The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai is a novel told in reverse. Makkai begins with a cast of characters living in 1999 on a North Shore estate in Lake Forest, IL, which had formerly been an artist community. The story then reverts to previous inhabitants of the house in 1955. The third shift brings the reader to artists living in the estate in 1929. The novel ends with a prologue dated 1900.
I had a very difficult time reading this book. None of the characters were interesting, in fact, they were very confusing, as several were living under assumed names. I struggled through the book solely with hopes of it making sense in the end. I’m sorry to say, for me, it didn’t.
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Tagged book, book club, Chicago, family secrets, fiction, lake forest, Mystery, north shore, ragdale, Rebecca Makkai, review, the hundred year house
Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto is a novel out of India recently published in paperback in the U.S. This beautifully written, moving story is told in the first person by the son of a woman who suffers from mental illness. The son’s story is at times humorous, but always with the underlying sadness and confusion which comes when a loved one lives in a skewed reality which can change from one minute to the next.
I really enjoyed the book even though much of it made me sad. In telling the story through the eyes of the young man whose mother is mentally ill, Pinto brings the son’s heartache home to his readers. I highly recommend this book. It is very well-written.
The Sea of Wise Insects by Terry Westby-Nunn is a novel unlike any I recall having read. Gratefully, it came to my attention by way of one of my favorite fellow bloggers, Alison, who resides in South Africa (despatchesfromtimbuktu.wordpress.com). It was also my good fortune that a local university had a copy of the book.
This is a novel within a novel; a story about a 30-year-old woman named Alice living in South Africa who has recently been charged with culpable homicide for driving a motor vehicle which was in an accident causing the death of one of its occupants. Alice is a vividly written, accident prone woman who has multiple scars, a missing finger, and a loveless existence. To top off her story, there is another story being told in this novel. Interspersed is the recently published novel of Alice’s former lover of two years who left her without a word a few months prior to the fateful automobile accident.
The secondary novel is a fictionalized version of the relationship Alice had with her former fiancée. It seems the former boyfriend was using Alice as food for a character in his fictional novel. As Alice reads the book, we as readers are given the dual perspectives of the people in a failed relationship.
This book contains a great deal of thought provoking wisdom. Thank you Alison in South Africa for sharing this novel with me. I am happy to be able to spread the word from a world away in the U.S. I thought it was wonderful! Hamba Kahle…Go Well
The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter is an exceptional history of the valiant men and women whose mission during World War II was to locate and save the countless art treasures looted by the Nazi regime. Perhaps you have seen the movie by the same name, but I highly recommend reading the book as there is so much more to learn and Hollywood has not changed it to suit their purposes.
This story about a brave corps of men and one woman from several countries and walks of life, is truly astounding. Their selfless contributions to the preservation of civilizations is beyond measure. I learned a great deal more about the systematic Nazi looting during the war and coupled with the knowledge I already possess of the loss of so many innocent lives, much of the story was heartbreaking for me to read. It was however, uplifting knowing that because of these brave, committed individuals, much of the beauty and culture which might have been lost has been saved for future generations.
I think this is an amazing book and am grateful to the men and woman who lived the story it tells.
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Tagged Books, Bret Witter, george stout, Harry Ettlinger, history, jacques jaujard, james j. rorimer, lincoln kirstein, military, monuments men, Robert M Edsel, robert posey, Ronald Balfour, rose valland, walker hancock, walter hutchthausen, WWII
The Last Word by Graham Greene provided me with good company in between naps during my recent bought with the flu. Last week I watched a movie on TCM which originated in one of Greene’s short stories and decided it would be nice to read more of them. I am glad I did!
What an amazing writer! I believe I have read books by Greene at some point in time, but this is the first time I remember reading his short stories. This novel is a quick read, but the stories contained in it are priceless, the writing superb. The title story is profoundly moving and I also loved one about a detective about to retire, a man who steals the Eiffel Tower, and another about a man who holds a job where he is forced to eat more than he wishes while keeping restaurant surveillance over suspected spies.
I enjoy reading the works of great writers every now and then because they remind me that writing is not as easy as it may seem and provide me with food for inspiration.
One Plus One is a recently published novel by Jojo Moyes. The book is billed as a love story, but I would additionally classify it as a story about single parenting. The heroine of this story is named Jess. I, as a single parent, can identify wholeheartedly with the reality of her life as portrayed in the story. Jess is raising two children alone after her depressed husband took off leaving her holding the bag. Her struggles are real for many single parents. They struck such a deep chord in me that I would have believed Moyes herself was a single parent. Her depiction of Jess is right on the money and, because of this, I found myself deeply immersed in this story.
There are a number of people struggling in this novel; the children, the ex-husband, and the wealthy computer geek with his own difficulties who crosses paths with them. I thought all of the characters were believable.
I truly enjoyed this story and thank Jojo Moyes for another touching work of fiction which hit home with me. I admire her writing versatility!