Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Connie Goodwin has just spent the last three years in the PhD program at Harvard Grad School. She is now preparing to start the research on her doctorial dissertation in her chosen field, the history of Colonial Life. Her advisor, the esteemed professor Dr. Manning Chilton urges her to look vigorously for new sources telling her an uncovered primary source could really make her in this field.
Meanwhile, Connie's mother, Grace, a free spirit and a healer living in Santa Fe has asked her to get her grandmother's home in Marblehead ready for sale. The house, uninhabited for a couple of decades, lies in near ruin. Connie moves into the house, devoid of any modern conveniences and really knowing she has her job cut out for her. As she picks up a dusty Bible, an old key falls out, attached to the key is a small piece of paper with the words, `Deliverance Dane" which Dr. Chilton tells her could be a name.
As the story evolves, Howe gives readers the story of what's happening to the actual Deliverance Dane in the 17th Century when witch hunts were at their peak, as well as the story of Connie in 1991 Massachusetts. Each of the stories are equally compelling with the reader nearly cursing the writer as she is pulled from one story into another just as the story is getting good. But it speaks to Howe's skill as an author when the reader gets pulled back a forth 300 years and immediately gets into the story again.
The reader will certainly be totally enthralled with the story of Deliverance Dane, a 17th Century healer accused of causing the death of a young child. Just as compelling is the story of Connie in 1991, her friend Liz, a new man in her life, steeplejack, Sam, and the person who is not the friend Connie has thought but instead a person who is out for his own gain, with near tragic consequences.
Howe is a credible writer, a historian of American and New England history herself whose ancestors were accused witches in Salem. It also has another interesting twist, one which is best left up to the reader to discover. This read is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. It has become quite the popular novel of the summer mainly by word of mouth - my favorite way of discovering a new book/author. It is has been my pleasure to pass the word as well.
Friday, July 03, 2009
Two weeks ago we took a quick trip the the ocean, ostensibly so I could view the sunset over the Pacific on the summer solstice as part of my - ahem - 60th binrthday gift to myself. We found a little cabin near the gorgeous Rialto Beach. However being so close to Forks, Washington, where the wildly successful Twilight books are set, we had to take some pictures of the local sites, especially for my friend, Tammy - the ultimate vampire fan! So enjoy the pictures and if you've read the books, you can imagine the setting a little better.
This book is more than just a memoir, more than a travelogue, it is a story of the beginning of a marriage and all that entails - but instead of beginning it in a home in an up and coming neighborhood as many newlyweds do, Janna and Graeme decide to take a two-year honeymoon from Seattle to the Galapagos and on through the South Pacific islands to Hong Kong. Their journey is threatened by everything from pirates to typhoons, but the real threat to their happiness lies in themselves.
I so enjoyed this story. It was one I truly didn't want to end. Janna tells this very personal story in a way many can relate to, whether their living on land, or following their sailing dreams. I enjoyed finding out how the sailing community works (cruisers often travel somewhat together, arriving at the same port and socializing). The crossing was a lonely one at times, and it was great to see Janna come into her own as a sailor.
I loved her writing and hope that since she and Graeme are living on land now, perhaps she can get that novel published. If this book is any indication of her talents, she has a great writing career ahead of her.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Sunday, October 26, 2008
At first it would appear that the two women couldn’t be more different. Stacie (who goes by her middle name, Elyse by this time) lives a bohemian existence in a cramped Paris apartment. Paula is married and has a young daughter. But on closer inspection they are both film critics, both have an older brother (also adopted). It isn’t long after they find out about each other that the two meet – and are stunned.
Although this book says it is a memoir, it is much more than that. The two women discover soon after they meet that the reason they were split up was for an experiment being performed on twins and triplets who were intentionally separated for the study. Told in alternating points of view by both Paula and Elyse, they go into different twin studies, give statistics on twins, and much more.
As they find out more answers, they have more questions, the final one being who was their mother and why were they given up?
I couldn’t put this book done (read on my Kindle). As a mother of twins (even though they are fraternal – boy/girl) I probably had a higher interest in the story than someone who didn’t have twins but this is recommended to all. The rather shocking reasons for the study coupled with the story of their birth mother had me clicking through the book at a feverish pace, wondering how it was all going to turn out.
