Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dear Great Book Guru,  We had a wonderful Easter  with our annual rubber ducky hunt followed by a record breaking bocce tournament. At the party,  Joan Neuhoff, a voracious reader, suggested I read Anna Quindlen’s latest book.  Are you a fan of Quindlen’s and would you recommend her newest novel?                   Bocce by the Book
Dear Bocce by the Book, I just finished STILL LIFE WITH BREAD CRUMBS and yes, I am a fan of Quindlen’s.   The title refers to a very successful series of photographs by artist Rebecca Winter, sixty and divorced, facing a rather dismal financial future. A well known photographer, Winter’s works no longer command the high prices of the past and her expenses keep mounting so she decides to live a cheaper, simple life in rural Connecticut. There she meets an array of interesting characters- characters who reminded me a lot of Sea Cliff’s own- and everything gradually changes for the better. The contrast between her life in a New York City penthouse and her cottage in this small village is humorously drawn.  There were some plot lapses but for the most, we see an older woman, still attractive, still talented, beset with doubts and financial woes who ultimately triumphs. An enjoyable read!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dear Great Book Guru,  I am so excited- I just heard that Sea Cliff’s very own Dan Fagin has received the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for his book TOMS RIVER. I believe you have already reviewed it but with this great honor, could we all have a second look?  Fan of Fagin

Dear Fan of Fagin, A Pulitzer- what great news!!!!  I too am a huge fan of Dan’s and I would love to look at TOMS RIVER again. Toms River is a town in southern New Jersey, a town whose name over the years has become synonymous with tainted water, industrial pollution, and childhood cancers.  Dan’s book is an amalgam of science, politics, history, and biography and reads like an epic novel. He weaves a story of valor and cowardice, virtue and corruption, moving up and down the coast, across the state, and from Basel, Switzerland to a factory town in central China. Always, however, at the heart of the book are the parents and children of Toms River who suffered so much and fought so hard to find out how this could have happened in their town.  TOMS RIVER is a remarkable achievement by an extraordinarily talented author.  Highly recommended!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dear Great Book Guru, Last week I attended the annual Long Island Reads at the Metropolitan Club with my friends, and once again we were left to marvel at the wit and generous spirit of local attorney John Canning. As master of ceremonies, John regaled the audience with stories, insights, and good humor. During the evening, I mentioned I would be in Venice for Easter week and one of my tablemates insisted I read a Donna Leon mystery. I am not familiar with this author and I am not usually a fan of crime novels, but I do love Venice. Any thoughts?                                               Looking Forward to April in Venice

Dear April in Venice,  How lucky you are ….Venice is lovely all months of  the year, but April is surely the loveliest  of all!  Donna Leon’s latest novel  BY ITS COVER is set in April and we share  her protagonist Guido Brunetti’s delight as he walks the streets of his beloved city  reveling in its beauty and intrigue. Called to investigate the theft and mutilation of rare books at a prestigious library, he is confronted with an array of fascinating suspects, among them a former priest who spends his days reading the works of ancient theologians, an American academic with a bogus passport, and a glamorous dowager who gives away her family’s treasures hoping  to secure a spot in Venetian high society . While there is mystery and murder in all Leon’s works, once again we are offered so much more. Whether it be Brunetti’s fury at the huge cruise ships that pollute the canals and charm of Venice, his disdain for Italy’s paralyzing bureaucratic corruption, his love of food and family, or his endless fascination with the human comedy- all are explored in deliciously exquisite detail. Do not judge a book “by its cover”- this is much more than a mystery.  Highly recommended!