Since I can’t seem to gather enough thoughts together these days to write about books in any lengthy fashion, I am going to give you three brief thoughts on books I’ve finished lately:
A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Spark -Set in 1950’s Kensington, this darkly humorous novel is told in the first person by Mrs. Hawkins, an overweight widow who works in publishing. Mrs. Hawkins is a dependable and sensible woman, seen as a mother figure to many though she is really quite young. She realizes that this is tied to her matronly appearance and when she starts losing weight those who depended on her before no longer trust her opinion and chaos ensues. I didn’t think about the connection between her slenderness and the way others view and react to her as I was reading the novel, but now I think this may be one of the main themes. Anyway, I really enjoy Spark’s writing and I love her whimsically sardonic humor.
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe – This memoir is the beautiful story of Schwalbe’s relationship with his dying mother, Mary Anne, and how books draw them together during her final months on earth. Mary Anne is a remarkable and wise woman who lives with dignity. She imparts some wonderful life lessons to her son as they discuss the books they’re reading and Will is able to learn more about his mother’s life through her beliefs and opinions of the books they share. I think this book strikes a perfect tone – never crossing over into saccharine – and is a wonderful tribute to Mary Anne and her life filled with service. To read more about this really special book visit Lisa or Karen.
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (no photo) – This first time novel is a treat. In beautiful, unadorned prose Coplin tells the story of William Talmage, a lonely orchardist, whose life is upended by the arrival of two hungry teen girls in his remote valley in Washington State. The novel examines the need for connection and how that desire can lead to unlikely bonds. The setting, late nineteenth century Western USA, enhances the sense of isolation the characters endure and makes their longing for relationships even more poignant. Coplin’s writing is lovely and it will be interesting to see where it takes her next.
Happy November! I have a feeling this is going to be a great month.