Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I think the dry spell is finally coming to an end - at least, as far as reading goes. I owe it all to you guys, and your wonderful recommendations. There was a time when I had no problem whatsoever finding books I liked on the grocery store shelves, but as my friend Paula once said, "Once you start reading the good stuff, it's kinda hard to go back."

Believe me, I've tried! I had a couple of really good books set aside to read during John's hospital stay, but they were both fairly dark, and I decided after the first day that the hospital itself was a dark enough place on its own, and that I should save those two for later. So I set out in search of something light to pass the time with. It took several forays out to various pharmacies in the surrounding medical towers, before I found one that wasn't so formulaic it made my eyes cross. I finally settled on Sundays at Tiffany's, by James Patterson, because it begged the question "What if imaginary friends aren't really imaginary? What if they are just invisible to everyone other than the child they were sent to help?" My little brother had two such friends - Pinky and Ollie - who were so real to him that sometimes he just about had me convinced! So how could I resist?

Once we were back in Wimberley, and John was on the mend, I was ready to tackle the heavy stuff. I started with Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks, which was passed to me by blog-reader Sherri, when she stopped in for a visit not long ago. It's based on a true story, of what happened when the plague hit a small mountain village in England, and their young rector managed to convince the villagers that they must cut themselves off from the rest of the world, so as not to spread it further. This was a time when people had to choose between the clueless barber-surgeons and the herbalist-midwives for their healthcare. The latter was a much better choice, but a very dangerous profession to be in, for if things didn't go well, the very same people who were begging for your potions one day, were likely to label you as a witch the next! It wasn't until I was halfway through this book that I realized I had read another by this same author some years back, called March. Remember the March family in Louisa May Alcott's story Little Women? Well, this book tells the story from their absent father's point of view, and is about his struggles during the Civil War, to juggle his obligations to God and Country, with those of father and husband. Excellent - both of them!

From there I went on to read something by Wally Lamb, thanks to your recommendations on that reading list we passed around not long ago. I chose She's Come Undone. All I can say is the same thing everyone else is saying: Wally Lamb must have been a woman in a previous life. There is just no other explanation for how a man could get into the heads of his female characters the way he does.

So, what's next boys and girls? What book should I pick up now? Which page-turner will be my next talking book, calling out to me each time I try to walk away from it for a few hours? I have one or two for you. If you've never read anything by Sarah Dunant, head straight to the library and check out one of her's - most especially Birth of Venus. And while you're at it, grab something by Marlene de Blasi, such as A Thousand Days in Venice. Happy reading!

Now, if only you could solve the Hill Country's drought, as easily as you solved my mental one.

P.S. Don't forget to leave a comment, if you wish to be included in this weekend's prize-drawing!


Anonymous said...

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. It's a novel of polygamy, innovately told from the perspective of both a modern day "lost boy" and Ann Eliza Young, one of Brigham Young's many brides who divorced him and went on to crusade against polygamy in the 19th century. It's unputdownable both literally and figuratively. The plotting and characterization are crisp and compelling and what it says about faith and belief inspires deep contemplation.
An amazing read that will resonate for years.

Hill Country Hippie said...

Oooh Sheri, thanks for the great suggestion! I read a wonderful book for young adults on that same subject when I was a kid, which has "resonated" with me for years. I've often wished I could remember the title or author, so I could go back and reread it.