Monday, July 29, 2013

Dear Great Book Guru,  I love mysteries, I love spy novels, I love courtroom dramas, but this summer I think I should expand my literary horizons .  Do you have a really fine book that I could read as we begin the month of August?  A  Determined  Summer Reader

Dear Determined,  Last month I was at an amazing musical event- the  WNYC's  Battle of the Boroughs where a great innovative band  Victor V. Gurbo and Co. won the audience's vote. While there I was talking to two voracious readers Cecilia and Louise Voccoli .  Having been a fan of his earlier novel,  Cecilia strongly recommended Colum McCann's newest : TRANSATLANTIC.  Well, this weekend I read it and a most wondrous book it is! McCann links his native Ireland and his present home America in three novellas that transport us back and forth over the Atlantic. We enter the mind of Frederick Douglas as he visits Ireland in 1845; he contrasts the exalted treatment he receives from the Irish aristocracy to his status as a slave in the United States, but he is also horrified at the living conditions of Ireland's poor.  Next we meet  pilots  Alcock and Brown in 1919 as they attempt the first transatlantic mail flight under extremely dangerous conditions. The last of the three journeys is George Mitchell's,  the former US  Senator,  as he attempts to broker a peace deal in Northern Ireland in 1998.  These three journeys across the Atlantic and over three centuries are tied together by the lives of four women we meet who share a common lineage and a letter.  This is a beautifully written, lyrical novel of intriguing complexity. Highly recommended

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