This book is well-written, interesting, and unputdownable – the perfect read.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Becoming a teacher over her parents’ objections, recent Columbia grad Anna Taggart is thrilled to land a plumb job as a teacher at a posh Manhattan private school. However, her salary is barely going to cover her rent in a cramped 5th floor walkup let alone her other expenses. However Anna feels teaching is her calling and can’t wait to teach the 7th graders Shakespeare and Lord of the Rings in her own fun way. It’s not long before she discovers she can make literally thousands extra a week “tutoring” wealthy students. The word tutor is a bit of a misnomer. Anna soon discovers she’s not tutoring at all but is expected to actually do the students’ homework for them. She at first doesn’t want to sacrifice her principles but when she discovers “tutoring” can not only pay her rent on a luxury apartment but buy her designer clothing and accessories and a lifestyle she’s only dreamed with, she’s clamoring for even more students.
Based on the author’s own experiences, SCHOOLED may shock those who think the road to Ivy League Schools is paved with the brightest and best. Lakhani exposes a portion of society that feels money can buy anything including good grades for students whose vocabulary and comprehension are at primary school level.
Will Anna come to her senses and realize what is really happening here or will she fall victim to the high-living Manhattan lifestyle her tutoring gives her?
Lakhani is a terrific writer and this book was enjoyable from beginning to end. It flows very smoothly and goes by so fast that the reader is sure to be a bit disappointed to find they’ve come to the end. This is a glorious debut from an author readers will be clamoring to hear more from and it can’t come too soon. Highly recommended,
Saturday, August 09, 2008
I knew right off I would enjoy this book when I read reviews saying it was reminiscent of Helene Hanff’s classic 84 Charing Cross Road, a series of letters between a New York City book lover and a clerk in the London bookstore. A book I loved so much that when in London I sought out its location where only a plaque on a building gives any clue to the former site.
Writer Juliet Ashton is stumped. She has no idea as to the subject of her next book. She is tired of the light-hearted items she wrote to keep her fellow English subjects amused during the war and wants to write something with a bit more substance.
Then she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a farmer from Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Dawsey has found her name in a Charles Lamb book she once owned and is wondering if she can help him find more books by the author.
As Juliet exchanges letter with Dawsey and eventually other residents of Guernsey who are members of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – a group formed in haste as an alibi to the Germans who occupied the island during World War II. As she continues to receive letters, these people whose lives were so changed so drastically during the German Occupation captivate her. She decides a visit to Guernsey is in order. She also is intrigued about the stories of the now-missing Elizabeth McKenna, a much-loved and important member of the community. The letters also include correspondence between Juliet and her publisher as well as her best friend, a young wife and mother in Scotland which helps to lend depth to the novel as she is able to give her first-hand observations of the islanders she has met.
You’ll laugh, cry, and be absolutely charmed by this wonderful epistolary novel. If you love books you’ll enjoy reading Juliet’s observations of booksellers and readers and why she broke up with her fiancé on the eve of her wedding.
Sales of books by and about Charles Lamb are sure to increase as readers of this novel will want to know more about the book that brought Juliet to Guernsey; sales of Jane Austen books as well as those by the Bronte sisters may also be affected.
The Guernsey tourism industry is also sure to benefit – I certainly would love to book a trip to see this quaint island, out of the way of the usual UK tourist trade.
Sadly, we won’t have any more books from Ms. Shaffer who passed away earlier this year; but perhaps there’s a hidden manuscript somewhere. We can only hope. As it is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is going on top of my reading favorites for the year. Highly recommended.
Monday, August 04, 2008
RIP Andrew Jackson PalmerI didn't know young Andy Palmer, but as a employee of Jefferson Healthcare had met his father, local gynecologist Bob Palmer several times and had spoken with his mother, Janet on the phone. This is a small town, an a tragedy such as this touches the entire community. Andy graduated high school two months ago--who knew that less than two months later his memorial service would be held in the very place where he celebrated his graduation. Having a grandson the same age, made it even more personal for me.
I wanted more people than those in the Pacific Northwest to know about this outstanding young man and so have included the obituary that was shared with the hospital employees as well as a brief story from regarding his memorial service today. A more complete story about Andy can be found at the Port Townsend Leader newspaper.
Andrew Jackson Palmer shared almost nineteen years with us on the Olympic Peninsula. He was born in Port Angeles, WA on September 10, 1989 to Janet and Bob Palmer as their third son.
