Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from July, 2010

Where the God of Love Hangs Out by Amy Bloom

I haven't been put off simply because my last foray was just plain awful!  I picked up Amy Bloom's newest edition of short stories and I wasn't disappointed at all.

This collection of short stories looks at a few different families who must deal with certain common American themes: they often must deal with death, aging, love (or the lack of it) and children moving away.  But the one common silver thread in all of these stories is strength: strength to leave or stay, to stand up for what you believe is the right thing to do. Of all the families that she focussed on, my favorite was about Julia, a white woman, who marries Lionel, a black musician with a son from a previous marriage. I loved following this family through all of its tumultuous events.

Amy Bloom is an extraordinary writer. She manages to hook you with the very first words that she writes and manages to keep you interested throughout her entire story.  The words that she uses were obviously carefully considere…

Free to a Good Home by Eve Marie Mont

Sometimes I read reviews of books on blogs and I think that I might enjoy the book enough that I should buy it, so I do. And more often than not, I'm not disappointed - I end up liking the book enough that I'll keep it and am glad that I bought it. But there are also times that I can't believe that I purchased a particular book because I end up not loving it (in purchasing books, it's become important to me that the book is either a classic or one that I love before I purchase it - it's a way of saving money!).  This book is one of those books that I didn't love and almost (dare I say) regret buying.

This novel is about Noelle Ryan, a vet technician whose husband Jay has told her that he's gay and filing for divorce, thereby eviscerating her hopes and dreams of a family with him and forcing her to re-evaluate her life and her goals for it. Noelle has a lot of stuff going for her, although dealing with her issues and problems isn't one of them. She'…

Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky,translated by Tim Mohr

This short and yet heavy novel is Alina Bronsky's debut novel.  Originally published in German, it has been translated into English by Tim Mohr. Sasha Naimann is a teenage girl. She, her mother (Marina), stepfather Vadim, younger brother Anton and younger sister Alissa moved from Russia to Germany, where they settled into a Russian ghetto. Sasha, a brilliant woman, opens the book by saying that she plans to murder her stepfather because he murdered her mother and her mother's new boyfriend. Vadim is incarcerated, giving Sasha the belief that she has more time to plan his execution. Sasha takes care of her brother and sister with the assistance of Maria, also a Russian immigrant and Vadim's cousin. Sasha struggles with the powerful desire to remain in the apartment that her mother was murdered in, in the housing project known as the "Emerald," because her neighbors (also Russian immigrants), want her family to leave and take their bad luck with them.  Sasha also f…

Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende

Island Beneath the Sea is Isabel Allende's eight novel. It's historical fiction set in the 1700's and 1800's in both Santo Domingo/Haiti and New Orleans during the slave uprisings, the French Revolution and the Louisiana Purchase. Zarite, also known as Tete, is the heroine of the novel. She is a slave that was brutally raped by her master, Toulouse Valmorain, at the age of 11. Somehow, Tete manages to survive this and subsquent harsh injustices through her indomitable spirit and her religious beliefs - a mix of voodoo beliefs and Christianity. 

I loved the historical backdrop of this novel.  The details about the sugar plantations in Haiti and the fights that occur between slaves and freepeople/planters as well as the tension between mulattos and blacks is just delightful. Her cast of characters was also particularly memorable - it wasn't just about Tete, Toulouse and their children. It was about a revolutionary former slave that Tete falls in love with (and who fig…

Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross

Mr. Peanut is, I believe, Adam Ross' first novel and it was a really good one! The main character is the institute of marriage, specifically the marriage of Alice and David Pepin. They met in a college seminar on Alfred Hitchcock and were married for 13 years. While David ostensibly loves Alice, he is also obssessed with her death and writes a novel describing how he would kill her. Then, one day, Alice is dead and David is the main suspect. The two detectives who investigate the case also have their own experiences with the institution of marriage - Detective Haskell's wife has become militantly bedridden although there is seemingly no reason for it and he reacts, sometimes meanly and sometimes explosively to that.  Detective Sam Sheppard was convicted and then exonerated of his wife's murder years before (yes, he's Dr. Shepard of The Fugitive fame). The plot then thickens when David is linked to a reknowned hit man known only as Mobious.  I don't want to say too …

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

I've had this book kicking around for about a year right now but haven't ever gotten around to actually reading it. Wally Lamb's most recent novel follows Caelum and Maureen Quirk's life. When we first meet them, they are both working at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado - she as a nurse and he as an English teacher. Their marriage is in shambles, in part due to her affair and in part due to his own social disorders. In April of 1999, Caelum returns to his hometown of Three Rivers, Connecticut in order to be with his aunt Lolly, who has had a stroke. She dies on his first night there, the night before Columbine's shooting. Maureen finds herself hiding in a cupboard in the Columbine H.S. library, hoping that the shooters don't kill her (they don't) and listening to some of her students get shot. She is unable to recover from the trauma, in spite of counseling. In order to help Maureen recover, Caelum and she move to Three Rivers permanently, and, …