jun 17, 2009, 3:09pm Top

I've seen the film but haven't read the book, in part because I DETESTED Never Let Me Go. But Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans are both in my TBR piles somewhere.

Jun 18, 2009, 3:48pm Top

#145 Never Let Me Go felt to me like it was written by a totally different author than Ishiguro. I didn't like it either. I haven't read When We Were Orphans, but you should definitely give Remains of the Day a read. I agree with Laytonwoman--it's a wonderful book.

Jun 18, 2009, 5:40pm Top

#118 above. Finally completed my full review of Annie's Ghosts, which you can find here

Jun 20, 2009, 4:05pm Top

#41 I Shall Not Want by Julia Spencer-Fleming The latest in the series of Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne's police procedural/romantic entanglement/suspense novels. They keep getting better---not a stale word in any of them. Lots of action and excitement. If you're reading the series, you know what I mean, and I can't tell you one thing about this one that won't be some kind of spoiler, except that a new character is introduced who I really like...a young female member of the Millers' Kill PD. Oh, and that when you get to the end of this one, you'll be dying for the next one to come out.

Jun 20, 2009, 5:10pm Top

Great. Just great. Another series to check out.

Jun 20, 2009, 5:36pm Top

I just thought of something else I can say without giving anything away. I laughed out loud once, and cried a little twice.

Jun 20, 2009, 5:49pm Top

Wow! Such a display of emotion from a crime/suspense novel is high praise indeed! Drat you. Now I really do have to add it to the list.

Jun 20, 2009, 6:36pm Top

Berly, have you read any of the series? 'Cause you really don't want to jump in at No. 6

Jun 20, 2009, 6:47pm Top

I know, I know...I've taken on not just a book, but a series. What else can I do? Sigh.

Jun 20, 2009, 9:23pm Top

Really glad you liked it. Like you, I'm waiting for the next one!

Jun 21, 2009, 12:11am Top

#148: I did not know that there was another one out! I have to find it posthaste. I already have all the other ones in this great series.

Jun 28, 2009, 9:42pm Top

42. The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro This was my first Munro, and it definitely will not be my last. The View from Castle Rock, the publisher proclaims, is a work of fiction. The author herself says that although she started with her own family history, real people, and her own memories, this book is composed of stories (the italics are hers), and that "some of these characters have moved so far from their beginnings that I cannot remember who they were to start with." The book begins with a description of the Ettrick Valley of Scotland, and an introduction to the Laidlaw family. Munro's ancestors. It moves then to a vivid description of the family's 1818 ocean voyage to America (by which they meant Canada), including the birth of a child at sea. Munro takes us through the generations until, seamlessly, we are reading about her childhood and forgetting that she’s warned us about the liberties she may have taken with the facts. It may not be accurate, but I believe it is all true. This is exactly the kind of book I’d write about my family if I had the nerve and the talent. It’s all marvelous stuff and I want more.

Jun 28, 2009, 11:50pm Top

Hooray! That review is good enough to make you an honorary Canuck. hehe

Jun 29, 2009, 1:39pm Top

I always like to hear a favourable review of Munro - even though The View from Castle Rock is not one of hers that I have read. May I suggest Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage or Lives of Girls and Women for your next Munro?

Jun 29, 2009, 1:50pm Top

Thanks for that review, lw3rd! I plan to look for this one next time I am at the library.

Edited: Jul 1, 2009, 6:48am Top

43. The Nazi Officer's Wife by Edith Hahn Beer.

This was an excellent memoir, written many many years after the fact by a Jewish woman who survived the Nazi takeover of Austria and all the subsequent horrors through luck, unexpected kindnesses, and ingenuity. This is not a story of survival in the concentration camps, or of hiding out in attics, but rather of assuming a false identity and living a life "beneath the surface of society". After the Russian Army defeated the Germans and took over the town where Edith (then known as Grete) was living, an official asked her "From which camp did you come?". Her answer was "I managed without a camp." Not without hardships and nearly constant fear, however. On the eve of obtaining her qualifications as a lawyer and judge, Edith Hahn was told that she would not be allowed to take the final exam, and that as a Jew she was forbidden to return to the University of Vienna for any reason. For the next 8 years Edith managed to hide her race from the official world until the Nazi regime fell, at which time she triumphantly resurrected her true identity and became a family court judge for a brief time -- "the one and only time I had even the slightest power to alleviate any of the suffering in this world."

The title is somewhat misleading, since she did not marry a Nazi officer (her husband was nominally a Nazi, but not even in the military when she married him), and her marriage was only one of the factors that kept her alive and under the radar throughout the course of the war. Not only did she and her daughter survive, but so did a fairly extensive archive of letters, photos and official documents she and a former lover each held on to, at considerable risk. Those documents are now in the custody of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. The author died in Israel earlier this year. Highly recommended as a revealing look at life in Nazi Europe from a rather unusual perspective.

Jul 1, 2009, 2:56am Top

I read this and was mesmerized by it. I found it quite different than most of the books I had read on this era.

Jul 4, 2009, 3:23am Top

#160: Definitely looking into that one. Thanks for the review and recommendation, Linda.

Jul 4, 2009, 10:45am Top

It was the first thing I put on my new To Read collection place here on LT. And maybe someday I'll get to it, too!

Jul 4, 2009, 11:12am Top

Sounds fascinating and now on my library check out list.

Edited: Jul 8, 2009, 3:20pm Top

44. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Lovely prose, heart-breaking story, lots to think about. There are so many excellent reviews of the book on LT already that I will just contribute a few thoughts.

It took me a while to get involved in the story; initially the 15-year-old narrator's matter-of-fact acceptance of paternal oppression and cruelty made it difficult for me to engage with her and her family. I persevered because of the positive responses to the book from readers whose opinions I respect. Once the children, Kambili and Jaja, were introduced to the strikingly different world their cousins were growing up in, the story became much more interesting to me. Moving from the wealth, privilege and strict routine of their home to the near poverty, primitive living conditions and informal loving environment of their Aunty's apartment, the children rapidly learn lessons about life that their fanatically Catholic father, a Great Man in the eyes of his community, has tried desperately to "protect" them from.

