Bel Canto by Ann Patchette ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’ve missed writing Reading Wednesday the past wo weeks. It wasn’t because of walking the Camino (although please see note below). I started two books and just couldn’t get in to either one. So I didn’t finish. It happens sometimes.
But then I picked up Bel Canto by Ann Patchette and I fell into the world this book creates. A beautiful story – another great accomplishment by Patchette.
Loosely based on the Japanese Embassy hostage crisis in Lima Peru in 1996, this story follows the lives of both the terrorists and the hostages during a four-month hostage situation that includes among the hostages a famous opera singer.
Patchette has a great talent for creating characters you fall in love with, feel sympathy for and hope for- and this includes the terrorists. Certainly not what you think is going to happen in the beginning when the terrorists storm the embassy.
This book may make you stop and think – Everyone has a story you know nothing about.
I have enjoyed other Patchette books (most recently Commonwealth) and find her to be a great American author.
Five stars for Bel Canto.
Note – for the next 4-5 weeks I am walking the Camino de Santego. I hope to read along the way, but I’ve been so tired so far each evening I have not. So Reading Wednesday will most likely be sporadic.
The Orphan Train by Cristina Baker Kline ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I waited a long time on the library waitlist to get this book on Kindle. About six months. Wow. I figured it must be good – and well yes. The wait was worth it.
A very sweet story with a very interesting storyline about a factual historical aspect of our nations history I had never heard of. The Orphan Trains that brought Orphan children from New York to the Midwest. Between 1854 and 1929 some 250,000 children were transplanted, some successfully into living families but others not.
Kline’s story follows two main characters, 91-year old Vivian and 17-year old Molly, who at first seem to have absolutely nothing in common. But a beautifully written tale of love and loss, family and friends and survival unfolds as she takes the reader back and forth between present day Maine and depression era Minnesota.
I really enjoyed the characters, the historical facts, the plot and the writing in The Orphan Train. Five stars.
The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Sometimes funny, often sensitive and frequently messy, New Yorker staff writer Ariel Levy takes you through her personal story of love, life and loss.
A compellingly written true story, Levy’s honesty and candor regarding the challenges of career, the loss of a child, loving an alcoholic and all the other messy bits we face as we navigate our time on earth is beautifully told.
I think women will identify with Levy more than men, although some men will get it too. The telling of the tale is what works here, even if you don’t agree with Levy’s lifestyle or choices, her writing is brilliant.
I couldn’t put it down. Four stars.
The Mountain Between Us ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
By Charles Martin
Martin has several books to his credit. It this is the first of his I have read. The Mountain Between Us is a story of survival in multiple ways.
A snow storm prompts Dr. Ben Payne to hire a charter flight out of Salt Lake City to hopefully get him home where he has patients who need him. He invites Ashley who he has just met to join him, knowing their cancelled flight is going to make her miss her own wedding.
But shortly into the flight and over a mountainous and inhospitable terrain the pilot of the flight has a heart attack, dies and they crash land in the middle of nowhere.
This page turner is a well written story of human survival not just on the side of a mountain, starving and injured, but in life full of love, tragedy and loss.
I did not love the ending, but I did enjoy this book very much and couldn’t put it down. Four stars for The Mountain Between Us.
I’m having so much fun in Slovenia I’m a couple days late with Reading Wednesday. My apologies!!!
Twist of the Knife by Becky Masterman
I am not usually a crime novel or murder mystery kind of girl. But this book fell onto my “to read” list as a result of a Best of 2017 article I read. And I am very glad it did. I enjoyed it very much.
I have not read anything else by Masterman but she seemed to have a good handle on police work and FBI details, except at times some of the story seemed to have a few too many coincidences. But I’m okay with that in a novel.
The story or an innocent man on death row for the murder of his family 16 years before becomes a bit of a wild goose chase as the real killer is sought out by a collection of police professionals, each with their own stories, backgrounds and mysteries. Told from the point of view of retired cop Brigid Quinn the story is a page turner and well written.
I did not realize until after reading this book there are earlier Brigid Quinn stories (two others), but you do not need to have read them to both understand and sympathize with this character and the police work she is thrust into, all while also caring for her ailing parents.
Somewhat violent, but always well written, I enjoyed A Twist of the Knife by Becky Masterman very much. Four stars.
H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald
I wanted to read this book because it was receiving accolades and rave reviews from every corner and genre. The story of the authors unique experience raising a goshawk.
But I just didn’t love it. I liked it but didn’t love it. It dragged for me. Sorry, I really wanted to like it more.
But I still think many readers would enjoy it, lovingly told the underlying story is how author and bird find themselves and succeed together.
If you love birds or if you have felt lost with grief “H is for Hawk” might ring true for you, as MacDonald chronicles her experience raising one of natures most viscous predators and coming out whole on the other side.
H is for Hawk ⭐️⭐️⭐️
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Do you ever think your family is crazy? Do you have that family member who is nuts? That black sheep who is a challenge? That selfish person who demands constant attention? Jealousy amongst family members?
If you have ever had the thought that your family is wacko, read A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley and suddenly your family will seem totally normal!
This is an exceptional yet disturbing Pulitzer Prize winning story of family, betrayal, love, hate, greed, madness, infidelity, abuse, and small town gossip. It has it all. Loosely based on the story of King Lear, Smiley puts the family drama in 1970’s Iowa farmland, pitting family members against family members.
The story is told through the eyes of oldest daughter Ginny on a 1000 acre family generational farm. Smiley’s brilliant character development pulls you in as each character in this family makes you both love and loathe them. Smiley has an exceptional writing style with the unique ability to lull you in as you read along and then Bam! The unexpected has you sit bolt up and go wait – what? More than once I found myself suddenly struck with the unexpected – in the way only a talented writer can accomplish.
Five stars for A Thousand Acres. I really enjoyed this book.