I've had a chance to read quite a bit over the last few days AND even wrote a new chapter in my own work-in-progress. I'm hoping to dive in to my writing again later as well.
In my last blog I left you with three books I was currently reading. All book premises come from the published "blurbs" provided by mass-market publishing and are not my own, just the ratings I claim:
Common Wealth by Ann Patchett
One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating's christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny's mother, Beverly - thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families. Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them. When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another. Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.
She's a local writer with a funky, fun bookstore in Nashville. But alas, it was not for me. First two chapters weren’t bad...and then it tanks. Just very dull. By the end of chapter four I just could NOT keep reading. I was bored and looking for things to do other than read-a definite red flag. I gave it over 100 pgs. and that was more than enough. Disappointed. I’d heard great things about her. ☕
A is for Alibi by the late Sue Grafton.
She's been on my reading list for long time and her passing kicked me into gear.
A IS FOR AVENGERA tough-talking former cop, private investigator Kinsey Millhone has set up a modest detective agency in a quiet corner of Santa Teresa, California. A twice-divorced loner with few personal possessions and fewer personal attachments, she's got a soft spot for underdogs and lost causes.
A IS FOR ACCUSED
That's why she draws desperate clients like Nikki Fife. Eight years ago, she was convicted of killing her philandering husband. Now she's out on parole and needs Kinsey's help to find the real killer. But after all this time, clearing Nikki's bad name won't be easy.
A IS FOR ALIBI
If there's one thing that makes Kinsey Millhone feel alive, it's playing on the edge. When her investigation turns up a second corpse, more suspects, and a new reason to kill, Kinsey discovers that the edge is closer--and sharper--than she imagined.
The Inn at Ocean's Edge by Coleen Coble
In 1989, Claire Dellamare disappeared from her own fourth birthday party at the Hotel Tourmaline on the island of Folly Shoals, Maine. She showed up a year later at the same hotel, with a note pinned to her dress but no explanation. Nobody knows where Claire spent that year—and until now, Claire didn’t even know she had ever been missing. But when Claire returns to the Hotel Tourmaline for a business meeting with her CEO father, disturbing memories begin to surface . . . despite her parents’ best efforts to keep them forgotten.
Luke Rocco lost his mother under equally mysterious circumstances—at the same time Claire disappeared. After a chance encounter reveals the unlikely link between them, Claire and Luke set out together to uncover the truth about what happened that fateful year.
With flashbacks swimming just beneath her consciousness and a murderer threatening her safety, Claire’s very life depends on unscrambling her past . . . even if her family refuses to acknowledge it. Someone—maybe everyone—is hiding something from Claire Dellamare, and it will cost her everything to drag the truth out into the light.
Eh...the premise was strong but the execution failed for me. There were a lot of repetitive phrases and the writing was trite, even cheeky. Not that I don't enjoy cheeky writing but if the phrase "drop dead gorgeous" was used once, it was used a 100 times. Don't tell me he's good looking - tell me how his eyes remind you of the richness embedded in chocolate frosting. ☕☕
And finally - and I DID NOT SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST!
The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead.
This. Premise. Lies.
DNFed this book 1/2 way through and that's a shame. The writing is excellent, and the characterization of Cyril Avery was flawless. BUT...it is just too foul. Vulgar - disrespectfully vulgar. And I'm not a prude - I swear, but c'mon. I found this book to be an absolute political tripe that was was offensive to Ireland, homosexuality, politics, and religion. It's as if Boyle took all of his personal agendas and crammed them into one story. I have so many questions:
Is it really so implausible that a gay man could find love and happiness? According to Boyle's narrative, it seems to be implausible, basically impossible, and that's just not a story line I'm willing to continue reading.
Is it really plausible that EVERY Catholic priest you meet is a pedophile? According to Boyle's narrative, it seems to be and that's just not a story line I'm willing to continue reading.
Is it really plausible that ALL rich parents ignore their children and treat them as if they don't care? According to Boyle's narrative, it seems to be and that's just not a story line I'm willing to continue reading.
I see what all the fuss is about for the writing itself - he weaves solid sentences and grand plot structure, but the boorish and almost malicious approach to so many different aspects of society is hard to ignore. Was there an agenda here? It sure seems so and that is certainly every author's right - but as a reader, I don't have to punish myself as a result. ☕
Note: Paris by Edward Rutherfurd is phenomenal, but very dense! I read about a chapter a week - I'm counting it as one of my classics. I've made a list of classics I'm going to read, and I'm treating them like TV shows. A chapter a week until I've finished the book. It's how I pushed myself through Charles Dickens and now, I love him! There's something to savor in a literary, well-written novel.
Happy Reading! 🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