Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Playing a Part

A saxophone teacher becomes the confidant for

the sister of the student

who is scandalized by the senior band teacher

and the outcast who befriends the sister.

A drama student becomes involved with the sister

while rehearsing for a play starring the scandal.

The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton provides a unique script. The reader turns player if only to figure out who is being fed their lines, who is improvising, and who is playing whom.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer

When the book jacket reviews include those by the author of Loving Frank and Glamour, I’m going to pick it up. Then when I read the inside summary and learn the main character is a Life photographer working in the 1940s, I’m sold.

Clare Shipley is assigned a story on a new wonder-drug, penicillin. She falls for the doctor on the case and is resigned to a long-distance romance when he accepts a government job in Washington. She diligently follows up on both the romance and the story. But when her father, a millionaire, buys into a pharmaceutical company, Clare learns how cut-throat the industry can be in guarding lucrative discoveries.

After pinning up my hair in a Victory roll, I’m going to be spending the afternoon rifling through old magazines. Then I might look for some of the reference books Belfer cites in her notes: The Enchanted Ring by John C. Sheehan, The Women Who Wrote the War by Nancy Caldwell Sorel, and No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Vindictive Meter Maids"

She is dressed in "wishy-washy" clothes. He has a "funny smell."Such are the first impressions of two who meet in a cemetery.

In Katarina Mazetti's novel, Benny and Shrimp, the characters alternate telling the rise and fall of their relationship. Desiree is a librarian and recent widow. Benny runs a dairy farm single-handedly after his mother dies. Differing on everything from decor to politics, they find themselves a surprising match in bed.

Humorous, off-putting, and familiar, this book will have you reading far into the night. Pickled herrings are meant to be eaten as a midnight snack, aren't they?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In the Beginning

Your mother is always right. Well, at least mine is. She's been recommending Ahab's Wife forever. And I keep relegating it to the bottom of the to-read list. But then I came across Sena Jeter Naslund's new book, Adam and Eve.

Lucy is a recent widow. Her late husband was a physicist studying extraterrestrial life. His work threatens those who believe proof of alien life forms would debunk their own creation myths. Just before his death, he leaves Lucy his flash drive containing his latest proof. Shortly thereafter, one of her husband's friends recruits Lucy to fly an ancient codex out of Egypt. Her enemies now have two reasons to find her.

Adam is an American soldier living in Eden. Having survived a brutal beating, he has made a primitive home for himself in a lost corner of the Middle East. His prayers for a companion are answered when Lucy's plane crashes into his midst.

Naslund's description of Adam's awakening breathes new life into the story as old as Genesis. Other authors have tackled the subject, but placing the characters in a future world reminds us we probably always strive for the forbidden fruits. And after we've taken the first bite, a mother will be there to say "I know." Then you will listen.