For me, the strongest element of this book is the love that develops between Kambili and Father Amadi. We see this only from Kambili's perspective, and it is of course colored by her naivete and longing, but it felt achingly true. The author leaves us with no suggestion that the priest's actions toward the young girl were in any way inappropriate, although on the face of it their relationship bordered on forbidden territory. The irony is that this priest, who is so much more casual and relaxed about his faith than Kambili's rigid, dogmatic father, appears to be capable of a brand of pure unconditional Christ-like love that Eugene would probably see as ungodly.

I found the liberal sprinklings of Igbo words and phrases throughout the book distracting, not because I did not know their meanings, but because I could not hear them, and have no idea how this language sounds. I remember when I read Cry, the Beloved Country, there was a glossary with a very good pronunciation key that helped me find the music in the Zulu words. I wished for a similar aid while reading Purple Hibiscus.

45. Chasing the Bear by Robert B. Parker Strictly for fans of the inimitable Spenser. Spenser fills his lady love ("the One" and only Susan Silverman) in on some details of his up-bringing by his father and his mother's two brothers, to explain how he came by his sense of Right. It includes, of course, a damsel in distress; a choice to do what seems to be the Right thing, even when that thing is technically Wrong by society's given rules; and a quintessential iconic river trip. Only Parker could pull this off, but only those who already love the author and his creation will truly appreciate it. (And no...we still do not learn what Spenser's first name is.)

Jul 7, 2009, 12:53pm Top

Was Purple Hibiscus not wonderful? I was really impressed with this young lady's writing. I think she has a great future ahead of her. I checked Half a Yellow Sun out at the library but then developed that vertigo and so....sadly it went back without being read. (dog-gone it)
Anyway, I am glad you enjoyed the book.
Hope your day goes well.

Edited: Jul 7, 2009, 1:07pm Top

re: book #45. Chasing the Bear by Robert B Parker; "(And no...we still do not learn what Spenser's first name is.)"
I thought perhaps you might find this of interest.


Jul 7, 2009, 9:49pm Top

Very enticing reviews! :-)

Edited: Jul 8, 2009, 3:11pm Top

>167 rainpebble: Thanks, Belva...I have seen a lot of that Spenser stuff before, but there are some newer entries there. I'm amused by the people who don't get Parker's little jokes, and think they've stumbled on Spenser's first name. ("Let's hit the road, Jack", Hawk said. -- OH WOW, his name is JACK!!!)

>168 bonniebooks: "Enticing', yeah, that me all over!

46. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. For my 5th or 6th "reading" of this classic, I listened to the audiobook, performed by Sissy Spacek. The novel itself remains in my top ten reads of all time; there isn't a better coming-of-age story out there, and I'm partial to the type. Spacek's character renderings are mostly excellent. She does especially well with the children and the black people, and her ability to "become" a male character is startling. The straight narration portions are a little too carefully enunciated, and there were a handful of terrible misreadings at sentence level. Since this is my first experience with an audio book, I don't know how common that is, but that aspect of it disappointed me. I started listening to this on a fairly long road trip in unfamiliar territory. I found that didn't work for me---it was too distracting and I wasn't comfortable driving while listening. Finished it on more familiar roads, and shorter trips, so it took a couple months to get through it. That wouldn't do if I didn't already know the story as well as I know this one, so I'm probably not going to be a big consumer of books in audio form. I do have some I'd like to hear though---if there were an audiobook out there of Fried Green Tomatoes read by Fannie Flagg, for instance, I'd give it a go.

Jul 8, 2009, 2:40pm Top

I liked that one - have a copy in the house somewhere, too. Maybe it's worth a reread.

Jul 8, 2009, 10:55pm Top

So Linda, just out of curiosity what are your top ten reads of all time? (if you don't mind sharing with us)

Jul 9, 2009, 7:40am Top

The top six are unlikely to change. The rest are not set in stone, but are the ones that come to mind as I sit here thinking about the answer. All of these are books that made me say "WOW!" when I read them the first time; I have read most of them several times, and will probably read all of them again. Sharp eyes will have noted that there are eleven books on this list. I give honorable mention to Number Eleven, which is probably the first book I treasured and the one I have owned the longest. I read it so many times as a young girl that the spine fell off. It remains a favorite for sentimental, rather than literary reasons, but I still think it's a darn good story.

To Kill a Mockingbird
Absalom, Absalom!
The Hamlet
Sometimes a Great Notion
All the King's Men
At Swim, Two Boys
Great Expectations
Rosemary by Josephine Lawrence

Jul 9, 2009, 8:05am Top

Can you tell me a little about Rosemary? It is the only one I have not read or heard about.

Jul 9, 2009, 8:11am Top

47. Murder in E Minor by Robert Goldsborough With the approval of the estate of Rex Stout, Robert Goldsborough wrote 7 Nero Wolfe novels, of which this is the first. It's all right. Not the master himself, but then, even the master wasn't in top form all 47 times. I found this book in a box during a recent rummage through my attic. I don't remember buying it, reading it, or knowing that there were non-Stout Wolfe novels out there. Probably I picked it up at a library book sale some time or other, not realizing it wasn't part of the canon and just never got around to reading it. The murder in this one takes place in the context of a symphony orchestra with its plentitude of personalities and artistic grudges. There is also a connection to Wolfe's years as a freedom fighter in the mountains of his home country. Satisfactory.

Jul 9, 2009, 8:31am Top

>174 laytonwoman3rd:: I read two of Goldsborough's additions and just couldn't get myself to like them. Too bad, more Nero Wolfe books would have been a good thing. :-)

Jul 9, 2009, 8:34am Top

Yes, I was never able to put the fact of authorship out of my mind...that's probably an indication that something wasn't quite right.

Edited: Jul 13, 2009, 9:10pm Top

48. The Hero's Walk by Anita Rau Badami
Long-listed for the Orange Prize in 2002, which is one of the reasons I picked it to read now, since I'm concentrating on Orange Prize contenders for July, along with a number of other LT'ers.

