Selections for March 2014 read: (by Kim Oh)
A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy, Fiction.
Published posthumously, the late great Binchy’s last novel is an appropriately heartwarming and spirit-restoring swan song. In classic Binchy style, the gentle story is populated with a large cast of often eccentric, always endearing, characters who effortlessly weave their way in and out of a deceptively simple narrative. Stone House, a country inn on the West Coast of Ireland, is owned and operated by Chicky Starr, a Stoneybridge native lately returned after living a largely lonely life in the U.S., and it serves as the cozy setting for these interrelated tales of love, loss, friendship, and community. Specializing in winter holidays, Stone House plays host to a variety of guests whose lives are bound to change for the better once they succumb to both its vintage charms and the restorative powers of companionship and human kindness. Pour yourself a cup of tea, put your feet up, and prepare to savor this bit of comfort food for the soul. High-Demand Backstory: The late Binchy’s last hurrah does not disappoint; expect even more demand than usual for this final love letter to her legion of fans.
This is the Story of Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett. Collection of (biographical) essays.
This is the story of how best-selling novelist Patchett (State of Wonder, 2011) became a writer. As a young child in California and, after her parents’ divorce, Nashville, she knew she had to write, and she was fortunate, as she so warmly and vividly explains, in her writing teachers—Allan Gurganus, Grace Paley, and Russell Banks—and in her success supporting herself by writing nonfiction for magazines and newspapers, beginning with Seventeen and extending to the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Vogue, and Gourmet. Patchett now assembles a retrospective set of 22 sterling personal essays to form an episodic, piquant, instructive, and entertaining self-portrait. She reflects on her family, life on a Tennessee farm, literary discipline and inspiration, and her failed first marriage. Her second marriage is central to her hilarious account of an RV road trip, and the full measure of Patchett’s toughness and daring surfaces in “The Wall,” a riveting account of her father, a captain when he retired after 30 years on the Los Angeles police force, coaching her as she takes the grueling admission test for the Los Angeles Police Academy. A self-described “workhorse” who has even opened an independent bookstore, Patchett is a commanding and incisive storyteller, whether her tales are true or imagined.
The Light Between Oceans: by ML Stedman –Fiction
Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2012: Tom Sherbourne is a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a tiny island a half day’s boat journey from the coast of Western Australia. When a baby washes up in a rowboat, he and his young wife Isabel decide to raise the child as their own. The baby seems like a gift from God, and the couple’s reasoning for keeping her seduces the reader into entering the waters of treacherous morality even as Tom–whose moral code withstood the horrors of World War I–begins to waver. M. L. Stedman’s vivid characters and gorgeous descriptions of the solitude of Janus Rock and of the unpredictable Australian frontier create a perfect backdrop for the tale of longing, loss, and the overwhelming love for a child that is The Light Between Oceans. — If some of you are hungry for a good murder mystery mixed with a social history (of Peking in 1930s), I would recommend