The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver: No one does nature amidst fiction like Kingsolver. She doesn’t disappoint here, but I felt my attention wandering mid-point and I set the book down for a long while before I picked it up again. This book spans across the 20th century, set in Mexico and America in the 30s as the world teeters on the brink of war, and involves the imagined lives of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo through the eyes of one of their employees and the main character in the book, Harrison Shephard. Worth the read? Yes, I think so, but I wanted a little more emotion from Harrison at times.
A Happy Marriage: A Novel by Rafael Yglesias: Oh, this is sad. SO SAD. Bawl your eyes out SAD. Enrique’s beloved wife Margaret is dying from cancer–this is supposed to be fiction, but the author’s life seems to have paralleled his character’s. At any rate, I liked this book, even though it broke my heart, and I wanted it told in the 1st person. The author is a poet though, and he will have you weeping.
Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderland by Michael Chabon: Chabon’s collection of essays on reading and writing is slender and filled with his unique writing style and love of the run-on sentence. He makes a case for loving comics and reconsidering what we think about genre, entertainment, and reading out on the edge.
La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith: Hmm. I was really hoping to love it. I didn’t love it. The character of La was the most compelling, but in a very passive way– maybe it was a very English way. Not sure, but I couldn’t help thinking that if the same characters had been written by a lady author, it might be a bit more interesting. I think McCall Smith is a fine writer, but I think my expectations were to read a novel about a triumphant orchestra from small-town England who do their part in the war effort. And, that is kind of the case, but again, there is a passivity that wasn’t that enjoyable.
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I loved this book! I think this is what I was hoping for La’s Orchestra. It was a triumphant tale set in post-war England recalling the occupation of the Channel Islands by the Germans in WWII. Written all in letters, it has extremely compelling characters. I didn’t want it to end, and I wanted to know more about Dawsey, Juliet, Kit and all the rest. A bit quaint at times, but totally charming and entertaining.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson: Intense novel and not without its problems, but a definite “pull you in ” book with an interesting and not at all so lovable heroine in the form of Lisbeth Salander. Larsson draws his characters to be complex, mesmerizing, and at times completely perplexing! Our book club had a great discussion about why it was necessary to have the character of Michael Blomkvist sleep with just about every woman he comes in contact with, at the same time stating facts about domestic abuse and raging against misogyny.
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson: The second in Larsson’s trilogy Millennium. As equally fast-paced as Tattoo, and equally horrific crimes. I wanted more interaction between Blomkvist and Salander, but liked getting the background on why Salander appears at time to be beyond broken. I’m not sure I believed the hallucinations and fear of the “blond giant” or the way in which all the characters become so weirdly interconnected, but I think it was well written and totally worth the read.
More 2 second reviews coming up!