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WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?
I haven’t read anything by Jane Smiley in ages, but I do remember enjoying her novel A Thousand Acres many years ago. I was offered an ARC of her latest novel, Some Luck, which was just released on October 7, and the premise was really intriguing to me—it’s the first book in what will be a trilogy spanning 100 years in the life of an Iowa farm family. This first book takes place from 1920-1953, and each chapter covers one year. Every chapter also contains the points of view from several members of the family–the husband and wife, their children (from birth into adulthood), and a few members of their extended family. As the chapters—and the years—progress, we experience the ebb and flow of their everyday lives, including births, deaths, marriages, the Depression, WWII, and many other events. I highlighted a quote that I feel sums up the prevailing attitude of the members of this family perfectly: “On a farm, you knew that you could die from anything, or you could survive anything.”
I loved this book and thought it was a wonderful “slice of life” novel. I also really enjoyed the “one chapter for every year” technique because not everything that was happening to the characters was fully revealed–sometimes I had to “connect the dots” between chapters to figure out what had happened since a particular character was featured.
If you’re into stories that include big cliffhangers and huge, dramatic plot points, this may not be to your taste—but if you like a book that puts you right there beside the characters, I highly recommend it. I don’t know how long it’s going to take Jane Smiley to complete the remaining two volumes of this trilogy, but I’ll be anxiously waiting on both of them!
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
Florence Gordon by Brian Morton is a novel that seems to have slipped under the radar a bit. I’m not really hearing too much about it, and I can’t understand why—I’m about half-way through this book and am fully invested in the characters—and I’m especially intrigued by the main character who provides this book with its title.
Florence Gordon is 75 years old and living in present-day NYC. She’s an author and a feminist icon, she’s brutally blunt with family, friends, and strangers alike, and she’s contemplating writing her memoirs. The book begins when her adult son, his wife, andhis college-age daughter return to New York after several years away—and Florence finds that as much as she wants to live in solitude with her work, she becomes involved in the activities and issues surrounding her family.
Florence is such an interesting character to me! During the first ten pages of the book she abruptly walks out of a surprise party thrown in her honor, saying she’d much rather be home at her desk. I ask you—don’t you just need to know what kind of person can pull off that kind of behavior? And what a talented author Brian Morton is to be able to completely capture the personality of his main character is such a few number of pages! If you’re looking for a novel featuring a strong, unique, not always likeable but always interesting character, do yourself a favor and find a copy of this new novel.
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?
As usual, I have absolutely no idea, but I know I’ll find something!
How about you? Have you read either of these? What are you reading this week? Please share!