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My Reviews

 
Adventurous, Insightful, Inspiring
Story of getting ready to run the Iditarod in Alaska

Nonfiction account of training for and running the Iditarod race across Alaska. I absolutely loved this book and would highly recommend it to anyone.
After reading Into Thin Air about the Everest climb, I thought someone would have to be crazy to do that. After reading this, it probably is almost as bad
I was sitting in the orthodontist office while my son was getting his braces on (and glad no one was in there except me) laughing out loud. The author is training his dogs to run, which they love to do and he is having trouble holding them back.

 
The author decided to read the Encyclopaedia Britannica in his quest to recapture his childhood illusion that he was the smartest person in the world.

Fun! He is actually very humble about his lack of knowledge in some subjects and over abundance of it in pop culture. His irreverent observations along the alphabetical journey are thoughtful, funny and sometimes poignant. His wife’s tolerance and his competitive relationships with his over achieving father and smarter than average brother in law, etc. fill in the spaces along the way.
It was great fun for a trivia buff.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
 
Insightful, Dramatic, Inspiring
Fourteen year old Lily and her nanny Rosaleen run away and end up with three sisters who are also beekeepers.

This book is set in the south in 1964. Lily, a 14-year-old white girl is heading to town on the Fourth of July, her birthday. The Civil Rights Amendment has just passed. Rosaleen, the black woman who has raised her since her mother’s death when she was four years old, is heading into town to register to vote. Some red-neck white boys start to give them a bad time and for whatever reason, Rosaleen decides to empty her snuff jug on top of their shoes. They immediately start to beat up on her and she ends up in jail. In the meantime, Lily’s abusive father picks her up, takes her home and tells her to wait there while he deals with his orchard workers, that he will deal with her when he gets back. Lily packs a bag of clothes along with a photograph of her mother and a picture of her mother’s of a black Madonna with ‘Tiburon, SC’ written on the back. She heads into town to see Rosaleen and finds out she’s in the hospital because the sheriff let the white boys who beat her into her cell so she could apologize. Lily springs Rosaleen from the hospital and they hitchhike to Tiburon.
When Lily goes into a store to get them something to eat she sees jars of honey with the same black Madonna on them as her picture. She asks where the honey came from and is directed to a bright pink house outside of town. There are three sisters living there. August is the beekeeper, June is the school teacher and May takes care of the house. When they tell the women they have no place to stay, they let them stay in the bee shed out back.
The women have many women friends and they all collect around the pink house. This is the first time in Lily’s life that she has ever felt like she belonged. It’s kind of like a beehive. I think the Queen could be the ‘Mary’ that used to be on a ship’s masthead because everyone cares for it and celebrates around it. The figure has one hand on her heart and the other in a fist lifted in defiance – kind of symbolizing the black woman’s spirit (like Rosaleen dumping her snuff jar and then not apologizing). They all have their jobs to do to keep the ‘hive’ going.
I loved this book.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
 
Adventurous, Dramatic, Boring
Russian story of ooa forbidden love and its tragic consequences

This is a classic I always wanted to read, especially after reading about Tolstoy and his wife in a previous book; so I was excited that our Russian literature group decided to read it over the summer. In some sections, because of the way he writes, I wanted to read on to the next section and had a hard time putting it down. In others, this book was a struggle to complete. It was originally written as a serial over several years and the last section wasn’t published because of its political overtones. I probably would have been obsessed with it in that form (I didn’t especially enjoy the last section). The population of Russia probably enjoyed the voyeuristic view into the aristocratic crowd through Anna’s story and noble attitude of Levin toward the peasants. I found it tedious after Anna’s suicide to finish. I also found Levin’s quest for spiritual truth hard to get into.
Tolstoy writes like a photograph, you feel like you have actually been there and witnessed the scene, but in this day and age of editors, I think this would have ended up at least three separate books instead of this one long epic. In scenes like the mowing with the peasants, and Nicholai’s death scene, I enjoyed the detail. Others went on a little long.
I’ve read the Cliff Notes for this book along with four studies I found on the internet. I really wanted to understand why this book has stood the test of time.
I also have come to the conclusion I probably would not have liked Tolstoy as a person. As a moralist, he not only wrote the novels, but passed judgment on the characters. His view of women seems to be that the only good ones are the perfect wives and mothers who do nothing that would question their morality. If they do anything questionable, he has to destroy them.

