FALLING TO EARTH by Kate Southwood

FALLING TO EARTH is the kind of novel that makes me want to grab the very next person I see and urgently say, ”You MUST read this.” I read this rabidly with increasing awe and respect that Kate Southwood had the chops to create a debut novel with this degree of psychological insight, restrained power, and heartbreaking beauty.

The story centers on a tragedy of unimaginable proportions – a tornado hits the small Illinois town of March in 1925, causing devastation and grievous loss in the homes of every single resident of the town.

Except one.

March 5, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Debut Novel, Facing History, Family Matters, Literary, US Midwest

DARK TIMES IN THE CITY by Gene Kerrigan

I’ve become an avid fan of Gene Kerrigan’s Irish mysteries. They are literate page-turners that are complex in plot with wonderful characterizations. This is the second one that I’ve read and I plan on reading each of them.

In this novel, Danny Callaghan has gotten out of jail seven months ago after serving an eight year term for manslaughter. He beat a man to death with a golf club when he was 24. He is now 32 and trying to live by the letter of the law, working for his bar-owning friend Novak, doing pick-ups and deliveries of people and materials. While he was in jail, his marriage to Hannah ended in divorce and he is alone with little support except for Novak, who is his confidante. While he was in jail, Novak was basically the only person who visited him there.

January 4, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Ireland, Literary, Mystery/Suspense, Noir

THE GIRL IN THE POLKA DOT DRESS by Beryl Bainbridge

The late Beryl Bainbridge, who died in 2010, is better known in Britain than over here. The winner of the Whitbread Award, and five times shortlisted for the Booker Prize, she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2000, joining AS Byatt and preceding Margaret Drabble. She published sixteen novels over the course of her life, and was working on her seventeenth, THE GIRL IN THE POLKA DOT DRESS at the time of her death. Cast in a clear trajectory heading for an unmistakable conclusion, it does not feel unfinished, though the enigmatic compression which I gather is typical of all her books may perhaps be a little more enigmatic than usual.

August 31, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: United States, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

AN ACCIDENT IN AUGUST by Laurence Cosse

Very early in the morning of August 31 1997, Princess Diana was killed when her car crashed at high speed into a pillar in a road tunnel near the Pont de l’Alma in Paris. Evidence at the crash site suggested that the driver of the car might have lost control after side-swiping a slower-moving car, a white Fiat Uno, near the tunnel entrance. It was not until 2006 that the driver of this car was identified as a young man of Vietnamese origin, but at the time that Laurence Cossé published this novel in 2003, the Fiat still posed a mystery, leaving the author to imagine a story of her own.

August 31, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Mystery/Suspense, Translated

FROM THE LAND OF THE MOON by Milena Agus

These memories of her home island of Sardinia run like a litany through the mind of a love-sick woman on a visit to Milan in 1963. She is considering remaining on the mainland for ever, but the contrast between that sea of light and the fog-bound Northern city tells at least the reader why she cannot. It is actually one of relatively few physical descriptions of the island in this charming little novella by Milena Agus, which reads almost like a family memoir. But the book is filled with the spirit of Sardinian life, which seems to have preserved the old ways well beyond the end of the war, a combination of circumspection and joy.

March 14, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Family Matters, italy, Translated, World Lit

HELIOPOLIS by James Scudamore

The main character in James Scudamore’s novel HELIOPOLIS is twenty-seven-year-old Ludo. Born in terrible poverty in a Sao Paulo Favela (shantytown), Ludo and his mother had the good fortune to come to the attention of Rebecca, the British, charity-minded wife of one of the city’s richest businessmen, Zeno (Zé) Generoso. Zé and Rebecca, who have one daughter, Melissa, formally adopted Ludo, and he has a privileged upbringing which comes with a price; he’s constantly reminded of his humble beginnings, his good fortune and how much he owes to his benefactors. Separated from his mother who remains as the cook at Zé’s country estate, Ludo has no self-identity. His life is shaped by the desires of the Generoso family, and while he may be the adopted son, he’s little more than a trained house-serf.

November 12, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Brazil, Class - Race - Gender, Latin American/Caribbean, Reading Guide, World Lit