Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pick of the Week

This week I recommend On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. I didn't review it, but it is fantastic and you should read it.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Today I received a book in the mail that I mooched, Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. I want to read this because Masterpiece Classic is going to show it in May, I think, and I'd like to see if the film lives up to the book.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Today's Purchases

Today I purchased four books from the Friends of the Library book sale.
1. Black Water by Kerstin Ekman
2. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
3. Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks
4. The Paris Review Book of ........

I can never resist the paperback sale cart at the library, even though I work there and could probably check all of these out and not have to spend a dime. But there is something about owning books that is very alluring.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Review: The Senator's Wife by Sue Miller

This novel is about sex. No, really, it is. It certainly isn't erotic or even very arousing, but there is A LOT of sex in this book and, in fact, the strange and unexpected ending revolves around a wife walking in on a sexual scene involving her disabled, elderly, long-estranged husband.
I love Sue Miller because she writes about real people and their inner lives and relationships. Everything is mundane, everyday, normal -- on the surface. But she digs deeper and reveals the bizarre workings of her character's minds and thoughts and how that affects their, in this case, marriages, and of course the sexual aspect of marriage.
Meri and Nathan are a newly married couple who have recently moved to the East Coast, where Nathan has secured a job as a professor. Their next door neighbor is Delia, the 70-ish wife of a former senator. The novel gives parallel accounts of the two marriages and how adultery, pregnancy and children shape and define the physical and emotional bonds between husband and wife. The star of the book is Delia who is a complex and fascinating character. I was engrossed from the beginning and experienced a variety of emotions while reading this novel: amusement, revulsion, outrage. In the end I applaud it as a fabulous character study and a very satisfying read.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Review: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks is being hailed as the latest DaVinci Code-like novel to take readers by storm. It is 1996 and Hanna Heath, a rare-book conservator, has been commissioned to work on the Sarajevo Haggadah. A haggadah is a manuscript that is used at Passover to tell the story of the Exodus. The Sarajevo Haggadah is illuminated, which is rare, as Jews did not normally use likenesses in these manuscripts. The haggadah has recently been discovered again after disappearing from the national library during the Bosnian war. It was saved by a librarian, Ozren, who risked his life to spirit it out of the library during intense shelling. Hanna, a fiercely independent Australian, arrives in Sarajevo and spends a week documenting and conserving the haggadah before it is to be placed in a special exhibit at the museum. During her work, she discovers three items inside the book that she hopes will help her to discover its origin: a butterfly wing, a drop of salt water, and a single white hair. The remainder of the novel goes back and forth in time as we learn about the people who not only created the book, but who saved it. These tales are interspersed with the modern tale of Hanna discovering who her father is and her disintegrating relationship with her mother. I truly enjoyed this novel and think it is far superior to The DaVinci Code. It is not action-packed, nor very suspenseful, but as the title suggests, it is about people. Each small section of the historical record is compelling and riveting and made me want to know more about the characters and their fates. I heartily recommend it.


I finally watched the new version of Persuasion that aired on Masterpiece Classic and I have to say... it isn't very good. The acting was blah, the story was too rushed and the romance and sense of anticipation that you feel while reading the novel was extremely lacking. I was a bit disappointed. I hope Northanger Abbey turns out better. On a side note: I kept staring at Mr. Elliot and desperately racking my brains to figure out where I had seen him before. It finally came to me -- he was Giles from Buffy!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Jane Austen Bumped

The new Masterpiece Classic series began on PBS on Sunday evening with a showing of Persuasion. I've Tivo'd it, but I'm not sure when I can get to it as I am thoroughly engrossed in the Australian Open this week. This is one of my favorite tennis tournaments if only because it is on in the evenings --it being the next day in Australia --and I can watch tons of matches. So, I probably won't find time to watch Persuasion until this weekend. And Sunday, I will Tivo Northanger Abbey. So exciting! I love having things to look forward to.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


Because I've been sick for over a week now and was feeling crummy and irritated yesterday, I decided to go to Barnes & Noble and buy some classic novels I've been wanting to read. I picked up Emma by Jane Austen, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, Middlemarch by George Eliot and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. They are all very pretty and smell like heaven. I love new books -- why don't I buy them more often?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Review: Party of the Century by Deborah Davis

I read Party of the Century while I was sick in bed over last weekend. I heard about it on an episode of Barefoot Contessa. Ina Garten had the author, Deborah Davis, for dinner and prepared a meal that included chicken hash, which is what was served at Truman Capote's famous Black & White ball held in November 1966. I enjoyed reading about the preparations for the ball and about Capote's relationship with his "swans" -- several beautiful, rich women whom he socialized with, including Babe Paley, Gloria Guiness and C.Z. Guest. This is a nice, fluffy read that gives an insight into high society in the 60's and how Capote helped usher in the new era of "publi-ciety". I'd recommend this for a day spent bundled up with the flu or for a flight.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2008! Does anyone have any reading goals for this new year? I haven't really formulated any yet except that I'd like to read more classics, especially Victorian fiction, and I'd also like to read all of the Adam Dagliesh novels by P D James. Other than that, I've discovered I just like to see where life takes me in my reading adventures. It is hard for me to commit to reading challenges because my moods and tastes vary daily, if not hourly. I definitely want to read MORE this year and more quality books. I feel that 2007 wasn't my best reading year -- I was too ambitious and it made me crabby when I didn't fulfill my goals. I hope everyone has a fantastic year of reading ahead!