Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. It has been an interesting couple of weeks. I hit the road last Saturday, picking up my mom on the way, and headed to California to meet the newest member of the family, little 3 1/4 lb. Maiya Rose. We were able to clean the house and do some of the last minute shopping necessary for babies while her parents stayed at the hospital. Although the baby came early, the doctors are amazed at her progress and there is strong hope that she will be able to go home tomorrow.
Meanwhile, himself and the two boys were getting ready for Christmas as I left in mid-cooking, shopping, and decorating. Luckily everyone stepped up (youngest even made lemon bread) and all was ready when I returned home late on the 23rd. A merry Christmas was had, everyone received books, and the best present was watching the 16 pound elderly cat act like a kitten with the ribbons.
Here is what caught my interest these past two weeks:
Eva from A Striped Armchair always seems to find the perfect books in her library. She introduced me to a Russian author I was not familiar with, Nina Berberova and got me excited enough to look for Cape of Storms. It may be hard to find (I have to put it on my inter-library loan list) but it definitely sounds worth the trouble. The novel is about three half sisters, Russian emigres in Paris in the 1930′s, each wrestling with life and how to live it in very uncertain times. Eva, in her review, writes:
All of this is to say, Cape of Storms is a smart, touching novel that manages to look at timeless themes while also capturing a very specific time and place. It’s a bit historical; Berberova wrote it post-WWII but it’s set in the 1930s, which also contributes to the bittersweet feel. I loved it, and I imagine anyone who enjoys early twentieth century literature in general, with its interior focus, will also love it
I have a fondness for quiet novels, and Danielle of A Work in Progress writes a beautiful review of Icelandic author Audur Ava Olafsdottir’s novel, The Greenhouse:
a thoughtful, introspective story about a young man dealing with several life-altering events. It’s a quiet sort of story where not a lot really happens, but it turned out to be perfect reading during a season of hustle and bustle. It makes the reader slow down and contemplate not so much the greater outside world but more so the closed inner world of the human heart.
Lobbi, a young man spends much of his time in the family greenhouse working alongside his mother. It is also the place where he conceived his daughter. After the death of his mother, he travels to an unnamed European country to restore the gardens of a remote monastery leaving behind his elderly father, autistic brother, and his daughter. As Lobbi works in the garden and to assimilate in the small village, the mother of his child asks him to care for her for a while. This seems to be an introspective novel about finding one’s place in a number of ways.
Wendy of Caribou’s Mom makes a brief mention of Lloyd Jones’s new novel Hand Me Down World. Jones is the author of Mr. Pip which won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best Book in South East Asia and was also short-listed for the 2007 Booker Prize. In Hand Me Down World, a young African mother leaves her job in Tunisia, crosses illegally into Europe seeking her infant son who has been given a new home. The first part of the novel is told from multiple viewpoints of people who encounter the young woman on her journey. The second half is told in Ines’s voice and gives a different perspective of her journey.
Finally, A few book lists:
If you like WWI novels, A Work in Progress has a really nice list complete with descriptions. If you scroll through the comments, you will find even more to choose from.
Stephani from So Many Books as compiled (with the help of her readers) an excellent list of non-fiction on Science and all written by women.