Sripathi Rao is a disappointment to his mother, who runs his life and his home, Big House, where things are falling into disrepair because he cannot afford to maintain them at the level established by his late father, a more "successful", but much less admirable man. The household includes Sripathi's wife Nirmala and their adult son, Arun; his 42-year-old unmarried sister Putti; and his mother, who spends all her time demanding attention, criticizing everyone and ostensibly trying to arrange a suitable marriage for Putti. His daughter, Maya, has disgraced the family by breaking an arranged engagement to marry a foreigner she met while at University in Canada. For this, Sripathi has refused to communicate with her or even to read the letters she sends to her mother. The family is almost totally dysfunctional, until the arrival of Sri and Nirmala's 7-year-old Canadian granddaughter, orphaned and muted by her parents' accidental deaths in Vancouver. Things begin to change as this tiny bewildered stranger becomes the center of everyone's existence, and it is a treat to watch.

I loved the story, loved the writing, and found the ending one of the most satisfying I have read in some time. The characters are so real, they evoked a whole range of emotion from me---sympathy, exasperation, disgust, amusement. And with one mighty exception, each of them learned from life's trials and tragedies, and grew to fuller acceptance of themselves and their place in the universe by story's end. Amazingly sensuous prose...sights, sounds, smells (and not all of them pleasant) so vivid I worried they would wake my husband as I read while he slept. I enjoyed this book so much that I intend to do something I rarely do, which is to read two books by the same author back to back. I have already begun Badami's Tamarind Mem.

Jul 13, 2009, 1:53pm Top

177> I'm also reading this one right now; I'm about 1/3 through. It started a bit slowly, but I'm loving it now. I've also read Tamarind Woman but feel that it doesn't quite match up to The Hero's Walk, although it's another good story.

Jul 13, 2009, 1:57pm Top

Hooray, hooray! One of my favourite authors, lw3. I am so pleased that you have connected with her writing too. Her third book, Can You Hear the Nighbird Call is also excellent, although I found the subject matter harder, as it dealt with the Air India bombing. She's one of those rare authors I'll read everything by (if that's grammatical?). Touchstones not working.

Jul 13, 2009, 1:58pm Top

We were writing at the same time, Cari. Tamarind Mem was her first book but the talent is there. I thought it was a really good first novel.

Edited: Jul 13, 2009, 2:00pm Top

#178...I wasn't quite finished when you read it, Deborah. No spoilers, but a little more detail about the story in 177 now.

#179 *waves gratefully at Tiffin for introducing me to this author*

Jul 19, 2009, 5:26pm Top

49. Tamarind Mem by Anita Rau Badami Badami's first novel is a remarkable achievement. While not as complex and multi-layered as The Hero's Walk, it is a fascinating two-part look at life in India first from the perspective of a modern young woman now living in Canada, and then from the perspective of her widowed mother, who has decided to take an indefinite railway journey late in her life to explore the country her railway officer husband would never share with her. As she travels, she tells her life story to strangers on the train, and we learn her version of some of the same events earlier narrated by her daughter. Neither woman seems to understand the other very well; they have unresolved conflicts between them, and yet they both have the same basic goal -- to live on their own terms, without being bound by someone else's notions of what is right and proper.

Jul 19, 2009, 5:29pm Top

I really like the sound of this book. I find the "truth" in people's perspectives so interesting.

Jul 19, 2009, 11:20pm Top

I am SO pleased that you like her writing. Just chuffed!

Jul 19, 2009, 11:22pm Top

#182: That one looks very good, Linda. I wish my local library had Badami's books!

Jul 20, 2009, 7:06am Top

# 184 You KNEW I would, didn't you? I find the rhythm of her characters' speech just delightful---I hear them speaking as if someone clever with voices were reading aloud to me. This is one of the talents I admire most in a writer--to be able to give characters an audible voice. I attended a lecture by Salman Rushdie this weekend, and I was thrilled to hear him say that one of the first things he does when creating a character is to figure out how the person talks---slow, fast, a little or lot, does he have an accent of any kind, does he use "bad" language or not---and in this way he learns who his character really is.

Jul 20, 2009, 6:07pm Top

That's very interesting...about SR's getting into his characters through their speech. I love writer tidbits like that.

Edited: Jul 27, 2009, 10:33am Top

50. Property by Valerie Martin Wickedly good character study of a heartless woman who is not only a product of her circumstances, but perfectly suited to survive them. Set before the U.S. Civil War, this story explores the hard realities of life in a slave-holding society, without using a single romantic cliche. There is no nostalgia here for the ante-bellum South; no helpless fainting ladies, no sweeping staircases, no faithful darkies, no hope for a better day tomorrow. The "heroine" is totally self-centered, but without a grain of self-pity; her reaction to any given situation is to figure out how to survive it or work it to her advantage. It is impossible to like her, but I found her utterly fascinating. "Nice" people are rarely so interesting.

Jul 21, 2009, 10:55pm Top

Yours is a busy thread and I'm spending time tonight reading the comments. You read some incredible books in the last few weeks.

Regarding message 172, To Kill a Mockingbird is also my favorite all time book and has remained at the top since the day I read it years ago!

Jul 22, 2009, 8:37am Top

Linda, it has been a year today since you got me into LT and thanks for everything - even William Faulkner - you have broadened my literary horizons.

Jul 22, 2009, 9:30am Top

#189 Thank you, Linda. I wish I could persuade the lovely, intelligent daughter of my dear friend Amy that To Kill a Mockingbird is wonderful. She read it this summer and was not enthralled. She'll be a freshman at a Jesuit prep school in the fall...she's the kind of young person who I feel "ought" to get it. I'm hoping to have a good discussion with her one of these days, and see what she has to say about it.

#190. Why, thank you! I'm so glad you've found this site to be a good fit. And "even William Faulkner", hmmmm?? ;>)

Jul 22, 2009, 5:02pm Top

I love To Kill A Mockingbird, too. Got to that one on my own.

Jul 24, 2009, 6:57am Top

I read Property earlier this year, and I agree that it's not nostalgic of the mythical, paternalistic ante-bellum period. It's not Gone with the Wind for sure.

Add me to the group of To Kill a Mockingbird fans. It's one of my all time favorite books.