 
Informative, Interesting, Dramatic
A racehorse becomes a n unlikely national hero

This is about the depression era racehorse, Seabiscuit. He didn’t have the natural body of a racehorse: his legs were shorter, his gate was wrong, his knees were bent, he was always heavier. But he had the ability and he loved the competition. He would taunt his opponents and let them keep up and then kick it into gear to win the race when they had nothing left. He was just what the depression needed, an underdog that kept winning. He was the most popular sports figure of the time.
Charles Howard was the generous owner of Seabiscuit. He knew the value of publicity from the building of his empire of the car dealerships that helped to replace the horse and buggy to the public’s fascination with his beloved racehorse. He loved the spotlight and for the most part the spotlight loved him.
Tom Smith was Seabiscuit’s trainer and a man of few words. He was a horse-whisperer who understood horses and preferred them to people. He probably delighted in driving the reporter’s crazy, not only with his lack of information but with his constant thwarting them from watching the horse practice. Red Pollard was a poor kid from Edmonton, Canada who literally loved riding the horses. He was a little tall to be a jockey and hadn’t had much luck until Seabiscuit came along and they formed an immediate connection.
Most of the book builds up to two goals. War Admiral was the East Coast Triple Crown winner. He was the perfect embodiment of a racehorse and many people thought Seabiscuit was okay for a West Coast horse but wouldn’t stand a chance against him. It was hard to travel with a horse across the country and set up the races and many obstacles stood in their way. Seabiscuit wasn’t good on a muddy track. The opponents owner had nothing to lose by not racing, they had already named War Admiral Horse of the Year. Howard works the publicity, and Smith and Pollard use the strengths of Seabiscuit and the weaknesses of War Admiral to train. Right before the big race, Pollard is critically injured and is unable to ride.
The other goal is the Santa Anita Hundred Grander. For whatever reasons the race continually alludes Seabiscuit. He even crosses in a photo finish one year to second place.
Pollard is injured a second time and Seabiscuit sustains a probable career ending injury. They leave competition for almost two years, but continue to slowly work out together. Seabiscuit’s comeback is the dream of everyone in the country.
This movie will star Jeff Bridges as Howard, Chris Cooper as Smith and Toby McGuire as Pollard. I knew who would be in the movie before I read the book. I didn’t picture them as I was reading though, since these were actual people, I pictured them. I do think the actors will be excellent casting.
I would have been a Seabiscuit fan during the depression. I am one now. It has made him more special, now that I know more of the story, through this book, than only those closest to Seabiscuit would have known. I loved that fact that because of his bent knees he didn’t sleep for twenty minutes at a time standing up like most horses He laid down and slept for hours, he loved to sleep. That’s how they managed all the long hauls across the country by train.

 
Slow, Difficult, Romantic
A love story that spans over fifty years

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
 
Adventurous, Dramatic, Brilliant
Mystery about why someone is destroying all the copies of a book.

Barcelona Spain in 1945. Ten year old Daniel goes with his father to the “cemetery for books.” He gets to pick out one book to take with him. The book he chooses is “Shadow of the Wind” by Julian Carax. He loves it but starts noticing someone following him is eerily similar to a character in the book. To top it off, all the books written by this author are being destroyed as they are found.
It uses flash backs to the turn of the century as Daniel tries to find out more about the author and why someone is destroying his books. He befriends Fermin, a homeless character with espionage in his past. A corrupt police captain is interested in every move they make.
The book is full of mystery, romance, tragedy and very colorful characters (with the exception of Daniel’s father). The first hundred pages were okay but the last 400 were harder to put down. I read more than the last half in one sitting. It would make a great movie.

 
Difficult, Pointless, Dark
Six different foster homes shape the life of a young girl.

I started reading this book and couldn’t put it down (I didn’t get dressed until noon and I finally turned the light off at 2:00a.m. but only because I felt guilty not because I was falling asleep). Every time I thought I would read until the next break, I couldn’t stop because of the way she writes and pulls you back in.
The main character is Astrid, a thirteen-year old girl put into foster care after her mother is sent to prison. It follows her story through 6 foster homes:
-Starr, the reformed and religious ex-stripper and alcoholic
-Marvel and the nazi family, who live next door to Olivia, the hooker and mentor
-Amelia, the lady from Argentina that locked the refrigerator and made money to remodel from all the foster girls she took in
-Claire, the one she loves, but who isn’t strong enough to survive
-the children’s center, where they put the worst cases
-Rena, the flea market queen who listens to loud music and lives a gypsy life in the middle of nowhere
All the homes are what shape Astrid into what she becomes. She’s an artist. In the last part of the book she tells about the suitcases she makes from each period of her life, what she received and what she remembered.
They have made this into a movie due out in September. Michelle Phieffer plays the mother - physically the author must have had her in mind for the part - the Nordic beauty. Robin Wright Penn plays Starr - that’s who I could picture after seeing the previews. Renee Zeilweger as Claire doesn’t fit the description physically but I can see her playing the part.

