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The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas

I came upon this book when looking around for library audiobooks. It has been a real pleasure to listen to and has stirred up memories of my freshman French teacher at the small Presbyterian college I attended in Tennessee in 1963. She swooned over the beauty of French literature and spoke lovingly of encountering students from decades earlier who remembered the poetry she had them memorize. (I...

Pass Go and Collect $200 by Tonya Lee Stone

The subtitle explains this is The Real Story of How Monopoly Was Invented. I have been reading to my grandchildren in Iowa and here in Charlottesville daily since mid-March. I chose this to read because the Iowa kids play Monopoly as often as they can. It turned out to be quite interesting and after the topic came up in a conversation my friend Dorothy had with her family, I decided to write...

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

I did come to enjoy the Olive stories in the original Olive Kitteridge, but hesitated to read this one. Olive is hard to love, given her penchant for saying what she thinks, no matter how hurtful it might be. She seems to go out of her way to express that honesty when no one asked for her thoughts. On the other hand she often finds the kind word to say, in spite of herself, and steps in to be...

There Was Still Love by Favel Parrett

The story of this book is told mostly from the viewpoint of two children in 1980, one in Melbourne and one in Prague. They never meet but are connected by their grandmothers, twins separated as teenagers during wartime in Prague. Each child lives with their grandmother and experiences hardship, but also great love for their grandmothers. Luděk is a young boy who runs through the streets of...

Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller

What a treat this book turned out to be. I have known Lulu and Grace slightly for several years, feeling a great warmth for them, so there was no question about buying the book. Then I learned the book is in part a biography of David Starr Jordan, a name I knew from having spent the 1970s in Bloomington, Indiana. He had been president of Indiana University, so a street, a building, and a creek...

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

After a couple of audiobook choices that didn’t work well, I listened to this classic. I recall reading My Ántonia and Death Comes to the Archbishop, but I believe this one was new for me. What a pleasant voice to have in my ears as I puttered around the kitchen and did other chores. Alexandra Bergson is the central character, the only daughter of an early Nebraska farmer, the only one of...

The Mountain by Paul Yoon

After a month of reading and listening only fitfully and irritably, this week I found I could lose myself again in a book. And what a surprising one the first book turned out to be:  A book of short stories set in a variety of circumstances that had misery in common. And yet the artistry made it possible to focus on the stories. As always it’s unclear how to describe a book of short...

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

When I finished this book I had one of those rare moments when I was so overwhelmed by its beauty that tears came to my eyes.  When the full impact of its wonderful structure became evident at the end, I felt such elation. Evaristo is the co-winner of the Booker Prize this year for this book. She tells the stories of a dozen characters who have ties to each other; sometimes the ties are...

The World According to Fannie Davis by Bridgett M. Davis

The author tells the story of her mother’s life in the numbers business in Detroit for 40-some years. Fannie and her husband were among the many black people who left Nashville, Tennessee and other Southern cities looking for a better life, in their case, in 1955. John T was not able to make enough money for the family, so Fannie ran numbers and did so successfully until her death in 1992...

The Last of Her Kind by Sigrid Nunez

The book jacket says this 2006 book is about two women from very different backgrounds who met as freshmen at Barnard in 1968. One, Ann, is from a wealthy family, successful at any endeavor she takes up. The other is Georgette, the narrator, who comes from an underprivileged background involving heavy drinking and an abusive mother in upstate New York. The two become very close, and though...

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