Sunday 12 May 2024

Post on a sunny Sunday morning...

It’s a perfect spring morning, a welcome change after yesterday’s rain.  Everything is green and blooming, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing… it doesn’t get much better than this. 

I promised that I’d let you know what my book club ladies thought of our last selection, Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Canadian author Karma Brown.  This novel, told in alternating chapters, tells the stories of two women who are both trying to make the best of their situations.  Alice is a 30-something woman who has recently moved with her husband Nate from an apartment in New York to an old, run-down house in a quiet town outside of NYC.  She is trying to determine who she is and struggles to figure out what she should do with her life now that she is no longer an up-and-coming editor.  She claims to want to write a book, and Nate initially seems supportive of this, but he also wants them to start a family and Alice is not sure she’s ready for that.  One day, while searching through some of the boxes in the basement left behind by the woman who lived there before and who died a year earlier, she discovers a box of old magazines and cookbooks from the 1950s and begins reading them.  This is the beginning of Alice’s immersion into the life and experiences of Nellie, the former owner of the house.  Nellie and Richard lived in this house in the 1950s, when societal expectations of what makes a perfect wife were very different from what they are today… or are they?  Nellie is expected to look good, cook well, entertain her husband’s friends, and basically be subservient to her husband, all with a welcoming smile and the right words, even if they are delivered through gritted teeth.  As her story progresses, Nellie’s situation is revealed to be more and more unbearable, until she is finally forced to act.  Alice tries on many of Nellie’s characteristics and immerses herself in 1950s’ culture, claiming that it’s research for her book, but her husband and best friend don’t necessarily buy this explanation.  While Nellie’s struggles are clear, Alice’s issues are less obvious, which may seem frustrating to some, but this also serves to remind us not only of how far we’ve come in the past 70 years, but how far we still need to go.  My ladies mostly enjoyed this book, saying that Nellie’s situation reminded them of their own mothers (the cooking, not the abuse!).  Two members did not really take to Alice, and I’d have to agree that she’s the more complicated of the two main characters, as her situation is more ambiguous.  We discussed the parallels of the two women’s lives, and everyone really liked the older women who ended up befriending them.  We thought the inclusion of recipes and quotes on how to be a good wife, all from the 1950s, were particularly effective in highlighting the changes over the past seven decades. Over all, it was a good book club selection, and led to a lively discussion about cooking, gardening, and women’s rights. 

And I read another book by a Canadian author, Glass Boys by Nicole Lundrigan, one of the books I bought at the big CFUW book sale.  This novel tells the story of two dysfunctional families living in a small village in Newfoundland.  Eli Fagan is an unsavoury man who despises his step-son Garrett.  One day he follows Garrett and discovers a secret so abhorrent he must destroy all evidence, including Garrett himself.  Lewis Trench is back in the village as the new police constable, and on this day, he is drinking and fooling around with his brother Roy.  When they stumble onto the Fagan farm and the scene with Eli and Garrett, Roy confronts Eli and is killed during a struggle.  Deemed an accident, Eli walks free and Lewis holds onto his anger for years.  The incidents that take place on this single day serve to alter the lives of both men and their families.  Can they eventually find a way to get past this, or will it end up destroying everything for both of them?  This book was a mostly-riveting family saga that delved into family secrets and explored various relationships through the lens of a small village.  I found it a bit long, with the story dragging a bit in the middle, but overall, it was interesting and kept me turning pages to reach a satisfying conclusion.  

That's all for today. Happy Mother's Day and Happy Spring!!

Bye for now... Julie