Edited: Jul 30, 2009, 9:49pm Top

51. Home by Marilynne Robinson
There’s a song Emmylou Harris sings, which I love. It kept creeping into my mind as I read this profoundly moving book. “Beneath still waters, there’s a strong undertow. The surface won’t tell you What the deep waters know.” Home is, on the surface, the story of three emotionally wounded members of a large Heartland family, living as best they can through the father’s final days in the mid-1950’s.. The frail and failing Reverend Robert Boughton is dying, unencumbered by medical attention; his 38-year-old daughter Glory, has come home to care for him; Jack, the son who has never quite fit comfortably into the family, arrives to “stay for a while” after a 20 year absence. All three harbor deep-seated pain with origins in past events, some of which are left mainly to the reader’s imagination. What happened to alienate Jack from his family and his home town? Why has he come home now---is he hiding from something, or seeking something? How is Glory free to pull up stakes and move back in with Papa? What’s become of her husband? How did Reverend Boughton “lose” his church? Are the forces beneath the surface pulling each of them toward a predestined fate?

Robinson’s skill at characterization is remarkable, because this book could have been a crashing bore. Most of the action is mental or emotional. Very little happens. Glory and Jack and the “Old Gent” strive to be polite and kind to one another, relying on formality to ease their awkwardness, trying at first to avoid subjects fraught with harsh memory. Even so, the pitfalls are numerous, needs and expectations clash, and nearly every conversation ends with an apology for some small act or utterance. Time passes slowly, routinely, and the relationships evolve. As tense and bewildering as the family dynamics are, being among the Boughtons is not unpleasant. They all try so hard to get it right, most of the time. There is a lot of Christian theology fitted into this story. By that I do not mean preaching, I mean it fits into the story, as part and parcel of who these characters are. I was a bit put off by the very last sentence of the book, and for that I withheld the last half star.

Home is often referred to as a companion novel to Robinson’s earlier Gilead, which I have not yet read. This novel has no problem standing alone, but it does rather beg the question of why Reverend Boughton’s old friend John Ames has so little enthusiasm for Jack’s return even though he knows what it means to Jack’s father. I understand Gilead is Ames’ story, and I now want very much to read that.

Jul 28, 2009, 7:38am Top

Looking forward to your thoughts on this, Linda.

Jul 28, 2009, 10:53am Top

Thanks, Joyce. They're slow to gel, but I was very impressed with the novel.

Jul 28, 2009, 3:05pm Top

Just read through over 140 posts here, LW3rd. Don't know how I have missed your thread. I am very interested to see you loved In the Fall - and have picked up a few others for my TBRs thanks.

Edited: Jul 28, 2009, 4:19pm Top

#173 Christine--sorry I didn't see your question before. I'll bet you posted it while I was typing the next one, since their times are close together, and I just never noticed it.

Rosemary is an old-fashioned story I fell in love with when I was very young. It was written in 1922, and takes place probably a little earlier. It's the story of three girls whose mother goes into a sanitarium for reasons not made plain. No father in sight (it might explain that he's dead, I'm not sure now.) Their much older brother---he's a doctor--- is "in charge", with the marvelously capable assistance of a housekeeper, Winnie. Adventures and misadventures ensue. Rosemary is the oldest girl, with Sarah (a total tomboy) and Shirley (the pampered "baby" of the family) being her younger sisters. It's what would have been called young adult fiction at the time, if there had been such a designation, I suppose.

Edited: Jul 28, 2009, 9:16pm Top

Thanks! I'd forgotten about my question and had to go back up and see what I'd asked. I wonder how I missed reading that one when I was younger. My library must not have had it!

Just finished a book I think you might like: Montana 1948.

Jul 30, 2009, 9:47pm Top

That does sound like my kind of story, Christine.

I've finally added a review of Home at No. 194 above.

Jul 30, 2009, 10:07pm Top

>200 laytonwoman3rd:: and a fine review it is, too. Not the least because your views are 100% aligned with mine ;-)

Jul 31, 2009, 8:08am Top

You must read Gilead! Promise? :)

Aug 1, 2009, 3:07am Top

When I went to the post this A.M. my order from amazon.com had arrived and Home was finally home. I have been waiting very impatiently as I have just finished Housekeeping and Gilead and found the first to be very satisfying and fell in love with the second.
But alas I must wait until September to read Home as I have set August aside as an all Virago month challenge for myself. (other than my group reads)
Loved your review on Home Linda and I added Rosemary to my TBR listing. That sounds like just the ticket for a quiet afternoon read.
I enjoy your thread. A lot of good chatter and recx to be found here. Thank you.

Edited: Aug 8, 2009, 5:17pm Top

52. The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips
A few thoughts from my full review, which you can find here.

In The Well and the Mine, Gin Phillips has chosen to tell a fairly simple story through multiple narrative voices, one for each of the five members of the Moore family of Carbon Hill, Alabama.

The central plot element of this novel is the search for the woman who threw a baby into the Moores’ covered well one dark night. Nine-year-old Tess Moore saw it happen, so she and her older sister set about to discover whether all the newish babies in the community are alive and well. Despite a story line that I found less than compelling, and an anti-climactic ending, Phillips has given us a novel with complicated characters in a Southern setting profoundly realistic. While this is presented as a reminiscence, it is virtually free of nostalgia. I would be very much surprised if this is the only novel this author has in her, and I will look forward to more of her writing.

53. The Cold Moon by Jeffery Deaver No. 7 in the Lincoln Rhyme series. Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs chase a fiendish serial killer known as The Watchmaker, Amelia uncovers corruption in one of the city's precincts, and we meet a kinesics expert from the West Coast, who I suspect will be a recurring presence in further Rhyme novels. Nice touch, to provide a counterpoint for Rhyme's forensics. Deaver is fairly transparent---although he doesn't let you figure out what's really going on, you're usually pretty sure it's NOT what it seems to be at any given moment. After the first 100 pages or so, I wasn't falling for any of his authorial deceptions. I wish he'd leave out the whiteboarding updates, which he throws in at the end of several chapters. And I want to take my red pencil to every sentence that starts with "That was when..." or "It was then that..." Pretty good escapist stuff, just the same. I won't read the next one (The Broken Window) right away, but I will read it.

