Top 5 Wednesday: Freebie–Dear Mrs Byrd & More Books Using Letters or Diaries in Storytelling

 

 

This week’s Top Five Wednesday is a Freebie week–choose your own topic, use one you skipped, etc. I happen to love novels and nonfiction that use diaries or letters or emails or texts to tell stories. I’ve done posts with collections of these that you can read, too. They are linked at the bottom of this post.

First, the Brand New Smashing Debut!

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Dear Mrs. Byrd: A Novel

World War II is a very frequent topic in my reading life. So, when I found a new novel that uses letters for some of the telling and it was set during the Blitz in London–well, I had to get it. Dear Mrs. Byrd: A Novel by AJ Pearce was was so fun and so spot-on I found it hard to believe this was a debute novel, but it is!

The Story

Emmeline Lake answers an add for a “Junior” at what she thinks will be a big London daily newspaper. Instead it is for a woman’s magazine doing the typing for the advice column, Dear Mrs. Byrd. While also doing her “bit” for the war effort manning the phones for the fire brgade, Emmy spends her days reading the letters of depressed, scared, lonely and perplexed women and girls of war-torn Britain. Along the way she and her best friend Bunty have a spot of bother. All of it adds up to a sort of “workplace coming of age” story. Or is it a “wartime coming of age” story? Whatever–it’s simply wonderful.

If you enjoy this one, check out a classic: Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark. My review is HERE.

Now the Others

Each of these are epistolary novels or nonfiction I’ve read recently–or at least read since my last post on this sort of book.

Diary of a Provincial Woman

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This class commedic dairy tells the story of the wife of an Estate Manager (think Downton Abbey, but more down on it’s luck). I loved it start to finish. You can read my review HERE.     Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield.

Sarah: Letters and Diaries of A Courtier’s Wife 1906-1936 (non-fiction)

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Sarah: Letters and Diaries of A Courtier’s Wife 1906-1936 is a slim volume telling the story of the wife of one of the primary members of the Royal Household in the days of Edward VIII (the current Queen’s uncle), George VI (her father) and today’s Queen, Elizabeth II.  There’s an interesting tie to the 90’s sitcom The Nanny with Fran Drescher! My review is HERE.

Two Steps Forward: A Novel

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Rosie Project author Graeme Simesion’s newest novel is a light novel on walking a pligrimage route in France and Spain. It includes texts and emails. You can read my review HERE.

Mrs. Fletcher: A Novel by Tom Perrotta

 

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When her son Brendan goes off to college Mrs Fletcher tries to find a life. It includes texting to tell the story. You can read my review HERE
Mrs. Fletcher: A Novel by Tom Perrotta.

 

My Posts Collecting Epistolary Books and Novels

Epistolary Books Part I

Epistolary Part II

Favorite Epistolary Books and Novels

Fictional Diaries

 

You can join Top 5 Wednesday on Goodreads.com then post about the week’s topic on your blog or in a video on Youtube. It’s fun!

 

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Copy Cat Covers: The After Party

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I love it when I spot trends in cover art. There are some recent ones I’ve truly disliked (i.e. branding all of an author’s books to look alike) and others I’ve enjoyed. Earlier this year I did Copy Cat Covers post starting wtih Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussman. You can view those coveres HERE.

Today I’m starting with the After Party by Anton DiSlafani. You can read my review HERE. In the interest of fairness I will disclose that I have no clue which cover displayed here came first! I put started seeing the look-alikes due to the one I read–The After Party. The rest followed. Some are original covers, others are paperback or later editions.

 

I know that some are not green and one shows only the green of a dress or coat, but I felt they all belong together. The dress–that’s the image, then the color–green mostly. To me each presents a picture of elegance. Something, we’ve lost for the most part (imho). Who are these women? Seeing these covers, I want to know. I love the almost iconic, slightly “bad girl” pose of the woman on the cover of The After Party–that bit of tobacco she’s plucking (or is it just a pose?). She eledues elegance, but with a nice gust of sexual provactiveness.  I think she’s spotted the man she wants, don’t you?

