Monday, November 24, 2014

Dear Great Book Guru, 
We are busily enjoying this wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends, but I would love to read something compelling-a mystery would be great- perhaps with a foreign locale.  Any ideas??  Thanksgiving Celebrant

Dear Thanksgiving Celebrant,  I just finished a wonderful book- really a literary mystery- set in present day Dublin: THE SECRET PLACE  by Tana French.  In the opening chapter, Stephen Moran, a disgruntled Cold Case detective is visited by sixteen year old Holly Mackey who tells a strange story- she has found a photo posted on a bulletin board (the secret place) in her posh Dublin boarding school implicating classmates in the murder of a popular young student. The novel, while definitely a murder mystery, is also a story of adolescent friendship and Irish class warfare.  We meet eight young girls all with fascinating back stories -all of whom might be implicated in the murder of Chris Harper, the young man whose story differs widely depending on which of the girls is describing him. French’s take on  social media forays and language makes for a compelling read as we learn more and more of the tangled web that ensnares these young people.  Told over one day, this novel spotlights the  interrogating skills of the police as they delve into  each of the young people’s  stories of what really happened that night.  A great look into modern day social mores here and in Ireland 2014.  Recommended!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dear Great Book Guru,   I have heard the Sea Cliff Civic Association is hosting  a toy  turkey hunt  in Geohagen  Park  (also known as Headless) this Sunday, November 23 from 2 to 3pm . Heidi Hunt of the famous Sea Cliff musical group the Milky Ways will be there with cookies and apple cider for turkey hunters of all ages. While I am waiting for the hunt to begin, I would love a fun book to read. Any suggestions?    Turkey Troubadour

Dear Turkey Troubadour, This should be a truly memorable event; in fact,  there is talk of the Great Turkey himself making an appearance, and I do have a very funny book for you to read: SO, ANYWAY –John Cleese’s autobiography.  Cleese is known best for his Monty Python series, movies, and our family favorite: Fawlty Towers.  In this book we hear in his very distinctive voice the stories of classmates, teachers, parents-  many of which he would later use in his comedy creations.   He also draws on his study of social psychology to explain to us what makes a joke work, an action funny,  a character likable. Even without ever having seen  Monty Python or Fawlty Towers, you can find much to enjoy in this book with its  vivid  portrayal  of middle class village life in post war England as we follow Cleese on his road to Cambridge and beyond. Recommended! 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dear Great Book Guru,  I had the most wonderful weekend…. We went to the Chill Out on Friday- much thanks go to Ed Lieberman and Kathleen DiResta for the fabulous music and entertainment throughout that very chilly  night.  I loved the exhibit at the Museum- Sara Reres did a great job welcoming the crowds into the very cozy, refreshment filled building. Then on Saturday we had the Progressive Dinner where I met so many old and new friends.  Tina Marchese and her committee worked their magic again with 170 guests happy  and well fed in 23 homes around the Village. Now please find me a good book to read over the darkening  days of November.   Weary Weekend Celebrant

Dear Weary Weekend Celebrant, I have a very interesting book for you: MOLLY FOX’S BIRTHDAY  by the Irish writer Deirdre Madden. Narrated by an unnamed playwright, this short novel (254 pages) takes place on one summer day in Molly Fox’s memorabilia filled Dublin home . Molly and the narrator had met twenty years before and over the years both have achieved great success in their  careers. Molly is a forty year-old well known actress with many, many friends that we meet as we move back and forth over the decades. An intellectual priest, an Oxford trained art historian, a rebel soldier with dubious loyalties- all figure in Molly’s story as we meet them and learn their stories over the course of the novel.  What roles  we assign ourselves during our lifetimes and how we choose to act on these choices form the basis of this intellectually stimulating tale. Recommended !

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dear Great Book Guru, With Sea Cliff’s Chill Out on Friday and the Sea Cliff Civic Association’s annual Progressive Dinner Saturday night, I can hardly contain my excitement.  But by Sunday, I know I will want to relax with something interesting to read, but probably not a novel.  Any suggestions?  Chilling and Dining Out in Sea Cliff

Dear Chilling and Dining Out in Sea Cliff, I just read a fascinating book A SPY AMONG FRIENDS:  KIM PHILBY AND THE GREAT BETRAYAL by Ben Macintyre.  Philby was born shortly after the end of World War I into an eccentric, aristocratic British family.  His life’s trajectory began when, after expressing to family friends an interest in government, he was immediately offered a position in Britain’s elite spy service- MI6.  Thus began his  parallel existence as a double agent.   While there have been many books written about the Cambridge Five- the notorious post World War II spies who graduated from Cambridge University and rose through the ranks of England’s most prestigious establishments only to be revealed as long standing Soviet agents- this book focuses on Philby and his betrayal not only of his country but also of his friends. George Elliot was the closest of these friends-colleague, drinking partner, roommate, constant defender, and finally the person who likely arranged his escape to Moscow. E.M. Forester, the renowned British writer, has said “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friends, I hope I should betray my country.”  Philby betrayed both and his story is an amazing tale of intrigue and deception- strongly recommended!