With the leaves gone from the trees, the squirrels are much more visible delighting the dog of the house. Of course it means lots of in and out but it is a small price to pay for such happiness. There is no danger that she will actually catch one – they are much smarter than she is and faster as well. It also means that winter is truly here with chilly temperatures and making soup for himself and eldest. My book group meet at my house this week and I made applesauce spice cake with maple whipped cream to celebrate the season. We discussed The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud. Let’s just say there was much passionate discussion. I thought it was one of the best books I read this year but I was the only one who felt that way. By the time we were done, we felt it was one of the best discussions we have ever had. I have also finished An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Rensiowski for my second book group meeting tomorrow night and The Spinoza Problem by Irvin D. Yalom and I started The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell. I am hopeful for the O’Donnell book in part because of the reviews I have read but also because I need a good book. I was a little disappointed with An Invisible Thread and the ending of the Yalom novel. And after reading Leeswammes’ review of O’Donnell’s second novel, Closed Doors – I am eagerly awaiting its publication in the United States.
Here is what caught my interest this week:
After a somewhat disappointing reading week, the first blog I happen to read this week is Diane’s Bibliophile by the Sea. I like to see what she likes because we have similar taste and this week she does not disappoint with her mention of Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron a novel about an 18 year old misfit who is unsure about college and seems to be even more unsure about how to figure everything out. Eldest was a similar 18 year old and looking back now, he would have greatly benefited from a gap year between high school and the next step so the premise of the novel speaks to my heart. The high praise of Diane is icing on the cake.
Guy Savage reviews an interesting sounding book – The Two Hotel Francforts by David Leavitt (newly published in October). The novel is set in Lisbon at the onset of WWII. Two married couples are awaiting arrival of their ship for America to escape the chaos to be. Both couples have their marital issues with much being unsaid and each person seems to have their reasons to want to leave or not leave. I do not know too much about this part of history and I am looking forward to learning more.
One of the more uncomfortable books I have read is The History of History by Ida Hattemer-Higgins and while I found the book uncomfortable it is also very very good (my review here). The main character of that debut novel becomes obsessed with Magda Goebbels, the wife of Joseph Goebbels the Nazi Minister of Propaganda. Savidgereads reviews a new book out about this women who is know both for her role in the Nazi movement and her role in the deaths of her children. Magda by Meike Ziervogel is available for electronic readers in the US and Savidgereads speaks highly of the book saying, “It has been one of my reading experiences of the year.” It is a slim book providing brief snapshots into a complex life and despite Madga’s actions, it looks like a must read for me.
Finally, Tom of A Common Reader has given me a new detective series. William Brodrick was an Augustine Friar before becoming a barrister and a writer. His series features Father Anselm, a barrister turned monk. The fifth in the series has just come out (The Discourtesy of Death) and while Tom mentions that enough background material is included, I think I will look for the first one (The Sixth Lamentation).
And on a more serious note, 2014 is the centenary of WWI, the war to end all wars. There are new books (both fiction and non-fiction) coming out soon and Fleur Fischer as a nice listing of books and authors published by Virago Modern Classics as well as other small presses. Please note that her listing is for a read-along and some may be harder to find in the United States but if you are interested in reading more about the war, it is a good place to start.