Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Nevermore: Man & Horse, Cry of the Kalahari, Lee Smith, Nicholas Sparks, Evanovich, Kristin Hannah, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Take It Away, Tommy!

Reported by Kristin

Nevermore has evolved temporarily to meet the demands of social distancing, meeting online via Zoom. Our first member smiled widely onscreen as she discussed Man & Horse: The Long Ride Across America by John Egenes. In 1974, the author mounted his horse Gizmo and set out to cross the nation from Ventura, California to Virginia Beach, Virginia. Writing the book decades later, Egenes reflects upon the United States of that era, and how he discovered his own self-worth on his horseback journey.

Another reader picked up Cry of the Kalahari by Mark and Delia Owens, another story of exploration, this time in the wilds of an African desert. Mark and Delia were American PhD students in wildlife zoology who lived in the wilderness for seven years while researching and writing their dissertations. An international bestseller, their tales of lions, jackals, giraffes and more comes highly recommended from our Nevermore member who picked the book up after reading Delia’s fiction debut, the wildly popular Where the Crawdads Sing.

Turning to a regional novel, another reader absolutely loved Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith. This first person narrative is filled with the letters of Ivy Rowe, born in the Virginia mountains a century ago. Following Ivy’s life from childhood through her next seven decades, the story is wonderfully rich. Our reader enthusiastically recommended this story and Smith’s beautiful writing.

At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks also has connections to our region, being set in Boone Creek, North Carolina. A sequel to True Believer, this is the story of  Lexie and Jeremy, a young couple with a secret to keep, at least until the wedding, that is. Our reader enjoyed the continuing saga, and noted that Sparks is a very prolific author selling millions of books worldwide.

Our next reader had a very strong recommendation, but it was to NOT read the two books she had just finished. She found Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg’s Fox and O’Hare series quite boring, although she valiantly worked her way through the first two books—The Heist and The Chase. Featuring FBI Special Agent Kate O’Hare and con man Nicolas Fox (who Kate is naturally forced to pair up with, even as she finds him infuriating,) this slapstick series just couldn’t hold our reader’s interest.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert was much more enjoyable. Henry Whittaker was a poverty stricken Englishman who took to the high seas in the early 1800s, eventually making his fortune and settling in Philadelphia with his accumulated wealth. Our reader was especially impressed with Henry’s daughter, Alma, as she studies moss and explores evolutionary botany before “evolution” has become a household word. This novel comes highly recommended, as do many of Gilbert’s other works.

Kristin Hannah knows how to write about female friendships, and does so very well in Firefly Lane. Forming a connection in middle school, Kate Mularkey and Tully Hart seem to be opposites, but begin a decades long friendship despite their differences. Tully wants to be a television reporter, and pulls Kate along in her wake. Kate really just wants to fall in love and have a family. Hannah writes with humor, and explores how the bonds between women can transcend families and careers.

Finally, Take it Away, Tommy! by Georgia Dunn, was brought to the virtual table by one of our cat and comic loving readers. This collection of comic strips tells the tail, (oops, I mean tale!) of Lupin, Elvis, and Puck, three cats who take on the personas of news reporters to describe the goings-on in their home. Vacuum cleaners, fuzzy blankets, and the case of the missing breakfast are all spotlighted as Dunn imaginatively goes inside the brains of her feline companions. Our reader found it sweet and delightful, and noted that it is especially funny if you know cats.

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