Monday, November 22, 2021
Marriage. The depth of insight about marriage throughout Elizabeth Strout’s novel titled, Oh William!, will arrive to readers like a slowly rising tide. No one moment ratchets up the insight, but before we notice, we are in deep water. Strout reprises her complex protagonist, Lucy Barton, from two previous novels, and places her in a situation involving her first husband, William, as she grieves the death of her beloved second husband. William’s recent losses have been sudden and despite their separation, there is no one else who understands Lucy and William as well as they know each other, for better and for worse. Readers roam in the inner spaces of these characters as we observe the way they present themselves to the world and recognize the disconnections that are familiar to all of us. Readers with experience of marriage are those most likely to savor all the wisdom and insight in this finely written novel. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase Oh William from amazon.com.
Diagnosis. Two questions remained unresolved for me after I read Sanjay Gupta’s book titled, World War C: Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One. First, is it still too soon in the progression of the pandemic to be able to learn lessons? Second, can lessons be learned in an environment where we don’t share a common fact base? Despite still having those questions, I enjoyed Gupta’s diagnosis and prescription. He writes with clarity for general audiences and offers any reader with an interest in this subject a thoughtful assessment of where we’ve been and where we need to go. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase World War C from amazon.com.
Bombs. Readers willing to place political allegiances aside for a few hours and acknowledge that two women had a ball collaborating on a novel so maybe there’s something to enjoy in the product of their efforts. Former United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined forces with crime novelist Louise Penny to write a thrilling novel titled, State of Terror. With Penny’s skills at character and plot, and Clinton’s insider view of world affairs, the result is an entertaining novel about bombs ready to devastate three locations in the United States. Penny fans will love the connections in this book to Three Pines, and Clinton fans will love the behavior of the fictional Secretary of State as she interacts with the President and various world leaders. I was thoroughly entertained. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase State of Terror from amazon.com.
Aphasia. Fans of finely written literary fiction will marvel at the way Jon McGregor finds just the right words in his novel titled, Lean Fall Stand, to draw readers into the life of someone suffering from aphasia. In the opening section, Lean, we find protagonist Robert Wright on an expedition in Antarctica caught in a storm, hanging on a cliff, and suffering a stroke. His stroke has led to aphasia, and the middle section of the novel, Fall, focuses on his wife, Anna, and her role as caregiver. McGregor dissects the ways in which communication obstacles strain love and burden those in relationship. For the final section, Stand, Robert joins a support group and begins to find his voice. All along the way, McGregor’s prose suits each section perfectly, and displays his considerable skill. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Lean Fall Stand from amazon.com.
Patience. Three compelling main characters and a thrilling plot combine into an exciting novel by John Grisham titled, The Judge’s List. Lacy Stoltz was a character in an earlier Grisham novel, and he loves her like a favorite child in putting her at the center of this novel. In her work for the Florida Judicial Review Board, she’s approached anonymously by Jeri Crosby with a shocking accusation: a sitting Florida judge is a serial killer. Jeri’s father was a victim of this judge’s revenge, and Jeri presents Lacy with the results of two decades of dogged investigation presenting her case against the judge. The judge has carefully planned his murders, waiting patiently until the circumstances allow him to act on his own careful terms. Fans of crime fiction are those readers most likely to enjoy this exciting novel. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Judge’s List from amazon.com.
Light. When you’re in the mood for a funny and lighthearted relationship novel, consider reading Beth O’Leary’s novel titled, The Road Trip. A funny thing happens on the way to a wedding in remote Scotland: two cars crash, and one is not drivable. Since they were going to the same event, the passengers decide to travel together in the less damaged vehicle. The awkwardness is that two of the passengers broke up two years earlier, and it’s a small car and a long drive for Dylan and Addie. This sweet and messy story develops quickly and ends easily, hitting all the light touches that provide brief, mindless entertainment. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Road Trip from amazon.com.
Lessons. How does change happen in society? In his book titled, Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer, Steven Johnson explores the reasons for the doubling of life expectancy over the past century. There are lessons from his analysis to apply in our society today, especially since there are changes to life expectancy because of responses to the coronavirus pandemic. Many factors have led to the increase in life expectancy and curious readers may know some of them, but few will be able to list all the ones that Johnson describes in this interesting book. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Extra Life from amazon.com.