Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Three Days: Three Books

David and I spent a long weekend in the mountains only for the days to be rainy and foggy -- it was three days of reading. :) Aww, shucks!

Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea had been on my reading list for over ten years. Recommended to me by a former student {Dominique, are you out there?}, I finally read the novel this weekend.

Set in the lushness of the Caribbean in the early 1830s, Antionette Cosway grows up in a strange household. Her widowed mother paces and frets, her “touched” brother hums and drools, and she wanders un-chaperoned about the family compound where superstitious slaves lurk in corners and whisper of old secrets.  Divided into three parts, Rhys structures the novel for a young Antionette to narrate the first, an Englishman, married to Antionette, to tell the second story, and then Rhys shifts the setting to England where Antionette relays the details of her daily imprisonment in an attic room in Thornfield Hall.

Does the latter sound familiar?

Imaginative and haunting, and  the setting of  Jamaica and Dominica beautifully described , Rhys’ novel about the native origin of the “mad woman in the attic” should be read by all who enjoyed Charlotte Bronte’s  Jane Eyre. Or didn’t enjoy it.

Do I hear a collective groaning, former students?

Denny Swift’s dog Enzo, on the eve of his death, takes a reflective look at his well lived life and the family who adopted him.  The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is an uplifting novel that examines human life as observed by a dog; Enzo, of course, is a very eloquent and perceptive dog. 

BTW: Since Denny is an “up-and-coming race car driver,” Stein fills the novel with race allusions and phrases -- all used quite effectively and often wittily -- as in the book's title.

Funny, philosophical, and poignant, this easy read kept me up into the wee hours to finish it on the same night I started it. I would recommend it to anyone who loves pets and stories of love, loyalty, family, tragedy, and the recovery from it.

When Patty MacLemoore, a history professor, wakes up in jail, she’s horrified to discover that she has been involved in a automobile accident in her driveway, one that leaves a mother and her young daughter dead. Given a prison sentence for driving under the influence and with a revoked license, Patty does her time and exits her incarceration with the intent to spend the rest of her life trying to atone for her actions. 

Blame by Michelle Huneven with its lovely prose reeled me in and kept me turning pages to its compelling end. Riddled with interesting characters, realistic dialogue, and the complexities of moral consequences, Huneven writes a worthy contemporary novel about the placement of blame and the restorative power of remorse and redemption. This novel  and  its subject matter was a surprisingly good read.

ETA: These three books could not be more different in style, subject matter, and approach. I loved it --- :-).


How I mentioned lately how great it is to be retired?
To get to just read --- wheeeeee!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much Harriet...the only problem is I am NOT retired (yet) so many books, so little time! I will add these to my list! Thank you thank you for your recommendations, I know it will not be wasted reading :-) Lori