Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

My cousin has been begging me to read this book for a year or more, so a digital version went with me to Ireland on the iPad.  I know totally understand her urging!  Mudbound is a Southern saga, told through alternating narrators, of post WWII racism as a black and a white war hero return to the Jim Crow South.  The reviewers that compare Hillary Jordan to Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor are right.  This is a heart-wrenchingly beautiful book - but it is also an importantly moral book. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison

The Very Thought of You: A Novel
I received an advanced copy of this novel about the time I decided I needed a paperback for the plane trip to Ireland.  I almost never travel with a book I haven't at least read a chapter or two of before departing, in case I want to throw the book into an airport dumpster before the flight departs.  The beginning of this WWII love story intrigued me enough to make the cut.  Anna Sands is a young girl evacuated from London and placed in a make-shift school aI got To Be Sung Under Water from the library after reading so many favorable reviews.  Anna Sands is a young girl evacuated from London to a make-shift school on  the estate of Thomas and Elizabeth Ashton.  Thomas is confined to a wheel-chair, Elizabeth can't get pregnant, Anna is a very observant youth.  Do you see the trajectory of this love story?  I did too and was a little let down - especially since the book was short-listed for the Orange Prize last year in the UK. A little too melodramatic.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

McCarthy's Bar: A Journey of Discovery in Ireland by Pete McCarthy

McCarthy's Bar: A Journey of Discovery In Ireland
Such a hoot I don't know where to begin. The last of the Irish books, I finished this just days before our trip began. It is the true story of Pete McCarthy's quest to visit any pub called McCarthy that he came upon in Ireland. As I was reading this book, I laughed aloud at the crazy folks and situations the author described, all the while thinking this cannot be an accurate depiction of authentic Irish pubs and locals. Guess what - it was and it is and it should be a must-read for anyone planning a trip to Ireland. Plus - we saw it proudly displayed in several pubs we visited.

Monday, July 11, 2011

To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal

To Be Sung Underwater: A Novel
I got To Be Sung Under Water from the library after reading so many favorable reviews.  It is a story of adult loss and longing.  Judith has an established life with her husband and daughter in LA where she works editing film.  The nagging "what if" of her life surfaces when she suspects her husband's infidelity and decides to return to Nebraska to find Willy Blunt, the wild-child love of her youth.   It will sweep you under.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

State of Wonder by Ann Pachett

State of Wonder
I got this book from the library because I was prepared to be disappointed as I was with Pachett's last novel, Run, but challenged myself to read it because it has been described as a modern day Heart of Darkness. And that it was. Dr. Marina Singh works as a researcher for a pharmaceutical company and is sent to the Amazon the unravel the mystery behind a co-worker's apparent death. Once she gets there, she learns the secret of "the work" that has been going on for years. Passages of it are very reminiscent of HOD, as we call it in AP class, but the book was predictable, laden with heavy handed imagery and an ending that is just plain corny.

Friday, July 01, 2011

The Dork of Cork by Chet Raymo

The Dork of Cork

As I began to wind down the Irish Books Challenge, I decided to get a used copy of The Dork of Cork from Amazon.  When the dog eared paperback arrived, the cover didn't suggest a novel of any promise.  The central character is 43 year old Frank Bois who is a soon-to-be-published author - and a dwarf!  Isolated by his perceived ugliness, Frank nonetheless communicate his love of beauty - of beautiful women who he admires from afar and of the stars.  In the end I was glad I made the effort to find and read this little gem.