The books I digested this month were also delightful. A gritty yawn from Stone, a delectable tome by Tartt, a french delight from Lemaitre, and a wholesome novella by Updike.
Before we get to the books, here are a few photos from my trip to Japan...
Bay of Souls by Robert Stone
Signed First Printing
Robert Stone is hit or miss for me. And this one was slightly off the mark. Given the premise - a married professor in the midst of a midlife crisis falls for an eccentric colleague who believes herself to be possessed...he then follows her to her native island to participate in odd rituals but must be aware of not only supernatural enemies but also political corruption - it could have been much better. It had its moments, but overall a true yawn.
The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
Signed First Printing
I really wish Donna Tartt would write more. I so admire her work. She is one of my favorite living authors, yet she has only published a total of 3 novels. This one is her second novel, and although not my favorite (that distinction goes to her first The Secret History) I found myself fully immersed in the plot, story, characters, and her beautiful style. The setting takes place in Tartt's native state of Mississippi. It starts off with the gruesome murder of Harriet's older brother when she was only a baby, too young to really remember. However, fast forward to her being 12 years old she swears she remembers her brother and suddenly, yet secretly, decides she is going to find her brother's killer. The Little Friend is more about small town living, sociology, socioeconomic factors, and growing up in a shattered home...then it is a murder mystery. A wonderful novel that I highly recommend!
Prix Goncourt - 2013
The Great Swindle by Pierre Lemaitre
Signed First British Edition
I collect all of the Prix Goncourt winners, at least the ones that have been translated into English. I find that some do not translate into English all that well, while others are brilliant in perhaps any language. The Great Swindle is part of the later category. I never wanted to put down this epic thriller ride! The plot centers around 3 main characters who survive the Great War (WWI). A horrific tragedy on one of the last days of the war binds these 3 together for life. A corrupt Capitaine and 2 soldiers who try to carve out lives of their own in post-war France...through scams and swindles and hard crimes. Through these great swindles, their lives get even more entangled, so much that you are sure they will never be able to be unwound. Lemaitre is a great writer, and I am looking forward to reading more from him in the future.
Of The Farm by John Updike
Reading John Updike is like slicing through butter with a hot knife. He is so subtle, simple, quaint, poetic, and smooth.
Of The Farm is about just that...a farm that has been in Joey Robinson's family for several years. Joey now lives in NYC and visits his mother from time to time, who is now the sole resident of the farm. His mother is elderly and is concerned only about what is to happen to the farm once she is 'gone'. On this last visit, Joey brings his new wife and step-son, which causes sticky social situations throughout the story/visit. Updike could have easily named this novel The Mother, since the plot really encircles her and her demeanor. This was a very enjoyable short read.
What are you currently reading?
What do you recommend?
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