Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Still Life with Bread Crumbs

Still Life with Bread Crumbs
by Anna Quindlen

If you want to feel like you are in a log cabin, cozy by a fire, read this book. Picking up another Anna Quindlen novel is like that. 

Genre: Fiction

Review: This is a novel by an author who is comfortable with her powers and her style, but not relaxed. She reveals truths about the human condition, about loneliness and love--she doesn't shy away from tragedy, but doesn't make it about tragedy, but about living. 

 Still Life with Bread Crumbs follows Rebecca Winter, a photographer, once famous, in a precarious financial situation. She moves to a cabin in upstate New York and she's just scraping by. Hiking in the woods, she searches for new inspiration as an artist.

A world away from life in Manhattan, she learns new things about herself and gives herself another chance at life after sixty. 

Want to read more? Rise and Shine and Every Last One are both searingly powerful novels, blended with a sense of humor and the meaning of family.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Invention of Wings

The Invention of Wings
by Sue Monk Kidd

Go read this book. Drop any of the other books you are reading and GO!

Genre: Historical fiction

ReviewThe Invention of Wings is a window into the early women's movement and the abolition movement. Hetty "Handful" is a house slave in the home of the Grimke family in Charleston, South Carolina. She and her mother are expert seamstresses and truly artists. At a young age, Handful is "given" as a birthday gift to 11-year-old Sarah. The trouble begins when Sarah Grimke teaches Handful to read. Their difficult and powerful friendship will change Sarah's life. The book is complex and provides no easy answers. It fictionalizes the lives of two sisters who existed but are not well-known in history, who later become feminists and abolitionists, Sarah and her sister Angelina Grimke. 

The characterizations are lovely and heartbreaking. This book will be a classic.

I read all of the articles on about Sue Monk Kidd and her writing process. Check this one out

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Lean In 
by Sheryl Sandberg

Genre: Nonfiction 

Recently, my book club read this book, and it was one of our best discussions of the past two years!

Before I started reading this book, I wondered: would it be relevant to me if I don' t care about moving up the corporate ladder? Were the criticisms I'd read in news articles valid?

Review: The book was relevant to me, and most criticism that I'd read before was unfounded. Sandberg qualifies many of her statements, states her advice is not intended for everyone, and notes her faults. The book is well-researched yet accessible with contributions by a sociologist and expert on gender and work.

 The text includes easy-to-digest advice, like "sit at the table" and "Don't leave before you leave," and interesting anecdotes from Sandberg's life. 

A major idea that resonated: men and women both deserve true choices. Men should be able to stay home with children, and women should have a true choice between working in the home vs. in the workplace, instead of having two jobs. 

Read it, discuss it, live it!  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
by Rachel Joyce

Genre: Fiction

Review: A man is settling into his retirement by sitting in a chair. One day, he receives a letter from an old friend, Queenie--she is dying of cancer in Berwick-upon-Tweed. He sets out for the postbox to post a letter to her and keeps walking. And walking. 

In The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, an ordinary man finds it in himself to do something extraordinary. He walks from the South of England to the North, hoping that Queenie will wait for him. The walk is more than a walk--it is a transformation. Along the way, he must deal with his fears, regrets, memories. He remembers happiness and wrenching sadness. There was a strange part in the middle where a weird group of followers join the walk--I could have done without that part. 

By walking away, he moves closer to himself and his wife Maureen. A beautiful little novel. 

A photo of Berwick-upon-Tweed:

This review is over 100 words--sorry!

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Winter People

The Winter People
by Jennifer McMahon

If you are in the mood for a creepy ghost story, look no further!

Genre: Suspense

Review:  19-year-old Ruthie lives an isolated life in rural Vermont with her mother and younger sister Fawn. They make their home beside Devil's Hand, a rock formation with a dangerous history, and dark and spooky woods. Many people have disappeared in the woods, and one day Ruthie wakes up and her mom is missing too. 

The novel switches between present day and the past, between Ruthie in the present and Sara Harrison Shea in 1908 and her daughter Gertie (who died too young) who reportedly knew the way to create a "sleeper" and bring the dead back to life. 

The stories are expertly woven together and the mood is sufficiently chilling! Don't read this one right before bedtime. 

You can read my review of another one of McMahon's novels, The One I Left Behindhere

Out of all of her novels, I recommend The Island of Lost Girls.