Aug 7, 2009, 4:21pm Top

54. A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg A food memoir, in the tradition of M. F. K. Fisher, but homier. Delightful reading--part cookbook, part love story, part tribute to her late father (and watch out for the chapter where she shares her father's last hours; it knocked me cold). Wizenberg loves butter, and chocolate, and cheese, and unexpected combinations of tastes. Cholesterol and indigestion just don't exist in her universe. (She's only 31, bless 'er.) Nothing smacks of test kitchens, or, god forbid, Food Channel challenges. Many of the recipes were the result of raiding the fridge to come up with lunch or dessert without a lot of pre-planning. Some people can just DO that---my sister-in-law, for one. But those serendipitous combinations don't always work the second time, because some of the magic is in the surprise. So I suspect these recipes may have been subjected to tweaking and refining before they made it into the book. But it's very plain that there was a lot of fun in the creation, and I'd take pot luck with Molly Wizenberg any time.

Aug 8, 2009, 1:47am Top

Yum! I'm afraid I'm going to add another cookbook to my library--even though I rarely cook anymore. Thanks? ;-)

Aug 8, 2009, 2:24am Top

#205: I saw that one recommended on another thread. With your recommendation as well, it is definitely one I need to find!

Aug 8, 2009, 8:31am Top

Some of my best meals have been combining things leftover in the refrigerator - and you never have that combination again, of course. This sounds like a great find.

Aug 8, 2009, 10:24am Top

#207 Me too, Stasia. Where WAS that? I wanted to thank whoever it was who brought this book to my attention, and I cannot find the thread.

Aug 8, 2009, 11:30pm Top

#209: It was DFED's thread, Linda.

Aug 12, 2009, 10:17pm Top

#199 Montana 1948 Great book! Course I am kinda biased since I helped edit it as an unpaid intern at Milkweed Editions way back when...

Edited: Aug 13, 2009, 9:21pm Top

55. The Road Home by Rose Tremain
Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2008.

Lev, an immigrant from a pointedly unnamed Eastern European country (probably one of the former Soviet republics), travels to London to find work. He struggles for a while, but not too terribly, and eventually comes up with a dream to take prosperity back to his country. He finds lodgings with a divorced man who misses his little daughter, just as Lev misses the child he left behind. Convenient. He sleeps in the little girl's former room, on her giraffe-sheeted bunk bed, among her abandoned toys. Hmmm... He falls in love with the wrong woman, and another woman wrongly falls in love with him. Unfortunate. While all the British characters have full names, neither Lev nor any of his compatriots from the nameless country have a surname. (What was that that just hit me over the head?) As simple as his name is, one person after another throughout the book gets it wrong. Uh huh. And they always get it wrong the same way--they call him "Olev". (Well, if that means something, it escapes me. Is that like calling all Arabs “Mohammed”, or all Irishmen “Paddy”?) Lev's home village is about to be flooded out for a hydroelectric plant that will give the area the reliable electricity they have never had, while destroying their ancestral homes and burial places. Oh, the irony. Although Lev made his journey to London on the bus, he took a plane back home.

See, I think I was just too aware of the author’s presence, of the fact that I was reading a significant work of literary fiction, to lose myself in the story. But I've been reading Orange prize winners for a month now, and this is the first time I've had this problem. So is it the author's failing, or mine?

I wish I could drum up some enthusiasm for the book. It's well written; there's no question about that. There are beautiful descriptive passages. The dialog works. The characters are real people, but not especially interesting people. Not engaging, not infuriating, not funny, not touching. Well, except for Lev's mother, who is rather infuriating, with her selfish response to his efforts to realize his dream. And one of his co-workers, Simone, whose descriptions of Lev's menu items at the old folks' home made me chuckle. "Chef's fantastic fish gratin with zero bones and non-crap crumb"; "Watermelon sorbet with no black seeds or rubbish in it.” The book ends on an optimistic note, and I’m not even sure how I feel about that. Let’s call it 3 1/2 stars.

Edited: Aug 13, 2009, 7:41pm Top

Linda, I wasn't all that enthusiastic about it either - how reassuring to read that neither are you - although I thought it was a good story. With everyone else hyperbolizing about it all over the place, I thought maybe I was somehow deficient. When an author loves their characters, they seem to spring to life fully fleshed but I didn't feel as though Tremain loved Lev. I thought she was just writing him, if that makes any sense. Did you have trouble with him becoming a master chef after two years of working as a vegetable chopper, a very minor sous chef? That stretched my credulity.

Aug 13, 2009, 7:33pm Top

Interesting to hear your take on The Road Home, Linda. Very insightful review. I was one of those who loved it, and that was a gut reaction without much analysis so perhaps I should think harder about it.

Aug 13, 2009, 9:09pm Top

#213 "I didn't feel as though Tremain loved Lev. I thought she was just writing him." YES. That's very very good. And several things stretched my credulity about the book. How about him finding the sheltered little spot behind the plants in the entrance to a flat whose occupants conveniently never came home while he was sleeping there?

#214 See, that gut reaction was what I was missing. I couldn't get lost in it. I don't know---it's like all the parts are there, but they don't quite mesh to make a whole. I couldn't STOP analyzing it, and that's the trouble.

Aug 13, 2009, 9:14pm Top

>214 kiwidoc:: pretty much what I was going to say here. Sorry you didn't enjoy it Linda, but I found your review very thought-provoking!

Aug 13, 2009, 9:19pm Top

I don't know about you, Linda, but it wasn't that I didn't enjoy it because Tremain writes so well that you just do kind of enjoy it but there's that shade of more that makes you just lose yourself in a book where you believe it all.

Edited: Aug 13, 2009, 9:31pm Top

Right, Tui. I stopped myself often to ask what it was I thought was wrong, and I had trouble putting a name to it. Just a lack of ... something. I wanted to know how the story ended, but the road there wasn't as much fun as it should have been. It's like certain musical performances---if I say "Listen to that violin", even in full appreciation, it's not the same as saying "Listen to that music", which is what happens when the instrument and the artist disappear, and only the art remains. That said, I do intend to give Tremain another chance. This was the first of her books I've read, and too many of my favorite readers admire her for me to turn my back on her.

Aug 13, 2009, 9:32pm Top

Excellent analogy.

Aug 13, 2009, 9:53pm Top

Simply stopping by to say hello.

Aug 13, 2009, 10:44pm Top

I always judge a book in two ways--the quality of the writing and the quality of the story-telling. Some authors are good at the first but not the second and vice-versa. The really good ones excel at both. I've not been tempted to read The Road Home--even good reviews have left me cold--but it sounds as if Tremain is a far better writer than a story teller.

Edited: Aug 14, 2009, 4:58am Top

>219 tiffin:. Seconded!

