Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Female Confidential

Vox: A Novel by Christina Dalcher. 


This novel is set in the not too distant future, where institutional misogyny has reached such heights that women are now totally out of the workforce and females are only allowed to speak 100 words a day (and no cheating with sign language, either). The new government has put wristbands that count every female’s words and if they go above their allotment, they get an electric shock that gets worse the more they speak. In this world we find Jean, a former scientist who was on the brink of curing aphasia, who is now relegated to her home, where she lives with her husband, three sons and her young daughter. However, when the president’s brother is in a skiing accident, with a brain injury that gives him the exact type of aphasia Jean had been trying to cure, the government calls on her to rejoin her old team and finish the job. But all is not what it seems in this dictatorial, woman hating world. (Thanks for the free book, @PRHGlobal/@prhinternational

Saturday, August 25, 2018

A Village Education

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald 


It is 1959, and Florence Green is in Hardborough, a small seaside town in England’s East Anglia region, that doesn’t have its own book shop. This is something that Florence wants to fix. The only problem is, there seems to be some opposition to where she’s chosen to open it, the Old House. Although the building has stood empty for quite some time, there are people in town who have other ideas for that property. 

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see the movie adaptation of this novella, which I found totally charming. Since the generalization is that the book is better than the film, I decided to hunt down a copy of this book and find out for myself if this one obeyed that rule, is one of the few exceptions, or something in between. I have to warn my readers that because of the close proximity between seeing the movie and reading the book, this may end up being a review of both, with some compare and contrast slipped in, for better or worse. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Diving in together

The Lido by Libby Page 


On Goodreads, the blurb for this novel says “Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. The lido has been a cornerstone in nearly every part of Rosemary’s life.” This is a very good summary of this book, although it wasn’t evident to me that Rosemary had been swimming at the Lido “since it opened its doors” but that’s a minor point. 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Continuing to be

I am, I am, I am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell 


Goodreads calls this book a “memoire with a difference - the unputdownable story of an extraordinary woman's life in near-death experiences.” They also say it is “Shocking, electric, unforgettable,” and comment that “It is a book to make you question yourself. What would you do if your life was in danger, and what would you stand to lose?” Well, I couldn’t agree more with this summary, but to be honest, I think it is even more than that. 

My regular readers will know that I don’t usually read non-fiction, but this is Maggie O’Farrell, and well, I’ve been in love with her writing for years. Plus, the title indicated that this wasn’t an autobiography so much as a collection of experiences, which is far more to my taste. That is why the opportunity to get a glimpse into her life, even if it isn’t about the lighter side of her world, was irresistible to me, despite my worry that this might be heavy going. Thankfully, even though some (if not all) of these experiences were obviously traumatic in one way or another, somehow O’Farrell was able to portray them in a way that stuns us, yet never repulses us.