Reading over the past month has been an eclectic mix of fiction and non-fiction. A couple of things I can really recommend, a couple of meh novels, two non-fiction page turners and a few more. Links are provided to Amazon for all the books, thank you for using my links when you can as it helps to support the costs of the blog. So, starting out with the one I enjoyed the most!
A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman – This story of a cantankerous old man, Ove (pronounced oh-vay), trying to navigate his life after the death of his wife is funny and heartwarming. New neighbors turn his well ordered life upside down, and the voice of his inner self to “do what is right” keeps sending him out to engage with other people, in spite of his not-so-serious wish to end it all. He can’t bring himself to turn away from one who needs help, as he feels he cannot show up in heaven with that on his record, as his wife wouldn’t be happy with him. Well written and difficult to put down, funny and heartwarming, highly recommend.
The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri – I wanted to like this book, I really did, but overall it came off a bit flat. I have a problem with unrealistic and stupid decisions by a main character. This one began with Kate making a decision to flee her life after a series of disappointments and go backpacking alone across the countryside of Ireland. Really? A woman alone on the road hitchhiking in this day and time? I don’t think so. Anyway, she wanders aimlessly until she comes into a small town where she is immediately taken in by one of the villagers. Again, not believable. Then she sleeps with a guy after spending one afternoon with him, another stupid decision. Oh, but wait, she is a struggling fashion designer and the town’s women make lace. Maybe they could put the lace on lingerie!! That’s never been done before! (heavy sarcasm here). I just kept rolling my eyes. Can’t really recommend, but not as terrible as others in this post.
Sole Survivor by Dean Koontz – Picked this one up in an effort to read outside my usual genres. The story went along with the usual roller coaster of peril and escape, more peril and another escape, over and over, but the end was so preachy it was a letdown. Some parts were really gory, and I had to skip over a paragraph here and there as I really don’t need those images in my head. Overall, wish I hadn’t wasted my reading time. But fans of this kind of thing may like this book.
Love Letters from Ladybug Farm by Donna Ball – Another delightful installment in the Ladybug Farm series as the ladies bite off way more than they can chew. Agreeing to host a wedding with a bridezilla and her overbearing mother, along with madcap adventures as things go terribly wrong, it is a fun and easy read. The storm that comes the day before the wedding was a bit much, though. Still, it is a pleasant diversion and an enjoyable series. Looking forward to reading the next in the series.
Ladder of Years by Ann Tyler – I had a difficult time deciding on a rating for this book, in some ways it is a compelling story, but in other ways just too stupid and unbelievable. Many women fantasize from time to time about leaving their situations and starting something new. The protagonist here is in that position, but acts on vacating her life on a spur of the moment whim, allowing herself to just follow her nose, leaving her family without a thought as to how it would affect them. What seems to be a trip down depression lane comes off as simply dumb. While her journey is somewhat interesting in the characters she meets, she doesn’t seem to care about her own children and their response to her decisions. It isn’t until the end of the story that she seems to see how the family fell apart without her, yet she does the same thing again to the young man who had come to depend on her while she was wallowing in self pity and self imposed exile. Overall, OK, some may enjoy it. I wish I’d spent my time on something else.
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by Fiona Canarvon – A fascinating account of the real 5th Countess of Carnarvon and her impact on advances in her time. She was interested in nursing, and was instrumental in founding a hospital at the estate for soldiers of WWI. Her employment of Dr Jones, who was a pioneer in orthopedic surgery, helped prove that setting bones after fractures would decrease the mortality rate by 80%. Being in the medical field, this was one of the most interesting parts of the book. As the illegitimate daughter of wealthy Alfred Rothschild (who settled a fortune on her), she was able to marry into nobility to infuse money into an estate with crushing debt. Young and intelligent, she was interested in modernizing and brought electricity to Highclere greatly decreasing the fire danger that claimed other estates at the time. Packed full of interesting facts, the writing is not the most interesting, but the story transcends the prose. Much of her life story and the people she knew are represented in Downton Abby, and faithful fans will see those parallels.
Lastly, I am reading the next book in the collection of published works by MFK Fisher, the grand dame of food writing, in the volume The Art of Eating. Born in 1908 in Michigan, she moved to California as a child. She lived in France after she was married where she learned to cook, moving back to California and back to France again. She survived the Great Depression publishing her first book Serve It Forth in 1938, a collection of essays. She published her second book in 1942, at the height of rationing of the war years. She was friends with Julia and Paul Child, and at one point rented a house from them to write a cookbook on French recipes. This volume contains five of her published books on food, and I take it off the shelf to read one now and then. Her views on sustainability and using ingredients with not only thrift, but flair are timeless.
I hope you enjoy some of my picks. What is on your reading list?