Archive for June, 2010
Imagine, for a moment, that you live in a nice quiet little middle-class street policed by the local volunteer neighbourhood watch. All the gardens are tidy and well-kept. The neighbours know one other, and nothing much ever happens here. And then imagine that a madwoman moves in next door.
Ok, now switch scenarios and imagine yourself as that madwoman, and that youâ€™ve moved into that nice little neighbourhood. Youâ€™ve not only moved there, but you want to belong, you want to mingle, you want to make friendsâ€¦.
June 18, 2010
Â· Judi Clark Â· One Comment
Tags: Dark Comedy, Europa Editions, Interview, Quirky, Unreliable Narrator Â· Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Betty Trask Prize, Humorous, Literary, Reading Guide, Unique Narrative, United Kingdom
The first person narrator of Leah Stewart’s Husband and Wife is thirty-five year old Sarah Price, who has been married to Nathan Bennett, a fiction writer, for four years. They are the doting parents of an incredibly precocious three-year-old girl, Mattie, and a baby boy. Sarah, who was once a promising poet, is now a busy mother who has a full-time job as a business manager for the Department of Neurobiology at Duke University. She is perpetually worn-out, but considers herself to be relatively fulfilled. One day, Nathan throws a monkey-wrench into their relationship when he confesses that his new book, Infidelity, is not completely fictional. Nathan morosely admits, “I cheated on you.”
Any literary aspirant who is thinking of naming a child of their own as a literary executor might think twice after seeing how one daughter plans to treat her father’s legacy in PERFECT READER: A NOVEL. Flora Dempsey, who is in her ripe twenties, is more interested in using her deceased father’s poems as proof of his love for her and as a possessive and preemptory weapon against the woman, Cynthia Reynolds, who became his companion shortly before he died. Flora thinks of all kinds of reasons why others should not have access to the poems and why publication might never be permitted. In a sense, her father, Lewis Dempsey, former college president and renown literary critic, has unwittingly given her a means to strike back at him, if only posthumously, for his having strayed away from her and her mother and for his not being able to be everything Flora wanted. She loved (and still loves) him, and longed (and still longs) to be special to him, but she also continues to feel a sad breach between them that she resents.
A FIERCE RADIANCE by Lauren Belfer is a compelling novel. Comprised of several genres, this is a book to pick up and savor. I was kept riveted by a combination of history, romance and mystery. This mix makes for a thrilling ride that kept me enthralled throughout.
The era is 1941 through 1944. The book opens just after Japan has bombed Pearl Harbor. Our country has declared war and young men are being drafted or signing up for the military.
The â€śAmerican girlâ€ť in the title of this novel refers to Eveline Auerbach, who, when the book opens, is a junior in high school. The novel is set in the late 70â€™s in East Hampton, New York.
Evie (as she is often referred to) suffers two big blows right off the bat. A strong maternal figure in her life, Maman, dies from cancer. Incidentally Mamanâ€™s daughter, Kate is a close friend of Evieâ€™s. Second, Evie is raped by two high school classmates (for those squeamish about this, there is no graphic description here).
Although she wrote all her life,Elizabeth Jolley didnâ€™t get her first book published until she was 53. Thereafter she published 15 novels, four story collections and four non-fiction books. The daughter of an Austrian mother and English father and a transplant to Australia from England, she became one of Australiaâ€™s most celebrated authors and won at least 16 awards. Yet by the time of her death in 2007, her books were out of print.