Dear Readers,

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Review Catch Up: Three books, real quick

I'm so behind on my book reviews, readers, that I though I'd make it less daunting for myself and catch up on all of em at once.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. The classic novel of mothers and daughters across the years and cultural divides. This wasn't the most traditional read, as I picked up the hardback over 3 or 4 sittings at my parents' house. Still, how to not enjoy this book? Splendid imagery of modern day California and China a half-century ago, intense mother-daughter relationships, secrets and rivalries and inter-generational conflict, and an author who can easily assume eight different voices and not lose us. I can see why this book changed modern literature and emboldened women writers and introduced themes to a contemporary audience that other writers chronicling the immigrant experience have returned to again and again.

Morality for Beautiful girls by Alexander McCall Smith. More No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency hi-jinx. In this installment, Mm. Makutsi investigates a crooked beauty contest, while Mma. Ramatsowe goes undercover in a politicians' family to find out who's been poisoning whom. Meanwhile J. B Maketoni, her fiance, is suffering from a strange disease called "depression" and the ladies have to take the fate of Speedy Motors in hand. Funny, wise, caring, typically gentle, no more and no less than I'd expect from Smith at this point.

The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I got turned onto this by a combination of the lovely Catherine and Barnes and Noble's noteworthy paperback table. It's a "grown-up" book by noted children's author Burnett who wrote faves like The Secret Garden and family fave A Little Princess. It's kind of a grown-up fairy tale about a good-natured, not particularly bright woman who is a very poor genteel sort, living in boarding rooms and getting paid by rich ladies to do social errands. A fairy-tale romance results in her being 'made" a marchioness, but then in the second half scheming jealous relatives threaten her newfound happiness. It was silly at times, and not all that profound, but written with a very light touch and a great sense of humor and character. The milieu was like Edith Wharton, but less cutting. A good palate-cleansing read and a very interesting novel for the light it sheds on Burnett's life and letters.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed "Marchioness"! I can heave a sigh of relief. It has it flaws but it's a fun little book and "The Shuttle" by her is also worth the read if you need a mind-relaxer.

    I'm continuing on with "Scenes of a Clerical Life". Continues to be splendid. All Eliots characters are busybodies and she loves them all. Cutting of foibles yet gently loving them. She must have been quite the woman.