Middlesex: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides
 
Interesting, Dramatic, Epic
A child is born twice: first as a baby girl and when puberty strikes as a young man.

This book needed to be another 200 or more pages. If I picked it up, and I didn't have to be anywhere, I couldn't put it down. Middlesex is about three generations of the Stephanides family, ending with Calliope, the main focus of the book. The first line "I was born first as a baby girl . . . then again, as a teenage boy" grabs your attention as much as the title did in enticing you to look over the book. The book jumps ahead forty years to the present Cal, an employee working for the state department in Germany. Then it jumps back to Cal's grandparents in a small village in Greece in 1922, so small (and interbred) that there are only two possibilities of marriage for her/his grandfather. When the village is attacked by the Turks, brother and sister flee to America. Since no one will know, they pretend they are strangers with similar heritage that have met on the boat, and then marry - keeping the secret of their sibling relationship for decades.
We read about generations settling in America. Actually we are all from immigrants unless we are Native Americans. In many ways this book is about the awkward childhood of most of us, but with the setting in Detroit. Once Calliope reaches puberty, however, things start to rapidly change. She grows tall and her shoulders broaden, her voice drops, she starts to grow hair on her upper lip. Her parents take her to a doctor in New York. She isn't totally honest with him, giving answers she thinks he wants to hear, not telling him about her feelings toward a girl from school. He concludes that since she was brought up as a girl, she identifies totally with the female sex and should have an operation and take hormones to appear that way. When he leaves the room and she secretly reads her file, she discovers that genetically she is actually more male. She runs away to California to escape mutilation. After living as a boy for several months, she returns home as a son. His grandmother tells her secret and he promises not to tell until after she is gone.
The story then jumps back to Europe and a grown up Cal. He has decided to tell his new girlfriend his story and not run away as in the past. I would have liked to read more about how it was after he came home from California, or more of his adjustment to becoming male. But maybe the imagination is better.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
 
Romantic, Interesting, Beautiful
Husband travels in time and reappears at different ages, wife ages chronologically.

This was an enjoyable book. I could see it as a movie. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston own the rights. I’m not sure if they’re planning on being the stars though.
The two main characters met when Chare was 6 and Henry was 36. They get married when Clare is 23 and Henry is 31. Henry is a time traveler and Clare stays in her own time and ages normally. They are in love and try to have a normal life, although Henry’s time travel is unpredictable.
It was a little frustrating to try to keep up with the time, but I didn’t usually put the book down unless I had to be somewhere else. It was a fairly serious love story, not really a fantasy.
This had extremely clever writing, I can’t believe it was a first novel for the author.

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
 
Interesting, Gloomy, Dramatic
Local fisherman drowns, Local Japanese fisherman is chaged with his murder.

An island north of Puget Sound is the setting. The Japanese live and work along with the other islanders until W.W.II. Land is paid for and stolen, many of the Japanese are interred, etc. The story heats up in the early 50s when a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese man, Kabuo, is charged with his murder.
The Japanese man’s wife was involved with the town’s newspaperman, Ishmael, while they were still in high school but it wasn’t acceptable for the races to mix.
The whole time I read this, I kept thinking it would make a great movie. When I read that Sam Shepherd would be in it, I thought he would be perfect for the brooding Ishmael. When the movie came out, Shepherd played Ishmael’s father. Looking back at the timing, Ethan Hawke was a better age to play him, so after I got used to that idea, I enjoyed the movie.

 
Dramatic, Interesting, Beautiful
Life of a geisha in Japan

The story is centered about one girl who is sold by her fisherman father when her mother becomes terminally ill. She is treated terribly at first until a patron takes an interest and then she becomes one of the top geisha in Gion. It was very interesting to read about something I knew very little about, being a geisha in Japan. I know it is a cultural thing, but it seemed like socially acceptable prostitution to me, but the protagonists attitude is how is being a geisha different than being a kept woman in the western world. Maybe she has a point.

