Recently, I read a book for a very informal book club (let’s face it, ladies, that’s what it was!) and I realized that I haven’t been sharing my reading. Life gets busy and I haven’t been keeping up with my blogging…my poetry through a year…my painting…all of that. I’m just going along.
This weekend, I’ve been grateful for time just to process some things. I turned 60 this past week and I’ve done much celebrating and reflecting on that one. I’m grateful to friends and family for their recognition of such a tremendous time as celebrating yet another decade. I’m so blessed.
My beautiful friend has also endured her second open heart surgery. This has been a great concern for those of us who love her, but healing is taking place and she is strong and I am grateful for science, for the beautiful hands of surgeons and for the dedicated care of nurses.
Hmmm…so, I remember a few titles. Let’s begin with “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins. I liked the device used by the writer in terms of allowing us inside of the heads of the key characters. Their voices are present through dated diary entries. Don’t bother about those. You can analyze all you want as the author moves from one female character to the next, but there is no clear relevance in connecting those dates in the end. Just let the three narratives flow. Finally, the threads pull together, in what I feel is a bit of a cliche for an ending. My favourite aspect of this novel is the experience of getting inside the girl’s head as she observes this particular section of London from the seat of a train on both her morning and evening commutes. I was tugged back to a chapter of Le Petit Prince and the fact that when grown ups ride a train, they stare straight ahead, while children have their noses stuck to the windows, making observations of what is outside of the train. The Girl on the Train is a book I’d recommend for mystery readers, I suppose. I note on Paula Hawkin’s site, that the genre is listed as a thriller…hmmm…I didn’t feel it.
I read a collaborative piece…a mother-daughter story titled Traveling With Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor. I like memoirs and so this one made perfect sense for me. While one considers penning their own book or story, this is the sort of piece that can inspire. I had really enjoyed The Secret Life of Bees and this story gives a bit of a backdrop for that writing. I enjoyed the idea of traveling, relationship and writing combining to create this particular discourse between a mother and her daughter. I treasure my own daughters and so, for me, the book became a channel for my own conversations with my adult children.
The Secret Life of Bees is one I’d recommend! Don’t see the movie first! The shared travel memoir doesn’t pick up on this same sensibility or style of writing.
A couple I may have written about…but here they are again. Floating in My Mother’s Palm by Ursula Hegi. I seem to love everything she writes. It is that dark little serious soul of mine. I just melt with her way of writing things. Inside the front cover, I’ve written, “The characters were intimately created; how beautiful and complicated. I was left with a deep sadness – I ended up missing my mother very much while reading this book. I, too, am floating in my mother’s palm.” Yes, I know, grief is still impacting me…and today while I drove Val over to visit our friend at the hospital during the one small chunk of ‘no visiting’ time, I shared with her this truth. After this amount of time, I am still grieving and it was like a huge relief to make this admission to someone.
“When my mother entered her tenth month of carrying me, I stopped moving inside her womb. She awoke that morning to a sense of absolute silence that startled her out of dreams filled with flute music and colorful birds, dreams she’d never had until she became pregnant with me, dreams she would have again when, two years later, she carried my brother.
…On the window is a smudge where, just yesterday, she rested her forehead against the glass while gazing at the white lilac bush that grows behind the house. Nearly fourteen years later I will tear lilacs from that bush, wrap the stems in tissue paper, and carry them to the cemetery where I will drop them into my mother’s open grave.”
The Bird Artist by Howard Norman is a breathtakingly beautiful read. If I can nail down a book to love, it is this one.
Described in reviews as ‘quirky’, I treasure both the character development, the narrative and the remote setting, Witless Bay in Newfoundland. From my front cover notes, “A poignant, sometimes dark, exploration of a Newfoundland family.
And finally, for tonight, I’ve one reflection left in the book titled, The Heart Does Break: Canadian Writers on Grief and Mourning. My friend Cathy shared this one with me. We’ve both experienced loss and we are supporting one another. This is a collection of experiences that are very candid and written with author’s hearts. It’s been a good book for me. All this aside, I adore George Bowering.
My list is never for everyone…nothing very light-hearted makes it there…nothing with a great deal of mystery. I would say that I relish my reading and pour over it. If you don’t pour over your book pages, then you want to skip my recommendations more than likely.