Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Nevermore: Gaiman, Vowell, Du Maurier, Perotta, Bergner

Reported by Ambrea

Nevermore kicked things off with Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.  In Neverwhere, readers meet Richard Mayhew, a plain man with a good heart and an ordinary life—until he helps an injured girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk.  Now, Richard is caught up in a world he never knew existed, a dark and shadowy world beneath the streets of London.  A world that could be the death of him.  Our reader admitted he didn’t care much for Gaiman’s novel, noting “it’s totally fiction, purely fantasy.”  While he thought Gaiman was a decent writer, he simply wasn’t a fan of the content.  Since he enjoyed Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, he decided he had probably read the wrong author—and he would soon pick up a book by Terry Pratchett to see how they compare.

Next, Nevermore checked out Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell, which explores the history of the Marquis de Lafayette—General Lafayette to a fledgling America—and his incredible contribution to the Revolutionary War.  Vowell also explores the roots of the United States, shining a light on both the bickering and infighting of America’s past and the unexpected friendships that developed between the Americans and their French allies.  Our reader praised Vowell’s book highly, saying, “[The author] tells it so well, writes so well.  She is just so witty.”  She recommended it to her fellow historians, calling it a delightful and insightful look at the United States that is “on target” for historical accuracy.

Nevermore also looked at a classic tale of romance and suspense by Daphne Du Maurier:  Jamaica Inn.  Mary Yellan travels to the cold, rainswept Cornish coast on a mission to honor her dying mother’s wish that she join her Aunt Patience and Uncle Joss Merlyn at the Jamaica Inn.  But when Mary arrives, she has a sinking suspicion that the Jamaica Inn will only bring her trouble.  Our reader, who received Jamaica Inn as a recommendation, had nothing but praise for Du Maurier’s novel.  Darkly gothic and chillingly suspenseful, Jamaica Inn is an incredible novel by an author who has a real talent with descriptions—and ways to keep readers on their toes.  Our reader said of this novel, “You can tell who is bad, but not who is good.  So who can you trust?”

In The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta, the world is in the midst of a crisis.  Reeling from the “Sudden Departure,” in which thousands of people simply disappeared—suddenly and with no explanation, no rhyme or reason—the citizens of Mapleton are struggling to repair the damage.  Kevin Garvey, Mapleton’s new mayor, wants to help his community; however, he’s not sure where to begin now that his family lies in ruins.  His wife, Laurie, has left him to join the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence; his son, Tom, has dropped out of college and taken off to follow a sketchy prophet named Holy Wayne; and while his daughter, Jill, remains in town, she’s not the happy young girl she used to be—and Kevin fears he’ll soon lose her too.  Uncertain what to do or where to turn, Kevin tries to make the best of a very bad situation and heal the wounds that the “Sudden Departure” has left on all of them.  Our reader said The Leftovers was an interesting, if slightly bizarre, novel.  Although she didn’t love it, she liked it enough to finish the story and find out what happens to Kevin and his family as they struggle with their own personal demons.

Last, but certainly not least, Nevermore shared Sing for Your Life:  A Story of Race, Music, and Family by Daniel Bergner.  Bergner’s book tells the story of Ryan Speedo Green, who, despite the hardships he endured as a child, eventually became a member of the New York’s Metropolitan Opera.  In Sing for Your Life, Bergner chronicles Ryan’s incredible journey from an abusive childhood in southeastern Virginia to his winning performance, at the age of twenty-four, for the Metropolitan Opera.  Our reader definitely enjoyed learning about Ryan Green.  She said it was “such an uplifting, [inspirational] story,” and she gushed that Bergner was a wonderful writer.  She highly recommended it to her fellow Nevermore members.

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