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Archive for the ‘william morrow’ Tag

Art Inspires Art   2 comments

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Author Christina Baker Kline brings “Christina’s World,” the painting by Andrew Wyeth, to life in her novel, A Piece of the World.

Kline blends reality with imagination as she recounts Christina Olson’s life, the woman who provided friendship, hospitality and inspiration to the young artist. It begins in 1939 when Christina first meets Wyeth. The story is also told in flashbacks to the late 1800s when as a young child she’s stricken with a neurological disorder that affects her legs and hands. The story chronologically alternates between each time period: the former illustrates the relationship between Christina and Wyeth; the latter tells of her life and family history. Christina and her brother, Al, live in the house in which they were born. It’s been in the family since the mid-1700s.

Christina’s existence is full of hardships and disappointments. Kline’s portrait of her subject doesn’t gloss over the hardscrabble difficulties of living on a remote farm near a small coastal town in Maine. The descriptions are vivid and at times painful as Christina’s dreams are repeatedly cast aside. Yet, she is not a character who evokes pity. She is strong-willed and often frustratingly stubborn.

Wyeth’s character is more of a supporting character. For 20 years he comes and goes in the summer months using the Olson house as his studio while bringing Christina out of her past and her reclusive ways.

In addition to the rich images of the landscape and people, Kline’s fusion of fact and fiction is creative and engaging.

A Piece of The World
Four Bookmarks
William Morrow Publishers, 2017
310 pages

 

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Seeking Refuge   Leave a comment

I hate to admit it, but I’m not as shocked as I once was by the barrage of images in the media revealing the plight of refugees from war-torn countries. The accounts of horror, squalor and multitudes are now commonplace. Thankfully, Nadia Hashimi’s fictional When the Moon is Low has shaken me from complacency in a way the reality no longer does.

This beautifully written novel follows Fereiba from her birth in Kabul to motherhood as she flees from Afghanistan with three children in tow.

Much of the narrative is first person voice as Fereiba recounts her life which begins when her mother dies giving birth. Her father remarries, but Fereiba is a motherless daughter in a country with little regard for women. She’s initially denied the opportunity to attend school, but eventually pursues an education and ultimately becomes a teacher. An arranged marriage provides her with the love, support and friendship she never experiences growing up.

With the rise of the Taliban, Fereiba fears for her family’s lives. What follows is an arduous journey, the kindness of strangers and the heartbreaking separation that occurs when she is forced to choose between waiting for her missing adolescent son, Saleem, and seeking care for sickly infant Aziz.

Midway through, Fereiba’s voice gives way to Saleem’s perspective as he tries to find his family. The goal is England where Fereiba’s sister lives. Saleem’s experiences are harrowing, but his determination is heroic in his efforts to reunite with his mother, sister and brother.

When the Moon is Low
Four-and-a-half Bookmarks
William Morrow, 2015
382 pages

Imagination Meets Memory   Leave a comment

Ocean End of Lane

Part Harry Potter, part Alice’s Adventures  in Wonderland, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman compels the reader’s imagination to relinquish, among other things, fear of the unknown. It’s worth the little effort needed to suspend belief, but Gaiman makes it very easy through his sensitive story telling that mixes memories, nightmares, and hope into one gripping tale.

The story begins as the narrator returns to his hometown for a funeral. He recalls how 40+ years earlier as a shy, reclusive seven-year-old he is befriended by Lettie Hempstock, who lives with her mother and grandmother. The boy has no friends, but Lettie, who is four years his senior, draws him out of himself. It’s Lettie who believes the pond on her family farm is an ocean.

At the same time, a nanny, Ursula Monkton, arrives in the boy’s home. It will come as no surprise that Ursula isn’t what she appears to be. In fact, she appears as many things. Lettie becomes a protector who in the process of caring for her young charge takes on numerous risks – dangers the young boy would never face on his own, but who willingly approaches them with Lettie.

Gaiman blends magic, mystery and the passage of time into a single cauldron where dreams, recollections and reality are hard to distinguish. The now-grown man finds himself at the Hempstock farm with whom he initially believes is Lettie’s mother since it’s unlikely, in his mind, that Grannie Hempstock is still alive. Yet.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Four Bookmarks
William Morrow, 2013
181 pages

A Half Full Plate/Book   Leave a comment

I’ve probably read half of Diane Mott Davidson’s opus of culinary mystery-lites. It’s been some time since I read the last one; I should have stopped when I was more amused by the style and content, and more tantalized by the recipes interwoven with the plot. The Whole Enchilada, the most recent adventure of Goldy Schultz the Colorado caterer, left me hungry for something of more substance.

Once again, Goldy finds herself in the midst of a murder investigation in the small, mountain community where she lives just west of Denver. The number of murders, through the years, in the small, fictional town of Aspen Meadow is impressive – but not in a good way. If I lived there, I’d consider moving. Thank goodness Goldy is there to assist the local sheriff’s department solve the crime(s).

What I’ve found entertaining in the past is Mott Davidson’s humor and the suspense she has been able to create. The who-dunit was always fun to try to name before it was ever revealed in the book, but this time the element of intrigue is absent. Perhaps this is because there are two murders, one attempted murder and several attacks on Goldy herself. It’s too much strain on the suspension of disbelief.

The recipes featured are not ones I am interested in trying myself – again, this is unlike my experience with Mott Davidson’s earlier works. If the food had been more enticing, I might have had a better appetite for what she served here.

The Whole Enchilada

Three Bookmarks
William Morrow, 2013
369 pages, including recipes