The Summer Wives does not feature a dress, but an odd belted blouse with shorts. It’s the color and the style of the blouse that drew me in. She’s out in a boat, in summer–it must be New England, Maine likely, due to the long sleeves–or is that her coppery hair means she burns easily and must cover up a bit more? Intriguing. (For the record I did not finish the audio version of this novel).

Do you spot copy cat covers? Have you done a post or two like this? Leave me a comment–include your link, I’d love to see what you’ve spotted.

FYI: You can read my review of the Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan HERE.

 

Review: Autumn in Venice: Hemingway & His Last Muse. Literary Cross-Generational Romance

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Ernest Hemingway, the image of American machismo from the 1920s until his death in the early 1960s was not much for monogamy.  Even with his fourth wife, in the post-World War II era, he still had a roving eye and well-greased zipper.

In 1948, Hemingway and his fourth wife, Mary Welsh, visited Italy. In Venice they were visiting with the Ivancich family and Ernest’s roving eye landed on the family’s 18 year old daughter, Adriana. Yes, she was “legal,” as we’d say today. And, about to turn 50, Hemingway was ripe for a bright red sports car, a tummy tuck and a much younger Mrs.

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Ernest and Adriana

Autumn in Venice tells the story of this odd relationship. Was it physical? Probably to some extent. “Papa” and the young woman he called “Daughter” had a hold on each other to be sure, but while it was fun and slightly intoxicating to have the attention of a great man at only 18, the relationship was more one-sided. For Hemingway, Adriana became an obsession. She was a “muse” in the classical sense of that–she invigorated and mentally (and, true to any mid-life crisis, physically) stimulated him. He got his groove back we’d say today and began writing again.

Ernest and wife Mary

But, wait! Wasn’t he married? YES. While Mary Hemingway, (nine years younger than her husband), like all of Hemingway’s wives, was devoted to him in ways most women wouldn’t be today,  she did her best to ignore it all for as long as possible. Until she couldn’t any longer. [Sidebar: I was amazed to read Hemingway writing to his wife what brand/color # of hair dye he wanted her to use next and that, in spite of his young friend, he was anticipating the effect this color would have when debuted by her wearing only her new mink coat!]

 

 

With Hemingway writing again he naturally chose to write about, wait for it, a 50-something “Colonel” and his young lover who was a dead ringer for, you guessed it! Adriana.  The book, Across the River and Into the Trees, owed it’s title to Stonewall Jackson, but the rest was pure romantic obsession on loving Papa’s part. This is when it all hit the fan. The press got involved–at least in Venice. Adriana, expected to make a great marriage by her aristocratic family, was now in danger of being labeled damaged goods. Hemingway pulled out all the stops to postpone the book’s publication in Italy and France to protect his “daughter,” Finally, Mary had enough of it all and put her dainty, wifely, foot down–amazingly, she’d even tolerated Adriana and her mother at the Hemingway’s Cuban home! She put up with it because Ernest was working steadily. But even near-saints snap on occasion. An ultimatium got her husband’s attention at last.

All good things must come to an end and eventually, Adriana married, but divorced, then married again and got it “right enough” to put Hemingway mostly away. As for Ernest, the obsession seemed to finally lessen a little. He wrote The Old Man of the Sea, (for which Adriana again designed the cover), won both Pulitzer and the Nobel Prizes, and wrote Islands in the Stream, which was published a few years after his death. Then he and Mary were in a plane crash and the world thought they were dead. Remarkably, he was in a second plane crash the next day!  We all know his tragic ending, but the good news is, that Mary stayed around and got to be the widowed Mrs. Hemingway and control a lot of things after his death. I supposed that’s “good news.” Poor Adriana took the same exit as Ernest though. Sad.

My Thoughts

I thought it sad that all that was really available for depression and axiety was horrific electric shock treatment. I wonder if any of this would have happened if Hemingway had had access to modern anti-depressants. But, would they have robbed him of his creativity? His drinking was so out-of-control at various points in his life that he was clearly “self-medicating.”

