THE LUMINARIES by Eleanor Catton

Twelve men meet at the Crown Hotel in Hokitika, New Zealand, in January, 1866. A thirteenth, Walter Moody, an educated man from Edinburgh who has come here to find his fortune in gold, walks in. As it unfolds, the interlocking stories and shifting narrative perspectives of the twelve–now thirteen–men bring forth a mystery that all are trying to solve, including Walter Moody, who has just gotten off the Godspeed ship with secrets of his own that intertwine with the other men’s concerns.

December 17, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, 2013 Man Booker Shortlist, Man Booker Prize, New Zealand, y Award Winning Author

THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS by Elizabeth Gilbert

From the opening pages, it is evident that Gilbert can write with lyricism, confidence, and substance. I was afraid that her mass popularity would lead to a dumbed down book with pandering social/political agendas or telegraphed notions. I am thrilled to conclude that this was not the case. Gilbert is a superb writer who allows her main characters to spring forth as organically as the natural world that they live in.

December 5, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Facing History, Family Matters, Reading Guide, United States, US Mid-Atlantic

AT HOME, A SHORT HISTORY OF PRIVATE LIFE by Bill Bryson

What would the world do without Bill Bryson? One simply wants to sit at his knee with a huge grin and listen interminably. I’m an irredeemable skinflint and get all my reading material from the library, but At Home is one book I would seriously like to buy for myself. Considering I have almost no books apart from reference books, my Complete Shakespeare and a Bible I once found in a discard pile somewhere, that’s saying quite a lot.

October 14, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Non-fiction, United Kingdom

THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morganstern

Illusion and reality intersect and overlap to reveal a luminous, mesmerizing character– Le Cirque des Rêves (The Circus of Dreams). As the sun is the center of the solar system, the Circus of Dreams is the central character of this enchanting tale. Like a magnetic field, Le Cirque des Rêves pulls in other characters like orbiting satellites around a bright star. This isn’t your childhood circus–rather, this is more in tune with Lewis Carroll or M.C. Escher–a surreal and hypnotic place of the imagination and spirit.

September 13, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Allegory/Fable, Debut Novel, Speculative (Beyond Reality)

THE TWELFTH ENCHANTMENT by David Liss

THE TWELFTH ENCHANTMENT, by David Liss, starts off promisingly. It is the early nineteenth century and our heroine, Lucy Derrick, is a twenty-year-old orphan who is living unhappily in Nottingham, England, with her cruel uncle and an abusive woman named Mrs. Quince. Although she was well-educated by her late father, Lucy was left almost penniless when he died. She is at the mercy of her vicious uncle, Richard Lowell, who cannot wait to be rid of her. In fact, her uncle plans to give her hand in marriage to a thirty-five year old, dried up prune of a man named Olson, the owner of a local hosiery mill.

August 26, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Scifi, United Kingdom, y Award Winning Author

THE DAYS OF THE KING by Filip Florian

It’s 1886, and the dentist Joseph Strauss follows Karl Ludwig of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen from Prussia to Bucharest, where the latter is crowned King Carol I of Romania. Carol’s relationship with Joseph strays beyond the dental boundaries and they develop a certain camaraderie, particularly when Joseph arranges for the services of a blind prostitute to be made available (in strictest secret) to the politically beleaguered king. It is precisely the intimate nature of the knowledge Joseph carries which eventually leads to the king’s deliberate distancing of himself from the dentist. However, when the three-year-old Princess Maria dies of scarlet fever, and no further heirs seem forthcoming, Joseph wonders whether the King ought to be informed that the blind whore now has a son with a suspiciously aristocratic nose.

August 17, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Facing History, Romania, Translated, World Lit, y Award Winning Author