Sunday, May 31, 2009

Heart and Soul

by Maeve Binchy

Sometimes I just need to read a sweet, "nice" book. One that doesn't require a lot of soul-searching, deep thinking or emotional commitment. That's how I feel about all of Binchy's books. They are lovely reads, warmly written and make me smile. That doesn't mean that they are fluff by any account, because her books have good character development and can expertly weave an insightful story.

I really like how characters from previous books get intertwined into each new novel. They aren't continuations, but each time an old character is interestingly brought into the new tale. The success of this is that each book takes place in the same area in Ireland. And as you read, you almost develop an Irish accent because of the tone in which they are written. I've both read and listened to Binchy's books and most of the time I can't decide which way I prefer.

Heart and Soul
is about Clara Casey and the heart clinic she has been tasked to run. The story weaves through her life as well as her patient's, family and friend's and the struggle between the new and the old ways of Ireland. To describe it in one word would be enchanting.

A few years ago I had heard that Maeve Binchy was to retire as the author of these great novels. I'm not sure why she hasn't, or if that information was false, but I'm glad she continues to write.

* * * * *

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Shack

by William P Young

I know this book has gotten TONS of publicity and acclaim. And I know that when that happens I feel pressure to not only read it, but enjoy it too. I wish I could say I liked it, even a little bit. But unfortunately, I never got involved from the second I picked it up until I forced myself to finish it. I read a lot, so I shouldn't feel loyalty to a book just because of its exposure. But my dear friend gave it to me for my birthday and I hate to have to tell her what I thought of it. When a friend recommends a books to me, I am disappointed with myself when I don't like it the way she did.

In reading some reviews, I see that people call The Shack a "well-written page turner." For me that couldn't be further from the truth. At points I was actually laughing at how poorly written pieces were. And while I love my religion and wish I were better at it, this book was screamingly sacrilegious for me. I know that others were comforted by its message, but I have a really hard time reading a fiction novel about a man who gets invited to a shack by God. And that this God turns out to be a woman. I also felt that the description of Missy getting kidnapped was excruciating. Again, this is fiction, and I do not need to read such graphic detail of a child being abducted and finding her remains. Save that for real life; there's plenty of that on the news.

I don't feel that I really need to give a synopsis of the book here. Most people already know what it's about. And if it touched you, I am glad. I'm sorry that it didn't have an affect on me they way it did on my wonderful friend. Maybe a discussion with her will help me appreciate it a little more. As you can see, I really struggle when I dislike something so much.

* * * *