Andy attended the Children’s Montessori School, Fairview and Franklin Elementary, Roosevelt Middle Schools in Port Angeles and Port Townsend High School. At 6’5” and 240 pounds he was a natural for football and valued being part of the Port Townsend Football Team for four years. Bonfires on the beach, sporting clays, games of urban golf, fugitive, dark, ultimate Frisbee, baseball, weight lifting, reading and spending time with his many friends filled his days. Andy was a devoted Big Brother and has a little brother in our community. He was very proud of his big red Dodge 2500 turbo diesel pickup truck and might be found out bucking hay for local farmers, working at A+ Rentals, Les Schwab or more recently at Auto Works, all in Port Townsend.
Andy is survived by his loving parents, brothers Rob, a firefighter and Henry, a merchant mariner, grandparents Bob and Ina in Sequim, aunt Beverly and cousin Camille in Santa Barbara, aunt Marilyn Acker of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, family in Canada of aunt Cheryl Acker and cousins Gayle in Kamloops, Joyce and Josh in Vancouver, Karen, Grant and Kayla in Iqaluit, and many more.
Andy had an unerring sense of right and wrong since childhood. He will always be remembered as one who held himself to the highest principles of truth, fairness, justice and kindness. He was loyal, honest and trustworthy- loved by all that knew him. He will be missed but we will all be better for having known him. Andy would ask those who survive him to conduct their lives with integrity and compassion for a better world.
Andy died honorably as a firefighter for the National Park Service on the Iron Complex fire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest near Weaverville, CA on Friday July 25, 2008.
A Celebration of Life is scheduled for Monday, August 4 at 10 AM at McCurdy Pavilion, Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, Washington. All who knew of Andy are invited.
In lieu of flowers, an Andy Palmer Memorial Scholarship fund has been established through the Port Townsend High School Scholarship Foundation. Donations may be sent to the Foundation at 538 Calhoun Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368.
PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. -- The sound of fire engines echoed through Port Townsend streets, as a precession of 100 fire trucks honored a fallen firefighter.
Eighteen-year-old Andy Palmer died while battling a wildfire in California's Shasta Trinity-National Park two weeks ago. He had been a firefighter at Olympic National Park for only one month.
"When he got called to go to California he was just thrilled, just on cloud nine," said family friend Andy Loos.
Representatives from 54 different agencies crowded the memorial service at Fort Worden in Port Townsend. Some flew in from California and Oregon to pay their respects.
"Andy probably would have said 'unbelievable,' " Loos said. "He would have felt this truly amazing, I think."
Friends described Palmer as a "gentle giant." At 6 foot 4 inches and 240 pounds, the Port Townsend High School graduate towered over everybody. His size made him a natural offensive lineman during his high school years.
"Andy loved playing football. I never started a game without a hug from him and a prayer of strength from his favorite movie Boondock Saints," said teammate Christian DuBois.
He added that Palmer never turned down a free plate of food.
Palmer joined the Olympic National Park as a seasonal firefighter. He died on his first assignment when a tree fell on him. Port Townsend High Athletic Director Scott Ricardo said Palmer told a colleague "to tell his mom and dad I love them" as he was being hoisted from the fire lines.
Palmer would have turned 19 in September and planned to major in mechanical engineering at Montana State University in the fall.
A scholarship fund has been set up in his name, for future Port Townsend High students.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)
3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
4. The Liars' Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)
13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87)
14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)
16. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988)
18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)
19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
20. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding (1998)
21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000)
22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)
23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985)
25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989)
26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
27. Possession, A.S. Byatt (1990)
28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
29. Bel Canto, Anne Patchett (2001)
30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)
31. The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien (1990)
32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)
34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002)
35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
36. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996)
37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003)
38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1998)
39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)
40. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (1995-2000)
41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)
42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)
43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)
44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)
46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996)
47. World's Fair, E.L. Doctorow (1985)
48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)
50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)
51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992)
53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (2000)
54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000)
55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006)
56. The Night Manager, John le Carré (1993)
57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987)
58. Drop City, TC Boyle (2003)
59. Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat (1995)
60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)
61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)
62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994)
63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000)
64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997)
65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
67. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003)
68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997)
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003)
73. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989)
74. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger (1990)
75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983)
76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (1998)
77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
79. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984)
81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)
82. Atonement, Ian McEwan (2002)
83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998)
85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)
87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)
88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995)
89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999)
90. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl (2001)
91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)
93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991)
94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001)
95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1998)
96. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2003)
97. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
98. The Predators' Ball, Connie Bruck (1988)
99. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (1995)
100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004)
Those I own are in blue, those I've read are in red
Monday, July 14, 2008
October 21, 2008
Little, Brown, and Company
Hachette Book Group
Anita Shreve never plays it safe with her books and her latest, Testimony, is no exception.