 
Dramatic, Graphic, Unconvincing
Amazing rehab story is it had been true, not so amazing when you find out it

Six weeks in rehab. The book starts with the author (age 23) waking up on a plane - he doesn’t know how he got there or where he is going. His four front teeth are knocked out, his nose is broken, he has a whole in his cheek.
His parents meet his plane and help him check into a rehab center in Minnesota. He was told if he doesn’t stop using he will be dead before he is 24. The whole book is about his recovery and the people he meets. He has to look back over his life - when did he start drinking (at 10), why is he filled with rage.
Two answers come (1) alcoholism can be genetic and his grandfather was an alcoholic. (2) A lot of our personalities are formed before the age of 2 and James had a chronic ear infection that was not detected and took several surgeries to correct. He was always screaming as a baby because of his unbearable pain. That caused a lot of unjustified anger towards his parents and everyone else.
He has been sober since 1991.
I think I might read his second book “My Friend Leonard”.
Postscript: 1/26/06 DUPED!!! Facts have come out that this “memoir” was highly embellished by the author. He was in jail 2 hours, not 87 days. He didn’t undergo root canals without benefit of novocane. His friend Lily did not commit suicide, etc. I would have read this differently if it was fiction or based on a true story rather than a memoir. Oprah is ticked. I feel a little sorry for the guy. He didn’t write this to get on Oprah’s book club and dupe her and the public, that was an amazing development. The publisher should have checked facts and published it under a different genre. I will not be reading “My Friend Leonard”.

Night (Night) by Elie Wiesel
 
Life Changing, Insightful, Dramatic
A personal experience of the holocaust

The author was taken as a teenager from his home in 1944 to the Auschwitz concentration camp. He lost his whole family. I read it in one setting. I agree with Oprah that everyone should read this book so that the Holocaust is never forgotten. But also so that never again would the “world know and remain silent”. In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize, the author also stated “Wherever men and woman are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
 
Informative, Adventurous, Insightful
Missionary familiy in the Congo adjusting

It’s about a missionary family located in the Congo in the 1960s. The father is obsessed. The four daughters are all very individual. They do not fit in very well in the village where they are located, especially the father who doesn’t even try to learn about local customs.
I especially liked Leah because what you saw is what you got and I liked her maturing process. She went from idolizing her father to seeing and calling it as it was. I also enjoyed getting into the different sister's personalities: Rachel was extremely self-centered and Adah was in her own little world where people didn't realize how smart she was.
This took me a long time to read, not because it was boring but because I had it in the car and I didn’t have a lot of waiting time this year.
I liked the book but it was harder to read than some books.
Addendem: 4/17/05: Skimmed this book again for reading group in Moscow. Also read Books Rags and Spark Notes. We really got more into the corollaries between the missionary family and the fight for independence in the Congo.

 
Interesting, Informative, Beautiful
Fictionalized story of Dinah the sister of the twelve sons of Jacob.

This is the fictionalized account of Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob mentioned in the Bible. The “red tent’ is where the women of the tribe went when it was their time of the month. The men were not allowed in, it was a time for the women to bond.
Dinah had not only a biological mother, Leah, but the other wives of Jacob were her mothers too. Leah was the hard working wise first wife - a business partner and probably soul mate to Jacob. Rachel was the beautiful love of his life and an accomplished midwife. Bilhah was Rachel’s hand maiden, much younger and full of life and understanding. Zilpah was Leah’s handmaiden and didn’t have much use for Jacob or men in general.
The novel chronicles Dinah’s life and what it must have been like to be a woman back then. It gave me some new insight into the story and it was very interesting to read and imagine after studying Genesis at BSF.
The Israelites were very patriarchal and chauvanistic. She falls in love with a prince. Jacob’s family doesn’t accept the match and tricks the new husband’s family into circumcisions as part of the bride-price. They gladly pay and when they are recovering, Dinah’s brother’s brutally murder them. When Dinah arrived in Egypt after her husband’s brutal murder, she is shocked that men and women eat together. She becomes a highly respected midwife and eventually finds love again with Benia, a master woodworker.

 
Insightful, Inspiring, Interesting
When, as a child, he asks her the color of Jesus’ skin, she says, “it’s the color of water”.

