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Friday, January 22, 2010

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Friday Finds

What great books did you hear about/discover this past week (and add to your TBR lists)? Share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

My Finds:

Godmother; by Carolyn Turgeon
This retelling of Cinderella follows the oft ignored character of the fairy godmother, who may or may not be a mentally ill New Yorker. Lil, as this godmother is known, is now living in New York City, broke and employed at a bookstore, years after being exiled from the kingdom of fairies for betraying her charge. Condemned to live as an old woman, her wings bound to her back as penance, Lil is overcome by longing for what she has lost, slipping in her recollections of her idyllic past into the harsh present. When she meets Veronica, a young woman perpetually dogged with man problems, Lil sees an opportunity to redeem herself. But as the narrative progresses, cracks in Lil's story (and psyche) emerge. Needless to say, readers expecting magical carriages and glass slippers will be surprised by the novel's morose tone, and though the surprise conclusion doesn't quite work, Turgeon's takes on nostalgia and regret are surprisingly clear-eyed given her narrator's unbalance. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


The Story of Forgetting; by Stefan Merrill Block
This riveting novel features well-drawn characters engaged in the epic struggle of finding purpose and meaning in life. Early-onset/familial Alzheimer's disease (EOA) is the launching point for an exploration of memory and the human condition. Fifteen-year-old Seth and 70-year-old Abel alternate as sympathetic narrators of their family's stories. Although they don't meet until the end of the book, the connection between them becomes apparent early on. When Seth's mother is diagnosed with EOA, he assigns himself the task of learning all he can about the disease. Meanwhile, Abel reflects on his past, including his family's struggles with EOA, as he resists encroaching suburban sprawl and waits for the return of his long-gone daughter. The author effectively interweaves several writing styles: historical fiction (the imagined origins of the disease in a medieval English village and its subsequent spread to America); scientific inquiry (explanations of genetics and psychological studies of the brain); fantasy (tales of the mysterious land of Isidora, an alternate world known only to EOA families); Abel's reflective reminiscences; and Seth's coming-of-age in contemporary Texas. The narrators tell painful, funny, heartbreaking stories in authentic voices. An author's note indicates that the novel is semiautobiographical and provides resources for further information about the disease. In addition to being an excellent read, this book would be a wonderful supplement to a psychology class studying memory, or a biology class learning about genetics.—Sondra VanderPloeg, Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


The Book of Fires; by Jane Borodale
Borodale&'s enjoyable debut is the story of Agnes Trussel, who, in 1752, leaves the poverty-stricken countryside for London, intent on hiding her unwanted pregnancy and making a better life. On her journey, she meets Lettice Talbot, a beautiful young woman who promises to help her, but when Agnes loses track of her benefactress, she ends up as the apprentice to Mr. Blacklock, a moody pyrotechnist who is mourning his dead wife as he attempts to bring color to fireworks. Despite her difficulties with Blacklock&'s other domestic staff, Agnes grows to feel at home in London and enjoys her work, but she is constantly threatened by the imminent exposure of her pregnancy and haunted by the guilt of her theft of the stash of coins that funded her trip. This menacing mood is Borodale&'s greatest achievement: from the omnipresent hangings to the economic knife-edge upon which the working class lives, she builds a dark but human world that makes Agnes&'s plight deeply sympathetic. When the story is neatly tied up with an unexpected resolution to Agnes&'s problems, it&'s surprising but not unbelievable, capping off a delightfully diverting book. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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1 comments:

  1. Godmother is an interesting one. Look forward to seeing what you think.

    ReplyDelete

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