Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Nevermore: Great Migration, Barracoon, Jane Seymour, R.D. Lawrence, Playing for Pizza, Dance for Emilia

Reported by Kristin

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson received rave reviews from our first reader, as well as fans around the world.  Illustrating the movements of African Americans who left the American south for the north and the west, Wilkerson tells the stories of three migrants who left their familiar territory in hopes of a better life but encountered some level of continued racism and segregation.  Reading this book, our reader recognized some things she had seen, (but not recognized as segregation,) on public transportation in the mid-1960s.  She found the stories enlightening.

Another reader picked up Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston.  Although researched and written in the late 1920s, Hurston’s project was not published until 2018, nearly 60 years after her death.  Cudjo Lewis, the last known survivor of the last illegal slave ship to come to America in 1860, was living in Plateau, Alabama in 1927, in the area where many of the native Africans settled after emancipation.  Our reader noted that the book uses dialect to keep the story in Cudjo’s own words, but that it was easy to read.

Next up was Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen by Allison Weir.  Part of the Six Tudor Queens series, this volume of historical fiction would have benefited from a little editing, says our reader.  Even though very few facts are known about Jane, the third wife of King Henry VIII, Weir has built up quite a story, topping out at 576 pages.  Our reader appreciates so much of the author’s non-fiction, and commented that she really writes popular history well.

The Green Trees Beyond: A Memoir by R.D. Lawrence enchanted our next reader, as the author was born into a difficult time and place, as the Spanish civil war broke out in 1926 when he was fourteen years old.  Lawrence’s friends taught him how to use a gun, and the war emotionally shaped him, as he learned to hold in his emotions and grief as friends died in the fighting. After years of fighting in Spain and in World War II, Lawrence migrated to Canada, and became a naturalist and wildlife author, writing more than thirty books before his death in 2003.

Our next reader decided to read Playing for Pizza by John Grisham, but soon regretted her decision.  Rick Dockery, a minor professional football player in the United States, decides to make a fresh start with a new team:  The Mighty Panthers in Parma, Italy.  Culture shock abounds, although Rick makes a home for himself, finds his spirit renewed, and of course falls in love with a beautiful woman.  Not all books are for all readers, and this time the verdict presented to Nevermore was, “This book is ridiculous!”

Another somewhat fantastical book reviewed was A Dance for Emilia by Peter S. Beagle.  Jake and Sam have been friends since childhood, until a sudden tragedy leaves Jake alone.  Our reader enjoyed this novella, which is centered around friendship and love.  Plus, there’s a cat not only on the cover, but deeply entwined in the plot.  You can find a review that Jeanne recently wrote here.

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