What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Schine & Weber

Just in time for Valentine’s Day –  these books both deal with women in their forties and fifties seemingly falling in love with horribly unsuitable (younger) men.

The Music Lesson by Katharine Weber

When forty-something librarian Patricia Dolan meets a distant Irish cousin, Mickey, she immediately falls in love with his youth, confidence and beauty. Their steamy, intense relationship takes a sinister turn when Mickey recruits Patricia, who has an art education and works at the Frick Museum, to help him steal a famous Dutch painting that belongs to the British queen. The novel is a diary of Patricia’s experiences as she waits for Mickey in an isolated Irish cottage with the purloined painting hidden in an upstairs cupboard. The pacing is as slow as life in an Irish village, which leaves plenty of time for Patricia to write about her life before Mickey, her feelings about their relationship and her reflections on art. The story has a melancholy tone and is laden with an air of defeat. Patricia is somewhat of a wet blanket character, but the friends she makes in Ireland are colorful and eccentric enough to keep readers engaged right up to the shocking, unexpected betrayal that ends the tale. I read this soon after finishing The Goldfinch and enjoyed its similar themes and subject matter.

The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine

My book group discussed this novel at our January meeting. When Betty Weissmann’s husband leaves her for a younger colleague she moves with her two middle-aged daughters, Annie and Miranda, to a shabby house in Westport, CT that is generously provided by her extravagant Cousin Lou. Annie and Miranda have also run smack dab into financial, professional and personal setbacks so this decision to live together seems to solve many of their problems, though their temperaments severely conflict. As Betty prepares her divorce case (and becomes a Costco addict) and Annie tries to keep them financially afloat, Miranda falls crazy in love with a young actor named Kit who has a three-year-old son. This very funny book trots along at a brisk clip while the family struggles to find their footing in their strange, new (insolvent) existence. The characters are fully and charmingly drawn, though somewhat absurd, a trait I think Schine enjoys exposing. Resembling Barbara Pym’s work, the novel is a true social comedy on the surface, yet has an earnest and sad undertone. It is based rather loosely on Sense & Sensibility and my book group had fun discussing the similarities and differences in the two plots and appreciated the way Schine turns Austen’s ending on its head.

Do you have any favorite stories of love gone wrong?

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Sunday Bulletin 1/12

Mabel 2014

Miss Mabel looking pensive.

Hello, friends! How has your week been?

Mine was rather uneventful, filled with the usual work and chores and reading. I finished one book this week – Angela Thirkell’s High Rising, which I gobbled up and loved. After that, I turned to several other books, including I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, a scary, unsettling story set in Iceland and Mrs. Tim of the Regiment, which I am having a hard time finishing.

I did a bit of research into books I can read to fill my Century of Books list and discovered that most of the books that qualify from my own shelves come from the thirties and forties – I didn’t realize I owned that many books from those eras. I started reading a book published in 1999, the last year of the century, The Music Lesson by Katharine Weber and thought it would be fun to read one from the first year of the century also so I put a hold on Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser which was published in 1900.

What did you read this week? Did you make progress on your challenges or goals?

Have a lovely Sunday!