Friday, June 24, 2011

Some early summer reading

I have been gone on vacation so I have gotten a little behind in my blogging!  However, I have finished three good books while missing!

Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwartz was chosen for the June selection for one of my book groups.  I had read it several times, but it was years ago.  The book was published in 2000 and was an Oprah pick.  I have always loved this book, so I was quite pleased when my group chose to read it.  It is primarily the story of Amanda Starkey, a nurse during WWI who becomes overwhelmed with her duties, and flees home to Nagawaukee Lake, where she goes to live with her sister Matilda and her young niece, Ruth.  Matilda's husband, Carl, is off fighting in the War, so the three females live together. One evening in the winter of 1919, Matilda disappears, and is later found beneath the ice where she has drowned.  Over the next few years, Amanda works hard at keeping her secrets, both about Matilda's death, and about Amanda's own past.

The story is told in chapters by different characters, moving back and forth in time.  Eventually, the family secrets are revealed and as they are, you learn the truth about the night that Matilda drowned.

The story has been described as "a gripping psychological thriller" and I would concur with that!  Each time I have read this book, I have enjoyed it more!  Fascinating characters!

Next, I read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  I realize that I may be the last woman on earth to have read this book, so I won't go into it too much.  I don't know what my reluctance was to read it, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story!  I love stories told by elderly people as they tell about their pasts!  Briefly, the story is told by ninety year old Jacob as he recalls being a young man who joined the circus when he was unable to complete his veterinary schooling during the great Depression. Jacob was employed to care for the circus animals.  Jacob meets up with the various circus characters,  and falls in love with Marlena, who is married to August, a trainer who is struggling with severe mental health issues.  The circus acquires Rosie, a difficult elephant, who in the end is Jacob and Marlena's salvation!

And then I read The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff.  I struggled a bit with staying with this book for a while in the beginning, but I ended up liking it!  It is the story of Willie Upton, a graduate student in archaeology who became pregnant with her married professor while on a dig in Alaska.  Willie returns home to Templeton, New York on the very same day that a huge monster dies in Lake Glimmerglass in Templeton.  Willie's family has lived in Templeton for generations and she thinks that she will be safe to hide out there while trying to figure out what to do with her life.  However, after arriving, Willie's mother, Vi, informs her that the story about her unknown father has been a lie, and that her father was someone who lived right there in Templeton.

Willie decides that she needs to learn the truth about her ancestry and begins doing research about her family.  Dark secrets begin to be revealed, some mysteries are solved and you learn that there are more monsters than just the one from the lake! Good story!

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