Saturday, August 11, 2012

Catching up with Nevermore: Fiction

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake is a novel set during WWII.  The title character is Iris James, postmistress in Cape Cod, but the story winds back and forth between the US and England in 1940 and delves into the lives of three very different women.  The book had mixed reviews from club members.  Some praised it highly for the wonderful story, fine characters, and strong plot, but others felt that errors in geography and history detracted so much that the book was unreadable.  This didn’t seem to be a disagreement that was going to resolve itself, and it’s a testimony to the book that both sides felt so passionately about it.
Along with the previously discussed Child Who by Simon Lelic and Defending Jacob by William Landay, another book about murder and juveniles was tossed into the mix:  We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.  In a series of letters to her estranged husband, Eva tries to come to grips with what their teenage son has done and struggles to understand how he became the person he is.  The book was made into a movie of the same title. Our reviewers pointed out that one particularly interesting aspect is the different ways the situation was handled by Lelic (British) and the two American authors.
Fifty Shades of Grey, the highly popular novel by E.L. James was mentioned, along with the comment that it wasn’t that  The consensus seemed to be that the marketing plan was genius. racy.
Hominid by John Boland is a thriller with a scientific bent.  Archaeologists are excavating an unusual lead casket dating from colonial times when one of them is murdered.  Apparently some secrets are indeed meant to be kept buried. Our readers enjoyed it.
While Dodie Smith may be better known worldwide for her book 101 Dalmatians, another of her novels has an avid following.  I Capture the Castle is the story of Cassandra and her family who are living in a ruin of a castle.  Her father is a famous author, but after writing a single book has been unable to produce another.  They’re behind in their rent, food is running low and their prospects seem quite dim. Then the new landlord arrives, a young American and his brother and Cassandra’s sister Rose thinks she sees a way out of their troubles.  Our reviewer found it charming.
The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan revisits some of the themes she introduced in The Joy Luck Club. The story shifts back and forth from modern San Francisco to rural China several decades earlier.  Ruth is a ghostwriter by trade, telling other peoples’ stories; the trouble is, she can’t tell her own. Ruth’s mother, LuLing, is suffering from Alzheimer ’s disease but has a diary in which she has written about her childhood in China and in it Ruth discovers secrets that span three generations.  Our reviewer thought it was very well-written and evocative, with complex mother-daughter relationships.

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