Tag Archives: novels

A Finished Book

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Look at me, all done reading a book!  And not knowing how to explain why it’s been so long since the last time I did that.

I remember reading Kate Morton’s other books…

  • The House at Riverton
  • The Secret Keeper
  • The Forgotten Garden
  • The Distant Hours

…so I didn’t think it would be a stretch to like The Lake House.  And I did like it.  I just didn’t love it.  There was way too much messing about getting to the point.  And far too many coincidences and characters and back stories and sub plots and descriptions and hopping around in time.  Just too many words.  I guess that’s why I could never write an entire novel, lacking the patience to expand everything to death without giving the ending away in the first chapter.

A child disappears and it takes seventy years to solve the mystery of what happened to him.  People with secrets!  You just want to give them a shake.  How’s that for a book review?

If the reading of this book hadn’t started well before Christmas and proceeded in fits and starts up until this afternoon I suppose I might have found it shorter.  Mostly I read in bed when I was already tired and rarely came across anything riveting enough to keep me awake.  Not even half way through I found myself no longer caring what really happened or why, but FINALLY the end arrived and it all came together in the neatest little package ever, tied with a bow.  I don’t know why that felt trite and disappointing, but it did.  Just too darned neat and tidy and resolved.

Anyway, it’s a story and it’s been told.  If you like Kate Morton you will enjoy this.  But I don’t think you will be blown away.

Books About Girls, Boys, and Dinner

the-dinner

The Dinner by Herman Koch.  This was a book in which I did not like one single character.  They are all nuts.  Two brothers and their wives go out for dinner in some city in the Netherlands to discuss what to do about their sons who have committed a crime but have not yet been found out by the police.  It takes pages and pages to get to this point.  Dinner goes on forever with every course described in endless detail.  There are many, many flashbacks, each helping to reveal the various relationships in each family, and how the different family members relate to each other, and how incredibly screwed up they all are.  To what lengths will they go to protect their sons and this family secret?  You will reach the end of  ‘the dinner’  still hungry, and maybe even a bit nauseous.

the burgess boys

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout.  There are some hard to like characters in this book too, but most of them get more likable as the story goes on.  Jim and Bob Burgess are attorneys working in New York, called home to Shirley Falls, Maine, when their sister Susan’s teenage son gets himself in trouble.  There is a lot of family history to be revealed which explains the siblings character traits and strained relationships with each other.  It’s not just a story about personal, marital and family issues, it is also a story of cultural clashes, with some interesting revelations and some surprising life changes thrown in.

lost girls
Lost Girls by Andrew Pyper  I would not describe this as a terrifying thriller, but compulsively readable sounds about right.  A cocaine addicted lawyer of questionable morals defends a teacher accused of being responsible for the disappearance of two high school girls in a small town north of Toronto.  The lawyer doesn’t care about the truth, only about getting his client acquitted as quickly as possible.  The town has a crazy Lady of the Lake legend, and the lawyer has a dark episode in his own temporarily forgotten past.  Strange visions and bizarre middle of the night incidents could be drug induced dreams – or they could be real.  The characters are real enough.  The atmosphere goes from disturbing to downright creepy.  The only thing truly terrifying about the story is how ‘evil’ can appear to be so normal and how hard it can be to tell the difference.

These are all good authors, and well written books.  I’m glad I read them.  I can’t say that they made me any smarter or better informed or interesting, but it was worth a shot.

Another Best Seller

I am in awe of Kate Morton for writing yet another novel that held my undivided interest from beginning to end.  If you haven’t read

– The House at Riverton

– The Forgotten Garden

– The Distant Hours

– The Secret Keeper

just pick one and get started.  They’re all great stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the book description from Amazon:

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden, and The House at Riverton, a spellbinding new novel filled with mystery, thievery, murder, and enduring love.

During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past.

The history and the family secrets are fun, the characters are strong, her writing is a treat to read.  Over four hundred pages flew by, layer upon layer of the story revealed, past to present and places in between until the final mystery was solved.

If you’re not hooked yet, read the excerpt on Amazon.  And I’ll see you later – 450 pages later I expect.

Jincy Willett’s Winner

What a great title for a book, even though there’s a disclaimer at the end explaining that it hasn’t yet won any such award.  Here’s the blurb about it from goodreads 

Set in Rhode Island, Winner of the National Book Award tells the story of twins who could not be more different. Abigail Mather is a woman of passionate sensual and sexual appetites, while her sister, the book loving local librarian Dorcas, lives a quiet life of the mind. But when the sisters are sought out by the predatory and famous poet, Guy DeVilbiss, who introduces them to Hollywood hack writer and possible psychopath Conrad Lowe, they rapidly become pawns in a game that leads to betrayal, shame and ultimately, murder. Darkly comic and satirical, Jincy Willett’s Winner of the National Book Award is unnervingly funny and disarmingly tender whether she is writing about sex, literary delusion or Yankee pretension.

This one I read on my kindle and thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish.  I’m glad I didn’t read the small print on the cover first, because it’s NOT hilariously funny.  It’s biting and sarcastic and clever.  I like the author’s writing style.  For me, the best indication of how good a book has been is when it makes me immediately want to search out the rest of the author’s work because I can’t wait to read more of it.

It’s a breezy, cool, overcast morning with rain predicted for today and tomorrow.  I’ll be inside hard at work and not caring.   About the weather OR work, which cuts into my reading time, but also supports it financially.  And encourages it with a 40% off book table.  One should never walk by those things pretending to be indifferent.  There could be similar novels of “Fame, Honor, and Really Bad Weather”  just waiting for you to pick them up and take them home where they can entertain you for hours at a bargain price.

Romance

Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but looking outward in the same direction. (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

How do I define romance? Romance is a novel and a movie genre. They tell stories about people and events that make us believe we would like to have similar things happen to us in real life. But they probably won’t. These are stories of heart racing excitement and deep emotional desires and mystery and idealistic love affairs. The tales are intense and adventurous and crazy and usually end blissfully and happily with two perfect soul mates together forever at last. (Insert deep wistful sigh here.)

The idea of romance either genuinely appeals to people because they believe it can happen to them, or it makes people uncomfortable and pessimistic and skeptical because they are sure that only air heads take the notion seriously.

I married a man who really does not have much of a sense of romance. He doesn’t buy me roses or ride around on a white steed saving me from lonely towers, or sweep me off my feet with grand gestures and candle lit dinners and weekends in Paris. He’s never thrown pebbles at my window and proclaimed his undying love for me on bended knee for all the world to hear and see. I’m pretty sure he knows something like that would probably crack me up.

What we do have is an intimacy based on communication, deep friendship, respect for each other, sharing, and a more subdued kind of love that is long-lasting. Romance is a good thing at the beginning of a relationship, but in the long haul if you keep it up it’s going to wear you right out.

So yes, I’m one of those air heads that likes the romantic stories, the boy meets girl, soul mates bond forever fairy tales. The happy endings are so satisfying and lovely when all the characters finally get things sorted out and accept their fates of being hopelessly devoted to each other for life.

If you over-estimate the importance of romance in a relationship you will be disillusioned eventually. You don’t have to give up on it entirely, but it is best to be realistic and realize it takes some effort and maturity to make things work. Still, a lot of candle-lit dinners can’t hurt.

“Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.” (Bruce Lee)

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