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ALL THE NEWS I NEED: a novel ~Joan Frank

Monday, March 20th, 2017

ALL THE NEWS I NEED is full of wonderful words placed with delicate care and mixed with adjectives, which are perfection.  Frank’s has created a word salad that is filled with glorious descriptions of feelings and attitudes and fears and delights that just move the reader along the page onto the next and each new expression.  It was a heady trip into two lives contemplating being old and the losses of their lives.

ALL THE NEWS I NEED is the winner of the Juniper Prize for fiction.

The story moves at just the perfect pace to draw the reader into the lives of two well-described characters, who lead us to our own feelings about aging and the use of our time.  Do we walk and walk or read and read remembering to water the plants and do our shopping?  What are our habits and routines that keep us moving forward?

Fran and Ollie’s ‘rules for aging’ section makes this book well worth the price – actually the whole story makes the book a keeper.  I have bookmarked the rules and read them at least a dozen times.  They make me smile

From the cover:

All THE NEWS I NEED probes the modern American response to inevitable, ancient riddles – of love and sex and mortality.  Frances Ferguson is a lonely sharp-tongued widow who lives in the wine country.  Oliver Gaffney is a painfully shy gay man who guards a secret and lives out equally lonely days in San Francisco.  Friends by default; Fran and Ollie nurse the deep anomie of loss and the creeping, animal betrayal of aging.  Each loves routine but is anxious that life might be passing by.  To crack open this stalemate, Fran insists the two travel together to Paris.  The aftermath of their fun, bittersweet journey suggest those small changes, within our reach, that may help us save ourselves – somewhere toward the end.

I am sorry the publisher sent me this book so close to the review date as I would have loved to read it twice before writing the review, as it turned out I only had 3 days, so I will read it again and again at another time.  It is on the schedule for both of my book groups.

TLC Book Tours sent the book to me and Trish really insisted that I read this book, as she wanted to know my thoughts.  So here they are and I LOVED this book and now want to read some more of Frank’s words in the future.  Thank you so much.  ALL THE NEWS I NEED is definitely on the top of my list of great reads.

This book is perfect for those who have retired or suffered a loss and are curious about the next parts of life to launch for themselves.  It is really just a magnificent read for everyone.  Oh how important are those small changes that define and bring meaning.

“Joan Frank is a writer of sublime power who reveals the lives of her characters with such care, insight, and elegance, that deeply buried feelings of victory and loss become inextricably bound up with our own.” (Simon Van Booy, author of FATHER”S DAY)

JOAN FRANK is the author of five books of fiction and a collection of essays on the writing life.  She lives in Northern California with her husband, playwright Bob Duxbury.

www.joanfrank.org

“Joan Frank is a human insight machine.” —Carolyn Cooke

Related:
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Walter’s Muse
The Bridge Ladies
The Reinvention of Albert Paugh

BEAUTY AND ATTRACTION: A Novel ~Liz Rosenberg

Monday, October 31st, 2016
beauty-and-attention

beauty-and-attention

An Advanced Reader copy of this story arrived in my inbox and I just thought the cover of this book was a good first hook.  I found this story about a young woman in the 1950s to be very interesting and a good read.  The story is about a “freedom” which can manifest after a death; it is about how to express and explore this new stage in a time period known for being quite restrictive.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this book for review.  It is a good read.

The precision of the writing truly pulled me into the story of Libby Archer, a  naïve, young woman living in Rochester, New York as her father has just died and left her an orphan.  Her aunt and uncle who live in Ireland ask her to come and spend time with them and she choses to do just that as her friends push her to get married to be cared for and a young, smart enterprising local fellow is hoping she will say yes.

The banter between her cousin, an English Lord, and Libby is quite remarkable and compelling as Libby is quite outspoken and feisty.  Libby has very few resources at her disposal except her wit, charm, and kindness.  Her rather narcissistic aunt takes charge of her future and introduces Libby to a fascinating friend.  There are trips to Paris for clothing and style and Libby is loosing herself with each chapter.  She becomes more and more molded into a rather pathetic person and then falls in love or is manipulated into a relationship, when in Rome.  Money has come her way and this makes her an even greater “mark”.   Death keeps signaling change in Libby’s life – and then in a surprise twist she takes hold and takes a new direction.  Makes it worthwhile to read to the very last paragraph.

I enjoyed the book and liked that it was short and to the point.  There was good context material, such as reference to the McCarthyism pervasive in the USA and the focus on the development of computers.   I so liked how the story ended.

“The author of more than thirty books for adults and young readers, Liz Rosenberg has published three bestselling novels, including The Laws of Gravity and The Moonlight Palace. She has also written five books of poems, among them 2008’s Demon Love, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and After Great Grief, forthcoming from the Provincetown Arts Press. Her poems have been heard on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion. Rosenberg’s books for young readers have won numerous awards and honors and have been featured on the PBS television show Reading Rainbow. A former Fulbright Fellowship recipient, Rosenberg teaches English at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where she earned the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. She lives in Binghamton with her daughter, Lily, and a shih tzu named Sophie. Although she has homes in New York and North Chatham, Massachusetts, her heart is still in Ireland.” (TLC book tours)

Liz Rosenberg Wikipedia

Related:
The Moonlight Palace
The Imaginary Life
The Time Travelers Boyfriend

AUTUMN IN OXFORD: A Novel ~Alex Rosenberg

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Lake Union Publishing is certainly sharing some mighty fine reads with me this year.  AUTUMN IN OXFORD is a finely crafted murder, espionage, love story which is about reading every word and storing the details so you will be able to fit the twists and changes into perspective and solve the “who done it” part.  Even though the murder takes place in the first few chapters of the story in 1959, the why and who take pages of history and connection to piece it all together; lots of McCarthyism to uncover.

