WOW, this is just like old times, posting on a sunny morning with CBC playing in the background and a cup of chai tea by my side. Really, those were the best posting times... ah well, sometimes we need to roll with the changes in our lives.
I finished One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson on Sunday, and it was a disappointment. It seems appropriate to be writing about it today, a religious holiday, because it had many religious undertones. One of the main characters, Martin, was a crime fiction writer who had taught Religious Studies to high school boys before starting to write. At one point, someone had written an article about him which reported that he had been a priest, or in a seminary, before becoming a teacher and then a writer, which was untrue but stuck - he was ever after referred to as the "former priest" in reviews, interviews and articles. There were references to the road to Damascus, and religious conversion, scales falling from the eyes, and other biblical imagery. There is also the title, One Good Turn, a reference to "one good turn deserves another" and is somehow, I think, related to the biblical story of the Good Samaritan. Anyways, more religious than Case Histories, and also too many instances of animal cruelty, dead dogs and drowned kittens... not very pleasant for this animal-lover. I'll definitely move on to When Will There Be Good News? - I'm not sure if I have my own copy of that book or whether I'll have to request it from the library.
Our book club discussed Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis last Saturday, and all the members loved it! I must thank on of my members, Val, for recommending it, and it was just a coincidence that we read it at a time when our own budget was being discussed and announced, since a large portion of the book dealt with the two main characters' reactions to the "mini-budget" that was being proposed and was to be voted on (I couldn't take any credit for the timeliness of the selection, but I really like when that happens!). If you recall, this book tells the story of a reluctant liberal MP candidate who, due to unforeseen circumstances, actually wins in his riding, and his behaviour in his new role. We discussed Fallis' manipulation of language to achieve humourous ends, and the ways in which this book challenged stereotypes and revealed misconceptions. It offered a view of politics that was refreshing and light, though the the novel evoked compassion in the reader for some of the characters - Angus' grief over the death of his wife and Muriel's progressive Parkinsons' disease made the story more real than if the characters and situations were strictly humourous. Angus and Daniel also experienced character growth throughout the book. One member confirmed what I had written in my last post, that this book had something for everyone (when that happens, and it's happened more than once, I suspect that my book club members are secretly reading my blog, even though they all deny it!) Anyways, good choice, and timely, too!!
On Monday, April 2, I began reading State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, which was a birthday gift from a friend. She had placed a reserve on a library copy at the Toronto Public Library (she lives in Toronto), so we agreed that when she got her copy, we would read it at the same time so we could discuss it afterwards. I was in the middle of my book club selection when she get her copy, but she's not quite finished and I'm about a third of the way though, so the timing should work out for us. It's amazing! I think it's even better than Bel Canto, which was really good, but a little slow to get into. With this book, I did not have that problem. It tells the story of a woman, Marina, a researcher for an American pharmaceutical company who is sent to Brazil to track down Annick Swenson, another researcher employed by the same company who was working on a fertility drug but has been incommunicado by her own choice for the past 10 years. It's beautifully written, the characters are enigmas, and the situations are puzzling. I think the appeal of this novel for me is that it's a bit of a character study and a bit of a mystery, combining my two favourite types of stories. I can't wait to finish it! The reason I mentioned the date on which I started the book is that it opens with the death of one of the company's researchers who had gone to find the elusive Swenson. The company receives a letter from Swenson with the news of his death, a letter that was dated March 18, the death occurred on March 15, and Marina comments that "today is April 1st". I began reading this on April 2nd, so that kind of indicated that I had to read this book, that it was the right time to start. And there is a character named Easter, and this is Easter weekend. Remember on February 14th I started a book whose first line was, "Well, it is Valentine's Day", and I felt compelled to finish it, like that was some sort of sign, even though it really wasn't very well-written? I think I will have a much better reading experience this time.
I think it's time to go and get ready for a hike on the Bruce Trail - we're planning to go to Crawford Lake today. I always feel that Good Friday should be overcast and drizzly, but it almost never is. I guess it feels wrong somehow to be enjoying a bright sunny day on such a sad holiday (you know what they say, "once a Catholic...")
Happy Easter!! Bye for now...