Friday, July 28, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru, As we approach summer’s midpoint, my thoughts turn to - yes- enlightenment! I have read many good novels over the last few months and now I want to learn something new with perhaps a scientific bent. I do so love historical fiction.  
In Search of Enlightenment

Dear In Search of….. I just finished a wonderful historical novel set in the 1880’s about the fierce struggle to electrify America: THE LAST DAYS OF NIGHT by Graham Moore.  The major players are George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison.  Told from the perspective of Paul Cravath, a young lawyer who goes on to invent the prototype of the modern law firm,   this  factually accurate novel is both a suspenseful mystery and a psychological study of genius. Edison is portrayed as an egotistically driven showman whose light bulb is inferior to the naïve, well-intentioned Westinghouse’s. It is Edison’s threat of a billion dollar law suit that brings Cravath on the scene.  With the help of the eccentric Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla and renowned opera singer Agnes Huntington, he struggles to win what is called “the current wars.” Will alternating current A/C or direct current D/C prevail?  All this is set against the backdrop of late nineteenth century New York as magical thinking gives way to scientific progress.  A fascinating, always entertaining work further enhanced by an eight page author’s note outlining where fact and fiction diverge- highly recommended!    

Friday, July 21, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru,  With heavy rain ruining my plans last week ( I was so disappointed: The Lazy Dogs, Trilogy,  and Kingfisher were all rained out),  I am hoping for better weather this week. But if not, do you have a good book I can have on hand – something set far away and with maybe a moral dilemma or two thrown in?  Summer Rain Ranter

Dear Summer Rain Ranter,  I just finished a book that might be  what you are looking for: WAKING LIONS by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen.  Neurosurgeon Eitan Green lives a privileged life- he and his police detective wife and their two young sons have a lovely home in Beersheba, an Israeli desert town.  Driving home in his luxury SUV after an exhausting night of surgery, he hits an Eritrean immigrant.  Determining there is nothing to be done for the severely injured man and fearful of criminal prosecution, Green leaves the man to die.  Shortly after he arrives home, Sirkit, the man’s wife, appears with Green’s wallet.   He offers her cash , but she is not interested in his money . Instead, she threatens to go to the police unless he follows her directions.  She wants him to help her run an underground hospital in an abandoned garage behind the fast food restaurant where she is a dishwasher.  His patients will be African immigrants who cannot find medical care elsewhere. While this certainly seems a way to atone for his crime, things are not as morally clear as they might seem.  There are many surprises throughout that soon leave us questioning our own moral rectitude.   Highly recommended!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru,  I am planning on meeting friends and family Sunday morning for breakfast at Sea Cliff Beach Café. I love their omelets and the bagels are delicious.  When we all get together conversation often turns to what everyone is reading.  I would love to have a good book to “bring to the table.” Any thoughts?  Beach Breakfaster

Dear Beach Breakfaster,  I am  also a big fan of the Beach Café, and a big fan too of DO NOT BE ALARMED  by Maile Meloy.  This novel tells the story of three families on a cruise ship traveling through the ports of Central America.  The two American cousins Nora and Liv   have husbands and two children each- all of whom are very close.  When the husbands accept a golfing invitation, Nora and Liv decide to go onshore with the children for a zip line expedition- a decision they all come quickly to regret because indeed- “there is much to be alarmed about…”  When their well-meaning but inept guide crashes his car on the way to their destination, the women find themselves separated from the children.  Disaster after disaster awaits them.  Much more than a tale of suspense, this book analyzes the role luck plays in our lives.  Being born an American is shown to be huge piece of luck and to be a wealthy American so much the better, but in the end, luck itself proves ephemeral.  A fascinating thriller… and a strong sociological study- highly recommended!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru,  This week begins Friday Music at Sea Cliff Beach and I am looking forward to a wonderful night: just back from Nashville,  Roger Street Friedman with the Ramblin’ Kind will be the first group to perform.   Justin and Jenna DiPietro have worked up a great lineup for the rest of the  summer too. As usual, I plan to get there early, have dinner,  and read for a few hours. Do you have a good novel to recommend?  
Beach Music Bon Vivant

Dear Beach Music Bon Vivant,  Sounds like a good plan and I have just the book for you: THE HEIRS by Susan Rieger.. Rupert Falkes, a wealthy British born lawyer, dies in the opening pages of this compelling novel. Father of five successful sons ( each with a  fascinating back  story), Falkes has been the  emotional and intellectual center of his family for decades so everyone is shaken when it appears he has had a secret life complete with  another wife and children.  His sons grapple with the possibility/probability they knew very little about their father.  From his orphaned beginnings in England to his tragic death in Manhattan, Falkes lived a multi-tiered existence- fascinating to both his family and  readers.  A beautifully crafted literary mystery of sorts and highly recommended!