CategoryOther Reviews

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

This book features a person who works in a bookstore having to deal with the ghost of an annoying former customer who was haunting the store. Anyone who has worked with the public can identify with such a scenario, imagining someone so troublesome that even death would not stop them. And it’s true that when Flora comes to the store, she knocks over stacks of books, rustles around, and even...

Matrix by Lauren Groff

I expected that a book set in 1158 which begins with the main character Marie on her way to the abbey where she has been sent by Eleanor of Aquitaine was going to be hard-going. And to be sure there were countless words I had to look up, but it was certainly worth the effort. The story was of an undervalued woman sent to an impoverished nunnery who overcomes many obstacles and brings wealth and...

Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart

Having loved some of his previous books, especially Super Sad True Love Story, I was eager to read this one that is set in early pandemic times. After I finished it, I read what I’d written about his other books and the terms  “over the top” and “exhausting” come up. So you can assume those are the starting point here. An expat Russian couple (he’s a writer)...

The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker

Kim described this as “a quietly understated novel that brims with a slow-moving rage and a gentle, long-lived grief.” Nevertheless I decided to read it and from the first page I found it oddly comforting and calming. Set in the Netherlands, it is the story of a man in his mid-50s whose twin died as a young man, forcing Helmer to give up university and help his father with the farm...

My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

This book of short stories by a woman who teaches art in Charlottesville is a debut book. The short stories are well-done and arresting but the novella that gives the book its title will be my focus. After reading the first 10 or so pages, I found that when I wasn’t reading I had a vague feeling of impending doom. Of course in these times, that’s not unreasonable, but the cause of my...

The Fortnight in September by R.C. Sherriff

It was Reading Matters’ recent review that took me to this 1931 British novel. The edition I read has a helpful excerpt from the author’s autobiography. There I learned that R.C. Sherriff,  having had a successful play produced, struggled to write a novel, getting all balled up in words that were unfamiliar. He took a new tack and decided to write for his own pleasure. He says, I...

The Magician by Colm Tóibín

My first book after a month of no book-reading is in line to be my favorite book of the year. Although the two cataract surgeries in mid-August went well, it took time for my eyes (and brain) to be comfortable reading. I was excited to read this book and it has turned out to be a stunner. A book that has lots of surprising factual anecdotes, a view of 20th century Germany from a German person...

Monogamy by Sue Miller

This is a close examination of an unusual marriage and those tangentially connected to it. It was billed as the story of a widow who learns that her husband had been unfaithful, so I was surprised to find that I was more than half way through before Annie made her discovery. Besides the chief couple, Graham and Annie, there are other fully active characters. Most important of these is Frieda...

Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession

Leonard and Hungry Paul are two 30-something friends who lead quiet and largely contented lives.  Leonard works as a writer for children’s encyclopedias and is diligent and careful in his work. His mother has recently died; his social time is spent largely with his friend playing Monopoly one evening each week. Hungry Paul lives with his parents and works for the post office only on days...

A Million Aunties by Alecia McKenzie

I think it was the New York Times review that took me to this book. It was pleasant to be transported to Jamaica where we meet the loving Auntie Della. Christopher, a young artist recently bereaved was sent to her by his agent Stephen who had been plucked out of an orphanage by her when he was young. With her healing care, especially those hearty breakfasts, Christopher broadens his  horizon to...

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