Archive for March, 2011
Winner of the Canadian Governor General‚Äôs Literary Award, Pullinger‚Äôs first novel to be published by a US publisher calls on the real-life characters of the consumptive Lady Duff Gordon and her faithful maid Sally to tell a story of adventure, passion and class in the 19th century.
Stewart O‚ÄôNan may simply be genetically incapable of writing a bad book. His characters are written with precision, intelligence and verisimilitude; they‚Äôre so luminously alive that a reader can accurately guess about what they‚Äôre eating for dinner or what brand toothpaste they use.
In EMILY, ALONE, Mr. O‚ÄôNan revisits Emily, the Maxell family matriarch from a prior book, Wish You Were Alone. Anyone who is seeking an action-based book or ‚Äúa story arc‚ÄĚ (as taught in college writing classes) will be sorely disappointed. But for those readers who are intrigued by a near-perfect portrait of a winningly flawed elderly woman who is still alive with anxieties, hopes, and frustrations, this is an unsparingly candid and beautifully rendered novel.
The title and the description on the back cover suggest a familiar story of adultery as in the movie The Seven Year Itch: husband, getting bored after seven years of marriage, looks for a younger and prettier woman elsewhere. And indeed there is something of this. But Swiss author Peter Stamm goes out of his way to minimize any normal comparisons between the women. Alexander, the first-person narrator, is married to Sonia, a fellow architect, but more brilliant, more determined than he is, from a wealthier family, beautiful, and self-assured. The other woman, Ivona, is actually an earlier acquaintance, an undocumented Polish worker, dowdy, inarticulate, religious, not at all attractive, yet familiar…
THREE STAGES OF AMAZEMENT by Carol Edgarian is the story of a marriage. The novel takes place in the not far distant past, when Obama has recently been elected president and the markets have plummeted. Lena and Charlie have started their lives anew. Charlie was the head of surgery at Mass General Hospital. He has left this behind to move to San Francisco to start up a new company that specializes in medical robotics although this is not the best time to look for venture capitalists to fund his research.
E.L. Doctorow is without a doubt one of the most critically acclaimed authors publishing in America today. He has enthralled us with RAGTIME, mesmerized us with HOMER & LANGLEY, snapped us to attention with THE MARCH, and provoked us to think outside of the box with THE BOOK OF DANIEL.
But even though I‚Äôve periodically read his short stories in The New Yorker, I never quite viewed him as a ‚Äúshort story writer.‚ÄĚ Well, after finishing ALL THE TIME IN THE WOLRD, that perception has definitely changed.
Kate Atkinson has written a number of novels that feature ex-cop turned PI Jackson Brodie: CASE HISTORIES, ONE GOOD TURN, WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS?, and now the fourth novel, STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG. I had read a total of zero novels in the series when I picked up Atkinson‚Äôs latest. This is a novel that can be read as a stand-alone, and although there were threads to the other stories, Atkinson‚Äôs novel is so very well-written, it‚Äôs not essential to begin with the first novel in the series.
STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG is ostensibly a crime novel, but to try and slot this excellent tale into such a neat and ultimately limiting definition is a mistake. While crimes take place, the emphasis is on the crimes that slip silently into simple everyday living: cruelty, casual violence, lying and possibly most importantly–failing to take a moral stand.
March 21, 2011
¬∑ Judi Clark ¬∑ No Comments
Tags: 1970s, Foreign Detective, Kate Atkinson, Time Period Fiction ¬∑ Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Noir, Reading Guide, Sleuths Series, Theme driven, United Kingdom, y Award Winning Author