Thursday, January 29, 2015

Nothing Too Exciting

I have recently read three books, none of which I found to be especially great.  Not that they were bad reads, each was entertaining, but nothing that I couldn't put down!

I read Transatlantic by Colum McCann for one of my book groups.  I had great difficulty getting into McCann is a wonderful writer (beautiful prose), I was really bothered by his fragmented sentences in the book.  At one point I even read a brief section to my husband, just to express my frustration so he could understand my complaints!  But besides that, I just didn't really care about what was happening in the first half of the book.  However, this was one of those rare instances where my interest peaked half way through and I began to really enjoy the book!
the book, and would have quit reading it if I wasn't reading it for book group. Although

The book begins in 1919 in Newfoundland with two aviators setting course for Ireland.  They were attempting to be the first to fly nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean.  Then the book jumps back to around 1845 in Dublin where Frederick Douglas is trying to raise awareness and sympathy for the abolitionist cause in America. Then the book goes to 1998 in New York, with Senator George Mitchell leaving for Ireland to attempt to lead peace talks amid the violence there.

So there are three different journeys to Ireland described over 150 years time.  Interspersed in these stories are the stories of strong Irish women.  One of them, Lily Duggan, was a servant in the home where Frederick Douglas was staying.  She worked and earned passage to America. Lily's life in the United States is where I began to be interested in the book.  During the Civil War she went to work where her son was in camp.  The book goes on with her daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter, all the way back to Ireland in the end.

The book has a lot of interesting comparisons and though-provoking themes in it, including race, class, and relationships. It was a good book for our group discussion.

I next read The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.  I would classify it as kind of a
book-lover's book in that it is a story about a recently widowed young man, A. J. Fikry, who owns a small bookstore on an island.  He lived a quiet lonely life and was aware that small bookstores were probably becoming a thing of the past.  He was not happy with the state of publishing and the publishers choices of books.  Once or twice a year a sales rep from a publisher he dealt with would come to the island to show him the newest books being released.  When a new sales rep showed up, he was not happy, and did not leave a good impression on her.  Sometime later, a young toddler was left in his bookshop with a note "This is Maya.  She is twenty-five months old."  Of course, A. J. does not feel that he can take care of the child, nor does he want to, until it is time for her to go and he decided that perhaps he could keep her, so he does.  Eventually A. J. opens himself up to the possibility of love and began to pursue the sales rep.  The story continues until Maya was 18 years old.   

All in all, a good book, but fairly predictable.  There were some good island characters and a mystery that added to the book.

 And finally, I read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.  It has been highly touted as the Gone
Girl for 2015.  It was a good read, but I didn't find it nearly as disturbing (in an interesting way) as Gone Girl.

The girl on the train was Rachel Watson, a divorced, unemployed, sad girl who traveled on the train every day to London in the morning and back home again each night so that her friend, at whose home she was living, would not know that she had been fired from her job months ago.  So every day on the train she passed by the house where she and her ex-husband had lived, and, where in fact, he now lived with his new wife and baby.  Near their home, Rachel began to notice a couple who was often out on their patio each morning and appeared to be in a perfect relationship.  She began fantasising about their lives, even to the point of making up names for them.

But one morning, as Rachel watched from the train window she saw the woman kissing another man, and Rachel's life began to spinning even worse than it had been.  Then the woman was reported missing.  Rachel can't stay out of it, and so it begins....

The book is a good mystery and was a fun read.

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