Friday, July 27, 2012

Some hot-weather reading!

We returned home last night after having spent a week in the St. Louis area at one of my daughter's home.  My husband was building bookcases for them.  Unfortunately, it ranged in the 100 to 107 degrees- hot weather all week!  Not so great weather for my husband to be out in the garage working all week, but great stay inside reading weather for me!  I finished three books over the week!

The first book that I read was The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.  Loved it!  It kept me guessing and wondering through-out most of the book.  The book is loosely based on an old Russian folktale called

The Snow Maiden by A. Ostrovskii

How fun is that?  The Snow Child is set in Alaska in the 1920's, in a very desolate, isolated setting.  Jack and Mabel went there to homestead, trying to get away from the pain of not having children. Their first winter there, they were already afraid of not being able to make it and surviving the harsh winter.  In a playful moment, they made a snow girl and used real mittens and scarf for the snow child.  The next morning, the snow child was gone, but soon, they begin catching glimpses of a young girl running in the woods, wearing the scarf and mittens.  Is this real?  Is it wishful thinking?  How could there possibly be a child living in the deep woods of Alaska?

Meanwhile, Jack and Mabel met their closest neighbors, George and Esther, who had lived in Alaska for a number of years.  Slowly, Mabel begins to let herself trust Esther and a friendship began to grow.  George and Esther and their sons started helping both Jack and Mabel learn how to survive the Alaskan winters.

Eventually, the snow girl began to come closer to Jack and Mabel's cabin and they began a tentative relationship, where she would sometimes show up, sometimes even staying to eat with them.  But she would not stay with them; she would always return to the wild.

The story goes through years in the Alaskan wilderness and is a very touching story of survival, love, mystery and faith.  I really liked this book, and highly recommend it! 

The second book that I read was Dirt by David Vann.  It, too, was a very interesting book, but in a very different way!  It was a quick read, and when I finished, my first thought was that was an odd story.  Which, of course, often seems to be right up my alley!

 Dirt is about Galen, a twenty-two year old man who lives with his mother in the old family home. He and his mother live frugally off of a family trust.  The only other family left are Galen's grandmother, who is in a nursing home, and his mother's sister and her daughter, Jennifer.   Jennifer is a high-school student, who uses Galen for sexual pleasure.  Galen is an odd duck, who thinks that he is an old soul.  However, as the book progresses, it is clear that Galen is also quite mentally ill.  He is continually trying to transform himself into something else.  And dirt plays a big part in his attempts of transformation.

When Galen's mother confronts him with his relationship with Jennifer, all hell breaks loose as Galen's limited stability unfurls itself and he tries to bring things back to "normal".

This is a rather disturbing book on several levels, but it is well-written and I found myself thinking about it quite a bit after I had finished. it.  Would I recommend it?  Depends...

And lastly, I finished The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney.  I had read her first novel The Tenderness of Wolves and had enjoyed it very much, so I was glad to come across this, her second novel. 

The Invisible Ones takes place in England and is about Romanies (or Gypsies).  I don't believe that I have ever read a book about Gypsies before, so I found this quite interesting.  The novel is a mystery that starts out with Ray Lovell, a private detective whose father was a Gypsy, being hired to find a young woman who had disappeared seven years ago.  Her father, Leon Wood, also a Gypsy, came to Ray because Ray had Gypsy blood in him  and he now believed that something bad had happened to his daughter.The daughter, Rose Wood, had married Ivo Janko who was from another Gypsy family. However, Rose disappeared soon after the marriage.  Ray took on the case and began researching the Janko family.  That's when even more mysteries erupt.  Whose child is the young Christo, what is the family disease, what became of Ivo's sister, and on and on!

The story is told in chapters alternately narrated by Ray and by JJ Smith, the  fourteen year old nephew of Ivo Janko.  I liked the way the story was told by the two perspectives.  There is also a good twist at the end!  Good book!

And now we are back home and I am planning/hoping to keep up my reading pace!  I found four books to read at a flea market type store while I was gone, so I am off to read some more!





1 comment:

Bybee said...

I didn't know Stef Penney had another novel out! Great!