The author grew up in New York. His father was black. His mother was Jewish and passed herself off as light skinned. It’s the story of growing up with this secretive mother and only getting her to talk about her life after he has grown up.
When, as a child, he asks her the color of Jesus’ skin, she says, “it’s the color of water”.
He describes his mother and her matter-of-fact ways absolutely perfectly: The nuts and bolts of raising us was left to Mommy, who acted as chief surgeon for bruises ("Put iodine on it"), was secretary ("If somebody hits you, take your fist and crack 'em), religious consultant ("Put God first"), chief psychologist ("Don't think about it"), and financial adviser ("What's money if your mind is empty?). Matters involving race and identity she ignored.

The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas
 
Fun, Adventurous, Interesting
The Persian Pickle Club is a group of ladies in 1930 Kansas that get together once and week and quilt.

The Persian Pickle Club is a group of ladies in 1930 Kansas that get together once and week and quilt.
When they find one of the husbands (who has been missing) murdered, the club comes together to support the widow.
I liked this book enough to buy other books by this author.

PS, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
 
A young widow gets through the first year of her loss through activites her husband arranged before he died.

It is about a couple that has been together since they were 15 years old – truly soul mates. He gets a brain tumor and dies right before her 30th birthday. He leaves behind a “list” of something she needs to do for each of the following ten months. When he tells her she needs to go sing Karaoke and she calls the club and finds it already booked, she also finds out that someone has already reserved her spot. When she gets sent on a holiday with her friends, he had already made all of the arrangements. She looks forward to the first of each month to open a new card from him.
The book was sweet, a little naïve with several one-dimensional characters, but the fact that someone so young wrote it (22) is remarkable. Some of her phrases and observations are wonderful.

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
 
Informative, Life Changing, Inspiring
Four strangers come together out of shear need for survival.

This book is set in 1975, in an unnamed city by the sea in India. It is in the middle of government upheavals and caste discrimination. Four strangers come together out of shear need for survival. The author tells the story of each of them.
Dina became a widow after three years of a marriage of her choosing, not her controlling brother’s. She wants to remain independent in her own home. Maneck is a young student sent from his village for education. Perverted rebels are terrorizing him in his student hostel. His mother was a classmate of Dina’s, so he becomes her paying border. However, that is not enough to keep the rent-collector away. She decides to sew clothes for an export business in her own home.
Ishvar and his brother were sent as children to apprentice a tailor. Their family was one of the lowest castes, they handled the carcasses of dead animals and tanned leather. It was a step up to become a tailor. After their training, Ishvar remained with the tailor and his brother returned home to their village and started a family. After he stood up for his voting rites, all his family was brutally murdered, except his son Om. Now the two were the only family left.
Dina hires Om and Ishvar. At first she can hardly stand them, and is very strict about employer/employee relations. They live in a cardboard community that gets plowed down, then they sleep in a doorway of a local store until they are rounded up for a work camp. When they return after being rescued from the work camp, Dina is so relieved to see them that she lets them sleep on the veranda. The four become a family.
The book is full of minor characters. Some of the more memorable ones are Dina’s brother Nusswan, Rajaram the hair collector, Beggermaster and Shankar.
We are all so unaware of what goes on in the rest of the world. Although this is fiction, it is based on historical events. It happened when I was in my twenties. Maneck and Om would have been a little younger than I would have been.
Postcript: I went to India in 11/2005. I recalled a lot of this book as I walked around some of the big cities (i.e. the tailor sitting at his treadle machine on the street outside the shop, the beggars in the street).

The Same Sweet Girls by Cassandra King
 
Inspiring, Gloomy, Unconvincing
It was about the enduring friendship of six women who met at college and are now in their late forties.

It was nice to read a book that I picked out for a change of pace. This was a hard book to put down. It was about the enduring friendship of six women who met at college and are now in their late forties. They have all had extremely different lives. The story is told by three of the women. Corrine is a “gourd” artist who was married to an abusive (mentally and physically) husband, her former therapist. Because of her past history of depression, he blackmailed her the whole time they were married, threatening to have her committed and not be able to see their son if she didn’t do what he said. Julia is the first lady of Alabama who goes through all the motions of what she should be, but isn’t really living her own life the way she wants to. Lanier is the tomboy who acts first and then thinks about it later. The other three are Rosanelle, the ex-beauty queen who now runs the alumni office. Astor was the exotic Cajun dancer who spends time in New York until she becomes too old to get roles. She marries a famous, but aging black artist and enjoys playing the devoted wife role to her invalid husband. Byrd is the sensitive one who worries about all their problems and is the motherly one of the group. They get together twice a year and then Corrine gets sick and changes the way they all (especially Julia and Lanier) look at things.

