“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you.” – Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird.
Our November meeting was a high from beginning to end. Either the books were just all great or we were just overally enthusiastic. Whatever it was everyone agreed it was the best session we’d had in a long time. Everyone was making notes, listing books they wanted to read.
It was my turn to present an author and I chose Julia Spencer-Fleming and her excellent mystery series set in Miller’s Kill, New York. It is important you read the series from the beginning (In the Bleak Midwinter) because the main characters, Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne and the Reverend Clare Fergusson, experience a lot of life changes. Now on to the books. Because I find it hard to express some of the enthusiasm over some of these titles I’ve put stars next to some of the ones that got the best reviews. * Really Really Liked, ** Wow! Hope you find some here to add to your list.
*Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld (2013) 416 pages. The story of twin sisters, each born with a mild form of ESP. An emotional study of the two women as they choose different directions in their lives and use their “gift” in very different situations.
*Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie (1984) 291 pages. Pulitzer winner for fiction in 1985 and National Book Award in 1984. While working on her book in Great Britian, Virginia, a fifty something English professor is drawn into an affair with an Oklahoma tourist.
**The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell (2013) 368 pages. “Take a dollop of Alfred Hitchcock, a dollop of Patricia Highsmith, throw in some Great Gatsby flourishes, and the result is a pitch-black comedy about a police stenographer accused of murder in 1920s Manhattan.” Nancy, the reviewer loved it and wouldn’t drop any spoilers.
*The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett (2013) 353 pages. Nine months after the death of his wife, Peter Byerly is drawn to an antiquarian bookshop. While browsing through an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, he is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. It is clearly Victorian and so the mystery begins.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Waiter (2012) 368 pages. The “beautiful ruins” of this story include not only its physical setting, in a tiny coastal village destined for extinction but also the larger than life characters.
*House at Riverton by Kate Morton (2009) 473 pages. “Set in England this is the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death and a way of life that has vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all and kept a secret for decades.”
**The Color of Water by James McBride (1996) 301 pages. A black man’s tribute to his white mother, the autobiography of James McBride.
Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian (2008) 400 pages. A tale of three young Jews—Anna, Callum and Uri—who must trek from Warsaw to reach the Allied lines in the waning days of WW II.
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (2010) 384 pages. When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family.
*Deadly Heat by Richard Castle (2013) 304 pages. Those of you who read this series are addicted already. This one continues the plot from book 4 and carries it further. Nothing deep here folks, just a great plot and a thrilling story. Kick back and have fun.
The Lois Wilson Story by William Borchert (2005) 400 pages. Until this book was written, little was known about Lois Wilson, the wife of the famously anonymous Bill W. and the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. She also created Al-Anon, the support group for family and friends.
**Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (2013) 544 pages. The sequel to The Shining and it was worth he wait. King’s horror sense is in fine form. “Doc” Dan (Danny) Torrence is now a middle-aged alcoholic who needs to get his act together in order to fight those who “feed” off children who possess the “shining.”