Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Nevermore: Earthquake, Brothers of the Sea, Lizzie Borden, Jamaica Inn, Down Among the Dead Men, Sing for Your Life

Reported by Kristin

Nevermore began with a big disaster:  not Hurricane Harvey, but the 1964 Alaskan earthquake that was the strongest earthquake ever recorded in North America.  In The Great Quake: How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed Our Understanding of the Planet, author Henry Fountain describes how the earth shook for over five minutes and how some pieces of land dropped ten feet.  Our reader had toured Alaska a few years ago and found this a very interesting depiction of places she had seen.

Our next reader was charmed by a small novel published in 1966, Brothers of the Sea by D.R. Sherman.  In the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean off the coast of southern Africa, a foundling with a limp is left on a doorstep.  Taken in by a kind man, fifteen year old Paul helps his adoptive father in his fishing boat, and one day meets a dolphin.  Our reader found this simple story quite meaningful and appreciated the respectful relationships between the characters.

Continuing in fiction, See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt takes another piece of history—the Lizzie Borden case—and speculates what actually happened in the brutal ax murders of Andrew and Abby Borden Fall River, Massachusetts in 1892.  The Bordens were a wealthy family, and Lizzie had a bit of a reputation for bossing around her family members.  Although acquitted on the murder charges, Lizzie did spend ten months in jail and many people still believe that she was guilty.  This high profile case has spurred the imagination of many, including our reader.

Next up was Down Among the Dead Men by Peter Lovesey.  Between a missing art teacher and a cold murder case, Detective Peter Diamond seems to be running all over England.  As he travels, he becomes tangled in a variety of situations, but eventually figures out the “whodunit.”  Our reader said that this is a part of a series and was kind of a fun read, but not the best book she had ever read.

The classic Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier is sometimes overshadowed by her better known novel Rebecca, but Nevermore readers have been passing it around and enjoying it quite a bit.  The main character is Mary, a young woman whose mother dies and thus is sent to live with her aunt at Jamaica Inn.  On the surface all seems well, but there is evil lurking beneath.  Our reader proclaimed this an excellent story with excellent writing, and that it was intriguing to see what life was like in 1820’s Cornwall.

Sing for Your Life: A Story of Race, Music, and Family by Daniel Bergner inspired our next reader to ask “What choices do you make in your life?”  Ryan Speedo Green, a young African American man, grew up in southeastern Virginia, struggling to achieve his goals in a poor single parent family.  From there Green went on to become a well-known opera star and continues to inspire others with his voice.  Our reader was impressed with Green’s achievements.

Lastly, Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje was brought to the table.  Set in Northern California in the 1970’s, a father and his daughters make their living from the land, until violence forces change upon them.  Our reader commented that there were very intense situations between lovers, and that her takeaway was that we all have to get past saying that others are at fault, and we must find something that we can do personally to make things better.

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