Tremain is also a better writer than researcher, don't get me started on The Colour and how she had "Cockatoo" Famers in NZ! Yes, I'm still going on about that ;-) Kiwi's are not and have never been "Cockatoos"!

Still, I am keen to read Music and Silence.

With The Road Home it helped that in my minds-eye I started doing the casting for the movie. Eric Bana would make a terrific Lev....

Aug 14, 2009, 6:54am Top

#222 Well, if they cast Eric Bana in the movie, I'll definitely go see it !

Aug 14, 2009, 8:48am Top


So, you'll be seeing The Time Traveler's Wife, then?

Aug 14, 2009, 11:08am Top

I knew I was going to be sorry I said that. Re: TTW...uh, no...I just don't think I can.

Aug 16, 2009, 9:42pm Top

56. The Hustler by Walter Tevis Fast Eddie Felson takes on Minnesota Fats and James Findlay, and learns what it means to be hustled. The movie, I think, is better, unless maybe you're a pool shark yourself. The description of the games wears a little thin, whereas watching the games is exciting.

Aug 16, 2009, 9:49pm Top

I think that is a pretty accurate review. But I like playing even better than watching. My bank shots suck, but balls do occasionally go flying off the table, so it's pretty exciting!

Aug 17, 2009, 1:41am Top

#227: Reminder to self - play pool with Kim only if wearing all my old catcher's gear!

Edited: Aug 17, 2009, 7:06am Top

I played a little pool myself many years ago, and I enjoyed it quite a lot. My brother was in a league for many years, and I would have loved to watch those matches, but we lived too far apart. My bowling league is moving this season to a house that I believe still has a pool room. Maybe I'll take it up again!

Aug 17, 2009, 2:57pm Top

>229 laytonwoman3rd: Bowling in a house? What kind of bowling do you do? I don't think I want to play any sports with you or Kim!

Aug 17, 2009, 4:14pm Top

So, Regina, let me guess---you're not a bowler or a fan? I promise we're not throwing balls in the dining room! It's fairly common to call the building the bowling lanes are in a "house". If you don't own your own equipment, you rent "house shoes", and use a "house ball". League bowlers' weekly fees are based on so much per game "to the house" and so much per game "to the league". I never thought about it sounding odd, but I guess maybe it does.

Aug 17, 2009, 4:17pm Top

Not to worry. I call my shots first, so if you just remove yourself from the projected (I mean predicted) line of fire (I mean trajectory) you'll be just fine. :)

Aug 17, 2009, 4:35pm Top

Fun to learn the bowling lingo, not that I go bowling anymore--where are those lanes anyway? And can you still smoke in them? That's why I stopped going. That, and because my teacher made me give up my "hook" resulting in a curve ball that consistently went right in the pocket--she said it was "bad form" and I wouldn't get as good a grade if I kept it up. Now how dumb is that? And by dumb, I mean both her and me!

Aug 17, 2009, 5:30pm Top

You're right, I am not a bowler. Went on some family excursions as a child, but that was a long time ago. My daughters occasionally go with friends, more for the laughs than the game. Anyhow, as far as I know here in Southwestern Pa the bowling "houses" are called "alleys". Thus when we go bowling we are going to the bowling alley. I know we Pittsburghers get made fun of for our use of the English language, but apparently we are getting completely off track!

Aug 17, 2009, 5:42pm Top

No, they're called bowling alleys here in the NW as well. :-)

Edited: Aug 17, 2009, 5:48pm Top

#234 Well, we go to the bowling alley too. The "house" designation is usually a reference to the business end of things, rather than the physical place, if that makes sense. It's very idiomatic. (Pittsburgh has no monopoly on that kind of thing! You should hear some of our Northeastern PA expressions, if you haven't already.)

#233 I've been bowling for seven or eight years at Greenridge Lanes in the (wait for it) Greenridge section of Scranton. That property was sold last year, the building has been demolished, and the word is a new Walgreen's drugstore is going up there. Which will be right across the street from a large CVS pharmacy, and about a half mile from a brand new Rite-Aid drugstore built in the last year.
We moved our league to Idle Hour Lanes up da valley (there's one of those NEPA expressions, now!) in Dickson City for this season. And no, you can't smoke in them. No smoking in any public places in Pennsylvania nowadays, except in bars that get less than 20% of their revenue from the sale of food. My husband is very grateful that I no longer come home smelling like an old charcoal briquet on bowling night. The atmosphere was pretty hazy, sometimes. You're right, your teacher was crazy. I don't know when that was, but for many years, the best of the professional bowlers were the ones who perfected that hook. It isn't so much true any more, with new lane surfaces and different ball compositions, but I'd say if it was working for you, your teacher should have praised and encouraged you. You might be a bowler today if she had. *ahem* Sorry, got a little carried away there...can you tell I kinda love the sport?

Aug 17, 2009, 7:30pm Top

>236 laytonwoman3rd:: what is it about drugstores anyway? Have seen the same thing here (southeastern PA) with stores cropping up on every corner.

Aug 17, 2009, 8:47pm Top

I dunno---it's a toss-up between the drugstores and the faux Irish pubs around here.

Aug 17, 2009, 11:22pm Top

I was such a "little goody 2-shoes"--still am about some things--and wanted to get that "A." I would so like to go back to my teens and twenties for some do-overs--or just to observe at least.

>236 laytonwoman3rd:, We Baby Boomers need our prescriptions! ;-) It used to be gas stations on every corner when I was growing up, but now it's Starbucks (or S-equivalents). Of course, I do live in Seattle.

Wish there was a bowling alley close by!

Aug 18, 2009, 6:51am Top

#236: Wow and here I thought my brother and I were the only ones who still used "da valley"! And I haven't had a chance to use it in decades! But Al breaks down and uses it once in a while since he now lives in a valley in AZ! Funny, funny.

Aug 18, 2009, 8:31am Top

We have our own dictionary here even and it is amazing how fast one can get into the lingo as if you'd been here forever!!! I love this place.

Linda, you introduced me to the Gathering Place and then started one of your own - even if that wasn't your original intention. Have you seen the "fun" over there lately?

