CategoryOther Reviews

Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park

It was Reading Matters’ announcement that it won the 2019 Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year that took me to this book. I had read Park’s book The Light of Amsterdam in 2012 and greatly admired it and now I want to read his other books. The tone of this short book is claustrophobic:  a man named Tom set out to pick up his son from college after a snowstorm that closed the airports...

The South by Colm Toibin

This is my sixth Colm Toibin novel, the first he wrote. It turns out he began his career with a strong and beautiful novel. It is the story of an Irish woman who in 1950 at age 32 left her husband and 10 year old son to be a painter. She landed in Barcelona after a harrowing train trip and was terrified to leave her pension for days. Her mother had left her when she was quite young so she could...

Normal People by Sally Rooney

It was Tony’s enthusiasm for this book that moved me to read it and I must remember to thank him. It is set in a small town in western Ireland and Dublin from 2011 to 2015; the characters are in high school, then at Trinity College. Marianne is a brilliant student, not attractive or liked by others; she shows disdain for her classmates. Connell is also brilliant as well as being one of the...

One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson

This is my sixth of Kate Atkinson’s books, the third of her Jackson Brodie series. It was a pleasure to pick up this book and fall into her clutches again. What I’ve written before about this series holds true for the most part:  Brodie, formerly in the Army, police, and private detective business, goes against type. Though he’s no longer a detective, he seems to happen upon...

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

Reading Matters described this story as being told from the points of view of an elderly Jewish man and a teenage girl; that convinced me to read it. Leopold Gursky’s voice was appealing and funny, the teenage girl less so; still, of interest. It’s a complex story, that unfolds in a less-than-direct way.  Leopold Gursky lost both the love of his life, Alma, and the great book he wrote...

The Beauties: Essential Stories by Anton Chekhov

The stories in this collection of Chekhov’s work were translated by Nicolas Pasternak Slater, nephew of Boris Pasternak. I am new to his stories and I rarely read short story collections. It was Tony’s enthusiasm that led me to this particular collection. I don’t know the reasons for putting these particular stories together. In a few of the stories, Burkin, a high school...

Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

Thirty-eight year old Tsukiko Omachi recounts the story of her connection with her former high school teacher Harutsuna Matsumoto who she encounters by chance while drinking in a bar. She didn’t remember the name of this man 30 years her senior, so she calls him Sensei, and continues to do so. They meet by chance over many months, drinking saké and eating together, most often at a...

The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay

The narrator tells the story of leaving home in Bangalore as a drifting young adult to search for a Kashmiri man she knew from childhood. From the start Shalini says that her privilege and naiveté had caused her to do great harm to others in that troubled area. The reader waits for that blow, as Shalini described the family dynamics as she is growing up and at the same time told of the events...

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

I can’t think when I’ve read a more addictive book. I was hooked from the moment I began reading. SPOILER ALERT! I may be more revelatory than the usual review, but I think most let you know the basic story is that one and a half years into his marriage to Celestial, Roy, a black man, was falsely accused of rape and was sentenced to 12 years in jail. Roy, the son of hardworking poor...

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

This is Marilynne Robinson’s first novel; here’s what I wrote about two of her others:  Gilead and Lila. She certainly gives me much to think about and I find that I see things in a different light from one moment to the next (or one decade to the next). It begins this way:  “My name is Ruth. I grew up with my younger sister, Lucille, under the care of my grandmother, Mrs...

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