Month: April 2009

Mommies Behaving Badly

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Currently I am reading a book entitled “Mommies Behaving Badly”. It is yet another book about a wife getting bored in the suburbs.

So far it has been pretty good and amusing as the main character balances her job, frequently absent husband, and three kids.

But the most amusing thing was what I found in the book.

At our library, you receive a “ticket” from the library at the check out desk. It tells you your name and the title of the book and the due date.

Sometimes people leave their tickets in the book leaving a paper trail of former readers.

The last reader was a man named “Rick”. I am pretty sure that this book was not what Rick intended.

Lady Susan

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This month our book club read anything by Jane Austen. I took a look at my “Complete Works” collection and noticed a title I had not heard anything about: Lady Susan.

It was short and unknown and so I thought, why not?

In this book Austen explores the (deplorable) character of Lady Susan, a recent widow whose primary goal and source of enjoyment is to make men fall in love with her — whether they are married themselves or seeking after her own daughter’s hand.

Though the story is interesting, it’s almost like a rough draft that Austen got tired of. After writing several letters, Austen moves to a “Conclusion” where she just finishes the story, as though she got tired of the format or just ran out of time.

Cold Sassy Tree

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A few years after my book club, I finally finished Cold Sassy Tree. I liked it; the characters were very well developed and the author foreshadowed events brilliantly. She always kept you guessing and turning the page. Considering the author’s battle against cancer while she was writing this book, I appreciated the ending when the Grandpa is talking to his wife about his view on God and answering prayers. I knew that they most likely reflected her own hard-earned views, and I appreciated getting that little window into her personal thoughts.

My only criticism of the book, and it’s a small one, is that the book does not do anything for the reputation of a small, Southern town. Every stereotype possible is thrown in, and I cannot figure out if it would be good to live in a small town or ifI should be grateful for my relative anonymity.

Review from Amazon.com:
Cold Sassy Tree, a novel full of warm humor and honesty, is told by Willy Tweedy, a fourteen-year-old boy living in a small, turn-of-the-century Georgia town. Will’s hero is his Grandpa Rucker, who runs the town’s general store, carrying all the power and privilege thereof. When Grandpa Rucker suddenly marries his store’s young milliner barely three weeks after his wife’s death, the town is set on its ear. Will Tweedy matures as he watches his family’s reaction and adjustment to the news. He is trapped in the awkward phase of rising to adult expectations – driving the first cars in town – while still orchestrating wild pranks and starting scandalous gossip through his childish bragging. He seeks the wisdom of his grandpa and has his eyes opened to southern “ways” under the tutelage of Grandpa’s new Yankee wife, Miss Love. Still, Will “couldn’t figure out…why in the heck she would marry the old man.” But Miss Love’s influence seems to be transforming Grandpa into a younger man, and the answer unfolds slowly and sweetly as Will Tweedy becomes the confidante and staunch defender of this unlikely couple. The lessons of life and death, of piousness and irreverence, form the basis of memorable characters and a story that is both difficult to put down and hard to leave.

Skeletons At The Feast

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A few weeks ago I tried an experiment. My kids never give me enough time (or peace) to peruse the stacks at the library and so I went to the new release hardback section and grabbed something from the first group. I picked, at random, Skeletons At The Feast.

It’s the story of three separate groups and how their paths cross during World War II. There is a family and their POW escaping West trying to stay one step ahead of the Russians who are pressing on. There is a young Jewish man who jumped off of the train that was taking him to a work camp and is now trying to find his sister. And there is a Jewish woman who is at a work camp trying to keep her hope alive and the hopes of those around her.

This book seemed to last longer than World War II. Because the subject matter was depressing and heavy, this book was really easy to put down and keep it down.

You will not find many happy endings but you will be relieved that the end has finally arrived!

From Publishers Weekly:
In his 12th novel, Bohjalian (The Double Bind) paints the brutal landscape of Nazi Germany as German refugees struggle westward ahead of the advancing Russian army. Inspired by the unpublished diary of a Prussian woman who fled west in 1945, the novel exhumes the ruin of spirit, flesh and faith that accompanied thousands of such desperate journeys. Prussian aristocrat Rolf Emmerich and his two elder sons are sent into battle, while his wife flees with their other children and a Scottish POW who has been working on their estate. Before long, they meet up with Uri Singer, a Jewish escapee from an Auschwitz-bound train, who becomes the group’s protector. In a parallel story line, hundreds of Jewish women shuffle west on a gruesome death march from a concentration camp. Bohjalian presents the difficulties confronting both sets of travelers with carefully researched detail and an unflinching eye, but he blinks when creating the Emmerichs, painting them as untainted by either their privileged status, their indoctrination by the Nazi Party or their adoration of Hitler. Although most of the characters lack complexity, Bohjalian’s well-chosen descriptions capture the anguish of a tragic era and the dehumanizing desolation wrought by war.