Friday, October 16, 2015

And Two More...

A good friend recommended My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, and so one of my book groups chose it for our October read.  It is the first of four novels (The 
Neapolitan Novels). The book was written in Italian and is a 

This story is about two young girls growing up in the 1950's.  Elena and Lila were schoolmates, who became fast friends.  Lila was a more outgoing, bolder girl and Elena followed behind.  They were from a poor Italian neighborhood, and so everyone knew everyone else.  As the girls got a little older, Elena's parents were able to send her on to school, while Lila was not able to go and remained in the neighborhood working with her father and brother in their shoe shop.

The book began with Elena (as an adult) learning from Lila's son, that Lila had disappeared.Elena did not seem especially concerned or surprised about her disappearance, but decided to write the story of Lila's life so that others would know her.  Her story goes through the girl's growing up years.  Elena continued her education and Lila married young.

Which one is the "brilliant friend"?  It appears that Elena considered Lila to be the brilliant friend.  Both girls were very bright, but Lila was probably smarter than Elena.  she often helped and/or tutored Elena after Elena went on to higher education.  Lila would get books to study what Elena was studying and then help her!

It was an interesting book, but I often found myself somewhat bogged down in the everyday stuff that the author would talk about.  It is not a book of action at all, but of relationships.  Which is usually my cup of tea, but I didn't get real into it.  I wonder if perhaps the translation changed the book somewhat?   I am curious enough that I may continue with the series at some point, but I am not rushing out to do it!

Another book that I recently read was More Than You Know by Beth Gutcheon.  It ended up that I
had read this several years ago, but I didn't realize it right away, so I continued on.

This is one of those stories that I is about two different relationships occurring about seventy years apart. Hannah Gray narrated the story as an elderly widow recalling her story of her summer love in the 1930's when she went to Dundee, Maine for the summer with her brother and step-mother, who Hannah did not get along with. Hannah's father's family had come from Dundee and they still had a summer place there.  It was there that Hannah fell in love with Conary Crocker.  Conary had always lived in  Dundee. As Conary and Hannah became close, they learned what had happened with their ancestors from Dundee. In 1858, young Claris Osgood married Daniel Haskell and moved to Beal Island where his family had been living.  Claris was cut off from her family and soon learned how controlling her new husband was.  Over time, Claris and Daniel had two children and it appeared that the young woman who came to the Island to teach and lived with Claris and Daniel became pregnant (unwillingly) by Daniel.  by this time Claris and Daniel's daughter, Sallie, was old enough to have fallen in love and Daniel was attempting to control her.  And then, Daniel was found murdered.

In the meantime, while learning about all this, Hannah and her younger brother were becoming aware of some disturbing things happening in their summer home.  It appeared to be haunted by a sobbing woman.  Hannah and Conary try to figure out who the woman is, and in the end, all ends tragically.

I thought this was a fun book to read.  It wasn't scary or frightening, just interesting.  I have read other books by the author and I like her writing.

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