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The Colony by Audrey Magee

Set on an island off the west coast of Ireland in 1979 in the midst of The Troubles, this is the story of a summer-long visit of an English artist and a French linguist to the island. The island is losing population; fishing can no longer sustain the population and in fact was dangerous in itself. One of the main characters is a widow whose father, brother, and husband were killed the same night...

The Devil and Webster by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Having loved The Latecomer, I was moved to listen to this one. It was a good choice, always engaging and kept me tuned in. I read somewhere that the college this book uses as the backdrop, Webster, is based on Wesleyan with a bit of Dartmouth thrown in.  The Dartmouth bit was that part of Webster’s original mission was to educate Native Americans. The main character is Naomi, president of the...

Old Baggage by Lissa Evans

I listened to this book some months ago without writing about it and had forgotten it. I realized that when Laura mentioned reading it because Nancy Pearl recommended it. The main characters, Mattie Simpkin and Flora Lee (known as the Flea) are veterans of the suffrage movement in Britain and have the battle scars to prove it. Mattie comes from a privileged background while the Flea always had to...

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

After I finished listening to this book, I listened a second time and found that to be worthwhile. Mrs. Dalloway was irresistible; this one has more ruminative “self talk” that eludes me. Still, I enjoyed the moments of clarity and brilliance. I was reminded of the Edward Albee play/movie “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” about the elusive Virginia Woolf, dreaded by...

The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain

This is my third Antoine Laurain book and once again I have had a pleasing time reading it. The tone is light and folks are friendly and likable. It begins with a Parisian woman, Laure, being hit on the head and mugged outside her apartment building very late at night; her bag was stolen, so she had no keys or phone. She was given a room in a hotel across the street for the night. The next day...

The Dressmaker by Beryl Bainbridge

It was Tony’s enthusiasm for Beryl Bainbridge that took me to this book which he described as “a humorous gothic horror novel.” It was set in Liverpool in 1944, a bleak time. The blitz began in the summer of 1940 and continued erratically until January of 1942. Liverpool, along with Birkenhead, across the Mersey River, were hit very hard by the German bombardments to disrupt the...

The London Train by Tessa Hadley

I greatly admired Tessa Hadley’s The Past and have thought about reading other books by her. She seemed to sketch her characters effortlessly without making them single dimension figures or being cruel or dismissive. This one begins with a focus on Paul whose mother had just died. I couldn’t stop thinking of The Stranger by Camus; which begins, “Today Maman died.” The...

Trust by Hernan Diaz

While I rarely hesitate to divulge plot twists and probably should always post “spoiler alerts” on my posts, I want to limit that as much as possible for this one. Personally I do not mind knowing what to expect in my reading and in fact consider it a bonus to read with knowledge of what’s coming. But in this case, I enjoyed having the feeling of slowly coming to understand what...

Horse by Geraldine Brooks

This is my fifth book by Geraldine Brooks and I do love them all. The complexity of the story she has told by weaving together many strands related to a racehorse that lived in the middle of the 19th century is breathtaking. At the center is the racehorse Lexington, who became famous for his speed and even more for his many very fast offspring, including a horse named Preakness. (I thought...

The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz

It was an endorsement by Nancy Pearl, the librarian who inspired an action figure, that brought me to this book. I haven’t read a book that was both this gripping and satisfying in ages. Several times during this unlikely tale, the John McEnroe phrase came to mind:  “You cannot be serious,” given the coincidences and exaggerations that came up. Along with those excesses came...

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