Archive for December, 2010


Sometimes, marriage is the kiss of death for a series in which a man and woman quarrel incessantly but finally realize that they are essential to one another’s happiness. Fortunately, the union of Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane enhances rather than detracts from Deanna Raybourn’s DARK ROAD TO DARJEELING. The author keeps us engrossed by removing her characters from their comfort zone and placing them in a lovely Indian tea garden amid scenic mountains and valleys; making it clear that although Julia and Brisbane remain passionately in love (as we are reminded incessantly every time they repair to their bedchamber), they still have issues about Julia’s habit of courting danger; and providing supporting roles for Julia’s sarcastic siblings, Portia and Plum, Julia’s grumpy maid, Morag, and Portia’s sweet-natured friend, Jane, who is widowed and expecting her first child.

December 26, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, India-Pakistan, Sleuths Series

MR. TOPPIT by Charles Elton

The first half of MR TOPPIT takes its readers for a grand ride. This debut novel, written by Charles Elton, has had quite a following in the United Kingdom and has just been released in the United States. It is a novel about speculation and conjecture, the ‘what ifs’ of life, and wishing things might have been different. Mostly though, it is about Luke Hayman and how he became immortalized in his father’s Hayseed Chronicles as the boy who eluded Mr. Toppit in the Darkwood.

December 24, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: California, Contemporary, Debut Novel, United Kingdom


Nevertheless, Howard Jacobson does talk about it, together with gentile anti-Semitism and that philo-Semitism that may well be anti-Semitism in disguise. This brilliant novel, at once comedic and penetrating, is nothing less than a study of Jewish identity, at least as reflected by a group of middle-class Jews in contemporary London. This is satire, but equal-opportunity satire; there is nobody who may not be offended by it at one point or another, yet nobody who will not recognize the wisdom of Jacobson’s insights, as loving and humane as they are witty.

December 23, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Humorous, Man Booker Prize, Satire, United Kingdom, y Award Winning Author

LATE NIGHTS ON AIR by Elizabeth Hay

If a heart is torn apart in the Canadian arctic and no one hears it, did it really happen? Elizabeth Hay would answer a resounding “yes.”

All of her characters – a diverse group of wounded lost souls who work together in a small Yellowknife radio station in the mid-1970s – are aching. Harry – the curmudgeonly acting manager with the cauliflower ear – has returned from a gig in television with his tail between his legs. Dido ran from the only man she ever loved – her own father-in-law — and quickly connects with the station “bad boy,” Eddy. Eleanor fled from the memories of a husband who could not consummate their reunion. And Gwen, the youngest, who arrives at Yellowknife “subtle in her camouflage” with a buff-grey shirt with a pale brown collar and no adornment, is looking to make a fresh start in an area in which fresh starts are legendary.

December 22, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Canada, Character Driven, Contemporary, Drift-of-Life, Giller Prize, Literary, Reading Guide, y Award Winning Author


Rebecca Skloot’s THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS is an enthralling look at the origin of HeLa cells that grew “with [such] mythological intensity,” that they “seemed unstoppable.” They were a “continuously dividing line of cells all descended from one original sample” acquired from Henrietta Lacks, a black woman who suffered from a particularly virulent form of cervical cancer complicated by syphilis…Neither she nor her family had any idea that the cells obtained from her cervix in 1951 would eventually number in the trillions and become a vital part of medical research all over the world.

December 21, 2010 · Judi Clark · 2 Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Class - Race - Gender, Non-fiction, US South, y Award Winning Author


THE NAIVE AND SENTIMENTAL NOVELIST, a collection of the 2009 Norton Lectures delivered at Harvard by Orhan Pamuk, is best described as a celebration of “our journey in this world, the lives we spend in cities, streets, houses, rooms, and nature, [that] consists of nothing but a search for meaning which may or may not exist.” More specifically, Pamuk takes his subject as the novel – the art of the novel – for “each sentence of a good novel evokes in us a sense of the profound, essential knowledge of what it means to exist in the world, and the nature of that sense.” While this may sound overwrought to some, to those of us who, like Pamuk, read voraciously, “even ecstatically,” there’s comfort in such passion; for us, this book is like having a drink with a long-missed friend.

December 20, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Non-fiction, y Award Winning Author