Sunday, February 12, 2023

 Dear Great Book Guru,  Next week I’m planning on going to the Mardi Gras Pancake Dinner at St. Luke’s. Sea Cliff has so many great events like this  throughout the year, so I was intrigued when a  friend mentioned a book about a community where events go very much awry.  Any thoughts?  Lover of a Good Story

 Dear Lover of a Good Story,  THE APPEAL by Janice Hallett is a wonderfully compelling read about a small  village  outside of London where things are not as they seem. The Fairway Players is a local theater group about to put on  Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” – a play in which a family is bound together by a dark secret.   In the opening pages of this novel, we learn that a murder has occurred on the night of the final rehearsal and there are fifteen possible suspects - all members of the troupe. The lead attorney on the case instructs his two young assistants to examine all the material he has gathered (emails, texts, recorded phone calls) and decide who is the murderer. We are introduced to each of the suspects through this correspondence - leading to a plethora of information but we are never sure if what we are presented is accurate. In effect we have fifteen unreliable narrators. There is a mingling of humor and horror as the story unfolds with a shocking albeit very satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended!


Saturday, February 4, 2023

 Dear Great Book Guru,  Now that February has arrived,  we are well into the new year and I have already broken my #1 resolution- read  at least two books a month. Do you have a short, compelling read for me to get me back on track? Desperate Reader

Dear Desperate Reader, I have a truly wonderful, 128 page book for you - FOSTER  by Claire Keegan. The story is set in rural Ireland in 1981.  A young child – eight years old - is brought to live indefinitely with distant relatives while her overworked pregnant mother and hapless father try to get their lives together.  She and her many siblings - while not abused - are certainly neglected. So, when she arrives at the Kinsellas’ farm, she feels like she has entered Paradise.  The couple dote on her with new clothes, warm baths, and delicious meals.  She observes the Kinsellas’ loving, equal relationship, their orderly home and many friends. There is a sadness about the couple that she senses. but as time goes on that too seems to lift as the three of them form a close family unit.  Throughout there is a sense of foreboding – can this idyllic existence last?  This is a beautifully written story that captures the joys and sorrows of reinvention.  Highly recommended!


Dear Great Book Guru, My friends and I are looking for some good books to read over the next few months- preferably novels that will help us learn something about the world beyond our borders.  February seems like a good month to start on this project - any thoughts?  Eager to Learn

Dear Eager to Learn, I recently read a book  that I found both moving and enlightening: AMERICAN DIRT  by Jeanine Cummins. The narrator Lydia Perez owns a small bookstore in Acapulco, Mexico. She is married to Sebastian - a journalist - and they have a young son, Luca. Her life takes on a level of danger when she discovers that this new friend is a notorious and violent drug cartel leader.  Moments later we are witness to a horrific massacre at a birthday party Lydia is hosting - the only survivors are Lydia and her son. Sixteen family members are killed including her husband, and it is clear she and Luca are in mortal danger.  Thus begins her terror-filled journey north to the United States. Along the way we meet an array of characters – some extraordinarily kind, some craven and evil - all colorfully described.  Each new encounter is filled with dread as we wonder will she be able to survive and hopefully prosper.  The plight of the migrant is portrayed in excruciating detail, and we are confronted with the thought throughout: “there but for fortune go you or I.” Highly recommended!