05 March 2013

February Book Report

February was not a big reading month, but I still managed three books, which is acceptable to me with everything else going on.  My lunch hour reading at work was nearly non-existent, due to unexpected events that meant I usually was lucky to have time to eat, and then as previously mentioned, I was so tired all of the time, I couldn't stay up very late in the evening.  But since I am not in a race, or reading for a grade at the end of a semester, I'm not gonna worry about it!

The House at Riverton, by Kate Morton.  This book was interesting. It takes place beginning in 1914, when a 14-year old Grace is sent by her mother to begin a life of service at Riverton, a manor house where her mother once worked.  She becomes part of the household, and is mesmerized by the children of the house, particularly the daughters, Hannah and Emmeline.  

The narrator, Grace, is telling the story as an old woman in a nursing home, making tapes for her grandson to listen to.  She is contacted by a young woman who is producing a movie based on an event that happened at Riverton in the 1920s, when the poet Robbie Hunter shot himself in front of Hannah and Emmeline.  Grace was there, and the young producer has tracked her down to ask her about things for the movie.

As the story progresses, a lot of things start pointing to the end, aka the story the  movie is telling.  But Grace wants to tell it her way.  And she knows what really happened and why.  Which does make for an interesting read.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I can say that some of the "secrets" seemed obvious as I was reading, and others I could only suspect.

My biggest wish is that we would have had the chance to learn more about Grace once she left her life of service.  She apparently got her doctorate and had a career as an archaeologist, but those things are mentioned only in passing.  So we have her life from teenager to young woman in great detail, with a few details about her as an older woman, but nothing in between.  Still, I thought this book was especially good at evoking time, place, and the restrictions faced by people of every social class in England during this time period.

This was also one of the books on my reading list for the TBR Pile Challenge.

One for the Books, by Joe Queenan.  I received this book as a Christmas gift.  I'm pretty sure I've heard of Joe Queenan, though I'm not sure where/when/how.  This book is a set of essays he wrote - some appearing previously in other publications - where he discusses his love for books, and what they have meant in his life.

I am not sure if I liked or hated this book.  Queenan seems like a person who is very busy making sure that you know he came from a difficult, poor childhood in Philadelphia, but that he has risen far above it by becoming literary.  My problem is that he seems like someone who I would consider a literary snob.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am incredibly judgemental, and tend to think that many people are annoying or even stupid.  However, I also realize that I am incredibly judgemental, and that my opinions are not necessarily based on any provable evidence.  I wish everyone would read "good" books and enjoy them.  I wish reading and writing were as important to society overall as science and math are.  In reality, I am glad when people just read.  I am glad there are public libraries and people who patronize them.  I am glad that there are still brick-and-mortar bookstores so that I can purchase a book in person.  And I'm even glad there are e-readers, because when you walk back and forth to work every single day, carrying your lunch, your water bottle, sometimes an extra pair of shoes and who knows what else, it's nice not to have to carry a heavy book as well, or worry that it will be ruined by the other crap.

Joe Queenan is not like me in any of those ways.  As a matter of fact, he spends a lot of the book telling the reader how much he is a purist, an intellectual.  He is like me in that he reads A LOT, wishes everyone did, and loves the worlds that books provide.  

There are parts of this book that made me laugh out loud, and parts that made me want to go to his house and punch him in the face.  I can say that the best thing about it was that it made me consciously think about myself, reading, and how I see it in the universe at large.  

So - maybe you should read it.  Who knows?

First Among Sequels, by Jasper Fforde.  Well, this was somewhat disappointing. I had really enjoyed the other Thursday Next books, but this installment, while interesting enough, did not really capture my attention.  Usually, I can't wait to keep reading, because the wordplay and literary references are so fun.  This installment had some of those, but the story just didn't grab me the same way.

This time, Thursday must capture and contain Thursday Next1-4, her character in the first four books of the series about her, which apparently takes great liberties with the "true" story of Thursday.  Of course, her husband, Landen, has no idea that she is still working in the book business.  Instead, she helps her friend Bowden in the "Acme Carpet Company" installing carpeting in Swindon homes.

Anyway, I've read others who felt kind blah about this book, but then said the next in the series was back to what was expected.  I hope so, because it is disappointing when a series that I like fades away into boring books.

And so ... on to my books for March!

1 comment:

Mereknits said...

I read The House at Riverton a year or so ago and I really enjoyed it. There were so many twists and turns, it was a great read.