In the High Peaks

Monday, February 29, 2016

Quick Notes on Great! Books!

On Friday or Saturday I finished Where My Heart Used to Beat, Sebastian Faulks's latest book. It was superb, in my estimation. It's such a relief to read about a mature man reflecting back on his life, even though parts of it were obscure to him due to life's traumas. I heartily recommend this book--I found I related so easily to Robert, the protagonist. Delicious locations, and truly heartfelt. Unfortunately, I cannot wax on with description. Robert is the son of a soldier who was killed in World War I, and he is nearly killed in World War II but survives. He becomes a doctor, then a psychiatrist after the war--and there is much here that is about lifetime memories. I found it not depressing at all even thought it had its sadnesses. I felt uplifted that a mature writer was able to write about characters that were at a stage where they could reflect honestly about their lives and their choices. Not to be missed!

I am now reading Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee for The Classics Club. I'm more than a third of the way through so far. More on this one later.

And I am so thoroughly enjoying [read loving!] Girl through Glass by Sari Wilson, which was released in late January. Mira is a "bunhead." She lives in Brooklyn, and later Manhattan, and at the ripe old ages of 11-14 is one of the most promising pre-pubescent ballerinas at the SAB. (I think this is Balanchine's School of American Ballet) in Manhattan. She rises, and rises through the ranks despite the fact that her parents have divorced and she is now living with her father and a caring stepmother. Despite the loss of her mother and the other supports in her life, she has an important, secret relationship with an older, nearly elderly man, Maurice, who loves her beauty and encourages her to catapult herself deeper into ballet. This story of the young Mira and the mature dance theory professor Kate (who is the actual Mira transformed by time and events) make for a captivating, incredibly well-written debut by Wilson. Another great read!!! I'm almost at the end and I'm lamenting every page I turn now.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Indulging Myself--Reading The Storm

The Reading Cure:
This week started out with me not making any progress with work, no matter what I tried to do. A medical professional I trust suggested (okay--strongly urged) that I take a break and recover my will and strength. So I've dedicated myself the past four days to only two hours of work per day followed by a long ramble over wild terrain, followed by reading for hours in the loft bed. No stress. I feel so much better already. The books and the walking have done wonders thus far.

I thoroughly appreciated The Storm by Dutch novelist Margriet de Moor, which was translated by Carol Brown Janeway, and published in English in 2010. (Original Dutch publication 2005.) As I think I mentioned previously, this novel involves one family's experiences of the horrendous catastrophe that befell southern Holland on January 31-February 1, 1953 when nearly 2,000 lives were swept away by the sea in a storm. The dykes broke all across southernmost Holland, letting loose tidal waves and winds that blasted houses to bits and literally obliterated town after town. Even though the hurricane-force winds that had crossed Scotland the day before, killing 19 people, then had borne down on the shores of East Anglia killing 370 people by flooding, was not enough for some reason for weather services in Holland to issue a warning to their people. It was a weekend. January 31st was, in fact, a Saturday night when no weather forecasters were on alert.

The storm in this novel is a larger-than-life character. Shocking storm imagery abounds. I have not read anything in my life that competes with the storm characterizations that de Moor creates.

It is a grim novel, even though only one member of the family is caught in the storm. This novel is also about how a single tragedy has tremendous repercussions over the lifetimes of all family members. It is also about how a family and in particular, how one sister manages to survive her guilt.

Highly recommended.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Cozy Evening in a Warm Hotel Bed Near Boston

Whew! My brother and I did it. We're done. We cleared out the masses of stuff in Mom's apartment, and moved her into her much smaller, but very nice, large corner room, which she already likes very much. I had no idea she had as much stuff as she did. Huge surprise to both of us! David and I are both very tired and very thankful that we got through it without any incident between us.

At the end of the horrors of Day One, in the late afternoon in an exhausted, dust-covered state, I took a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card I'd been saving to the mega-store on the Natick-Framingham line on Route 9.

I'd noted in past visits that this store has an enormous literature selection. And I was deliriously happy to find the two Classics Club books I want to read before June: Jane Austen's Persuasion and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (50th Anniversary Edition) by John Le Carre. I'm very much looking forward, but before I read them, I will finish out the winter with the Dutch classic The Storm by Margriet de Moor. I have a recently published edition of the early 1950s novel from the library. I will be able to have enough time with it so I don't have to rush, and I can keep another book going alongside it. (L is for Lawless??? Oh no!)

But before I get to The Storm, I'm now halfway through Where My Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks. I'm deeply into the story but will refrain from commenting until I'm finished. I can say this: Faulks has matured a great deal as a writer since his early days. This is NOT in any way to denigrate his early works. They are, many of them, admirable. But this is different.

On a much lighter note, last evening I continued a book I've had in the bin for quite a while. When I'm too dim-witted to read anything else, I pull this one up on the Nook and continue reading. First, I must confess to always having had a crush on Cary Grant. I must admit this crush goes back to age 8. When it came to Cary, I was very precocious.

So if you want to know what it's like to have an affair with Cary Grant, you may enjoy skimming a very light memoir, Dear Cary by Dyan Cannon, his final wife. (At least I think she was!) They did divorce, and they did have a daughter together. Anyway, if you happen to fancy that a fling with Cary would have been your thing, don't miss it!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

If Only A Readathon and New Books on Tap

I've just finished my second Sue Grafton mystery for 2016, and it's only the first week of February. This may not portend well for diversified or literary reading this year. Yes, K is for Killer was definitely entertaining and worth reading. And Sue Grafton's mysteries get better with each new installment. Save me!

But guess what. I have some great reads on hold for me at Crandall Library in the "city," and because Ken is going to the Y tomorrow, he'll be able to pick them up for me, so I have them for my trip to Boston this Tuesday through Saturday. I may plan for a complete day of nothing but reading. Maybe Friday or Saturday?

I'm lucky to have Sebastian Faulks's new book waiting for me. I haven't read Faulks since the days of Birdsong and some of his other works of historical fiction. The latest, Where My Heart Used to Beat appeals to me because I empathize with a troubled person who reflects on past trauma, and whose life is profoundly disturbed by war trauma from World War II. I'll be very interested to read it.

And I have a new Classics Club book to read. And that's the Dutch novel The Storm by Margriet de Moor, a novel based on the devastating real-life flooding of the Netherlands in the early 1950s.

Also on hold is Cath of Read Warbler's winter read recommendation: Mystery in White: A Christmas Crime Story, although as Cath pointed out, it's more wintry than Christmasy. Looking forward!

I wish to be buried by books.