Monday, October 19, 2020
Prequel. Fans of Ken Follett’s Kingsbridge series are those readers most likely to enjoy his new novel, a prequel titled, The Evening and the Morning. This is an origin story, in a familiar place where there isn’t a bridge until close to the end of the novel. As usual with this series, there’s a great cast of interesting and complex characters, and loads of details about everyday life during this time period (starting in 997 AD). There’s a builder, a priest and strong women, and every minute a reader spends in their world provides great entertainment. If you’re looking for a big book to settle into, consider this one. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase The Evening and the Morning from amazon.com.
Narrators. Nicola Maye Goldberg structures her novel titled, Nothing Can Hurt You, as different views from characters, each impacted by a single event. After we listen to another’s point of view, can our perspective change? What keeps us bound to some life event and how is it that we can become so intensely focused on a single thing? Can we appreciate that some individuals closer to the event that us can move on? The multiple narrators in this novel provide their points of view in Goldberg’s finely written prose. What we make of each of them and of ourselves when we finish the novel is up to us. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Nothing Can Hurt You from amazon.com.
Candid. It won’t take readers very long to read the memoir by Chasten Buttigieg titled, I Have Something to Tell You. He writes about his life with candor, humor, and an absence of embarrassment about his naivete and his struggles. There’s kindness and warmth in every chapter, and a cheerful and endearing embrace of the adventures so far in his unexpected life. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase I Have Something to Tell You from amazon.com.
Health. I can think of no better time to read a reflection on the fragility of health. Timothy Snyder’s short book titled, Our Malady: Lessons in Liberty from a Hospital Diary, describes the illness he experienced in December 2019 (spoiler: not coronavirus), and how important health is in the context of all our civil liberties, a topic about which the author is an expert. This book makes a compelling case for universal health care being a basic human right and how such a system will help mend some places in which our society has torn apart. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Our Malady from amazon.com.
Bridge. No matter how well we think we know another person, there is always more to their story. In his novel titled, Anxious People, Fredrik Bachman introduces readers to a cast of characters who come together in both planned and unexpected ways and end up becoming a bridge for others to cross from one way of being to another. A physical bridge in the novel also provides a common thread to pull the story together. Most readers will laugh along with these interesting and compelling characters, and empathize with the anxiety that we share in common as we face what the world throws at us. If you’re looking to read a novel that will help you feel good, consider reading this one. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Anxious People from amazon.com.
Stratford. Readers who enjoy historical fiction are those most likely to enjoy Maggie O’Farrell’s novel titled, Hamnet, based on the lives of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway in Stratford, England. The story focuses on Agnes (Anne) and the love and loss that define her life. O’Farrell’s prose helps place us in the time and place and in the context of the plague. With great skill, O’Farrell draws us into a portrait of marriage in the sixteenth century, and the ways in which an artist acquires inspiration to express in one’s work the most important things in life. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Hamnet from amazon.com.
Audience. I’ve been a fan of Christopher Buckley’s satire for many years, so I was a key part of the target audience for his book titled, Make Russia Great Again. For many people in 2020, laughter has become a rare commodity. Political partisans are fighting hard this presidential election year, and some readers will perceive this book as another form of anti-Trump propaganda. For those readers who appreciate political satire and are open to laughter even about figures they support, this book is packed with wit and perfectly aimed plausible takes on contemporary American politics. I was entertained once again by this display of Buckley’s humor. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Make Russia Great Again from amazon.com.