The Postmistress, by Sarah Blake
Sarah Blake, who interestingly holds a PhD in Victorian literature, has written a charming and winning story that takes place immediately prior to the entry of the United States into World War II. Her diverse characters are each affected by the war going on in Europe even though American troops are not yet engaged in the fighting. Iris James is the postmistress of the small town of Franklin, MA on the tip of Cape Cod. She knows all that goes on in Franklin and follows the lives of some interesting characters. Among them is the mysterious, seemingly German immigrant whom many view with suspicion. Then there is the self-appointed watch dog who patrols the Atlantic shore along Cape Cod for enemy submarines. Another leading character in Frankie Bard, a reporter who works with Edward R. Murrow in covering the war in Europe and broadcasts to her American audience. Blake skillfully brings the lives of these diverse characters together as she writes about the European theater of war as seen through Bard's eyes as well as how Americans on Cape Cod deal with the growing menace of war. The Postmistress is an engaging and enjoyable book.
March 2011 Archives
The Postmistress, by Sarah Blake
The Book of Murray, by David M. Bader
Forget everything you know about the Bible! The tongue-in-cheek tome The Book of Murray is a rather irreverent look at the Old Testament by self-proclaimed prophet Murray. He claims to have unearthed the Bible's missing book (much like the Dead Sea scrolls) in a sand trap at a golf course in Boca Raton. As the subtitle suggests, it contains "the life, teachings and kvetching of the lost prophet". Murray sets off with his disciple Lenny to spread the word. His life mirrors that of other prophets as he puts together psalms: "Thy fasting will not impress Him, neither will thy feasting, nor thy fasting then feasting then fasting, nor any other eating disorder". He is the recipient of The Ten (or so) Commandments: "Of the sandwiches, ye may eat of the cold cuts on rye with mustard or Russian dressing. But of the Potato-Chips-with-Miracle-Whip-on-Wonder Bread sandwich, ye shall not eat. For it is an abomination. And ye shall not eat it." I picked this book up to read it on the weekend, and finished it by Monday. I found it very entertaining and comical. No matter what your religious persuasion, you'll enjoy this book. I can hardly wait for the next one.
Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers
With the huge earthquake disaster in Japan, the world is certainly watching the dramatic human tragedies unfold there. Many may be reminded of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 while following events in Japan. An excellent book on Katrina is Dave Eggers's Zeitoun, which was published in 2009. Eggers presents the fascinating, and at times heartbreaking, ordeal of Abdulrahman Zeitoun (always referred to as Zeitoun) as he is caught in the fury of Katrina and its aftermath. His saga gains increasing interest since his is an Arab-American born in Syria. His wife is American born and they were living a peaceful, hard-working and successful life in New Orleans before the storm hit. Not only must Zeitoun deal with the floods and related traumas after Katrina, but he gets caught in the frantic efforts by law enforcement officials to contain crimes, real or imagined. Eggers writes in a solid reporting style and Zeitoun becomes a truly engrossing saga of Zeitoun's life during the extremely difficult time for his family and himself. It is highly recommended.
Venice: Pure City, by Peter Ackroyd
Few cities in the world can rival the unquestioned uniqueness, imagery, and complex artistic, religious or political history than the Italian jewel of Venice. Peter Ackyrod succeeds brilliantly in making the multi-faceted glories, intrigues and oddities of Venice come alive in Venice: Pure City. Venice began with initial settlements on islands in a wide lagoon off of the northeastern coast of Italy. There were approximately 117 separate islands, many of which were physically joined together through great planning and labor. The growth of Venice into a world maritime power as well as a celebrated center of the arts is totally fascinating.
For those who have seen the sublime joys of Venice first-hand, this book will ignite wonderful memories of its glories. Even if one has never visited the city, Venice: Pure City, is an immensely enjoyable book about this wondrous city that has captured imaginations for centuries. Whether Ackroyd writes about the once great mercantile strength of Venice, the blend of Eastern and Western art and architecture found in Venice, Venetian culture and its food, the celebrated writers who have called Venice home or other aspects of Venice, he never fails to maintain the reader's interest. This book is highly recommended.
Incidentally, for those who want to continue reading books that are filled with the a truly modern Venetian atmosphere, the mystery series written by Donna Leon is perfect. Her character Commissario Guido Brunetti travels around Venice while solving murders and other crimes. Leon's writing brings the Venetian setting, particularly aspects of Venetian cuisine, alive and thus readers enjoy well-constructed mysteries as well as more insight into this fascinating locale. The Greenwich Library has Leon's collection of books.
Flight of the Phoenix, by R.L. LaFevers
In 1928, ten-year-old Nate learns that his explorer/scientist parents have been lost at sea. He is sent to live with cousin Phil Fludd and learns he comes from a long line of "beastologists". Nate and Cousin Phil set off on his first adventure upon his arrival--to Arabia--where they will oversee the death and rebirth of a phoenix. Along the way they meet quite a few other creatures Nate never knew existed and look into the mystery of his missing parents. First in the beastologist series.
Savvy, by Ingrid Law
Mibs Beaumont is just about to turn 13. For her family, that is the age when your "savvy" (your unique magical power) is revealed. Her mom can do anything perfectly. Brother Rocket seems to control electricity. Mibs' other brother Fish has a savvy related to water. It's because Fish started a hurricane that her family now lives in a place in the midwest they call Kanaska. Just before her birthday, Mibs' dad is in an accident and Mibs hopes her savvy will be powerful enough to help her father.