Mary seems to have been wise enough to understand things he could control and things he could not. He was blessed to have a wife like that. She knew his talent, knew that his stability depended upon his work going well. She was patient, but her feelings were trampled upon time and time again–as were those of each Mrs. Hemingway in turn. But, great men have always gotten away with that and not only back in the day when a women’s best career choice was to be the wife of a very successful and talented man.

As for Adriana, she was a spoiled girl whose mother couldn’t really control her. And, in 1948, aristocratic young women were still married off to older men–albeit not those with a wife in tow. It is doubtful though that her family would have approved the match had Hemingway dumped Mary.  But she married an older man the first time–and older man who took her to Africa even, so I wonder if she didn’t have regrets at that point. Sad.

My Rating

4 Stars

Autumn in Venice: Ernest Hemingway and his Last Muse by Adrea Di Robilant

Review: Manderley Forever: A Bio. of Daphne Du Maurier by Tatania de Rosnay

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I’ve never enjoyed being frightened–not in real life, not by movies and not even by books. Yet I’ve enjoyed each of Daphne du Maurier’s books. One, of her books, The King’s General, is such a favorite I’ve even dreamed of it!

More than her writing, though, Daphne herself has long interested me. Her husband, Lt. Gen. Sir Frederick “Boy” Browning [aka “Tommy”] was a courtier to Queen Elizabeth before she became queen and to her husband, Prince Philip, after her ascent. This life fascinates me no end. So, when I heard that another spell-biding author, Tatiana de Rosnay of Sarah’s Key fame had written a novel-biography–i.e. a biography written in the style of a novel, I knew I had to read it–or listen to it.

Daphne with her father, actor Gerald Du Maurier and her youngest sister, Jean.

The book tells of Daphne’s privileged childhood as one of the three daughters of one of that era’s superstars of the London stage, Gerald Du Maurier and his wife, Muriel.  Their “Uncle Jim” was J.M. Barrie who wrote Peter Pan and their cousins, Berre’s wards, were the five Llewelyn-Davies brothers who inspired the Lost Boys. As their father’s success grew the family moved from a comfortable London life to a country house for weekends and summer and much more. The three Du Maurier sisters led a privileged life free of the routine of school. Their governess stayed a valued friend throughout their lives.

Daphne, always Gerald’s favorite, thought of herself as “Eric Avon”–a boy. (My strange mind envisioned her as Anthony Eden–Earl of Avon). Hardly the first girl to be a tomboy and give herself another name, but for Daphne this persona never truly left her. De Rosnay makes much of this–seemingly trying to put it into today’s dialogue of gender diversity or gender fluidity which was  very interesting. Daphne defied the conventions of her day. She lived in pants, eschewed makeup, sailed her own boats, maintained a life independent of her husband and his career,  but strangely, gave up driving a car.

Daphne with her husband Lt. General Sir Frederick “Boy” Browning and their children, Tessa, Flavia and Kits

I loved that Daphne defended her need to write up to a point. As she came to see, her obsession with her writing, and her obsession with Menabilly–the house of A King’s General where she lives as a virtual recluse for 20 years, cost her the loving intimacy of her marriage. And, it may have caused her husband to break down–though fighting in two world wars likely were the major cause. I understood her need to cling to her career–her sanity-saving writing, but thought she was pretty damned selfish when poor old Tommy came home after six years of war! “Welcome home, darling, sorry old thing, but I’ve got to write so I’ve dumped your kit in what is now your own bedroom, k? Good. See you at tea, Mopey, kiss-kiss, so about the war, hope you’re good now.” That amount of self-focus was a bit much. Never mind that he’d all but stalked her to get a date–the man had helped invent airborne troops! Give him a cuddle or two, lady!