Aug 18, 2009, 8:41am Top

#238: The Irish pubs now compete with the pizza places in number? Absolutely the best pizza I've had in my entire 72 years of life was in Old Forge. I've never had pizza to compare with it since. *sigh*

Aug 18, 2009, 8:49am Top

#237, drugstores

We've been having an explosion of drugstores in NYC for years. There's a local chain called Duane Reade and they'll sometimes have two stores within a couple of blocks of each other. The sad thing is they're driving out the local stores with friendly staff who you got to know.

The other thing we've had over the past 5 years or so is an explosion of bank branches, including national banks that started moving in to NYC. Of course, some of them are in deep trouble now . . .

Aug 18, 2009, 10:03am Top

#242 Oh, it's pretty widely accepted Truth that there is no pizza like Old Forge pizza. The town bills itself as the Pizza Capital of the World. And no, the pizza places still outnumber the Irish pubs, by far. But the pubs are new----most of the pizza places have been around for generations.

Aug 18, 2009, 11:12am Top

#244: I'm so glad to hear that some things haven't changed! I can't remember the name of the place my uncle used to go to (we didn't have a car at that time) but it was the thick soft crust. When I went Out Into The World and had what non-northeast Pennsylvanians called pizza, I was shocked out of my mind. Bore no resemblance whatsoever to the real thing. I had to make my own before I got a decent pizza! *nostalgia big time*

Aug 18, 2009, 11:40am Top

Old Forge Pizza is definitely the Sicilian variety, with the thick crust. And then there's the double-crusted white pizza, which Old Forge is also famous for--like the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich, only it isn't grilled, it's baked, and it's to die for. I'll take it almost any way, myself. My latest passion is for vodka pizza, which is the thin crust kind with vodka sauce (like on penne with vodka sauce) rather than the traditional darker red sauce--topped with shrimp or broccoli. Oh my.
Old Forge Pizza Parlors : Revello's; Arcaro & Genell's; Anthony's; Salerno's (our favorite); Ghigiarelli's. I could go on, but those are the ones I know have been around a long time.

Aug 18, 2009, 12:06pm Top

>246 laytonwoman3rd::

I like Sicilian style but it's never replaced a great thin-crust for me. The vodka pizza with the broccoli sounds worth a try. There's a place near here, Lombardis, that makes a great pizza topped with broccoli rabe and garlic sauteed together and then added late...maybe I'll ask them to try it with some vodka sauce instead of the red.

Aug 18, 2009, 12:15pm Top

GHIGIARELLI'S--YES, that's it! Thank you, Linda! :-)

Edited: Aug 18, 2009, 12:34pm Top

'Scuse me everybody. I have to run downstairs to Electric City Pizza for a cut with eggplant and ricotta. This discussion has ruined my resolve for today. Just talk among yourselves. My thread is your thread.

("Cut" = "slice", btw. I don't know if that's regional or not.)

Oh, cool, Joyce. I'm so glad I rang that bell. I've tried to find a photo of the place on the 'net, but no luck.

Aug 18, 2009, 12:23pm Top

>249 laytonwoman3rd:: Ewww, you lost me there with the eggplant/ricotta combo. ;-)

I'm afraid I enjoy eggplant in only two dishes...ratatouille (which I now cannot help but think of as rat's patootie given the movie my kids just watched) and baba ganouj.

Now, if you had said prosciutto and black olive!....

Aug 18, 2009, 1:27pm Top

Well, Tad, Electric City doesn't run to prosciutto, unfortunately. And today, they were also out of eggplant. So I had to settle for mushroom and onions. I'll live.

Aug 18, 2009, 1:29pm Top

All right, look. I protest all this Old Forge Pizza jabber when I'm stuck down here 700 miles from said. You all ruin my turkey sandwich.

Edited: Aug 18, 2009, 1:44pm Top

You know how to make dough. Roll it out, trow some sauce and cheese on it, and badda bing! Pizza. Am I right?

Aug 18, 2009, 1:51pm Top

Sure and I could a make a couple two tree before supper time onacounta I ain't got nothing else to do, heyna?

Aug 18, 2009, 4:03pm Top

Oh, the sheer joy of hearing the Mother Tongue again! *she weeps giant tears of sentimentality*

Aug 18, 2009, 4:12pm Top

Only you, Joyce. Everybody else is saying "Whaaaaaa?????"

Edited: Aug 18, 2009, 4:38pm Top

You know, I'm so old I remember when no one ever said anything like "Sicilian pizza" to distinguish it from any other pizza--because, as far as everyone in my world was concerned, there was only one, and it came from Old Forge! But the heresy of fauz pizza--the thin crust pathetic imitation--had not yet penetrated that bastion of pizza orthodoxy known as the Greater Scranton Area. And I can hear my brother and cousin arguing in the Old Tongue. Ah, me.

I've been threatening to make pizza here for two years now, and it's time to come through on the promise. I can only hope my uninsulated oven is up to it.

I have to put anchovies on my shopping list. I can get a good mozzarella here and imported Parmesan--a simple cheese-and-anchovy pizza should lighten up the weekend!

Aug 18, 2009, 7:10pm Top

>257 Joycepa:: We made it here. We tried to duplicate the ultra-thin pizza we had in Venice on our honeymoon. We found some heirloom tomatoes grown locally in NJ that made a great topping and we've been making our own mozzarella for a while, but couldn't figure out how to get that super-thin crust that wasn't crumbly. I guess more dough research is in order.

Edited: Aug 18, 2009, 9:49pm Top

ok, I'm going down there. Srsly, you've got me drooling reading this, you lot!

Aug 20, 2009, 7:36am Top

Today's topic, ladies and gentlemen, is reading! Light reading, to be sure, but after all that pizza...
57. I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron Lots of nods and chuckles, and a couple of out loud laughs. This book was good company while hanging around the house as I was having some work done on the porch roof yesterday. Very appealing to a woman of a certain age.

Aug 20, 2009, 8:08am Top

And which age would that be? I want to make sure I qualify :)

Aug 20, 2009, 8:28am Top

Sounds like a good book to read on a sultry afternoon - at any age!

