A stack of post Thanksgiving treats.
A stack of post Thanksgiving treats.
The six books making the cut for the Man Booker shortlist this year include two American authors – Rachel Kushner for “The Mars Story,” set in a California women’s prison, and Richard Powers for “The Overstory,” about nine strangers trying to save one of the world’s last virgin forests.
The rest of the list includes:
The winner of 50,000 pounds will be announced October 16.
I’ve read SNAP from the longlist and have “Washington Black” and “The Overstory” on my to-read pile, but I may skip the others. Do you plan to read any before the winner is announced?
Related Review: SNAP
With the help of my friends, I found a list of easy books to capture my attention.
Carol Goodman, one of my favorite Gothic mystery writers, always adds a literary flavor to her stories as she maintains the suspense. Her latest book – The Other Mother – had me reading through the night. Daphne Marist and Laurel Hobbes, new mothers suffering from post-partum depression, meet in a support group and become best friends. As Goodman develops the tale, I wasn’t sure which one had been murdered, if one had assumed the other’s identity, or even if there were really two women. It’s a gripping page-turner and so much fun to read.
Joanna Trollope’s modern version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility is easier to follow if you know the original story, and Janeites may know Austen’s novels well enough to predict exactly what will happen next. Whether or not you are familiar with the plot (from Austen’s book or the movie with Emma Thomspon), this updated story will make you want to read to the happy ending of Trollope’s version.
After avoiding her books for so long, I finally read the first in Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels – Still Life. I enjoyed it more than I had expected. In Still Life, Penny establishes the setting in Three Pines. Her description of this fictional town near Montreal made me want to book a flight to find it. Gamache is introduced as the brilliant investigator who speaks fluent French as well as Cambridge educated English, and he starts each investigation with a croissant and a coffee – a civilized approach to murder.
Next on my agenda are two easy reads: a paperback I found buried in my stash – To Capture What We Cannot Keep – a nineteenth century romance by Scottish writer Beatrice Colin – set in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower construction; and Mary Alice Munroe’s beach read – appropriately titled Beach House Reunion.
Waiting in the wings:
A great start to the summer…
I miss chatting with bookstore owners who are avid readers. With only one independent bookstore on the island (BookEnds in Kailua) and a perfunctory Barnes and Noble at the mall, the pickings are slim in Hawaii. On a recent trip to the Monterey Peninsula, I found four independent bookstores within a five mile radius, and with booksellers happy to share their favorites. Of course, I could not get out of a store without buying a book or two.
At Bookworks in Pacific Grove, I found two books: an older (2012) Donna Leon mystery I had not read, with my favorite sleuth, Commissario Guido Brunetti – “Beastly Things,” and Joanna Trollope’s “Sense and Sensibility” (2013), her modernized version of the Jane Austen classic.
At Old Capitol Books in Monterey, I found myself scanning the stacks of old used books, some rare editions, checking off those I had read. Looking for favorite authors, I found an Amy Bloom book I had not read (at least I don’t remember reading it) – “Lucky Us.”
In Pilgrim’s Way, the charming bookstore connected to a garden in Carmel, I decided on “The Green Thoreau” and Scottish author Beatrice Colin’s “To Capture What We Cannot Keep.”
Chatting with the proprietor led me to another independent bookstore not far away – River House Books. There I found the first of Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache books – “Still Life” – recommended by a good friend, and Amy Bloom’s new book – “White Houses.” The bookseller commisserated about “Manhattan Beach” – like me, she had not been able to finish it – but I plan to try again. And her recommendation for the best page-turner she had read recently – “The Dry” – went to the top of my to-read list.
With this stack, Laura Lippman’s “Sunburn” on my iPhone and Navin’s “Only Child” on audible, I am ready for a long flight – unless, of course, the movie selection has an Oscar nominee to distract me.
How long do you expect to live? Chloe Benjamin uses the theory of expectations to deliver a compellng family saga of four siblings who visit a fortune teller after their father dies at forty-five. When the clairvoyant names the dates they will die, predicting a short life for the younger two, middle-age for the oldest son, and a long life for the eldest daughter, each designs a life destined to fulfill the phropecy.
Each life is revealed separately, weaving in the circumstances of the others over fifty years. Simon, the youngest, drops out of high school to escape to San Francisco in the nineteen eighties with his sister, an aspiring magician. Knowing he will die young, he adopts a reckless gay lifestyle leading to devastating consequences.
The deaths of the two middle children seem contrived with both dying on their appointed days, but Benjamin reveals her message with Vy, the eldest and longest living, who works as a researcher for a pharmaceutical firm developing a longevity formula. To live to her predicted 88 yesrs, Vy has severely limited her caloric intake and avoids physical contact, suffers from an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and lives in fear. An observer of her life comments she may be surviving but she is not living.
I remember a line from a movie with Tom Hanks asking the spy who is about to be sentenced why he is not worried. The spy answers: “Would it help (to worry)?” What will happen will happen. What would you do if you knew the date of your death? Would you try to change your life’s trajectory or worry as the date drew near?