Monday, October 15, 2012

Life is Good


That's the sound of a contented sigh. What brought it about? The last few books that I have read, all of which have been good. My faith in humanity is reaffirmed. 

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? and Broken Harbor are both hugely popular books, which usually means I approach them with fear and trepidation because however much I try, I always go in with heightened expectations. At the back of my mind is always that niggling naysayer. 

But both of these more than lived up to the expectations. Isn't that always such a relief?

First, Bernadette.

What is the book about? It's about the redemption of a self-absorbed woman. No, not exactly. It's a quest of a fifteen-year old to find her mom. Not totally. It's about mistakes. It's a family story. It is a mystery. It is a story told in multiple points of view via email and letters and regular prose interwoven together. It's about Microsoft and robotics and penguins and Antarctica and architecture and Seattle and artists becoming the menace of society. 

(I really would love to know the elevator pitch of this one. Or even the synopsis.)

The novel contains all of the above yet (cliche alert!) the result is not only so much more than the sum of its parts, it is a totally different species.

It is a story well told that is in part hilarious, without overt cleverness, and in part sad. The traits of the characters are scarily recognizable and unlike my prose here, not cliched-ridden. If I were told earlier on that the story would be told partially through email and letters from different povs, I'd conclude that it was a lazy choice, a gimmick. But it's not. Or maybe it is, but I didn't care. I was drawn into the story and its characters, without really identifying with Bernadette nor her daughter, Bee (just who is the main protagonist, anyway?) and was willingly being taken along for the ride. 

A great ride. A wonderful read. 

(Next up, my thoughts on Broken Harbor.)  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

So that's what she looks like?

You know how when you read about a character and start forming ideas about what she looks like and how she sounds? I do anyway. And as I continue, the image is either confirmed or modified by new information. Most of the time, I feel all smug like a good student when I get it right.

But every once in a while, the surprise that the character is nothing like what I've formed in my mind is priceless.

Audrey Griffin, a parent at a private school who is going to host a brunch in her home for prospective parents. I thought: nice hair, good skin, tasteful clothing, posh accent.

Then I see her--running, puffing, her grey hair coming loose from her ponytail, wearing a down vest and pleated pants--and I just feel pure delight!

(Name the book and tell me if you aren't enjoying it.)
(hint: I just mentioned it recently on my face book author page.)