Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Nevermore: Flora, Water Will Come, Lady in Shadows, Borrower, Roger Coleman, Winter Ghosts

Reported by Kristin

Nevermore began the week with what was termed a “lovely book,” Flora by Gail Godwin.  Flora is a young woman charged with caring for Helen, a ten year old whose mother is dead and whose father is working at the secret war facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  Decades later, grown up Helen tells her story about the summer they spent in isolation on a mountaintop, regretting her pre-teen scheming against the naive Flora.   Connecting with the novel on a local level, our reader said that it was funny, poignant, and beautifully written.

Next up was The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World by Jeff Goodell.  A cautionary tale of global warming, this work of non-fiction talks about how coastal cities such as Manhattan, Miami, Venice, Rotterdam and many more are at risk of losing land to rising sea levels.  Our reader said that she wasn’t sure if Goodell would be convincing to someone who might argue with climate change science, but with her he was preaching to the choir.

Returning to fiction, the next reader enjoyed a walk on the creepy side with A Lady in Shadows by Lene Kaaberbøl.  Nineteenth century forensic scientist student Madeleine Karno works amidst chaos and gore.  Finding out who has killed a prostitute becomes her mission, and her unique position as a woman may give her some advantage.  Our reader said that the story had a very involved plot, but was nicely executed.

The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai brought a children’s librarian’s story to the table, a story in which Lucy Hull finds herself assisting 10-year-old Ian Drake when he decides to run away from home.  When Lucy finds Ian in the library after hours, she tells herself that she will just drive him home, but ends up on a road trip across the country as he reveals more about his home life.  Our reader found it a very unnerving book, feeling that Lucy had stepped into a most difficult ethical situation once she made the first choice to help Ian.

A regional crime story encouraged much discussion with May God Have Mercy: A True Story of Crime and Punishment by John C. Tucker.  In Grundy, Virginia, Roger Coleman was convicted of murdering his sister-in-law.  Ten years later in 1992, Coleman was executed for the crime, although much doubt still surrounded the verdict.  Years after Coleman’s death, DNA evidence indicated that he was indeed guilty, but many people remain unsure of what to believe.  Our readers’ views were mixed, much like the community of Grundy at large.

Lastly, another reader enjoyed The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse, a post-World War I tale as Freddie Watson travels through a blizzard in the French Pyrenees.  After a car crash, Freddie ends up staying in a small village inn where he meets the beautiful young woman Fabrissa.  Freddie must search out answers as he confronts his own personal losses and the ghosts of a mystery hidden for centuries.  Our reader very much enjoyed the Gothic flavor of the novel.

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