Literary Impressionism

Book Review of "The Sunken Cathedral" by Kate Walbert. According to the publisher's website, this novel "follows a cast of characters as they negotiate one of Manhattan’s swiftly changing neighborhoods, extreme weather, and the unease of twenty-first-century life." The main characters are Marie and Simone, friends of many decades, survivors of World War II, now … Continue reading Literary Impressionism

Connecting Two Lives Lived 50 Years Apart

Book review of "The Hand that First Held Mine" by Maggie O'Farrell. Alexandra is stuck in rural England, living at home, sharing her bedroom with siblings again, after being sent down from university for going through the wrong door – an act for which she refuses to apologize. But it is the mid-1950s and she’s … Continue reading Connecting Two Lives Lived 50 Years Apart

The Mills of Love

Book Review of "Adore: A Novella" by Doris Lessing. Lil and Roz have been best friends since they were little girls. Their respective sons have followed suit, and now it looks like their granddaughters are following the same path. All this sounds like the epitome of perfection, and that's exactly the exterior they want everyone … Continue reading The Mills of Love

What is and what is not

Book Review for "This Should be Written in the Present Tense" by Helle Helle. The publishers of this book offer the following teaser: "This should be written in the present tense. But it isn’t. Dorte should be at uni in Copenhagen. But she’s not. She should probably put some curtains up in her new place. … Continue reading What is and what is not

Protections and Professions

Book Review of "The Betrayers" by David Bezmozgis. The Israeli Government has decided to pull out of a large block of West Bank settlements with the hopes that this grand gesture can kick-start the peace process. The famous refusnik and leader of the Russian Immigrant party, Minister Baruch Kotler, is adamantly opposed to this and … Continue reading Protections and Professions

Steaming Open a Family’s Pandora’s Box

Book Review of "Instructions for a Heatwave" by Maggie O'Farrell. On the morning that the 1976 heat in London was about to hit over 90oC for the 10th day in a row, Robert Riordan went out to buy a newspaper - just as he did every morning. Only this time, he didn't come home to … Continue reading Steaming Open a Family’s Pandora’s Box

Get Roped into this Story

Book Review of "The Shipping News" by Annie Proulx. This is the story about a man called Quoyle. That's an unusual name; it means "a coil of rope." Already with the naming of this character, author Annie Proulx suggests his life is a tangled one. As the book opens, we read: "Here is an account … Continue reading Get Roped into this Story

John Irving’s Masterpiece

Book Review of "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving. Owen is a dwarf who keeps saying he is on a mission from God. Johnny Wheelwright is dyslexic (like myself) and is in a life-long search for his father. (Perhaps the physical and emotional flaws of the two main characters were what made me … Continue reading John Irving’s Masterpiece

An Occupied Island and Unusual Occupations

Book Review of "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows. When the Nazis occupied the island of Guernsey during WW2, some of the inhabitants tried to carry on as usual. Others felt they should try to do something in defiance of their captors. When their gatherings become … Continue reading An Occupied Island and Unusual Occupations

Gender Roles in Literature

Do Female Characters Get the Short Shrift? A friend of mine turned my attention to an article by Sophia McDougall in the New Statesman entitled "I hate strong female characters." In truth, Ms. McDougall doesn't really hate them; she just dislikes the use of the word "strong" to describe them. She's upset that this seems … Continue reading Gender Roles in Literature