Several blogging friends have included this meme on their blogs, notably Carla of Carla Loves To Read. Since I have not requested Netgalley or other publishers’ books, I have never participated. This week I ordered a book from Amazon I want to include as an addition to my TBR shelves. I have as a lifetime goal to read all of Susan Vreeland’s novels based on famous works of art, and this one arrived yesterday. Judging from the back cover, this is Vreeland’s second novel. She wrote seven in all, and the only other one I’ve read was Luncheon of the Boating Party (based on a famous painting by Renoir) which I read for our Third Tuesday Book Club. One of our members had known Susan Vreeland many years ago in California, and he recommended her as an excellent novelist. Each of us chose one of her books, each about a famous painting, to read, and a delightful discussion took place.
From the cover, I surmise that the book is based on the unique life of a female painter, Artesmisia Gentileschi, an ariist in seventeenth century Italy. Her magnificent painting, L’Inclinazione (c. 1615-1617) is shown on the inside cover page.
I can hardly wait to meet the genius (and a woman at that!) who painted this.
Tuesday Teaser is hosted by The Purple Booker and asks participants to copy a sentence or two from where they are currently reading in hopes of teasing other readers to read the same book.
My teaser today is from one of my Books about Books challenge, Charlie Lovett’s The Bookman’s Tale.
“In a box in the dusty back room of a local antique shop, Peter discovered an early edition of George McDonald’s fantasy novel, At the Back of the North Wind. The book was illustrated by the Pre-Raphaelite follower, Arthur Hughes…This would be the first book Peter would give Amanda…a perfect candidate for rebinding.”
I am following Peter, an introverted book collector and binder who meets the love of his life, Amanda, only to lose her later in the book. There is mystery, romance, and bibliophilic devotion involved in this 2013 novel.
Here is the first line from Sapphire and the Slave Girl by Willa Cather, which I have just finished for book “C” of the Alphabet Soup Challenge:
“The Breakfast Table, 1856
Henry Colbert, the miller, always breakfasted with his wife–beyond that he appeared irregularly at the family table.”
Yes, this book is as quaint as the first line suggests, and although the Southern ideas about slaves and slave owners is so out-of-date and politically incorrect, I enjoyed this lesser known book by the author of My Antonia and Oh Pioneers!
I am just back from a trip to Half-Price Books. Let me grab the first book off my pile of purchases and copy the first line. It is from Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss:
“All day, the colors had been those of dusk, mist moving like a water creature across the great flanks of mountains possessed of ocean shadows and depths. Briefly above the vapor, Kanchenjunga was a far peak whittled out of ice, gathering the last of the light, a plume of snow blown high by the winds at its summit.”
What description! I can hardly wait to begin this one.
Some time ago, I began what I thought was going to be “a typical immigrant story” on my Kindle app. I am referring to Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Published in 2013, it tells the story of Ifemelu and Obinze, star-crossed lovers. I began reading around last Thanksgiving (2019) and because I often overlook books “parked” on my Kindle, and because I became involved with Cybils reading demands, I forgot about the book. But I didn’t forget about the story. This past week I finished it.
It’s fascinating peek into Nigerian culture and mindset kept me reading as Ifemelu, an exchange student at Princeton prepares to return to her native Nigeria. Obinze, her childhood best friend and “sweetheart” thinks about her imminent return in alternating chapters. Will the couple resume their early college relationship in Nigeria? Or has too much occurred in both their lives for this to happen?
Adichie’s story easily fits the genre of Literary Fiction with its sweeping descriptions, complex character development, and the message presented by Ifemelu’s blog entires on race, set both in America and in Nigeria. As she searches for her roots, Ifemelu finds her self and her destiny. It is a darned good read, but not your usual immigrant story.
Natalie Basizle’s Queen Sugar is my second choice for the Alphabet Soup Challenge for this year. It was chosen by my Page Turner’s Book Club for its February selection. Basizle wrote it in 2014, and it was the basis for an original, hit series on Oprah’s OWN Network. As critics remarked, the novel is “exquisitely written” and tells about the “joys and sorrows of family, love, endurance, and hard work.” Charley Bordelon, the owner of a sugar cane farm her father left her, certainly embodies the last two. With Micah, her eleven year old daughter, she leaves her home in LA and moves to southern Luisiana to farm the 800 acres she inherits.
My favorite part of reading the novel was appreciating the author’s ability to form and develop “complex characters” the reader was led to empathize with. It is, as it’s cover advertises, “heartbreaking,””page-turning,” and delivers the promised “hint of bayou magic.” Miss Honey, Charlie’s grandmother; Ralph Angel, her half brother; Violet, her sister; and Hollywood, a neighbor and Ralph Angel’s high school buddy round out the cast of characters. And, what reader could ever forget the wisdom and support of her partners, an elderly African American retired sugarcane farmer and an ornery white cane farmer who has lost his spread? More than once, they saved Charley from disaster and even from herself. The villain, a white man named Landry threatens Charley early on, “Cane farming is always going to be a white man’s business.” This challenge spurs Charley on to prove him and everyone else wrong.
Especially for a debut novel, this is a”darned good read”
This 580 page historical novel was the Third Tuesday Book Club selection for January. I missed the meeting, but My Better Half represented our household. He read it first, and as a result, I didn’t quite finish it until this morning. It was one of those reads that had the reader holding their breath, turning pages as fast as possible. I had read Remembering Ben Clayton, an earlier Gulf Coast Read and book club selection by the same author. Described as “a genuinely moving epic,” Gates is an imagined account of the siege and fall of the Alamo, but much, much more. The author uses the POV of both American soldiers and Mexican attackers, things he has researched by reading letters and journals from both sides. The main characters, Mary Mott, a respected innkeeper and her sixteen-year-old son, Terrell; and Mrs. Mott’s love interest, Edmund McGowan, a naturalist in 1836 Texas, live through the perilous time before the battle as the Mexican army advances; during the battle, trapped in the old mission itself; and through the aftermath of the battle embodied in the Battle of San Jacinto, where the Texians won their independence from Mexico, shouting their battle cry, “Remember the Alamo!”
It is a warm, sometimes humorous, tale with cameo appearances that successfully give the reader glimpses of Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, Travis, Sam Houston and other notables of the day. Although it is a long book, it is never boring, never without action, and never fails to make the reader care about the well-drawn characters. As the critics say about the book, it is Magnificent,” ” Fabulous,” and “Riveting.”