Avery Academy is a small private school in Vermont. Everyone who attends has been carefully screened and selected to attend. From the rich young freshmen to the athletic seniors tapped for college play; no one attends Avery Academy by chance.
But for Avery Academy, all is not as it seems from outside its gates. Parties, which include alcohol and drugs, still occur and kids still get in trouble. This sets the scene for a horrible sex scandal from which no one will come out unscathed, not the students, not the parents, not the headmaster of the school; and not even the citizens of the town of Avery who don’t even usually pay too much attention to what goes on behind the hallowed gates up on the hill just out of town. Parents find that even though they pay for the best education for their children, send them to the best schools available, they still can’t protect them. Adults find that passionate desires can have far-reaching effects that can change lives forever.
Told from multiple points of view (I counted 20) in less talented hands the narration could get confusing. But with Shreve, it did not. Perhaps that was because with over a dozen of these narrators we only hear from them once or twice.
However the story essentially belongs to three people: Mike, the headmaster of the school who we get to know the best, and Silas and Noelle, the two star-crossed lovers; Silas the basketball star, the local boy made good, son of average farmers from the town of Avery and Noelle, the talented musician destined for Julliard. As the story of the events of that one evening of sex and alcohol unfolds it is becomes clear that Silas stands to lose it all. But what sets in place such behavior uncharacteristic of the normally mild-mannered youth is at the crux of the rest of the story.
A graphic beginning describes the events of that tragic evening; and this is so graphic that it could tend to turn off some readers, readers who may be unfamiliar with Shreve’s work. But those who have come to know and trust Shreve as an author will be compelled to keep reading and be certainly glad they did as the events unfold, a bit at a time, through the voices of not only Mike, Silas, and Noelle, but parents, classmates, and the other students involved in the scandal. We also hear from a reporter who eventually wins the Pulitzer for his reporting of the events.
However as the story develops, readers see that the scandal is only the tip of the iceberg for a greater tragedy that will even more deeply affect those involved.
This is Shreve at her best. She tells a compelling story so eloquently that is one of those deemed “unputdownable” -- be sure to start this one early in the day so you will have plenty of time to finish as once you begin it, you will not be able to stop turning the pages.
By Kristin Hannah
St. Martin’s Press
There are several things readers have come to expect when they read a Kristin Hannah book—that they’ll get an amazing, compelling, emotional story, that they can’t put down once they’ve started. While TRUE COLORS is no exception, there is a degree of depth to this novel that sets it apart from anything the author has written in the past. A degree of depth that won’t simply satisfy her legions of current fans, but I dare say should bring her to the attention of many more.
Spanning nearly 30 years in the lives of the Grey sisters of Water’s Edge, a waterfront ranch on the shores of Washington state’s picturesque Hood Canal, first meet the sisters in 1979 just after the death of their beloved mother. It’s obvious from the beginning that her loss is going to leave an enormous hole in their hearts and have long-lasting effects in the lives of these young girls. But even worse, their grieving father Henry buries his soul when he buries his wife, coping with life by drowning his sorrows in a bottle of hard liquor.
The book quickly fast forwards 13 years where we find oldest sister Winona just beginning her law practice in the nearby town of Oyster Shores, Aurora a young wife and mother of twins, while the youngest the beautiful but fragile Vivi Ann is an expert barrel racer on the western rodeo circuit, living at home, helping her father on the failing ranch that has been in their family for generations. Vivi Ann soon comes up with a plan to save the ranch and resurrects it into a thriving horse arena for lessons and competitions.
Meanwhile Winona, who has been fighting a weight problem all her life, may, at long last, have romance come her way when her childhood crush, veterinarian Luke Connelly returns to town. She is excited that this time their relationship may become more than just friendship—until he is captivated by the beautiful ViviAnn. Although Vivi Ann doesn’t totally return his feelings, they eventually become engaged. Winona has a difficult time hiding her jealousy. All of this causes a rift between the sisters that won’t soon be mended, especially when the new ranch hand and quintessential “bad boy” Dallas Raintree excites Vivi Ann much more than Luke ever can. This sets in place a tragedy that changes the complexion of the sisters’ relationship forever.
