Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Nevermore: Churchill, Idaho, A God in Ruins, Stars Are Fire, The Longest Walk

Reported by Ambrea 

Nevermore decided to explore Dinner with Churchill:  Policy Making at the Dinner Table by Cita Stelzer.  Insightful and interesting, Dinner with Churchill offered a fascinating—and rather entertaining—glimpse of Churchill as both a leader and an unexpectedly brilliant conversationalist.  Churchill, a connoisseur of fine dining and fine cigars, often used the dinner table as a platform for his policies and a means of meeting lawmakers, diplomats, and more.  Our reader said she enjoyed reading Stelzer’s book, noting it offered a different viewpoint of one of Britain’s more notable Prime Ministers.  “I always enjoy hearing about history from another source,” she told her fellow readers.  And she liked that Stelzer was thorough in her research, pointing out that the author even included dinner menus from notable dinner parties.

Next, Nevermore plunged into the debut novel Idaho by Emily Ruskovich.  Ann and Wade live in northern Idaho, carving out a home for themselves in the rugged landscape; however, with Wade’s memory slowly fading, Ann makes one last attempt to put together her husband’s distant past—and discover what happened to his first wife.  Our reader said she was intrigued by Idaho.  As a native of the state, she was curious to see how the author handled a complex psychological story set and how Ruskovich would depict the setting.  When asked if she liked it, our reader responded that she “absolutely liked it.”  Although time feels a bit jumbled, hopping back and forth from past to present, she noted it was very well written.  “I was very happy to be introduced to this [new] author,” she said.

Nevermore also revisited Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins, which tells the story of Teddy Todd as he endures World War II and ultimately survives to see a future he didn’t expect to see.  A perennial favorite among previous readers, A God in Ruins once more received high marks for its intricacy and intensity.  Both touching and unexpectedly heart-wrenching, A God in Ruins was a powerful introduction for our reader who hadn’t yet had the chance to read Atkinson.  She noted Atkinson’s novel was full of great descriptions and possessed of an incredible story, containing scenes that were “seared into my soul.”

Dipping back into historical fiction, Nevermore shared another new book:  The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve.  During the fall of 1947, the coast of Maine is plagued by fires.  Soon, properties and homes from Bar Harbor to Kittery are burning as the fires rage out of control—and Grace Holland’s home is caught the flames.  Five months pregnant and desperate to protect her two children, Grace and her best friend Rosie, along with her children, are forced from their homes and spend the night sheltering in a frigid ocean to survive.  Suddenly penniless and homeless, Grace is faced with an uncertain future in a town that no longer exists—and an unexpected sense of freedom.  After finishing Shreve’s novel, our reader gave The Stars Are Fire a solid “B rating.”  Although she found the story haunting and the characters interesting, she noted that it seemed a bit unreal.  She labeled it as “not bad, but not great,” recommending it to her fellow readers who enjoy historical fiction with a personal narrative.

Last, Nevermore took a look at The Longest Walk:  An Odyssey of the Human Spirit by George Meegan.  Written during the 1970s, The Longest Walk tells the story of George Meegan, who set off across the Americas—from the southernmost tip of South America to the Arctic Ocean at the continents’ northern reaches—for a walk that lasted for seven years and more than 19,000 miles.  Our reader, who enjoys reading of others’ traveling and hiking experiences, said she found Meegan’s memoir absolutely fascinating.  She loved reading about his travels across two continents and she loved hearing about both the exotic and the familiar locales he visited.  She was especially intrigued by the chapters that brought him to North Carolina, noting it was interesting to see his experiences in the states with which she was familiar.

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