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Reading wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Run by Ann Patchett

    This is one of Patchett’s older novels, published in 2007. It’s another gem I found in my neighborhood’s “little library”. Although not my favorite of Patchett’s work, I did enjoy this family story. Here is my book review Run by Ann Patchett.

    There is a lot going on in this book. Beginning with a statue of the Virgin Mary, a family heirloom cherished for it’s family resemblance. But is the story behind this family piece true?

    Bernard Doyle is the former Mayor of Boston. He has one biological son, who has been in and out of trouble, and two adopted sons who are brothers. They are also black.

    Four years after adopting Tip and Teddy, Doyle’s wife Bernadette dies. He is left to raise the three boys. Sixteen years later, on a cold snowy night, Tip is nearly killed when he steps out into the path of an oncoming vehicle. He is saved by a bystander who pushes him out of harms way. The black women named Tennessee, is seemingly a stranger. But as the story develops we learn she has much to do with this family, and knows everything about them.

    Tennessee’s daughter Kenya is taken in by the Doyle’s while her mother is in the hospital. And it becomes clear that Kenya and Tennessee are family to Tip and Teddy. How will this tale come together? A few unique twists at the end I did not see coming, but in true Patchett fashion she weaves a story of family and faith, race and politics and particularly how close the have’s and the have-not’s live in a world of invisible people. I hope you enjoyed my book review Run by Ann Patchett.

    ****Four stars for Run by Ann Patchett

    Read last week’s review of A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

    My current read Rain Shelters and Ghost Gods.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

    There are conflicted readers about this book. But I am not one of those. I absolutely loved this tale and recommend it to everyone. Here is my book review A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes.

    For some reason, I have been on a bit of a Trojan War kick….unplanned but nonetheless. Of the three Trojan War books I have tackled in the past few months (this one plus The Iliad and The Song of Achilles), A Thousand Ships was my favorite and had me riveted.

    I was not familiar with Haynes, who is a British journalist, comedian and classicist. No matter, I am now very familiar with her work, and this another retelling of that age-old story of the Trojan War. Haynes however takes a fictional look at the women in this war….those who are never mentioned in the Iliad, but who fight, suffer and defend their husbands, families, cities and way of life.

    The story of the Trojan War begins with three goddesses competing with each other…creating the consequences that lead to this war. This war of men fighting for a women, Helen, who most soldiers don’t know or never will know. The women we meet in this story and who’s stories are told are everyone from the Queen of Troy to slaves and concubines. Penelope the wife of Odysseus to the nymph Oenone. And of course the goddesses Hera, Aphrodite, Athena and more.

    This great war through the eyes of the women who lived and died through it. A fabulous retelling. I hope you enjoyed my book review A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes.

    *****Five Stars for A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

    Read last week’s review of The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan

    My current read The Warmth of Other Suns

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan

    I’ve had this book in my to-be-read pile for months. I finally got around to reading it a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed it. Tan is a wonderful writer. The Bonesetter’s Daughter isn’t as fabulous as The Joy Luck Club, but it is really a wonderful story. Here is my book review The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan.

    I recently reviewed a book called What We Carry that explored a mother daughter relationship as the mother spirals into the Alzehiemers abyss. Without even realizing it when I purchased this book, The Bonesetter’s Daughter has a similar theme.

    The story unfolds as Ruth Young as an adult women continues to deal with a difficult relationship she has always had with her widowed mother LuLing. Her mother gives her some writings about her life in China that she wants Ruth to read. But the writings are in Chinese and she doesn’t get around to interpreting them for several years.

    But Ruth begins to realize that her mother’s health is precarious, and that she has memory problems and possible dementia. While Ruth also deals with a difficult personal relationship with her partner, she begins to unravel stories about her mother’s past in China that she never knew. The writings open up an entire world of life in the village of Immortal Heart, a life of hardship, betrayal and a curse.

    Through these writings Ruth discovers a women in her mother that she never knew existed. She learns about the true paternity of her mother, and also about the Chinese myths her mother uses to explain everything in daily life. LuLing is The Bonesetter’s Daughter and her heartbreaking story and the story of the human spirit must be told. And it is, in The Bonesetter’s Daughter.

    ****Four Stars for The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan

    I hope you enjoyed my Book Review The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan

    Read last week’s review of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

    My current read Damnation Springs

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

    I recently re-read Homer’s The Iliad, which I read in high school probably 45 years ago. I had forgotten much of that story, but definitely think it should be called “Let’s Just Kill Everybody”. But the re-reading helped me really enjoy with renewed meaning The Song of Achilles. A fascinating book. Here is my book review The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

    Even if you don’t know The Iliad and the story of the Trojan War, you still will enjoy The Song of Achilles. Miller has taken the age old story and rewritten it with an emphasis on Achilles and even more emphasis on his companion Patroclus.

    Told from the viewpoint of Patroclus the story begins when he is a young prince. An unfortunate accident gets him shunned from his father’s halls and he is sent to live with King Peleus and his golden son Achilles – “the best of the Greeks”.

