Hemingway at his Best/Worst

Full disclosure: I’m not that big of a fan of Ernest Hemingway’s writing, but I find him a fascinating person. Everyone Behaves Badly is an intriguing and well written book about Hemingway in Paris in the 1920’s, and the lead-up to the writing and publication of The Sun Also Rises, his first novel. It’s a look into how ambitious Hemingway was in his desire to become a successful published author and how his style – spare, lean, direct, and the opposite of what was being published at the time – took the literary world by storm. I’ve read other books about Hemingway, including The Paris Wife, which I also enjoyed, so I had an idea of what the Paris years … Read more

Rebecca: Still Mesmerizing

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” So begins Daphne duMaurier’s classic novel of romantic suspense, Rebecca. I’ve read the book three times now – once as a teenager, once about twenty years ago, and again just recently. My daughter, who is nineteen, was sick and asked me to come into her room while she tried to go to sleep. I asked if she wanted me to read to her and she said yes. It’s a thrill to be able to read to a grown girl. She doesn’t ask for that often. I found Rebecca on her bookshelf. I knew she hadn’t read it, so I opened the book and began. She fell asleep within five pages, but I took the book back into my bedroom and continued reading by flashlight, so I wouldn’t wake my husband.

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Revisiting Brideshead Revisited

Back in 1981, I watched the British TV series that was created from this novel and broadcast on PBS. It was the vehicle that made Jeremy Irons a household name. I since found out that it took two years to make that 11-episode series, and if you watch it you’ll understand why. It’s so beautifully done. Every bit of it. Anyway, that’s how I fell in love with Brideshead Revisited the first time. After watching the series, I thought I’d better read the novel, and I did. I thought it was wonderful.

Fast forward a few decades. I’d thought about the story many times over the years, as it’s one that’s not easily forgotten. A month ago, I bought the DVDs on the Internet and binge-watched them over a weekend. After that – you know where this story is going – I bought

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The Surfing Life

I saw this Land Rover with the surfboards on the roof at the grocery story and I loved the way it looked. There’s something so alluring about the idea of traveling around the world, looking for great waves (or traveling anywhere looking for great waves). I would never do it. I’m not even a very good swimmer. And all I really know about surfing is that it involves boards and the ocean. But the whole concept is intriguing. In fact, I recently read the memoir Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan and I loved it. It took me into the middle of a world I knew nothing about and let me live and breathe it for a few days. … Read more

Masterful Memoir: Once We Were Sisters

I loved this memoir about the relationship between the author, Sheila Kohler, and her older sister, Maxine. It’s so beautifully written, with such soul and intensity, it was impossible for me to put it down even though I knew tragedy was lodged in its heart.

The tragedy comes from what took place thirty-eight years ago, when Maxine was thirty-nine, and her husband, Carl, drove them off of a deserted road in Johannesburg, injuring himself and killing Maxine. Kohler, who knew of the abuse her sister had experienced at

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Beside Myself with This Book

I had never read anything by Karen Joy Fowler before reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and I’m not even sure how I came across it, but I ended up downloading it onto my iPad and I’m so glad I did. (By the way, I’m about half and half when it comes to paper books and e-books. I like e-books for travel and prefer them for night reading, but I still really love the good old feel of paper.) Anyway, I loved this book. I think Fowler is an amazing writer. I was hooked from the beginning – the characters (dysfunctional family, but with reason), the plot, the writing style, which is beautiful, and the way the book made me take … Read more

Siracusa: A Gripping Tale

I loved this novel by Delia Ephron. It’s a page-turner about two couples (and the child of one of the couples) on vacation together in Italy and Sicily, Siracusa being a town in Siciliy. It’s about deceit, betrayal, past and current relationships, and how life can come undone quickly. Ephron tells the story by alternating narrators among the four adults and it’s fascinating to see how each one views the events that take place. For the most part, these are characters you love to hate, making the tale even more delicious. You’ll remember it long after you read the last page.