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Daphne with Tessa and Flavia

 

I liked that she grew to adore her daughters. Her disappointment at birthing two girls before finally having a son is the sort of thing that mothers are never supposed to feel let alone disclose. That the girls grow up to be a huge part of her life is redeeming.  Her son, Kits, (Christopher) would stay the light of her life, but she made room for the girls before it was too late. So, too, did I like her not minding her younger sister’s writing career. Though that Du Maurier (Angela) met none of the success of her big sister, she kept at it–possibly for the same sanity-saving therapeutic quality of writing that drove Daphne.

I found her obsessions and possible affairs with various women and a few men to be, well, interesting, but also a bit cliched. As a child she only briefly attended a real school so she had time to ramble and dream, but came into intimate contact with very few people. A governess and a much older cousin are part of her sexual awakening and maturation. Incest (the emotional–not the physical) would continue to be an interest throughout her writing life.

Does being bi-sexual automatically make someone gender-fluid? I doubt it. In her time and place traveling with another woman was much easier and so concealing an affair was much easier with a woman. Affairs were fairly normal in the titled class–though same sex ones were not always as openly conducted as heterosexual affairs. None of the people she was seriously attracted to really left her life, either a situation that truly interested me. She let her obsession evolve or dissolve depending on the person.

The style of the book did puzzle me sometimes. Like the huge biography of President Reagan–Dutch, it became difficult to decide what was a conversation recorded in a letter or a diary and what was a fictional addition or embellishment to the primary source material. How does she know Daphne drank this and thought that? It seems a slippery slope to head down into fictionalizing details. Never mind, the book has earned the a nomination for the Edgar award and has been heartily endorsed by Du Maurier’s daughter, Tessa, Viscountess Montgomery of Alamein (Yes, married to the son and heir of THAT Montgomery–Monty the British General who won the battle of El Alamein.) The book was very enjoyable–much more so than a dry biography of an author done the traditional way.

My Rating

4 Stars

 

Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne Du Maurier by Tatiana de Rosnay

Top 5 Wednesday: 5 Fictional Tropes I’ll Never Tire of

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First of all, I had to research “trope.” I found this helpful article that gave some examples. Sadly, the examples it gave were most of the books using those tropes that I’d read!

 

1. Lady Who Lunches Finds Purpose

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Ok, Willa isn’t really a true Lady Who Lunches, but she’s a lady of a certain age, is a bit lost for a purpose and isn’t wildly happy. Close Enough? I thought so! You can read my review HERE.

 

#2 The Old Guy Saved by the Kid

 

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Bringing an orphan to her only remaining relatives is just another day’s work for Jefferson Kidd. Or is it? Read my review HERE.

 

3. The Fat Girl Gets the Guy

 

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And soon her story becomes a movie with music by Dolly Parton and starring Jennifer Aniston! What’s not to love about any Julie Murphy book? Read my review HERE.

 

4. Cinderella aka Just For One Night

 

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After “borrowing” that iconic little black dress from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a new star is born! I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. You can read my review HERE.

 

5. The Off-Beat, Unlikely Hero

 

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Frank just knows what music people need. He just does. But he does so much more than that for the community without ever realizing it. Loved this. Here’s my review.

 

 

You Can Be Part of Top 5 Wednesday!

You can join in the fun any Wednesday by joining the Top 5 Wednesday group on Goodreads.com to see the rules and list of weekly topics. Then post on your blog or put up a video on Youtube! It’s fun!

Top Ten Tuesday: Mash-ups

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Top Ten Tuesday–Mash-ups! This is not a topic I’m very good at, so I’m re-blogging my Top 5 post from earlier this year. You can participate in Top Ten Tuesday by following the rules posted at That Artsy Reader Girl HERE. Or, you can view this weeks posts HERE.

