Monday, December 10, 2018

Dear Great Book Guru, I am totally immersed in the holiday spirit, but I do feel the need for a good, thought-provoking novel.  Any ideas?   Enjoying the Holidays
Dear Enjoying the Holidays, I saw UPSTATE by James Wood on a list of the Best Books of 2018 and decided it would be a good choice for the waning days of December.  Upstate refers to a geographic location:  northern New York where the story is set, but also to an optimistic state of mind. Alan Querry lives in the north of England where he raised his two daughters. Vanessa is a philosophy professor in a small upstate New York college and Helen is a music executive in London.  Although a devoted parent, Alan has not seen Vanessa for many years. When he receives a disturbing call from her boyfriend that she is severely depressed, Alan and Helen fly to America to assess the situation. Told largely from Alan’s perspective, the novel asks the question- “what determines state of mind?”  Over six wintery days, the three characters look back on the daughters’ childhood, the bitter divorce of Alan and his wife, her early death- and each of them questions whether happiness is a learned skill or ultimately an unearned gift…  Highly recommended!

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