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Adult Fiction Books

Towne Book Center Book Club pick: Still Life with Breadcrumbs

Still Life with Breadcrumbs by Anna Quindlen is this month’s book club pick for Towne Book Center and Cafe book club. it’s my first time reading anything by Quindlen. I know she’s a prolific author and her autobiography is popular. As I’m not a fan of non-fiction, especially biographies,  I was glad to hear that this was fiction.

Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen

 

Still Life with Bread Crumbs begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof. Between the two is a wry and knowing portrait of Rebecca Winter, a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women. Her career is now descendent, her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere. There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life.

Brilliantly written, powerfully observed, Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a deeply moving and often very funny story of unexpected love, and a stunningly crafted journey into the life of a woman, her heart, her mind, her days, as she discovers that life is a story with many levels, a story that is longer and more exciting than she ever imagined.

Now I don’t know about you, but this blurb doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t tell me much about the book and what the point of it is. Sadly, after reading it (it’s a light quick read if that’s what you need) the book doesn’t tell you much about what the point of the story is either.

So Rebecca is a rich divorced socialite in NYC. She takes a cottage in the woods to do some soul searching I guess, and perhaps to take more of the photos that have made her famous. Along the way she ingratiates herself into the small town near the cottage. She’s a big deal and the folks kinda grow on her.

Meanwhile, Rebecca is sandwiched between her adult son and her elderly parents. There’s little emotion in any of the story and the stuff that’s really good, like everyone’s back story, gets the short shrift and your left with tidbits of information about why everyone is who they are. I’m not even sure about Rebecca and why she is the way she is. I guess I’m supposed to feel sorry for her because she’s single and has to support herself but I find myself not caring; mostly because she’s subletting her fabulous apartment in New York and doesn’t want to sell it. If you’re that hard up for money, honey, sell it!!

The narrative is disjointed at times and I can’t tell who is speaking or what she’s speaking about. Anyway, the end wraps up nicely. Too nicely, actually and she ends up being ok. Drink a bottle of wine with this book and it’s a great filler or even a light summer read: not too heavy.

Have you read any of Quindlen’s other books? What did you think?

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Books

My Real Children by Jo Walton

Sometimes you read a book that makes you think. And sometimes you just can’t put the book down.  Isn’t it fabulous when you finally get to meet the author and he/she is as smart and great as you’d hoped they’d be? That’s the case with Jo Walton’s

My Real Children

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Intrigued? Here’s a bit about it:

It’s 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. “Confused today,” read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. She forgets things she should know—what year it is, major events in the lives of her children. But she remembers things that don’t seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. She remembers the bomb that killed President Kennedy in 1963, and she remembers Kennedy in 1964, declining to run again after the nuclear exchange that took out Miami and Kiev.

Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War—those were solid things. But after that, did she marry Mark or not? Did her friends all call her Trish, or Pat? Had she been a housewife who escaped a terrible marriage after her children were grown, or a successful travel writer with homes in Britain and Italy? And the moon outside her window: does it host a benign research station, or a command post bristling with nuclear missiles?

I love love this book. Thanks to a  meeting with Brandon Sanderson, I’ve discovered the joy of Science Fiction and Fantasy books! To be sure, YA includes both genres, so jumping to adult Sci Fi was not difficult.  If I can enter an alternate reality from a YA book, why not an adult?

And so I did.  I love how smart the heroine, Patricia is. She thinks about thinking.  I love that. This would be a great book for bookclubs or older teens, too.  Curious? Follow this link and read the first few chapters and see if you aren’t hooked too!

Wonder what the author looks like?

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Categories
Adult Fiction Books Reviews

A Lighter Shade of Gray by Devon Pearse a TLC Book Tour

First of all, don’t be confused with another title with the word Gray in it; THIS has nothing to do with THAT. That said, let’s explore A Lighter Shade of Gray.

What struck me most interesting about the novel was the use of color:  To be sure, we all remark that the sky is blue or that our mood is blue and we are generally understood.  The use of color in this novel was not the same, however.  Upon reading the novel I am reminded of  Dr. Oliver Sacks and his research regarding neurological conditions in humans.  One especially interesting condition is synesthesia  in which the brain does things that other people’s brains do not, and usually in a good and unique way, like seeing words as colors or musical notes as colors, etc.  Devon, the main character’s mother often describes her experiences in color.  Devon’s mother also suffers from a mental illness, and although we’re not told exactly what it is (dementia? schizophrenia?), we wonder if the disease causes the color experiences.

Here’s an example of what a synesthete might see:

If this were Devon’s (or Lilibet’s) only tale, it would still be a troubling one.  Mixed in with and a tad confusing is Devon’s relationships with her friends.  Devon’s friends are a ragtag group of mixed ethnicity, none of whom seem to be able to hold down a job, like our protagonist.  Lack of income, however, does not seem to stop any of the characters from experiencing a full life.  Somehow, through these friends, Devon gets mixed up with the police and gang violence.  Our heroine, however, never seems to be troubled by the crime that surrounds her friends’ community and freely moves from her  community to her friends’ African American community with ease.  On a bike. Devon’s only possessions seem to be her rapier wit, her bike, her memories, and a stuffed hyena. Named Smiley.

You can’t help but like a woman who has a stuffed hyena.  The question is: Why?  Why does she like stuffed hyena? How did she become so kooky as to want to acquire a hyena?  You can suppose she’s quirky and eccentric because of her upbringing: bookstore owning father and musician for a mother.  But yet those factors don’t add up to a quirky person, do they?  Not to me they don’t.  According to my math, Devon would be more like Martha Stewart or Jane Austen, more of a highbrow type and not a quirky loner eccentric.

But don’t get me wrong, Devon is a strong woman and I like her; most of the time.  The best line in the book comes from Devon, when she is verbally harassed by the misogynistic Marcus: he offers her some of his sexual prowess and she tells him to let her know when he “straps it on”.  You can’t help but snigger at a comment like that, especially because you don’t expect it from her!  It’s funny and the scene helps us to see her character.

There’s so much going on in this book: almost too much to follow, including a murder to solve.  I might have enjoyed it better if the author by the same name had stuck to the loved and lost tale that is so incredibly moving.

Still.  I enjoyed the book and give it two paws.

 

 

 

p.s. i forgot to add Devon’s snap. Aint she cute?  (sigh) i KNOW.