Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Dutch House

Conroys. Fans of finely written prose with deep and complex characters are those most likely to enjoy Ann Patchett’s novel titled, The Dutch House. In addition to the members of the Conroy family, who we get to know over the course of five decades, we also see the depth and richness of their family home. Any reader who has lived in a home that was more than a place to live will delight in the magic of this house and why it attracts some and repels others. There’s a sibling relationship at the center of this novel and Patchett captures the intensity of that special bond with great skill. Each of us has someone in our extended family who does something that we just can’t understand. Many of the characters in this novel do exactly that and we love them all the more because of their behavior. I loved every minute I spent with the Conroy family and imagined living in the house during good times and bad. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase The Dutch House from amazon.com.

The Liberation of Paris: How Eisenhower, de Gaulle, and von Choltitz Saved the City of Light

Decisions. I love to read a short work by a prominent historian that enlightens me about a single topic. In his book titled, The Liberation of Paris: How Eisenhower, de Gaulle, and von Choltitz Saved the City of Light, award-winning historian Jean Edward Smith describes the decisions that were made to liberate Paris in 1944 and the consequences of those decisions. Readers who enjoy history, especially those who love Paris, will read in this book how Paris was liberated and what that meant for the city we see today as well as how saving Paris led to a longer war. I closed the book wondering what would have happened to Paris in 1944 if Ike and Mamie Eisenhower hadn’t lived there in the 1920s and 30s. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Liberation of Paris from amazon.com.

Full Throttle

Variety. I love reading a short story collection with a wide range of settings, and the baker’s dozen in the collection titled, Full Throttle, by Joe Hill suited my taste perfectly. There are a few new stories in this collection; most have been published over the past decade or so. Hill succeeds in each of those stories by tapping into some part of human nature and revealing it. Always interesting and imaginative, the stories kept me engaged for almost a fortnight as I doled out one story a day. Any reader who loves short fiction should consider reading this collection. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Full Throttle from amazon.com.

Celestial Bodies

Oman. I picked up a copy of Kokha Alharthi’s novel titled, Celestial Bodies, after it won the Man Booker International Prize. This finely written novel draws readers into the Omani culture and the changes to that society over recent decades, through the lens of three sisters. Oman’s history of slavery can be disturbing, but Alharthi uses that history to explore the many ways in which people are bound and constrained. The women in this novel are complex and interesting characters and the society in which they live demands change and extracts love and loss as time passes. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Celestial Bodies from amazon.com.

How We Fight For Our Lives

Poetic. The memoir titled, How We Fight for Our Lives, by Saeed Jones describes a young life that may bear no resemblance to the experience of most readers. That’s exactly one of the good reasons to pick up this book and enter into the experience of someone whose life has been different from our own. Another good reason is that Jones’ prose is finely written, influenced by his poetry, and packed with candor. This examination of a life is reflective and disarming. Jones writes about many relationships that are fraught with drama, stress, even danger, but the memoir turns warm when he writes about his mother. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase How We Fight for our Lives from amazon.com.

The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator

Deet. After reading Timothy C. Winegard’s book titled, The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator, I checked to see if we had mosquito repellent with deet in the house. Have you ever known something but experienced pleasure when someone else plays back to you what you know in a more coherent narrative? That was my experience on reading this book. I already know about how disease killed people over many centuries, and how in some wars there were more casualties from disease than from battle. Thanks to Winegard, I was able to follow a coherent narrative presenting the mosquito as human’s most powerful enemy across many centuries. I also read this book when Eastern equine encephalitis was spreading in the United States. That explains my search for deet. So far, so good. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Mosquito from amazon.com.

Lock Every Door

Bartholomew. Fans of thrillers are those readers most likely to enjoy Riley Sager’s novel titled, Lock Every Door. Protagonist Jules Larsen gets a lucrative job at just the right time as a house sitter for a unit in the Bartholomew, a prestigious and mysterious New York building. While the rules for her residency are strict, the pay is great, and the digs are spectacular. After a fellow house sitter from another apartment disappears, Jules starts to investigate the mysteries of the Bartholomew. Readers are treated with her thrilling adventure. Next time you walk by one of those signature exclusive residences, you may speculate on what’s going on inside. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Lock Every Door from amazon.com.