Monday, October 26, 2020


Dear Great Book Guru, Halloween has certainly come to Sea Cliff - every house on every street seems to house a ghost, goblin, or ghoul! The Sea Cliff Civic Association is hosting a contest as to which is the most fantastically decorated. Photos are sent to and a video is being compiled to be featured on Facebook.  Of course, as always I need a good book while taking in all those Halloween Houses.  Any recommendations? Fixated by Halloween

Dear Fixated by Halloween, I recently read a very disturbing albeit fascinating debut novel: AMERICAN WAR by Omar El Akkad.  Set in the not-too-distant future, the book describes an America beset by wildly damaging climate change, severe political unrest, biological calamity, and a civil war raging for over twenty years - from 2074 to 2095. The story is told from two perspectives and over many years. Sarat Chestnut, a young girl we meet just as the war breaks out is the main character and her young nephew continues her story many decades later. Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Texas, and South Carolina secede from the Union when the government bans the use of fossil fuels anywhere in the United States. The book captures the horror of war as loyalties splinter and families turn on one another. Interestingly, a new book just came out BREAK IT UP by Richard Kreitner whose thesis is that the United States has had to deal with disunion threats throughout its history. AMERICAN WAR is definitely a timely read and recommended!

Monday, October 12, 2020


Dear Great Book Guru, We just had a lovely dinner on our porch with friends where we all wondered how many more nights we would be able to be together outdoors. Before the evening was over, we pledged to continue our book discussions even if only virtually…. but what to read?  We all agreed the Halloween season demanded an eerie sort of novel.  Any thoughts? Harbinger of Halloween

 Dear Harbinger of Halloween, I just finished a short, very compelling novel you and your friends might enjoy: SISTERS by Daisy Johnson.  The story begins as September and July - two teenage sisters - arrive at their dilapidated ancient family home in the English countryside. Their mother Sheela has moved the family from Oxford because of some unspeakable tragedy that haunts the family. The house itself is very threatening, containing strange artifacts of their dead father’s boyhood.  The sisters have a symbiotic relationship, sharing food, experiences, a cell phone, and diary.  September – the older by ten months - prods her sister July to commit acts of bizarre cruelty and wanton misbehavior. Throughout we are given hints of some horrific occurrence that has shattered their lives. July is the principal narrator but Sheela - the mother - at times offers her observations which are often at odds with July’s. Who is to be believed and what really did happen back in Oxford?  A compelling, psychological mystery that leaves us terrified and wondering what is truth?  Recommended!

Monday, October 5, 2020


Dear Great Book Guru, With a beautiful weekend behind us and a spectacular weather week ahead, it might seem strange…. but I have decided to gather my friends virtually to discuss a good book - a novel with a strong story line and preferably featuring a moral dilemma.  A woman author would be an added attraction.  Falling into Fall

 Dear Falling into Fall, One of my favorite authors just came out with a new book: PAYBACK by Mary Gordon.  From her very first book FINAL PAYMENTS in 1978, Gordon has been a chronicler of our times.  This latest work opens on the set of an Arizona-based reality show where the host Quin Archer helps victims track down the people who have wronged them and demand “payback.” Lately the show has been suffering from plummeting ratings so Quin decides to liven things up by going after someone who has wronged her decades ago: Agnes Vaughan, her former high school art teacher.  Agnes had taken an interest in the very unlikable, shunned girl. After arranging for a museum visit that had a horrific outcome, Agnes responded with a chastising rebuke.  Forty years later, the two women still bear the emotional scars of that moment. Gordon writes of the years in between - Agnes’s life in Rome where she marries, has a child, and a fulfilling career as a restoration artist. Quin’s life appears to have centered on “the satisfaction of a cherished bitterness.”  When the two meet, we are prepared for “payback” but will it be enough to justify the years of pain each woman has endured?  Highly recommended!