TLC Book Tours shared a winner with this read.  The writing is top notch and has the wonderful British pacing of the well-ordered sleuth with the push of the American prejudice exposed and revealed – made plain and arrogant.

Tom is a Finish boy who was reared in New York by his dedicated parents, he has married well a wealthy socialite and his writing has won him a Pulitzer Prize.  In his youth, he briefly joined the Communist Party and met the Rosenberg’s and other big names in college.  He left the Party and studied History and is now doing a teaching Fellowship at Oxford.   He meets his neighbor Liz, and realizes he has met the love of his life.  Liz is from Toronto, has 2 children and an unemployed husband who avoided the war by moving to Canada and lives life for appearances.

Tom’s wife insists that he return to New York with her, but Tom does not want to go because of his affair with Liz, also because he is having serious trouble with his passport – some department of government is pestering and threatening his because of his past connections – blacklisting.  Liz’s husband is murdered and now Tom has been arrested and a clever lawyer is now tracking the case and Tom’s backstory is outlined in detail.  One needs to read with care to find all the pieces that will fit together and complete the story’s truth.  I found it very difficult to put the story down, even with the deliberate pacing.

Alex Rosenberg is the author of the novel THE GIRL FROM KRAKOW.  He has lived in Britain and has taught at Oxford, where he made the acquaintance of some of the historical figures that play roles in AUTUMN IN OXFORD.  Rosenberg is the R. Taylor Cole Professor of Philosophy at Duke University in North Carolina.

Alex Rosenberg Wikipedia

Related:
Gone To Soldiers
Cuckoos Calling
The Boys In The Boat

GONE TO SOLDIERS: A Fiction Novel about WWII ~ Marge Piercy

Monday, April 25th, 2016

I discovered Marge Piercy the writer in the early 1990s.  GONE TO SOLDIERS was published in 1987 and I had already read GOING DOWN FAST, SMALL CHANGES, WOMAN ON THE EDGE OF TIME,  FLY AWAY HOME, and HE, SHE, IT. The women I was in a support group with in New York City were praising Piercy’s work and we were sharing copies.  I enjoy her writing very much and her outlook.

After posting the review for HE, SHE, IT, an email* came in asking me if I would like to read GONE TO SOLDIERS for review.   I said yes I would like to read it, forgetting that I had read it first 30 years ago.  I just was so happy to read more of Piercy’s words.   The Kindle told me that at my reading speed it would take 32 hours and 30 minutes to get to the end.   I dove right into each chapter and hardly came up for air.  I am not incredibly fond of books about war.  This one is quite exceptional.  It took 7 years to write and perfect before it was published and winning so many awards.  I was so happy to read it once again.

The book has an interesting shape as 10 characters and their stories are highlighted throughout the book. Some have 14 chapters to their stories.  We begin before the start of the war in France and before the USA became involved.  WWII is over and recovery is beginning at the end of the story.  The primary theme is about being Jewish and how the Jewish experience of the war overlaps and touches so many lives.  I was amazed at how badly the USA Jews were treated and particularly by the Marine corp.  Some American Generals had no trouble with killing Jews in Europe and participated in the process. Each character was well defined and the connecting characters gave continuity to the story and kept the thread of the themes moving forward.

Extraordinary writing. So revealing about the hate we are seeing displayed even now in the USA, so much fear, and how working from that fear keeps us holding on and not moving forward.

Whenever the control is too great, there are scapegoats and then they are vilified and verbally derogated.  It was important for me to read this novel once again. I feel it with mature eyes.  There is more and more to the story; I become a witness.

I not only humbly give this book top stars and I feel as though it should be required reading in our schools today.   I highly recommend this story.

“Marge Piercy has written 17 novels including The New York Times Bestseller Gone To Soldiers; the National Bestsellers Braided Lives and The Longings of Women, and the classic Woman on the Edge of Time and He, She and It and most recently Sex Wars; ; 19 volumes of poetry including The Hunger Moon: New & Selected Poems 1980-2010, The Crooked Inheritance and in spring 2015, Made in Detroit; and a critically acclaimed memoir Sleeping with Cats. Born in center city Detroit, educated at the University of Michigan and Northwestern, the recipient of four honorary doctorates, she is active in antiwar, feminist and environmental causes.“ (Header at website)

Marge Piercy’s Website and Bio

*Kindle book was sent by Greta Shull, Marketing Coordinator, Open Road Integrated Media, 180 Maiden Lane, suite 8A  New York, NY 10038

Related:
He, She, It
When Women Were Birds
The Sowing