 

 

Hopewell's Public Library of Life

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This week’s topic is Mash-ups. “You know those comp titles they list in synopses that read something like “perfect for fans of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones”! What would be some of your favorite mash ups, that would make you pick up a book? “A mix of ________ and ___________.” Remember, you can also incorporate games, tv, movies, etc. Get creative! ”

1. For Fans of Harry Potter who love to be immersed in the world of the books they read.

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I’ve only read [well, listened to] book one (this one) but if this is any indication the series will be wonderful, too. My daughter and I listened to the excellent audio version recorded by Lynn Redgrave. We couldn’t continue with book 2 when we found out it had a different narrator. It’s hard! The voice of the narrator easily becomes the voice of a series. Check out this…

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Six Degrees of Separation: Atonement by Ian McEwan

 

 

This month’s book to start a Six Degrees of Separation chain is Atonement by Ian Mc Ewan. I confess I have not read this one [yet]. It’s been on my mental to read list since it was published. I should just read it! I loved his recent book The Children Act. [You can read my review of it HERE or read HERE the actors I would cast for the movie version.] But Atonement, though unread, conjures up thoughts of other books–most also unread!

 

#1 Corelli’s Mandolin: A Novel by Louis de Bernieres

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I actually own a copy of this book and have, on two occasions, picked it up and got as far in as the second chapter before becoming distracted and forgetting about it. I believe Hugh Grant was seen reading it in a film–that may be why it became so popular for a while back in the dark ages of my (and Hugh’s) early adulthood. It is one of those books that instantly comes to mind whenever Atonement is mentioned. In my mind both have “that” sort of prose. I’m probably wrong about that. No matter. It’s my chain!

 

#2 The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

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The Satanic Verses caused a sensation in the pre-Internet world of the late ’80s. I recall bringing a copy home from the library, spending a few minutes starting to read it and then remembering Dallas was starting on tv.  This book has nothing to do with the time or setting of Atonement, but it always comes to mind when Atonement is mentioned. It was very popular with my fellow Peace Corps volunteers, too.

 

#3 Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel García Márquez

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Atonement always seems to be a great title for Gabriel Barcia Marquez to use. This is the book of his that comes to mind when I hear Atonement mentioned. I truly want to read Love in the Time of Cholera and will get to it eventually.

 

#4 Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

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Never Let Me Go mirrors the sort of school the upper-class characters in Atonement would have atteneded. I’ve read Remains of the Day by Ishiguro, but I’m not really sure Never Let Me Go will ever make it to my to-read list.

#5 The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee

 

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At the moment I’m not sure where my copy of this book is, but I can say I got much farther into it before it disappeared than I ever did with the Satanic Verses or Corelli’s Mandolin! This one comes to mind because a character will certainly have something to “atone” for!

The ONE I’ve Actually Read

 

#6 The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

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This one I finally read (listened to) recently. It cemented in my mind the idea of the prose of Atonement matchingg tthe style of this book. I’m probably wrong.

 

You can join in Six Degrees of Separation on the first Saturday of each month. View the rules at the top of this post, then go to the blog Books Are My Favorite and Best to post your link–or to read all of this month’s great book chains.

Review: I See Life Through Rosé-Colored Glasses

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One of the highlights of my summer commuting hours is the annual collection of essays (most originated as newspaper columns) by mother-daughter duo, Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella. I always say listening to the audio book of their annual collection is like a gal-pal road trip. This year’s collection, subtitled True Stories and Confessions, lives up to that reputation. Lisa writes of growing older and leaving menopause behind while Francesca writes of the Millenial life in New York City. They are animal lovers, food lovers and devoted and loyal to their friends and fans. And, they seem to have  created their own literary genre–“chick wit.” Gotta love that!

I’m never sure which of Lisa’s essays I like best–aging? Dog stories? Memories of her  wonderful Mother Mary? (Amazing that MM was one of 19 kids!) Food essays? In this volume the hands-down winner of the Best in Show ribbon was Hagdom or, as she titled it: The Case of the Missing Eyebrows. You can read it HERE in its original home, the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Just as I teared up learning of Mother Mary’s passing a few years back, learning that Ruby the cart-bound corgi (think dog wheelchair) had finally passed made me pull off at an exit and get myself back together before I continued in rush hour traffic. Lisa has my vote for doggie-Mommy of the year and then some for her devoted care of Ruby.

