Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Glued to Your Sun-Lounger"

Sometimes you are in the mood for HBO. Sometimes, it has to be Lifetime. So, having finished Nicole Krauss' Great House, I was ready for something a little more Emily Giffin.

As I was headed for the "G" section of the library, I was sidetracked by a book by Lisa Jewell. I had read several of her books a few years ago, but I found one from 2007 called Roomates Wanted. Set in London, it stars Toby Dobbs who lives in a ramshackle Victorian with strays he's picked up over the years. Singer-songwriters, quick-change artists, and air-hostesses all share quarters, but don't know much about each other's lives. When Toby's oldest tenant dies, he meets the girl-next...well across-the-road. She inspires him to start making some changes. What results is not only a remodel of his house, but of his heart.

Can't you just hear the voice-over now?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How To Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu

I finished this book two weeks ago and still haven't made up my mind about it. Parts of it gave me a headache. Parts made me nod knowingly. Parts reminded me of students I've had in my classes. Parts forced me to close it and go for a walk. Which part relates to the title, I'm still wondering.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stamp of Approval

Flavia's passion is poison. Most days she's hunkered down in her chemistry lab recreating experiments she studies in old chemistry texts. With her mother dead and her father wrapped up in his stamp collection, she's left to her own amusements - aggravating her older sisters, avoiding the housekeeper's custard pie, and solving murders.

Following a trail of clues that includes a snipe, a penny stamp, and a schoolboy prank, Flavia doggedly stays on the case to vindicate her father and satisfy her own curiosity. She is, after all, eleven.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is just one of the books I found out about here. I'm eager to read the others. On a related note, I'm also salivating over a new set of postage stamps. Although it's highly unlikely I will ever be a chemist like Flavia, maybe I'll turn out to be a philatelist like her father.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Awkward, At Its Best

It's when you put your coat on inside out on a first date. And run two stoplights. And babble on about "The Rules" while saying goodbye at your front door instead of letting him kiss you. It's when you give a giggly wave instead of a smoldering glance.

It's Gilbert dipping Anne-with-an- e's pigtails in ink. It's Darcy scorning an indignant Elizabeth. It's Inman garnering an introduction to Ada.

Despite the dark violence, Cold Mountain is a love story at its best. Perhaps because, in much of the novel, the two are apart. Inman is trying to make his way home from the war without permission. Ada is an educated woman who doesn't know the first thing about managing a farm. Moments other authors might romanticize, Frazier leaves as is. Goodbyes are honest instead of heartfelt. Letters are left crumpled on the floor, unsent. And a much anticipated reunion is clever in its clumsiness.

Oh, and the end might make you may cry even if it's the fourth time you've read it.

So trip rather than swoon. Tango across the room...badly. You'll have a funny, even romantic, story to tell your grandkids.