Edited: Aug 20, 2009, 10:19am Top

I clicked on the title to get more info about it and was amused to see that LT has a very high certainty that I won't like it. What a relief to discover that a computer knows almost nothing about me. Although I do think that some of the conversations I have with certain friends are as funny, if not funnier, than anything Nora Ephron could write. ;)

ETfix verb

Aug 20, 2009, 10:31am Top

#261 Ephron says her dermatologist told her your neck starts to turn on you at 43...but I think anyone over the age of 35 would probably find something amusing in this book.

#263 So you and those friends ought to write a book!

Aug 20, 2009, 10:56am Top

#264: Well, then I am plenty old enough! My neck started to turn on me at 28.

Aug 20, 2009, 11:06am Top

It's a very funny book and I loved what Ephron did with Julie and Julia -- great movie!

Edited: Aug 21, 2009, 1:48pm Top

58. Homer and Langley E. L. Doctorow's latest novel, which I received from the Early Reviewers program. I highly recommend it. I think it's due out in September. I haven't enjoyed a Doctorow novel this much since Ragtime. This one is a fictionalization of the life of the Collyer brothers, who were found dead in their Harlem brownstone in 1947, after living many years in seclusion with tons (literally) of accumulated junk including around twenty years' worth of all the daily newspapers published in New York (there were several back then), and a Model T Ford in the dining room. I'll be composing my thoughts into a real review soon.

Aug 21, 2009, 4:49pm Top

I shall have to add this to my To Be Read Collection. I have enjoyed a number of Doctorow's works, including Ragtime.

Aug 21, 2009, 5:18pm Top

I also really enjoyed The March and his recent collection of stories, Sweet Land Stories, which was stunning.

Edited: Aug 21, 2009, 6:53pm Top

I think I've read all of his novels, and enjoyed them all, with the exception of City of God, which I didn't "get". I think I need to read St. Augustine, and maybe a lot of other stuff, in order to appreciate that one. I have Sweet Land Stories on my shelf; I'm glad to hear you praise it, Rebecca. I'll probably get around to it soon.

Aug 21, 2009, 5:50pm Top

#267: Thanks for the recommendation, Linda. I will look for that one!

Aug 22, 2009, 11:52am Top

Looking forward to that review.

Aug 22, 2009, 9:17pm Top

Excellent review and happily thumbed.

Aug 22, 2009, 10:07pm Top

Enjoyed your review--and I'm adding Homer and Langley to my list. THanks.

Aug 29, 2009, 1:28pm Top

59. The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King. I thoroughly enjoyed the adventures of Mary Russell, a teenaged genius who matches wits and joins forces with the "retired" Sherlock Holmes. She's a character I'll want to spend more time with. The story is well-plotted, and exciting in all the right ways. But I am totally bewildered by the mechanics of the climactic scene, and need to discuss it with someone else who's read it---privately, so as not to throw out spoilers for those who haven't. So, uh, Lycomayflower, how about it? Polish it off over the weekend, why don't you?

Aug 29, 2009, 1:51pm Top

*splutters at you* I'll move it up the list, how's that? (Have you read Tipping the Velvet yet? *runs away*)

Edited: Oct 4, 2011, 10:47am Top

60. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James OK, if they made you re-instate your English Major status every few years by reading something revered yet wretched, this one would qualify me to keep my badge. My husband is on a gothic/horror/ghost story kick, and as an old English Major himself, he decided he ought to read this "masterpiece of the supernatural". He struggled through the 87 pages of the Dover Thrift Edition, moaning like a lost soul himself, and then suggested I read it and tell him what the hell he was missing. I'd already had about enough of it, from listening to him grouse, but I agreed to give it a go. James' prose is overwrought; he could have dropped a handful of words from every page and they'd not have been missed. Short as it is, I heartily wish an editor had tossed the manuscript back to him with the terse directive, "Again. Half as long." I don't like his style, he didn't scare me a bit, and I have no idea what to make of the ending. So why do I have this ridiculous desire to see a good film version of the story?

Sep 2, 2009, 9:08pm Top

Hell, I feel the same way about all of Henry James—I'm convinced he got paid by the word.

When Mr. laytonwoman3rd "suggested" you read it, why didn't you do what Laura does: run away.

Edited: Sep 2, 2009, 9:25pm Top

Laura is several states away, Charlie. I still share a house with the man. But it was worth reading it, since it stirred you up.

Sep 2, 2009, 9:18pm Top

I had great fun at Lamb House in Rye, Linda, going through the house saying "James who?" hehe
E.F. Benson's house as far as I was concerned.

Sep 2, 2009, 9:21pm Top

The estimable Holly Wendt calls him "James the Dull", and claims she has never (despite her PhD in English) been able to read anything he wrote, in its entirety. I feel utterly validated by knowing this.

Sep 2, 2009, 9:29pm Top

The Library of America has published eleven (11) volumes of James, which I purchased to keep my LoA set complete. I think I was screwed by several turns.

Sep 2, 2009, 11:58pm Top

Ha!~! Very good Charlie!

Sep 3, 2009, 1:15am Top

I have yet to make it through any Henry James either, although I did read Colm Toibin's excellent novel about him, The Master. Does that count?

Sep 3, 2009, 9:53am Top

#283 But your set is complete. And pristine, I'm guessing, or at least those 11 volumes are. A collector's dream. You owe it to yourself not to read them.

Sep 3, 2009, 9:59am Top

And you never know, you might wake up one morning and say "I feel like reading something dull today" and there the entire works will be.

Sep 5, 2009, 2:22pm Top

So glad to find that I'm not the only one who finds James unreadable.

Sep 5, 2009, 2:24pm Top

And you never know, you might wake up one morning and say "I feel like reading something dull today"

LOL! That'll be the day... 'Cause that'll be the daaaaay when I die!" **goes off singing in her best Buddy Holly voice** :-)

Sep 6, 2009, 1:48am Top

I can't stand Henry James either... every time I have to read something of his for school (English professors are all inordinately fond of him) I come way, way too close (for a bibliophile) to wanting to destroy a book...

Sep 6, 2009, 1:16pm Top

I guess this is one author I can not look into at the moment - I should stick to Faulkner, then?

Sep 6, 2009, 7:08pm Top

#291 You have permission to cross James off your list. Although there are some people who enjoy him. Mr. K. read this particular book because Stephen King recommends it. Go figure.

Edited: Sep 7, 2009, 11:01am Top

I'm closing this thread, and have started A new one for the rest of this year. Please stop by.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2009

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