    Achilles and Patroclus could not be more different. One brave and confident the other quiet and meek. But in each other they find a bond, a common need for companionship and rapport. As young boys they learn the ways of war and prepare for their future. But as they grow to young men they find love for each other as well. Miller’s imagination creates a retelling of their relationship, a true love story, heartfelt and beautiful.

    When Helen of Sparta is kidnaped the Greeks lay siege on Troy and the decade long Trojan War begins. Much is written about this war and the heroes. The Song of Achilles goes deep into the personalities of both mortal men and gods, the women in the shadows and the egos of the leaders. Miller’s imaginative dialogue and storyline is far more interesting to me than the Iliad, though the ending remains sad and bloody just the same.

    I highly recommend The Song of Achilles for it’s intelligent, thoughtful, moving and fresh look at this ancient tale.

    *****Five Stars for The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

    Read last week’s review of What We Carry.

    My current read A Thousand Ships

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review What We Carry: A Memoir by Maya Lang

    Reading Wednesday

    This is one of the best books I have read about dealing with Alzheimers in a parent. I loved the book Her Beautiful Brain by my friend Ann Hedreen. And this book was just as good. Here is my review of What we Carry: A Memoir by Maya Lang.

    Some of you know my father has Alzheimers and has been living in a lockdown facility now for three years. He no longer knows who I am. As I read this book and the account of the author with her mother’s spiral into Alzheimers it was all very familiar to me.

    Like Hedreen’s book, Lang shares her day to day struggles with her mother’s dementia; from the early days when she just seems confused, to the anger and finally placidity before no memory at all.

    During this journey with her mother Lang learns a great deal of history of her family that she never knew. Through her formative years she had idolized her brilliant doctor mother for immigrating from India and making a life for herself and her family in the USA. But as the dementia slowly tears her mother apart, Lang learns astonishing and heartbreaking information that makes her question her family and decisions her mother made along the way.

    It’s a beautifully written tale of mothers and daughters, families and the foundations we build through facts and fiction we are fed as children. A wonderful memoir for anyone who has a parent with Alzheimers and frankly, anyone who has a parent.

    ****Four stars for What we Carry: A Memoir by Maya Lang

    See last week’s review of About Grace by Anthony Doerr

    My current read Run by Ann Patchett

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review About Grace by Anthony Doerr

    Gosh I wanted to like this book. I really, really did because to this day I still find Doerr’s eloquent book All the Light You Cannot See one of the best reads of my life. But, sigh….About Grace just didn’t do it for me.

    Doerr’s way with words is amazing, even in this book. He really can conjure compassion. He can conjure emotion. He can even conjure the weather for the reader in a way you will feel frostbite on your toes or sunburn on your cheeks. Alas though, for me, About Grace was too discombobulated and unbelievable.

    Interestingly, About Grace has it’s champions, and to me that is one of the fun things about reading…no two people look at a novel the same.

    In this book we follow the very confused life of David Winkler from Alaska to the Caribbean and then all across the USA as he searches for his daughter and searches to find peace in his own mixed up life. Winkler has spent his life fearing his dreams will come true, after one dream does when he was just a child. When he dreams as a young father that he will drown his own child, he flees from her trying to distance himself in an effort for the vision to not come true.

    But over the decades he is tormented, haunted and at times crazed. Following him through this book can be both painful and inconceivable. I found myself loathing this character.

    You may like this book more than I did. You may even like it more than All The Light You Cannot See. You will need to decide for yourself. Thanks for reading my book review of About Grace by Anthony Doerr.

    ***Three stars for About Grace by Anthony Doerr.

    See last week’s review of The Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.

    My current read The Broken Circle

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

    This is the fourth, maybe even fifth book I have read by Neil Gaiman. This story most reminded me of Gaiman’s American Gods, possibly his most well known book. Anansi Boys was written in 2005, but I had never read it. I listened to this book on Audible while we were driving around Iceland and Audible is a great choice for the way Gaiman writes. I hope you enjoy by book review Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.

    Gaiman is known for fantasy and magic in his novels. His work often creates character who are just your average, often under achieving, people going about their daily lives. That is until something or someone “magical” enters their humdrum life. So it is with “Fat Charlie”, a less than inspiring Londoner leading an uninspired life.

    Until Fat Charlie’s father, known as Mr. Nancy, passes away unexpectedly in Florida. Fat Charlie leaves his boring job and uninspired wedding planning fiance in London to fly to Florida for the funeral. It’s here that Fat Charlie learns some surprising history about his father and family. His father is a god, and Fat Charlie has a brother who also has magical traits. Mr. Nancy is named for the African God Anansi (Spider God) and Fat Charlie’s brother is named Spider.

    Of course Fat Charlie is skeptical, confused, and a little pissed off that all this information has been kept from him all these years. But when brother Spider arrives at Fat Charlie’s London flat, a wild and raucous adventure begins that includes travel to far off mystical places, loosing his fiance but gaining a girlfriend, outrageous behavior by Spider, criminal activity by Fat Charlie’s employer and on and on.

    In true Gaiman fashion the story will come together happily in the end, with all characters finding satisfaction in this crazy magical world of the gods. I hope you enjoyed my book review Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.

    ****Four Stars for Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

    Read last week’s review of America’s First Daughter

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