|After the Fire by Henning Mankell
The main character, Fredrik Welin, is a seventy-year old retired Swedish physician whose lonely island life is in due partly because of a past past medical mistake causing injury to a patient. Fredrik’s house burns down, taking with it most of what he owns. The fire forces Fredrik out of his isolation and into contact with the police, a journalist, and his recently discovered adult daughter. Fredrik’s emerging out of isolation and the investigation into the cause of the fire become the plot of the book. This book was a bit slow. The characters didn’t seem to learn much about themselves as events changed their lives. I think Mankell was looking for a sense of loss leading to redemption, but, for me, the plot never got that far. But, I did like the Scandinavian tone ~ very underplayed and dry but not morose. With a translated book, so much depends on the translator. This is the second in a two books about Fredrik Welin and Mankell’s last before he died. Mankell is best known for his crime-books Wallanar, which became a Swedish TV hit. Daniel, by Mankell, is in the Main Library collection. Read an excerpt of After the Fire here.
|Hagseed by Margaret Atwood
Lately, it seems that most of Atwood’s stories have been based on science fiction. Since I am not a science fiction fan but am an Atwood fan, when I saw this book at my library, I was excited. This story is a retelling of Shakepeare’s Tempest. While I am familiar with the plot, I never read the book. So I thought great; Atwood and Shakespeare together. How to create a contemporary novel from a work written four centuries ago for the stage? Atwood of all writers can do it.
The plot follows Felix Phillips (Prespero in The Tempest), an artistic director who is focused on his art, a production of Shakespear’s Tempest, and his dead daughter. This involvement causes him to overlook his power-hungry assistant Toni’s deviousness behavior. Soon, Felix sees Toni for the saboteur that he is. Being fired from the play, Felix starts another production at the local prison. Soon, he is using his prisoners as more than actors and plotting his revenge by staging a very unique version of the play with Toni in the audience. Read an excerpt here. And here is Atwood “talking” about her Hogarth interpretation. Pretty interesting!
I am ordering all the Hogarth Shakespeare Project reinterpretations for the HCCC collection. Looking forward to reading them all. Could never quite get through the originals.
|What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity
A “beach book”- easy to digest but with a bit more character than the usual summer reading froth. The plot focuses on Alice’s memory lapse of the past decade. She forgets she has three kids, is going through a divorce, and her best friend died in a tragic accident. But, going back to her former 29 year-old-self is not a bad lesson in learning to lighten up, give people a break (including herself), and remember what is important in life. Oh, and by the way, she now has an exercise regime and a skinny body. This is a funny book and the way the author describes her characters’ thoughts and expressions is spot on. Why does the English (and in this case Australian) humor seem more witty to me? They can be so amusingly cynical. While I don’t highly recommend this book, keep it in mind when headed to the shore this summer. Read an excerpt here. As of the beginning of 2018, Jennifer Aniston is contracted to play Alice in a film adaptation. You decide.
The Library has a second title for this Spring’s April Book Clubs – Everything I Never Told You by author Celeste Ng. Pick up your copy at either campus while supplies last. And then meet fellow readers at our Book Clubs and let’s talk!
Come to either campus on the following dates and join the discussion:
Monday, April 2nd – 3:30-5:00 OR Wednesday, April 4th – 1:00 to 3:30
Food will be served at each of the Book Club gatherings. Come and ENJOY!
Our first selection in February is Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel. Pick up your copy at either campus while supplies last. And then meet fellow readers at our Book Clubs and let’s talk!
Come to either campus on the following dates to join the discussion:
Monday, February 26th – 3:30-5:00 OR Wednesday, February 28th – 1:00 to 3:30
And, oh yeah, food will be served at each of the Book Club gatherings. Come and ENJOY!
B.Y.O.B. means Bring Your Own Book and exchange it for a new one. Hosted by the Sigma Kappa Delta Honor Society, the North Hudson Library is full of books that you can peruse and take home. Take some time to enjoy a good read …. compliments of Sigma Kappa Delta. And bring in your titles that may be gathering dust on your shelves. Enjoy!
|The Book of Strange New Things : A Novel by Michel Faber
I started reading this book because I so enjoyed Faber’s Crimson Petal and the White. Since I an not a science fiction buff, I was a bit wary of ruining my enjoyment of the author. But The Book of Strange … is a gem of a novel. Again, Faber writes in great detail, which might put some readers off. His books tend to be thick, with detailed language. The protagonist, Peter, and his wife, Bea, are separated when Peter’s job takes him to another galaxy to share the Bible’s gospels. Bea remains and her faith and survival is tested by earthly disasters. “Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us” (publisher). Read an excerpt here.
|The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn
I was listening to an NPR podcast with Jennifer Jason Leigh as the guest, and she said how much she loved this author and that she, Hugo Weaving, and Benedict Cumberbatch (as Patrick) were going to star in a TV series version. I knew I had to read the book first. I have not been disappointed. This collection of novels takes Patrick through his abusive childhood, addiction plagued early adulthood, to a recovering man who sees the world through intensely sharp but skeptical eyes. While the stories might best be read separately, they hold up as a series. But, by the last book, I was a bit tired of Patrick’s complaints and tribulations. You understand his pathos, having read his life from age five to late adulthood, but might not have much sympathy by the 650th page. Read an excerpt here.
|Idaho by Emily Ruskovich
Ann and Wade live a solitary life in northern Idaho. In his 50s, Wade has early-onset dementia. He no longer remembers his first wife killing one of their daughters while the other girl disappeared into the surrounding forest. Ann is determined to figure out what happened and why, while incarcerated Jenny stays zombie like and uncommunicative. It’s a good story line, but the unrelenting misery of the characters makes for a depressing read. Since this is Ruskovich’s first novel, I am hoping she learns to alleviate the morose mood with some lighter moments. Since the novel moves back and forth between the past and near future, adding some happy memories would be a welcome device to make the tone of the book not such a one note tragedy. Read an excerpt here.