Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What I’m Reading

Sister by Rosamund Lupton
Sister is a beautiful debut novel. The main character receives word that her younger sister is missing. She flies from her home in New York to London only to find that her sister's body is discovered in a desolate area. Although her death is ruled a suicide, her sister refuses to believe it, and thus begins a crime novel and a book about grief. I read it in two days. The writing is superb. Recommend.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Loved it! My daughters used to play a computer game, Amazon Trail. This book was reminiscent of the birds and wildlife of that game, but on a deeper level, there are parallels to Joseph Conrad's classic, Heart of Darkness. The book is skillfully written, and the story is compelling. Basic premise: a research pharmacologist travels to the outer reaches of the Amazon river to follow up on her colleague who has died in the field, and to check on research for a new drug taking place among a tribe with a very unusual culture. Exciting things happen. Recommend.

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Caleb's Crossing is a historical novel, based on the character, Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, who was the first native American to graduate from Harvard University in 1665. The next member of his tribe, the
Wampanoag, graduated in May 2011. It is a story of the clash of cultures written when the native Americans were still "selling" land to the new immigrants. Well written, recommend.

March by Geraldine Brooks
Having read and enjoyed both Year of Wonder and Caleb's Crossing, I launched into reading March, another historal novel by Geraldine Brooks. It is a fictionalized account of the father of the March girls who left to join the Union army in his 40's. I found the characters too sentimental and almost put it down several times. Geraldine Brooks should leave the Civil War writings to her husband Tony Horowitz, whose non-fiction book Confederates in the Attic, about Civil War re-enactments was a treasure.

The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron
A friend I reconnected with at my high school reunion sent me this book as the author is an aquaintance of hers. The central character is a wildlife officer in central Maine. It's at once a crime novel, but also very much a novel with a sense of place. It made me want to learn more about the area where the book is set. The author is the editor of Down East, the Magazine of Maine, and he has a new release, Tresspasser. It was a change of pace for me and I enjoyed it.

House of Prayer No. 2
Even though we have moved from Indiana to Florida, I continue to subscribe to an electronic newsletter from the Vanderburgh County Public Library. House of Prayer No. 2  was one of their non-fiction recommendations. My library in Port Orange had a copy and I started reading it without knowing much about it. I was initially put off by the second person narrative which began the story with short choppy sentences, but I became accustomed to it, and the sentences grew in length and depth as the character moved from childhood to maturity. It's a medical history, a writer's memoir, and a spiritual autobiography rolled into one. Recommend.

Best of the Bunch
State of Wonder
Caleb's Crossing
House of Prayer No. 2

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