 
Fun, Dramatic, Difficult
When the daughter of a couple won't be home for Christmas, they decide to skip it altogether and go on a cruise.

Fast. Fun. Predictable.
I was actually thinking it wasn't such a bad idea. All the money spent on intangible things or things that are forgotten weeks later. Christmas has gotten way out of hand when we spend so much money on food that goes to "waist", gifts that probably aren't what people want most, clothes we won't wear again because we'll have to have new next year, even Christmas cards that we only sign our name so it's not like we're keeping up on the news. And if there is a newsletter, they mostly brag about the accomplishments of a family we probably never see.

 
Insightful, Inspiring, Interesting
The wisdom of a dying man for a man that needs to remember the important things.

It is the memoir of a beloved college professor suffering from amyotrophic lateral schlerosis. His former student hears about his illness and starts to visit him every Tuesday. My mother was diagnosed with ALS three months ago.
Morrie is full of wisdom and insights, as I’m sure my mother still is. However, the big difference between the two cases is that she is already at a very advanced stage of the disease and can no longer talk with us. Morrie never really looses the speech ability. I know Mom is very in tune to the conversations around her but she doesn’t seem to have the energy to keep up her end of the conversation on her Dynawriter.
The most poignant part of the book for me was the gradual giving up of things for Morrie. First dancing, then walking without a cane, then walking, etc.
Mom gave up hiking at the ranch several years ago (blaming it on being out of shape). She gave up wine because of the medicine she was on. She gave up walking without a cane, then walking without a walker, and now walking at all. She gave up baths when she couldn’t stand up by herself any more and get out of the bath tub. She gave up sleeping with my dad when 1) she thought she was keeping him awake and 2) she needed a breathing machine at night. She gave up eating when she choked so badly that it wasn’t worth the taste any more.
I can’t think of an illness any worse than ALS. I thought this book would be really hard to read. It wasn’t. It was almost uplifting, although bittersweet.

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
 
Romantic, Beautiful, Dramatic
It’s about a group of readers who decide the group will last long enough to read and discuss Austen’s books

I read this book sporadically in the middle of all my January travel. I didn’t really pick it up unless I was waiting somewhere.
I might have enjoyed it more if I had aleady read any of Austen. If I did in high school, I don’t remember.
It’s about a group of readers who decide the group will last long enough to read and discuss Austen’s books (I don’t think I would want to stick with just one author).
It was an okay book to read on a plane, it didn’t really hold my interest enough to pick it up if there was something else - like People magazine or a Yahtzee game.

 
Inspiring, Insightful, Brilliant
Sudden loss of a spouse and soul mate.

After I saw a short article about this book, I decided I would probably have to read it.
The author lost her husband suddenly while her only daughter was in a coma in the hospital. I loved the book and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has lost a spouse, parent, or someone close. And, to anyone in a long term marriage or relationship that still has both partners.
As I read it, I thought a lot about my mom and how these would have been her thoughts – if she had not been the first to go. I thought about my dad and, how he is dealing with her absence. I thought about my husband and our marriage and how it would be if one of us lost the other one. Joan Didion’s observations are right on and she communicates them to the reader so we can understand exactly what she means.

 
Fun, Interesting, Inspiring
The story revolves around a group of women living in the same cul-de-sac who decide to start a reading group.

The story revolves around a group of women living in the same cul-de-sac who decide to start a reading group. It lasts several decades through births, deaths, divorces, teenagers, wife beating, etc. It doesn’t get into the books that they read other than to use them in the title of the chapters, and to tell why the person narrating the chapter chose the book.
Kari is the oldest of the members and is a widow who adopts a child of mixed race. Slim is the most energetic (she walks on her hands and fights for causes she believes in). Faith is the mother of twins who has reinvented herself with a past she deems more acceptable than her own. Merit is the beautiful victim of spousal abuse. Audrey is the eventually divorced granddaughter of a financially successful inventor.
The book was interesting and kept my interest on the plane. I might want to read other books by this author someday, but for now I’ve left them on the shelf in the bookstore.

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