Monday, June 17, 2013

May We Be Forgiven

by A.M. Homes
May 1-28, 2013

I've been stewing over this one for a few weeks now, wondering what the hell to say about it. I started out at an insanely fast reading pace, then considerably slowed down on the crazy. This one stalled my quick-reading streak a bit, but mainly because it was much longer than the last few books I read, and also because of the aforementioned crazy.

One of the reviews on the inside flap said something like, "starts out at 100 mph, then it really gets going." And that couldn't be more true. On Thanksgiving, Harry's sister-in-law kisses him while they are cleaning up after dinner. His brother, George, a tv executive, is fairly absent in his family's life and on the verge of a breakdown. One day, he cracks, and rams his car into another filled with a family, all of whom he kills, except for an 8-year old boy. While sitting in jail, George's wife and Harry's affair kicks into full gear. Asleep one night in George's bed with George's wife in George's pajamas, Harry is awakened by an intruder. It's George, who proceeds to bash the bedside lamp over his wife's head until she is unconscious and near death. A few days later, confirmed that she will be a vegetable, they pull the plug and she is gone. This all happens by page 37!!!

From there the insanity ensued, but again, I'm just not sure how I feel. Harry's wife divorces him, he is tasked with raising George's children, has ridiculous affairs, and the list goes on. I am the first to admit that I love a book to take me away from reality, but this was so far off the cliff I'm not sure I could hang on any further. Before page 37, I was recommending this book to everyone I knew. By the end, I was telling my fellow readers to proceed with caution. I welcome any other opinions. I'm also going to check out the consensus on Goodreads. Ed and Joanna, I'm glad we sort of agree on this one. It's not that I hated it; the plot is smart, funny and outrageous. But at some point I wanted to be reeled back to a normal, believable life. Apparently, Homes is known for her f-ed up style, but I'm not sure I want any more of it?

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Week in Winter

by Maeve Binchy
April-May 2013

Waaaay back in the mid-90s, just as I was starting my "adult life" after college and working full time, I discovered Maeve. My friend Beth and I carpooled aaaall the way to the east side; we both still lived at home with parents who were shocked we would even accept a job so far from Lakewood and North Olmsted, respectively. But hey, we were young and had recently discovered books on tape. We would meet in the morning, exchange a brief greeting, and pop in a book (Yes, they were cassettes!). Circle of Friends was one of the first audiobooks we listened to, and from there, we were hooked. Since then, I've listened to or read all 18 of her novels, plus a few collections of short stories. I adore Maeve. Beth even named her daughter after our beloved Irish author!

About 10 years ago, I was surprised to hear the Maeve had retired from writing. What would I do without her recurring characters and unique charm? I was frantic. But since then, she released 3 or 4 more books. I must not have been the only one who wouldn't accept her retirement! And in July 2012, just by accident, I read that my endearing storyteller had died. I was surprised that this news received little to no press in the US. But lucky for us loyal readers, Maeve still had one more tale up her sleeve.

Released posthumously in February 2013, A Week in Winter is Maeve Binchy's swan song. And while I wasn't the biggest fan of Minding Frankie, Winter was exactly the voice of the Maeve I knew and loved all these years.

Chicky Starr has grand plans to open a bed and breakfast on the coast of Ireland, and her friends and family think she is crazy. As the plans come together and the guests start to arrive, the reader is treated to a wide variety of characters, all with great stories; as well as a few favorites from previous novels. 

Maeve's final words didn't fail to delight. I will certainly miss her storytelling.

Maeve Binchy

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