Saturday 14 July 2012

Saturday afternoon tea and book talk...

This is strange, writing a post on a Saturday afternoon.  But it's hot outside, it's cool in the house, and my husband is out for a while doing some errands so I've got the place to myself for a few hours.  I just had a sudden urge to write about the fabulous books I've been reading and listening to since my last post.

After the book club discussion last weekend, I started to read a book that, from the description on the back cover, I thought sounded incredibly depressing and too dark for me to read.  I put the book on reserve at the library because I had ordered it for the fiction collection of one of the libraries for which I select materials, and thought it sounded interesting.  The book is The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker, a Dutch author who has won the IMPAC literary award.  It tells the story of a Dutch woman who moves to an isolated farmhouse in Wales.  She calls herself Emilie and has run away from her husband in Rotterdam, for some inexplicable reason.  There are geese on the farm, and they seem to disappear on a regular basis.  There are sheep that suddenly appear to graze, and a questionable landlord whose visits are not necessarily welcome.  A young man shows up and stays on at the farm, and a curious relationship develops.  All the while, the husband is trying to find his errant wife and bring her home before New Years.  Does this sound like a strange, dark plot to you?  I was thinking that this would be a novel better suited to the introspective reading months of November or February, not the light, airy month of July, but I picked it up nonetheless and couldn't put it down.  The language was sparse and there was little description that wasn't absolutely necessary for the reader to understand the setting.  It was really about a woman who is getting in touch with herself and coming to terms with her physical situation.  Information about Emilie is meted out to the reader slowly, and we, or at least this reader, is left with some unanswered questions at the end.  But it was fabulous!  It reminded me in some ways of Bear by Marian Engel, a novel that also features a woman who goes to a remote location to discover herself.  Bear is one of my favourite books, and I could see quite a few similarities, but also many differences, between these two novels.  So I would definitely recommend this novel, but be prepared for a slow, dark exploration into the self, and maybe leave it until the fall or winter - it's pretty dark, and it takes place during the few weeks before and after Christmas (but don't read it at Christmas-time - not uplifting enough for that!!).  I'm looking forward to reading his first novel, The Twin, the novel for which he won the IMPAC award.

The audiobook I'm listening to now is Defending Jacob which is excellent as well, but in a different way than The Detour.  I think I mentioned that the main characters are named Lori and Andy, which I was finding a bit confusing since I'd listened to several audiobooks recently that featured characters with these names, all narrated by the same person.  Well, I'm over that confusion now, and I can't wait to get tot the end, but yet I want it to keep on going.  It is the story of a father whose son is on trial for the murder of a classmate, a 14-year-old boy who was found stabbed in the park as he made his way to school one morning.  All the evidence points to Jacob, but the father refuses to believe in his guilt.  I'm so anxious to find out if Jacob is guilty or innocent that, if this was a physical book, I'd probably skip to the end to read the last few pages.  As it is an audiobook, I can't do that, which is probably a good thing, since it has never been my habit to read the end of a book before I catually get to it.  Anyways, I don't know anything about the author, William Landay, but I will definitely check out more of his novels, if there are any others, after finishing this one.  It's so suspenseful that I almost want to listen to it to get ahead even at times when I don't normally listen to an audiobook - that is usually reserved for the time I spend getting home from work or time spent walking to or from a destination.  I guess I'll just have to be patient.  Another strong recommendation for this title.

And I've started reading the next book for my new book club, which meets on July 26th.  We will be discussing Saturday by Ian McEwan, and this was my selection.  I really enjoy his novels, and I think I've read all of his adult titles except Solar and this one.  Remember, he wrote Atonement, the novel on which the film was based.  Like Atonement, this novel is starting out slowly, and really describes the inner psyche of the main character, his thoughts and feelings about his home life, his family, his work, as well as his attitudes towards society, politics and the state of the world.  It is very introspective, much like The Detour.  The main character, Henry, a successful neurosurgeon, wakes up at 3am one Saturday morning and goes to the window, where he sees what he originally thinks is a comet, but which turns out to be a plane whose engine has caught fire.  This has made him consider the state of the world post-9/11, as he does not know that this emergency landing has not caused any deaths.  I've only read up to the point where he is beginning his day in earnest, and I believe that there will be a situation that occurs which will set off a chain of events that will deeply affect Henry's life views.  Hmmm, clearly not for me are fast-paced, action-packed thrillers or light reads that are typical "summer" fare!!

But our next book club selection, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Jenzen, is supposed to be light and funny.  In fact, I just picked up a copy from the library today and on the inside cover, it says  "A hilarious and moving memoir about a woman who returns home to her close-knit mennonite family after a personal crisis", and every review on the front and back covers, from fellow writers or reviewers, uses the word "funny" at least once.  So that should be uplifting after I finish McEwan's novel.

That's all for today.  Happy Saturday!!

Bye for now!

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