I have the same struggle picking my favorite of daughter Francesca’s stories. I love the college memories, the dating stories, life with her wonderful dog Pip–all of it. Just plain all of it. There was not a “meh” story in this volume.

If you’re short on girls nights out, wish you had a BFF to go shopping with, need or miss your Mom/daughter, then just go get this on audio. If you just enjoy stories about real life, lived by real people, then this collection is also for you.

Personally, I think Lisa Scottoline needs to write a volume of Mother Mary Christmas Stories, but I hope she puts a glossary for those of us who aren’t from South Philly and still cannot make the word “gravy” mean Italian tomato sauce! I’d love to hear about Christmases with 18 aunts and uncles and umpteen cousins that did not include Jim-Bob and Michelle Duggar!

I See Life Through Rosé-Colored Glasses: True Stories and Confessions

 

You can read my reviews of their previous books here:

I Need a Life Guard Everywhere but the Beach

My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Needs More Closet Space 

Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat?

I’ve Got Sand In All the Wrong Places

 

Top 10 Tuesday: Popular Books that Lived Up to the Hype-My Opinion

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This was an intriguing topic! First of all I had to decide–only fiction? Then, how many years back? I decided to start with recent bestsellers—those since 2000. I found the two lists linked below. So, my Top 10 Tuesday is my rating of various books from these two lists.

Top 21 Bestselling Books of the 21st Century

click to see the list

Top 10 Books of the Twentieth Century

click to see the list

I know, I know! One is bestsellers, the other some nebulous personal list!  That’s what I used, ok?

Of those I’ve read, here are my thoughts and ratings:

 

First the Bad

21 St Century List

The Shack by William P. Young 

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Force me to do a corporate compliance meeting–it would be more interesting. I read this supposed “masterpiece” in two hours for,  you guessed it, a retreat! [Hand up if you read it for any other reason]. No interest what-so-ever in seeing the movie.

My Rating

1.2 Stars.

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

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I’ve done the Purpose Driven Life/Purpose Driven Church in THREE churches in 3 states. I’m done. The first time thru it did get me to think about things I was supposed to think about. It even got me to act on some. But each read through became more and more trite. The purpose of this book, I decided after read 3, was to earn money for the publisher and the author–i.e. the exact same purpose as any other book.

My Rating

2.75 stars

 

Fifty Shades of Gray,  The Hunger Games, Twilight, Divergent and Song of Ice and Fire

So completely not my thing I haven’t even opened them. I think I bought Divergent for Kindle to see what the fuss was about, then heard the fuss and just plain knew I’d never get those hours of my life back, so it wasn’t worth it.

The Twentieth Century List

 

Lolita, Ulysses, Hundred Years of Solitude,  and Lord Of The Rings

No desire at all. I’m fascinated by Nabokov the person but no, I have zero interest in reading Lolita, ditto Hundred and ditto LOTR.

 

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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I’ve written about loathing this one before. I just didn’t find it funny in spite of loving British humor. It bored me.

My Rating

2 Stars

 

The Indifferent

Harry Potter and the Rest of the Gang

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Yes these books could have been on the 20th Century list, too. What I am about to say is heretical and can be punished by death in certain mythical countries created by the HP fandom. My torture will soon be happening in fan fiction. After book two I couldn’t stay awake. There I’ve said it. I’m “meh” on Harry. NOT, that I am “meh” on J.K. Rawlings achievement though! Far from it. She is one of the women of the century. I think she has the most amazing imagination. It’s just not the sort of stuff that really appeals to me.

That said I adore Mrs. Weasley. I, too, want to mother Harry.  Of course the phrase Witch-Slap was invented for Delores Umbridge–who else would it be for? And I’d really like to have a ride in the flying car and meet Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge.  But I’m done trying to read the last few tomes. I enjoyed the movies–an extra count of heresy, I’m sure, since I didn’t first read all the books. What’s more, just like admitting I was done with trying to enjoy Dickens, I know this endangers a very, very cool friendship. But, how many times as a Mom have I said “You REAL friends won’t mind.”

