Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Nevermore: Name of the Rose, Grief Cottage, Shipping News, Giants in the Earth, Handmaid's Tale

Reported by Ambrea

Nevermore kicked things off with a review of The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, a historical mystery set in the year 1327.  Brother William of Baskerville is sent to investigate reports of heresy among the Franciscans, but when a series of bizarre deaths occur, Brother William is drawn into a conflict that he never imagined.  Our reader said she really enjoyed reading The Name of the Rose, calling it a “fantastic murder mystery.”  However, she did note that it is full of pages and pages of medieval theology.  Our reader admitted she skipped many of these parts, but she said “if you’re interested in medieval theology and the Inquisition, you’ll learn a lot.”

Next, Nevermore checked out a new novel by Gail Godwin titled Grief Cottage.  Eleven-year-old Marcus is sent to live on a small South Carolina island with his aunt after the death of his mother.  Reclusive and haunted by her past, Aunt Charlotte is a woman of few words—and many secrets.  When Marcus finds a ruined cottage, known to the locals as the “Grief Cottage,” he discovers the ghost of the boy who died there and a mystery that will change his life.  Our reader said she really enjoyed this latest novel by Gail Godwin.  Vivid and compelling, Grief Cottage is fascinating mystery riddled with suspense, and she’ll be looking for more from Godwin.

Nevermore also looked at The Shipping News by Annie Proulx, a novel set on the country coast of Newfoundland.  Quoyle is a third-rate newspaper hack who, after the death of his wife, retreats to his ancestral home on Newfoundland with his two daughters and his eccentric aunt.  But when he arrives at Quoyle’s Point, he discovers a world that’s vastly different from the one he knew—and that will shape him in new ways.  Our reader said she enjoyed Proulx’s novel immensely.  It’s introspective and thoughtful, and it investigates what it means to be human, what it means to survive.  “I can’t recommend it highly enough,” she said as she handed the book over to the next reader.

Nevermore shared Giants in the Earth by O.E. Rolvaag, which follows a Norwegian pioneer family’s struggles in the Dakota Territory as they try to make a new life in American.  Partially based on Rolvaag’s personal experiences as a settler and his wife’s family who were immigrant homesteaders, Giants in the Earth is a story of a different kind of survival that pits man against the elements, poverty, hunger, loneliness and homesickness.  “It’s incredible what they go through,” our reader said, as she described the trials and joys the family experienced.  “It’s [one of the] best books I’ve ever read.”

Last, Nevermore looked at The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic.  Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead.  She stays in the home of the Commander, walking to the market for food once per day.  She may not walk alone; she may not read or write; she may not speak to anyone, or wear what she wants.  Instead, she must pray the Commander makes her pregnant, because Offred and the other Handmaids are only valuable if they can produce children.  Our reader said The Handmaid’s Tale was a fascinating story with so many layers, so much depth.  Although she found some of the content upsetting, she found that she loved reading Atwood’s novel, because it’s a story that makes you think.  It’s a story our reader took time to read.  “I didn’t want to rush it,” she told her fellow Nevermore members.  “I wanted to absorb all of it.”

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