This also sets in place events that propel this novel from one of Kristin Hannah’s hallmark “domestic dramas” into one that is part legal drama, a coming of age story of a teenage boy, a story of redemption and forgiveness, and of loyalty and unfailing belief in someone when it really counts.
Kristin Hannah excels in knowing how to pull at the reader’s heartstrings, to touch their emotional sweet spot, and with TRUE COLORS she pulls at those heartstrings and doesn’t let go. TRUE COLORS is Kristin Hannah at her very best – maybe even better than her very best. As usual readers need to keep the hankies handy for the read that is absolutely unputdownable and totally satisfying. As impossible as it seems, Kristin Hannah just gets better and better with each read; I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Young Rachel Kalama is taken from her home at the tender age of 7 and by age of 8 is interred at Kalaupapa on Molokai, more commonly known as Father Damien's Leper Colony. Apart from an uncle who is already there, she is all alone. Yet even with her sadness, with her little girl sweetness, she quickly charms everyone she comes in contact with and makes several very special friends along the way including two women who takes on motherly roles who couldn’t be more different from one another. From Rachel’s friendships with the other young girls – who are all there as if the were orphaned, to romances, to mischief she gets herself into, Brennert breathes such life into this wonderful character. So much so that when you read historical accounts of Father Damien’s Colony you fully expect to read her name among the former residents.
Rachel quickly gets into the reader's heart in such a special way, taking a hold of it and not letting go, not even after the last page is turned. She will stay with me for a long, long time. The story is one that made me for once glad for my insomnia as I was able to stay up until 3:30AM finishing. Then I couldn’t wait to discuss it with my husband and fellow readers the next day. I simply can’t recommend this book highly enough. If you love a good story with characters that simply stay with you for a long time, if you love the Hawaiian Islands, if you are more interested in reading a bit more about Hansen’s Disease (as leprosy is now more correctly called) or are simply just wanting a good book that you can’t put down than I urge you to give Molokai a try. My only regret is that I didn’t get it to it sooner. It had been recommended to me about four years ago and had been on my TBR pile for nearly three years. Don’t make that mistake. Read this book and have your heart deeply touched.
Just what is a friend? And what would you do for your best friend? What kind of sacrifices would you make? Many of us will never find this out. But some of us will. Some of us already know. Kristin Hannah shows us with this outstanding novel what friendship really is and how it can endure over the years. She shows us the power of friendship.
Now for the a few details – without revealing so much as to rob readers of discoveries they should make themselves. Kate Mularkey and Tully Hart meet when they are in junior high – both felt they were outsiders. Tully comes into Kate’s life a low point. She is the most beautiful, classiest person she has ever met – and she has moved right across the street. But Tully has a secret, one she hides with a lie. Eventually Kate learns to trust Tully and they become best of friends with a friendship that lasts through college and as their lives take very different paths. But this doesn’t mean everything is always easy between the two. And it doesn’t mean that one isn’t jealous of the other, but it does mean that they are there for one another. Which, as the story evolves, reveals itself in a powerful way.
Those who grew up in the 70s will love the references to the songs as the decades go by. Those who grew up in the Pacific Northwest will enjoy all the references to familiar events and locations that make everything come to life and lend an air of authenticity to the novel.
I have followed Kristin Hannah’s writing career from the beginning. From its start with a romantic hero with the unusual name of Stone Man McKenna to a wonderful time-travel set in the San Juan Islands (Once in Every Life) to the gut-wrenchingly emotional If You Believe to her breakout novel On Mystic Lake and then several bestselling novels that have made her a favorite with readers everywhere. Now with Firefly Lane she has simply reached the summit of the mountain. Make yourself comfortable – set yourself by the fireplace, grab a cup (or two or three) of your favorite beverage, a box of tissues, and put your feet up. You’ll be there for a while because you won’t want to put this book down once you’ve started. Oh – and you’ll probably want to your best friend’s phone number handy for you’ll want to phone her as soon as you finish.
