Have you ever read a book you loved so much that it left you with a golden glow? TransAtlantic by Colum McCann is one of those books. This is one I could not wait to read after reading McCann’s earlier book, Let the Great World Spin, which I loved as well.
This story is similar to the earlier book in the way that it establishes hidden connections between people seemingly worlds apart. In this book, the connected worlds are America and Ireland. The profoundly moving story touches on the lives of two men named John Alcock and Arthur Brown who flew non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean after World War I, Frederick Douglas, and Senator George Mitchell. The lives of these famous men are reflected in the stories and lives of the women of one family and their ancestors whose lives by fate are changed because of the famous men and their actions.
The writing is superb and meaningful, the stories unforgettable. This novel is filled with wisdom and thoughts for pondering long after the pages have been read. I love McCann’s work!!! It is a masterful work of art.
The title of The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore whet my appetite for a good down-home book about female relationships. This book delivers a huge helping of humor, sentiment, and sage advice.
Moore’s novel revolves around three middle-aged African-American women dubbed the “Supremes”, who live in a small town in Indiana. They have known each other since childhood sharing colorful histories and healthy doses of secrets. It is witty and sarcastic and I loved it. The story also contains its share of “dead” townsfolk, including oddly enough, Eleanor Roosevelt, who throw in their humorous takes on life which only sweetens the pot.
I felt a kinship with these characters, delighted in their successes, and grieved their losses. This is a delightful novel all the way around! I will hope for second helpings to come in the future from Mr. Moore!
The Cooked Seed is a new memoir by well-known author Anchee Min. This interesting story recounts Ms. Min’s experiences in Communist China and her immigration to the U.S. It is a gripping story filled with struggle, heartbreak, and loss, tempered with a good deal of hope, wisdom, and honesty.
I am always fascinated with stories written by former inhabitants of China as they open my eyes to the reality of living in a Communist country. This book also provided an immigrant’s window into the lives of Americans. This book reminded me to count my blessings.
The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus III came to my attention via a recommendation from one of my favorite authors (Peter Orner). I have heard of Dubus’s other well-known work, The House of Sand and Fog, but this is the first time I’ve read his work. I listened to the majority of this book on cd as the book is so heavy, but physically read the last 100 pages of it.
This novel (500+ pages) is about a young single mother who dances in a strip club in Florida. It is also about one of the 9/11 terrorists who makes a visit to the strip club just prior to carrying out his horrific act of terrorism on a flight out of Boston that dark Tuesday morning. The book has several well-defined minor characters and FYI, much of it is R rated. It is however, an exceptionally well-written book which makes the reader think. Dubus’s narrative juxtaposes the stripper and her actions and desires to those of the terrorist along with the motivation behind other minor characters in the novel.
The story brought back memories and feelings I keep buried, but made me reflect on the bigger picture of life. The writing is superb and I am grateful to have been guided to this book by another talented writer. If you have the time and inclination, read this book. It would also be a great book for book discussion groups.
I chose to read The Secret of the Nightingale Palace by Dana Sachs because the title of the book intrigued me. The novel however, did not meet my expectations. It is a good story about a young Jewish widow who takes a cross-country trip with her 85-year-old grandmother in a Rolls Royce.
I had a tough time keeping with the book and almost abandoned it more than once. The writing is fair. The book did not end in a way that I had hoped. In fact, the ending diminished my opinion of the elderly Jewish grandmother in the book.
This is a love story of sorts for those who enjoy romance novels.
In Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War, author Hal Vaughan presents a fascinating look into the wartime activities of Coco Chanel. This novel served as timely, interesting reading during the Memorial Day Weekend when we honor Americans who died in service to our country.
According to intensive research and unearthed WWII documents, Coco Chanel served as a German intelligence operative during the German occupation of France. A shrewd bisexual business woman and creative designer, Coco was an outspoken anti-Semite, a morphine addict, and lover to numerous well-known males of the era. Had it not been for her friends in high places, Chanel in all likelihood would have been convicted and sentenced for her wartime activities for the German government.
This interesting history of the war and Chanel’s life prior to and afterward left me with the impression that Chanel was highly skilled in the manipulation of others to her benefit. It made me want to flush my bottle of Chanel No. 5 down the toilet. War makes strange bedfellows, but sadly, Chanel chose to do more than sleep with the enemy.
Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara is another novel on the Top 150 Novels of the 20th Century list. I’m happy to know this fine novel was recently resurrected by Penguin Books. As many of my readers know, I promote the reading of the great books and authors of our time.
This novel does not disappoint. It is a story about a 30-year-old man living in a small Pennsylvania town with his wife of 4 years in the 1930′s. Julian English, the main character, has a drinking problem, but that is just the tip of the iceberg he creates after making a number of poor, life changing decisions over the Christmas holidays.
Appointment in Samarra is heavily populated with believable small town characters and rich in symbolism. The novel was highly praised by other famous writer’s like Fitzgerald and Hemingway. I enjoyed the book, agree it is well-written, but didn’t like it very much as I found the story depressing.