Monday, June 27, 2011

Dear Great Book Guru, What a weekend I just had! First, an amazing Summer Solstice party with a bevy of Sea Cliff luminaries in attendance and then followed the next day by the loveliest of bridal showers for Gillian DiPietro and Joseph Anzalone hosted by Emily Gordon. The tasty treats were prepared by Ricky Silver ( During the Solstice party , news came of the passing of the New York State Marriage Equality Act and one of the first people to be interviewed by the media was Sea Cliff resident and author Sarah Ellis. Many of the partygoers had read her book but no one could remember its title. Do you know the book and have you read it? Weekend Partygoer

Dear Weekend Partygoer, I was at both events too and enjoyed them immensely. Yes, I have read Sarah's book that she co-authored with her partner Kristen Henderson: TIMES X TWO. I finished it in one evening and loved it. Funny, compassionate, suspenseful, and with multiple references to Sea Cliff- you can't get better than that! Sarah and Kristen are the parents of a beautiful boy and girl- weeks apart- twins of sort. The book traces the lives of the two women- Sarah, a highly successful executive at REAL SIMPLE magazine and Kristen, founder, songwriter, and lead guitarist of the famed ANTIGONE RISING band- their childhoods, their college years, their initial meeting and courtship, and finally the births of their children. The book is a beautiful tribute to Sarah and Kristen and all the people in their lives. Highly recommended!

Just a reminder- the Sea Cliff Civic Association's annual Fourth of July Celebration and Reading of the Declaration of Independence will be held on the Village Green outside the Sea Cliff Library at 10am on Monday, the 4th. This is a beautiful event -appropriate for both children and adults .

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dear Great Book Guru Tonight is the Ice Cream Social that the Sea Cliff Civic Association hosts on the last day of school. Matthew and Lorraine Garry, Deidre Mannix, Julie Gordon, and Laura Parker always do such a great job. My children and I love this event and I especially love that it is held in Spooky Park. There is something mysterious and magical about that park. Talking about mysterious…. I am a great lover of mysteries and am always looking for a new series to throw myself into. Do you have anything to recommend? Mystery Maven

Dear Mystery Maven, I too love a good mystery and just this weekend I discovered a new series- well, new to me -but the author Hazel Holt has written nineteen books over the last twenty five years, always with Shelia Malory as her heroine. I read GONE AWAY (first of the nineteen)) and then THE CRUELLEST MONTH. I so loved both that I plan on reading the entire series. Shelia Malory is a fiftyish widow living in a small town outside of London. She has a strong academic bent so the books contain many literary references; the title CRUELLEST MONTH refers to T.S. Eliot's "April is the cruelest month." Malory visits the Oxford home of old friends and spends part of each beautiful spring day in the Bodleian Library where a particularly unpleasant researcher has been found dead under a pile of ancient books. Was this an accident or was it murder? Old diaries, World War II crimes, forged coins and much more come into play before the mystery is solved. Of course, the beauty of these novels lies in their character and set development with the resolution almost an afterthought. Very enjoyable!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dear Great Book Guru, I was at the fabulous Flag Day Concert this weekend sponsored by the Sea Cliff Civic Association and organized by Phil Como. The people I was sitting near were trying to come with a great book for Father's Day. Do you have any suggestions? Devoted Son

Dear Devoted, I thought that concert was wonderful, too. I was sitting next to the Mayor and First Lady of Sea Cliff Bruce and Robyn Kennedy and we all agreed it was a great afternoon, and interestingly, we did talk about a book that would make the perfect Father's Day gift: MY FATHER'S FORTUNE by Michael Frayn. Frayn was a young boy in England during World War II and in this biography of his father we learn much about that time in history and also the complicated relationship many if not all men have with their fathers. Frayn writes, “my father moved lightly over the earth, scarcely leaving a footprint, scarcely a shadow.” And herein lies the quiet beauty of the book- we become fascinated by a rather ordinary man as we see him through the eyes of his son- an extraordinarily successful novelist and playwright. Early on Frayn feels unable to live up to his father's rather mundane expectations and then as time goes on he eclipses his father's achievements. The guilt that accompanied both of these periods is finally resolved at the conclusion of the book when Frayn recognizes his father in himself and is left to wonder why it was so hard to express love and yes, gratitude.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dear Great Book Guru, I am so, so sad today. My good friend Evie Haim died this past weekend. Can you think of something I could read that would offer me some comfort. Grieving Friend

Dear Grieving Friend, You and all of Sea Cliff lost a great friend- Evie touched the lives of so many people from the youngest to the eldest among us. Her work with Landmarks is an enduring legacy, but her spirit also lives on in the hearts of so many of us who called her friend. Bob and the children are in everyone's thoughts and, yes, there is comfort to be found in books- small comfort, but comfort nevertheless. NECESSARY LOSSES by Judith Viorst was written almost fifteen years ago but is still wildly available. Viorst takes us gingerly through the losses one endures over a lifetime and helps us to see each loss as part of large, encompassing canvas. Whether it is a friend, your youth, a parent-Viorst sees all loss sharing an underlying sameness ; the book starts when we are young children and takes us up until the final loss: our own death- the loss of self. While this book may sound grim, it is actually very uplifting. Poems abound throughout and set an inspiring tone. Viorst leaves us with a feeling of peace despite the pain that these necessary losses bring to us.