Thursday, August 29, 2019

Dear Great Book Guru, Friends of mine are members of the Barbara Pym Society of Sea Cliff, and this weekend they are headed to the annual Pym convocation at St Hilda’s College at Oxford University.  They are presenting a paper on one of her novels about two women whose lives intersect. They’ll focus on the changing views of marriage that Pym offers.  I’d like to read this novel before they return.  Any thoughts? Potential Pymite

Dear Potential Pymite, JANE AND PRUDENCE is one of Pym’s earlier novels and a great favorite of mine. Set in both 1950’s London and a small, unnamed village (strangely reminiscent of Sea Cliff), the novel tells the parallel stories of forty-one year old Jane, the kindhearted, brilliant but scattered wife of the clergyman Nicholas Cleveland, and Prudence, a twenty-nine year-old beautifully elegant single woman with a penchant for unfulfilling infatuations with married academicians.  Throughout the novel each woman weighs the joys and intricacies of her “lot in life.”  As in all Pym’s novels, the plot line is secondary to the character development and we soon become intimately involved in the lives of these two women.  There is much humor and insight in this novel - highly recommended!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Dear Great Book Guru, I have been so enjoying Monday Movies at the Beach sponsored by the Beach Hut.  It’s a great place to catch up with friends and family and I always get there early to set up chairs for us.  And the Beach Hut food is so great! Do you have a book I might read while waiting for the show to start? 
Loving Monday Movies

Dear Loving Monday Movies, I just finished a great book to read before school starts: THE GIFTED SCHOOL by Bruce Holsinger.  Four women who met when their children were newborns have continued their friendship over eleven years. Now as the children approach middle school, a program for the gifted and talented is scheduled to open in their hometown Crystal City, an affluent community which bears a strong resemblance to Boulder, Colorado. All four women are mightily invested in having their children make the cut.  Lies, bribes, and deceit quickly color the process.  The grandchild of a woman who cleans the homes of two of the women is also a contender, and the grandchild’s plight adds another dimension to this tawdry tale.  While test scores play a role, it’s the special talent portfolios that bring a very dark but chillingly comical twist to this novel.  Each parent faces a moral quandary and no one fares well, especially the children.  A cautionary tale indeed and highly recommended!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Dear Great Book Guru, Every morning, my friends and I meet at Sea Cliff Beach for breakfast.  It’s great fun and the food is delicious!  Yesterday one of the group mentioned a debut novel by a Peruvian woman about life as an undocumented immigrant in the 1990’s.  It sounded like a good book to read as the summer winds down.  Are you familiar with it?                    Lover of Sea Cliff Beach Hut

Dear Lover of Sea Cliff Beach Hut, I enjoyed Melissa Rivero’s THE AFFAIRS OF THE FALCONS very much.  Ana Falcon and her husband Lucho came to New York City from Lima, Peru with their two young children to escape economic and political turmoil.  Things are going well for the hardworking young couple until Lucho loses his job and they are forced to move in with his cousin and her family. The strain of living in one room with an increasingly reluctant host grows unbearable.  In desperation, Ana becomes involved with a sinister loan shark and her predatory husband.  Working ever longer shifts at a local factory, Ana realizes her family’s undocumented status may prevent them from ever climbing out of debt. When her husband talks of returning to Peru, she lashes out at him and when others suggest she send the children back, she becomes even more embittered.  Pervading the novel is her growing fear of being deported.  This is a tale of powerful love and quiet desperation. Highly recommended!