Monday, December 17, 2007
5 Things I was doing 10 years ago:
- Living in a nearly 100 year old house on Bainbridge Island, WA
- Not feeling too much like Christmas having only recently lost my father
- Raising 16 year-old twins who each had their own cars and waiting up late at night waiting for the sound of the cars in the driveway
- Reviewing books and editing Rawhide and Lace Magazine (I was probably on a deadline)
- Still waiting for my ship to come in
5 Things on my To-Do List today:
- Wrap Chrstimas Gifts
- Get rid of clothes in spare bed room
- Order gifts from Heifer international for my brothers
- Finish Christmas cards
- Finish online shopping
5 Things I would do if I were a millionaire:
- Quit work and write that great American novel (and, in a perfect world, babysit my granddaughter)
- Revisit Ireland and Wales
- Move to one of our favorite places (we’d have two homes one in the San Juans and one somewhere warm – probably Kauai they've been our favorite places to visit over the years so why not live there?)
- Buy a boat hahahaha
- Have lap band surgery
5 Things I'll never wear again (or have never worn):
- High heels
- Hot pants
5 Favorite Toys:
- Anything Kyra’s playing with
Saturday, December 08, 2007
We figured the general admissions and decent seats went within 15 minutes in Seattle. I just went to Stub Hub and the great seats are going for over $1500. Even the GA are going for at least 50% more than what we paid. Darn! John just said we should have thought this through and bought four tickets. As they say hindsight is 20/20. I am really looking forward to this because I love his political diatribes and with the 2008 election coming around you know he is going to have A LOT to say! And the general admission will still be better than when I saw him over 20 years ago in Tacoma from the second to last row of the Tacoma Dome.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Then I read that Sean Penn was finally making a movie adapted from the book and filming in Carthage. I thought it would be really interesting to see Carthage on the big screen. The first day it was showing in our little theater here in town I Shanghaied my husband (who really isn’t a movie goer, in fact if you ask him, on a scale of 1-10, that he’d suggest going to a movie as a form of entertainment he’d probably tell you –2) into going with me for the matinee. Now John had seen the Oprah show where Sean Penn and Emile Hirsch (who portrays young McCandless in the film) were guests along with author Jon Krakauer and didn’t think too much of McCandless so he was even less excited than usual about seeing this film. If he had known ahead of time that it was 140 minutes long he’d probably had left the theater after his first carton of Milk Duds. But the trooper he is, he persevered for my sake.
The movie adequately told the story of young Christopher McCandless who after graduating from Emory University, took off on a two year road trip, calling himself Alexander Supertramp. Very early on his car was destroyed and he abandoned it, burned what little money he had left and took off on foot. Some one say he was idealist others an adventurer, but others just reckless. Everyone seems to have his or her own opinion. What is clear is that he was found two year later dead in an abandoned bus just north of Denali National Park in Alaska. However his adventures along the way and the people he met tell a very interesting story. And the just how he died is still fodder for speculation although Krakauer does give his theory. Hirsch as McCandless is wonderful – his portrayal deserves an Oscar nomination as does that of Hal Holbrook as Ron Franz, the elderly recluse who befriends him. Told mostly in flashbacks, the movie suffers from uneven editing. I was also disappointed in the cinematography—the Alaskan scenes could have been brilliant but they were just average. That said, the South Dakota prairie was breathtaking. And it was fun to see Carthage. I think the entire town was filmed.
After watching the movie, I was compelled to read the book again. At only 207 pages it’s a fairly quick read. It was even more meaningful after watching the movie. I read many passages out loud to my husband and told him I thought he might change his opinion of McCandless. He is now reading the book. I don’t have the absolutely negative opinion of young Chris as many people have. He was a bit reckless, that’s for sure. But no more than many young men. As Krakauer mentions late in the book, it’s that attribute of daring that contributes to many young men signing up for the military—particularly in times of war. Yes, he did some things wrong. But don’t we all. The only reason that we’re reading about him was that he made some little mistakes that ended up killing him. He was actually a smart kid and I found a lot in him to be admired. It was sad he had to die. Any loss of life is sad. And that is what bothers me the most. That a parent lost a child, that a sister lost a brother, that a world lost a promising young man. There are lessons to be learned here, of course, but was the price too great?
“I can’t read a word on the menu. I can’t read a word in the weekly television listings, I can’t read a word in the cookbook. I can’t do the puzzle. I can’t read a word anything at all unless it’s written in extremely large type, the larger the better. The other day I pulled up something I wrote years ago, and it was written in something so mall I can’t imagine how I wrote the thing in the first place. I used to write in twelve point type; now I am up to sixteen and thinking about going to eighteen or twenty.
