ALENA by Rachel Pastan

ALENA is a novel about the art world and the people who inhabit it. It is said to be an homage to du Maurier’s Rebecca. However, not having read Rebecca in no way took anything away from my love of this novel. This novel stands on its own and I loved it.

March 6, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Debut Novel, Europe, NE & New York

A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED by Dara Horn

The idea for writing a modern version of the biblical story of Joseph came apparently from the author’s husband. It is a brilliant one, even more brilliantly executed. First, because she uses it for resonance rather than prediction; you recognize the biblical parallels after they have occurred, but you never know when she is going to depart from the Genesis version, so her novel remains surprising to the end. Second, because the Egyptian setting grounds the book in aspects of Jewish history that are perhaps less well-known, but obviously relevant to the eternal geopolitical situation in the Middle East. And third, because the Torah reference provides the perfect opening to explore many issues in Jewish teaching and philosophy, most notably those concerning divine providence, accident, and free will. The title of her novel, actually, is borrowed from a treatise on these very questions written in Cairo by the twelfth century doctor and philosopher Maimonides. The result, in Horn’s hands, is a richly layered novel that is humane, exciting, informative, and thought-provoking, all at the same time.

February 18, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Family Matters, Literary, Middle East, Speculative (Beyond Reality), Theme driven, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

THE MARRIAGE PLOT by Jeffrey Eugenides

“Reader, I married him.”

What sensitive reader hasn’t thrilled to the last lines of the novel JANE EYRE, when the mousy and unprepossessing girl triumphantly returns to windswept Thornfield as a mature woman, marrying her one-time employer and great love, Mr. Rochester?

That era of these great wrenching love stories is now dead and gone. Or is it?

November 16, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Literary, NE & New York, Reading Guide, y Award Winning Author

ED KING by David Guterson

ED KING had me mesmerized from the first page and did not let up throughout the book. It is a contemporary retelling of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex set in the American northwest. The protagonist’s name, Ed King, means Oedipus Rex. Ed is short for Oedipus and Rex means “king” in Greek. Ed’s middle name is Aaron and one could read into this, “Ed, A King.” There is no real subtlety to the retelling. The characters change but the story remains the same. Ed kills his father and marries his mother. It is a Greek tragedy of great proportions and strength, hubris and loss.

November 13, 2011 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Contemporary, Literary, US Northwest, y Award Winning Author

THE DANTE CLUB by Matthew Pearl

You could classify THE DANTE CLUB loosely as historical fiction. Or perhaps, try historical-fantasy-fiction-literary-murder-mystery. It’s definitely a work to be enjoyed by “literary types,” but also by thrill-seekers, detective buffs, psychological and social analysts and in fact anyone who enjoys a good read.

June 30, 2011 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Literary, Mystery/Suspense, NE & New York

THE SECRET HISTORY OF COSTAGUANA by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

When Joseph Conrad was working on NOSTROMO in the early 1900s, and setting it in the fictional Latin American country of Costaguana, he found that his first-hand knowledge of the region, based on a couple of brief shore visits a quarter-century earlier, was insufficient. He therefore consulted friends who had spent greater time in northern South America and constructed a setting that is entirely believable, not only in its composite geography but also in its way of life and political turmoil. Now Colombian author Juan Gabriel Vásquez imagines that Conrad might have had one further contact, José Altamirano, born in Colombia but recently arrived in London as an exile from Panama, following the province’s secession from Colombia in the revolution of 1903. Writing now in 1924, the year of Conrad’s death, Altamirano believes that the novelist has stolen his life story and that of his country to make a fiction of his own, utterly obliterating him in the process.

June 18, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Latin American/Caribbean, South America, World Lit, y Award Winning Author