Monday, April 18, 2011

Dear Great Book Guru, What a beautiful April week we have had here in Sea Cliff! Last week when it was colder and drearier, I was at a wonderful event- the annual LI Reads Gala; this year it was at Billy Long's Metropolitan Club with John Canning as the ever- poised, erudite facilitator and master of ceremonies. While there, I heard someone mention a life-altering novel she had just finished reading. I think the title was WISH YOU WERE HERE. Are you familiar with this book and if so, would you recommend it? Searching for a Good Book

Dear Searching, John, as usual, did a fabulous job. Camille Purcell was the leader at the Sea Cliff table, and her insights made the book- SAG HARBOR- come alive for all of us there. And, yes, your search for a good book is over- WISH YOU WERE HERE by Stewart O'Nan is one of my favorites. It traces three generations of the Maxwell family over a rainy week in August 2000. The recently widowed Emily Maxwell has decided to sell her family vacation home and her children, grandchildren, and sister-in-law gather there for one last time. The painful slights, the unintended hurts, the lingering resentments that figure in every family's collective memory are starkly recounted. The book is divided into seven days and each day contains various family members' stories and observations. Early in the novel, Emily insists that everyone make up a list of what he or she wants to keep from the house; soon, we realize that what they all really want is to be able to relive their lives, undo their mistakes, and change their present situations. No trinket will do this and therein lies the horror and the beauty of this book.

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