Sunday, 22 April 2018

Birthday post on a Spring morning...

WOW, what a difference a week makes here in Southern Ontario!  Last weekend it was icy and stormy, and this weekend the sun is out, the birds are singing, and the temperatures are in the double-digits!  I’ve been writing Julie’s Reading Corner for seven years this weekend, and in celebration of this, I was going to treat myself to a slice of cake when I met a friend yesterday for a hot beverage, but nothing in the dessert display counter at the café really caught my fancy, so I’ll have to be satisfied with my yummy Date Bar and, of course, my steaming cup of chai.

I wish I had a better book to write about for this birthday post, but unfortunately, I was rather disappointed with the novel I read last week, The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer.  I have listened to one of her books in audio format a couple of years ago, The Uncoupling, that I really enjoyed, but when I tried another of her books a bit after that, I couldn’t get into it and returned it to the library.  This one was a bit more engaging and I finished reading it, but it was underwhelming, to say the least. This novel tells the story of four characters: Greer, a smart, shy, quiet young woman who hopes to find a path for her life and make a difference; Cory, Greer’s handsome high school sweetheart and overachiever; Zee, outspoken and determined to fight for her rights, whatever those might be; and Faith Frank, a sixty-something woman who has been a mover and a shaker in the women’s movement for decades.  When she meets Faith at a college presentation Zee drags her to after an incident on campus, Greer’s life heads off in a new direction. Where this will take her, though, remains to be discovered. Meanwhile, Cory’s life seems to be following a prescribed path… until it veers off-course due to unforeseen circumstances that force him to reconsider all that he thought he wanted. Zee, too, is sent off in various directions until she finds her calling. And after years of dedication to a failing feminist magazine, Faith must find a way to continue to inspire people to make a difference, even as she must face her own diminishing role in this movement.  I don’t normally read what I refer to as “women’s books”, novels where women’s issues are at the heart of the story. This is not to be confused with “chick lit” (I hate that term!), which I usually consider to offer a lighter and more humourous treatment of mainly dating and relationships, not so much other women’s issues. And I think I really want to love Meg Wolitzer’s novels, because she can be so insightful and her sentences can often flow off the page. But in the end, I found this book to be disappointing, mainly in its predictability. For all the time that is spent exploring each character’s backstory, often in the middle of another present-day interaction with another character, which I found confusing, I didn’t feel that there was a whole lot of growth or discovery or understanding for these characters from the beginning of the novel to the end, an ending which I felt was rushed and conveniently (though not believably) tied up all the loose ends.  And I didn’t enjoy being drawn into the lives of mostly female characters (Cory’s life hardly seemed realistic). I guess I should have known better than to read this book, since I knew it was a “women’s book”, but sometimes such books surprise me, for example The Uncoupling, and Liane Moriarty’s novels, which I always enjoy.  Anyway, it’s a bestseller, so I don’t want to suggest that it is not a good book, just that it was not a good book for me.
I managed to finish two audiobooks in the past couple of weeks that I enjoyed, both by David Rosenfelt.  The first was Don’t Tell a Soul, about a man who is drawn into an international conspiracy after his wife is murdered, and Unleashed, one of the books in the “Andy Carpenter” series, where Andy joins the investigation when one of his friends is accused of murder, a death that may be part of a much larger assassination plot.  I’ve listened to these books before, but they are reliable go-to audiobooks if I need something light and entertaining, especially if I’ve just listened to a lengthy, intense audiobook (Rosenfelt’s books are generally short).  So I would recommend these books, and it’s not really necessary to start at the beginning and read or listen to them in order.

That’s all for today.  Get outside and enjoy the sunshine and warmer temperatures!

Bye for now....
Julie

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