Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hey! What's with the weather? I wore socks to bed, we slept in flannel sheets and a comforter, and Dennis, my husband (whose birthday is today: HBD, D!), said he saw a woman on the corner downtown where he works wearing a blue pea coat, a hat, and gloves! It's July 7, dudes!

I started reading A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick, last night. Set in the early 1900's, it starts off with a blizzard, a lie, and an accident in the snow and ice. It felt appropriate to be reading it on this very cold July night.

Speaking of A Reliable Wife: it is really good, so far! It's about a lonely, wealthy man living in rural Wisconsin who sends away for a mail order bride and, when she arrives in snow and steam, he sees that she is not who she said she is. Both of them are looking for companionship and warmth but I think she has some serious issues; a hidden agenda! She sent him a picture of a plain woman (and she is definitely not plain), she lies about how she knows what she knows, and she has obviously chosen Mr. Truitt for a specific reason. Can't wait to get back to it- a relationship that begins in a lie is bound to have good story behind it! I'll let you know what I think when I get done.

Later: I forgot that the All for Kids book group is meeting Thursday night and we are reading Austenland, by Shannon Hale (Bloomsbury). Shannon usually writes books for teens based on ancient folk tales but Austenland is about a woman seeking Mr. Darcy. She gets a chance to spend 3 weeks at Austenland, a theme park in England where everyone is plunged headfirst into the Regency era. Must read this before finishing A Reliable Wife.

Much later: Beautiful night in the yard at book group and quite a lively discussion about Austenland (we really do talk about the book). Some snacks, some catching up, and we actually decided about the next TWO YEARS' worth of books.

Our little group has been meeting, what, 10, 12 years or so, and we started as a grown-up group reading kid's books. We expand outward every once in awhile but always come back to books originally written for children.

Our group was formed when Jo, a lovely woman who died of ovarian cancer a few years ago, suggested we get together to talk about all those books we should have, but didn't, read when we were kids. She brought in a few of her friends, some of the All for Kids' staff joined up, a few other childrens book aficionados came along, and we were off! We still meet once a month, now at each others homes rather than at the store.

Austenland was a fun, frothy read, good for 20-30 year old women. I found it quite funny.

Even more later:

I finished A Reliable Wife and it was GOOD. Many turns and surprises. It is brutal, sad, complex, and there were times when I was utterly stunned by the turn the story took. Complicated characters, devious plots, A Reliable Wife was an amazing look at how people make decisions, how they choose to see things, and then how to live with the results.

I have his first book, a memoir called The End of the World as We Know It, on my desk at work right now. It's gritty, harsh, the story of a man raised in the South of the 50's. We are looking back at his life in a dysfunctional family from his adulthood, where alcohol, mental, and physical abuse combine to take his childhood. I am only a little way in but it is absolutely riveting. (Both books are by Algonquin Books, Wife: $24.95; World: $13.95. Definitely adults only.)

Well, I am now going to cleanse my palate with a few kid's books. I have a hefty stack of books on the bedside table and a few more scattered around the house, butI think I will take a new book called Fairy Tale, by Cyn Balog, to sample when I go up to bed. Sweet dreams, all.

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