Monday, September 24, 2018

Dear Great Book Guru,  Next week is the Sea Cliff MiniMart (Sunday, October 7) and I am very excited.  There are so many wonderful booths to visit that day, but my favorite stop is the Children’s Library.  They have an amazing array of pre-used books and toys- most of which sell for one dollar! While I am waiting for the fun to begin, I would love to have a fast-moving novel on hand.  Any recommendations? MiniMart Maven
Dear MiniMart Maven,  I have a book I am quite sure you will enjoy: A DOUBLE LIFE by Flynn Berry. Claire is a physician practicing in London- she lives an orderly, uneventful life with friends, pets, and family… but we soon learn this is not her only life. She was daughter of a charismatic British lord , who accused of murder, had disappeared twenty years ago.  Now as an adult, Claire is obsessed with finding her father and learning what happened that night when her nanny was brutally murdered and her mother viciously attacked.  Shifting back and forth from past to present, Claire follows the most improbable of leads to finally discover the truth.  This novel is based on the actual story of Lord “Lucky” Lucan - a British peer whose disappearance forty years ago still remains shrouded in mystery.  Highly recommended!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Dear Great Book Guru, Last week I received an invitation to the Sea Cliff Civic Association’s annual Newcomers Welcoming Party.  I am so excited to be meeting my fellow newcomers – apparently there will be at least thirty of us attending. Of course, we will all be sharing Sea Cliff origin tales, but if I need an additional conversation starter, do you have a good book I can bring up to discuss?  Newcomer to Sea Cliff
Dear Newcomer, You will have a wonderful time at the party, but you are wise to have a good book in your repertoire.  I recently read Ronan Farrow’s WAR ON PEACE- a fascinating account of how the United States has abandoned its peace-makers.   His main focus is his former boss, Richard Holbrooke, a much praised, much reviled diplomat who served under many presidents.  Ironically, for such a master diplomat, Holbrooke was viewed by many as acerbic and unrelenting.  Farrow presents this incredibly gifted yet flawed man as a metaphor for the state of diplomacy in Washington today. Another figure he includes is Robin Raphel, a classic diplomat who did her job so well she was brought up on charges of espionage.  She was eventually cleared but was left with huge legal bills and no job.   The book ends on a pessimistic note- when diplomacy is shunned, war is the outcome.  Highly recommended!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Dear Great Book Guru, This week a group of friends and I saw a fascinating movie “The Wife” starring Glenn Close.  When the credits began to roll, we realized that the movie was based on a recent novel.  My book group plans on reading and comparing it to the film.  Any thoughts on this plan? 
Movie Maven

Dear Movie Maven, I think this is a great idea.  After seeing the film, I read the book THE WIFE by Meg Wolitzer and thoroughly enjoyed both: the differences, the similarities, the overall theme.  The book is narrated by Joan Castleman, the wife in question; it opens as she and her husband, a world renowned author, are headed to Helsinki where he will receive yet another prestigious literary award. We learn in the opening paragraphs that Joan plans to end the marriage when they return home. The novel then shifts back to the couple’s first meeting in the 1950’s when Joan was a freshman at Smith College and Joe, a young instructor- husband to Carol and father of an infant daughter. Joe and Joan leave Smith in disgrace, moving to Greenwich Village where he begins his writing career with a hugely popular, autobiographical novel. Wolitzer shifts back and forth over forty-five years- from their courtship and marriage and then back to the present. What we learn about them and the world we all share is shockingly familiar, especially with recent revelations of women’s struggles in multiple arenas.  Highly recommended!