Mid Week Book Review

I’ve been on a reading frenzy the last few weeks. I’d picked up a new book by a favourite author for my week away, went back and re-read a few of her others and decided it was time to read something new. Not as a result of being disappointed in the re-reading, mind you, just a desire to get out of a rut.

So off to Chapters, gift cards in hand, I did go. For once, I managed to cobble together a few likelies from the 4 for $10 table, and picked up some extras to boot. I’m still working through that pile, but I’m not feeling way satisfied so far.

Here’s my take on the pages I’ve perused these last few weeks:

Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy

You can’t go wrong with Maeve Binchy, or at least I can’t. I love love love the way she writes, and the way her writing has evolved over the years. I first fell in love with the lady’s writing at the tender age of 10 or 11, when I read an excerpt from Light a Penny Candle in my mother’s Good Housekeeping Magazine.  I eventually caught up with all that she wrote through the 80s and 90s and have been able to keep pace with her releases for the last several years. Heart and Soul brings together characters from several recent books – Nights of Rain and Stars, Whitethorn Woods, even Evening Class, and others and expands on their stories, as well as introducing new characters. I love how this has become a pattern in the books of the latter part of Binchy’s continuing career. This was the vacation book – nice, light reading that is both new and familiar all at once.

The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer

The back-cover copy and a quick flip-through were intriguing enough to make me buy, but once I got started I found myself reading it just so I could say I finished it. It’s a familiar refrain – successful career woman puts it all on hiatus to stay home and mother and then starts to wonder if that’s all there is? I have a really hard time relating to characters like this or having any sympathy for them – their money angst stems from trying to afford private school and piano lessons on hubby’s six-figure salary alone and they just don’t walk in a world that’s familiar to me. It’s not about working or not working, or what’s more fulfilling – these women just don’t seem to ever consider that there might be a happy middle ground. I had the same issues a few years ago with I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson. While Nap’s women aren’t quite as…bitter…I still didn’t find them likeable, and therefore, it was hard to muster a whole lot of compassion.

My Sister From the Black Lagoon by Laurie Fox

This novelized version of the author’s life growing up with a mentally ill sister started strong. She did a good job of illustrating the confusion and conflict I could imagine a young child experiencing in that atmosphere, but the later chapters just seem to…wander. I kept waiting for the triumph, the epiphany, as it were, but it never seemed to come. Perhaps she does succeed after all, then…it’s an age-old lesson that you bring who you are with you wherever you go.  Where I get hung up is my personal belief that it’s not about how life events have shaped who you are…it’s what you do with who you are. Again, I finished it to finish it. There was a line though, that resonated…and I’m paraphrasing here: “When I run out of gas, everyone that’s riding in my car stops too.”

The Solomon Sisters Wise Up by Melissa Senate

Just to prove I’m a walking contradiction – I couldn’t really relate to any of these characters either but I loved the book. It’s funny, sad, compassionate and complicated, but it works. I’ve only read one other Senate novel, The Break-Up Club, and liked it, but this was WAY better. Classic chick lit, in its way, but with more meaning. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for girls with daddy issues. This would make a great movie too – I could see the scenes as I was reading, and was almost disappointed when it was over.

So, there’s where I’m at. I’ve just started Astonishing Splashes of Color by Claire Morrall, so it looks like I’m continuing on the exploring mental illness theme. This, however, is flowing, and even early on there are some twists that keep the pages turning. I hope it stays good. And I really, really wish that my local bookstore would carry Lani’s books. Also, how long until the next Diana Gabaldon? Summer’s coming!

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One Response to “Mid Week Book Review”

  1. Eva Says:

    Keep the reviews coming. It’s always good to know where to start when walking into Chapters.

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