Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Remembering When

A few years ago I became obsessed with this show. A woman hits her head and wakes up with no memory of who she is. As she puts the pieces back together, she realizes she wasn't a very nice person.

A similar plot emerges in the book What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. Alice hits her head at the gym. Even though she knows who she is when she wakes up, she has forgotten the last ten years of her life. Alice is amazed at how fit she looks, but she is more shocked to realize she hasn't become a very nice person. 

Moriarty tells the story through Alice, her sister Elisabeth, and their adopted grandmother Frannie. While Alice is mourning the loss of her memories, Elisabeth is dealing with infertility. Frannie, meanwhile, is wondering if she's ready to let go of her fiancee that died years before. Humorous and touching, this story highlights all that can change in the span of ten years. And more importantly, all that can change in the blink of an eye.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


As evidenced in a movie I recently watched, everyone romanticizes an era from the past. For some it's the Belle Époque. For some it's the Roaring Twenties. For me, I've always been fascinated by the era captured in Simon Mawer's book Trapeze.  

As the book opens, a plane is flying over rural France. A young woman waits her turn to parachute into the darkness. Her real name is Marian Sutro. Having learned French from her mother and British English from her father, she has been tapped for a special mission involving an old family friend living in Paris. Having shed the security of her identity as Marian at the border, she must juggle aliases, relay messages, and otherwise pass through the streets of heavily check-pointed Paris undetected. 

Will she succeed? Will she survive? It's not only Marian, but the reader, who anxiously asks these questions.  Regardless of whether Marian in the end is successful, Trapeze, in effortlessly capturing the suspense and suspicion of the time, accomplishes its mission.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Grip, Stance, Sight

A letter from a stranger. A key to a safety deposit box. Goons in the parking garage. Julia Heaberlin has taken these elements typically found in Christie or Doyle and successfully set them in Cowtown in her novel Playing Dead

Tommie McCloud grew up on a ranch in Ponder. Her daddy taught her to ride and shoot and her mama taught her to play the piano. But soon after her father's death, she receives a letter that calls into question the family she's always taken for granted. 

Tommie's search for the truth is a suspenseful, Dr. Pepper-fueled read. Those of us from here will delight in the local references. Those of us who aren't may just want to come see what all the fuss is about.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Where'd You Go?

A case of the blue meanies has interrupted these posts of late. Perhaps you've turned to other blogs in the meantime, but I hope you'll check back because a book called Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple has inspired me to start posting again.

Bee Branch, a Seattle eighth grader convinces her parents to take her on a cruise to Antarctica to celebrate her straight As. She is flummoxed, however, when her mother goes missing the day before the trip. When her mother doesn't return, her father, a Microsoft workaholic, decides to send Bee to boarding school a semester early. While at school, Bee receives an envelope filled with emails, magazine articles, and other documents leading up to her mother's disappearance. She immediately sits down at her PC (mocked by her Apple loving classmates) and begins writing her book. The book we've been reading.

I second Jonathan Franzen when he says on the front cover, "I tore through this book with heedless pleasure." A feeling I sort of vaguely remembered but welcomed anyway.