 

The Good

Twenty-First Century List

 

The Book Their by Markus Zusack

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World War II in general and the Nazi atrocities specifically are frequent topics in my reading. This one, to me, did not live up to the hype, but was still a good book.

My Rating

3 Stars

 

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

I haven’t read it, but I loved her book, The Namesake. I intend to read Interpreter of Maladies yet. My verdict for The Namesake was 4 stars [I have only given 5 stars a handful of times in my life].

 

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

I also haven’t read this one yet, but I had only praise for his next book, A Thousand Splendid Suns. My verdict was a solid 4 stars.  I still intend to read the Kite Runner.

 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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I read some YA, but too much of it is dystopian or weird or …. John Green is YA for grown ups to my mind. I’ve loved each book so far, but Fault remains my favorite. I loved the movie, too, and for once in a billion years I even went to the theater to see it one afternoon with a good friend.

My Rating

4 Stars

 

Twentieth Century List

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

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This one, to me, is pretty dated. It’s still regarded as a classic coming of age story or some such, but it’s dated. Did it deserve the hype? In it’s day–yes. Today, probably.  I read it in 1978.

My Rating

4 Stars

 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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I loved this book when I read it in 1977. I read all of Fitzgerald in high school and loved every word. It deserved and deserves the hype.

My Rating

4 Stars

1984 By George Orwell

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Everyone should read this and Animal Farm in school so they see what can happen.

My Rating

4 Stars

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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This is one of the greatest American novels, but it has now been hyped to death. I don’t understand people suddenly naming their poor daughters’ “Scout” or “Harper” (even though Miss Lee did not use that name]) or naming their sons “Atticus.” Really? I love GWTW but I’d never have named my poor kid Scarlet or Rhett! Though I do think Nabokov–“Nabby” for short–would be a great tom cat’s name!

Rating

4 Stars

There you have my list–yes, it was more than 10 titles. Sorry!

Do you enjoy lists like this? Each week Top Ten Tuesday participants compile themed lists of books and post their links at That Artsy Reader Girl’s blog. You can read all the Top Ten Tuesday rules HERE.  Why not join in?

Review: Clock Dance by Anne Tyler

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I fell in love with Anne Tyler’s books in the mid-80s when she was sort of new on the scene. The Accidental Tourist was my gateway book to her writing. I went on to adore the movie of it, too. When it came out I was in Peace Corps and a friend back home went all the way to the post office for an Aerogram [those flimsy blue air mail letters without an envelope] to tell me, knowing I would want to know (truly!) that in the movie Edward was a tri-color corgi! That is what a best friend is for. Anne Tyler writes books like a best friend, albeit a best friend with incredible literary talent. I thought I had read that Clock Dance was to be here final book (she is 76), but I could be wrong judging by this New York Times article.

The Story

Willa is a shy woman who does what she can to avoid upsetting people. The story is told chronologically thru her life in large intervals–childhood, marriage, etc.  Her “current day” life is the main story. A chance call by a stranger who reads her number off a neighbor’s phone list send Willa and her grumbling, controlling, husband, Peter, on a cross-county flight from Tucson to Baltimore to care for a child who is not related to either of them.

While Peter gripes and grouses and annoys people, Willa finds fulfillment in as eclectic a community as Tyler has ever created. Cheryl and Airplane, “Sir Joe,” Ben, Cali, and Willa’s son’s ex-girl friend, Denise (the reason for the phone call) are a as interesting and as average as any people on any street in America, but they find in Willa what they’ve needed: unconditional love, caring and listening. Then, just as I thought the world’s meekest woman would disappoint, she surprised.

My Verdict

Lots of people are saying this isn’t as good as her book X [each reviewer has a personal favorite]. I thought the title was just “off”–yes I “got it,” (it’s in the book), but I didn’t think it was “right” for the book. I also think she did seem to go a bit too far with the meekness, but why quibble? It turned out exactly right! Note: I listened to the audio book. I learned of this book from this blog post: http://www.book-chatter.com/?cat=214

3.75 Stars

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