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Monday, April 27, 2015
2:49 pm edt
The stack of books from this past Christmas’s “Santa Surprise” box
lay fallow on a living room credenza for the past few months. Seems I’ve been a bit too busy with other literary pursuits…With
twinges of remorse and guilt, I have mostly ignored these twelve buddies of mine beckoning to me, sorely neglecting to even
opening their covers to peek at what literary wonders are inside.
Finally, this weekend, with a slight cold once
again lingering – I must have caught it out on the courts during last week’s sudden onset of colder, almost winter-like
weather – I decided to take a long, well-deserved break from my normal bookish and household chores and, as it were,
attack the stack. And the first to appeal to my sniffling, stodgy, I-want-to-escape-from-it-all mood…was…is
Some Luck by Jane Smiley. I’ve been totally immersed in it for the past three days and while I have yet to finish it, I
just had to take a moment to tell you about it.
The first of her American trilogy published last fall is probably
the most exquisite novel I have read in quite a long time. Exquisitely written, exquisitely crafted plot line(s), and exquisitely
drawn characters so true to life that most, if not all of us have met most, if not all of them in real life at one time or
another. Walter Langdon reminds me of my father; Rosanna, a straight-laced second cousin whom I love dearly; Eloise Vogel,
a dear friend of mine; John, a fellow I used to date in the mid-west…the list goes on. Set in Iowa between the end
of World War I and a short time after the end of World War II, Some Luck compassionately spins the stories of the
Langdon family…epically depicting their daily lives, their hopes, their dreams, their disappointments, their loves,
losses, and brave, courageous accomplishments…exquisitely touching upon all aspects of life and definitely exploring
all the nuances of familial and familiar relationships.
This is, despite her many numerous other prize- and
award-winning books – thirteen fiction, six non-fiction, and five novels for young adults – Smiley – exquisitely
– once again at her very best.
So what did I do when I was so immersed and captivated in the middle of
a chapter and about to fall asleep in the wee hours of the morning? I crawled out of bed and raided my upstairs library where
I found a whole shelf of Smiley books…their well-warn spines, um, smiling at me…all waiting to be read and/or
re-read. I culled out Horse Heaven, A Thousand Acres, The Age of Grief, Moo, and my all time great Smiley novel,
The All-true Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton, which I received as a late birthday gift a few years ago and
absorbed with such rapt attention in two days, that Lidie now lives deep within my very soul.
I toted this choice
pile down to the living room and lovingly arrayed them next to my Christmas reads, knowing and promising myself as I finally
fell asleep that once I finish Some Luck (probably right after I post this) and await the delivery of the second
in Smiley’s American trilogy, Early Warning (to be released tomorrow), I will be indulging in yet
another one of my favorite authors’ literary offerings.
Reading all the while, of course, with a smile
upon my face.
Friday, April 17, 2015
5:16 pm edt
One Dark and Stormy Night…
…about a month ago, I began reading a Gothic romance. This is not a literary genre that I am,
er, was particularly fond of. I’d read a few in my time, yes…but dark and eerie is not quite my speed. Except
for…maybe…Dark Shadows – the original television series watched many years ago with a few college
buddies in the dim recesses of a college lounge between classes – but I’ll reserve that for yet another future
Anyway…the Gothic romance that completely caught my fancy that rainy, windy February night
is Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan, a British author whose novel tackles not only the essence of the genre, but intertwines a number of women’s
issues of the time in which it was written and that of today.
One is the treatment of post-partum depression
at the turn of the last century, another the stigma of having a child out of wedlock in the 1930s.Today, depression is easily
treated – at least most of the time. Having a baby with benefit of spouse is so commonplace these days, it has almost
become an accepted norm. But back then? Back in the day…both were causes of alarm, consternation, misunderstandings,
and, often, misguided, cruel treatment. Riordan cleverly treats these themes in her third novel with great compassion –
whipping up an intriguing story that compelled me to forget the raging storm outside.
I have more thoughts about
this novel, which I wrote in my review for www.authorexposure.com. You just might want to take the time to access it. While there, please noodle around the revitalized site and check out
all the new and exciting features that may spark your literary interests.
Who knows? You just might find a new
genre to add to your reading repertoire.
J. McInerney, the host of this Literary Blog, is
an author, poet, and librettist. Her currently published works include a novel, a book of spiritual inspirations,
volumes of poetry, stories
for children (of all ages) and
a variety of children's musicals. Her titles include:
Phoenix Hose, Hook & Ladder: A Novel of Phoenixville during World War I
Hotel: A Novel of Phoenixville during the Early 1900s
the Schuylkill Monster: A Novel of
Phoenixville in 1978
The Prisoner's Portrait: A Novel of Phoenxville during World
Rainbow in the Sky
of Oreigh Ogglefont
The Basset Chronicles.
Cats of Nine Tales
Water: A Collection of Poems
Exodus Ending: A
Collection of More Spiritual Poems
We Three Kings
Beauty and the Beast
Peter, Wolf, and Red Riding
Originally from the New York metropolitan area, June currently lives near Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania with her constant and loving companions, FrankieBernard and Sebastian Cat. She
is currently working on her sixth novel.