“Reading is bliss. But my ability to pick something up and read it—which has gone unchecked all my life up until now—is now entirely dependent on the whereabouts of my reading glasses. I look around. Why aren’t they in this room? I bought six pair of them last week on sale and sprinkled them throughout the house, yet none of them is visible. Where are they?”
My other favorite essay is one titled, On Rapture -- having to do with the spending several days in rapture with reading a book. It was then I knew, that despite her millions, her thinness, her cosmopolitaness, and her fame, that we were soul sisters.
“I have just surfaced from spending several days in a state of rapture—with a book. I loved this book. I loved every second of it. I was transported into its world. I was reminded of all sorts of things in my own life. It was in anguish over the fate of its characters. I felt alive, and engaged, and positively brilliant, bursting with ideas, brimming with memories of other books. I’ve loved. I composed a dozen imaginary letters to the author, letters I’ll never write, much less send. I wrote letters of praise. I wrote letters relating entirely inappropriate personal information about my own experiences with the author’s subject matter. I even wrote a letter of recrimination when one of the characters died and I was grief-stricken. But mostly I wrote letters of gratitude: the state of rapture I experience when I read a wonderful book is one of the main reasons I read, but it doesn’t happen every time or even every other time, and when it does happen, I’m truly beside myself.”
What avid reader hasn’t felt this way??
It was these two essays that convinced me that I had to own this book. No, I still didn’t pay $20 for a copy but I did fine a pristine used copy at Amazon.com so I can read these essays again and again. And enjoy them again and again. Maybe, as I grow even older I will find that I have even more in common with the author. Highly recommended!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Monday, October 01, 2007
Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl - 4.5/5
Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl 4.5/5
Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl 5/5
I Feel Bad About by Neck by Nora Ephron 4.5/5
Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot 4/5
Our evening started out early when I picked Jake up at his home and we took the ferry over to Seattle. Since he’s the chef, he picked out the restaurant, I asked for one that uses local foods. He chose Restaurant Zoe, one the owners of the restaurant where he works as sous chef has been recommending. In fact, the chef-owner of Restaurant Zoe lives on Bainbridge Island and has dined at Jake’s restaurant, The Four Swallows, many times.
We arrived right on time for our 5:30 reservations. I let Jake pick out most of the appetizer and despite the fact I really wanted the foie gras, we had ricotta gnudi which was divine. Jake also chose the wine – and let me see if I can get this right, I did write it down: Podere Ruggeri Corsini 2004 Barbera d’Alba Armujan. One of the perks dining with my son came to light when, on overhearing a conversation our server discovered Jake was “in the industry” and asked him about it. Another appetizer arrived at our table compliment of the kitchen. We did each choose our own entrée: He had a braised short rib dish (it looked yummy) and as per my usual I had scallops. They weren’t as good as Jake does at the Four Swallows but they were unique and delicious. We ended our meal with desert and coffee, having had a wonderful meal with impeccable service.
It was then off to the beautiful Paramount Theater, one of my favorite venues in Seattle. I think the first concert I ever attended there was in late 1972 or early 1973 (Kris Kristofferson). It is a magnificent old structure and the architecture alone is worth a visit. Because I didn’t find out about this concert until tickets had been on sale for a week, our seats were in the third mezzanine, but the hike up three flights of stairs was worth it. Every seat in this venue of around 3000 is a good one and our seats in the first row of the third mezzanine were no exception.
I tried to prepare Jake a bit for the music. I explained to him that while Jethro Tull was a loud band and what we’d call hard rock back in the day, they were quite unique, taking their inspiration from more classical music. And indeed throughout the evening this proved to be the case as they played everything from Bach, to Henry VIII to a song inspired by Shakespeare. Of course they did many of the more well known Jethro Tull hits, Aqualung, Thick as a Brick, Living in the Past. etc. Ian Anderson, is a delightful stage presence, his foot work (prancing on stage like an elf) and this virtuoso flute playing (does anyone do this better?) has not suffered in the 40 years he has been performing. His voice still has the same quality we all remember and is instantly recognizable, albeit perhaps a bit weaker and in a different key, but it is that wonderful, delightful, sexy Ian Anderson all the same.
Unfortunately we had to cut our evening short as I was getting a migraine and Jake was feeling a bit sick to his stomach and we had a ferry to catch – not willing to wait until a much later ferry that would get me home after 2:00 AM.