Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Nevermore: Nightingale, Lions, Forsytes, and More!

Reported by Ambrea

This week at Nevermore, our readers explored some new books—new to our book club, that is—and even discovered some new favorites with The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, Descent by Tim Johnston, and Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy.

Our readers first dived into an audiobook copy of U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton.  Twenty years after the disappearance of a four-year-old girl, Kinsey Millhone is asked to investigate the case by Michael Sutton.  Sutton, a college dropout at twenty-seven, may possibly be the only witness in a mystery that’s remained notoriously unsolved for two decades—and Kinsey must help him dredge up a memory she’s not even sure existed in the first place.  Bouncing back and forth in time, following both the original witness of the case and Kinsey Millhone as she seeks to fit together pieces of the puzzle, U is for Undertow is a psychologically intricate thriller that received high praise from our Nevermore reader.  She said it was “absolutely incredible—I love this kind of stuff!”

Next, our readers explored a second novel by Justin Halpern called I Suck at Girls.  Like Sh*t My Dad Says, I Suck at Girls is an uproariously funny narrative.  Chronicling his misadventures with the opposite sex—from first dates to engagement parties, from high school to college and beyond—I Suck at Girls is a poignant memoir about the best and worst of love.  Our Nevermore reader absolutely loved Halpern’s latest book.  Both light-hearted and funny, I Suck at Girls was a comedic adventure of the very best kind—and, having listened to the audiobook, she thought it was hilarious how the author managed to give a different voice for every character.

One of our readers also picked Ghosts of Tsavo:  Stalking the Mystery Lions of East Africa by Philip Caputo.  Set in Tsavo River Kenya in 1898, Ghosts of Tsavo explores the construction of the Uganda Railway through east Africa—and the lions that brought construction to a grinding halt after killing 140 people.  According to our reader, Caputo’s book has the opportunity to spark an intriguing discussion—especially after the debacle with Theo Bronkhorst, a big game hunter, and Cecil the lion—but our reader found she just couldn’t become enthusiastic about man-eating lions.  She managed to read 135 pages, but she just “couldn’t go any farther.”

Our readers also visited The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, which follows the intersecting lives of sisters Vianne and Isabelle.  Vianne, who must cope with her husband’s departure for World War II, and Isabelle, a rebellious young woman who falls in love—and, subsequently, joins the Resistance—are “separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion, and circumstance, [but] each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom…”  For our Nevermore reader, The Nightingale was an incredible novel.  Although she was initially hesitant to begin Hannah’s novel, having read so many books based in the midst of World War II, our reader was quickly hooked and begrudged having to do anything other than read.

The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy also made an appearance at our Nevermore meeting.  Published in a series of three novels from 1906 to 1921, The Fosyte Saga received recognition in 1932 when Galsworthy earned a Nobel Prize in literature “for his distinguished art of narration which takes its highest for in [his novel].”  For the most part, Galsworthy’s novel centers on Soames Forsyte—a successful solicitor who lives in London, and a pillar of excellence in his Victorian community—and his wife, Irene.  But beneath the happy façade of their marriage, the Forsytes’ relationship is crumbling into a bitter feud within the family.  According to our Nevermore reader, The Forsyte Saga was excellent.  Although she said it takes some patience to read through the entire series, she said it’s a beautifully written novel that’s well worth reading.

Last, our readers discussed Descent by Tim Johnston.  Chronicling the disappearance of Caitlin Courtland and her family’s desperate search for answers, Descent is an emotional rollercoaster ride that tears the Courtlands’ apart before finally bringing them together again.  Two of our Nevermore members have had the chance to read Johnston’s novel, and they have both given positive reviews:  one reader said he was left speechless by this book, saying it was “very good, extremely good,” while another asserted it was by far the best book she’s read this year

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