We have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Youngest was a member of a committee that cooked dinner for seventy people in Salzburg and Eldest spend the day working and then went to good friends who fed him and made him laugh. As for himself and I, it was a quiet day with the family at my mom’s where I ate an appropriate amount of gravy (my favorite part). It was also a fairly bookish week with all of those in the house reading at one time or another. My mother read So Long, See You Tomorrow and my niece was reading The Incredible Sadness of Lemon Cake. As for me I finished Cloud Atlas which I liked a lot better than Mitchell’s later novel The 1000 Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. I also read The Bird Artist by Howard Norman which I did not much care for and A Time to Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor which was interesting.
Here is what caught my interest this week:
I know about author Helen Dunmore through her works like The Siege and its sequel The Betrayal and latest novel, The Greatcoat. She turns up on a lot of book group lists but I have yet to actually pick up and read one of her novels. I may have to change my mind after reading Heavenali’s review of her 1996 novel Talking to the Dead. Set in the Sussex countryside during a hot summer, this is the story of two sisters – one recovering from a complicated childbirth and the other tending her while remembering the past and a tragic incident from their past.
With all the has been happening in the Middle East, it seemed timely to read Winston’s Dad’s review of I was Born There, I was Born Here by Palestinian Poet Mourid Barghouti, which is a follow-up to his first memoir I Saw Ramallah. Barghouti was attending his last year of college in Egypt when the Six-Day War broke out and he was exiled from his home for the next thirty years. His return is the focal point of his first book. His second volume features essays about his life and his family’s history, and like the first, places emphasis on the place. I think both these books will go on the list.
One of my favorite French novels is Cousin Bette by Honore de Balzac. Guy Savage of His Futile Preoccupations reviews another novella by de Balzac that looks very interesting (and it is available for free for those of you with electronic readers). Le Colonel Chabert is a favorite for movie adaptations and tells the story of Colonel Chabert. The Colonel marries a woman who is living as a prostitute and then goes off to war. He is reported dead but instead he is severely wounded and it takes him years to recover. Eventually he returns home and finds his “wife” remarried and his name and money gone. One reason I like Balzac is how he really gets into the heads of his characters as well as the way he talks about honor and its importance to people and this book sounds like it will provide that is spades.
My niece is spending Thanksgiving with us and one of the topics of conversation has been imaginary friends. My mother had dragons that lived in the back yard and Eldest also had a very nice dragon named Bob. I had an imaginary friend as well, and more importantly, my friend had an aunt who lived in Salt Lake City and I would see the aunt when we visited. My brother, a very real child, had great difficulty with this. Now I see an author has taken the concept of an imaginary friend one step further. Jackie, from Farmlane Books, reviews Matthew Dick’s novel Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend. Eight year old Max as a wonderful friend that protects him from all sorts of things but is unable to stop someone from kidnapping Max. Budo, the friend, must find a way to help his person. As Bob the Dragon help eldest with many difficulties in life, the very concept of this book warms my heart.
Finally, in honor of the food we consume at Thanksgiving, Devourer of Books has compiled a list of five books focused on food on the blog She Knows Book Lounge. I have read four out of the five and some of them are very good reads.